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C.3.b. Averting Climate Change: Government Policies, Civil Society Initiatives and Radical Alternatives

Volume Two -> C. Green Campaigns and Protests -> C.3. Mobilizing to Prevent Climate Change and Planetary Destruction -> C.3.b. Averting Climate Change: Government Policies, Civil Society Initiatives and Radical Alternatives

A comprehensive list of sources on combating climate change, including all the legal, economic and technological possibilities, energy policy, reforestation, land management and agriculture, flood defences and other issues would require a separate bibliography. The sources listed below touch on a range of approaches, with an emphasis on recently published books and articles, and the more radical political, economic and environmental analyses and programmes.

'Habitable Earth': The Big Story, Climate Justice, May-June 2019, New Internationalist, 2019, pp. 15-37

Examines a range of technical issues relating to reaching carbon zero emissions targets, but focuses primarily on different forms of campaigning.  These include Buddhist temples disinvesting from fossil fuels in Japan, and the often effective use of the law in Latin America, as well as examples of direct action. There is also a brief account of the Costa Rican government's programme to be carbon neutral by 2050.

A European Green Deal: Striving to be the first climate-neutral continent, Brussels, European Commission , 2019

The EU Commission presented its plan for updating its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in December 2019. The goal of net zero emissions by 2050 was to be given legal force by a climate law in 2020, and its target for 2030 was a 50-55" cut (lifting its previous 40" target). The plan links these targets to a call for a new growth strategy, decoupled from resource use, and sets out a time line and more detailed aims.

See also: Simon, Frederic, 'The EU releases its Green Deal. Here are the key points' 12 Dec. 2019:

Special Issue, Summer 2019, Red Pepper, 2019, pp. 35-45

A series of articles exploring the implications of a Green New Deal. These include the importance of the international implications; climate change as a form of systemic racism; and an 'Open letter to Extinction Rebellion' from the grass roots collective Wretched of the Earth.

Angel, James, Energy Democracy in UK and Spain: from ideas to practice, Brussels, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Buro, 2016

Report on a workshop organized by Global Justice Now, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung Brussels Office and the Transnational Institute to develop the concept of 'energy democracy' agreed by the German climate justice movement at the 2012 Climate Camp in Lausitz. The aim is to ensure access for all to non-polluting energy, entailing an end to fossil fuel us e, democratizing the means of production and rethinking energy consumption.  The workshop noted that since 2012 many communal, municipal, worker and movement initiatives were making the concept a reality: for example in Bristol in S.W. England, with a co-operatively owned solar generation project and a new publicly owned municipal supply company

See also: 'Just Transition and Energy Democracy: a civil service trade union perspective, PCS pamphlet, adopted at PCS conference May 2017. (It was also being promoted in translation by the Portuguese Climate Jobs campaign.)

Argues for public ownership and democratic control of energy supplies, and for the creation of a National Climate Service (proposed by the One Million Climate Jobs campaign, launched by the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group (CACCTU).

See also:

Greener Jobs Alliance:;

Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) a global trade union community for energy democracy coordinated in New York in cooperation with the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, New York office.

Barkham, Patrick, Can planting billions of trees save the planet?, The Guardian, 19/06/2019, pp. 10-11

Barkham notes the major potential value of reforestation to limit global warming and preserve biodiversity as well as local economic benefits. But he also stresses the dangers of ignoring the importance of planting local species or relying on technologies that may require minerals under old forests. His article focuses on the role of the 'TreeSisters' charity founded in 2014, which funds tree planting in India, Nepal, Brazil, Kenya, Cameroon and Madagascar. In Madagascar the focus is partly on replanting lost mangroves (providing multiple environmental benefits).

Berners-Lee, Mike, There is No Planet B - A Handbook for the Make or Break Years, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2019, pp. 288

Berners-Lee, from the Institute for Social Futures at Lancaster University, starts by summarizing the arguments for the urgent need to stop using fossil fuels and by assessing the climate science. He then examines a wide range of issues involved in transforming energy policy, transport, food supply, business models, and technological possibilities, providing important detail on, for example, the implications of alternative technology choices for fuel.

Cummins, Ronnie, Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food and a Green New Deal, White River Junction, VT, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2020, pp. 208 (pb)

Cummins is the founder of the US Organic Consumers Association and involved in international environmental activism. His book focuses primarily on changing agriculture and on a renewable fuel policy.

D'Alisa, Giacomo ; Demaria, Federico ; Kallis, Giogios, Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era, London, Routledge , 2014, pp. 220 (pb)

The book challenges the prevailing focus of public debate on economic growth and argues for democratic political action to reduce consumption and production with the goals of social justice and ecological sustainability. Parts 1 and 2 cover a wide range of theoretical issues, Part 3 looks at 'The Action" exploring different approaches and policies.

Hale, Stephen, The New Politics of Climate Change: Why We are Failing and How We Will Succeed, Environmental Politics, Vol. 19, issue 2, 2019, pp. 255-275

Argues that governments, businesses and individuals acting alone cannot secure effective policies on curbing climate change, what is needed is mobilization by the 'third sector'. Hale suggests success depends on 'national leadership by a diverse coalition of groups; action at community level; a mass movement 'living differently and demanding more, and mobilization across borders'.

Hoffman, Julian, Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save Our Wild Places, London, Hamish Hamilton, 2019, pp. 416

Hoffman documents the struggles of local communities in the UK to save irreplaceable woods, marshes and other rare and beautiful habitats from roads, airports and industrial development. He stresses the historical, cultural and communal importance of these sites as well as their ecological value, and the grounds for hope provided by successful local campaigns.

Klein, Naomi, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, New York and London, Simon and Schuster / Allen Lane, 2014, pp. 566

Well known critic of neoliberal globalization analyses its impact on climate change, argues against the adequacy of technical fixes and for fundamental social change. She also examines the developments in the environmental movement and suggests how campaigns against fracking and tar sands are front lines in the struggle against climate change.

Translations: Spanish
Klein, Naomi, On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal, London, Penguin, 2020, pp. 310 (pb)

Klein enters the current debate about a Green New Deal in the context of the US Presidential and Congressional elections, and deploys her analytical and persuasive skills to argue for its necessity and to examine the policies and approaches required. 

Lewis, Simon ; Maslin, Mark, The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene, London , Penguin, 2018, pp. 480 (pb)

The authors are proponents of the theory that there is a geological epoch, which can be defined by the irreversible impact of human activity. The early stages of human development, from hunter-gatherers to settled farmers, had some environmental impact. But Lewis and Maslin trace the beginnings of a decisive human impact on the planet to the 16th-17th centuries when western colonialism, linked to the rise of global capitalism, began to transform the Americas, followed by the industrial revolution and the growth in population and consumption. The book concludes by calling for a new stage in human development involving radical economic change (away from profit-driven ownership of energy and food supplies), linked to comprehensive technological changes and much closer global cooperation. Two goals they set out are a re-wilding of half the planet and a universal basic income.

Mbile, Peter ; Atangana, Alain ; Mbenda, Rosette, Women and landscape restoration: a preliminary assessment of women led restoration activities in Cameroon, Environment, Development and Sustainability 21, 2019, pp. 2891-2911

The authors note that the Cameroon government had announced the goal of restoring 12 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 and had applied for support from the Bonn Challenge and AFR100 initiatives. They argue that women, who constitute over 60% of the rural workforce in Central Africa, have a crucial role to play, and examine some forms of restoration so far undertaken by women’s groups in Cameroon.

Monk, Ray ; Salmon, Ruth Buckley, How to Get to Net Zero, 7-13 Feb 2020, New Statesman, 2020, pp. 33-37

After surveying the scope of the problems caused by climate change, the article provides a useful critique of the UK government's approach to fulfilling its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, drawing on points made by the UK Committee on Climate Change (the independent statutory body set up in 2008 under the Climate Change Act). The authors conclude that so far the government has failed to make definite plans for housing and heating, industrial emissions, carbon capture and storage, agriculture, aviation and shipping. The article notes also the excessive reliance on electric vehicles to solve road transport emissions, as this could create a dangerous demand for relatively rare minerals like cobalt and lead to new ecological problems. The authors point to the potential of hydrogen fuel cells, but they also argue for simply reducing car use.  

Pettifor, Ann, The Case for the Green New Deal, London, Verso Books , 2019, pp. 208

Ann Pettifor developed the concept of a Green New Deal as a global and systemic approach with a group of fellow economists in 2008, but environmental issues were overshadowed in the financial crisis. She argues the political and economic case for urgent restructuring of government and the economy to try to save the planet, drawing on the example of Roosevelt's New Deal during the 1930s Great Depression to show how government can constructively tackle the impact of global crises. She also sets out to show what global and national changes are necessary and how they might be brought about.

Pollin, Robert, De-Growth vs a Green New Deal, July-Aug 2018, New Left Review, issue 112, 2018

Pollin compares two radically different approaches to political and economic change to meet climate change, referring to the book Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era (listed above) as representative of degrowth theories. He makes clear his own priorities are to secure massive investment in green energy and rapid progress in ending use of fossil fuels, rather than broad theorising about economic growth, or its opposite.

Seabrook, Jeremy, What We Cannot Avoid, Sep-Oct 2019, New Internationalist, 2019, pp. 49-52

Seabrook argues that the great ideological divide today is not between capital and labour but between those (on the left as well as the right) who defend global industrial society and those who are trying to protect the (diminishing) resources of the planet. Later he reframes the basic split as 'between planetarism and parochialism'. He attacks mainstream political constructs of 'realism' and urges a rethinking of the real meaning of wealth, sufficiency and poverty.

Watson, Julia, Lo-TEK Design by Radical Indigenism, Los Angeles, CA, Taschen, 2020, pp. 420

This book by a landscape architect explores how local solutions to particular environmental problems, often adopted in remote parts of the planet by indigenous peoples, have a much wider relevance today, and might be alternatives to western technological solutions that can have their own destructive implications. (TEK here means traditional ecological knowledge.) Watson has compiled 18 case studies, split into the separate categories of mountains, forests, deserts and wetlands, based on 10 years of travelling and interviewing anthropologists and scientists as well as indigenous peoples. She records, for example, how traditional methods of rice growing on hill slopes in Bali have proved more lastingly productive than the 1970s 'Green Revolution' based on pesticides and fertiliser, which in a few seasons led to declining yield, a degraded soil and return of the pests.