Five climate struggles to watch in 2019

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Five climate struggles to watch in 2019

Danny Chivers writes about the important environmental struggles we need to follow this year.


Protestors of the Extinction Rebellion movement. Photo: Stuart Mitchell/Alamy

1 California pollution

In November 2018, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and their supporters were successful; they delayed the ‘Tropical Forest Standard’ project in California. This would allow businesses that produce pollution in California to give money to forest projects instead of cutting their carbon emissions. It is very difficult to show that these forest projects reduce carbon. Also, these projects make large areas of forest private, and force indigenous people to leave the land. There will be another vote on this in April 2019 – will they be able to stop it again?

2 Legal action

The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law says that more than 1,000 climate-change cases have now been filed against governments, corporations and individuals in 24 countries. Many of these will come to court in 2019:

- the young people taking legal action against their governments because they are doing nothing about climate change in the US, Canada, India, Pakistan and the Netherlands;

- crab fishers in California suing oil companies because climate change is affecting their lives and work;

- the results of an appeal in New York against oil corporations - other US cities are waiting to act with similar claims;

- and the government of Vanuatu is finding out how to sue polluting companies and governments for climate damage.

3 The rebellion goes global

The new direct-action network Extinction Rebellion (XR) started in the UK in 2018. They got thousands of activists (many protesting for the first time) to protest and blockade. The media reported on all this and the climate movement now has more energy.

But people have criticised XR because they praised London’s Metropolitan Police (who are often racist and abuse protest groups) and because they didn’t put the Global South (most affected by climate change) at the centre of their communications. Many people in XR are pushing the organizers to change their approach.

In 2019, XR is planning to spread a lot more. There are international action dates in April and more than 100 groups signed up in about 20 countries (mostly in Europe and North America). There are still two questions: will XR spread like Occupy, as they hope? And, if experienced climate organizers in other countries join, will they also include wider justice struggles outside the West?

4 Rainforest protection in Brazil

Jair Bolsonaro’s Far-Right government in Brazil has said they will destroy the Amazon. Bolsonaro wants to cut down the rainforest to make money. This is a threat to the land rights and lives of indigenous people. Indigenous leaders will fight against this. Luiz Eloy Terena, lawyer for Brazil’s Association of Indigenous Peoples, told Amazon Watch that they have always defended democracy and their rights and will continue.

A big question for 2019 is: will the world support them? Will people around the world support these defenders of the forests and ‘carbon sinks’ that are so important for a safer climate?

5 Stop palm oil in biofuels

Many people now know about the link between palm oil and deforestation. But not so many know that more than half of the palm oil imported to the EU becomes biofuel, not food. The EU Parliament voted in 2017 to end financial support for the most polluting and destructive biofuel producers, including palm oil. But the EU Commission has not yet ended the financial support - people in industry pay money to stop them. Campaigners are afraid that it will not go ahead. The EU Commission must be responsible.


(This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed)