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Getting Action: Reclaim Power – Global Month of Action on Energy

Lucy Patterson of Push Europe on the thinking behind Reclaim Power Month, running until Nov 11th

reclaim power logoLast Friday saw the start of Reclaim Power: Global Month of Action on Energy. The month runs from 11th October until the 11th November. Here Lucy Patterson of Push Europe offers readers an overview of the month’s aims and the context in which it takes place.

The climate movement is diverse. You only have to look at the range of battles fought by those on the front line to understand why. Every day, individuals and communities resist pipelines, open-pit mines, Arctic drills, oil spills, test wells, shale gas, palm-oil plantations, power stations, mega-dams and tar sands. The assaults inflicted are hugely varied, and so are the communities, and their responses. Such diversity lends strength and flexibility to the movement.

However, unlike the globalized, multinational corporations they face, these individuals and communities are, of course, localized. It’s easy to feel powerless when there are only a few dozen of you, and you’re up against an oil company with a multi-billion dollar turnover. Reclaim Power: Global Month of Action on Energy aims to build on the commonalities which bind the countless thousands of us standing up to dirty energy and demanding an alternative energy system.

All communities on the frontline of fossil fuel extraction defend their homes or indigenous land from destruction by corporate giants. All fight a system that is designed to maximize profit, not to meet needs. All demand an alternative energy future to that which is being forced upon them. These commonalities have helped to define the key demands of the month of action

1. A ban on all new dirty energy projects

This should be a no-brainer. As Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo put it: “If our governments, now that the science is clear, invest one more cent in new fossil fuel projects, that is an investment in the deaths of our children and future generations.”

2. An end to government subsidies and public handouts to dirty energy companies

Globally, our governments spend in excess of one trillion US dollars every year on handouts to fossil fuel companies – companies such as Exxon Mobil, whose net annual income exceeds the GDP of over a hundred countries.

3. An end to excessive energy consumption by corporations and global elites

Our planet is finite, yet our illogical global economic system assumes that we have limitless natural resources to consume and profit from year on year. Not only does this mean that we are on course for catastrophe, but the profit-based nature of our energy consumption (as opposed to needs-based) means that only a select few actually benefit from fossil fuels.

4. The redirection and mobilization of public finance to ensure universal access to energy, and to ensure the complete shift to decentralized community renewable energy systems as quickly as possible.

Our energy system is based on corporate gain and the enclosure of the commons. Subsidies and public funds should be redirected from overbearing dirty energy companies to community-owned, sustainable energy projects. Only then will our energy system be democratic, clean, universal and just.

Photo taken in Johannesburg, South Africa (source: Reclaim Power Facebook page)
Photo taken in Johannesburg, South Africa (source: Reclaim Power Facebook page)

It need not be said that countless millions already suffer, directly or indirectly, thedevastating effects of climate change. It is common knowledge that the overwhelming majority of those suffering are those who have contributed the very least to climate change: the poorest citizens of the world, those even without access to electricity, or cooking fuel, are those who are bearing the brunt of the changes. A new report confirms that the tropics will experience unprecedented climate change many years before the rest of the world – and “as the world’s population is disproportionately concentrated in the tropics, unprecedented climate conditions will impact a larger percentage of the world’s population”– the very same sector of the world’s population which is the least responsible for the problem.

This problem is the symptom of the dysfunctional energy system in place. During Reclaim Power month, the struggle for climate justice will go directly to the root of the disorder, and will demand a huge shift in power from the polluters to the people – at a moment that could prove to be pivotal in the struggle for climate justice. The month will build towards the UN climate talks in Warsaw, where civil society will demand that the most developed nations – those who are most responsible for, and most capable of, dramatic emissions reductions – act now to prevent the worst of these effects. Until now, progress within the global political community has been shamefully inadequate. We cannot afford to let the pressure drop.

We invite all individuals, groups and communities to either join one of the many actions taking place around the globe this month, or to start your own action (no action is too small!). Explore the website for information and resources, and get in touch if you have further questions. Add your voice to the thousands around the world demanding that we act now to change our energy system, not our climate.

The author, Lucy Patterson, is a Coordinator for Push Europe, the campaigns network of the European Youth Climate Network.

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