by Rebel Fagin
It starts in isolation; in farms in Nigeria, fishing villages in Greece, First Nations’ forests in Canada, the high plains of Mongolia, neighborhoods in Richmond. Communities with few resources other than themselves stand up and physically resist the devastation brought to them by the fossil fuels companies. Their vast extractions coupled with evictions, checkpoints, and armed security details have created battle zones. What these armed forces face are elders, youths, parents, farmers, shop owners, everyday people with their backs against the wall and no recourse but resistance. They have rejected Big Green’s sell outs in favor of local direct actions that range from packing city council meetings to blockading extraction vehicles. In the Skouries Forest in Greece, people installed their own check points. When the military shows they ring the church bell and the streets fill with villagers prepared to stop the invaders. This is more militant resistance than web petitions. This is Blockadia.
One Blockadia front that has been very successful is the containing of Canadian tar sands. With First Nation people in the forefront, they have halted expansion west, east, and south. Trans-Canada was so certain of approval that they bought $1 billion worth of pipeline in advance. In November President Obama rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline.
In July, Shell began moving an immense drilling platform from Portland, Oregon to the Arctic to drill for oil. They were blocked by hundreds of kayaktivists and other protesters who rappelled off bridges. Eventually Shell got out to sea where they were again met with hundreds of sea-going protesters. When they finally got to the Arctic more protesters confronted them. They didn’t drill. They said the field was dry. Since then the Department of the Interior has halted further Arctic oil leases. In October Shell cancelled the tar sands project. Shell has posted record losses primarily due to these two projects. Score one for Blockadia. More and more fossil fuel projects are being abandoned due to direct action campaigns – not Big Green, not petitions, but direct action has gotten the job done.
In Toronto during the spring of 2015 over 60 leaders from First Nations, social justice, environmental, food justice, faith-based, and labor organizations met for a two day conference that resulted in The Leap Manifesto.
The Leap Manifesto begins with respecting the rights and title of the original caretakers by fully implementing the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. From there it recognizes that Canada could be fully powered by 100% renewable energy within twenty years and that there is no excuse for further extractions of fossil fuels. Whenever possible communities must collectively own localized energy systems. Local collective ownership strengthens democracy through participation. The Leap Manifesto requires training for workers in transition from carbon-intensive jobs to the clean-energy economy. Localized agriculture reduces fossil fuel usage. End all trade treaties that hijack control of local economies. We must ensure immigration status. End austerity and redistribute the wealth. To do this: increase resource royalties, increase taxes on the rich, cut military spending, enact a progressive carbon tax while boosting the low-carbon sectors of the economy. Public scarcity in times of unprecedented wealth is manufactured and must end. Economic justice for all,
including a living wage. Climate change is interwoven with economic inequality. Both need to stop if we are to survive. Enacting The Leap Manifesto if one way to do this. Sign on today at theleapmanifesto.org.
This is not an unrealistic dream. 25% of California’s energy comes from renewables. Canada is 67% hydro-electric. Scotland has a national retrofit program. Germany is shifting from corporate-owned energy to community-owned green power. Norway is 100% renewable. We can join them. As Seth Klein of the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives points out, “is about shifting where we spend our infrastructure spending.” This is nothing short of a call to arms, one we need to embrace and bring to our communities. It’s what climate scientists have been prescribing. It’s time to take bold steps. It’s time to Leap.
Sources: This Changes Everything © 2014 Naomi Klein, leapmanifesto.org, nowtoranto.com, commondreams.org 9/15/15, Democracy Now 10/05/15, 10/29/15
Rebel Fagin writes for the Sonoma County Peace Press and dailycensored.com