For a People’s Protocol and a People’s Movement on Climate Change (A Summary)
Injustice lies at the root of the climate crisis. A tiny minority of the world’s population based in the advanced capitalist countries in the North is primarily responsible for accelerating climate change that is already inflicting more death, destruction and suffering to millions of the world’s poor and disadvantaged.
In their relentless pursuit of profits, Northern corporations have burned vast and increasing amounts of fossil fuels and destroyed forests to feed energy and inputs into production, dumping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at levels that is now warming the planet and disrupting the climate. The global economic system involves the appropriation and lopsided use by a powerful global elite of the planet’s shared resources, and the disempowerment and dispossession of the majority of the world’s people. This basic social process is behind two centuries of profit-oriented capitalist growth. It bequeathed increasing prosperity and power to the Global North and private corporations through the over-exploitation of natural resources, and forced poverty, colonialism, and underdevelopment upon millions of people, who now suffer the hardest impacts of climate change despite having no responsibility for it. In the last 30 years, under the banner of free market globalization, and with the help of the IMF, World Bank, and WTO, Northern-based transnational corporations have expanded their power over Southern economies and resources, and intensified their pollution of the atmosphere and destruction of the environment.
Efforts for climate action have hitherto failed to stem the causes of climate change and bring justice to the poor and peoples of the South. Northern governments and corporations have not only refused to fully honor their historical obligation to reduce emissions and support climate actions in the South, but have exploited the climate crisis to enforce false solutions that create new profit opportunities, expand their control over natural resources, and exacerbate global warming. Powerful Northern and corporate interests have undermined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as evidenced by its Kyoto Protocol. The same powers are sabotaging current negotiations for a just post-2012 climate regime, as they stall on committing emissions cuts that the scientific evidence requires, as well as sufficient funding to cover the costs of adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. They are also aggressively pushing for an agreement that would require developing countries to take on binding emissions cuts, or worse, abandon multilaterally-determined binding emissions commitments altogether.
We, the people, need a platform that raises real solutions, registers our voices, and articulates our demand for social justice. Real solutions go beyond “business-as-usual” technology- and market fixes along which powerful interests have set and confined the climate agenda. Real solutions require the reallocation of the world’s resources between and within nations for equity and social justice; the reversal of neoliberal globalization; the restoration of people’s sovereignty over resources, economies, and institutions; and the compensation by corporations and the Global North of the poor and peoples of the South for the losses they are forced to bear as victims both of climate change and the social system that is behind it. Socially just solutions also make for scientifically and ecologically sound ones. Using natural resources equitably and democratically, and supplanting the drive for private profit with the fulfillment of social needs as the principal economic goal will reset human society’s relationship with the environment on a far more sustainable path.
We need a people’s movement to advance our solutions. Solving the climate crisis requires far-reaching social transformation. Unequal patterns of power behind such injustices as poverty, hunger, exploitation, and colonialism are the same ones that have caused ecological destruction and climate change. And as with other injustices, the climate crisis and its roots can only be dealt with through political struggles by the people. We need a grassroots-based people’s movement on climate change to promote the people’s agenda on climate action and social transformation, fight for solutions that secure justice and democratic rights for the people, and challenge efforts from powerful elite and corporate interests that seek to divert and undermine our movement.