I Believe: 'Change the system, not the climate'
Cross-posted from the Burlington Free Press
As the polar ice caps melt at an increasingly alarming rate, and rising sea levels threaten billions of people living along the planet’s coastlines, the world’s attention is focused on the upcoming U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen. Many people are asking whether stopping catastrophic climate change is possible.
I believe it is.
I believe this because I am part of the growing international climate-justice movement. This global movement is tackling climate change in three important ways. It is unifying diverse groups, communities and peoples around the world. It is highlighting real solutions to climate change that are locally controlled, bio-regionally appropriate and socially just. And it is tackling the real root causes of climate change, such as addiction to fossil fuels, overconsumption, industrial agriculture and forest destruction.
At the same time, the movement is organizing opposition to false solutions to climate change that impede our ability to find the real solutions. False solutions are those primarily directed at maintaining business as usual and increasing corporate profit, while doing little or nothing to truly address climate change.
False solutions include carbon offset projects, such as industrial timber plantations grown in developing countries, explicitly designed to allow industries in the North to continue polluting. This solution is false because there is no evidence these carbon offsets actually offset the emissions in question.
Another false solution is so-called “clean” coal. The technology at the heart of “clean” coal is completely unproven and riddled with problems such as contamination of ground water. “Clean” coal is merely a PR scheme designed to allow coal companies to continue blowing up mountaintops, expanding strip mines onto indigenous peoples’ lands and pumping massive amounts of pollution into the air.
This December at the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen (which some have dubbed CorporateHaven due to the overwhelming presence of industry lobbyists), this international climate-justice movement will confront these false solutions as they come together to “reclaim power.” Their call to action enjoins us to “change the system, not the climate,” and to transform the Copenhagen Climate Conference into a “peoples’ summit for climate justice.”
“We are advancing alternatives that provide real and just solutions to the climate crisis: leaving fossil fuels in the ground; reasserting peoples’ and community control over resources; relocalising food production; reducing over-consumption, particularly in the North; recognizing ecological and climate debt owed to the peoples of the South and making reparations; and respecting Indigenous and forest peoples’ rights,” the call to action states.
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