System Change, not Climate Change!
12 Steps against Climate Change and for Climate Justice
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. We are not just speaking of an environmental crisis, but also of a crisis of global justice and of our economic system. Progressive global warming is caused by industrialization, unbridled consumption of resources and man-made greenhouse gas emissions .
The climate crisis is a reality already, and it threatens the lives and livelihoods of billions of people as well as the survival of countless animal and plant species. Severe weather events such as floods, droughts, storms and hailstorms are also increasingly felt in Austria, where the average temperature has risen by nearly 2 ° C since 1880. If we do not take appropriate and immediate action that tackles the underlying causes, a worldwide additional increase of 3 ° to 5 ° C is expected by 2100 .
In current climate politics, existing measures are far from appropriate and often go in the wrong direction. The influence of multinational corporations‘ and of the financial sector on these negotiations is increasingly clear. Many of the strategies considered distract from the causes of climate change, and lead to greater injustice and inequality.
We as the critical Austrian civil society are part of a growing worldwide movement that stands up against false solutions. Under the slogan “System Change, not Climate Change!” we appeal to develop and implement solutions that tackle the crisis at its roots.
What it takes:
It takes societies, where a “good life for all” is more important than profits. A “good life for all” includes justice among all people regardless of gender, origin, skin color, religion and sexual orientation – now and for future generations.
What must be avoided:
We oppose answers to the climate crisis that leave the underlying causes untouched and only further aggravate existing problems. Tackling the climate crisis at its roots means overcoming currently prevailing capitalist ways of production and lifestyles based on the exploitation of people and nature and on an infinite pursuit of profit and growth as well as on competition. This way of life ignores the physical limits of our planet. In order to prevent the climate crisis from intensifying even more, the transformation of our economic system is a basic prerequisite. We therefore stand against solutions that are driving this economic system and its logics.
We invite all stakeholders from civil society, politics and economy, and request them to commit themselves to the implementation of the twelve necessary steps. Many people and groups are already using a variety of means to actively work on a socio-ecological system change. These means include solidarity with climate and other refugees as well as struggles against coal mining and senseless mega-projects, protection of forests, agri-ecological farming, claiming equality, promotion of bicycle traffic and much more.
The climate crisis is not only an environmental issue, but a societal responsibility that needs to be overcome by joining forces. Together we want to use our strength and build up pressure, so that the necessary steps will be taken as soon as possible. Let’s recognize the struggle against climate change as an opportunity for justice, emancipation and democracy.
‘System Change, not Climate Change!’ is a social movement, comprising a growing number of activists and initiatives, which work together throughout Austria, in order to bring forward real and just solutions for the global climate crisis. Until now, more than 130 organisations support this call for climate justice and systemic changes.
 APCC (2014): Summary for Policymakers (SPM), revised edition. In: Austrian Assessment Report Climate Change 2014 (AAR14), Austrian Panel on Climate Change (APCC), Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, Vienna, Austria.
 see above
 In the international climate negotiations an agreement was reached on the 2-degree-target, in spite of justified criticism from Small Island States and several social movements, who demanded a 1.5-degree-target. Since e global warming of only 1.5 degrees has become increasingly unlikely because of the years that passed since this target was set, the drafters of the paper decided to write “well below 2 °C”.
 Emissions trading: Global trading system with greenhouse gases, regulated in the EU through the Emissions Trading Scheme ETS. It was an important instrument of emissions reduction of the Kyoto Protocol and completely missed its aim; the emissions were even on the rise. Still, emissions trading is pushed on. See (link in German): http://www.ftwatch.at/finanzialisierung-der-natur/emissionshandel/.
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM): An important offsetting mechanism of emissions trading. Countries and companies in industrialized countries can invest in projects aiming at emissions reductions in the Global South. This way they receive emission credits that absolve them from pursuing emissions reductions on the ground. The CDM is harshly criticized for i.a. the difficulty in proving that these projects are indeed additional and reducing emissions as well as the frequent link to human rights violations. See (link in German): http://www.ftwatch.at/finanzialisierung-der-natur/emissionshandel/.
Biodiversity offsetting: A compensation mechanism currently in place globally and also in the EU. Its functioning can be compared to that of the CDM. When an area or ecosystem is destroyed, this nature is supposed to be restored in another area. It is widely criticized as providing a “license to trash nature”. See (link in German): http://www.ftwatch.at/finanzialisierung-der-natur/biodiversitaets-offsetting/.
REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation): a market-based instrument for the protection of forests and emissions trading whose implementation is pushed on globally. “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation“ is a mechanism through which offsets from carbon storage in forests can be bought or sold. See (link in German): http://www.ftwatch.at/finanzialisierung-der-natur/redd/.
Blue Carbon: a market-based mechanism similar to REDD+ concerned with the reduction of CO2 and its storage in oceans and coastal ecosystems.
Climate Smart Agriculture: a market-based mechanism with similarities to REDD+ and Blue Carbon through which CO2 is accumulated in soil or agricultural lands. An emphasis is put on increasing productivity, i.a. through genetically modified seeds. See (link in German): http://www.ftwatch.at/finanzialisierung-der-natur/landwirtschaft/.
Financialization of nature: Financialization of nature describes the increasing role of nature – land, food, water, biodiversity, etc. – for financial markets or the fact that trade in nature is predominantly carried out over financial markets. See (link in German): http://www.ftwatch.at/hintergrund/.
Land grabbing: refers to the appropriation of land and natural resources by state or privates and has drastically increased over the past years. Expropriations and evictions of the local population repeatedly result from it. See (link in German): http://www.fian.at/home/arbeitsbereiche/zugang-zu-ressourcen/landgrabbing/.
 Geo-Engineering: technische Eingriffe zur Modifizierung unseres Klimasystems durch beispielsweise CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage): Methode, bei der industriell erzeugtes CO₂ abgeschieden und verflüssigt wird und in unterirdischen geologischen Formationen oder leeren Minen gespeichert wird.
The position paper was composed by:
– Dreikönigsaktion – Hilfswerk der Katholischen Jungschar
– Finance & Trade Watch
– ÖBV-Vía Campesina