In 2006, the ISE launched our Climate Justice project, focused on writing, research and activism to advance radical, long-range approaches to the threat of catastrophic global climate disruptions. We are working to expose the myriad false solutions to global warming (biofuels, nuclear power, carbon markets), and articulate transformative, community-centered ways to address this emerging global crisis. This effort draws upon more than 30 years of ISE involvement around energy and climate issues (see History pages). The broad perspective of this project is described in a 2008 article, and in the 2010 book, Toward Climate Justice.
Today’s regional, national and international debates around global warming are in urgent need of a radically different perspective from the ones presently offered by politicians and mainstream commentators. The elite consensus around global warming often reduces climate policy to the question: how can we price emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases so that the “free market” might induce corporations to make voluntary changes in their behavior? This is the underlying assumption of the UN climate negotiations, as well as proposals that have been debated in the US Congress.
But “market-oriented” strategies have proven far from adequate to address such problems in the past, and have failed to bring meaningful emissions reductions in those countries that signed on to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. There has been a resurgence of research and innovation in alternative energy technologies, but the practical implementation of these innovations are relegated to the indefinite future by those interests that benefit most from the present status-quo. The project focuses on several key areas:
- Monitoring current developments in climate science, which clearly illustrate the gap between scientific knowledge and the vastly inadequate solutions proposed in mainstream political and diplomatic circles;
- Highlighting the links between global warming and social justice, especially in those parts of the world that are already facing the consequences of chaotic climate changes – and in frontline communities within the U.S. – as well as the disastrous links between destructive climate and energy policies and US militarism;
- Exposing the numerous false solutions to global warming, from biofuels and nuclear power to carbon trading and offsets; [Download a report we co-authored on the agrofuels threat to the world’s forests from http://www.globalforestcoalition.org/img/userpics/File/publications/Truecostagrofuels.pdf]
- Supporting the ongoing development of activist networks with a commitment to climate justice organizing in the U.S., including 350Vermont, the Mobilization for Climate Justice and the former Climate SOS network.
- Illuminating the potential for a radically transformed, lower-consumption world, featuring decentralized renewable energy and politically empowered communities.
Like the antinuclear activists of 30 years ago, who halted the first wave of nuclear power in the US, while articulating an inspiring vision of directly democratic, solar-powered communities, social ecologists today are again working to dramatize the positive, and even utopian, possibilities for a post-petroleum, post-nuclear world.