EXCITING BREAKTHROUGH — Citizen platform of Barcelona wins municipal elections

WATCH fascinating background video about Spain’s 15-M Movement, with lessons for citizen activists worldwide

No 1349 Posted by fw, May 26, 2015

Breaking News: The radically democratic citizen platform Barcelona en Comú wins the municipal elections in a major step forward for the struggle to reclaim the city. [Source: Grassroots movements sweep into Barcelona town hall by ROAR Collective, May 25, 2015]

“It all started about a year ago with Guanyem Barcelona, now called Barcelona en Comú, an initiative that has inspired people in  dozens of Spanish cities and towns to create their own citizen candidacies, where members of various social movements and non-establishment political parties have converged to stand for local government, the most relevant being Ahora Madrid. With the elections just days away, the support for these new non-parties is turning out to be huge. Some of them, notably Barcelona en Comú, have a very good chance of winning, according to the polls.”Arianne Syed

To find out how ordinary citizens of Spain, tired of feeling unrepresented, organized to take back their political institutions, watch, below, the fascinating 28-minute embedded video, with English subtitles, of a kitchen-table conversation among four people linked to various social movements and the new municipal “confluence platforms” that are taking root in Spain. As they share a meal together, they discuss the various questions and issues that frame the historical moment, trying to push forward a new world that is opening up.

IMPORTANT – To turn on the English subtitles, click on the “CC” icon in the bottom right corner of the display.

To access the video and accompanying text and a graphic image. Click on the following linked title. Alternatively, a revised and reorganized version is re-posted below.

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Municipal Recipes, Article introduction by Arianne Sved, Guerrilla Translation, May 14, 2015

Exciting video with English captions from 15-M Movement in Spain with lessons for USA activists.

 

About the Video

(The following text is extracted from the 15th ZEMOS98 Festival website)

Municipal Recipes is a documentary about how we’ve gotten to this point, where citizens from new political subjectivities are experimenting with organizational models in order to manage institutions. The documentary features people linked to various social movements and the new municipal “confluence platforms” that are taking root in Spain. The four participants are: Gala Pin, from the Mortgage Victims Platform (PAH) and the municipal candidacy Barcelona En Comú; Pablo Carmona, from the Fundación de los Comunes and Ahora Madrid; Marta Cruells, from Barcelona en Comú; Francisco Jurado, from Democracia 4.0 and Open Euribor; and Guillermo Zapata, from the Patio Maravillas social center and Ahora Madrid. As they share a meal together, they discuss the various questions and issues that frame the historical moment, trying to push forward a new world that is opening up.

Produced by Guerrilla Translation under a Peer Production License.

Original video produced by ZEMOS98

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What’s the Recipe for a Municipal Movement by Maria Castelló Solbés

 Recipe for a Municipal Movement

 

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Rapid developments in renewables signals movement toward a true-cost, steady state economy

Major added benefit — wind and solar technologies are proving to be big job creators

No 1348 Posted by fw, May 25, 2015

Brent Blackwelder

Brent Blackwelder

“The global economy has run for a century primarily on fossil fuels but is now undergoing a rapid transition to a global economy based significantly on rooftop solar, wind, and efficiency. This is a tangible movement toward a steady state economy because with wind and solar, the amount we use today does not affect tomorrow’s supply; and unlike fossil fuels, the pollution externalities are small and do not harm fellow competitors or the public.”Brent Blackwelder

Without meaning to rain on Brent’s parade, some experts have done the math, looked past the cheerleading for renewables, and see problems ahead. Without dwelling on their concerns, their counter arguments are posted here, here, here, here, and here.

Definition: True cost economics is an economic model that includes the cost of negative externalities associated with goods and services. To explain, if the prices of goods and services do not include the cost of negative externalities or the cost of harmful effects they have on the environment, people might misuse them and use them in large quantities without thinking about their ill effects on the environment. Therefore, environmentalists support true cost economics to counter the impact of negative externalities.

To find out why Brent is so enthusiastic about renewables, click on the following linked title, Alternatively, below his piece is reposted,

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Progress Toward a True-Cost Economy Now Comes From Developments in Renewable Energy by Brent Blackwelder, The Daly News, May 22, 2015

A renewable energy revolution is sweeping the planet. This revolution has profound implications because it signals that the global economy is moving to stop the growth of our human carbon footprint.

The global economy has run for a century primarily on fossil fuels but is now undergoing a rapid transition to a global economy based significantly on rooftop solar, wind, and efficiency. This is a tangible movement toward a steady state economy because with wind and solar, the amount we use today does not affect tomorrow’s supply; and unlike fossil fuels, the pollution externalities are small and do not harm fellow competitors or the public.

This revolution is more than a technical fix because it is shifting the ingredients of the material products and services of the economy from toxic, polluting, non-renewable substances and ingredients to ones that are renewable and dramatically lower in pollution. It is demonstrating that renewable energy can avoid imposing dangerous impacts onto the public or onto future generations.

Skeptics over the last two decades have argued that renewable sources such as wind and solar are trivial and simply incapable of providing the power needed by the global economy—that all they will ever do is provide only a small percentage of the world’s electricity. I remember the days when utility executives belittled renewables, warning that more than about 5% of wind or solar electricity in a region would crash the grid!

I want to present a few startling and uplifting facts that demonstrate the dramatic progress recently made by solar and wind power around the world. These facts give the lie to the phony assertions made by utilities in their efforts to block renewable energy.

Rooftop solar is growing worldwide by 50% per year. In 1985 solar cost $12 per watt, but today’s prices are closer to 36 cents per watt. Every five hours the world adds 23 MW of solar—which was the global installed capacity in 1985.

In January of 2014 Denmark got 62% of its electricity from wind. In 2013 Ireland got 17% of its electricity from wind, and Spain and Portugal both exceeded 20% from wind. Today China gets more electricity from wind (91,000 MW) than it does from nuclear reactors. The United States is second in the world in installed wind turbines, with South Dakota and Iowa obtaining over 26% of their electricity from wind.

As we look to achieve a true-cost, steady state economy, questions are constantly raised about the behavior of other powerful nations that might appear to have no interest in a sustainable economy. The renewable energy revolution provides breakthrough opportunities here. China is already putting its energy future into more and more renewable energy. It plans to more than double its current wind capacity with an expansion goal of 200,000 MW by the year 2020.

Even the French, who rely on nuclear reactors for 75% of their electricity, are planning on increasing their wind generating capacity to 25,000 MW from their present 8,300 MW.

The renewable energy revolution will enable civilization to stop the growth of highly polluting fossil fuels. It will enable society to leave the majority of the remaining reserves of fossil fuels alone and unburned. Acceleration of this revolution helps in solving many problems and is a key to restoring and maintaining the life support systems of the earth.

For a number of reasons, this renewable energy revolution is a stepping stone toward a sustainable true-cost economy. First, unlike fossil fuels, the footprint of wind and rooftop solar is minimal. Wind turbines erected on farmland use very little land and allow farming to continue. Rooftop solar can be placed on flat commercial and industrial roofs in metropolitan areas where connections to the grid are available.

In comparison, extraction of fossil fuels can create some of the worst pollution and habitat destruction ever seen. Consider the devastation being caused in the biologically diverse mountain forests of West Virginia by mountaintop removal coal mining. Or look at the obliteration of Alberta’s landscape and contamination of its lakes and rivers from tar sands mining.

This point is substantial because far too many of the products of the global economy involve externalization of enormous pollution costs.

Second, the usage of wind and solar today does not affect the amount of wind and solar available tomorrow. They are renewable. Furthermore, wind and rooftop solar are basically waterless technologies, whereas fossil fuel and nuclear power plants use enormous quantities of water for cooling. As water shortages multiply worldwide as a result of population and industrial growth, and climate disruption, this benefit will become even more significant.

Third, wind and solar are big job creators. In Germany the number of jobs in wind and solar is about 400,000 versus 200,000 in coal and conventional fuels. This amazing boost in clean energy jobs has happened in the last decade. Job creation is a major concern in any transition to a sustainable economy.

Those who are serious about getting to a true–cost economy should help accelerate the renewable energy revolution as a way to achieve it.

Brent Blackwelder is an advocate for environmental protection and economic sanity. His entire career has focused on serving the public and making our communities and our planet better places to live. Brent recently retired as the president of Friends of the Earth where he was renowned for speaking truth to power.

SEE ALSO

  • The Great Transition by Lester Brown and colleagues at the Earth Policy Institute for a superb account of the global renewable energy revolution that offers hope to all.
  • Energiewende for the job figures; see also Peter Victor in Tim Jackson’s Prosperity Without Growth for a discussion of transition scenarios and jobs.

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It is past time for a massive mobilization to pressure political leaders to act decisively on climate change

Plans are now being prepared for this massive mobilization, leading up to and in Paris

No 1347 Posted by fw, May 24, 2015

“Strong social forces with the ability to change the course of society do not suddenly erupt at the global level. They have to be built from below. The most important things every one of us should do in the current situation in order to build power from below is therefore to create alliances at the local and national level – broad coalitions of movements and organizations which can put pressure on our politicians and keep them accountable.” Asbjørn Wahl

Asbjørn Wahl, Chair of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Working Group on Climate Change, provides a calendar of activities that will contribute to the “massive mobilization”. Canadians will be pleased to learn that this July 5th “…Toronto will host a Pan American Climate Summit and an Economic Summit, where politicians will face a choice: listen to corporate leaders from across the Americas gathering to advance an economic austerity agenda that is increasing inequality and cooking the planet – or listen to the people.”

Who can forget the moving, tearful plea of Naderev ‘Yeb’ Sano, the lead negotiator of the Philippines delegation, at the UN’s November 2013 climate meeting in Warsaw, a plea “To end this madness” –

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From FAILURE20 to COP21 by Asbjørn Wahl, Socialist Project/Bullet, May 24, 2015

Climate change is going on. Extreme weather conditions, storms, flooding, landslides, droughts and ice melting are reported ever more regularly from many parts of the world. Millions of people are losing their livelihood, their homes, their jobs – and many also their lives. The successive reports of the United Nation Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have increasingly called for urgent action in order to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. However, after having negotiated for 20 years, our political leaders have failed to take necessary action. The result is that emissions are increasing rather than decreasing (61 per cent increase from 1990 to 2013). Temperature increase is on course for 4-6oC rather than maximum 1.5-2.0oC, something which will mean climate catastrophe.

In Peru last December, a climate summit (COP20) once more ended without showing any ability to do what is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change. COP20 in Lima therefore became FAILURE20. However, COP20 was not expected by anybody to bring a breakthrough. It was seen as an intermezzo, while we have been told that it is at the next summit, COP21 in Paris at the end of this year, that we will have an ambitious and binding global agreement. Given the track record of more than 20 years of government negotiations, we should not so easily count on that. Time is therefore ripe for a massive mobilization of social forces from below to put pressure on our political leaders. Trade unions will have to play a decisive role in such a mobilization. It is a question of what kind of society we want to develop. It is a question of having a just transition to a society based on clean and renewable energy.

Mobilize Up To and In Paris

This mobilization is now being prepared, and important parts of the trade union movement are already strongly involved. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has taken a leading role in this. General Secretary Sharan Burrow is urging trade unions to get involved at all levels – local, national and international. In France, a broad coalition of almost 100 organizations, including trade unions, have collectively founded the platform Coalition Climat 21 to mobilize and organize for COP21. Since the Mexico Congress of 2010, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has followed up its strong climate change programme, organized seminars, taken part in global summits and mobilizations and developed educational tools, which can be found on our web site.

The ITF has also joined the global Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) network, which coordinates policy development, advocacy work and mobilizations – based on the understanding that in order to be able to carry out the necessary transitions, the energy sector, as well as other strategic sectors in our societies, have to be brought under democratic control. A number of national and international trade union organizations have already joined this network, and others, which support such policies, should do so as well. An important document, RESIST, RECLAIM, RESTRUCTURE: Unions and the Struggle for Energy Democracy has been developed, in addition to some interesting working papers and a short video.

Build Alliances Back Home

However, strong social forces with the ability to change the course of society do not suddenly erupt at the global level. They have to be built from below. The most important things every one of us should do in the current situation in order to build power from below is therefore to create alliances at the local and national level – broad coalitions of movements and organizations which can put pressure on our politicians and keep them accountable. In Norway we have had a successful process exactly in doing that over the last couple of years. The organization of two climate change conferences has been used to build unity around a number of demands and a deeper understanding of the challenges of climate change. It is no secret that the ITF climate change document and motion from the Mexico congress inspired a number of trade union organizations to involve themselves in this campaign. You can find a short article on these experiences on the ITF Climate Change blog site.

A Calendar of Activities

The international trade union movement as well as the climate coalition in France will organize and encourage member organizations and others to take part in a number of campaigns and actions in the coming year. Below you will find a list of the most important activities which already have been decided.

The ITUC in particular asks its affiliates in countries in all regions to make public pledges supporting climate justice and committing to take action on specific issues to put pressure on governments. Publicity events are encouraged. These pledges will be part of the build up to the trade union climate summit in Paris in September. We will have to come back to how the ITF will involve itself in these and the following activities. Among other things, we should take a role in developing sectoral objectives and activities related to the transport industry.

First Week of June

A week of lobbying. Not high profile action, but lobbying governments on demands related to the negotiations. Events, which give public visibility to unions, are encouraged.

5 July

This July, Toronto will host a Pan American Climate Summit and an Economic Summit, where politicians will face a choice: listen to corporate leaders from across the Americas gathering to advance an economic austerity agenda that is increasing inequality and cooking the planet – or listen to the people. On Sunday July 5th, join the March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate in the streets of Toronto.

14-15 September in Paris

A trade union climate and jobs summit (the ITUC in collaboration with the 1 million climate jobs campaign group) and some preparation for the trade union action in Paris in December. Planned for about 200 people (of which half of them from France). The ITF could send an international delegation of about 10. Invitations should be ready in the next two weeks.

26-27 September – France and everywhere

The French coalition will organize and encourages others to mobilize to support and showcase citizen-driven initiatives to address climate change and power the energy transition.

28 November – Paris and everywhere

A climate rally in Paris and national rallies around the world in connection with the opening of the climate summit (COP21) in Paris. This was discussed at the World Social Forum in Tunis recently, and it will be coordinated by the French coalition. The ITUC calls on its affiliates to initiate contacts with national civil society partners and show commitment to unions’ involvement. It is critical to show that trade unions are mobilizing on this issue and have specific demands and contributions to make to the movement.

COP21 in Paris (30 November – 11 December)

Detailed plans are not yet finalized, but the ITUC will organize an event (most probably Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the middle of the two weeks). A programme and invitations should be finalized during May, including a block booking of hotels for union delegations.

12 December in Paris

A mass mobilization in Paris at the close of COP21 – in order to demonstrate the power of our movement and to send a clear signal for a brighter, cleaner, safer and more just future for everyone. Detailed contents will depend on the conclusions of the negotiations.

But do not forget: Social power at the global level can only be achieved if we build strong social movements and alliances at the local and national level – able to unite their forces across borders!

This article first published on the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy website.

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