Extracting is stealing—it is taking without consent, without thought, care or even knowledge of the impacts that extraction has on the other living things in that environment.
The alternative is deep reciprocity. It’s respect, it’s relationship, it’s responsibility.
- Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer and artist
The climate crisis we face was set in motion two centuries ago through the rise of coal-fired steam power, which fueled the Industrial Revolution, mass production, and ultimately, extreme concentrations of wealth and political power, along with a global climate spiraling toward catastrophe.
Relentless mining, drilling and fracking are destroying ecosystems around the world, along with the human communities that depend on them. Workers face chronic instability through inevitable boom-and-bust cycles. Marginalized communities are hit by the worst environmental impacts, from toxic air to deadly heat waves, wildfires, floods, and droughts. The result is mass extinction, ongoing human rights violations, ever-worsening climate chaos, and a grim future for today’s youth.
Indigenous communities, experiencing the severest impacts, are providing leadership in resistance and in advocating a healthy relationship with the earth. Their rights and sovereignty must be recognized and respected.
Workers in fossil fuel industries deserve a just transition, guaranteeing good secure jobs for all in healthy communities.
By aggravating the climate crisis, Canada’s systems of extraction, production and consumption worsen living conditions in the Global South. We have a responsibility to migrants and refugees, who must be free to move, to return, and to stay.
The efforts of people working on climate action around the world to prevent the worst consequences of climate change have been met with reactions ranging from fierce resistance to shocking indifference, by government and corporate leaders embedded in systems of extraction. The excuses for inaction too often play communities’ needs against each other: we can’t have jobs without extraction, we can’t have prosperity without taking and exploiting Indigenous land, we can’t increase public spending without raising taxes while wages stagnate.
The science of climate change has been known for more than 30 years, and yet the greenhouse gas emissions that cause it continue to rise. Only a mass democratic movement of land protectors, workers, migrants, scientists and activists, insisting on reconciliation, sustainability, equality and justice, can enable the change we need.
The forces resisting effective action on climate are the same forces maintaining and benefiting from extreme inequality, colonialism and environmental racism. Climate Justice means amplifying the voices of those on the front lines of these struggles, who experience the greatest impacts. It means acknowledging that the voices of people facing poverty, homelessness, precarious work and unmet access needs are often sidelined, and working to change this. The immediate needs of oppressed communities and the common threat of the climate crisis are intimately linked. By taking them on together, we can build a better future in a liveable world, leaving no one behind.