The Global Climate Strike that took place on Sept. 20, was organized by a conglomerate of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and charities that are all headquartered in the Western world. The platform for the strike listed charities like Christian Aid and even the outdoor clothing brand Patagonia as their “International Partners.” There was also a section which listed the support of a number of organizations from the Global South, referred to as “Regional and Local Partners and Allies.” Taking a closer look at these regional and local “partners,” however, we find that they are mainly just local branches of Western NGOs and charities. If they are actually from the Global South, there is little or no sign that they backed the strike. Evidently, the organizations that were listed may have agreed to support, but did not actively participate in the strike.
From the above, we gather that the Global Climate Strike was not all that global — its limited geographical boundaries isn’t the only issue either. The goal of the strike was to “transition fairly and swiftly away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy for all.” This proposed solution to climate change, with origins in the Green New Deal, has a major flaw in that it does not, in any meaningful way, call for an end to the capitalist-imperialist system. As Rufus Jordana writes, the lie of infinite growth, the limits of renewable energy and colonial resource extraction are all left unaddressed in this proposed solution. This widespread view in the Western environmental movement suggests that we can halt or reverse the effects of climate change merely through policy changes and technological innovation.
The recent research of scholars such as Dr. Zak Cope has demonstrated that the global capitalist system has come to incorporate all social and class sectors of the core capitalist nations as beneficiaries. More concretely, this analysis correctly determines that since the nations in the core of this system have too much to lose from a serious transformation, it is the most exploited and looted nations that have the most incentive to bring about an alternative global economic order. This is corroborated by the fact that it has been nations in the Global South — despite imperialist aggression — that have made the most serious efforts to challenge the global capitalist order since the last century.
From a Third Worldist perspective, the proposals of the Western environmentalists in general and the “Global” Climate Strike in particular fail to challenge the root cause of climate change head on. This is because of Western society’s direct material interest in maintaining the current global economic order. In other words, it’s not just that the Western environmental movement is focusing on a mere rhetorical solution because of ignorance or error, but because it has a concrete interest in the continuation of the current system from which it derives immense material benefits.
The development of a viable movement against the urgent climate change issues the world currently faces cannot be placed in the hands of nations that are invested in the status quo. We must build a serious network of solidarity with Global South nations and movements that are striking at the heart of the problem. This solidarity cannot and should not be about “empowering” the Global South to follow the naive and erroneous example of the proponents of the Green New Deal. Instead, it should be about empowering those of us living in the West to take urgent action in terms of bringing about a global socialist economy, even if there is a backlash from our denunciation of the imperialist-rooted “progress” found in the First World.
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