Sunday, 13 November 2022

Global Day of Action for Climate Justice

 'Investing in new fossil fuels infractructure is moral and economic madness. Climate activists are something depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels'. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations.

Global Day of Action for Climate Justice and the protection of nature, in Leamington Spa.

Around 200-300 people attended: not a bad turnout for a small town like Leamington.

There were a lot of speeches outlining how climate change is the biggest threat to people and nature, and how we are already feeling its impact through:
  • Extreme weather like the devastating hurricanes and typhoons seen across the Caribbean, USA and Philippines
  • Droughts that have seen taps nearly run dry in Cape Town, South Africa
  • Floods like the 2015 winter floods that devastated areas of the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • Heatwaves that scorch the earth, its wildlife and people
  • Damage to wildlife and precious ecosystems like the Great Barrier Reef.
Those most affected by this crisis are now in the Global South - the countries who were improverished first by colonialism, and then by decades of having the global economy rigged against them are now more vulnerable to climate breakdown because of their economic situation. 

And yet, all this is caused by the rich world. Just 100 multinational corporations are responsible for more than 70% of global emissions: big businesses, from banks to agribusiness, car companies to oil giants, have consistently used their economic and lobbying power to prevent effective climate acction and invented useless, false solutions such as carbon trading instead.

We were told how fossil fuel giants and other transnational corporations don't have to follow the same laws as everyone else, but instead have their own corporate courts, where the law is tailored to their interests, where corporations sue governments for huge sums of money and bully countries to get their own way.  Known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement, these special privileges are granted to transnational companies by rules in trade and investment deals. Corporate courts have enabled corporations to sue countries for doing almost anything they dont like. We were given some examples:
  • RWE, an energy company, is suing the Netherlands over the phase out of coal-fired power stations.
  • Ascen Resources, a UK fossil fuel company is about to sue Slovenia for requiring an environmental impact assessment on fracking plans.
  • Rockhopper, a UK fossil fuel company, is suing Italy over a ban on offshore oil drilling close to the coast.
  • Lone Pine, a fossil fuel company, is suing Canada over the introduction of a fracking moratorium in Quebec.
  • Westmoreland, a mining company, is suing Canada over a phase out of coal-fired power stations in Alberta.
But, there is a global fightback. Across the world, countries have been rejecting ISDS: South Africa, India, Ecuador, Tanzania, Indonesia and New Zealand have all taken steps to review, limit or terminate existing ISDS deals and refuse to sign new ones.

The UK government says the preservation of a liveable environment is 'too expensive'; 'raising taxes to do it will scare away big business'; 'the market will provide the solution'. The only thing the market is providing is increasing inequality, with misery for the many and grotesque wealth and power for the few.

What is needed is large-scale investment across the country to enable the transformational changes that will not only help avoid climate catastrophe, but also bring benefits to people and communities.

What is needed is:
  • planting trees on a massive scale
  • help people insulate their homes and switch to pollution-free heating. Build much more wind and solar power. 
  • Transform our railways and other infrastructure, to hep people rely less on the car and cut pollution.
  • End the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.

There were stalls and banners from Extinction Rebellion,

Warwickshire Climate Alliance,

and the Leamington Women's Group, but unfortunately, my photograph of this group's banner did not come out well.

Finally, we had the canary, giving us its own message.

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