At COP 26, world leaders will be under huge pressure to come up with an international, united and effective response to the climate emergency. Those involved in the recent wave of climate action believe much can be done beforehand to ensure nations take effective action.
“There is no doubt 2020 is going to be a really big year,” says Kim Bryan, of the US group 350.org.“In Glasgow, nations will be expected to agree formal commitments to tackle climate change. And people pressure is really making a difference.”
A number of Scottish organisations are building their campaigns in the run-up to COP, including Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, a collection of more than 40 civil society organisations.
But there have never been so many options for would-be activists, from traditional NGOs such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, to more radical groups such as Extinction Rebellion (XR) and its youth section, the school strikes movement, run by the UK Student Climate Network, and grassroots organisations such as Onca in Brighton or Clean Air for Southall and Hayes.
Clare Rodger of the UK Student Climate Network says: “There is more that we could be doing to make sure that everyone is equally valued and listened to. This includes encouraging more boys to get involved in the climate justice movement.”
“There is going to be a mixture of mobilisation for the coming year, and hopefully a lot of it will be led by grassroots groups,” says Guppi Bola of Wretched of the Earth, an activist coalition that supports the global south and people of colour seeking climate justice. Bola says that people of colour should join local groups where they feel comfortable doing so, and that many grassroots groups in metropolitan areas are more diverse and representative of society.
“The basic idea is to inform and inspire new people and then get them into groups to take on roles and jobs so the whole mobilisation can grow quickly,” says XR.
Daze Aghaji of XR youth recommends her own organisation, “because we are extremely diverse. We have really worked on this because we know that XR was coming under criticism over lack of diversity. We are creating bonds with activists in the global south, and we are taking on topics that are hard to talk about, like mental health and climate change.”
Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, has warned of the environmental movement becoming stuck in “a white middle-class ghetto”.
A key month is April, when there will be three days of action across the world, including a global strike and a rebellion led by XR.
The Socialist Party has an important message for environment activists, no matter their age, ethnic origin or gender.
The capitalist mode of production is the cause of climate change, the one thing that the politicians cannot go against. Only world socialism can overturn this mode of production. The campaign against climate change is the struggle against capitalism. Challenging climate change means demonstrating that the solution requires the reorganisation of society. It is also about battling capitalism to reshape our our economics to improve people’s quality of life and to reduce CO2 emissions. There is an alternative with a different vision. The solution is radical but the barriers are not technology but rather the the system of capital accumulation and its dominant economic vested interests. Stopping climate change requires a change more fundamental than a change of lifestyle choices or protests to make governments adopt effective policies. The vast extent of global warming is the result not of individuals at all, but by corporations driven by profit. Regulatory departments don’t do their jobs because they were bribed, or complacent, or powerless, or all three.
We urge all climate change campaigners to become active participants in the great struggle for a world of freedom from exploitation. The capitalist system is global so the devastation is global too. Business as usual means the suicide of civilisation and world socialism is vital for the survival of a society we can live in and unless we can clearly name the enemy as the capitalist system, and join and connect the worldwide struggles against it, achieving the political power to overthrow capitalism will elude us. Each of us have a responsibility not be drawn into meaningless games that maintain the power of the few over the many. If socialism to cure climate change is not the priority on your agenda, it ought to be, and you must act politically to make sure your voice counts. If not for for your community then at least for yourself and your own loved ones.