“System Change, Not Climate Change”

The United Nations Conference on Climate (COP 21) is taking place in Paris. But while the situation is grim, international climate justice and social movements, citizens’ organisations and trade unions are determined to remain united in the Climate 21 Coalition.

It raises awareness among public opinions about the risks for mankind induced by the consequences of Global North-driven capitalist accumulation in terms of global warming – and about the alternatives to oppose them, paving the way for a fairer and sustainable “world-system”.
World governments acknowledge that climate change is the defining crisis of our times, but – while doing so – fossil fuel corporations continue to benefit from subsidies of $5.3 trillion in 2015 (according to the IMF [1]). This figure clearly indicates heads of states and governments’ lack of serious commitment, beyond empty words. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presented projections for the decades to come depending on several scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions. The optimistic one requires radical changes – such as the immediate cut in emissions, with the goal of reducing them to nil within two or three generations, so that the rise in global temperatures is limited to 2°C.  But the predicted disaster of a COP21 failure puts us rather on the road toward the pessimistic scenario, leading eventually to a rise of 4°C of global temperatures by 2100.
Such a rise in temperatures will have disastrous effects on already economically fragile populations from the Global South, driving millions of (climate) refugees from their homes – most likely over 200 million in 2050 [2]. On top of that, the World Central Bank has just made crystal clear that climate change worsens extreme poverty [3]. The need for a deeper, more profound articulation of social justice and climate justice struggles has never been more crucial. And that is exactly what the Climate 21 Coalition intends to do by bringing together movements and unions from across the world.
Important mobilisations are planned to be held in Paris from November to December: massive demonstrations, disobedience actions, political meetings, conferences and panel discussions, etc. Transform! is proud to be part of this cycle of actions, and to be a member of the Coalition. We believe in the extreme importance of this democratic moment, and wish it the best of success. Reaching out to citizens is the only way to exert pressure on world leaders. We need to take this matter in our own hands. As South African opponent of apartheid, social rights activist and retired bishop Desmond Tutu reminds us, reducing our carbon print is not a mere environmental necessity: “it is today’s greatest goal of defence of human rights [4]”.


  1. IMF Working Paper, How Large are Global Energy Subsidies, 2015, http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2015/wp15105.pdf
  2. Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, Which Effects do Global Environment Changes Have for Migration Relations?, 2013, http://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/migration/kurzdossiers/168682/environmental-changes
  3. World Bank Group Paper, Shock Waves. Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty, November 2015, https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/22787/9781464806735.pdf?sequence=13&isAllowed=y
  4. Tutu Desmond, « Nous avons combattu l’apartheid. Aujourd’hui, le changement climatique est notre ennemi à tous. », in Crime climatique stop ! L’appel de la société civile, 2015