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One rainy day, we shut down the World Economic Forum.

So you've realised that global warming is a crucial issue? Here are some resources to help articulate an effective response.

powerstation.jpg
A coal power station in the US, from IGHIH

Coal is the key industry that must change the most if we are to survive climate change.

Throughout the Hunter Valley, locals are uniting against the construction of more destructive open cut coal mines, particularly the Anvil Hill mine. Many town meetings are occurring to plan a fair and just transition, diversifying to other industries beyond coal.

mtarthur-small.jpg
BHP Billiton's open cut mine, Mt Arthur, near Muswellbrook

We need to transform the position of the State and Federal Governments from positions of "business as usual", and active support of coal and other fossil fuels, to a position of strong regulatory disincentives for fossil fuels, and incentives for wind and solar. To achieve such a change, we need a powerful social movement. The Climate Movement has the potential to do this.

If we are to prevent catastrophic collapse of the Earth's life-support systems, we need to prevent a rise of over 2 degrees Celsius. This means a 90% cut in emissions by 2030. In his excellent book,Heat, George Monbiot figures out what change is necessary to restructure the UK's energy systems to achieve this goal.

Kyoto

On the international scale, the international regulatory framework for Greenhouse Gas Abatement, the Kyoto Protocol, needs scrutiny to ensure that its many loopholes are closed, and that fairness and justice prevails. Transnational Institute has a project called Carbon Trade Watch, which scrutinises the kind of policy formulations that have come out of the Kyoto process over the last few years. They have released several excellent reports, including one on Eucalypt plantations in Brazil. They have worked with many community groups throughout the Majority World, to draft the Durban Declaration, that says, "BRING CLIMATE DECISIONS BACK INTO THE PEOPLES' HANDS!"

Similarly, the Clean Development Mechanism Watch is investigating the projects that are happening throughout the Majority World in the name of the Kyoto Protocol. Are these projects taking up the best land that is needed for growing food? Are these projects leading to a more hierarchical pattern of land ownership? Are these projects adequately consulting local people, seeing that they are done apparently in their names?

A good thing to read is a publication of ECO, which is the green NGO intervention paper during the COP conferences.

*article on other website "The Spectacular Creation of Carbon Speculation" that explains the corporate influence on Kyoto.

There are many networks of intellectuals who have thought long and hard about options we have. One such group is the institute for technology assessment and systems analysis in Germany. It has links to groups working on climate issues, mainly governmental/ intergovernmental... but anyway.

Also, the Climate Action Network Australia website.

Dec 2005: Montreal, climate mobilisations:

I believe that there are dangers in the climate movement just like those in the "Anti-Corporate" movement in that these campaigns are becoming too abstract, and not rooted in specific local/ international campaigns with concrete goals, that empower local groups.

The level of public debate is still stalled at a binary yes/no Kyoto, yes/no Global Warming. (I am also speaking of my home community of Australia as well) Where are the narratives of the 'situation so far' etc? How can we convey this to the public? (I am reprimanding myself as much as everyone else for this deficiency) I think that public debate and consciousness of the internal debates is the way that we hold our country's delegations accountable. Each small campaign should be a building block to create a big picture. However, at the Kyoto Summit, are we mobilizing people on the basis of a generalized anxiety, for which there are individualized solutions, OR on the basis of many local power-building projects, that build institutional respsonsibility as well as institutional change?

From the impression I get from the imagery (the sand timer), the story is that the apocalypse is breathing down our necks. Is this empowering? It does nothing to educate the broader public about the politics behind global warming- rather it makes the situation seem more hopeless. Would you come to a rally that is permeated with the imagery of our certain death?

What are the current / potential campaigns that are happening, and how can we use our mobilizing capacity as students to support these?

If we mobilize people on the urgency of the climate crisis alone, with no demands, or goal stepping stones, this leads our movement to the real possibiility of being coopted.

This is the case with any abstract campaign, because the targeted powerholder can respond to public pressure in any way they please- getting lots of PR for being the initiator (eg a corporation for implementing a self-regulated code of conduct).

We saw this clearly at the G8 "Make Poverty History" marches in Gleneagles in June, when there was this inspiring, yet abstract catch cry "Make Poverty History" which was taken up cynically by the G8 and Bono to justify a continued agenda of neocolonialism- privatisation and strict conditionalities - which are the WORST part of debt (also it is rather presumptuous of Oxfam to believe that their prescription of reducing agriculture barriers is key to ending poverty in the first place- sounds like they are legitimising the simplistic view of the magical free trade elixir). George Monbiot has done some great analysis of this here- June and here-September.

In an ideal world, it would be nice if such institutions could be asked nicely to change their ways and they would do so in a satisfactory environmental way.

However, in our society, many institutions have immense inertia- that is- they continue doing what they're always doing because it is in their economic and political interest to do so. Hence they need to be forced to change, more often than not.

What social movements can do is raise the political cost for an institution to continue on its present path. The public is alerted to the mismatch between what the organisation is doing and what they should, ethically, be doing- and hence the ALTERNATIVE PATH/policy is highlighted, becoming a strong element of the public imagination.

We need to have our alternative policies endorsed and drafted by people with solid understanding and expertise. And to a large extent, we need to BECOME those people with solid understanding- learning from experts, each other etc, by meeting and distributing information, and directly teaching each other- constantly doing formal and informal workshops, so new people can participate in the ongoing debate about defining and sharpening our approach. In other words, we need to lead in order to become redundant.

We need to get to the point where new nuclei campaign groups keep sprouting up in each different context- due to our efforts in handing on our skills. We need to give other groups enougn support for them to become self-sustaining and to effectively utilise their talents and their potential leverage/ effectiveness. Then we need to keep in contact with these new groups.

What is a campaign?

A campaign is NOT a one-off event, such as car-free day, or holding a stall. A campaign emerges into the public consciousness after months of organizing and planning. This is usually coordinated by people who have certain beliefs about history- that it does not simply HAPPEN- that history is created by people who are co-ordinated and conscious about their actions and objectives.

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