We Will Rise, Or We Will Burn! 2.0, the updated map, produced by Munich Environmental Institute, PowerShift, and the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, is now available. It shows how catastrophic things could be in a world that had been warmed by three degrees. At the same time, it presents various social struggles for climate justice currently taking place. Why is it so important to provide a snapshot view of these struggles?
While the one side of the map presents a dystopian vision of the effects of the climate crisis and in particular the crises of justice that it exacerbates, on the other side we also wish to show that there are responses to these things! That there are ways of opposing these dystopian prognoses. There are movements fighting for a just climatic future. We especially want to show movements and struggles that continue to receive too little attention. These movements show just how broad the spectrum of struggles for the climate justice is. We’re not only talking about the well-known environmental movements, but also many movements that are concerned with various questions of social justice in terms of their links to the climate crisis. That includes, for example, the anti-pipeline movement in the USA and Canada, which is led by Native American and First Nations people in particular. These struggles are part of a very long tradition of anti-colonial struggles. In other words, the current fights are part of a long tradition of social struggles whose protagonists have had to develop a lot of staying power. This is symbolized in a line from the North American climate justice movement: the climate crisis started in 1492. The climate crisis is the result of capitalist exploitation on the global level.
The spectrum of movements presented on the map is incredibly broad...
Yes, precisely. There are two things we want to show. With some of the movements we zoom right in and portray individual groups that have an important approach to a particular issue. Take Alarm Phones in northern Africa, which helps refugees to be able to move freely and reach their destination safely. Because movements that work for freedom of movement or support refugees are also about climate justice. At the same time, we show more wide-ranging movements such as the anti-pipeline movement. These are composed of a multitude of groups whose resistance takes very different forms.
What potential for change do you see in social movements?
More than anything, the message of these movements and struggles is that we’re running out of time. There’s an enormous pressure to act! That’s why it’s so important to make them visible and support them. Society needs to place much greater priority on achieving the goals they put forward, so that greenhouse gases can actually be substantially reduced and so we can ensure that crises of justice connected with the climate crisis are not exacerbated even further. For that we particularly need positive visions. We very deliberately included those movements and struggles on the map that have transformative potential, because they have concrete ideas about an alternative economy, for example.
To what extent is a map a good way to show all of that?
Maps are accessible and complete in themselves. It isn’t necessary to read through long passages of text. And you encounter a map again and again when it hangs somewhere. Ideally you’ll find it somewhere where a lot of people pass by who haven’t yet had much contact with the issue. That can help people to gain a better understanding of the urgent social issues and issues of justice that are linked to the climate crisis. For example it would be fantastic if the map were to hang in lots of classrooms.
Over the course of putting the map together you’ve spoken to numerous groups around the world and done a lot of research. How optimistic or pessimistic are their feelings about the dramatic rate at which the climate crisis is progressing?
That varies a lot. But one thing that comes up again and again is that the enormous urgency of the crisis is a key driver of the struggles. Of course, that’s heavily dependent on which movement you’re talking about and where it’s located. Movements in the Global North are very privileged, as you know, because the effects of the climate crisis have hardly begun to affect them yet, whereas the struggles in the Global South often have an existential dimension because they’re fighting for the necessities their lives depend on. To that extent, giving up or resigning in the face of what can feel like a hopeless crisis is a privilege of the North. It’s important that the movements in the North become aware of these privileges and make use of them. Our respective struggles rest on very different presuppositions and are embedded in very different traditions.