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Take Action for Climate Justice

Photo by Golda Fuentes

Climate change is the crisis of our age, one that threatens the lives of billions of people now and for centuries to come, and could make our planet uninhabitable. It is not merely an environmental problem but a crisis of the corporate-driven economic system that delivered us here and a profound threat to peace and social justice across the world.

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Climate change: not a technical hitch

The climate crisis represents one of the most urgent threats facing human civilization and the general health of our planet. Temperatures and extreme weather events rise year-on-year, across the globe, leaving disasters in their wake. Yet powerful vested interests continue to plough millions of dollars into casting doubt about climate change and stalling the political action needed to try and deal with it. When “developed” world governments and corporations do acknowledge the issue, it is often framed as a technical problem – isolated from its historical, economic and geopolitical contexts and the unjust power relations at work. Their responses – often market-based mechanisms that turn ecosystems into commodities – either deliberately avoid addressing its root causes or seek to convert the crisis into a new business opportunity.

Impacts and responses in the Andes

Seeds of Resilience

The impacts of an economic model that views nature as simply a vehicle for profit are terrible and getting worse. Deadly flooding, prolonged drought, extreme heat, wildfires and destructive storms are the most powerful signals of a climate in chaos. But it is crucial to connect these impacts with the other forms of environmental damage which surround us: deforestation and the loss of green space, toxic air pollution, water stress and contamination, species loss and many other things that diminish our quality of life. Be it at local or global level, it is the same industrial activities, and the corporate-driven model of hyper-consumerism which those activities feed, which are causing these interrelated ecological crises.

A matter of power

Those most affected by the impacts of climate change and its causes – marginalized, impoverished indigenous communities and communities of color in both the global South and the global North, with women in both contexts being disproportionately affected – are precisely those who have contributed least to causing the crisis.

From water scarcity and community disintegration to an increase in diseases, pests and crop failures, as well as rising seas – people with very little power and capacity to raise the alarm about what is happening to them are paying the price with their health and well-being and even their lives. On top of this is the enormous intergenerational injustice being done to those who will inherit this situation having had nothing to do with its creation.

Corporate power and the climate crisis

Corporate Conquistadors

Transnational corporations are heavily invested – including through their influence on political processes at every level – in making sure they have a free hand to continue turning a profit by converting natural resources into profits. The primary engine for this conversion is extractivism. Gas, oil and coal continue to be prospected, extracted and burned in great quantity despite all the climate science that demonstrates the insanity of doing so. Massive hydropower projects, falsely marketed as a “green” energy solution, cause major methane emissions through deforestation and swamping; the energy they produce is also often used to feed further fossil fuel extraction. Large-scale mining of metals and rare earths destroys biodiversity and regularly contaminates water sources, while the shipping associated with the industry are a major source of emissions. Big agro-industrial mono-crop plantations entail similar impacts. Who profits directly from extractive activity, who sells and who enjoys the consumer goods it goes into producing – and who is left dispossessed, displaced or living in a destroyed environment – tells us a great deal about the unjust nature of our global economy.

Tackling climate change at its root means building up people power while taking on the corporate power that is driving the crisis. Across Latin America and the global South a powerful grassroots movement is demanding an end to climate-changing extractivism while highlighting the unjust nature of the systems driving it and proposing solutions.

Read about María Auxiliadora

Climate Change is About... Women
Women in particular have played and continue to play an important role in defending the non-commercial use of common goods such as land and water. This is precisely the opposite approach to that of extractivist policies. And confronting those extractive projects often carries great personal risk. In the global North new activist communities and movements are also rising up against fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure. The broader climate movement needs to develop effective solidarity strategies to support this resistance to succeed. It is important to make the connections between these far-flung struggles and show what joins them, and enable them to learn from each other. It is also important to draw out the alternatives and solutions that show how to build real democracy and create new economic and social models that respect our planetary boundaries and put social justice first.

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