Our climate crisis is also a crisis of democracy and imagination

Elisa Stowe
Fri 11, 2017, Articles Member-contributed
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The climate crisis is the greatest challenge of our time. If we are to combat it, we need to realize that we can only do so through collective, democratic action combined with the will to build a better future for everything that lives on this planet.

Just a few miles away from where the international community will gather on Monday for the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference, in Bonn, massive ecological destruction (like drawdown, mercury emissions, and fine dust pollution) is taking place. As Naomi Klein, a friend to DiEM25 stated, those most affected by the outcomes of disasters related to our global climate crisis have no space to make their voices heard in gatherings like these. Our local economic behavior shows its most drastic outbreaks in other parts of the world.

In Europe´s greatest brown coal strip mining though, business will go on as usual. The extraction of coal worldwide destroys local livelihoods, ecosystems and entire landscapes. The fossil industry encourages human rights violations, like the annihilation of workers’ rights. Power generation from brown coal is responsible for massive CO2 emissions, which threaten our climate globally.

In public discourse, Germany and Merkel are often perceived as the rock-solid, leading-edge guarantor of sustainable climate governance. But that is a twisted truth: while Germany did go through a phase of reducing CO2 emissions until 2011, we are now seeing a rise in CO2 levels, mostly due to rising levels of electricity production from coal.

Germany will not reach its climate goals, if it doesn’t soon radically reduce the production of coal power. The same goes for Europe. According to the International Energy Agency, Europe must reduce its share of coal-power from 25% to about 4% until 2035.

In response to this dreadful reality, a growing climate movement will respond with a Demo, a People´s Climate Summit and with peaceful acts of civil disobedience. Activists will be occupying Europe´s greatest coal mine, shifting attention to the real site of decision-making.

Meanwhile, in the city of Munich, an active coalition of engaged citizens and organizations has also taken action. A citizen-led campaign, #Raus-aus-der-Steinkohle, was launched two years ago to end the production of electricity and heat from a local coal-fired power plant (HKW München Nord Block 2) — a plant that produces more CO2 emissions than the entire city traffic! Surveys show that a swift solution is possible, since the conditions for a transition to geothermal energy are optimal in the Munich area. The expansion is stagnating, an activist tells me, as the power plant is blocking the way. Profit over people isn´t just a slogan.

On November 5, Munich citizens will vote in a referendum on whether to exit the power production from coal for their city by 2022. We support our friends from #Raus-aus-der-Steinkohle for taking action in this important decision.

The density and severity of this year’s climate catastrophes are incommensurable to any monetary argument. They should be a wake-up call to all progressive Europeans. The outdated concept of solving problems by creating markets — like so-called ‘emissions trading’ —  is inadequate. The Catalan question has shown that Europe needs a different perspective, and the same is true for our climate crisis. We aim to find a third way. We need to challenge our collective imagination!

In this severe and threatening crisis, we cannot obey individual interest or hide behind theoretical debates while losing sight of the greater picture. While this crisis was created by a complex of problems, historical contingencies and economic practice, far-reaching solutions and diverse forms of action are needed, that include the perspective of climate justice.

We encourage our fellow DiEMers across Munich and beyond to raise their voices on November 5 for #Raus-aus-der-Steinkohle, and encourage our friends across Europe to take similar action in their communities.

 

Elisa is a member and volunteer of the DSC Munich.

 

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