History's Lesson for Climate Action: No Other Choice 'But Mass Mobilization'
With less than 100 days until high-level UN climate talks take place in Paris, key leaders from the global climate justice movement have come together with a joint statement that affirms their belief that only mass popular mobilizations across the planet demanding a drastic reckoning with the world’s fossil fuel paradigm will suffice when it comes to confronting the increasingly dire and intertwined threats of neoliberal capitalism and planetary climate change.
“[The world has] a unique opportunity to reinvigorate democracy, to dismantle the dominance of corporate political power, to transform radically our modes of production and consumption. Ending the era of fossil fuels is one important step towards the fair and sustainable society we need.”
In a pair of “concretely” expressed demands aimed at world leaders, the signatories to the statement say governments must “end subsidies to the fossil fuel industry” and move swiftly to “freeze fossil fuel extraction by leaving untouched 80% of all existing fossil fuel reserves.”
With the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) scheduled to hold its 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) meeting in France at the end of November, the list of notable activists, academics, and policy experts—including South African Archbisop Desmond Tutu, Canadian author and journalist Naomi Klein, Greenpeace International head Kumi Naidoo, Indian biophysicist Vandana Shiva, American linguist Noam Chomsky, Nigerian environmental campaigner Nnimmo Bassey, former climate negotiator for the Philippines Yeb Saño, and many others—acknowledges that twenty previous meetings over recent years have accomplished far too little while the planetary crisis of global warming has only worsened.
“For more than 20 years,” the statement declares, “governments have been meeting, yet greenhouse gas emissions have not decreased and the climate keeps changing. The forces of inertia and obstruction prevail, even as scientific warnings become ever more dire.”
Acknowledging their set of demands “implies a great historical shift,” the signers of the statement say the globalized justice movement for will no longer “wait for states” to make the needed changes on schedules dictated by the powerful fossil fuel corporations, large agro-businesses, financial elites, or governments in the thrall of such interests.
“Slavery and apartheid did not end because states decided to abolish them,” the statement reads. “Mass mobilisations left political leaders no other choice.”
The statement will be officially published on Thursday as part of a book and media project, called Stop Climate Crimes, orchestrated by the climate action group 350.org and French campaigners at Attac, which focuses on creating a more sustainable and equitable global economy. Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350, told the Guardian the project is a solid first step ahead of COP21 and an indication of the messaging that groups like his will be articulating ahead of, during, and after the talks.
“It’s important for everyone to know that the players at Paris aren’t just government officials and their industry sidekicks,” McKibben said. “Civil society is going to have its say, and noisily if need be.”
The Guardian‘s Emma Howard, who had an advanced look at the Stop Climate Crimes project, reports:
Last week, 350.org executive director May Boeve, released details of her group’s action plan surrounding the Paris talks by informing supporters that the time for “feeling powerless” in the face of climate crisis and government inertia was over. With a set of actions scheduled prior to the talks across the world and a vocal presence during COP21 itself, Boeve indicated that the most exciting activism would likely come in the new year when activists will mobilize “in a global wave of action unlike any” the world has seen before.
“Not one big march in one city, not a scattering of local actions,” she continued, “but rather a wave of historic national and continent-wide mobilizations targeting the fossil fuel projects that must be kept in the ground, and backing the energy solutions that will take their place.”
Meanwhile, international civil society groups in recent weeks have released documents articulating what, in their minds, a successful climate agreement in Paris would like and briefing statements about what the inherent limitations of the UNFCCC process continue to be. Scientists from around the world have also made it clear that immediate and meaningful climate action is essential in order to stave off the worst impacts of a rapidly warming world.
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