Climate Emergency Declaration or Electoral Strategy?

Today, the Government of Catalonia has officially declared a climate emergency, following the demands of Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future and other social movements and organizations that have been fighting for climate justice for many years. Apparently, this sounds like good news, right? Let’s see.

The UN climate experts (IPCC), that have been studying climate change for decades, told us last October that global emissions should be reduced between 40 and 60% by 2030 (compared to 2010 levels) in order not to exceed the +1,5 ºC temperature increase and be part of an irreversible dynamic that will put our own existence at serious risk. In other words, we only have the next decade to achieve a drastic reduction of global emissions. In addition, it has to be considered that IPCC reports are always prudent and politically correct and they are, sometimes, surpassed by reality.

At the same time, the recent report of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services exposes that the brutal rate of biodiversity loss we are causing will also bring serious risks to humanity.

The IPCC is clear: in order to limit the temperature increase to 1.5ºC, “rapid, broad and unprecedented changes are required in all aspects of society as we know it today”. This implies a massive change of the energy, transport, agriculture, industrial, commercial, consumer models… In short, a change of the entire economic and social models as a whole. A new model focused on people and their wellbeing, instead of having as a main goal an infinite economic growth, and the subsequent depletion of resources and the achievement of short-term benefits that follows. We believe that we have to stop sacrificing everything (cities, territories, people, animals…) under the pretext that it is necessary for economic growth, when this economy mainly benefits a global elite, which also steals from us because they almost pay no taxes.

Well, we cannot declare an emergency and pretend that with small changes we will solve it. We cannot declare an emergency and continue adopting or supporting measures that worsen the situation, such as the programmed expansion works of the “El Prat” airport, Barcelona’s harbor or the C-32 highway.

According to the Catalan Studies Institute, an emergency is: a serious event that, if it ends up happening, calls for immediate action. In our opinion, we are following the same tendency as the part years where we are no taking seriously the meaning of an emergency and acting like we have unlimited time. We consider that a declaration that says “the government has a road map, but we are aware that more has to be done” and in which the commitments begin with verbs such as: adopt, increase, prioritize, identify, assume, declare or elaborate without specific deadlines it is not up to the circumstances and it is not a real declaration of emergency because it does not express the severity and urgency of the situation. We must tell the truth: the climate and ecological crisis is the greatest threat to our civilization and we have to act now, without excuses. Subsequently, a great national debate on how we face this emergency with social justice has to be started.

We welcome the declaration as it is the necessary first step, but we will expect that all of our movement’s demands will be met in a real way: tell the truth, act immediately and do it with the participation of all social sectors, especially the most vulnerable.

Barcelona, May 14th, 2019

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Girl with a protest sign: Rebel·lió o Extinció