On February 25 2016, I had the pleasure to be part of Ignite Barcelona #4, and share my thoughts and passions on the Climate Movement with a vibrant audience. This right here is the extended version of a story I hope will resonate in your heart, like it did in mine.
Who has seen the “Harvey Milk” movie? You know, the one about this LGBT activist -Harvey Milk- which goes on to become the first openly-gay elected official in the history of the US. The guy started up his campaign right out in the street, grabbing a little box from the garbage and standing on top of it to say: “My name is Harvey Milk and I want to recruit you.”
Well , my name is Jesus Iglesias and I want to recruit you … for the Climate Movement!! Alright, let me try to convince you about that 🙂
The Challenge: Climate Change. After the Climate Summit in Paris last December, who does NOT know that Climate Change is probable the single greatest threat upon us? Please raise your hands. So, see, this is the good news, that is indeed in the news. We are all aware by now of the severity of situation, or at least part of it. Jason Box, one of the most renowned climate scientist in the world, was one of the first ones to discover, not long ago, that huge amounts of methane, a powerful green-house gas, are actually escaping from the ocean beds and arctic permafrost out into the atmosphere. This is what’s called a feedback effect. The melting of ice sheets and the warming of oceans is releasing methane, which is in turn accelerating the process, leading to what’s called Runaway Climate Change. A Climate that runs away from our capacity to adapt. Well, that’s scary.
But let’s get a bit closer to our homes. I’ve lived in Barcelona for 3 and half years now and I have not seen a proper winter yet. It’s always mild and warm. You people from here, has this always being the case? How about the rain? Cause I have not seen a drop of water in the last … I don’t know how many months. Actually, we just broke the record of most consecutive days with no rain at all: 95.
The truth is we are facing today another major “challenge” today: inequality. Increasing inequality, everywhere, actually. Intermon Oxfam released a report a few weeks ago with two stunning figures in it: the richest 1% has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined. The 62 richest people on the planet possess as much wealth as the poorest half of the total population (3.6 billion!!) Is this what a fair world looks to you?
At this point you may be saying, but what the heck has Climate Change to do with economic disparities? Well, a LOT to be honest. These two challenges are intertwined to the finest detail. First, historically it’s been wealthy countries (Europe and the USA mostly) who have created the problem in the first place, being responsible for the majority of CO2 emissions caused since the Industrial Revolution until the 1990s.
Secondly, current mainstream lifestyles at the heart of capitalism are entirely at odds with climate change: the average carbon footprint of the richest 1 % can be up to 175 times higher than that of the poorest 10 %. Yes it is capitalism vs the Climate, as Naomi Klein, a legendary climate activist that was here in Barcelona recently, puts it.
And lastly, and sadly, the most vulnerable communities, that contributed the least to the problem, are suffering the most dramatic consequences. It’s what we call “Climate Injustice”.
The answer: The Climate Movement. Let’s not despair though. We’ve got an answer, a solution. And it lies in all and every one of us. It’s the People’s Climate Movement. We, the people, decide which climate we want to have, habitable or hostile to humanity. Cause this is about humanity, the planet will survive and even thrive without us. To meet our greatest challenge we need EVERYBODY. We need to build the largest, strongest, most inclusive and diverse movement in history. Everybody has to be part of the solution. A solution for the Climate, but also for inequality. A solution that brings about justice and opportunity, together with a green and habitable planet for our children.
Justice and opportunity, but also peace. Cause, especially in these times of chaos, war and lack of trust in one another, The Climate Movement is possibly the most compelling movement for peace that there is. Nothing unites us all more than fighting for what is common: our Earth, or Home, our Future.
And this is how we made it happen. In Paris, the City of Light. The Paris Agreement, was reached because of all of us, because of the power of millions …. of businesses, NGOs, media, and citizens of all walks of life, we joined forces to demand action from our leaders. And they listened!
December 2015 was a new beginning. I was so lucky to be part of it. It was magical. I remember the hard negotiations, the demonstrations all over the city, and the moment when the NGOs broke into the mail hall, marching and chanting “Climate Justice! Climate Justice!” I was in tears.
To save the World, two things are gonna be required: Innovation and Cooperation. But we have done this before: the International Space Station is the most successful venture we have ever undertaken together, as one community.
With the technology, knowledge, communication and financial capacities we have today we can do this again. It’s all matter of willpower. The project Mission Innovation, with more than 20 countries already involved, is going to dramatically accelerate innovation and investment in clean energy.
We need more however. We need a massive Political Revolution sweeping across countries the world over, with young people, poor people, middle-class people, all of us rising up and standing for our rights, our dignity, our environment, our climate. And guess what? This is happening, everywhere. America. Greece. Madrid. Barcelona…
The Journey. This is it fellows, this is the journey to join and grow this movement. It goes from personal commitment all the way to collective action, passing by the empowerment of our communities. Inside every one of us there is an eco-activist, a determined individual and responsible human being that exercises her right to politics, to energy, to well-being, to opportunity and prosperity, to a journey shared in harmony, and to the pursuit of happiness. Nice words, hum? Seems like a speech from Obama. But how is it done? What can we do? It all comes down to priorities, to values that, when put into practice, turn into lifestyles.
First, if we want to build a common future, then everybody has to participate in decision-making. Maybe you know Decidim Barcelona? It’s a really cool open platform where we can make proposals for our city and vote for those aligned with our common vision.
Eco-activists do not behave like consumers, but rather like friends or members of the family. We appreciate relationships a lot more than stuff. We buy local, ecological food from the consumer cooperative next door. We share living areas in co-housing communities, and the workplace in co-working spaces. This cooperation mentality can be applied to every aspect of our lives, and … sharing it’s a hell of a lot of fun 🙂
Alternatives are everywhere now. The cooperative model is expanding rapidly to all basic services. We can get our electricity from clean energy cooperatives (of consumers and producers), like Som Energia. Save our money in financial cooperatives that foster economic solidarity among members, like Coop57. And even communicate with our beloved ones via telecom. cooperatives, like Eticom. Yes, phone companies can be ethical …. and even friendly! Simple things we can all incorporate into our daily lives, little by little, and that make a world of difference for the people and the planet.
There is an even higher level of activism that we can do that will catalyze a greater change, and make us happier. It’s called being an entrepreneur. Like this guy (Steve Jobs), right? Well, yes, except for one small detail: we don’t need to produce more stuff (like the Iphone 200 whatever!), we need to make this world a better place.
These are, ladies and gentlemen, the Ecopreneurs: entrepreneurs that solve environmental challenges, like Climate Change, address real needs and create value for their communities, and make a decent living out of it. So you can be an activist at work too. How cool is that? Do you remember Mr. Jobs in that Stanford commencement speech telling those ambitious students “not to spend their whole lives working for somebody else”. Well, once again he forgot a minor issue: the WHY. Because when you work for yourself, when you shape your own project, if things go alright, you may get the freedom and the capacity to fulfill not only your dreams, but those common and universal to all of us, humans.
Let me give you some examples of real ecopreneurs transforming reality here in Barcelona: “Vanapedal”, fast, door-to-door transportation on cargo-bikes; “La Colmena Que Dice Sí” weekly eco-markets where responsible consumers meet local farmers; and “Apadrina un Olivo”, recovery of olive trees to preserve biodiversity and foster local economies. These are the role models we want our children to look up to. These are our Climate Champions!
So do you want be like them? Let me show you a great business opportunity: the Community Solar Revolution!! Solar energy is just booming with costs plummeting, and the power installed skyrocketing. Clean energy for all and by all. As opposed to the Fossil Fuel industry where a few own and control the sources, renewable energy and especially solar, is owned and cared for by communities. Benefits and profits alike are reinvested in local sustainable development. This revolution right here, my friends, it’s about sharing, it’s about democracy. So jump in and let’s help every community on this Earth own a little piece of the Sun, and consume energy responsibly.
Let’s be the Jedis of the Climate. Let’s do it for our Children. Thank you very much everybody!!