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The World's Biggest Email List Belongs to... [UPDATED/CORRECTED]

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, December 18 2009

The international e-organization Avaaz, which was founded three years ago and describes itself as a "new global web movement with a simple democratic mission: to close the gap between the world we have, and the world most people everywhere want," is undergoing explosive growth around the Copenhagen climate change summit. Its e-petition campaign for a "Real Deal Now" is up to 13.7 million signers; that's a jump of 2.7 million since a week ago when activists staged a sit-in and started reading names of petition signers in an effort to dramatize their cause. [SEE CORRECTION BELOW.]

To put this into context, consider that just a month ago in Barcelona, at PdF Europe, Avaaz campaign director Paul Hilder stated that the group's list stood at about 3.5 million members. It's now close to quadrupled in size. On paper, it's bigger than the Barack Obama campaign list of 13 million (which I doubt is still that big), double the size of the Republican National Committee's list, and about 2.5 times as big as MoveOn.org.

It will be very interesting to get some of the internal metrics from Hilder and his colleagues once the dust clears in Copenhagen. But for now, it's fair to say that the "second superpower" may yet get another chance to walk the world's stage, if Avaaz's leadership can figure out how to engage all these new members in an ongoing way.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Well, I have some egg on my face today. Turns out, this is NOT one e-campaign but the amalgamation of several, including Avaaz, the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and other groups. Together, they are claiming that 13.7 million people have "joined the call to action" around pushing for a serious deal in Copehagen. "It is still collective action on a grand scale even if not through one network," Hilder tells me. He calls the effort a "flotilla petition....in partnership with other ships," adding that "we are, indeed, growing quite considerably right now."

The bottom line--Copenhagen, even if is a huge flop for the countries trying to negotiate a climate treaty, is giving a huge boost to major enviro groups organizing online. What they will do with that remains to be seen.