We are at a crossroads. We do not want to be compelled to survive in a world that has been made barely livable for us. From South Pacific Islands to the shores of Louisiana, from the Maldives to the Sahel, from Greenland to the Alps, the daily lives of millions of us are already being disrupted by the consequences of climate change. Through ocean acidification, the submersion of South Pacific Islands, forced migration in the Indian Subcontinent and Africa, frequent storms and hurricanes, the current ecocide affects all species and ecosystems, threatening the rights of future generations. And we are not equally impacted by climate change: Indigenous and peasant communities, poor communities in the global South and in the global North are at the frontlines and most affected by these and other impacts of climate disruption.
We are not under any illusions. For more than 20 years, governments have been meeting, yet greenhouse gas emissions have not decreased and the climate keeps changing. The forces of inertia and obstruction prevail, even as scientific warnings become ever more dire.
This comes as no surprise. Decades of liberalization of trade and investments have undermined the capacity of states to confront the climate crisis. At every stage powerful forces – fossil fuel corporations, agro-business companies, financial institutions, dogmatic economists, skeptics and deniers, and governments in the thrall of these interests – stand in the way or promote false solutions. Ninety companies are responsible for two-thirds of recorded greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Genuine responses to climate change threatens their power and wealth, threatens free market ideology, and threatens the structures and subsidies that support and underwrite them.
We know that global corporations and governments will not give up the profits they reap through the extraction of coal, gas and oil reserves; and through global fossil fuel-based industrial agriculture. Our continuing ability to act, think, love, care, work, create, produce, contemplate, struggle, however, demands that we force them to. To be able to continue to thrive as communities, individuals and citizens, we all must strive for change. Our common humanity and the Earth demand it.
We are confident in our capacity to stop climate crimes. In the past, determined women and men have resisted and overcome the crimes of slavery, totalitarianism, colonialism or apartheid. They decided to fight for justice and solidarity and knew no one would do it for them. Climate change is a similar challenge, and we are nurturing a similar uprising.
We are working to change everything. We can open the way to a more livable future, and our actions are much more powerful than we think. Around the world, our communities are fighting against the real drivers of the climate crisis, protecting territories, working to reduce their emissions, building their resilience, achieving food autonomy through small scale ecological farming, etc.
On the eve of the UN Climate Conference to be held in Paris-Le Bourget, we declare our determination to keep fossil fuels in the ground. This is the only way forward.
Concretely, governments have to end subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and to freeze fossil fuel extraction by leaving untouched 80% of all existing fossil fuel reserves.
We know that this implies a great historical shift. We will not wait for states to make it happen. Slavery and apartheid did not end because states decided to abolish them. Mass mobilisations left political leaders no other choice.
The situation today is precarious. We have, however, a unique opportunity to reinvigorate democracy, to dismantle the dominance of corporate political power, to transform radically our modes of production and consumption. Ending the era of fossil fuels is one important step towards the fair and sustainable society we need.
We will not waste this opportunity, in Paris or elsewhere, today or tomorrow.