As individuals, and as an organisation, we are passionate about defending our environment and helping to reduce the impacts of climate change that are already being felt across the world from Brazil to Nepal.
Individual consumer choices play an important part in creating change, but they will only ever be enough to tackle the climate crisis alongside systemic change.
We need people to join together into movements to achieve this and leverage the power to shift corporations and governments.
Striking for the future
In the space of a year and on every continent, school-children have organised to demand urgent change. Fridays for the Future has grown into a global movement of school strikers for climate action. On the 29th November, they have asked adults around the world to join them:
“It is time for all of us to unleash mass resistance – we have shown that collective action does work. We need to escalate the pressure to make sure that change happens, and we must escalate together.”
The strike is set to place days before the United Nations climate change conference kicks off in Madrid on December 2nd, and will be a call for international leaders to take urgent action.
The climate demonstrations coincide with strikes at 60 UK university, where members of UCU (University and College Union) are protesting pensions, pay and conditions for eight work days. Solidarity climate actions are planned across universities.
Fighting a crisis on all fronts
The climate crisis is relevant to everything that we write about and campaign on at Ethical Consumer. It is not just environmental: it is also a crisis of workers’ and human, animal and political rights.
We believe that the UK government and all corporations must act now to limit climate catastrophe. We call on them to enact an urgent and just transition to a zero-carbon future as the impacts are already being felt around the world.
- In Nepal, changing rainfall patterns are forcing children into work. Unstable weather pushes farmers to migrate seasonally. Entire families move to work in brick kilns for several months, under enormous pressure to earn as much as possible before monsoon starts. The kilns rely on a form of seasonal debt bondage, whereby the families are offered an advance at high interest rates in exchange for work in the kilns. Sometimes, the labour of children is pledged by parents in an attempt to repay the loan.
- In Borneo, deforestation for palm oil plantations not only directly threatens orangutans by destroying their habitat. It contributes to rising temperatures, leaving their whole ecosystem to face collapse. In the world’s most nature-rich areas, these orangutans are amongst 50% of plants and animals that face annihilation due to the climate catastrophe. As industrial agriculture further adds to emissions, it is an extinction crisis in part caused by our unsustainable consumption of animal products.
- In Brazil, rising temperatures and drought have led to the devastating spread of the Amazon fires. Lit by those after agricultural and mining land, they have been enabled by Bolsanaro’s government, with its agribusiness backing and its fascist, anti-Indigenous agenda. Now the fires are destroying one of the world’s most important carbon sinks and accelerating the climate catastrophe further. They show a spiralling relationship between ecological destruction and violations of indigenous and political rights.
The climate crisis is bound up with these humanitarian and ecological abuses – which it has arisen out of and in which it continues to play a part.
More than personal carbon emissions
Ethical Consumer is striking for workers, human and animal communities around the world, as well as the ecosystems that support us.
Clearly our response has to be about far more than personal carbon emissions. If the examples of Nepal, Borneo and Brazil show the role of consumer goods - from palm oil to Amazonian beef and gold - they also demonstrate the role of industry and government interests in determining the impact that these have.
“All the united science tells us that we are about 11 years away from setting off an irreversible chain reaction way beyond human control that will probably be the end of our civilization as we know it.” - Greta Thunberg
Clearly ‘business as usual’ is not an option.