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On the 18th of March 2015, the European Central Bank (ECD) will officially open its shiny new headquarters – and thousands of people will be in the city and on the streets that day, to blockade and demonstrate, and to say: ‘there’s nothing to celebrate in your handling of the crisis.’ The climate justice movement will be there, too – Blockupy stands at the beginning of a year that will be bubbling with European mass actions for redistribution and global climate justice: in Frankfurt, at the G7 in Elmau (Bavaria), in the coal-pits of the Rhineland, in Paris, and beyond!
Climate (of) crisis
The climate crisis is one of the many elements of the deep crisis of our economic system, and has always been both an ecological, and a social problem. The costs of the crisis are being ruthlessly externalised. The strategy from above is obviously to let the poor everywhere pay through the nose for the increasing ecological and economic dysfunctionality of the dominant system: quite blatantly through unemployment and the cutbacks in social welfare systems, more subtly through the privatisation of the commons, increasing health risks, and not least through the destruction of livelihoods. The crisis cannot be separated into neat little bits, where one affects the climate, one the Euro, one the banks, and one the welfare systems. It is, rather, a fundamental crisis of our way of living, producing and consuming. The capitalist system forces us, on pain of our own destruction, to compete with each other, to permanently expand ‘the economy’ (a process that gets trivialised when we refer to it as ‘growth’), thus undermining ever more rapidly and completely our natural livelihoods.
Against false solutions to the crisis
Those who see in our calls for a fundamental transformation of society’s political and economic power relations little more than an attack on their own exorbitant privileges seem to have run out of ideas for how to deal with climate change – the best one they had was to chuck a new market at it. This has led to the emergence of a market for CO2-Emissions, where you can buy and sell pollution, ‘invest’ in forests, and integrate them (and the air; and the water; and…) into market-relations. These instruments, however, do not lead to real emissions reduction, nor is their aim to do what is necessary, namely to leave fossil fuels in the ground. Their key function, rather, is to increase corporate profits (especially for energy companies) on the one hand, and to deflect the negative consequences of climate change further down the social ladder. Those who still beat the drum of a ‘Green New Deal’ seem to be possessed by the illusion that economic ‘growth’ can be decoupled from resource use and environmental destruction, by way of the genie of ‘efficiency gains’. Critical studies, however, demonstrate conclusively that an increase in overall economic efficiency does not, under the current rules of the game, result in a reduction of energy use or CO2-emissions, unless production is actually reduced. Without a fundamental rejection of the paradigm of never-ending growth, climate change will never be contained.
Radical change has to begin now. We cannot wait until the planet’s self-regulating mechanisms are damaged so badly, that ruptures will happen automatically. To seriously tackle the climate problem also entails the chance to build a new society, in which the good life for all can be guaranteed. Because we will not be able to solve the climate crisis without fundamental global redistribution, nor without a democratisation of all areas of life, or without just transitions in the economy. Ecological local transport solutions for all, as well as affordable, ecologically sound housing, reclaiming the commons, making reparations for those (largely in the global South) most affected by climate change, an energy supply controlled by local cooperatives, and the expansion of climate-friendly sectors of the economy (like education and care) at the same time as cutting back emission-intensive sectors of production: there are many ways to promote both social justice, and rapid emissions reductions. But in order to do all these things, we need to first say goodbye to an economic model that can only function as long as it exploits and despoils ever more raw materials, and ever more people.
So let’s pack our umbrellas!
In 2015, the climate-debate will be more present in public life than it has been for many years: in New York, last year saw more than 300.000 people on the street to protest for climate action, the G7-summit in Bavarian Elmau features climate change high up on the list of key issues, the UN-climate conference in December in Paris (COP21) is supposed to produce a new climate treaty, and in Germany, many key decisions about the future of coal are about to be taken this year. As activists for social and ecological justice, we’re bound to have a busy year. And a key date will be:
The 15th of August! On that day, thousands of us will try to flood an open-cast lignite mine near Cologne, and blockade the diggers there, to fight for an immediate phase-out of coal, and to show our opposition to the fossil-fuel industry, to climate change and capitalism (for more information, see www.ende-gelaende.org).
And in December we will meet our friends from all around the world in Paris to say No to the climate summit. In this, we are part of a broad movement against the dominant economic order of the world, against capitalism. Frankfurt is a place where we want to make those connections visible and tangible.
Let’s start our year of action on the 18th of March, let’s pack our umbrellas!
- Attac AG Energie, Klima, Umwelt
- Arbeitskreis Umwelt (AKU) Wiesbaden
- Bund Naturschutz, Ortsgruppe Weiden in der Oberpfalz
- Cafe 2 Grad/Frankfurt
- Für eine linke Strömung – FelS
- gegenstrom Berlin
- Gegenstrom Hamburg
- Interventionistische Linke (IL)
- Klima Aktion Mainz
- Klimagerechtigkeit Leipzig
- 100 Pro Energiewende Mannheim e.V.
- Robin Wood Berlin