Climate Change: What’s Really Been Going On (And How We Can Solve It)
3 WAYS TO TAKE ACTION
1) Join the global divestment campaign
We can reduce the power of the fossil fuel companies by pushing our institutions to drop their investments in fossil fuels. Have a think about what institutions you’re connected to that have money to invest: universities, colleges, churches, temples, pension funds (either personal or at your place of work)? If none of those are relevant, how about your local government – do they have direct investments or a staff pension fund?
There may well already be a campaign group targeting your chosen institution. If not, why not get together with a few friends or colleagues and set one up? For help and advice, go to http://campaigns.gofossilfree.org where you can search for groups near you or find out how to start your own campaign.
We can also work to kick fossil fuel funding out of arts, sports, culture and education. Is there a museum, art gallery, college, theatre or sporting event near you that’s plastered with dirty company logos? We can’t let these companies buy cheap, undeserved kudos and legitimacy like this – contact firstname.lastname@example.org for advice and check out some of these campaign sites for ideas on what you could do about it: www.bp-or-not-bp.org, www.liberatetate.wordpress.com, www.artnotoil.org.uk.
2) Support frontline struggles
Communities directly affected by fossil fuel extraction and climate change are fighting back against these destructive industries all over the world, and have already won some important victories. Look for opportunities to link your campaigning to Southern social movements, Indigenous activism and struggles on the ground. Talk to your local climate campaign groups and see if they’re working on anything that could be linked up to a grassroots struggle elsewhere in the world. Are you targeting a company that is involved in destructive fossil fuel extraction somewhere in the world? Why doesn’t your local group get in contact with the people affected by that extraction and find out if they want your support, and if so, what would they like you to do?
There are a number of really important principles to follow when working with frontline communities. First and foremost, it’s vital that they – as the people who are experiencing the immediate impacts and thus have the most at stake – are in charge of the direction of any solidarity work. Your job is to follow their lead and provide the support they want, not the support you think they want.
Working with Indigenous peoples requires acute awareness, sensitivity and commitment to a range of important issues, especially if you are from a culture responsible for the historic and/or ongoing oppression of Indigenous peoples. There are a selection of useful principles and guidelines here: https://unsettlingamerica.wordpress.com/allyship/
If you haven’t worked with frontline communities before, the best starting point is probably to contact some of the wider groups and networks that work with, represent and advocate for these communities, as they will be able to point you in the right direction.
Try the Indigenous Environmental Network (for Indigenous solidarity around the world), La Via Campesina (the global movement of small farmers fighting for sovereignty over land), or Defenders of the Land (opposing fracking, tar sands and other extractive projects in Canada).
3) Share this video
The biggest barriers to solving climate change are the industries that profit from it. Show them that you won’t be silent – share this video and spread the word.
GET THE FACTS
All the facts in the video are referenced here.
In the late 80s things seemed great, we were travelling to work by rollerskate, listening to Wham! while saving up for the latest bit of hi-tech kit when bam! out of nowhere some scientists with fuzzy hair decided to scare us all with this strange thing called climate change.
It seemed that all our super Western progress would collapse into a tragic mess unless we stopped churning out so much CO2, so some of us starting worrying about how much we flew, trying to commute by cycle like all the green campaign groups told us to, but although we recycled really damned hard the fossil fuel industry just grew and grew, and politicians kept telling us how much they cared while building more roads and runways everywhere and so it’s no surprise that global emissions continued to rise. Get the facts
Annual global emissions rose by 15% over the 1990s and 2000s, according to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, http://cdiac.ornl.gov
Except despite all the hype there was no climate deal, which made a lot of us feel a frustration we could barely express – how could they leave us in this mess, on track to runaway climate change from which there’d be no coming back. Get the facts
See http://www.climate-justice-now.org/cjn-final-statement-in-copenhagen for a summary of the problems with the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks.
But hold on. It wasn’t over yet. There were other voices who’d been there all along, including people who had no choice but to take a stand, because fossil fuels and climate change were poisoning their lands.
They were saying the talks were always doomed, while those who profit from the problem were sat in the room. When fossil fuel companies turning over turnovers bigger than the GDPs of most countries are interfering with government policies dishing out millions to politicians; when a third of UK government ministers have links to these industries, is it really a mystery why all those climate summits never seemed to quite agree, or why fossil fuels receive twenty times more government subsidy than clean energy? Get the facts
For information on corporations profits in relation to countries GDP visit http://makewealthhistory.org/2014/02/03/the-corporations-bigger-than-nations/
For information on the connections between Government and the fossil fuel industry see http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/fossil-fuel-web-power
The International Monetary Fund claims that fossil fuel subsidies are around $2000 billion, including both direct and indirect subsidies; this is around 20 times the amount used to support renewable energy, according to the International Energy Agency, although the gap has closed a little in recent years: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/05/01/fossil-fuel-subsidies-cost-2-trillion-according-imf
But now the droughts and the storms have reached all of our doors and more and more people are starting to see the real enemies, coz a politics that’s about people not privilege and profit makes sense, not just for the climate but everything else, equality, poverty, lack of democracy, we can bring all these issues together, coz the boardrooms that hoard such unfair wealth and power are the ones who are screwing the weather. More info
Now the challenge is big, and we need to get clever, but people all over the planet are rising, not just signing petitions and sorting recycling, but blocking the fossil fuel industry’s power, in the streets and the courts and the classrooms and fields, stopping coal plants in China, Canadian pipelines, fossil investments and sponsorship deals. Every community energy scheme that grows from a dream to a dot on the map, every fracking proposal that’s scrapped, every victory reminds us to hope, that a movement of millions can challenge their power, and this is the hour to act, in fact, there’s just one question left: are you part of it yet?