Is the world changeable? – Sinan Eden

There is a qualitative difference between the climate crisis and the other problems we are tackling with.

Those who want to change the world assume, generally, that the world is changeable.

This assumption is valid and sound for many problems, but might be wrong in some cases. For instance, however useful it could be, no one leads a struggle for a universe where Maxwell equations don’t hold.

Thus, our initial statement should be reformulated as follows: Those who want to change the world assume, generally, that the world is changeable with respect to the problem they address.

This updated assumption is also sound and valid for many social problems. In fact, we may be led to suppose that the world can be changed with respect to all social problems.

It can be difficult, but not impossible: We can imagine a world without violence against women, and we can get closer to our goal. There can be peace in Middle East, even if it would require decades of sustained efforts.

But, what if a particular social issue involves elements of physics and chemistry? What if natural mechanisms impose restrictions to the essence of the issue? For instance, what if, after a certain stage, this particular issue becomes irreversible, for reasons purely explained by physics and chemistry?

That is, what if those who want to change the world have limited time to do so?

This is where the climate crisis differs from most of the social issues. Earth ecosystems contain “tipping points”, points of no return, when it comes to climate change.

On the other hand, having limited time to solve a problem does not mean anything by itself. We always have limited time. After all, one day the solar system will disappear altogether.

However, climate science tell us that our time frame is not only limited, but also very, very, very little.

This perspective is new. We never worked with “system change on a deadline”. Read the article here:

No such thing as lesser evil in climate.

PS: Yes, I prepared a trailer for an article.

 

No such thing as lesser evil for climate – Sinan Eden

Many people, even some activists, do not seem to yet have understood the main statement climate change has made to humankind. Many seem to treat it as yet another environmental issue, separated from the others with a comma: there is a problem, it’s about the environment, and we need to improve the way things are in order to avoid this problem.

This is depressingly wrong in many ways.

First a parenthesis: I don’t think climate change is an environmental issue; or rather, I don’t think there are any “environmental” issues. The issue is not carbon, methane, species, and so on and so forth. There is an issue, it’s about the future of humankind, and it sometimes manifests itself through what we call the environment. But let me refocus this small text without over-philosophising. Close parenthesis.

I start with an analogy I use to explain climate change:

Situation: Imagine a bus full of people, driving fast on a mountain. The road ends ahead, and if you don’t stop, you would fall off the cliff, destroying the bus itself, everything inside the bus, including the passengers. Some people are arguing about changing the driver.tipping

Options given: If the driver is left alone (he seems drunk), you would fall off the cliff in 20 seconds. There is another driver who says he would step on the gas less than the driver, so you would reach the cliff in 25 seconds. There is another driver who doesn’t even believe in the cliff, so he would just rush you there in 15 seconds.

Of course, when you mention pulling the break, they laugh at you and question where you got your driver’s licence, and if you insist they bring the police.

Now, for this exercise to make sense, please do try to put yourself into the story. I give you 10 seconds to think.

Then answer: What is a rational choice for the passengers?

Let us rewind to climate change, and please be patient with me for a couple of paragraphs because I have to be slightly technical.

The greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere remain there for many years, they absorb the heat, making the planet warmer. Without them, most of the energy coming from the sun would radiate away, and planet earth would not be a suitable place for life as we know it, not for our species at least. Having an excess of these gases due to human activities causes what is called anthropogenic global warming. Some of the impacts on ecosystems are: more severe and more frequent droughts, floods and storms, biodiversity loss, water and food scarcity, failures of infrastructure, and social conflicts.

So far, climate change looks like any other environmental issue: It is bad. We should avoid it. And the more we avoid it, the better.

And this is exactly what is wrong in our perception.

The missing piece in the puzzle is due to positive feedback mechanisms:

Inherent to any earth system, there are mechanisms that accelerate it and that slow it down. Think of a small snowball you roll down a hill. It has an initial speed. Then there is gravity, it increases the speed. But there is also friction, which decelerates it. If your initial speed is too low, the snow ball would simply stop. If it is high enough, then you get what is called the “snowball effect”: it speeds up, and more pieces join than those that fall off, etc.

These are “feedback mechanisms”. Pay attention to the fact that it is the dynamical system itself that feeds it. You don’t push the snowball any more, neither do you try stopping it.

Some feedbacks are “positive” because they increase or accelerate the initial situation (like gravity in our example), and some are “negative” (like the friction).

For climate change, there are several positive feedback mechanisms, I’ll give two simple examples: 1) Earth warms up, ice melts into water, water absorbs more energy compared to ice which would reflects sun rays, so earth warms up even more. 2) Earth warms up, frozen soil in Siberia melts, underneath there is trapped methane, this methane is released, meaning more greenhouse effect, hence Earth warms up even more.

Climate scientists predict that a 2C warming would make these positive feedback mechanisms dominate the dynamics, causing a “run-away” climate change.

This is why they talk about “tipping points”.graphic_retina

Now rewind again to the bus story. You remember we had 20 seconds left, with a lesser evil driver promising 25 seconds until the fall and an ambitious one promising 15? Replace “seconds” with “years”, and this is where we are on the climate crisis.

In a nutshell, what this tells us is that there are physical and chemical limits to winning the struggle. And these limits lie within a ten-year span from today. Our struggles, all of our struggles are on a deadline.

Think of something you consider worth fighting for. Then think of another one. Now consider all of them. Climate science tells you that you will have to do all those things you would like to do while reducing emissions by two thirds, and do all of that during your own political lifetime.

For, an egalitarian, emancipated, just society inside a bus rolling down a cliff is not a thing.

I know that we all like to avoid thinking in black-and-white terms. And there are loads of grey zones here too: Maybe the tipping point is not 20 years but in 18, for example. However, the cliff is there, and we have to rapidly and fundamentally change everything in our society.

So these MUST be our red lines: 1) Leave at least 80% of all fossil fuels in the ground. 2) Do not launch any new fossil fuel infrastructure projects. 3) Implement a real and just transition to a fossil-free society, starting now – well, starting 10 years ago would be more realistic, but that’s when green NGOs had told us that the Kyoto Protocol was a first step and so on and so on (wait, that’s what they say now about the Paris agreement too!).

The bus story gives a few key points on why this is a radically different situation:

  • We will either fall off the cliff, or not. All politicians and all political programs that lead us there are part of the “black” scenario (although curiously, those politicians tend to be all “white”). There are no “middle ways”. Discussing whether to jump off a cliff with initial speed 200km/h or 100km/h is plainly irrational: you would be dead either way.systemchangebanner_larger-300x199
  • The status quo, the business-as-usual, is extremely dangerous for the humankind. There is nothing more “extremist” today than killing time with populist reforms.
  • Not contributing to the problem is not enough. “Well, it’s not me who is stepping on the gas. In fact, look, I am creating friction by stretching my arm out of the window.” is silly if not hypocritical. Our historical responsibility is to topple the driver, and nothing less.
  • This is not a one-time thing. We need sustained action in the right direction. Slowing down the bus now to accelerate in ten seconds is out of question. So we need to mobilize and organize.

All these were summarized into a slogan recently: “We are the ones we have been waiting for!”

We need a major leap in our capacity of imagination, and where we see ourselves in history. We need to mobilize and organize. Join in.

hopa

The basis for a just transition: Energy Democracy – Sinan Eden

We need to cut emissions in Portugal by 60-70% in 15 years. Even from a technical viewpoint, this means changing everything: changing the way we produce energy, changing the way we transport, changing the way we distribute and consume products, and changing the way our society function. Either this, or climate will change everything: chronic droughts, floods, extreme weather events, infrastructure failures, food and water crisis, climate refugees, biodiversity collapse, epidemics, social conflicts…

Campaigns for climate justice are based on lessons drawn from 20+ years of negotiations and discussions on energy transition, sustainable development, green economy, and many more terms introduced along these decades.energydemocracyheader

In a nutshell, our proposal is Energy Democracy:

  • use of sustainable and clean energy sources,
  • in public ownership,
  • through community management.

1) Sustainable and Clean Energy

Sustainability for us is a democracy issue.

First of all, the business-as-usual of the fossil fuel industry today is direct investment on catastrophes that future generations will have to face. A 2-degree warming of the global average temperatures would mean desertification, infrastructure failures, stronger and more frequent extreme weather events, and social conflicts. It cannot merely be our decision today that future generations would live like this. And for them to have a say about themselves, we have to sustain the basis for a livable planet.

But climate change is not some future hypothetical scenario, there are millions suffering today due to its impacts. Investing in or maintaining fossil fuel projects today have impacts in the Philippines, in Bangladesh, in sub-Saharan Africa, in South America and many more parts of the world. The Earth system doesn’t recognize the boundaries humans made, the impacts are worldwide and the most vulnerable populations suffer the most. Climate change limits their possibilities and pre-conditions their choices. A transition to a sustainable and clean energy also means that they would have more capacity for self-determination.

2) In Public Ownership

Energy democracy is about transition. Not a transition on paper or on financial reports, but a real transition away from the current socio-economic model, towards a just society. Given the small time-window for action, we need to make sure that private interests do not corrupt good ideas.

We should learn from the 20 years of experience of struggle.

Before Copenhagen UN Climate Summit in 2009, there was a boom in green everything. Multinationals produced a greener image, BP even changing its logo and its motto to Beyond Petroleum. BP then invested in renewable energies, in microscopic values compared to its economic power, but huge in terms of the emerging renewable market. Chevron and Shell did the same. Thus, they blocked entrance for any other players because they had virtual monopoly over the renewable market. Then, when the Copenhagen summit collapsed, all these companies distanced themselves from renewable investments and eventually abandoned most of their celebrated plans, now actively blocking the transition with their established economic power in the sector.maxresdefault

The interest of the corporations in a sustainable or clean future is arbitrary. They are interested in making more and more profit, and sometimes it happens that renewable energy is profitable, and sometimes it is better for their business to block the transition.

Same goes with the public subsidies to green companies. When it comes to money-making, false solutions abound for each corporation to have a greener image – independent of whether it is genuinely sustainable.

A livable planet is too serious to be hoped for as a side effect of business. We have literally one or two decades left to get on track for a true energy transition. This is why this debate should be taken off the zone of profit maximization concerns. This is a decision about our society, our planet, our present and our future.

This is why energy democracy means public ownership of energy.

3) Community Management

While public ownership allows for more public monitoring, regulation and documentation, the governments tend to represent the biggest economic interests, which happen to be in the hands of multinationals rather than people.

Mega projects with little to no public participation will likely cause more conflicts than cohesion – as has been the case with huge dams or giant wind farms. As a basic principle, just transition means that it should not be us the 99% paying for the consequences of it. So far, millions of us are already paying the social costs of the fossil fuel industry when a drought comes to our land or when a storm hits our city. To make the real responsibles pay, we need direct community involvement in the transition.

This can be in various forms: For centralized projects like factories or power-generating facilities, it can be a mixture of workers’ participation and local involvement, balanced with national-scale management. There is also other forms of “public public partnerships”, which can be the case in urban public transport: central government is responsible for the financing of the service, while the management is done in municipal level. Also, micro-scale localized production (of energy, or food for that matter) can be organized in the neighbourhood level, in coordination with the local and central government.

Furthermore, we admit that several private and public facilities will have to shut down rapidly, if we want this transition to take place on time: refineries, coal mines, fossil fuel power plants etc. A just transition means that the workers and the communities in these enterprises are not the ones paying for the transition. We must make sure that they have alternative paths of employment: re-qualification and job guarantees. This can be achieved only through direct involvement of these people: community management once more.

A path for energy democracy: Climate Jobs campaign

We see Climate Jobs as a campaign for united struggle and as a path for energy democracy. Four principles of the campaign are:

  • new jobs (not re-branding of existing jobs)
  • in public sector
  • to cut greenhouse gas emissions (transforming the polluting sectors to clean and sustainable models),
  • while guaranteeing jobs and training for those working the polluting sectors of the economy.

These principles are derived from our understanding of Energy Democracy. We clearly defend that this is the politically and morally correct solution to the climate crisis, but we also think that if we actually want this transition to happen in our lifetime, there is no other path technically available for us. Energy Democracy may well be our single shot, and Climate Jobs campaign is leading the way.

A base para uma transição justa: Democracia Energética – Sinan Eden

É preciso cortar as emissões em Portugal em 60-70% nos próximos 15 anos. Mesmo de uma ponto de vista técnico, isto significa mudar tudo: mudar a forma como produzimos energia, mudar os meios de transporte, mudar a forma como distribuímos e consumimos produtos e mudar a forma como funciona a nossa sociedade. Ou isto, ou o clima vai mudar tudo: secas crónicas, inundações, falhas de infraestrutura, crises de alimentação e água, refugiados climáticos, colapso da biodiversidade, epidemias, conflitos sociais…

As campanhas pela justiça climática baseiam-se em lições aprendidas ao longo de mais de 20 anos de negociações sobre transição energética, desenvolvimento sustentável, economia verde e muitos outros termos introduzidos ao longo das décadas.

Resumidamente, a nossa proposta é Democracia Energética:energydemocracyheader

  • utilização de fontes de energia limpas e sustentáveis,
  • sob controlo público,
  • e gestão pelas comunidades.

1) Energia Limpa e Sustentável

Para nós, a sustentabilidade é uma questão de democracia.

Em primeiro lugar, o funcionamento normal da indústria dos combustíveis fósseis de hoje é um investimento direto nas catástrofes do futuro. Uma subida de 2 graus nas temperaturas médias globais significaria desertificação, falhas de infraestrutura, fenómenos meteorológicos extremos mais fortes e mais frequentes, e conflitos sociais. Não podemos ser nós a tomar a decisão de condenar as gerações futuras a esta realidade. Para que estas gerações futuras tenham a possibilidade de decidir, temos de preservar as bases mínimas para um planeta habitável.

Mas as alterações climáticas não são uma espécie de cenário hipotético para o futuro: já há milhões de pessoas a sofrer com os seus impactos nos dias de hoje. O investimento em projetos de combustíveis fósseis e a manutenção dos projetos existentes têm impactos nas Filipinas, no Bangladeche, na África subsahariana, na América do Sul e em muitas outras partes do mundo. O planeta Terra não reconhece as fronteiras criadas pela humanidade, os impactos são mundiais e as populações mais vulneráveis são as que mais sofrem. As alterações climáticas limitam as suas possibilidades e condicionam as suas decisões. Uma transição para energia limpa e sustentável significa também que estas populações teriam maior capacidade de autodeterminação.

2) Controlo Público

Democracia energética é sobre transição. Não uma transição em papel ou em relatórios financeiros, mas uma verdadeira transição, uma saída do atual modelo socioeconómico em direção a uma sociedade justa. Temos pouco tempo para agir, por isso temos de garantir que os interesses privados não corrompem boas ideias.

Temos de aprender com os 20 anos de experiência de luta.

Antes da cimeira das Nações Unidas de 2009 em Copenhaga, queria tudo ser “verde”. As multinacionais apresentaram-se com uma imagem verde e a BP até mudou o seu logótipo e o seu slogan passou a ser Beyond Petrolium (“para além do petróleo”). Depois desta mudança cosmética, a BP investiu em energias renováveis, em valores microscópicos em comparação com o seu poder económico, mas enormes em relação ao volume do mercado emergente das energias renováveis. A Chevron e a Shell fizeram o mesmo. Assim, bloquearam a entrada de quaisquer outros agentes, garantindo praticamente um monopólio sobre o mercado das energias renováveis. Então, quando a cimeira de Copenhaga colapsou, todas estas empresas se distanciaram dos investimentos em energias renováveis e acabaram por abandonar a maior parte dos seus planos. Agora estão ativamente a bloquear a transição, com o seu poder económico estabelecido sobre o sector.maxresdefault

O interesse das empresas privadas num futuro limpo e sustentável é arbitrário. Apenas se interessam em fazer mais e mais lucro e se algumas vezes pode suceder que as energias renováveis sejam lucrativas, outras vezes é melhor para o seu negócio bloquear a transição.

Passa-se o mesmo com os subsídios públicos às empresas verdes. Quando se trata de ganhar dinheiro, há uma abundância de soluções para cada empresa projetar uma imagem mais verde, independentemente se ser ou não genuinamente sustentável.

A habitabilidade do planeta é uma questão demasiado séria para ficar como uma esperança de efeito secundário do funcionamento normal da economia. Temos literalmente apenas uma ou duas décadas para nos encaminharmos para uma verdadeira transição energética. É por isto que o debate deve ser retirado do plano das preocupações com a maximização do lucro. Esta é uma decisão sobre a nossa sociedade, o nosso planeta, o nosso presente e o nosso futuro.

É por isso que democracia energética significa controlo público da energia.

3) Gestão pelas Comunidades

O controlo público permite que haja mais escrutínio público, regulação e documentação, mas ainda assim os governos tendem a representar os maiores interesses económicos, colocando o poder nas mãos de multinacionais e não das pessoas.

Projetos de grande escala com pouca ou nenhuma participação popular têm tendência a gerar mais conflitos do que coesão – como tem acontecido por exemplo nos projetos de construção de grandes barragens e parques eólicos. Por princípio, numa transição justa não devemos ser nós, os 99%, a pagar as consequências. Até agora, milhões de nós pagamos já os custos sociais da indústria dos combustíveis fósseis quando as nossas terras são afetadas por secas ou quando as nossas cidades são atingidas por tempestades. Para fazer com que os verdadeiros responsáveis paguem, precisamos de envolvimento direto das comunidades nesta transição.

Isto pode tomar diversas formas: para projetos centralizados como fábricas ou centrais elétricas, pode ser uma mistura entre participação dos trabalhadores e envolvimento da população local, articulado com gestão a nível nacional. Há também outras formas de “parcerias público-públicas” que podem ser utilizadas nos transportes públicos urbanos: o governo central é responsável pelo financiamento do serviço, enquanto a gestão é feita a nível municipal. Um outro exemplo é a produção localizada em pequena escala (de energia ou de comida, por exemplo), que pode ser organizada dentro de cada bairro, em coordenação com o governo local e nacional.

Admitimos ainda que várias unidades de produção energética públicas e privadas terão de ser rapidamente encerradas, se queremos completar a transição a tempo: refinarias, minas de carvão, centrais elétricas alimentadas com combustíveis fósseis etc. Uma transição justa significa que os trabalhadores destes sectores e mais geralmente as comunidades afetadas pelos encerramentos não terão de sofrer as consequências. Temos de garantir que terão oportunidades de emprego alternativas, com acesso a requalificação e garantia de emprego. Isto só é possível com o envolvimento direto destas pessoas: gestão pelas comunidades, mais uma vez.

Um caminho para a democracia energética: Empregos para o Clima

Vemos os Empregos para o Clima como uma campanha de luta em união e como um caminho para a democracia energética. Os quatro princípios desta campanha são:

  • novos empregos (e não reciclagem/rebranding de empregos existentes)
  • no sector público
  • com o objetivo de cortar as emissões de gases de efeito de estufa (transformando os setores poluentes em modelos limpos e sustentáveis),
  • garantindo empregos e requalificação para os trabalhadores dos setores poluentes.

Estes princípios derivam do nosso conceito de Democracia Energética. Defendemos inequivocamente que esta é a solução política e moralmente correta para a crise climática, mas acreditamos também que se queremos que esta transição ocorra durante as nossas vidas, não há outro caminho possível. A Democracia Energética pode bem ser a nossa única possibilidade, e a campanha dos Empregos para o Clima está a apontar o caminho.

jlawrence_energy_democracy_colour_2

One slogan, three inspirations: We are the ones we have been waiting for! – Sinan Eden

One of the slogans of the Red Lines action in Paris during COP-21 was “We are the ones we have been waiting for!”we-are-the-ones

To me, slogans are not just words but strong tools with three functions:

First, to summarize my intentions and political convictions in a simple form. (“We are nature defending itself.”, “System change not climate change.”)

Second, to remind myself why I’m there: The repetitiveness of day-to-day work of activism may have an alienating effect. So, speaking out brings me back to real life, reminds me the injustices that made me angry in the first place. (“1.5 to stay alive!”, “The people united will never be defeated.”)

There is also a third function. It applies to good slogans – these are infrequent yet abundant. To make me reflect on the current state of the struggle and my involvement in it. (During Gezi, one common slogan was “This is just the beginning, the struggle continues.” and its deeper meaning still echoes in today’s Turkey.)

Since a year, I have been thinking about “We are the ones we have been waiting for.” It is such a powerful formulation that I keep on finding new dimensions to it.

1) We are the ones we have been waiting for.

The first dimension, its simple message, is that governments or politicians cannot and will not solve the climate crisis for us. One reason is the revolving door phenomenon in the capitalist political system. Another is the 30,000 full-time employed lobbyists working day and night, just in Brussels. (The “lobbyist per policy-maker” numbers are higher in Washington D.C.)

So, we need a firm grassroots movement that demands real solutions to climate change and that challenges the current power relations.

2) We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Then there is the affirmation that ordinary people hold the answer. Through energy democracy, food sovereignty and direct democracy, it will be us who will bring the change. It is us, all of us, together, who can save the world – or rather, save us from the catastrophic planet that capitalism is guiding us to.

There are no heroes, no saviors, no supermen, no wonder-women. Or if there are, then they are the collective actions of people who are imperfect yet learning, physically weak yet morally strong, estranged to each other but at the same time emancipating each other.

3) We are the ones we have been waiting for.

The third dimension* is more about us, as I don’t really expect non-activists reading this note until this paragraph.climate-emergency

It is about time.

It is about waiting.

Those who got the first two dimensions right have the responsibility to now mobilize us for climate justice.

We, the activists, are the ones to do this “initial” work, to activate. No one else will do it for us. Nothing will happen “on its own”. (Better said, we don’t have time to wait for something to happen on its own.)

While governments procrastinate, we have to gear up the fight, and we have to do it urgently.

The good news is: We have the power to redistribute the power. This is a growing movement, and probably the most radical social movement of the century: Hundreds of thousands marched around the world for strong climate action, tens of thousands were on the streets of Paris despite the state of emergency. In Portugal alone, more than 40 thousand people said no to oil and gas extraction, and thousands marched for the climate in eight cities just last year.

The facts are on our side. The wind is behind us. We have the moral obligation and a real possibility to change everything. And we have between 5 to 20 years left.

Back to the slogan

Breathing in… Breathing out… Reading the slogan again: We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Imagining myself ten years from now… There are many possible scenarios. Whatever the results, I know that I can be held responsible (I would hold myself responsible, for sure), for the good and for the bad.

Heinrich Böll asked a question to himself and to his readers: In World War II, all Germans were at war; before World War II, when it was being prepared, where were all the Germans?

We are making choices. Particularly in the Global North, we are making a bunch of choices about how much historical responsibility we assume for ourselves. (It’s because we have the privilege to do these choices relatively freely.)

Makes me think…

We are.

The ones.

We have been waiting for.

Think about it.

***

* Disclaimer: I don’t meant this is what the creators of the slogan had in mind. I am not over-reading. I am just interacting with the slogan, and new meanings pop up.

What Now For Anti Oil and Gas Struggles in Portugal – Sinan Eden

Victory!

Through a diverse combination of protests, petitions, letters, public meetings and direct actions, we saw two big fossil fuel concessions postponed: GALP (in the Alentejo basin) and Repsol/Partex (in the Algarve basin) announced they changed plans, and that they will not start drilling this year.

From an investment perspective, a one-year delay brings about huge uncertainties. From a business perspective (offshore drilling means arranging a platform, planning the allocation of experts and directing future funds), postponing a project has direct costs.14067631_1685617671764708_6583378658161237486_n

That this was our victory is clear. One: No such withdrawal was observed in other concessions (although newly emerging local movements are already challenging this situation). Two: The contracts are years old, but only now did municipalities and investors started questioning them. Three: GALP directly stated that the extension of the public consultation caused harm to their plans and that this was the main reason for the postponement; and DGRM stated that the public consultation was extended due to the flooding of public letters.

No policy change has one single cause. Yet in this case, I am convinced that the social movements are the first in the list.14054923_1064519136918504_3203375276850630719_n

I don’t believe in final victories (particularly in this case, as no one “canceled” anything anyway), but I do believe in the power of celebrations – while agreeing that we should never let go and that we should be particularly attentive after such declarations. We generally tend to be skeptical towards victories (and for good reasons). But in this case, the postponement is much better than non-postponement, and we are the key factor for this difference. We made a difference, which means we can make a difference. I think a celebration can serve as a reminder and amplifier of such a role of ordinary people in history.

An evaluation in celebration: From NIMBY to NOPE

In the last years and particularly when the mobilizations started taking a massive scale, grassroots movements in the Algarve rapidly moved from away from a NIMBY (Not In My BackYard) approach (indeed quite rapidly compared to other local movements around the world). They have incorporated regional (tourism), national (dirty energy) and international (climate change) arguments in their discourse.

A celebration of this attitude can also provide us with a road map to build a stronger movement against fossil fuels. And this is what we propose!

We must stop all the fossil fuel projects in Portugal. And this is not enough. Around three quarters of the energy consumed in Portugal come from fossil fuels, which not only means energy dependency but also that Portugal is responsible for extraction projects elsewhere.13892141_10208073299124296_8780494884333323711_n

International climate movements propose an alternative: NOPE, Not On Planet Earth.

In Portugal, we need to cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 64% in 15 years. To achieve this, we must

  • produce all our electricity from sustainable renewable energies such as wind and solar,
  • switch from cars to buses, trains and metro, and run almost all transport on renewable energy,
  • insulate and convert all homes and buildings to use less energy and to heat and cool using renewable energy,
  • convert and redesign industry to use less energy and to use renewable energy whenever possible, and
  • redesign agricultural production to use less industrial inputs.

This will require a lot of work.

A crucial proposal to lead this transformation is the Climate Jobs (Empregos para o Clima) campaign. In a nutshell, the campaign demands the creation of

  • safe, secure and decent new jobs,
  • in public sector
  • in areas that would directly cut greenhouse gas emissions,
  • while at the same time guaranteeing employment for the workers in the polluting industries.

The campaign aims at addressing precarity and unemployment together with the climate crisis. The campaign aims at creating a unifying lemma that links the demands of various social movements.

Two Weeks of Action in Celebration:
October 24th-November 6th

Everyday, the rulers of this socio-economic system erode our sense of dignity, safety, health, justice and hope. Everyday, they push more and more people to precarious and dangerous working conditions, to unemployment, to social exclusion. All of that, in order to continue their game. Everyday, they attack our right to exist, by steering our climate to an earthly hell of droughts, storms and forest fires. All of that, in order to continue their game.oslo-may-day

Everyday, they play games with our lives.

It’s time to enter the game, and revert the table!

We propose a two-week action period, They Play Games With Our Lives (Jogam com as nossas vidas), from October 24th until November 6th, to raise our demand to a just and livable planet, against labor precarity and planetary precarity.

Form your team, choose your objective, plan your action, and bring your struggle in. Also, let us know about your plans so we can help to coordinate and to amplify our collective voice.

Flexibilities – Sinan Eden

We are in Madrid, 17 people (and two wonderful trainers) from seven cities of the Iberian peninsula, in a civil disobedience training. And we are talking about limits, particularly our limits in action.

It reminds me of other limits, limits as to what we can achieve in Portugal right now. It makes me think of how flexible (or not) the legal and institutional structures are.

I remember an interview in New Statesman with Yaris Varoufakis. It was after the Eurogroup negotiations, after the referendum, and after the introduction of new austerity measures. Varoufakis had resigned already, and this was his first interview afterwards.

What does Greek debt have to do with climate politics?

I recall the following bit of the interview:

“There was a moment when the President of the Eurogroup decided to move against us and effectively shut us out, and made it known that Greece was essentially on its way out of the Eurozone. … There is a convention that communiqués must be unanimous, and the President can’t just convene a meeting of the Eurozone and exclude a member state. And he said, “Oh I’m sure I can do that.” So I asked for a legal opinion. It created a bit of a kerfuffle. For about 5-10 minutes the meeting stopped, clerks, officials were talking to one another, on their phone, and eventually some official, some legal expert addressed me, and said the following words, that “Well, the Eurogroup does not exist in law, there is no treaty which has convened this group.” varoufakis

So what we have is a non-existent group that has the greatest power to determine the lives of Europeans. It’s not answerable to anyone, given it doesn’t exist in law; no minutes are kept; and it’s confidential.” (my emphasis)

This honest revelation is, I believe, crucial to understanding the world we live in. So please read it again, and read it carefully.

To sum up, what happened? Troika wanted the Greek government to introduce more cuts. They had no legal tools to achieve it. In fact, they didn’t even have the necessary institutional tools! The European state apparatus couldn’t lead this process.

So what did they do? Ministers, bankers, lobbyists, government officials, big people… they IMPROVISED! They created a non-legal, non-state, informal, unaccountable entity to deal with it. Varoufakis says he “was on 2 hours sleep every day for five months,” mostly working with this thing.

No one asked: “Wait, is there a convention for Eurogroup?”, “What do we base our discussions on?”, “Is it actually compatible with any law or constitutional article somewhere?” No one asked. They had a problem. They wanted to solve it. They solved it. Period.flexible

When I first read the article, I was talking to everyone around me about it. I guess I read it more than ten times so far. The point being: Do you see how flexible they can be when they want to?

Okay, going back to Portugal.

What does civil disobedience have to do with climate change?

There are contracts, concessions, and laws on which these are based.

Then, there is climate change.

There is obviously an essential difference: We have a problem with the climate chaos, they don’t. So they don’t want to solve it, we do. But even so, I think there are at least two points I want to make about what Varoufakis’ words made me think.

First: If they don’t cancel the contracts and related law decrees (not only in Portugal, but in all of Europe), it’s not because the legal system doesn’t allow that, it is because they actually do not want to cancel the contracts. If they had to, they would find a way.

Second, and now coming all the way back to the training I’m participating in now: They are quite flexible. They introduce sanctions, they declare and extend states of emergency, they even create non-legal, non-state, informal, unaccountable structures when necessary!

For them, the maintenance of the current socio-economic system is not negotiable.planet profit

And what about us? How flexible are we in our personal limits? (How flexible am I?) And the maintenance of a livable planet, how negotiable is it for us?

They were ready to do whatever it took to “solve” the Greek debt crisis. How ready are we to solve the climate crisis?

We are now in Madrid, with activists involved in 12 organizations. We are exploring ourselves – sometimes more explicitly, sometimes more implicitly – in relation to all these questions. And we will come back to our collectives and our hometowns, and re-open all of these discussions with you.

Rosaparks_bus

***

PS: And this is a European example. So it takes place in a rather democratic system. Then there are also other parts of the world, like Middle East or Africa…

Clima vs. Economia – Sinan Eden

[artigo publicado em Crítica Económica e Social, nº 8, julho 2016]

No final da Cimeira do Clima COP-21, enquanto funcionários governamentais, a grande mídia e ONG’s ambientalistas celebravam vitoriosamente o acordo de Paris, dezenas de milhares de pessoas protestaram nas ruas da cidade apesar do estado de emergência. O acordo foi anunciado durante a manifestação em frente à torre Eiffel, e a primeira reação dos activistas foi: “É pior do que pensámos!”d12 01

No lado positivo, o acordo de Paris reconheceu o bastante claro e urgente consenso dentro da comunidade científica e anotou o objectivo de limitar o aquecimento global abaixo de 2°C comparado aos níveis pre-industriais (e para visar abaixo de 1.5°C).

O acordo de Paris foi tão claro ao explicar o que precisa de ser feito quanto vago ao descrever como isso iria acontecer efectivamente. O acordo não só não implica compromissos vinculativos de redução de emissões como também legitimiza os compromissos voluntários dos países que iriam fixar-nos numa rota de aquecimento acima dos 3°C. Com esta ambiguidade política a acção climática tornou-se uma batalha de números – como acontece com qualquer outra questão no contexto do discurso neoliberal. Por um lado temos redução de emissões, projectos lunáticos de geoengenharia, comércio de carbono e técnicas de “emissão negativa” como captação e armazenamento de carbono, sendo que todos eles reduzem política climática a contabilidade do clima. Por outro lado, foram publicados vários relatórios a afirmar que é possível uma ecologização da economia vigente de combustível fóssil sem interferir com as relações de propriedade inerentes e a forma de produção. Estes relatórios são baseados numa dissociação (“decoupling”) entre crescimento económico e emissões de gases com efeito de estufa. Ambas estas partes tendem a ver nos relatórios números em vez da realidade, e enfatizam certos números em detrimento de outros para salientar que está tudo bem e que não precisamos mudar as relações sociais existentes. Por outras palavras, vamos apostar um pouco mais nos investimentos em energia “verde” e em novas tecnologias, et voilá!, podemos também não mudar o clima nem o sistema, e viver felizes para sempre.

No entanto, será esta dissociação entre crescimento económico e emissões real? Os que confiam no sistema socioeconómico actual – vamos chamá-los de “as pessoas da Mão Invisível” – defendem que os mecanismos de mercado são compatíveis com uma política climática sólida. O que eles fazem, na verdade, é mostrar-nos uma mão enquanto roubam-nos a carteira com a outra, para iludirem-nos escondendo coisas na manga e depois para darem-nos um murro na cara enquanto assistimos ao espectáculo. Este artigo é sobre esta batalha de números e a agenda ideológica que serve para esconder.

O que é que a Mão Invisível tem para nós?

A Agência Internacional de Energia (AIE) publicou os dados de emissões relativos ao ano passado, anunciou que as emissões de CO2 relacionadas com a energia mantiveram-se estáveis por dois anos consecutivos, e que uma vez que houve um crescimento do PIB no mesmo período, que existe uma dissociação entre emissões e PIB.

Muitos jornais fizeram fila para as celebrações, enquanto o Instituto de Recursos Mundiais (World Resources Institute – WRI) elevou a aposta com uma análise (incluindo UE e EUA) onde debatia que a dissociação teve lugar em 21 países desde o início do século. A British Petroleum (BP) também confirmou estas observações. Por exemplo, no caso dos EUA, o WRI publicou este grafico.

wri us

Até agora, tivemos um rápido vislumbre sobre os argumentos de dissociação. Agora vamos ver os dados um pouco mais de perto.

O que é que a Mão Invisível não tem para nós?

Antes de tudo, o relatório do WRI analisa o período de 2000-2014 como objecto de estudo. Ao incluir plenamente a crise económica global, os cortes de emissões causados pela crise são vistos como se fossem causados por investimentos em energias renováveis.

Em segundo lugar, por esta mesma escolha de datas, todas as indústrias poluidoras (carvão, cimento, construção etc.) ao emigrar dos países do norte para os países do sul devido ao Protocolo de Quioto são registados como cortes de emissões nos países do norte. Mais especificamente, o crescimento do PIB vai para países imperialistas, as emissões vão para países em desenvolvimento. Que bela dissociação! Escusado será dizer, emissões com efeito de estufa em China e em Índia duplicaram no mesmo período, mas como não fazem parte do estudo de caso, a nossa Mão Invisível mantém-se.denial

Existe no entanto outro ponto importante. Os artigos referentes ao relatório da Agência Internacional de Energia (AIE) enfatizam a decisão da China, a qual é responsável por mais de um quarto dos gases com efeito de estufa emitidos a nível mundial, de parar com os investimentos em carvão. Muito bem. Mas existirá uma dissociação entre o PIB e as emissões em China? Se sim então porque Xi Jinping declarou uma redução do crescimento económico como o “novo normal” do país num discurso onde defendeu uma transição de indústrias de elevado consumo energético para serviços de alta qualidade inovadores?

Na verdade, a taxa de crescimento económico atingiu o seu pico em China em 2007 e de 2010 para a frente começou a diminuir. Somado a isto o crescente descontentamento da população contra a poluição atmosférica, e agora estamos prontos a contar tudo isto como vitórias do mundo desenvolvido e a defender a nossa hipótese de dissociação.

Finalmente, o que estes artigos visam? Vá e leia um, verá: a mensagem transmitida é a de que podemos travar as alterações climáticas sem mudar o sistema. Mas porque é que nenhum deles coloca a comparação entre o que é preciso acontecer para manter o aquecimento global abaixo dos 2°C e o que está a acontecer na vida real? Para sermos justos, os países responsáveis pelas emissões globais estão mais ou menos a par e passo com as promessas de Paris. Estas promessas vão prender-nos a um aquecimento de 3°C. Os requisitos físicos necessários para um planeta habitável são deixar pelo menos 80% de todas as reservas conhecidas de combustíveis fósseis no solo. Mesmo que consideremos apenas o petróleo, isto traduz-se num valor de 1.1 biliões de dólares em activos encalhados daqui a uma década. Tal “dissociação” que represente falência para as maiores empresas do mundo e uma quase total paralisação do sistema financeiro global, é também conhecida como: revolução.

O que é que a outra Mão Invisível tem para nós?

Se pensou que o único problema era que as reduções de emissões eram “insuficientes”, então tem estado a subestimar contabilistas e economistas burgueses. Na verdade não existe tal coisa como reduções das emissões mundiais e jamais algum relatório afirmou tal. Então agora, vejamos o que acontece a outros sectores e outros gases enquanto as emissões de dióxido de carbono relacionadas com a energia diminuem. Temos dois convidados surpresa.

No nosso primeiro exemplo veremos as emissões dos EUA. Adicionemos-lhe o fracking e veremos o que acontece. Fracking ou fracturação hidraulica, um dispendioso método não convencional originalmente introduzido nos anos 50, tornou-se recentemente economicamente viável na América do Norte assim que os preços do petróleo atingiram os 100$/barril. Nos EUA, estamos a falar de um total de 2 milhões de furos de petróleo e de gás, e que abrangem 43% e 67% do total da produção de petróleo e gás, respectivamente.

Defensores do fracking afirmam que o gás natural produz menos dióxido de carbono de carvão e petróleo sendo assim uma mais limpa fonte energética. E pela perspectiva da indústria de combustíveis fósseis, esta mudança é o factor chave na dissociação de emissões e PIB.

No entanto há um pequenino problema: Existem fugas nestes furos altamente complexos. Felizmente para as pessoas da dissociação, o gás que escapa é metano. Como o metano não é dioxido de carbono, não aparece nos cálculos. Contudo, o metano é um gás de efeito de estufa e quando comparado num prazo de 10-20 (o período que nos resta para evitar alterações climáticas irreversíveis), é 86-105 vezes mais forte que dióxido de carbono!

Cálculos mostram que mesmo que as fugas mantivessem um nível de 3%, o impacto climático do fracking seria pior que o do carvão. Para além disso, estudos mostram que as fugas são de entre 3.6-7.9 pontos percentuais. Por exemplo, um estudo de 2013 usou imagens de satélite para descobrir que as fugas em Utah ultrapassam os 9 por cento.

Agora vamos reconsiderar as emissões dos EU.

us ghg emissions

As emissões não diminuem, não param, elas estão, na verdade, a aumentar! E para somar a crise económica, a nossa única esperança de “decoupling” será de que as emissões continuem a aumentar mesmo que a economia não esteja a crescer – bem, as pessoas da Mão Invisível não gostariam desse tipo de interpretação, pois não?

Isto é como são as coisas nos EUA. Voltemos agora a nossa atenção para a UE de forma a abrangermos os países mencionados no relatório do WRI.

Como deve saber, o protocolo de Quioto excluía o ocupação do solo, alteração do solo e florestação (LULUCF) dos requisitos para redução de emissões. Desta forma, se mandar abaixo uma floresta e destruir um reservatório de carbono não terá qualquer efeito na suas quotas de emissão. E foi disto que a UE ganhou consciência: Gasolina e petróleo foram substituídos por biocombustíveis. Todos os anos entram no mercado Europeu milhões de novos automóveis a biodiesel e já alcançaram uma quota de 30% em vários países.

Agora focalizemos. De acordo com o argumento de dissociação estes carros têm impacto zero no clima. Porque não causam emissões de dióxido de carbono relacionadas com a energia. O que eles fazem é abater algumas das florestas tropicais mais importantes do mundo substituindo-as por gigantes plantações de palmeiras, soja, colza e girassol. Se perguntar a lobistas da indústria de automóveis, não há emissões: corta uma planta, põe outra planta, nova planta também captura carbono de modo que o resultado líqido é nulo. No entanto um estudo feito pelos Transport & Environment mostra que o impacto total dos biocombustíveis é pior que o do petróleo.

biofuels actuals

Se compararmos apenas emissões directas, sim, uma transição para biocombustíveis representa uma redução média de 50%. Mas se incluir alterações por uso de solos e outros impactos, os biocombustíveis causam 80% de emissões a mais. Em alguns casos as emissões de biocombustíveis são o triplo das de óleos diesel.

Qual é o seu palpite? O WRI terá visto as emissões directas, ou implementou uma abordagem mais completa ao efeito estufa?

Não se consegue enganar sequer um miúdo desta forma, mas coloque números e gráficos e junte-lhes algumas boas referências e as pessoas levam-no a sério. Mas temos de ser claros no seguinte: Se anda a passar uma cereja de mão em mão e a dizer-me “Veja, agora tenho menos cerejas!” então anda a brincar com a gravidade das alterações climáticas. Mas se, enquanto alterna de mãos, apanha duas cerejas mais e depois vem e diz aos activistas “Vejam o copo meio cheio, aqui há um decréscimo!”, depois não pode esperar que o levemos a sério. E isto é exactamente o que os relatórios de dissociação estão a fazer.

Este breve sumário explica assim o que está por trás da análise de casos do WRI para a dissociação de dados dos EUA e da UE. Ora, o melhor cenário possível para os dados globais é uma “fraca dissociação”, isto é, uma dissociação entre intensidade energética e PIB.

Que negócios teríamos com a Mão Invisível?

O pior é ver activistas honestos a reproduzir esta propaganda. De acordo com estas pessoas: “Os grafismos tornam a nossa mão mais forte. Capitalistas pensam duas vezes antes de investir em combustíveis fósseis.” A nossa resposta a estes amigos que vivem no país das maravilhas do capitalismo é que estes grafismos são criados pelas próprias empresas dos crimes climáticos. Não é a nossa propaganda, é a deles. A nossa opção é a de acreditar nela ou não, e é tudo.

Companhias como a Shell e a BP publicam relatórios semelhantes e estão bem cientes de para onde caminhamos. É exactamente por isso que o tentam encobrir dizendo “Olhem para aqui, olhem, vêem? Não há problema, as emissões estão a diminuir, a economia está a crescer. Não precisa de confrontar o capitalismo!”logo_mov_clima

Por outro lado: Sabemos que há pelo menos 21 biliões de dólares em paraísos fiscais. Sabemos que o único maior emissor, o Exército Americano, tem-se mantido isento dos cálculos de emissões. Sabemos que a ExxonMobil, uma empresa com uma receita anual de 350 mil milhões de dólares, sabia das alterações climáticas à 40 anos atrás e gastou milhares de milhões de dólares para financiar negacionismo.

Activistas de justiça climática têm de voltar à realidade, imediatamente. Soluções dentro do capitalismo não são umas ideias abstractas, elas são hipóteses testadas e refutadas durante décadas. Temos que extrair os ensinamentos certos das negociações climáticas feitas ao longo de 21 anos, porque se não o fazemos agora poderemos não ter mais nenhuma chance de o fazer: Temos muito, muito, muito pouco tempo para parar as alterações climáticas.

Existe uma alternativa. Nós podemos visar uma dissociação ideológica entre economia e bem-estar. Ou seja, rejeitando o argumento de que o crescimento económico e o lucro empresarial também é bom para nós. Ou seja, defendendo um planeta habitável e justo directamente. Por outras palavras, rompendo com o discurso neoliberal, recusando corporações e os ultra-ricos e focando em soluções reais. Hoje “Muda o sistema não o clima” é mais válido e urgente que nunca.

Activism: It’s better than dying. – Sinan Eden

§0. When I talk about climate change, many people ask me: “But what can I do in my daily life?” My answer is: become a political activist in your daily life. Organize collective action against climate criminals. This is not only more fun, it is also more effective. And by more effective, I mean by faaaaar more effective.

What happened in May 2016?

§1. In May 2016, a series of mass actions against the fossil fuel industry took place around the world under the umbrella slogan Break Free from Fossil Fuels. In six continents, more than 30 000 activists participated in 20 actions of civil disobedience in key spots, blocking mines, ports, coal plants, fracking sites and many more.

One highlight action was in Germany: Ende Gelände in Lusatia.

I don’t think people understand what that action means for consumer-based individualist proposals.

§2. Here is the fact: In Lusatia, 3500 activists from all around Europe blocked one of the biggest coal mines in Europe for several days, physically obstructing 24 547 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.13244715_1742022822686472_3530679302855493306_n

This is around 7 tonnes per person.

§3. Put this into perspective: The average annual greenhouse gas emissions in Germany are around 12 tonnes per capita. In a whole year, an average German person emits the equivalent to 12 tonnes of CO2. (Because we also emit methane, nitrous oxide etc, we use equivalents in terms of global warming potential.) This number would of course be much less if one doesn’t have a car, uses bicycles, eats vegetarian or vegan food, repairs her/his clothes instead of buying new ones, buys local etc.

In Portugal, that value is 7 tonnes.

So, you live in Portugal. Let’s say you are an average person. You have three ecologically sound options:

A) You can consume less.

§4. The sustainable levels for emissions worldwide is 2 tonnes per person, annually. So if you are average, you must cut every five items out of seven you have been consuming, be it food, transport, heating, laptops, housing or any other item.2c5d48a662202d567fa2581755a34053

§5. If you are a Franciscan ecologist, maybe you i) share your house with three people, ii) never use heating, iii) use electricity only for basic needs, iv) never travel between cities, v) use public transport and only for going to work, vi) never eat meat, vii) only eat local and seasonal food, viii) buy new clothes only when it is absolutely necessary, ix) avoid packaging, and x) go to cinema very rarely. Then, your emissions would be 3.4 tonnes per year. [1]

So you can only cut by half because the socio-economic system has embedded emissions over which you don’t have a choice as a consumer.

But the sustainable levels are 2 tonnes! Hence the second option:

B) You can commit suicide.

§6. This would put your emissions to zero.

§7. But world emissions would continue. So when you commit suicide and you meet your ecological god, he or she or it or they would send you to ecological hell (to be burned as zero-emission bio-fuel for heating the ecological paradise) because you didn’t convince other people to commit suicide with you.

Portugal needs to cut domestic emissions by 57% in 15 years. So you would have to convince more than half of the population to massive collective suicide in 15 years. If this sounds unreasonable, go to the next option:

C) You can participate in direct actions.

§8. You can spend only three days in a year for escalated action against the fossil fuel industry. If you are an average Portuguese person and you participated in Ende Gelände, your annual emissions this year are: ZERO!

If you have been careful with your lifestyle choices too, maybe you had negative emissions!13239881_1628109127513542_4669764780033591569_n

§9. By the way, if you liked the spirit of being on the right side of history, if the feelings of solidarity and unity made you happier, then you can do more than one action – maybe in smaller scales.

What it all means

§10. Of course, this is not to underestimate the efforts involved in organizing, preparing and spreading an action of this kind. Many buses arrived to Lusatia from almost all Europe. There were trainings. There was an action camp. There was a hell lot of kitchen work for legal and medical support. You can help in all these so that next time we come together, we are bigger, stronger, bolder. And all kinds of support are needed, not only in Germany but also in other campaigns that participated in Break Free. A 3-day action doesn’t just happen, it involves hundreds of people preparing it for months.

§11. This is also not to overestimate single acts. Break Free actions were part of larger local campaigns that use various tactics to stop these polluting projects, from direct communication to public information events, from street stands to creative actions. You can help with all these, and who knows maybe with such diverse campaigns we could even bankrupt the largest private-owned coal company. Wait, that already happened last April! Anyway, the biggest corporations in the world still work in the fossil fuel industry, and we still have a long way to go.breakfree_0

§12. Also, climate justice is not only about emission cuts. It’s also about housing, racism, food sovereignty, corporate power-ups such as free trade agreements, and maybe most importantly it’s about peace. I am sure you can find what annoys you the most, and take action in that area. All of these struggles add up for climate justice.

§13. All I’m saying is this:

From a conformist perspective; if you want to restrict your political understanding to your individual sphere, you have little chance of becoming sustainable even if you try hard every single day; if you cannot be bothered to act, get your ass off the sofa for a few days a year for civil disobedience, and you’ll make a big difference.

From a non-conformist perspective, all actions are welcome, but be sure to prioritize collective political action over individualist frames because they are by faaaaaar more effective.

§14. There is at least one group in Lisbon keen on following the effective path to climate justice. (Hint hint! Its first letter is C. Also, it is not the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.)

Join in, give a hand to existing projects, bring new ideas, be part of this historical opportunity to change everything, before climate does so.

***

[1] There are many ways of calculating your carbon footprint. I use http://www.carbonfootprint.com/ but you can duck-duck-go another online calculator if you’d like to verify these numbers.

Disrupt – Sinan Eden

This is a short note on climate justice, and is linked to the questions in this article, but you could as well move on without reading that one. I write this note for climate justice activists. So I assume we agree that climate change exists, that it’s human-made, that it’s an urgent problem, and that there is an issue of justice in its core.

Kept short, I start with the following statement: The climate crisis is a matter of life or death.

I want to point out to three aspects of it.

Quite flexibleOld-Fadama-Accra

The first one is that capitalism is flexible. Many monarchs survived bourgeois revolutions, archaic privileges of the Catholic church survived republican revolutions, high-ranking party bureaucrats survived the fall of the Soviet union; and companies survived the long-thought-to-be-impossible minimum wage laws and working-hour laws. It is theoretically possible that at some point of history, corporations give enough compromise that we would decide to focus on other priorities. In a way, green capitalism fans are right to a certain extent; and we have to acknowledge how, after decades of counter-revolutionary strategy building, capitalists learned to give up large chunks of their power in order not to jeopardize the socio-economic system as a whole.

Not so flexiblesyria

However, the second trick is that “enough compromise” in the context of climate crisis means disruption. Physics and chemistry do not negotiate: There are tipping points in the Earth systems that, once passed, would accelerate warming irreversibly. Simply put, if we pass a threshold that probably lives somewhere between 1,5°C and 2°C (relative to pre-industrial levels), we will guarantee a 4-6°C warming due to positive feedback mechanisms. Now, we already reached a 0,85°C warming. This means we have very little time left to cut greenhouse gas emissions. And by “very little”, I mean, for instance, that we must stop building energy-related infrastructures that emit greenhouse gases, by next year, worldwide. Capitalism is reformable all-right, but the nature, amount and speed of reforms necessary are too radical to be implemented smoothly. We need to disrupt the system, declare state of climate emergency, and reclaim the power and Power.

Yet flexible

The third trick is that capitalism can adapt to climate change. Latin American history is an encyclopedic compendium of social disintegration going hand in hand with capitalist integration. Middle East is a living example of collapsed societies and imperialist juggling. And then there is sub-Saharan Africa. The engines of capitalism run quite well in these barbaric cases; as a matter of fact, none of the imperialist powers found inconvenient to extend this to North Africa and Ukraine. I mean, climate crisis in itself is not a survival crisis for capitalism, unless we make it one. Entering Decade Zero, the decade in which we will decide whether to rise up or fall down, there is little to no empirical or analytical evidence to hope for a capitalist transition.CbZxOjYW4AAYO8W

So ehm, I said above that this was a matter of life or death. Maybe now I can articulate better: This is a matter of either life for us and death to capitalism, or life for capitalism and death for us. (Just so you get a glimpse of what I’m talking about: In business-as-usual scenarios, some 200 million climate refugees are expected by 2050 – compare to 4 million Syrian refugees and the political and social consequences of it in Europe.) As profit-obsession poses a threat to the world-as-we-know-it, so should we pose a direct threat to corporations.

This is a huge challenge we are facing. In other words, we live in really exciting times. The old world is being shut down in Ende Gelände, in Plane Stupid, in Cerattepe, in Keystone XL. The new world begins here and now, with Climate Jobs campaigns, with energy democracy, with numerous fights on public transport, food sovereignty and self-management.

We live in really exciting times, and this is just the beginning. It is now time to escalate the movements for social and climate justice. Because we don’t have any more time left.

1.2