«The Heat is On» So: where is the climate uprising?

The IPCC's latest report on the likelihood of crossing the 1.5 degree level of warming in the coming decades reveals that "Unless rapid and deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades, achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement “will be beyond reach”". And: "The document ... finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of heating." [1]

"If we do not cut current emissions by half, the world will see a dangerous global temperature rise of at least 2.7°C this century, warns a new UN Environment report, which says "the heat is on" and calls for the world to wake up to the danger we face as a species." [2]


The climate emergency is advancing. The gap between the urgency to act and our action as a climate justice movement has opened even wider, with the disarticulation of the movement during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now truly walking on the edge of an abyss. And, at the same time, I feel that we have no vision on how to avoid the fall, how to change course. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow. The burning of fossil fuels continues to grow. We are heading towards a catastrophic future.

And our actions? I don't see even the slightest prospect of mounting a real climate uprising. I don't see a shared vision. I see too much of "business as usual", but no uprising.
We know we need system change. We know that cisheteropatriarchal capitalism (green or not) is not compatible with the limits of our planet. But, "let's change the system, not the climate" is only a slogan to be shouted at our demonstrations, which are also only a small shadow of the mobilisations of 2019. The situation is bleak, and I am left with a lot of despair, with the feeling of profound disempowerment.
Maybe it sounds strange, but I invite us to stop. To stop doing more of the "same as always", to keep ourselves busy, and to sit down and think, to analyse. Where are we? Where do we want or need to go to avoid catastrophe? How can we do it?

I am reminded of a conversation I had a few years ago with James Lawson, one of the leaders of the civil rights movement in the US in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He asked me what the peace movement does in Europe, and I answered him by explaining some of the actions, including disobedience, and he said "so, you only do symbolic actions".
I remember what Arundhati Roy said at the World Social Forum in Mumbai in January 2004, about the movement against the war in Iraq: "It was wonderful that on 15 February last year, in a spectacular display of public morality, 10 million people on five continents marched against the war in Iraq. It was wonderful, but not enough. February 15 fell on a weekend. Nobody had to miss a day of work. Holiday protests don't stop wars." [3]

Neither symbolic actions nor holiday protests are going to prevent the slide into the abyss. We need something new. We need very deep changes to our economic, political and social system, and fast. We need a revolution.

It's good that there is broad support for climate action, according to a recent poll in El País: "In general, support among those polled for action against climate change is resounding: 88.9% consider it very or fairly urgent to implement measures against global warming. It is young people, those aged between 18 and 24, who urge this most (94.3 per cent)." [4] But I doubt very much that this support goes beyond superficial changes.

Since 1970, World Overshoot Day (the day of the year on which humanity has exhausted nature's budget for the year) has been brought forward from 29 December (i.e. in 1970 we were still almost within our planet's limits globally) to 29 July in 2021. For the Spanish state, this day was 25 May in 2021 [5], i.e. in less than half of the year we had already consumed what we are entitled to if we want to respect the planet's limits.

In the meantime, the left (I don't know what this is anymore) in the Spanish state mostly dreams of a return to the Welfare State within a cisheteropatriarchal capitalist system. The problem is that there is no longer a material basis for this. The end of cheap oil already in 1973 brought this to an end, and, moreover, the price of this welfare state in a small and privileged part of the world has always been the destruction of our planet and the exploitation of another part of the world. At the global level there has never been a Welfare State, and it is impossible to achieve it within a capitalist system. And we know this. We should know it.

This is why. I invite us to stop. To think. To analyse and develop new strategies. For a real climate uprising. A revolution. A change of the system. Let's try to close the gap between diagnosis and action. Let's try to put system change at the centre.

For a future worth living.



[1] https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/08/1097362, 9 August 2021

[2] https://news.un.org/es/story/2021/10/1498972, 26 October 2021

[3] https://www.elsaltodiario.com/guerra/quince-anos-despues-protestas-contra-guerra-iraq, 15 February 2018

[4] https://elpais.com/clima-y-medio-ambiente/2021-11-01/una-amplia-mayoria-de-espanoles-a-favor-del-abandono-del-coche-de-combustion.html, 1 November 2021

[5] https://www.overshootday.org/newsroom/country-overshoot-days/ , access on 1 November de 2021