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The super-rich won’t fix the crisis they caused. We need a global movement.

On Earth Day, 22nd April, US President Joe Biden is convening a summit of 40 world leaders with the stated aim of catalysing efforts to keep a 1.5oC limit on global heating within reach. Five years since the Paris Agreement, however, we are dangerously close to inevitable disaster. Will this be the day that the world’s richest countries acknowledge the scale of transformation needed to keep the goals of the Paris Agreement in sight?

It’s unlikely. Current global commitments predict at least a 3oC temperature rise. This terrifying reality would mean reduced food production, large-scale loss of settlements to sea-level rise and desertification, and massive loss of biodiversity hitting the poorest nations – and the poorest within nations – hardest and first. Instead of sleepwalking into this catastrophe, we must fight the climate crisis from the ground up by taking the necessary action to create the world we know is possible.

The rich countries who talk of climate ‘leadership’ have built their wealth through the ongoing exploitation of others – primarily in the global South. Their governments and corporations have pushed us to the brink of ecological collapse – yet there is still minimal recognition of the deep-rooted inequality which lies behind the climate crisis.

The effects of the multiple crises and inequality we face are systematically linked. We will not overcome COVID-19 until all peoples in all countries are protected. Rich countries are blocking equitable access to the vaccine, meaning many low and middle-income countries have yet to receive a single dose. At the same time, big pharmaceutical companies producing vaccines are making enormous profits.

The power of multinational corporations is also shaping climate action. Through trade laws such as the Investor-State Dispute Settlement transnational companies can sue sovereign states over virtually any government measure that impacts their investments. Cases bought by fossil fuel companies are increasing and are having a huge impact on the ability of communities to defend their territories from the impacts of mining, deforestation and soil degradation.

So-called market based ‘solutions’ promoted by rich countries and backed by corporations reinforce global inequality and fail to prevent catastrophic temperature rise. Climate finance piles debt on to countries facing the worst impacts of climate breakdown. Offsetting and trading emissions reduces the incredible diversity of our environment to tradable carbon: triggering a massive new land grab from Indigenous Peoples, peasants and local communities. Meanwhile, the false promises of carbon capture and storage and ‘Nature-based Solutions’ are repeatedly wheeled out by governments to justify burning more fossil fuels.

We urgently need to transform our societies and economies towards a real-zero carbon world, and do so in a way that tackles the interlinked crises of ecological destruction, racism, and inequality. Global summits dominated by rich countries and corporations – whether it’s the Biden summit or the G7 in June – will not put people before profit or offer real change.

Instead of waiting for more false solutions, the COP26 Coalition is hosting a Global Gathering to build solidarity and coordinate climate action with justice at its heart. At From the Ground Up II (22nd-25th April), we will organise to take action on:

We know a different future is not only possible but urgently needed. Join us and let’s build our power From the Ground Up.


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