This statement was distributed at climate strike actions by the International Workers’ Solidarity Network.
We’re all angry. All of us at these actions worldwide know our future depends on dealing with climate change. The conversation that matters now is: Who is responsible for it — and who can fix it?
Here and abroad, the impact falls disproportionately on the most oppressed: communities of color, especially Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, women and gender-oppressed, the LGBTQ2S+ community and youth. Most of us are workers, including youth and students. The wild weather patterns and unnatural disasters leave their heaviest mark on us.
Can capitalism fix the problems it creates?
Some in the climate movement simply put the blame on “human activity” without putting it squarely on big oil, big coal, the auto industry, utility firms and the banks they borrow from — or the world’s biggest polluter, the Pentagon.
And some would even suggest that appealing to the profit motive — convincing capitalists that weaning themselves off fossil fuels is good for business or subjecting them to “climate pricing” — can solve the crisis. That’s naive thinking. Capitalists caused global warming and they can hardly be trusted to reverse it. They calculate short-term economic gain without regard for the huge carbon footprint their profit-taking actions are leaving. Only they have the means to escape the consequences.
Working-class solidarity to save the environment
Environmental activists, mostly youth, have called for “climate strikes” Sept. 20 and 27. This is a real step forward. Strikes have won higher wages, pensions, union recognition and the like. But there are also political strikes, such as May Day 2006 when millions of im/migrants and their supporters forced the defeat of an anti-immigrant bill in Congress.
Let’s keep the climate strike conversation alive beyond Sept. 20-27 — not just in schools but on the job, in unions, in our communities. And we need to fight environmental racism, defend Indigenous land claims and demand self-determination for oppressed nations suffering the heaviest impacts.
The climate crisis is a working-class issue. We understand this. That’s why several New York City labor organizations are urging union members to support the climate strike. That’s why Amazon workers are walking out to protest the way the company has contributed to the climate crisis.
We have the power to protect life on the planet. Nothing moves without us! And mass actions are what bring real change.
This is a slightly edited version of a talk given during the “What Road to…