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September 21, 2019

Climate justice

Opinion

September 21, 2019

Finally, it seems that the urgency of the climate crisis has become impossible for decision-makers – especially in the global North – to ignore. In the past few months, hundreds of local governments as well as a handful of national governments in the global North have declared a climate emergency.

Make no mistake – this is a direct result of grassroots action by groups such Fridays For Future, Extinction Rebellion, and Ende Gelände, not to mention the decades-long fights for climate justice led by movements in the global South. As we enter another intense season of strikes, summits, mobilisations and negotiations, we expect to see further declarations making headlines.

World leaders insist that they are doing their best. Unfortunately for them, we have read the terrifying findings of the landmark IPCC 1.5 degree special report, we see the cyclones and hurricanes devastating lives and livelihoods and we know just how deep and fast action on climate must be.

Declaring a climate emergency must not be an empty gesture, it must go hand-in-hand with action at a scale and pace that matches the urgency of the crisis. But we see rich countries continuing to fund fossil fuel infrastructure at home and abroad while the ink still dries on their emergency declarations.

Despite the new promises, governments in the global North aren’t doing anywhere near their ‘fair share’ of climate action. Nations that have been polluting since the Industrial Revolution are most responsible for the heating we are experiencing today, and as they have grown rich in the process, they are more able to act. So what’s stopping them?

These governments are acting within the boundaries of so-called ‘economic feasibility’. They want to be seen to curb emissions while maintaining infinite growth on a finite planet. This explains why money is being poured into dodgy schemes such as offsetting and carbon markets; towards inefficient and dangerous energy technologies such as mega-hydro, nuclear and bioenergy; and towards developing high-risk, unproven techno-fixes such as geoengineering and carbon-capture and storage.

We call these ‘false solutions’ – because an alleged ‘solution’ that is chiefly designed to secure profit for the corporate elite is not a solution at all. False solutions allow dirty energy giants like Shell to continue exploiting fossil fuels and further expanding their operations.

As a global movement for environmental justice, we will not allow the pursuit of profit to restrict our collective imagination. We are demanding real solutions. The climate crisis necessitates a different economic and political system altogether – one which serves to address the needs of people, not to further enrich corporations.

Originally published as: 'We Have a Decision to Make. Change the System or Face Climate Catastrophe'.

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