O governo anunciou o seu plano de ação climática, e é ainda pior do que pensávamos. – Sinan Eden

No dia 11 de outubro, na Culturgest, o Primeiro-Ministro, o Ministro do Ambiente e o Presidente da Câmara de Lisboa convidaram centenas de empresários, jornalistas e representantes de ONGs para a apresentação do “Roteiro para a Neutralidade Carbónica 2050”, que pretende resumir toda a política do governo do PS em relação às alterações climáticas.

Ainda sabemos pouco sobre os detalhes, mas António Costa fez a seguinte declaração, a única informação concreta que saiu na comunicação social: “Estabelecemos metas para 2030 com ambição: reduzir as emissões entre 30%-40% em relação a 2005 …”

Vamos ver o que isto quer dizer.

Em 2005, as emissões foram de 86 Mt de CO2e (equivalente a 86 milhões de toneladas de CO2). Em 2015, foram de 68 Mt de CO2e. Esta informação é oficial e pública, no site da APA assim como nos ficheiros da UNFCCC.*

PT emissions timeline

Agora, o PS quer fazer reduções entre 30 e 40%. Por outras palavras, alcançar 60 a 70% das 86 Mt de CO2e. Ou seja, ou governo propõe emitirmos 52 a 60 Mt de CO2e em 2030.

Começando hoje, o governo quer cortar entre 8 e 16 Mt de emissões. Logo, o governo quer cortar as emissões atuais entre 11 e 24%.

Depois de esclarecermos esta manobra de contabilidade criativa, podemos voltar à realidade climática e ao realismo climático.

Há vários modelos que explicam o que deve ser feito para conseguirmos ficar abaixo de 2ºC de aquecimento global em relação a níveis pré-industriais. Usemos o modelo mais consensual, que toma em conta as responsabilidades históricas e a capacidade tecnológica de cada país. Na verdade, este modelo também inclui a dívida ecológica que o Norte Global contraiu aos países do Sul Global, mas vamos para já ignorar esta parte e focar-nos só nas emissões domésticas.

Para termos um planeta habitável e para evitar um ponto sem retorno na crise climática, Portugal deveria reduzir as suas emissões para 24 Mt de CO2e até 2030. Isto significa cortar as emissões atuais por 64% (e não entre 11 e 24% como o PS gostaria).

Figura 3

Queria sublinhar aqui que estes valores são linhas vermelhas para um planeta habitável, para uma probabilidade razoável de evitarmos a catástrofe climática irreversível. Ao mesmo tempo, são contas para ficar abaixo de 2ºC e não de 1.5ºC de aquecimento global. Contudo, a partir de 1.5ºC, vários países no Oceano Pacífico desaparecerão. Por outras palavras: reduzir as emissões em 64% em Portugal é cientificamente o mínimo que temos de fazer para garantirmos a existência de (qualquer) civilização humana no fim deste século. A física não faz negociações. Realismo climático implica compreender a realidade física em vez de fazer acrobacias contabilísticas para enganar o planeta.

Voltemos às contas:

O governo quer cortar 8 a 16 Mt das emissões atuais. Num mundo minimamente não-suicida, deveria cortar 44 Mt. O erro aqui é de 70%!

Imaginando: estão a conversar com uma criança e perguntam-lhe a idade; ela responde “20”, quando na verdade tem 6 anos. Ou pagam um engenheiro para construir um edifício de 10 apartamentos, mas ele acaba a obra com 3 apartamentos. O erro do PS em termos de ciência climática é de uma escala semelhante.

Infelizmente, temos de repetir isto muitas vezes: para mantermos o planeta habitável, Portugal para fazer a sua parte tem de cortar as emissões atuais em 64% até 2030. Ponto final.

Mas a situação é pior. O PS não só faz truques com as contas, como também nos dá uma informação muito importante. Sem rodeios, o governo comprometeu-se ontem a não fazer nada sobre as alterações climáticas durante o seu mandato. Isto porque a UE já tem metas estabelecidas sobre a eficiência energética, de acordo com as quais Portugal já tem planos para reduzir o consumo de energia primária em 25% até 2020 (ver PNAEE/metas). Reduzir o consumo de energia em 25% e reduzir as emissões em 11-24% são metas coerentes (já que 70% das emissões vêm do setor energético). O único senão é que para atingir isto, não é preciso fazer absolutamente nada de novo, porque estas políticas já estão bem encaminhadas.

cartaz_empregos_clima_a4 lightDito tudo isto, será possível cortar as emissões de uma forma compatível com a ciência climática? Sim. De acordo com o relatório da campanha Empregos para o Clima, o governo poderia (em vez de nos atirar areia para os olhos) criar 100 mil novos empregos dignos e seguros no setor público (nas áreas de energia, transportes públicos, eficiência energética, floresta e outras) para realmente atingir o que é necessário: cortes de emissões de 60 a 70% em 15 anos.

Este novo relatório vai ser apresentado no dia 19 de outubro (quinta-feira) às 19h00 no CES-Lisboa.


*Os dados mais atuais disponíveis são de 2015. Há dados provisórios para 2016 mas iremos usar aqui os de 2015 (ainda que os de 2016 tornem o nosso argumento abaixo ainda mais forte).

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Reunião Estratégica das Lutas pela Justiça Climática na Europa: um pequeno feedback

No fim de semana passado, 45 ativistas de 15 países europeus juntaram-se em Bruxelas numa reunião estratégica convocada pela 350. Falámos sobre “iconic fights” (lutas inspiradoras contra as infraestruturas de combustíveis fósseis, como a luta contra exploração de petróleo e gás em Portugal), campanhas distribuídas (campanhas que mobilizam as pessoas que não vivem nas linhas de frente e quando não houver uma dinâmica internacional como marchas pelo clima – por exemplo a campanha Empregos para o Clima), e sobre como pôr justiça no centro das nossas lutas.IMG_9031

Particularmente interessante foi a luta anti-fracking no Reino Unido, que tem uns 250 grupos locais(!). Recentemente fizeram ações diretas durante um mês inteiro: cada dia um outro grupo bloqueou um sítio diferente onde existe um (/potencial) furo de fratura hidráulica. Em breve teremos alguns ativistas a visitar-nos cá em Portugal e partilhar as suas experiências.

Também esteve presente o Ende Gelände, o coletivo alemão que organiza ações de desobediência civil com milhares de pessoas, em que ocupam uma mina de carvão simbólica. A próxima ação vai ser durante a COP-23 em Bona, e o Climáximo vai estar lá.

Camaradas da Itália apresentaram a luta popular contra o gasoduto TAP (Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, a última parte dum gasoduto entre Azerbaijão e Itália), e ouvimos também sobre o MidCat na Catalunha. As novas infraestruturas de gás natural é um assunto pouco discutido em Portugal, apesar dos planos de construção de 160 km de gasodutos entre Guarda e Bragança.IMG_9033

Finalmente, as conversas sobre justiça fizeram-nos pensar sobre inclusão. Vamos brevemente experimentar algumas ferramentas que podiam potencialmente ajudar a participação política das pessoas que não conseguem ir às nossas reuniões semanais.

Aproveitamos para convidar toda a gente preocupada com as alterações climáticas às nossas reuniões, terças-feiras às 19h30 no CIDAC.

Stop the climate debate! The murderer is the accountant! – Sinan Eden

I have two friends who recently had their second daughter.

Then, there is this new article and its high pitch repercussions that tell me that the best thing I can do to save the climate is to kill that daughter.

I am confused.

§1. The scientific article is titled “The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions“. Here are some of the media stories covering the article:

  • Want To Slow Global Warming? Researchers Say Answer May Lie In Family Planning
  • Klima-Studie: Warum Babys die größten Klima-Killer sind [Klima-Killer???]
  • Ter menos filhos é a acção mais eficaz contra o aquecimento global
  • 20 BMW schädigen das Klima weniger als ein Baby [in effect, saying it’s better to buy 20 BMWs than having a child]
  • This could be the best way to fight climate change, but you might not like it
  • Fewer babies could be better for the environment
  • Have one fewer child if you want to fight climate change, study says

etc. etc.

I have a few more brilliant ideas on this.

§2. First of all, if having one fewer child saves me emissions, then how about I declare that I consider having 5 babies, then demand compensation (carbon credits!) for not having them? Can I buy my way to the so much desired BMW? (Actually, 20×5=100 of them, isn’t it?)

§3. But more importantly, the items in the list are considered to be “personal choice”, but the science of the article actually never refers to this. I mean, if I myself stop using a car, or if I simply utilize any car as part of the barricades during an anti-G20 protest, the result is the same, I still avoid 1-2 tonnes of CO2 emissions, right? They are not exactly my emissions, but if I can cut them, why not? (Fine, I just have to make sure I burn the car of someone poor enough so that s/he couldn’t simply replace it.)

§4. Even more relevant is that these are personal choices after the fact. The so-called “high impact choices” are, and I am quoting, “live car free”, “avoid one transatlantic flight”, “buy green energy”, “buy more efficient car” etc. This means, if you want to make the biggest cuts in emissions, the first step is to be rich enough to have a transatlantic flight you can cancel. Marvellous news.

§5. Finally, the article is about “educational programmes”. So it’s really about what we should tell other people to do. We are supposed to show this graph to people around us:

impact

What does “have one fewer child” mean? This does not have to be strictly limited to talking people out of having a new child. From a strictly scientific perspective, the article is also telling people to kill their own children, or better, kill all children. (Read the German article about babies being climate-killers. Death to the climate-killers! (?) )

And I mean, the article is correct in its own fashion: if there are no humans, then there is no human-caused climate change. Problem solved.

§6. I am confused.

I haven’t met my friends’ second daughter yet. But I have some little “flirts” with the older one (by flirt I mean the 3-year-old saying my name and me saying her name, in loop… not very cute for others present, but we have our own ways.).

Is the newcomer just another consumer? Just another “greenhouse gas emitter”? A climate killer?

Is it scientifically irrelevant that she could be our long-awaited union leader who reinvents the labour movement? Is it invisible to the emissions accountant that she could be inspiring thousands into acts of civil disobedience for climate justice?

(Just wondering, kid, not putting my own responsibilities onto your shoulders, don’t worry…)

§7. We have to stop the accountants. Immediately. The problem is not with the numbers, but with the system. And this is super-easy to see: In any part of the “developed” world, it is technically impossible for any person to remain below the sustainable emissions threshold via individual choices. Something bigger, much bigger, has to change.

If she would get slightly politicized, she could earn huge “negative emissions” in the accountants’ papers by winning a fight for public transport. If the accountants would get slightly politicized, we would find out what the “government recommendations” actually “miss”.

“The most effective individual actions” are when you get involved and take collective action.

Stop the accountants. Let’s talk politics.

***

A calmer and better articulated analysis of the article and its various interpretations can be found here: The best way to reduce your personal carbon emissions: don’t be rich

My “accounting” for activism versus individual solutions, here: Activism: It’s better than dying . I basically calculated that, to remain within the sustainable per capita emission budget, you would have to commit suicide. I also calculated that direct actions are even more effective than that.

 

Colonialismo reloaded – Sinan Eden

Eu sei que ainda sou muito “estrangeiro” na cultura portuguesa e que tinha uma experiência particularmente excecional em Portugal (sempre entre pessoas progressistas, humanistas, com pensamento crítico etc. 🙂 ). Mas tinha pensado que sabia algumas coisas sobre Portugal em geral.

Estive enganado.

*

Ontem estive numa sessão pública organizada pelo Ministério do Mar sobre a Extensão da Plataforma Continental Portuguesa. Aqui podes ver o que está sob controlo do estado português, e a extensão que querem.

extensao

Não vou entrar aos detalhes do projeto. Só queria aproveitar esta experiência para tentar escrever a minha primeira nota originalmente escrita em português. (estes blog-posts não se chamam “artigos”, pois não?)

Olha ao cartaz. “Portugal é mar.”

Demorei quinze minutos na conferência para perceber que a referência não era à sardinha, bacalhau, praias, surf etc. Que pollyanna que estive, foi “corrigido” brutalmente durante duas horas.

A Ministra do Mar, quem esteve a vender o mar nos Estados Unidos, abriu o evento. As seguidas intervenções tinham referências diretas a “Alargar Portugal” e ao “Conhecimento, Conhecimento, Conhecimento”. Pensei: pronto, isto me parece século quinze, mas se calhar não percebo bem o que estão a dizer.

Especialistas em geologia mostraram vídeos e fotos dos animais e plantas bonitas. Não percebi bem, mas disseram várias vezes que não eram biólogos (e não houve intervenção de nenhum biólogo). Mas então porque é que estamos tão entusiasmados sobre um dos maiores chocos naquela área, sem saber nada sobre ele? Em fim, finalmente houve um slide que disse: “Para quê?” As repostas foram claras: recursos vivos (para cosmética e medicina) e recursos não-vivos (combustíveis fósseis, fósforo, diamantes, areias, e vários minerais (como níquel, cobre, ouro, zinco e cobalto)).

Num slide foi dito que estão a aproveitar a costa continental para os combustíveis fósseis, e dois slides depois houve a tal foto famosa do Acordo de Paris, porque o slide seguinte era para dizer que para os carros elétricos a gente precisava de baterias (e por isso de níquel). Genial, né?

[Sidenote: Para reforçar a ideia, o orador mostrou fotos da campanha sefosseeu? em que, pelo que percebi, alguns adolescentes foram perguntados o que levariam com eles se fossem um refugiado. Num truque inesperado (que o público achou hilariante), todos tinham smartphone na sua lista; então precisamos de mais baterias; então precisamos de níquel. O orador ou não entende bem o que é ser refugiado, ou entende muito bem e acha piada estar noutro lado do percurso dum refugiado.]

Finalmente chegou a Ministra novamente, para encerrar o evento. No clímax de “Alargar Portugal” ela falou abertamente sobre “este nova caravela de descoberta” e que “não há perguntas sobre se vamos ou não; vamos, mas quero saber quem vem comigo”. Convidou-nos todos: “Embarquem connosco!”

Deprimente.

Sinceramente, não estive preparado para tantas referências diretas ao colonialismo e não estive preparado para um discurso destes ter aplausos de dezenas pessoas, no espaço público.

*

Nota-se uma semelhança interessante entre o colonialismo e o extractivismo moderno, quando estas pessoas olham às “zonas ainda não descobertas” e vejam só coisas (vivas e não-vivas) para extrair e explorar.

Não embarques com eles.

economic growth

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.