Climate change. The people have the answers, not their leaders

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Climate change. The people have the answers, not their leaders

By Dipti Bhatnagar

The headlines in the newspapers are all about world leaders and their weak promises at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York. But if you want to know the real answers to climate change, listen to the people on the streets.

On 21 September, in cities across the world, hundreds of thousands of people were on the People’s Climate March, the largest climate action in history. Thousands of people also marched at the Flood Wall Street marches, to protest against businesses and how they make climate change worse.

Friends of the Earth International marched as well, to tell our ‘world leaders’ that this Climate Summit and their weak promises will not help climate change; they have to take serious action or go away.

We don’t want these weak promises. We want cuts to carbon emissions which are supported by law. We want big cuts to carbon emissions. We want cuts which are fair for everyone and which are scientific. We also want money and technology for countries in most of the world to help the problem. We only heard very weak promises of money at the Summit.

Western leaders take very little action in their countries for climate change. And they welcome big business. More and more they follow the economic interests of businesses, dirty energy companies, and the few rich people in the world.

Dirty energy companies are getting the support of democratic institutions like our governments and the UN But we need to listen to the people. We must fight to win back our democratic and government organisations from big business.

This summit allowed more profit from carbon trading and offsetting. They are false solutions to the climate problems. Carbon trading allows dirty companies to pay someone else to find answers to the problems of their own pollution. Then they do not need to reduce their pollution. This is not reducing carbon emissions. It is taking away land and resources from weaker communities. At the summit, South Korea said that it wants to be the first Asian country with a carbon market.

Not all actions on climate change are the right actions. Governments always talk about a long list of wrong actions or wrong answers to climate change. Examples are nuclear energy, very big dams, natural gas, ‘clean coal’, carbon capture and storage, genetically modified food, agrofuels, carbon trading, and carbon offsetting.

These wrong answers stop us thinking about the real social and economic changes to stop the climate problem.

First we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from where they start.

We also need to change the way we make and use energy. Dirty energy is causing climate change and it is bad for workers and local communities. We must have clean sustainable community energy. It is our right to have energy. It is our right to have sustainable energy and to decide the way it is used.

We must ask why we live in an unequal society – this is the fair way to think about climate change. The cause of the climate problem and big inequality are the same - the way the economy finds, uses, and throws away energy.

We have rich countries with less than one fifth of the world’s population which made almost three quarters of all greenhouse gases. The European Union and the US make more than half of the carbon emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere, but they have only a tenth of the world’s population.

The poorest ten per cent of the world’s population have made less than one per cent of emissions. But they are most affected. Industrialized countries must agree to reduce their emissions and without carbon trading and giving the work to countries in the Global South.

From October 10-18, people across the world will take action together on energy as part of Reclaim Power. As we prepare for the social pre-Conference of the Parties (COP) in Venezuela, COP20 in Lima and COP21 in Paris in December 2015, we will use ‘people power’ and better ideas for climate justice to avoid the worst of the climate crisis.

If our ‘leaders’ do nothing, we will blame them.

Dipti Bhatnagar is the Climate Justice & Energy co-coordinator for Friends of the Earth International

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed.)