June 17, 2020

Disrupt harmful systems and take a step toward healing

From the COVID-19 pandemic to the most recent senseless killings of Black people, these last few months have exposed the deeply broken systems under which we live. These systems serve little else besides the consolidation of power by mostly white men and corporate interests. And they are devastating the planet and threatening all of our futures.

This moment calls for all of us to stretch our imagination to envision different systems. It calls for us to listen to and follow the lead of the people who are most directly and immediately impacted by the multiple crises of our time: Black and Indigenous people and other people of color, Global South communities, low-income people, women, LGBTQ+ people, and disabled people.

People around the world are bringing forward many beautiful solutions of where we go from here, and how. From groups like the Movement for Black Lives re-imagining how we keep our communities safe, to groups like The Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice envisioning a just and equitable transition away from polluting industries and products. We at Corporate Accountability are focusing on a critical piece of this puzzle: corporate power. And in particular, the power of polluting industries such as the fossil fuel industry.

The root of the climate crisis is brutal, extractive, global capitalism that puts shareholder profits over the well-being of people and the planet. This system has enabled, even encouraged, polluting industries to get away with all manner of destruction and harm, so long as they continued to reap profits.

And it ensures the brunt of the climate crisis — from health to economic impacts — lands on people rather than on the primary drivers of the crisis: polluting industries. In particular, local elected officials like mayors are the ones who are forced to deal directly with the immediate impacts of the climate crisis in their communities.

As sea level rises, wildfires rage, hurricanes wreak havoc, and heat waves blast, mayors are responsible for the safety and well-being of the people who live in their cities and towns. They must spend taxpayer money to deal with individual climate-related disasters or build infrastructure and systems to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

That’s why we’re calling on mayors to make Big Polluters pay. And because mayors also control city budgets, we’re also asking that they enact the solutions Black leaders are calling for like defunding the police. Many are already out front on both fronts. Many, for instance, are filing lawsuits against the oil and gas industry that demand the industry pay the costs of sea level rise and other climate damages. There’s no reason why every mayor in the U.S. shouldn’t follow their lead.

Actions by mayors are an important part of the growing political support behind the movement to make Big Polluters pay and for Black liberation. We need all decision-makers — state attorneys general and members of Congress in the U.S., to government leaders and elected officials around the world — to take up this call.

Together, we can disrupt the broken systems we live under by holding Big Polluters liable — financially, legally, and otherwise — for their role in fueling the climate crisis.

By starting local, you can play a vital role in growing the momentum for a global call to make Big Polluters pay. Take action today!

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