From the original article on climatefalsesolutions.org
There is a massive climate movement going on globally and it’s quite becoming noisy, especially when you consider that there are those to whom ‘climate change’ or the ‘climate crisis’ is just another money-making venture. If you ask me, it’s becoming very hard to tell who is working to solve the issues of the climate crisis from those who have turned climate change into another cash cow, just as cancer has almost stopped being a disease and turned into a money-making brand. This means that to know who is doing the work to mitigate climate change, we must look at the principles and ideology that guide their approach to such mitigation.
When it comes to dealing with climate change, the real experts are not those with big degrees or those who like to utter big words in big conferences hosted in five-star hotels, the real experts are mostly the natives and indigenous peoples of those areas mostly affected by the changes. These indigenous people and their knowledge systems have lived for generations in these places and have been witnesses to the changes. They have knowledge that no university degree can give, we just need to be humble enough to ask them.
The fact remains that the root causes of climate change are multifaceted and intersectional: namely, resource extraction at a pace exceeding the natural limits of the earth’s systems, carried out through colonial economies that provide profit for a few at a cost to many. Therefore, real solutions to climate crisis must be tailored to tackle root systemic drivers, in addition to being demonstrated through moral practice, to work. For a climate justice future, we must move beyond carbon targets (whether parts per million or emissions percentages), because such targets reinforce a carbon reductionist paradigm, which has emerged from Euro-centric scientific discourse, globalist agendas and markets-based frameworks that avoid addressing the root causes of climate change. This reality of not addressing the root causes of issues in our society is spread across all sectors where we like to talk big scientific words which are meaningless but ignore real solutions because real solutions are detrimental to the businesses that use the problem as their money-making tools. For instance, instead of fighting the root causes of cancer, the health system has built various mansions around the symptoms from where it makes money from the pain of others.
Addressing root causes entails working with the diversity of place-based needs and available resources instead of seeking “one-size-fits-all,” centralized solutions. Examining root causes allows us to understand how reducing carbon needs to be coupled with efforts to eliminate toxic pollution, biodiversity and cultural destruction, theft and colonization of lands, militarization and authoritarian governments, racialized and gendered poverty and violence.
Tackling root causes requires us to first “scale deep,” prioritizing locally-led, locally-designed initiatives; and then “scale out” to facilitate trans-local networks of co-liberation, before we can consider “scaling up” in a truly democratic and impactful fashion.
Here are a couple of thoughts about how we must approach the solutions to climate change.
Real solutions must be guided by moral practice and not selfish gains.
Real solutions must be guided by principles such as those of environmental justice (EJ), just transition, democratic organizing and energy democracy, which have been articulated and vetted by grassroots environmental movements around the world. By providing intersectional guidelines for transformative change, these principles help us determine “just” pathways to both “decarbonizing the economy” and reducing other forms of environmental harm that have disproportionately burdened historically oppressed communities. These principles help guide climate strategies and solutions that break free from the barriers created by white supremacy culture, reductionist thinking and neoliberal ideologies that lead us astray. In addition to these movement principles, credible climate solutions must adhere to the precautionary principle, before any field testing and application. While corporate lobbyists often critique the precautionary approach as a “hurdle to progress,” this science-based guideline should be applied to all innovations, technologies and practices that are not rooted in Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and local ecological experience.
Real solutions must be guided by Indigenous Traditional Knowledge, place-based experience and public-interest science.
To be able to look into the future to see which solutions are most beneficial, least harmful, durable and equitable, we need to rely on the historical knowledge of humanity’s oldest living memories of how to live in harmony, balance and reciprocity with the Earth and all her children. Centring Local Indigenous Traditional Knowledge, wisdom and values allows us the clearest line of sight for tackling the storms, floods, fires, droughts and diseases headed our way. Noting that in many parts of the world colonial rule has attempted to wipe out Indigenous Peoples and their knowledge systems, at times we may need to look to settler and migrant cultures that have cultivated subsistence practices rooted in local ecology and learn from these practices to build living regenerative economies purposed to heal, restore and revitalize our relations with all life. In addition to the place-based wisdom of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, real solutions must be guided by credible, public-interest research and science, namely science that has strong public oversight and is publicly funded (not influenced by corporate dollars). Finally, to be aligned with a just transition, all colonial states need to seek approval from the leadership, territorial governance and wisdom of Indigenous Peoples, for all climate strategies. And where Free, Prior and Informed consent (FPIC) is applied as a framework for seeking such approval, all FPIC protocols and processes should be determined by the leadership of each Indigenous Nation.
Real solutions must be holistic in tackling intertwined ecological and social harm.
All efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must be coupled with strategies to reduce toxic co-pollutants, waste and biodiversity destruction, as well as disproportionate pollution and poverty burdens borne by Black, Brown, Indigenous, migrant and poor communities around the world. Real solutions must be guided by our reciprocal relations with all life; aligned with restoring ecosystems and species impacted by the global extractive economy; restoring the health of all species whose well-being we depend on for our own.
The climate crisis cannot be tackled without gauging “decarbonization” efforts by their ability to detoxify, decommodify, degentrify, demilitarize, decentralize, decolonize and democratize our economies. Such an integrated approach ensures that harm reduction in one aspect of any process does not exacerbate burdens in another. As such, real solutions need to be holistic in examining the life-cycles of carbon in a broader context of all associated harm, i.e. the proliferation of plastics in our oceans, the depletion of soil nutrition and high COVID-19 mortality in EJ communities due to the disproportionate industrial pollution burdens they bear.
Zero Waste: In nature, there is nothing such as waste, hence efforts to create zero waste systems to reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost waste in our cities and towns lighten the human footprint in a variety of ways – from significantly reducing climate and toxic pollution loads to relocalizing the materials economy while creating millions of new jobs and just transition pathways for the poorest communities. Zero waste strategies, which avoid burning or burying waste, are one of the most affordable ways for cities and communities to transition to local, community-controlled economies.
Looking to shift the hundreds of billions in subsidies presently handed to the oil and gas sector, we need to look at the trillions spent on the war industry. While there are few examples of efforts to demilitarize the global extractive economy, campaigns like About Face – Veterans against War, acknowledge that repurposing the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people, from serving fossil fuel corporations to serving humanitarian needs, would help to both save lives and reduce massive amounts of atmospheric carbon.
Real solutions must replace economies of greed with economies that serve ecological and human needs.
In other words, stop the economy of greed.
To be effective at doing so, real solutions need to be part of a suite of just transition strategies that move us towards local, regenerative economies guided by caring, sharing, solidarity, and mutual aid. There are thousands of active experiments around the world, providing emergent lessons from efforts to build a solidarity and feminist economy, from time banking and trans-local community investment assistance to federations of worker-owned cooperatives such as Mondragon in the Basque region of Spain.
Often, the best places to find such holistic analysis are at the intersections of the oldest struggles, amidst some of the poorest, most marginalized communities – where people continue to struggle against racialized poverty, resource wars, forced migration; as well as the onslaught of hurricanes, forest fires and disease. These intersections are where “lived experience” guides the most sophisticated strategies to dismantle multiple facets of colonial rule, with communities and workers designing and building new systems tailored to meet their needs.
Real solutions must advance deep, direct, and participatory democracy, rooted in local self-determination.
Real solutions need to be democratically determined and governed locally, involving the collective leadership of communities and workers historically most harmed and impacted by the extractive economy.
While neoliberal policies are based on the ideological premise that corporations have the best interest of people and the environment at heart, corporations are actually like machines that will always be guided by their profit-motive. Any real solutions need to be aligned with reining in the power and influence of corporations; eliminating their influence over neoliberal policy arenas that promote false solutions; prioritizing local democratic vision, and the essential needs of all peoples, and returning what is owed to those most historically harmed. Over time, we need to build more democratic models of governance that replace present concentrations of wealth and corporate influence with tools that deepen democracy such as participatory budgeting and participatory policy-making.
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