• Eirini Sampson

September Petitions

Is signing petitions actually effective?

Measuring the effectiveness of a petition is tricky since it is dependent on the outcome of the proposed action. Signing online petitions has been a symbol of online, personal activism for many, and is being widely encouraged by many on online platforms, but the effectiveness of doing so is questioned.


Political petitions created for government debates, must fulfil certain requirements. To filter through official petitions, governments have required a minimum number of signatures per petition before debating it - in the UK that number is 10,000. This means that ultimately the success of a petition does depend on the number of signatures it gets given that without that, the chances of tangible change are minimal. In contrast to this, governments are not obliged to consider internet or public purpose, petitions. Such are often used to raise awareness on certain issues and to set the grounds for collective action. However, petitions have historically been a way of collectively requesting a government to do something; so much so, that the right to petition is included in the US' First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Depending on your sources, internet petitions can be a reliable way of starting a conversation - with yourself, friends and colleagues - about a certain issue (say, I don't know, climate-change-related topics). This can make petitions effective, and I guess the success of a petition depends on its goal - is it to do with parliamentary debates, or does it aim to raise awareness? Overall, petitions can be a successful tactic for raising awareness and signaling public opinion to decision-makers, petitions can also lead to raising money for a cause and can be a way of accumulating data on the demographic interested in a topic. The online nature of petitions has led to their wider accessibility and the faster spread of information and awareness. This ultimately makes the tactic successful, but it does not end with sharing a petition with your best pals on your WhatsApp group chat. It continues with staying up to date with related issues, supporting organizations by donations (if possible), volunteering or even reading the news!


Below, I will be compiling petitions created by various organizations for different purposes to that you can pick and choose from when thinking about where to start your own activism.

Name

Description

Website

By Who?

Stop Excluding Military Pollution from Climate Agreements

"All greenhouse gas emissions need to be included in mandatory greenhouse gas emission reduction standards. There must be no more exception for military pollution.

We ask COP26 to set strict greenhouse gas emissions limits that make no exception for militarism, include transparent reporting requirements and independent verification, and do not rely on schemes to "offset" emissions."

World Beyond War

Tell global automakers to end the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) age!

  • Phase out ICE cars sales including hybrids7 by 2030

  • Decarbonise the supply chain, in particular steel and battery production

  • Reduce consumption of resources and enhance resource circularity

  • Move beyond selling cars for personal ownership to promoting mobility solution-centric business models such as car sharing

Greenpeace

Act now on climate change



As hosts of COP26 the UK should:

  • Lead global action on reducing carbon emissions ensuring all countries commit to their fair share of cuts needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C. To be a credible leader, the UK needs to ‘walk the talk’, and reverse recent decisions to approve a new coal-mine in Cumbria and new licenses for North Sea oil and gas exploration.

  • Lead global action on getting rich countries to increase funding to communities on the front-lines of the crisis. To do this, the UK needs to reverse its recent cuts to the aid budget.

Oxfam

Ban Fossil Fuel Sponsorship of All UK Culture, Media and Sport

"Companies are using the sponsorship of culture, media and sport to greenwash their reputations, buying the social licence they need to continue profiting from the destruction of the planet. This activity threatens our collective future and it needs to be banned."

By Jason Scott-Warren found in UK Government and Parliament Petitions