8 wins that show the power of collective action

As the year comes to an end, we’ve been reflecting on the amazing achievements of our network. We found strength in numbers, and together we pushed for local, national and global change. Here are 8 ways our network took action to protect the natural world and the wellbeing of everyone in it.
  Published:  16 Dec 2022    |      3 minute read

The environmental and climate crises we’re facing need to be addressed at every level – from individual lifestyle changes and national legislation to business and international agreements. But we can’t achieve this alone. Harnessing the power of collective action allows ordinary people from all walks of life to come together to make extraordinary impact. There’s power in numbers, and in 2022 our network united and accomplished many significant wins.

Putting pressure on decision-makers

Fracking protest with a woman holding a sign which reads 'leave it in the ground'
Credit: Ric Lander/Friends of the Earth Scotland

1. We defeated fracking, again

After 8 years of campaigning by groups across the nation, the UK government announced a moratorium on fracking in November 2019. But in 2022, fracking reared its head again, when then prime minister Liz Truss lifted the ban. But collectively we defeated fracking, again, by mobilising and letting MPs and the government know that fracking isn’t welcome anywhere.

2. Most councils have adopted Climate Action Plans

Councils up and down the country have declared a climate emergency, and in 2022, thanks to tireless campaigning from our groups, 80% of councils across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have now adopted Climate Action Plans. This means climate is on the agenda for most local authorities and our groups can share successful actions from other councils to their own.

Friends of the Earth Legal Victory Celebration

3. We took the government to court – and won

Back in July 2022 we celebrated our legal team’s victory on holding the government to account for not delivering a meaningful Net Zero Strategy that shows how legally-binding carbon reduction targets will be met. The government could have appealed but decided not to. Thanks to the collective work of our legal team and those who support our cases, the government must now revise its strategy and lay out a credible plan for meeting emissions targets.

4. Northern Ireland now has a Climate Change Act

After repeatedly being denied a climate change law by the Northern Ireland government, Friends of the Earth, along with our friends in the Climate Coalition and the backing of many thousands of supporters, contributed to creating and passing the new law. It’s one of the first climate laws in the world to specifically recognise the role that gender plays in climate justice and that gender equality is a key part of the transition to a fairer, sustainable society. This is a clear example of people power in action, and not accepting “no” from governments.

5. Wales Clean Air Bill will be included in the legislative programme for the next Senedd

Friends of the Earth Cymru and other members of the Healthy Air Cymru coalition have been campaigning for communities affected by toxic air pollution for years. Now, a new law will make sure that the air we breathe in Wales is clean and healthy.

A global community united for climate justice

Group of international activists at a COP26 march, waving their countries' flags
Friends of the Earth International activists at COP26
Credit: Jonathan Salariya, Friends of the Earth

6. Swift solidarity led to the release of a climate activist

Campaigning to protect nature and our environment sometimes comes with great risks, making global allyship crucial and even lifesaving. In November 2022 Carlos Maione went to a workshop about corporate impunity and human rights, organised by Justiça Ambiental (Friends of the Earth Mozambique) in Maputo. He was then detained by authorities for 10 hours, where he was subjected to interrogation and threats. Thanks to international outcry and rapid video messages of support from members of the Friends of the Earth international community, including here in the UK, he was quickly released.

7. We received global support to help us defend UK human rights

The UK government is proposing new laws and measures that threaten our fundamental human rights of protest, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Members from across the Friends of the Earth International community – including groups from Palestine, Argentina, Brussels, Hungary, Togo, Switzerland, Brazil and more – have been calling on the UK to protect our right to campaign and demand climate action. Such a united front from around the world has been an incredible show of strength and support.

Building communities of care and action

Person wearing fingerless gloves and a thick jumper, heating their hands over a radiator
Person heating their hands over a radiator
Credit: Tennessee Witney via Getty Images

8. We launched United for Warm Homes

As the cost-of-living and energy crises worsen, grassroots support and community power have never been more important. This year we launched United for Warm Homes – a growing movement of community groups and activists from all walks of life campaigning for a common goal: warm homes for all. While national interventions from government are urgently needed, we’ve already seen some amazing community action, including incredible work from one of our groups in Derbyshire. It’s set up a village “warm space” for 4 days a week, distributed leaflets about ways to save money on energy bills to every home, and is working with community leaders to take action for warm homes.

As 2022 draws to a close, we want to say a massive thank you to all our supporters. By donating, signing petitions and sharing our work, you’ve been part of a network that’s achieved amazing things – wins that’ll have a lasting impact on communities, locally and internationally.