The COP26 United Nations climate conference in Glasgow is the third key moment in the history of the talks. At the Copenhagen COP in 2009 the movement was defeated, and we knew it. At Paris in 2015 the movement was fooled. Both COPs left the movement exhausted and demoralised. This time it is obvious going in that Glasgow will be a shitshow. So this time we need to think going in, how we can come out fighting.
My basic argument is this: the climate movement is at an impasse. The leaders of the world will not act. That means we must build mass movements from below to replace those leaders. But those mass movements will wither if they only protest. We have to fight for action that will halt climate change.
Promises are no longer enough. The most important task right now is to stop almost all burning of coal, oil and gas. We could start that process immediately and go all the way. To do that we have build enough renewables to provide energy for all electricity, all heating, all industry and almost all transport. Then we can ban coal, oil and gas.
But to get there we must move beyond the market, because only governments can spend that much money and pass the necessary laws. And doing that can create hundreds of millions of new, permanent jobs around the world. And we cannot do that without an explosion of democracy – the power of the people.
This is not a personal manifesto. I am trying to bring together feelings and ideas I can see bursting out all over the climate movement. And to explain how they give us reason to fight for love against death.
Along the way I will paint a picture of what runaway climate change will do to human society that you may find surprising. I take up the common arguments in the climate movement about why a fully renewable world cannot work. I touch on other confusions and controversies that cannot be ignored.
This article was originally published in three parts in The Ecologist, on October 1-3 2021. It is not short, so you may want to download the pdf: After the COP 4Continue reading →
Over the last few years, the falls in the price of solar and wind power have been dramatic. Does this mean the the market will now produce enough renewable energy?
We have been told for two decades that the proportion of renewable energy in total global energy has been continually rising. But in fact, in 2019 wind and solar produced less than 2% of the total energy used globally. Less than 2%.
[This article is an excerpt from Fight the Fire: Green New Deals and Global Climate Jobs. You can download a pdf or an e-book for FREE here, or order a paperback here.]
That proportion of 2% has not been growing. For the last four years, the amount of new wind and solar each year has been flat, and not increasing. That means that total investment has actually been falling. (If solar is cheaper, lower investment can still produce the same amount of solar.)
On the face of it, this makes no sense. Surely, if the price of wind and solar is falling, they should be replacing fossil fuels. And the cheaper they get, the more corporations should be investing. In fact, the opposite is happening. The market is failing. This article explains why, and what we can do about it.
Jonathan Neale’s new book Fight the Fire – Green New Deals and Global Climate Jobs can be downloaded as a free pdf or a free e-book here. It can be ordered as a paperback for £15 here .
Advance Praise for Fight the Fire
“This is a timely book. At a time when the world is still reeling from the ravages of Covid-19 and the massive economic dislocation that it engendered, now is the perfect time to reinvigorate the campaign for climate jobs, or, as in the case of the Philippines, to launch it. And this book is just what any climate jobs campaigner would need. It provides the big picture, the science and the politics of climate change, as well as the nuts and bolts of how such a campaign would look like. More than that, it is replete with lessons that the author has gained from a life spent fighting in the trenches of various campaigns.” – Josua Mata, Secretary-General, SENTRO union federation, Philippines. Continue reading →
[Originally published as a letter/comment in Anthropology Today, March 2020.]
The editorial by Thomas Hylland Eriksen (AT Feb 2020, Vol 36, no 1) is a passionate plea for more anthropological engagement in public debates about global warming. His focus is on knowledge – ‘what we can say’ and storytelling – ‘how can we say it?’ His hope is that anthropologists can find ways to intervene more effectively in political debate. I agree and would add that to do so, we need to be willing to take sides, and draw on our anthropological and historical understanding of resistance, social movements and the mechanics of social change (Armbruster & Laerke 2008; Lindisfarne 2010). And in the case of global warming, there is one utterly compelling way to take Eriksen’s plea for action further.