The Rising Tide Coalition for Climate Justice Political Statement

[In Spanish] [In German]

Background to this statement

Rising Tide is a grassroots international network of groups and individuals who take direct action to confront the root causes of climate change and to promote local, community-based solutions to the climate crisis. It is part of a wider global movement for social and ecological justice.

Rising Tide was formed in November 2000 to organise protests at the 6th UN climate negotiations (COP6) in The Netherlands. The network came together around the principles set out in the first Rising Tide political statement of 2000, which put forward a unique analysis and approach to climate change that was well ahead of its time, based around the issues of social justice and a critique of business-led solutions. More than a decade later, many parts of that original radical analysis have been accepted by social movements, mainstream NGOs, think tanks and some political parties.

Fair and effective solutions to climate change have not, however, become a reality, and therefore our mission to confront the root causes of climate change and fight for climate justice continues.

This statement updates and builds upon the Rising Tide political statement of 2000, preparing the growing international network for its second decade fighting for climate justice.

Rising Tide is an international network of groups and individuals committed to a grassroots approach to fighting for climate justice. We believe that the Kyoto protocol will fail to combat the climate change crisis. Instead the protocol promotes the self-interest of corporations and industrialised nations and marginalises issues of global equity and the environment.

Root causes, false ‘solutions’

Rising Tide believes that the roots of the climate crisis lie in the current global economic system and its endless pursuit of economic growth at all costs.

Corporate-friendly and state-sponsored ‘solutions’ to climate change are utterly failing to solve the climate crisis. The current international climate negotiations are flawed and unjust because they are based on the interests of a neo-liberal capitalist globalisation that seeks to benefit richer countries and corporations.

We recognise that such globalisation is triggering ever-faster climate change, and we oppose the carbon trading market as a form of modern-day colonialism. We reject nuclear energy as a 'solution' to climate change and actively campaign against it, alongside other false solutions which either fail to reduce emissions or threaten us with new local and global risks.

Rising Tide believes that as a matter of survival, we must confront capitalism and decrease our dependence on the industries and institutions that are destroying the planet. Simultaneously we must work towards social justice, community autonomy and sustainable living.

Climate justice

Rising Tide believes that social and economic equity between and within countries lies at the heart of truly fair solutions to climate change.

Corporations working in collusion with government elites are at the heart of the exploitation of communities of ordinary people everywhere. This is at its starkest in the plunder of the resources of the global south by the wealthy economies of the global north. We acknowledge that these wealthy economies owe ecological and social debts to the people of the global south. The ecological debt caused by the extraction, use and abuse of resources such as fossil fuels, minerals, forests, and marine and genetic resources generates huge social damage whereby local communities are exploited physically, politically, economically, culturally and emotionally.

Repair to the biosphere, and to the communities where such extraction has taken place, cannot be delivered simply by payments of money. It will require the wresting of wealth and resources away from elites into popular control. Particularly, land and resources need to be returned to the control of communities in the global south and indigenous peoples.

Just transition

Rising Tide wants to see a 'just transition' to a low carbon, low consumption economy that is focused on well-being, not profit. This means a transition that doesn't fall hardest on low income communities, socially discriminated communities or low-waged employees of industries reliant on fossil fuels.

Energy to meet basic needs is an essential element of climate justice. Subsistence emissions of marginalised groups must not be targeted by any plans to reduce global emissions. Nor must such plans involve ‘population control’ or other authoritarian measures which serve to penalise the victims of the current system while high consumption by elites continues unabated.

We believe that successful solutions to climate change must be debated and created by organised transnational movements which put the greatest emphasis on the demands and proposals of grassroots movements of those most affected: for example, communities in the global south, island nations, indigenous peoples and migrants', womens' and youth organisations. People working collectively must be in control of this process. Power must be decentralised, not concentrated in the hands of governments and private companies.

Ways forward

We know that that atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases must be reduced as dramatically and quickly as possible. To this end, Rising Tide wants to see an immediate end to all new fossil fuel exploration and extraction and a just, rapid transition away from the burning of fossil fuels. We also acknowledge that ecosystem preservation, recovery and restoration are essential to sequestering carbon and curbing the exponential rate of species extinction.

Practical, low-impact, community-run solutions do exist. It is time to start using them and fighting back against those vested interests who attempt to undermine them.

To build truly just solutions, we must also dismantle the systems of oppression that permeate our culture and ourselves. Rising Tide aims to build strong links with environmental justice groups fighting pollution from fossil fuel processing facilities and ally ourselves with those around the world who are already being affected by climate change. We acknowledge that we as a network must step up our efforts to build relationships of solidarity with other related campaign groups and particularly with the people who stand to lose the most from climate change, in our own countries and around the world. We must also work towards real solidarity across borders and lines of race, class, gender, ability and sexual identity.

Rising Tide believes that when we begin to build a culture of mutual aid and community autonomy, and when we create change through direct action and organising without leaders, we demonstrate that we don’t need governments or corporations in order to survive and thrive.

The Rising Tide international network advocates:

  • A just transition to locally-controlled, low carbon, low consumption economies.
  • Immediate, drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Solutions to the climate crisis that are defined by those most severely affected and foster local autonomy and self-sufficiency.
  • Redress of the ecological and social debts of the North to the South and from elites to popular control, enabling communities to rebuild themselves and restore their environments.
  • Freedom of movement and an end to migration controls.
  • Current and future support for all displaced people, and for those who attempt to create a better and safer life for themselves and their families by crossing international borders.

The Rising Tide international network opposes:

  • New fossil fuel exploration and extraction.
  • Nuclear power generation and other techno-fixes such as large scale geo-engineering, industrial agrofuels, genetic modification and carbon capture and storage.
  • The false solutions being used as a way to evade responsibility for emissions reductions, including emissions trading, carbon offsetting, REDD, the Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation projects.
  • The commodification and privatisation of the world’s natural resources, and the opening of new large scale resource extractive infrastructure, especially where it is opposed by local communities.
  • Northern governments using financial aid for climate change mitigation as a means of increasing the debt owed by non industrialised nations.
  • Criminalisation of and violence towards grassroots environmental and social justice movements by states and corporations.

Signatories (October 2011)

  • Hyokyaalto (Finland)
  • Marea Creciente Ecuador
  • Marea Creciente Mexico
  • Rising Tide Australia
  • Rising Tide North America
  • Rising Tide UK