Climate Justice – Africa Knows It
by Daniel T’seleie
I’m in Durban to fight for climate justice. Developed nations need to take responsibility for causing the current climate crisis. We need to implement real solutions; we need to stop burning fossil fuels.
We must reject false solutions. Market mechanisms are filled with loopholes, and allow corporations to continue polluting and infringe on human rights, all while making a tidy profit. Geo-engineering is dangerous. Nuclear is definitely not the way to go.
We need to take power away from corporations and the governments that are complicit in destruction of the planet and oppression and murder of marginalized populations the world over. We need to reject the economic system that preaches infinite growth on a finite planet, rewards greed, and puts profit before people.
As we move away from fossil fuels we need to create a decentralized energy infrastructure. Small scale renewable energy systems, appropriate for and created and owned by the communities they power, is the solution. It is unacceptable that a small handful of the most powerful corporations on the planet control our energy, and as we transition off fossil fuels we have to ensure these same corporate powers don’t control the energy systems of the future.
Crushing corporate capitalism to solve climate change, and openly calling out the corruption of governments that have co-opted this UN process, may sound radical to many people in Canada, but here in Africa it seems to be the norm among people impacted by climate change.
Yesterday I marched in a rally for climate justice. It was an intense experience. There were about five to ten thousand people there, mostly from Africa. The vast majority seemed to embrace the principles of climate justice. Many of them reject the current systems of power and economics as being unjust, think the fossil fuel industry is evil, and are convinced the UN climate negotiations are corrupted by the same corporations and governments who have destroyed their communities and oppressed their people.
At rallies and protests in Canada, this type of rhetoric is expected from the anarchist black block – kids wearing black bandanas over their faces and chucking bricks. But here in Africa these views are mainstream.
Grandmothers and grandfathers rallied yesterday for climate justice. Labour unions, farmers, faith groups, Indigenous Peoples, and dozens of other segments of society were all there calling for the same things.
Slogans on shirts and signs said things like “end capitalism, not nature,” “never trust COPorations,” “developed countries account for environmental hazards,” and “carbon trading = pollution profiteering.”
Africa is one of the areas most impacted by climate change and resource extraction and exploitation. The people who are being hit the hardest by climate, economic and environmental injustice have the clearest perspective on the roots of these problems and on the right solutions.
If only people in Canada had the same knowledge and understanding we would be one step closer to solving the climate crisis.