350 Theory of Change

350.org’s Theory of Change


This document proposes how 350’s work could lead to the change we want to see in the world. It brings together our vision for the world we wish to see, the purpose of 350.org in meeting that vision, and the goals and strategies we will use to fulfill our purpose — the elements of a theory of change. This will help us focus our work to build something greater than the sum of its parts and guide our budget, staff and campaigning choices moving forward.

The change we want to see

350.org believes that governments and corporations will not take the necessary action to reduce the impact of climate change adequately if they are left to their own devices. The entrenched economic and political status quo, built on the continuing dependence on fossil fuels, is a barrier to progress.

To break through this barrier we believe that an organized movement of people must build up pressure for change by galvanizing public support, countering the power of vested interests, and showing that alternative pathways to a thriving global community are possible, desirable and needed.

To change everything, we need everyone. We value an ever-expanding movement that consistently brings in new constituencies, and fosters collaboration and coalition-building across national and regional borders, and between diverse segments of the climate movement. We need to escalate the pressure to make sure that change happens, and we must escalate together.

350 ppm is our scientific marker of a stable climate, and our work must always be guided by science, as well as justice. However, we have crafted a mission statement that does not explicitly mention 350 ppm, 1.5 degrees C,  or other scientific markers. The rationale for this is a belief that our movement is about much more than carbon particles in the atmosphere. It is also about fundamentally challenging and changing the political and economic systems that lead to catastrophic climate change, and about building a future that works for people and the planet.

How we will create the change?


  • We promote climate justice when we take guidance from communities most impacted by the exploitation of fossil fuels and climate change.
  • We are stronger when we collaborate with others engaged in actions consistent with our vision.
  • Mass mobilizations open the eyes of government and corporate power-holders to the power we are building through prolonged organizing and campaigning.

Our Vision:
We believe in a sustainable future where people’s power promotes and maintains a healthy environment and builds a society that is just, prosperous and socially and economically equitable in a changing climate.

Our Mission Statement (this lays out our role in the journey towards our vision):

350.org’s mission is to inspire, train and mobilize people to join a broad and diverse climate movement that challenges the systems that lead to catastrophic climate change and brings the world closer to our vision of a just and sustainable future.

Using creative, open tactics that vary across the world, our role is building the climate movement by engaging and connecting ever increasing numbers of people, while deepening their commitment and engaging them in ground-breaking campaigns.

We collaborate across diverse segments of the climate movement, taking guidance* from communities impacted by the exploitation of fossil fuels and other climate polluters, and supporting those engaged in actions consistent with our vision.

Our goals and objectives:

Goal 1 : Shift power away from the fossil fuel industry to keep carbon in the ground and prevent them from accelerating catastrophic climate change.
Specific Objectives:

  • Dismantle the social license of the fossil fuel industry by shifting public opinion and damaging their economic and political power using strategic campaigns (for example: the fossil fuel divestment/reinvestment campaign).
  • Take on iconic battles against specific dirty projects and industry practices, in solidarity with groups organizing in the communities most impacted by the industry.
  • Counter industry and government narratives that promote dirty energy with science based communication and creative storytelling.

Goal 2 : Support organizations and communities confronting the impacts of climate change and building climate solutions for a more just economy free of fossil fuels.
Specific Objectives:

  • Promote investment toward community-based sustainable initiatives and renewable energy projects.
  • Respond to climate disasters by connecting the dots to climate change and supporting local efforts that meet the needs of affected people.
  • Support organizations creating economic pathways for people to shift away from a fossil fuel economy.

Goal 3 : Build a movement that puts pressure on governments to take action on reducing emissions and adopting just, low carbon development pathways.
Specific Objectives:

  • Target local and national governments with locally appropriate campaigns that move them towards ambitious national action to stop greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Work in coalition with local communities, organizations and movements to leverage our combined power around key regional and international events, such as climate and economic summits.

*Note: the Theory of Change process has involved a rich discussion about how 350.org should relate to communities impacted by climate change and fossil fuels. The TOC drafting team has tried many different words to describe this relationship, including “listening and responding to impacted communities,” “taking leadership from impacted communities” and other approaches were suggested in surveys and conversations. Rather than try to resolve this question alone as our team, we chose the word ‘guidance’ to balance out the many different approaches that could apply here, and decided to add this note to encourage the creation of more detailed engaged approach to answering this question by a separate process.