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An Open Letter to Extinction Rebellion

By Wretched of the Earth - Common Dreams, May 4, 2019

This letter was collaboratively written with dozens of aligned groups. As the weeks of action called by Extinction Rebellion were coming to an end, our groups came together to reflect on the narrative, strategies, tactics and demands of a reinvigorated climate movement in the UK. In this letter we articulate a foundational set of principles and demands that are rooted in justice and which we feel are crucial for the whole movement to consider as we continue constructing a response to the ‘climate emergency’.

Dear Extinction Rebellion,

The emergence of a mass movement like Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an encouraging sign that we have reached a moment of opportunity in which there is both a collective consciousness of the immense danger ahead of us and a collective will to fight it. A critical mass agrees with the open letter launching XR when it states “If we continue on our current path, the future for our species is bleak.”

At the same time, in order to construct a different future, or even to imagine it, we have to understand what this “path” is, and how we arrived at the world as we know it now. “The Truth” of the ecological crisis is that we did not get here by a sequence of small missteps, but were thrust here by powerful forces that drove the distribution of resources of the entire planet and the structure of our societies. The economic structures that dominate us were brought about by colonial projects whose sole purpose is the pursuit of domination and profit. For centuries, racism, sexism and classism have been necessary for this system to be upheld, and have shaped the conditions we find ourselves in.

Another truth is that for many, the bleakness is not something of “the future”. For those of us who are indigenous, working class, black, brown, queer, trans or disabled, the experience of structural violence became part of our birthright. Greta Thunberg calls world leaders to act by reminding them that “Our house is on fire”. For many of us, the house has been on fire for a long time: whenever the tide of ecological violence rises, our communities, especially in the Global South are always first hit. We are the first to face poor air quality, hunger, public health crises, drought, floods and displacement.

A Roadmap to an Equitable Low-Carbon Future: Four Pillars for a Just Transition

By J. Mijin Cha, JD, PhD - Climate Equity Network, April 2019

The signs that the climate crisis is already happening are clear. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report detailed the evidence from more than 6,000 studies that found that over the past decade, a series of record-breaking storms, forest fires, droughts, coral bleaching, heat waves, and floods have taken place around the world in response to the 1.0 °C of global warming that has taken place since the pre-industrial era. These events, and the losses associated with them, are expected to become substantially worse with 1.5 °C of warming currently targeted by global climate agreements, and far worse if these agreements are not effective. Without major cuts in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, this warming threshold could be reached in as little as 11 years, and almost certainly within 20 years. Even if such cuts were to begin immediately, reaching this threshold would not be prevented, only delayed.

Any chance of staving off even worst impacts from climate change depends on significant reductions in GHG emissions and a move from a fossil fuel- based economy to a low-carbon economic future. While this transition is fundamentally necessary, the challenges it poses are great. Every aspect of our economy and our society is dependent upon fossil fuel use – from the reliance on electricity provided by fossil fuel power plants to the tax revenue local communities receive from fossil fuel extraction and facilities to the jobs held by those working in an industry that may keep their incomes high but often puts their communities at risk. The imprint of fossil fuels is so deeply embedded within our way of life that ceasing its use will require a fundamental shift in how we procure and use energy.

The good news is that this shift is possible—and California is already on a path to a low-carbon future. In addition to several ambitious climate targets, in September 2018, then-Governor Jerry Brown signed an executive order pledging the state to achieve carbon neutrality no later than 2045. As the world’s fifth largest economy, the commitment California made to reduce greenhouse gases can provide a pathway to a low-carbon future that could lay the groundwork for others to follow. But to get there, we need to aim even higher than California’s already ambitious goals.

Transitioning away from fossil fuels must be done more quickly and also in a manner that protects workers and communities economically dependent on the fossil fuel industry. Transitioning is also an opportunity to include those who have historically been excluded from the jobs and economic benefits of the extractive economy and expand the populations who have access to future jobs and economic opportunities. As we move to a low-carbon future, environmental justice communities should be prioritized for job creation and renewable energy generation. Without protecting displaced workers and expanding opportunities to other workers, transitioning to a low-carbon future will replicate the mistakes and inequalities of the extractive past and present.

Read the report (PDF).

Gulf South for a Green New Deal Policy Platform

By Colette Pichon Battle, et. al. - Gulf South Rising, Spring 2019

The Gulf South is uniquely positioned to be a national leader in the movement for a Green New Deal. With the climate crisis accelerating faster than even most scientific predictions, deep investment in Gulf South frontline communities will yield an opportunity for this region to be a global leader in equitable approaches to a socio-economic transformation that builds wealth and sustainability for the nation and the world.

Gulf South for a Green New Deal is a multi-state effort to address the impact of the global climate crisis on some of the most unique communities in the US. In May 2019, more than 800 advocates, farmers, fisherfolk, and community leaders from across the Gulf South gathered in New Orleans around a shared vision to advance regional sustainability in the face of the global climate crisis.

The creation of the Gulf South for a Green New Deal (GS4GND) Policy Platform was a six-month process anchored by the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP). Using techniques from the People’s Movement Assembly Process, GCCLP facilitated a five-state process of formalizing frontline voices. Through a broader regional organizing effort, over 100 original signatories are listed herein. Additional signatories will be updated quarterly.

This document is a collective assertion that the Gulf South must be included in the development of national policy. This platform is not a comprehensive policy vision, but rather a starting point and living tool of regional alignment and broad organizing in the Gulf South. The principles, goals, and strategies of this Policy Platform are offered to address what a Green New Deal must look like to be successful in the Gulf South.

We offer this document as a step towards climate justice, self-determination, and dignity for all people everywhere.

As goes the South, so goes the nation.

Staying Above Water-Migration as adaptation in the face of the climate crisis

By staff - Rising Tide, March 18, 2019

More than 30 years ago leading scientists from NASA began warning policymakers that global temperatures were warming as a result of the emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gasses. By the early 1990s, there was a broad and growing consensus within the global scientific community that human emissions of greenhouse gasses were causing significant changes to the global climate.

In the following decades, fossil fuel companies and corporate interests would continue to deny the mounting evidence and even the policymakers who recognized the potentially devastating impacts of global climate change would fail to take decisive action to curb the emissions of greenhouse gasses. At the same time, super storms like hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan would devastate entire regions, killing thousands and causing hundreds of billions of dollars in damages, providing dramatic examples of the gravity of the risks caused by climate change. Slower onset consequences including multi-year droughts in Somalia, the Sudan and Syria would destabilize entire regions fueling civil conflicts that displaced millions.

After decades of inaction and neglect, the climate crisis is here. Already the rapid warming of the earth is causing changes in weather patterns, increases in both the frequency and occurrence of extreme weather events, sea level rise, floods, droughts, wildfires, and increasing desertification of farmlands [1].

Together, all of these environmental changes are contributing to localized food shortages and conflict over increasingly scarce resources. Around the world, people are being forced to adapt to the changing environment, fortifying homes to withstand superstorms, changing crop patterns and seeking new sources of food and water. As the effects of catastrophic climate change continue to emerge, it is clear that some of the places that people are currently living will become uninhabitable and others will not be able to support current population levels. In the face of the climate crisis, tens of millions of people will likely use migration as a strategy for adapting to climate change, seeking shelter and sustenance in other parts of the world.[2]

An Ecosocialist Green New Deal: Guiding Principles

By the DSA Ecosocialist Working Group - Democratic Socialists of America - February 28, 2019

The IWW has not endorsed this document; however, individual members of the IWW EUC have helped shape it.

Humankind has reached a moment of existential crisis. Human activity is causing disastrous climate disruption and Earth’s sixth mass extinction event, triggering critical losses of biodiversity. We are already locked in for global warming that will have catastrophic effects, and we are on a slippery path to our own extinction. The 2018 Special Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns unequivocally that “without societal transformation and rapid implementation of ambitious greenhouse gas reduction measures, pathways to limiting warming to 1.5°C and achieving sustainable development will be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.”

Yet, the crisis we face exceeds ecological breakdown. Deepening inequality, suppressed democracy, precarious jobs, racial and gendered violence, border hostility, and endless wars make up the terrain on which climate destabilization will be unleashed. The most vulnerable members of society will be hit hardest, first, and suffer most.

We must solve the climate crisis and the inequality crisis together. Climate remedies in the context of austerity will produce a popular backlash, as we see in the yellow vest protests against a fuel tax. Corporations profiting from fossil extraction have long worked to turn workers against environmentalists, claiming that clean energy would be a job killer. But working class and poor people’s quality of life, gravely threatened by climate disruption, would greatly improve in a just transition. Because corporate capitalism rewards extraction to concentrate wealth, it must be replaced by a sustainable economy. A Green New Deal can begin the transition from exploitative capitalism to democratic ecological socialism.

The urgency and scale of the crisis we face demand solutions that meet the magnitude of this moment. The ineffectual gradualism and corporate obedience demonstrated by the U.S. government’s climate response has proven to be a dead-end for humanity. We need rapid, systemic transformation that heals the stratification of wealth and power while putting decarbonization and justice at the forefront.

We need a Green New Deal. We demand a Green New Deal, and we demand that it serve people and planet—not profit.

Read the report (PDF).

Tea Plantation workers in Sri Lanka march for Food Sovereignty!

By staff - La Via Campesina, October 17, 2011

As part of the mobilisations to mark the International Day of Action for Peoples’ Food Sovereignty and against Transnational corporations, plantation communities in Sri Lanka has requested and demanded successive administrations to ensure that they have land rights, which is essential for dignified living. In this regard, Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) and the people of the estates organised a People’s Caravan for Food Sovereignty from 8th to 13th October 2017. The caravan drew attention to a number of issues.

  • Ensuring the rights to own land

It’s been 150 years since tea plantations were established in the country. A few months ago the country celebrated this landmark with great pageantry, however the estate sector workers who have shed blood, sweat and tears to ensure that the tea production goes on, still live like slaves, stuck in squalid rooms of 400 square feet. This practice has to end. These workers must be granted at least a plot of 20 perches, by a deed, so that they can build a house, to farm and to raise a cow.

  • Stop the sale of properties that belong to estates

The government has commenced an initiative to sell the assets of Sri Lanka State Plantation Corporation (SLSPC), Elkaduwa Plantations and Janatha Estates Development Board (JEDB) cheaply and to close down the operations. Those who depended on work provided by these estates will soon lose their livelihoods.

By 1972 -75 the tea yields have dwindled and plantation companies started making losses due to mismanagement. Thus these estates were nationalized; however the export and sale of tea were left at the hands of private entities, which had earlier destroyed the plantations by mismanagement. This, coupled with state mismanagement and the world economic crisis, the estates continued to make losses and they were privatized again between 1992 -94.

Sri Lanka State Plantation Corporation (SLSPC) and Janatha Estates Development Board (JEDB) were left with 39 midland tea estates which yielded little harvest. Instead of taking steps to develop these estates, the administrators had continuously attempted to sell off the assets of these and that process has sped up under this administration. While the tea plantations are making losses, the workers are not responsible for the results of mismanagement by administrators.

Given the current economic trends and the nature of the ‘investors’ we have, it is obvious that they are not interested in developing these estates. They are more interested in converting the estate bungalows to tourist hotels, cutting down trees in the estates, selling the machinery for scrap metal, extracting granite and other mineral resources and the sale of land. After these resources are exhausted they will sell the land.

Brazil: MST asks for more Land Reform and for a stop in the criminalization of the Movement

By Staff - La Via Campesina, November 7, 2016

On Friday, November 4th, MST was on the criminalization spotlight. A violent action by the police, codename “Castra”, spanned three States, Paraná, São Paulo and Mato Grosso do Sul. The main target of the operation was to arrest and criminalize leaders from two camps held by militants in Central Paraná State. The camps are named “Dom Tomás Balduíno” and “Herdeiros da Luta pela Terra” (Land Struggle Heirs).

On a note, MST denounces a “surge in the repression of the struggle for land, dominated by the interests of agribussines allied to the violence of a State of Exception”.

“We remind the public that we have always acted in an organized and peaceful manner for the advancement of Land Reform. We reclaim the land for it’s social function and that it be destined to settling the 10.000 families that are currently camped in Paraná State.”

In São Paulo, 10 vehicles from the Civil Police broke into the National School Florestan Fernandes (ENFF), in the town of Guararema. Two militants were arrested.

According to the reports, police officers arrived at around 9:25 am, closed the school gate and jumped over the reception window,  taking shots aiming at sky. The shards of collected bullets prove that none of them were rubber, but lethal.

In Mato Grosso do Sul, three police vehicles with Paraná plates broke into CEPEGE, “Geral Garcia” Research Center and Professional School, in Sidrolândia. The police operation was searching for MST militants from Paraná that allegedly were there. The police remained there until approximately 9AM, when they left with no arrests. During the operation, police prohibited the use of mobile phones.

Militants that were in CEPEGE at the moment were performing cleaning and maintenance tasks.

Here is the full note:

More Land Reform and a stop to MST criminalization

Once more the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement is a victim of criminalization constructed by the repressive apparatus of the State of Paraná. The violent operation, codename “Castra”, took place this Friday, November 4th 2016, in Paraná - municipalities of Quedas do Iguaçu, Francisco Beltrão and Laranjeiras do Sul; and also in the States of São Paulo and Mato Grosso do Sul.

The aim of the operation is to capture and criminalize leaders from 'Dom Tomás Balduíno' and 'Herdeiros da Luta pela Terra' encampments, located in the central region of Paraná state. Until now 6 leaders were arrested and they are still looking for other workers, under several accusations, including criminal organization.

Since May 2014, approximately 3,000 encamped families are occupying areas that were before occuppied by Araupel Company. Those areas were illegally occupied by the company and because of that the Federal Court of Public Land declared that they belong to the Union, so they must be devoted for Agrarian Reform.

Araupel Company became a powerful economical and political empire by illegally occupying public land and constantly using violence against rural workers and peasants that occupy land, many times acting in collusion with the civilian and military police apparatus, they have even fund political campaigns of public authorities, like the one of the Chief of Staff of the Beto Richa's government, Valdir Rossoni.

We highlight that this action is part of a continuous process of persecution and violence that MST has been facing in several states and in Parana. On April 7th, 2016, in the land illegally occupied by Araupel Company the families organized in the Dom Tomas Balduíno encampment were victims of an ambush made by the Military Police and security personnel hired by the company. In the attack, were there more than 120 gunshots, Vilmar Bordim and Leomar Orback were executed, there were also countless people bullet wounded. In the same large state in 1997, gunmen hired by Araupel killed in another ambush two Landless Movement workers. Both cases remain unpunished.

We denounce the escalation on violence and repression against the struggle for land, where agribusiness interests associated with the violence of the State of Exception predominate.

We remember that we always act in an organized and pacific way so the Agrarian Reform advances. We demand that the land fulfills its social function and that it is destined for the settlement of the 10,000 families encamped in Paraná.

We keep fighting for our rights and we join those who fight for education, health, housing, more rights and more democracy.

Struggle and build Popular Agrarian Reform.

Curitiba, November 4th, 2016.

Agroecology, a way of life, struggle, and resistance against capitalism!

By staff - La Via Campesina, October 17, 2011

Synthesis

Agroecology: a way of life, struggle and resistance against capitalism. Agroecology is the basis for peasant agriculture and food sovereignty. Agroecology continues to be open to debate and dispute; from the perspective of our movements, it is the guarantee, care and protection of our Mother Earth. For that reason, it is transversal in all the spaces of the land, subsoil, territory, water and space.

The cosmovision and epistemology of our peoples tell us that agroecological practices are the center of our ancestors’ production, since they are the coexistence of all living beings. The land does not belong to us; we belong to the land. We are balance and equity, solidarity, integrity, diversity, territorial defense, the ‘buen vivir’, the dialogue between ways of knowing, expressed through the peasant-to-peasant method.

We do not want sustainable development, we want sustainable life. Agroecology gives our identity back to us. Women played a historic role in the evolution of peasant and indigenous agriculture.

Our processes of agroecological training make use of the Latin American Agroecological Institutes (IALA) training centers, through the learning routes that CLOC-LVC has built in the continent. Agroecology is a multidimensional space of social processes, sharing, culture, and art that we can only find in our territories.
All support processes for agroecology should be led by organizations of peasant families, indigenous peoples, farm workers and family farmers, including men and women, with the greatest possible participation of young people.

Agroecology and peasant seeds are mutually dependent, because agroecology is incompatible with genetic engineering, there can be no agroecology with agrochemicals or with the transnational agribusiness corporations.

The theories of Marx and Engels (including the division between the countryside and the city) and indigenous cosmovisions are similar and complementary in agroecological thought and in the unity between culture and the dialogue of ways of knowing. Our agroecological proposal regenerates agroecosystems, including plant, animal and soil biodiversity, as well as indigenous cultures with their diverse ways of producing in harmony with Mother Earth.

The solution to the climate crisis is in our peasant struggle for Food and Energy Sovereignty!

By staff - La Via Campesina, October 19, 2017

La Via Campesina – Call to Action

The next United Nations conference on climate change will take place from the 6th to 17th of November in Bonn, Germany 2017 – with Mother Earth heating up dramatically and humanity plagued by unprecedented adverse weather and rising sea levels. The capitalist system, fuelled by the profit greed, is not capable of addressing the current climate crisis. Even the COP21 Paris Agreement and its inadequate proposals to keep temperature increases below 2 degrees celsius is in limbo, with the recent pull out by U.S. President Donald Trump.

This year we witnessed the increased impacts of climate change both in scale and intensity: hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Maria, etc.), floods (India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, etc.), storms, droughts, heat waves and more. Hundreds of thousands of people displaced, thousands killed, and total disappearance of some island territories. In many cases, peoples have lost all the resources needed for living. The most affected: peasants, poor people, rural workers, the indigenous, the fisherfolk.

We know the cause of this climate crisis: the global industrial food and energy systems responsible for over 50% of greenhouse gas emissions through intensive use of agrochemicals, toxins, fossil energy, freight land grabbing and forest degradation through plantations, mining, logging etc. Perpetrators of the crisis, using their “monetary muscle”, now lobby and push for false solutions: “climate-smart” agriculture, GMOs, REDD and REDD+, “blue carbon”, and all other green economy schemes that seek the financialization of nature and its services. Multinationals pollute the climate negotiations and make them the place of economic and financial power over peoples, to the detriment of our rights.

As the COP23 draws nearer, we reaffirm the importance of struggling for public policies that promote and support agroecology, local community-controlled energy systems and collective action for a just transition away from fossil fuels and against the false energy solutions that encourage corporate capture of our natural resources. Our peasant agroecology feeds the soil with organic matter, conserves and recovers biodiversity, using the knowledge of our peoples and our Mother Earth to feed us. We reject any attempt by agribusiness to co-opt agroecology and commit ourselves to defending and promoting our peasant agroecology!

For Vía Campesina, our lands, our knowledge, our seeds, our rights are not negotiable! We call for the strengthening of all mobilizations against this system that engenders the current and future climate crimes. We must fight against all free trade agreements and disastrous oil, gas and mining projects as well as all exclusionary mega projects (dams, highways, airports, plantations, etc). We must urgently transform the financial, social and ecological production systems, as well as the sharing of labor and wealth, the preservation of common goods such as water, land, flora and fauna.

We call upon our allies, friends and social movements to mobilize together with the civil society outside the UN climate talks in Bonn, spreading our voice and our true solutions.

Let us mobilize at COP23 for the convergence of struggles!

For Peasant Agroecology and Food Sovereignty!

Dakota Access Pipeline: Statement by Border Agricultural Workers

By Border Agricultural Workers - La Via Campesina, September 7, 2016

STATEMENT IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBE AND THEIR STRUGGLE TO PROTECT THEIR WATER, THEIR NATURAL RESOURCES AND THEIR TERRITORIES

ON BEHALF of the Border Agricultural Workers of the US-México region, we express our solidarity with your struggle to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline to protect your sacred natural resources and your territories. Two of our leaders, Rosemary Martínez and Joseph Martínez will be with you to not only participate in your historic struggle but also to learn how to best support your movement.

AS MIGRANT agricultural workers, we know fist hand the destruction caused by greediness and hunger for more and more profits by corporate capital, to our Mother Earth and all the sacred elements of life.

Commercial and industrial agricultural not only exploit us in the fields, buy also inflict a severe damage to nature. For this reason,we identify with your just cause.

OUR MESSAGE to the Government is clear: Instead of being accomplices of the Dakota Access Pipeline that is a threat to the Sacred Land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Federal Government should stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and ensure that the sovereignty of the Sioux is respected.

WE ALSO make a call to all the social movements and the people of good will to join a firm and resolute solidarity with your struggle to protect the water, the natural resources and your Sacred Land.

WHEN OUR two leaders return to El Paso, they will inform us of your movement and then we will be ready to plan further and more effective actions in solidarity with your inspiring struggle.

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