A hundred prominent artists, academics and public figures signed a combative climate change manifesto released Thursday calling for an end to “climate crimes” and the era of fossil fuels.
Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Vivienne Westwood and a raft of lesser-known luminaries summoned a grassroots movement to force radical change in the global economy, comparing the cause to the fights against slavery, colonialism and apartheid.
“We do not want to be compelled to survive in a world that has been made barely livable for us,” said the manifesto.
“Governments have to end subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and to freeze fossil fuel extraction by leaving untouched 80 percent of all existing fossil fuel reserves.”
Three months ahead of a 195-nation UN gathering in Paris tasked with delivering a planet-saving climate pact, the petition expressed deep scepticism about the outcome.
“For more than twenty years, governments have been meeting, yet greenhouse gas emissions have not decreased and the climate keeps changing,” it said.
“The forces of inertia and obstruction prevail, even as scientific warnings become ever more dire.”
Thousands of climate scientists working under the umbrella of the United Nations have detailed severe consequences if global temperatures climb more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to the pre-industrial levels of the mid-19th century.
At that same time, one of document’s authors and a key organiser of the global movement to divest from fossil fuel companies said that the UN process, while flawed, was necessary.
“Since we need to have a global method of dealing with a global problem, there’s also something to be said for having the whole globe together in one room even when you know in advance the results will be… underwhelming,” Bill McKibben told AFP.
The sharply worded manifesto is militant in tone, underlying the need to “force” through change.
“We know that global corporations and governments will not give up the profits they reap,” it says.
The answer, the signatories suggest, is a “great historical shift” driven by mass mobilisation.
“Slavery and apartheid did not end because states decided to abolish them.”
McKibben acknowledged that grassroots groups of mainly young people faced stiff opposition and have little leverage.
“They’ve got all the money, so we need other currencies to work in — passion, spirit, creativity,” he said.