Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, said in a tweet as COP25 closed, “I am disappointed with the results of #COP25. The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis. But we must not give up, and I will not give up.”
That could be the understatement of the year. President of the conference, Carolina Schmidt, also expressed bland disappointment that COP25 in Madrid failed to “resolve all the outstanding issues on the table.” All? What was resolved? Let’s face it, the predatory polluters forced failure.
The world’s greatest polluters, both nations and corporations, once again dominated the conference. When indigenous youth and others took the stage to vent their frustration in chants and songs, someone cut off the microphones and lights. The pretense of global elites could not tolerate exposure of their dissembling rituals. The youth activists just kept on singing. That is the model for climate action now. Do not stop or wait for anyone.
Only Action Creates Hope
Fresh from her carbon-free trans-Atlantic crossing and rail trip from Lisbon, Greta Thunberg gave one of her best speeches yet, just as Time Magazine named her 2019 Person of the Year. She openly (as usual) expressed the frustration she and other young activists are feeling with the “world leaders” at COP25. Watch the speech here. It is well worth the time of anyone who values life on Earth over corporate greed.
The underlying issue, which almost nobody but a sixteen-year-old Swedish school girl on the Asperger’s spectrum and her youth-activist allies will face squarely: the climate crisis has already reached emergency status, based on the best scientific data on accelerating carbon emissions and destabilizing planetary systems, with all the catastrophic consequences for the biosphere including humanity. The issue is institutional indolence and rapacious deceit at the highest levels.
The Suicidal Globalized Corporate State
Corporate and government elites continue doing everything they can to delay, divert, and dissemble when it comes to taking action on the climate emergency. As Greta so aptly put it, their response to the climate emergency is “Clever Accounting and Creative PR.” For them, short-term profit plans and the next election cycle trump human survival, and they lie and dissemble about it with reckless abandon.
At this point, given these circumstances, I see only one course of action for humanity. The path has two parts. First, accelerated social mobilization to resist the globalized corporate state, led by activist youth and indigenous protectors (think Standing Rock) of the Earth they understand better than anyone. Second, a new and revitalized assertion of community rights and sovereignty, both by indigenous peoples and by local communities ready to face the hard task of taking back authority over their lives and the life-giving properties of the ecosystems they inhabit. It is all one movement, really, scientific knowledge merged with indigenous wisdom taking radical climate action.
Resilience has become a buzzword in environmental circles, too often associated with ideas about adapting to climate change. But you cannot adapt to starvation. The only viable adaptation at this point is to mitigate the destructive forces of carbon emissions by severely curtailing emissions and repairing the damage already happening. Resilience is only valid if based on local/regional actions to stabilize and restore ecosystems where we live, which in so many cases are well on their way to collapse, and global mobilization to resist and withdraw from the institutions that are killing the biosphere and its diverse species. These two prongs at the head of the only viable climate-action-now spear will become a revolution that looks nothing like any you have ever read about or seen.