If you’re not on Twitter, it’s likely that you have no idea about the 24-hour political protest to end fossil fuel subsidies that’s currently heading up the “Trending Topics” list of most popular hashtagged-subjects on the social network. Nonetheless, the virtual event is a success, with a tweet a second asking politicians to change their positions on the subject.
Explaining the need for the protest in the Huffington Post, organizer Jamie Henn wrote that “Every year, governments around the world give nearly $1 trillion dollars of public money to the fossil fuel industry. Three years ago, the G20 committed to phase-out these handouts to coal, oil and gas companies, but they haven’t taken any action since. Now is the perfect time. This June 18, finance ministers and heads of state from G20 countries will come together in Los Cabos, Mexico. Three days later, more than 100 presidents and prime ministers will join over 50,000 people at the Rio+20 Earth Summit, the largest environmental conference in world history. Both meetings offer a clear opportunity for world leaders to step up to the plate and stop these outrageous handouts.”
To coincide with the Rio+20 summit, Henn has organized the #EndFossilFuelSubsidies protest, something he’s calling a “global Twitterstorm” that allows users to add their voice to the demand for a quicker end to fossil fuel subsidies. The idea is to display the amount of public interest there is in the subject, forcing politicians to take notice. Putting the idea in both context and somewhat ridiculous company, Henn explains that “The coalition may even be within striking distance of taking down Justin Bieber’s twitter world record for the most tweets on a single hashtag.”
According to Henn, “We’re averaging a tweet a second, but it picks up when celebs hit the hashtag.” So far, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Redford, Richard Branson and Mia Farrow have lent tweets to the campaign, along with Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund. For those looking for a chance to get involved, there’s a page on the EFFS website devoted entirely to the Twitter campaign, including graphics to use to promote the campaign, some Twitter accounts to tweet at, and even a profile picture you could adopt to show your support.
Can social media change the world? We may be about to have a reasonable test to find out.