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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Social distancing is forcing advocacy movements to adjust their tactics, creating new hurdles for climate activists who use mass protests and on-the-ground organizing as important tools.

Why it matters: Climate change has risen on the political radar in recent years. There are many reasons behind this, including the success of the Greta Thunberg-inspired protests and a burst of confrontational advocacy in the U.S. by the youth-led Sunrise Movement.

  • But even long before that, environmental groups have for decades used tactile organizing — think door-knocking, lobbying days and so forth — for issue-based campaigns and work in political races.

Driving the news: Those techniques are suddenly off the table. Thunberg recently said via Twitter that "we’ll have to find new ways" to advocate and announced plans for "digital strikes."

  • Other examples are emerging. Consider the movement to push banks to stop financing coal and petroleum projects. The umbrella group, Stop The Money Pipeline, canceled April 23 rallies and says it's "pivoting to a series of online and individual tactics."

Threat level: Digital advocacy has long been a piece of the advocates' toolbox, but smart organizers have also long understood that it's a complement to on-the-ground work — not a substitute.

The big picture: "Over the last decade, the climate movement has become a movement through mass action," veteran organizer Jamie Henn tells me, citing everything from marches to civil disobedience to house parties and potlucks.

  • "There's no doubt that something is lost when you take that activity online," adds Henn, who works with the recently formed Stop The Money Pipeline group and co-founded 350.org.

What's next: “This is a moment that demands creativity and thinking outside the box,” says Pete Maysmith of the League of Conservation Voters. "The climate crisis is not slowing down and our efforts to combat it are not going to slow down either."

  • “It is pulling out all the tools in our toolbox. That means phone calls, texting, and peer-to-peer and online organizing,” says Maysmith, the group's SVP of campaigns.
  • Maysmith lists efforts like online trainings, letter writing, and email campaigns. “We are just going to be engaging people in all the ways we can figure out."
  • Henn adds that Stop The Money Pipeline will provide tools to people to help them pressure financial institutions. "That means helping people move their money, cut up a bad credit card, tweet at CEOs, call corporate HQs, and connect with other activists in their area."

The bottom line: "The moment we're in requires a different sort of activism," Henn says.

Go deeper: Coronavirus and climate change are obvious risks we ignore

Go deeper

Teachers across the U.S. protest laws restricting racism lessons

Thousands of teachers and other educators held protests across the U.S. Saturday against the actions of "at least 15 Republican-led states" that aim to restrict teaching about racism in class, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: There were demonstrations in at least 22 cities for the "Day of Action" to raise awareness about moves to limit students' exposure to critical race theory, which links racial discrimination to the nation's foundations and legal system, per Axios' Russell Contreras.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

Lawsuit challenging Houston Methodist's COVID vaccine mandate dismissed

Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A federal judge on Saturday dismissed a lawsuit brought by 117 Houston Methodist staff over the hospital's policy requiring all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Why it matters: This is the first federal court ruling on a coronavirus vaccine mandate. Attorney Jared Woodfill, representing the plaintiffs, told KHOU 11 it's "the first battle in a long fight," as he vowed to file another lawsuit soon.

G7 leaders to announce plan to phase out gasoline cars

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks next to President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, England, on Saturday. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

G7 leaders are set to outline Sunday a range of measures to tackle climate change, including "ending almost all direct government support" for fossil fuels and phasing out gasoline and diesel cars.

Driving the news: The plan was outlined in a British government announcement Saturday, which states that the leaders will also agree to halting "all unabated coal as soon as possible."

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