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The road ahead

Hindsight: 2020 Part 3 – the road ahead

This is the third post in a series. Read part one and part two.

Goals for 2021: we need a real net-zero plan

This year we need to build on what we managed to accomplish in 2020, and build back from the blows we were dealt. When it comes to organizing for climate justice, we need to remember that a rapid but managed decline of fossil fuel extraction is a non-optional feature of the work of maintaining climate stability. Any climate action plan that does not include winding down the extraction of fossil fuels is a plan rooted in climate denial, is a serious disservice to fossil fuel workers and, quite simply, won’t work.

Vision for 2021: Climate justice and social transformation must be the same thing

We must remember in the midst of this pandemic that investment in climate justice and investment in public health are necessarily one and the same. The pandemic has made it extremely clear that we need to transform our society to protect the health and wellbeing of our communities. We may all be in the same storm but we’re not in the same boat – the impacts of the pandemic have been felt more strongly by Black, Indigenous and people of colour, and other folks made marginalized by our existing systems. We need to build systems that support people instead of leaving them vulnerable to economic, environmental and social instability. The climate crisis presents new public health challenges, and public health officials have been calling on governments for years to limit fossil fuel use and plan for a just transition to a green economy.

As discussed throughout this series, a major barrier to effective climate action is corporate capture of our democratic systems – this corporate influence shapes many more aspects of life like access to health care, water, and affordable housing. Taking effective action on the linked climate and health crises requires reclaiming the power that corporations hold over our democracy so that we can build a society that makes people strong, not vulnerable.

Organizing for 2021: Build our power together, be relentless

Our movements are starting to break the grip that fossil fuel industry has on government climate action. 2020 started with Shut Down Canada – a cross-country effort to stop business-as-usual on all fronts to force governments to respect Wet’suwet’en sovereignty over the nation’s ancestral lands that led to negotiations between Canadian and Wet’suwet’en governments. People organized to prevent rent hikes and evictions during the pandemic, resulting in rent control and bans on evictions in many jurisdictions. We saw governments try to hand over billions of dollars to the fossil fuel industry, and the strong and coordinated pushback from our movements pressed the government to attach some strings to those bailouts. While that’s not perfect, it’s clear that our collective work had an impact.

We need harness that energy to organize powerfully and relentlessly in 2021. Part of the challenge for settler movements is to continue the work of building relationship with Indigenous Peoples and struggles and meaningfully including Indigenous communities in developing our strategies for a just recovery. As we work to prevent corporate interests from directing our public institutions, we need to ensure that we are doing so in a way that includes and gives priority to Indigenous movements.

We’re working with communities across the country to build strategies for local change, and to build power in our movements for a just recovery from the linked climate, inequality, and health crises. Will you join us? Learn more about our Green New Deal Communities work and sign up to get involved here.