Fear, fearlessness and environmental activism: The Lock the Gate Alliance

This event is the fourth part of a four part series: Governance and the power of fear.

While the political right may harness fear to resist change, fear (and fearlessness) may play very different roles for environmental activists. This panel explores the role of emotions in galvanising or inhibiting community action.

The Lock the Gate movement (and its siblings) bring together an unlikely alliance of farmers, Indigenous people and environmentalists. Lock The Gate is a network-of-networks, with multiple self-organised action groups and regional alliances resisting harmful gasfields and coal expansions. It derives grassroots power from distributed leadership, with people organising in face-to-face groups to protect what they love.

The effort to resist fracking gasfields and coal mines raises powerful emotions: fear of impacts on water and communities; anger at the power of corporations to influence policy; love for our common heritage; and courage, discovered through solidarity.

The presenters will canvass the role of fear/fearlessness and other emotions such as hope, anger and courage; the relation between individual scale fear and emotions at a system level; fear as the networked transmission of emotions; how fear and fearlessness may play out differently in different contexts; whether fear can be used to galvanise communities and others to act; and the role of emotions in climate activism.

About the speakers

Neil Gunningham is a Professor at RegNet. He is an internationally recognised academic in the fields of environmental regulation, health and safety regulation, and energy and climate governance. Most recently, he has focussed on the role of grassroots activism in climate change governance.

Annie Kia is the Community Engagement Coordinator of the Lock the Gate Alliance. She helped develop grassroots power while working as Lock the Gate’s Community Engagement Coordinator.. She has written on the power of networked humanity and on how an understanding of complex systems helps scale up social movements. She has written on the power of networked humanity and on adaptive and complex systems.

Hedda Ransan-Cooper is a Research Fellow at the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science. Her interests lie in the intersections between everyday life and global processes of change, including the role of emotions in climate activism. She is the project coordinator for the CONSORT project - an ARENA funded trial of renewable technology on Bruny Island, Tasmania.