The brother El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (aka Malcolm X) once explained, “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” The tale of two narratives associated with the recent signing into law of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) accentuates his words at a critical moment. Communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis find themselves entrapped in a cycle of climate cataclysms and cumulative pollution derived from legacy and systemic environmental racism and classism. While attending a meeting in Bogota, Colombia with the newly elected Vice President, Francia Marquez, one of her advisors expressed to me that she was questioning why the demographics of those celebrating passage of a bill purported to address the climate crisis don’t match the demographics of those most impacted by the crisis?
We live in a world that is on track for a global temperature rise of 3.2 degrees celsius, at least. We know that rich countries bear the biggest responsibility for the carbon in the atmosphere that is leading to this ecological catastrophe. We also know that the burden of the crisis is falling disproportionately on people living in the poorest countries in the global south who contributed least to the problem. Grappling with this reality, climate movements across the global North are increasingly putting justice at the heart of their fight for a sustainable world. This narrative, reflected in a term like ‘ecological debt’ has amongst others made climate movements to call for climate adaptation and reparations programs in the south paid primarily by the north.
New momentum is buzzing through the North American labor movement, driven by the same age group which, across party affiliations and the urban-rural divide, has expressed majority-to-outsize support for advancing a climate policy overhaul with economic justice at its core. After ticking up slightly in 2020, the overall union membership rate in the United States fell back to where it’s been hovering the past few years, in 2021. But in spite of the stagnancy of other age groups, union membership among workers between 25 and 34 years old was on the rise, climbing from 8.8 percent in 2019 to a still-modest 9.4 percent in 2021. That bump does not account for the surge in union drives over the past eight months — including in the midst of this writing — many of which have been led by young workers.
The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition and Longmeadow Pipeline Awareness Group held a press conference on the steps of Springfield City Hall on May 31, highlighting the opposition of many Springfield and Longmeadow residents and organizations to Eversource Gas’ proposed high-pressure gas expansion pipeline that would run beneath the streets of Springfield and Longmeadow. The press conference was held in response to Eversource initiating the process it must go through to obtain all necessary permits to build and operate the pipeline. Speakers included Springfield City Council member Zaida Govan, Kristen Elechko from Senator Ed Markey’s office, Terry Gibson from Neighbor to Neighbor, Tanisha Arena from Arise for Social Justice.
No matter your specific organizational or ideological affiliation, anyone who cares about climate change today ought to understand the critical connections between war, imperialism, and the climate crisis. In the 21st century, where conflicts between the world’s rich and powerful are often waged via the lives of the poor, we have to look at the human and environmental impacts of war and refuse any claims that war is ever a necessary evil. We’ve seen again in recent months how the United States and other powerful nations use military power to gain control over resources, particularly oil, and capital. While issues such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are incredibly nuanced, with much blame to go around for both Putin and NATO’s aggression over time, it is important to remember that those who suffer in times of war are poor and working-class people.
The world faces twin debt crises. On the one hand, a well-publicized financial debt crisis looms for countries across the Global South, limiting governments’ ability to take public health action, alleviate poverty, adapt to a warming world, or pursue ambitious low-carbon development. Policy makers in the rich world seldom discuss the other debt crisis: the ecological and economic debts the Global North owes for historical and ongoing plunder, extraction, and climate pollution threatening lives and livelihoods in the Global South—all of which are key components driving the financial debt crisis. These intertwined crises require urgent action beyond the paltry steps taken since the start of the pandemic.
Even if one didn’t have an immediate experience of disaster at the doorstep — like flood, storm or wildfire, which are happening globally on a weekly basis affecting many millions of people — we all share an experience of global surge of mutual aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. In many places, it implied a different relation to material reality such as provision of food, medics and, in peculiar cases, toilet paper. In non middle-and-up-class contexts, the pandemic increased risk of losing the roof over head or being stuck below dignifying conditions in at home. This intense period became a sharp reminder of local sufficiency, the scale of our community, and the importance of understanding a home as space that goes beyond our rented or owned four walls.
Boards should prepare for legal action based on their response to climate change, a DeSmog investigation has found. Lawyers, insurers, and campaigners have been anticipating litigation against company directors for some time and say the chances are only growing as corporate requirements to address climate risks get tougher. Today, March 15, ClientEarth announced it was taking legal action against energy giant Shell’s board of directors, arguing that their failure to properly prepare the company for net zero carbon emissions breaches their legal duties. The environmental law non-governmental organization, which has bought shares in Shell, claims the company’s 13 executive and non-executive directors failed to adopt and implement a climate strategy that truly aligns with the Paris Agreement and says this is a breach of their legal duties under the UK Companies Act.
Washington, DC - After his first year in office, President Biden and his administration have failed to take meaningful action to keep fossil fuels in the ground. We are sending a powerful, unified message to Biden and demand that he use his executive authority to stop approving fossil fuel projects and exports, end new federal fossil fuel leasing and development on public lands and waters, and declare a national climate emergency. We also delivered Biden a gigantic presidential pen and executive order at the White House. The Build Back Fossil Free campaign has organized a huge letter to Biden reiterating our demands for bold executive action to keep fossil fuels in the ground, protect communities from the toxic impacts of coal, oil, and gas development, and declare a climate emergency* to advance energy justice.
Leaders of small island nations met on Tuesday to discuss suing countries in the Global North for the damage caused by emissions. This week’s discussion, convened by the Commonwealth Foundation, was the first major meeting of the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law, a body formed to help small island developing states (SIDS) bring legal action against major carbon-emitting countries. The commission, announced last year at COP26 by Antigua and Barbuda with Tuvalu, has now called for as many countries as possible to join. Kausea Natano, the prime minister of Tuvalu, said it was “a platform for small island states to channel their grievances on the impact of climate change to legal bodies”.
The cataclysms of the interlinked crises of COVID and climate change were elucidated this past year in ways that cannot be repudiated. Following the release of the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPPC) most recent report on the state of global warming, UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres characterized it as, “a code red for humanity .” In short, the report found that absent immediate and decisive measures to address planetary warming, the worst-case scenarios of climate change will be soon realized for both the physical environment and the social systems that depend on it. These admonishments should have made the 26th annual Conference of Parties (COP) climate summit, held this year in Glasgow, Scotland, a proverbial come to Black Jesus moment for the world.
The United Nations COP26 Glasgow Climate Pact signed on November 14 is another confirmation of what we learned in Durban in 2011, at the 17th UN climate summit. As expressed by Indigenous activist Ta’Kaiya Blaney (from the Tla A’min Nation in western Canada): ‘COP26 is a performance. It is an illusion constructed to save the capitalist economy rooted in resource extraction and colonialism.’ Swedish youth leader Greta Thunberg was also clear: ‘The COP26 is over. Here’s a brief summary: Blah, Blah, Blah. But the real work continues outside these halls. And we will never give up, ever.’ The climate activists are not being critical just for the sake of it. These half-dozen concrete demands were what we believe the Glasgow COP26 could have delivered – but didn’t.
The COP26 Coalition has released its declaration for climate justice. It states that: Climate change already impacts and threatens billions of lives, with billions more on the line: it is those that have done the least to cause climate change that are most impacted, especially women, Black, Indigenous Peoples, and people of colour, peasants and rural people, youth, people with disabilities, local communities and frontline communities.The climate crisis also amplifies the structural inequalities and injustices that have been hardwired into our economic and political systems that have resulted in a spiralling debt crisis, Covid vaccine apartheid and growing inequality and poverty. It asserts that: People are tired of waiting for governments to prioritize people and the planet over profits while so many lives are being impacted and lost. We are out of time and out of patience.
Chanting "shame on you," activists rallied amid a heavy police presence Monday evening outside a swanky reception for world leaders and others attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland to protest their inadequate response to the planetary emergency. Members of Britain's royal family and corporate executives joined heads of state and other leaders at the exclusive dinner event, which was hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. "How dare these world leaders have a fancy dinner on the first night of COP26, as if they have something to be proud of," said Cat Scothorne of the group Glasgow Calls Out Polluters, according to STV News.