Open Letter on climate justice

I would like to share a letter that “was collaboratively written with dozens of aligned groups. [coming] together to reflect on the narrative, strategies, tactics and demands of a reinvigorated climate movement in the UK”. The letter outlines a “foundational set of principles and demands that are rooted in justice”

Banner in front of street crowd in Pall Mall: Still fighting CO2onialism . Your climate profits kill.

You can read the whole letter here (20 mins read) or, as part of my own reading and reflection, I’ve produced an short version below 

Dear Extinction Rebellion
A “mass movement like Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an encouraging sign” But “in order to construct a different future, we have to understand how we arrived at the world as we know it now.” This wasn’t “by a sequence of small missteps”, but [because of] “powerful forces that drove the distribution of resources of the entire planet …”. 

“Colonial projects whose sole purpose is the pursuit of domination and profit” were a key lever. “For centuries, racism, sexism and classism have been necessary for this system to be upheld”

“Another truth is that for many, the bleakness is not something of ‘the future’ … the house has been on fire for a long time…”
Disadvantaged “communities, especially in the Global South are always first hit. We are the first to face poor air quality, hunger, public health crises, drought, floods and displacement…”

When “you focus on the science you often look past the fire and us – you look past our histories of struggle, dignity, victory and resilience. And you look past the vast intergenerational knowledge of unity with nature that our peoples have. Indigenous communities remind us that we are not separate from nature, and that protecting the environment is also protecting ourselves. In order to survive, communities in the Global South continue to lead the visioning and building of new worlds free of the violence of capitalism. We must both centre those experiences and recognise those knowledges here…”
Flames “are fanned by our exclusion and silencing. Without incorporating our experiences, any response to this disaster will fail to change the complex ways in which social, economic and political systems shape our lives …” 

This “complexity needs to be reflected in the strategies too. XR participants should be able to use their privilege to risk arrest, whilst at the same time highlighting the racialised nature of policing …”

“A diversity and plurality of tactics and communities will be needed to co-create the transformative change necessary…”
“This letter calls on XR to do more in the spirit of their principles which say they ‘are working to build a movement that is participatory, decentralised, and inclusive’…” 

So what now? “The list of demands that we present below are not meant to be exhaustive, but to offer a starting point that supports the conversations that are urgently needed.
Wretched of the Earth, together with many other groups, hold the following demands as crucial for a climate justice rebellion:”

  • Reduce UK carbon emissions to zero by 2030” This is part of the UK’s fair share to keep warming below 1.5°C
  • Pass a Global Green New Deal to ensure finance and technology for the Global South through international cooperation. A greener economy in Britain will achieve very little if the government continues to hinder vulnerable countries from doing the same through crippling debt, unfair trade deals, and the export of its own deathly extractive industries. The arms trade needs to end – the largest arms deals have delivered oil; whilst the world’s largest militaries are the biggest users of petrol.
  • Hold transnational corporations accountable. Stop them from practicing global destruction. 
  • Restructure the financial sector to make it transparent, democratised, and sustainable. Discentivise investment in extractive industries and subsidise renewable energy programmes, ecological justice and regeneration programmes.
  • Instead of walls and fences, detention centers and prisons, the UK should acknowledge its historic and current responsibilities for driving the displacement of peoples and communities and honour its obligation to them.
  • Guarantee flourishing communities both in the global north and the global south for everyone

Do not make the poorest in the rich countries pay the price for tackling the climate crisis. Refuse to sacrifice the people of the global South to protect the citizens of the global North. It is crucial that we remain accountable to our communities, and all those who don’t have access to the centres of power. Without this accountability, the call for climate justice is empty.

“The fight for climate justice is the fight of our lives, and we need to do it right.” By grassroots collective Wretched of The Earth.

May 3, 2019 · 20 min read

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