The repression of environmental activists fuels climate change

(Eco Business, 11 Feb 2019) As global greenhouse gas emissions rise, government attempts to thwart climate defenders should worry us all.

Coal enthusiast Poland hosted COP24, the annual United Nations’ climate summit, last December. The summit’s outcomes were widely criticised for being too little too late. But Poland’s actions also drew attention to another alarming global trend: repression of environmental and climate defenders.

This worrying development finds its roots in the global and local conflict between the haves and have-nots. The ‘natural commons’ such as forests, jungles, mountains, rivers, oceans, and clean air, which should be shared by all of us, are increasingly cordoned off, extracted, and profited from by the wealthy few.

Politicians who feed on global uncertainty, our precarious livelihoods and racism use their powers to support their allies to profit from destroying the natural world. This is not a new story, but it is one of heightened global relevance.

The people themselves might not characterise their struggle as directly ‘climate’ related, instead focusing on the protection of local land, livelihoods, and the natural world. But the opposition to these extractive and destructive projects takes on global significance because the U.N.’s climate science panel in its latest report has warned the world that we cannot build any new fossil fuel projects. It shows that we must drastically reverse deforestation.

Every effort to stop new fossil fuel extraction or to resist the expansion of agro-business into forests is an effort of global importance. Governments that support corporations in this extraction risk local lives and communities, but also our global ecosystem. This represents one of the greatest political challenges of our times.

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Eco Business, 11 Feb 2019: The repression of environmental activists fuels climate change