Asia Europe Peoples Forum, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 4-6, 2016


The climate crisis has already reached the level of a planetary emergency. At nearly one-degree Celsius increase of the global average temperature since pre-industrialization – climate change has already been causing massive loss, destruction and destabilization of ecosystems and communities all over the world but most especially in the South.

Several years ago, climate justice movements were calling for urgent actions that would keep temperature rise to below one degree Celsius. Many scientists are now saying that this is no longer physically possible. They say there is still a chance to stabilize the earth’s temperature to below 1.5 degrees Celsius but this will require huge changes and achieving very high targets in the short term.

The Paris Climate Agreement forged last December 2015 stipulates this 1.5 degrees Celsius limit as the aspirational goal of all parties to the agreement. This is being hailed as an important achievement – as indeed this is the most ambitious goal every agreed to by governments. However, the concrete mitigation targets submitted by governments that form a major part of the Paris Agreement fall very short of this 1.5 degree goal. The collective impact of these national targets condemn the world to a 3-degree rise in global temperatures.

More than every, addressing climate change urgently requires peoples movements to intensify, scale up and escalate all efforts for a comprehensive transformation of the global capitalist system which gave rise to this crisis. Such efforts must also aim for concrete short term and medium term victories. What the world will do in the next 5 to 12 years will determine whether the 1.5 degree limit will still be possible, whether we will still have a chance to prevent climate catastrophe.

A crucial sector where major changes should take place immediately and where complete transformation should be completed the in the soonest possible time is Energy.

Many communities and movements in Asia and in Europe are fighting long-standing battles to stop dirty energy and harmful projects. Others are engaged in resisting privatization and corporatization of energy services and fighting for peoples’ right to energy for their basic needs. And increasingly, movements across these energy issues are uniting around calling for the transition to renewable, efficient and democratic energy alternatives for people and communities – as swiftly as possible in a just manner that ensures that workers and communities are not displaced and dislocated -- as all are being made aware of the urgency of addressing climate change. Studies indicate that if we are to keep temperature rise to below 1.5 or even 2 degrees – there is just a fixed amount of carbon the world can still emit which requires that most of the current fossil fuel reserves should be kept in the ground.

A dangerous response to the climate crisis is the promotion of false solutions. The danger stems from the following 1) these solutions do not represent real or reliable results 2) these solution become an excuse or a substitute for taking real effective actions 3) these solutions carry other dangers and other harmful impacts on people and the environment 4) these solutions exacerbate inequality and make it possible for elites and corporations to gain profit from climate change and its impacts.

The sessions on Climate and Energy at the AEPF will involve an exchange of information, analysis and perspectives on the Climate Crisis and transformation of Energy Sytems.

There will be three sessions.

Session One:

  1. The current state of play in the climate front and the requirements for stabilizing the earth’s temperature at the safest level still possible -- below 1.5 degrees –

  2. What these mean for the transformation of energy systems

Session Two

  1. The current energy situation in Asia and Europe

  2. What movements are doing for energy transformation – resisting dirty energy and breaking free from fossil fuels, opposing false solutions, working for swift and just transition to renewable energy systems for communities and people

Session Three

  1. Exploring and developing concrete joint strategies and strengthening joint actions in the next months and years

Note: The Thematic Cluster 'Climate Justice - Towards Sustainable Energy Production and Use' is being coordinated by Rivers Without Boundaries (Mongolia), Asian People's Movement on Debt and Development, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), and Transnational Institute (The Netherlands).

By AEPF Working Group, Sitftung Asienhaus, May 2, 2016

The climate movement has picked a struggle it seemingly can not win: 80 per cent of all fossil fuels have to stay in the ground if to avert catastrophic climate change yet fossil fuels remain a large share of the global energy sources; science demands a substantial cut in global emissions within a few years yet bold policies and global treaties are missing; policy makers invite business and corporations to round tables and global negotiations while business strongly oppose any far reaching climate policies; while new fossil fuel mega projects are in the pipeline millions of people lack access to affordable clean energy.

And yet the climate movement has grown substantially in the past decade: Opposing new mega projects, resisting against the fossil fuel’s industry to dig deeper and further, lobbying governments and politicians to ban environmentally destructive practice, and raising voices of those mostly affected climate change, Naomi Klein has coined the term “blockadia”. But blocking every single coal fired power plant will neither be possible nor will it lead to the substantial change needed. Climate change is not only a matter of keeping carbon in the ground or merely a matter of staging loud protest every time climate deals are sealed. It is a question of social justice, a question of power and it demands nothing less than a systemic change in production and consumption patterns, fundamentally addressing power relations between and within countries.

The climate movement is currently at the stage at which it has to move out of its climate silo and link up with other struggles. Struggles for freedom of movement, the fight against gentrification, austerity measures and cut in public services, protest against corporate influence or the need to avert another free trade agreement are important battles. People need to have the right to safely cross borders, whether they flee from war torn countries or whether the loss of livelihoods and environmental destruction is the driving force. The fight against rising prices for basic needs such as housing, transport or medical treatment are in line with the struggle against rising costs for energy for basic human needs. And the resistance against corporate influence, whether it is in secret trade negotiations or global or national legislation processes, is similar to the one against energy corporations seeking profit by wrecking the climate, receiving state subsidies and transferring prices to consumers.

The struggle for climate justice is about making sure that fossil fuels remain in the ground. But it is also about making sure that those people affected have voice in decision making processes. People need to be able to have a say on whether a new coal fired power plant is being build, on what kind of jobs are needed, or how we can move away from a system of resource exploitation and environmental destruction and what a just transition shall look like.

In Europe, radical movements for climate justice have emerged that work with civil disobedience strategies, energy democratisation initiatives and deinvestment. We reject the European Unions claim to be a “leader” in the fight against climate change. While European countries congratulate themselves for timid support of renewable energy, the same companies, banks and governments are investing heavily in new coal and extractive industries in Asia, for example in Indonesia and Mongolia. European movements need to connect up with Asian activists to confront this hypocrisy and to transnationalise their strategies. There is also a lot to be learnt from each other in terms of successful initiatives and modes of resistance. More fundamentally, we need to discuss and perhaps reconcile different perspectives – including resource nationalism, neo-extractivism, climate debt, degrowth and socio-ecological transition – in a way that reflects differential and uneven development. AEPF can be a platform to facilitate and initiate such a discussion.

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