We are at a crossroads. Over the last year, climate marches and the XR Weeks of Rebellion have brought the climate crisis into a momentary spotlight. However, much of this mobilization has struggled to adapt to the context brought by COVID. In the last few months, our movement has found itself far away from the energy of the Fall of 2019 and we must now decide whether we will continue with “business as usual” or if we will demonstrate the boldness and adaptability that our governments lack.
During this same stretch of time, the movements that have presented the greatest challenge to the global ecocidal system exist outside of “single-issue” environmental movements. The ongoing Black Lives Matter protests centering police violence were possibly the largest in U.S. history. The network of indigenous solidarity and resistance that blocked railroads in the wake of the ongoing Wet’suwet’en invasion represented perhaps the broadest and boldest source of resistance to the oil and gas industry in Canada in recent years. And internationally, the biggest protest movements have been led by people resisting neoliberal and colonial policies in the global South in Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, Haiti, and also in colonizing countries like France.
At a workshop I attended on racism in the environmental movement, the facilitator used the Titanic as an analogy to explain the concept of climate justice. While the more vulnerable people at the bottom of the ship could see the root of the iceberg beneath the water surface, the richer people at the top of the ship could only see its most superficial incarnation and were the last to realize the magnitude of the disaster they were facing. As the climate movement continues to expand its scope from primarily a scientific perspective, people on the frontlines of the political and ecological crisis have already been leading bold action against the roots of the climate crisis.
As we adapt to the evolving COVID crisis, will we continue ahead with our previous tactics and prior vision unchallenged, or will we honor the values of action based on continuing reflection, values that are part of our principles? Over the last year we have stood with movements for indigenous rights, immigration rights, and racial and economic justice, but our commitment to meaningful solidarity still has a long way to go. Building a fairer, more resilient, and more effective movement will require us to continue to bring issues of racial, economic, and gender oppression to the core of our movement and find ways to build stronger networks of solidarity with others who are closer to the frontlines of the climate crisis.