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Global North

Renewable Energy is (Mostly) Green and Not Inherently Capitalist, Volume 1: Wind Power

By Steve Ongerth - IWW Eco Union Caucus, October 1, 2023

Is renewable energy actually green? Are wind, solar, and storage infrastructure projects a climate and/or envi­ronmental solution or are they just feel-good, greenwashing, false "solutions" that either perpetuate the deep­ening climate and environmental crisis or just represent further extractivism by the capitalist class and the privileged Global North at the expense of front-line communities and the Global South? 

This document argues that, while there is no guarantee that renewable energy projects will ultimately be truly "green", there is nothing inherent in the technology itself that precludes them from being so. Ultimately the "green"-ness of the project depends on the level of rank-and-file, democratic, front-line community and working-class grassroots power with the orga­nized leverage to counter the forces that would use renewable energy to perpetuate the capitalist, colonialist, extractivist system that created the cli­mate and environmental crisis in which we find ourselves.

In‌ order to do that, we mustn't fall prey to the misconceptions and inaccuracies that paint renewable energy infrastructure projects as inherently anti-green. This series attempts to do just that. This first Volume, on utility scale wind power addresses several arguments made against it, including (but not limited to) the following misconceptions:

  • Humanity must abandon electricity completely;
  • Degrowth is the only solution;
  • New wind developments only expand overall consumption;
  • Wind power is unreliable and intermittent;
  • Wind power is just another form of "green" capitalism;
  • The extraction of resources necessary to build wind power negates any of their alleged green benefits;
  • Wind power is an extinction-level event threat to birds, bats, whales, and other wildlife (and possibly humans);
  • Only locally distributed renewable energy arrayed in microgrids should be built without any--even a small percentage--of utility scale wind developments;
  • Only nationalized and/or state-owned utility scale renewable energy developments should be built;
  • No wind power developments will be green unless we first organize a socialist revolution, because eve­rything else represents misplaced faith in capitalist market forces.

In fact, none of the above arguments are automatically true (and the majority are almost completely untrue). However, they're often repeated, sometimes ignorantly, but not too infrequently in bad faith. This document is offered as an inoculation and antidote to these misconceptions and misinformation.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Climate and Ecology Bill: Uniting Solutions

By Tina Rothery - Greeener Jobs Alliance, May 21, 2023

The first page of the Greener Jobs Alliance website makes clear what’s needed to face the challenges posed by ever increasing harm to the climate – uniting campaigns and bringing together the solutions.

I work with the campaign group, Zero Hour, on the Climate & Ecology Bill, and as highlighted on our website, we make clear we think the same:

“Zero Hour has been working hard to build a broad and representative alliance of support for the CE Bill, including 165 MPs and Peers, 230 local authorities, 144 leading scientists, 465 organisations—including The Co-operative Bank, Women’s Institutes, National Education Union, and University College—alongside 30,000 members of the public.”

Bringing together a diverse range of groups and organisations to create and support solutions that are essential to a just transition just makes sense—and the power of ‘unions’ has never been clearer. This article asks that the GJA, and its supporters, consider joining Zero Hour in this union – and supporting the CE Bill as one of the solutions.

Learning from Global South Unions: Student Voices on Climate Action and a Just Energy Transition

'Tomorrow Is Too Late': Climate Strikers Target Fossil Fuel Financing Worldwide

By Jessica Corbett - Common Dreams, March 3, 2023

"The capitalistic system continuously puts profit over people," says Fridays for Future. "The Global North's fossil finance is the cause of the climate crisis, neocolonial exploitation, wars, and human rights violations."

"It's time to end fossil finance because #TomorrowIsTooLate!"

That's the takeaway message from climate strikers who took to the streets worldwide on Friday to demand an immediate end to the financing of all fossil fuel projects amid a worsening global emergency largely driven by coal, gas, and oil.

"The capitalistic system continuously puts profit over people," the youth-led Fridays for Future movement said in a statement. "Corporations' greed for more profit is driving the destruction of ecosystems and the climate. At the same time, frontline communities are paying the highest price while being the most affected by the climate crisis."

Launch of the Ecosocial Energy Manifesto from the Peoples of the South

‘Transition is inevitable, but justice is not.’ A challenge to social movements in the rich countries

By staff - People and Nature, February 13, 2023

“Clean energy transitions” by rich countries of the global north are producing “a new phase of environmental despoliation of the Global South”, states a manifesto published last week by an alliance of social and environmental organisations.

“This decarbonisation of the rich, which is market-based and export-oriented, depends on a new phase of environmental despoliation of the Global South, which affects the lives of millions of women, men and children, not to mention non-human life”, the Manifesto for an Ecosocial Energy Transition says.

Women, especially from agrarian societies, are among the most impacted. In this way, “the Global South has once again become a zone of sacrifice, a basket of purportedly inexhaustible resources for the countries of the North.”

As the rich countries secure supply chains for these “clean” transitions, the web of debt and trade agreements in which countries outside the rich world are caught is tightened.

I hope that social movements and the labour movement in the rich countries will not only sign the manifesto (which you can do here), but also – probably more to the point – think about and discuss what it means for us.

Manifesto for an Ecosocial Energy Transition from the Peoples of the South

By Peoples of the Global South - Foreign Policy in Practice, February 9, 2023

An appeal to leaders, institutions, and our brothers and sisters

More than two years after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic—and now alongside the catastrophic consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—a “new normal” has emerged. This new global status quo reflects a worsening of various crises: social, economic, political, ecological, bio-medical, and geopolitical.

Environmental collapse approaches. Everyday life has become ever more militarized. Access to good food, clean water, and affordable health care has become even more restricted. More governments have turned autocratic. The wealthy have become wealthier, the powerful more powerful, and unregulated technology has only accelerated these trends.

The engines of this unjust status quo—capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism, and various fundamentalisms—are making a bad situation worse. Therefore, we must urgently debate and implement new visions of ecosocial transition and transformation that are gender-just, regenerative, and popular, that are at once local and international.

In this Manifesto for an Ecosocial Energy Transition from the Peoples of the South, we hold that the problems of the Global – geopolitical – South are different from those of the Global North and rising powers such as China. An imbalance of power between these two realms not only persists because of a colonial legacy but has deepened because of a neocolonial energy model. In the context of climate change, ever rising energy needs, and biodiversity loss, the capitalist centers have stepped up the pressure to extract natural wealth and rely on cheap labor from the countries on the periphery. Not only is the well-known extractive paradigm still in place but the North’s ecological debt to the South is rising.

What’s new about this current moment are the “clean energy transitions” of the North that have put even more pressure on the Global South to yield up cobalt and lithium for the production of high-tech batteries, balsa wood for wind turbines, land for large solar arrays, and new infrastructure for hydrogen megaprojects. This decarbonization of the rich, which is market-based and export-oriented, depends on a new phase of environmental despoliation of the Global South, which affects the lives of millions of women, men, and children, not to mention non-human life. Women, especially from agrarian societies, are amongst the most impacted. In this way, the Global South has once again become a zone of sacrifice, a basket of purportedly inexhaustible resources for the countries of the North.

Working Paper 16: Towards a Public Pathway Approach to a Just Energy Transition for the Global South

By staff - Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, December 2022

This TUED Working Paper was written to inform discussion at the launch of “TUED South” meeting that took place in Nairobi, Kenya, during October 11th-13th, 2022.

In the weeks following the meeting, it was revised to reflect the discussions that took place. The Nairobi meeting occurred at a time of geopolitical turbulence due to the war in the Ukraine. In many countries, energy has become front page news as prices rise and the major economies rush to secure new sources of gas, coal, and oil. Energy-related anxieties have been accompanied by growing concerns about climate change. The year 2022 produced several headline-making extreme weather events, with devastating floods in Pakistan and in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province together claiming the lives of more than 2,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands of poor people homeless. Europe’s record-breaking heatwave and wildfires killed 16,000 people, and China’s summer produced a heatwave more severe than any in recorded history.

Today it is widely recognized that the impact of climate change on the poorest countries is already more severe than it is for the richer countries, and that inadequate public services are contributing to its many damaging effects.

In 2019 the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights noted “hundreds of millions will face food insecurity, forced migration, disease, and death.”

Climate change is a huge threat to jobs, livelihoods, and security to workers everywhere. But it is the working class and poor people of the South who will be hit the first and the hardest.

Download this document (PDF).

Global Climate Jobs Conference: Food and Farming

Global Climate Jobs Conference 2022: Jonathan Neale on the meaning of Climate Jobs

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