Compelling quotes from Tim DeChristopher in Wen Stephenson’s recent piece on climate justice in The Nation:
Our job as a movement is no longer just about reducing emissions—we still have to do that, but we also have this new challenge of maintaining our humanity as we navigate this period of rapid and intense change. And with that challenge, with that job, we can’t avoid the spiritual aspect of what we’re doing. We can’t avoid talking about our most fundamental principles, and our most fundamental values, and the things that we want to hold on to the most. We can’t avoid talking about our larger worldview and our vision for the world.
We are building a movement for climate justice. That’s still a relevant concept, a relevant goal: to defend the right of all people—and not only people of all races or nationalities, but people of all generations—to live healthy lives and have both the agency and the environment necessary to create the lives they want. We are building a movement to hold on to the things about our civilization that are worth keeping, to navigate that period of intense change in a way that maintains our humanity.
But the kind of change you’re talking about—anything feasible within the current political system—really won’t do us any good. You’re talking about going off the cliff at 40 miles per hour instead of 60…. So, yes, the most urgent thing is keeping fossil fuels in the ground. The question is how to do that. We need a different kind of movement, a movement that’s about taking power and changing power structures on a fundamental level. And I’m saying the climate movement is not equipped for that kind of struggle. The climate movement that has grown out of the environmental movement—primarily driven by comfortable people, rich people, white people—is about keeping things more or less the same. That’s no longer the challenge that we have.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s the groups from impoverished and oppressed areas or oppressed constituencies that are building the kind of movement we need. I think it’s because they’ve experienced part of the challenge that lies ahead for all of us—when there are plenty of reasons for hopelessness, they’ve chosen to fight back.
We need an endless movement and a constant revolution.