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Publication Details

Reference
Bond, Patrick (2016) Social Movements for Climate Justice: from International NGOs to local communities. To be presented to the Ernst Strüngmann Forum Rethinking Environmentalism: Linking Justice, Sustainability, and Diversity Frankfurt am Main, June 19-24, 2016 : 1-28.

Summary
The Ernst Strüngmann Forum will consider ‘how differences in framing environmental problems are driven by differences in normative and theoretical positions; and ways in which more inclusive framings might enable more societally relevant and impactful research and more concerted action/practice.’ Following both the 2015 G7 summit and Paris climate conference, statements by the International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) which took the bulk of the world’s attention – including from Avaaz and Greenpeace – left the impression that a viable deal was agreed upon, and that irrevocable steps toward economic decarbonisation were taken so as to potentially save the planet from catastrophic climate change. In contrast, one INGO, Friends of the Earth International, as well as most of what are considered ‘Climate Justice’ (CJ) movement components, condemned these two crucial instances of global governance. However, the CJ opposition made no difference whatsoever, because for world climate policy, the die has now been cast, leaving intact several dangerous features of the Paris strategy: no legally-binding responsibilities and no accountability mechanisms; inadequate stated aspirations for lowering global temperatures; no liabilities for past greenhouse gas emissions; and renewed opportunities to game the emissions-reduction system through state-subsidised carbon trading and offsets, now moving from the European Union and North America to the emerging markets. The CJ answer to this top-down INGO-endorsed policy regime – one overwhelmingly favourable to the United States, from where the strategy emanated – appears to be two-fold: an intensification of bottom-up strategies that aim to weaken GHG-emitting state and corporate targets through both direct action (disruptions) and financial divestment.

Simultaneously, increasing attention is being drawn to the class, race, gender, national and North-South dimensions of climate injustices. But given the Paris deal, the CJ strategy to undo the damage will unfold at local and national scales – and surprisingly perhaps, to that end there may be merit to CJers utilising one of the framing narratives of ecological odernisation: natural capital accounting. Yet for he foreseeable future, the global balance f forces appears extremely adverse – especially ith the decline of the Latin American centre-left regimes – and forceful change at that scale will require a decisive shift of orientation by INGOs towards the CJ approach. This is already beginning to become evident in the ways Greenpeace and 350.org have taken up direct action and divestment strategies, respectively, during this rapidly-closing window to address climate change and related ecosystem
breakdowns effectively and fairly.

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