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The evolution of climate change activism

NEW YORK (Axios): The new(ish) group Law Students for Climate Accountability just launched a pressure campaign against the heavyweight law firm Gibson Dunn over its work for oil industry clients.

Why it matters: It’s just one of many examples of how climate activism has been tactically evolving in recent months and years.

That includes taking aim at a wider suite of corporate targets, like PR agencies and Big Tech, and intensifying a yearslong focus on the finance sector.

What we’re watching: Here’s more of what we’ve seen, though it’s hardly an exhaustive list:

1. PR and ad agencies. The Clean Creatives campaign launched in late 2020 is trying to make it uncomfortable for public relations and advertising agencies to work with fossil clients. The NYT recently dug in.

2. Wall Street. Activists have created new coalitions, such as BlackRock’s Big Problem, an umbrella group formed in 2018 that pushes the asset management giant to do more.

Environmental groups have recently been increasing pressure on private equity heavyweights like Apollo Global Management to decarbonize their portfolios.

To be sure, banking and finance sectors have for many years been targets of pressure to divest from fossil companies, curb lending and more. But the efforts are getting bigger and evolving.

3. Twitter push back. Climate essayist Mary Annaïse Heglar has helped popularize pushing back against Big Oil Twitter accounts, or “greentrolling.”

4. Big Tech: Recent years have brought new and organized criticism of tech behemoths over business lines tailored to oil companies and emissions more broadly.

5. Racial justice. The disproportionate environmental burdens and risks that communities of color face have for decades been the focus of some groups.

But the links between climate and racial equity are now getting more focus, with the police killing of George Floyd underscoring their salience.

6. Social media practices. Environmentalists have been pressing Facebook and YouTube to stem the flow of climate misinformation.

7. The courts and agencies. A growing number of cities and states have been suing Big Oil companies to hold them liable for costs they incur from climate change, without success so far.

Environmentalists recently targeted Chevron’s marketing with what they called a novel Federal Trade Commission complaint.

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