‘Blockadia’ – and how you and I are changing the world
In the past, action on climate change has been stymied by the dominant system of neoliberal capitalism. In contrast to endless economic growth, the solution is likely to lie in the de-growth movement and re-localisation.
Across the globe, many communities are engaged in struggles to defend themselves from the incursion of increasingly environmentally damaging fossil fuel projects, against a backdrop of scientific evidence demanding an urgent transition to renewable energy. Parallel with this is the need to rethink the consumer economy, shift to a more frugal existence, and build a sustainable and socially just world.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide is now at 402 parts per million (ppm), and rising by about 2 ppm annually. The average global temperature has spiked upwards to 1.3 degrees warmer than the late 19th century level. Risks for Australia include further loss of Great Barrier Reef coral, and a future where severe droughts are more likely.
In November, 2016, world leaders heralded the ratification of the Paris climate treaty, which aspires to keep the temperature rise under 1.5 degrees Celsius. Its implications are momentous, and represent a global commitment to usher in a post-fossil-fuel era. Despite this, many countries, including Australia, are yet to significantly slow down their expansion of fossil fuel resources. Among G20 nations, Australia was ranked the worst in 2016 for action on climate change, and is pushing for the expansion of coal, including development of the massive Carmichael coal mine in Queensland.
The science is clear. A 2015 study in Nature chose to focus on the concept of ‘unburnable’ known fossil fuel reserves that would have to be kept in the ground if the global temperature rise is to stay under a target of 2 degrees. These are 82 percent of coal (including 90 percent of Australian coal), 49 percent of gas, 33 percent of oil, and 99 percent of oil from the Canadian tar sands.
More important is a moratorium date for the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure. A 2016 Oxford University study concluded that this would have to cease by the end of 2017 for a realistic chance of achieving a 2-degree limit, if all associated lifetime emissions are taken into account. To meet the 1.5-degree target, this deadline would have to be brought forward.
Scientists and environmentalists had long speculated that fossil fuels would