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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

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

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