The worse is yet to come

It was just two years ago, in a world both identical and very different from the one we know today. To Montreal, hundreds of thousands of people crowded in the streets and in public places on the occasion of the day of the global climate strike. Greta Thunberg, who had just crossed the Atlantic aboard her small sailboat, led the procession alongside indigenous activists and students.

Two years later, the sense of urgency that animated crowds all over the world has only intensified, along with the pandemic, the increase in natural disasters and the darkening of climate forecasts, even the most pessimistic.

Six weeks before COP26, to be held in Glasgow, it has become clear that the 2015 target set by the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius – will be miserably missed. If one assesses the current commitments made by the member states of the Agreement, it appears rather that we are heading towards a catastrophic increase of 2.7 ° C. These alarming findings were relayed by the UN just as Canadians were about to go to the polls to choose, among a set of climate-friendly parties, which would be called upon to form the next government …

Global protest for climate justice

Going into the wall more or less quickly, that’s basically what we would have to resign ourselves to.

Only a few months separate the international mobilizations for the climate of September 2019 and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The chain of events is striking: an unequaled visibility for the environmental fight, then the striking demonstration of the fact that our societies, when they experience great upheavals, immediately choose to sacrifice the most vulnerable.

Almost two years of pandemic life were not enough to remedy this sordid reflex. Our understanding of the notion of “resilience” remains entangled in relations of domination of all kinds.

The organizations calling for demonstrations across Quebec on September 24, 2021, as part of the Global Demonstration for Climate Justice, have understood this well. Solidarité sans frontières, the Collectif Mashk Assi, Pour le futur Montréal and the Student Coalition for an Environmental and Social Shift (CEVES) intend to draw a clear link between the reduction of GHG emissions and the adoption of social measures aimed at mitigating the consequences. climate change.

Carbon neutrality by 2030

In addition to demanding carbon neutrality by 2030, we are calling for the improvement of the socio-economic conditions of workers, the regularization of the status of migrants as well as a reinvestment of police force budgets in services to the population.

Suddenly, however, “climate” commitments no longer elicit the blissful consensus we are used to. After all, never when it comes to defending workers, migrants, marginalized populations, gains are made without a fierce struggle. A struggle waged precisely in a field dominated by those who, on the one hand, are committed to preparing for a sustainable future, while, on the other, they are busy destroying the mechanisms of solidarity and democratic protest.

However, it is on this front that we must act, because the demands posed by the climate crisis are not only aimed at reaching abstract targets. They are also aimed at defending – here and now – the living conditions of the populations which bear the brunt of the sacrificial logic at work in our societies.

To summarize the idea, I would use the expression attributed to the Brazilian trade union activist Chico Mendes: “Ecology without the class struggle is gardening. “A struggle which, moreover, unfolds along clear gendered and racial lines of fracture.

A good dose of breaststroke

The orientation in this direction of environmental mobilizations presages a good dose of breaststroke, in the medium as well as in the long term. As the climate emergency worsens, the space for contestation enjoyed by movements fighting for real climate justice will be compromised by an authoritarian temptation of which we already have a foretaste.

In Quebec, the management of the pandemic, articulated by the Prime Minister Francois Legault in his boss’s language, set the tone. The lightness with which we approach the erosion of democratic rights since March 2020 does not cease to amaze me. The indefinite renewal of the state of emergency, governance by decree, the circumvention of collective labor relations, contempt for the deadly effects of the curfew and now, a law to restrict the right to protest, touted as the only way to protect “our children” and healthcare workers from harassment and intimidation by anti-vaccine activists.

All this arouses only a timid opposition, restrained by the fear of an unhappy association with infrequent movements. We can understand.

However, we forget that the precedents we accept today shape the political space and the regulatory environment within which the inevitable struggles to come will unfold.

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