A Call for June 2024
On Sunday June 9, 2024, the Belgian European, federal and regional elections will take place. Let’s act!
In 2018, Belgium experienced the hottest summer in its history and the emergence of an historic citizen mobilization for the climate. But this democratic movement was quelled by the pandemic.
In 2023, what has changed? Almost nothing. The situation has only worsened, for lack of citizen mobilization and political action. A pandemic, historic floods, a war on European soil, a global energy crisis and the rise of fascism in many forms, all these causes and consequences are aggravated by planetary ecocide, itself due to the absence of a fair ecological transition. Inequalities are increasing, democracy is in danger, we are destroying the habitability of our planet. We are not doing what must be done to avoid the worst, and we are not ready to face what we can no longer avoid.
This summer, Belgium miraculously escaped the terrible heat domes that settled over the northern hemisphere, hitting hard hundreds of millions of Americans, Southern Europeans, North Africans, Asians and Middle Easterners. Flash floods, winds of over 200 km/h and fist-sized hailstones ravaged European cities and countrysides. Extreme temperatures are decimating the seas and oceans. Many scientists are shocked by the proliferation of completely abnormal phenomena and desperate by the inertia that continues to reign in our societies. They cry out in the wilderness. The planet we once knew no longer exists. Awake, we sleep.
Wealthy tourists who fly by the millions to the Mediterranean are punished for their CO2 emissions by a strange form of climatic revenge. But while some see their holidays ruined, others are dying. More and more of us find ourselves in everyday conversations where no one dares to mention disasters, utter the word « climate », or make the connection with our massive use of fossil fuels, our industrial food, our perpetual mobility, our poorly insulated homes, our overconsumption. A feeling of madness seizes us. Never before have environmentalists and activists suffered such retaliation, including in our democracies. Denial turns into hatred or cynicism. Climate-affected countries still vote for climate-skeptical parties. A Code Rouge action bringing 600 activists to the site of an Engie gas-fired power plant receives a few paragraphs of coverage and is quickly forgotten by the media steamroller. Greta Thunberg, who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to the climate, was convicted by a Swedish court for her non-violent activism.
How many journalists who report on climate disasters speak of « extreme weather events » but do not systematically mention global warming, nor its human cause, nor the fundamental link with the massive use of oil, gas and coal and deforestation in our economies, nor the overwhelming responsibility of the petrochemical, automotive, agri-food, construction, retail, advertising, digital, and mass tourism industries? How many connect this fossil use to our capitalist, growth-oriented, neoliberal economic system and mass overconsumption in our rich countries?The focus on “emissions” deprives us of a political view of reality. You can’t stop a hemorrhage by watching the blood flow, you have to operate on the organs.
Faced with this ecocidal logic, we have the will to live and we refuse to remain silent. We will demand that our right to life be respected until the end.
This is why, through this Call, we want to put the climate emergency back at the heart of the Belgian and European public debate.
Once again, we call on all the parliaments of the country to declare a climate emergency, and on governments to organize a general mobilization for a « war economy » capable of drastically reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, starting this year, and every year thereafter, until we, as one of the world’s richest and most polluting countries, contribute our fair share of the global effort.
Imperceptibly, we are sliding towards “climate adaptation” policies that silently renounce the urgent cessation of fossil greenhouse gas emissions.There is no policy of dismantling automobile, aviation, agri-food complexes, construction and the concreting of land, hyper-consumption and mass advertising. There is little or nothing on the just transition of these sectors towards sustainable mobility and food, massive insulation of buildings, stopping concrete, decreasing material consumption and enlightened information. Little or nothing on the rapid deployment of basic, sustainable and fair universal services, for travel, housing, eating, drinking, health care, equipment, information, and participatory democracy. But it is not by adding or modifying a few minor elements here and there that we will avoid collapse.NO level of adaptation will be able to resist a global warming that is not contained by the immediate dismantling and just transition of the fossil fuel industry.
Moreover, many citizens aware of the climate emergency are lost in eco-friendly gestures, individual well-being practices and small local initiatives, which are certainly interesting but which depoliticize them with regard to the collective struggle that must be waged to dismantle the fossil fuel complex. NO individual or local initiative will stand up to the continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry . The priority must not be to withdraw in resignation, but to rally collectively to lead the battle at the political and institutional level.
Finally, progressive movements still disperse their forces among many causes, certainly legitimate and essential, such as migration, feminism, poverty, minority rights, equality, democracy, etc., without understanding that the climate emergency completely changes the situation. If the climate emergency is not treated as THE top priority, sooner or later it will neutralize and nullify ALL their efforts.
The climate emergency becomes de facto the top emergency for migrants, for women, for the poor, for minorities, for equality, for democracy, etc. The intersectional logic of the indispensable notion of just transition cannot deny the obvious fact that there will be no justice on a dead planet. The climate emergency must therefore become THE absolute priority of all progressive movements, which must join forces to a far greater extent if they are to have any influence on the future.
The just transition safeguards the habitability of the planet AND deploys social justice BY strengthening democracy.
We need to formulate a coalition strategy. Divided and scattered, with no strategic vision of a just and democratic ecological transition, we are de facto letting reign the ecocidaires, who have been well organized for the past 50 years.
From now on, freedom and justice must rhyme with ecology.
We know, we can, we must. It’s in the interest of the country, of all of us. We no longer have any excuse not to.
That is why we are calling on all parties and candidates in the 2024 elections to publicly express their support for a policy of annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in line with the state of science, and their commitment as soon as they take office at all levels of government, to adopt:
1) a formal declaration of a State of Climate Emergency, and the communication of this declaration to the entire population,
2) a general mobilization of public power and society,
3) a policy of dismantling the fossil fuel industry and of a just economic transition,
4) the establishment of a scientific council endowed with real powers to guarantee the scientifically rational nature of the transition,
5) the establishment of a deliberative citizens’ council with real powers to guarantee the fair and democratic nature of the transition,
6) the introduction of additional regulatory and financial guarantees to redeploy press freedom,
7) the financing of the points above by adequate multiannual budgets.
In french :