An appeal to leaders, institutions, and our brothers and sisters
More than two years after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic—and now alongside the catastrophic consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—a “new normal” has emerged. This new global status quo reflects a worsening of various crises: social, economic, political, ecological, bio-medical, and geopolitical.
Governments of the South, meanwhile, have fallen into a debt trap, borrowing money to build up industries and large-scale agriculture to supply the North. To repay these debts, governments have felt compelled to extract more resources from the ground, creating a vicious circle of inequality. Today, the imperative to move beyond fossil fuels without any significant reduction in consumption in the North has only increased the pressure to exploit these natural resources. Moreover, as it moves ahead with its own energy transitions, the North has paid only lip service to its responsibility to address its historical and rising ecological debt to the South.
Rather than solely technological, the solutions to these interlocked crises are above all political.
The energy transition should be part of a comprehensive vision that addresses radical inequality in the distribution of energy resources and advances energy democracy. It should de-emphasize large-scale institutions—corporate agriculture, huge energy companies—as well as market-based solutions. Instead, it must strengthen the resilience of civil society and social organizations.
Therefore, we make the following 8 demands:
- We warn that an energy transition led by corporate megaprojects, coming from the Global North and accepted by numerous governments in the South, entails the enlargement of the zones of sacrifice throughout the Global South, the persistence of the colonial legacy, patriarchy, and the debt trap. Energy is an elemental and inalienable human right, and energy democracy should be our goal.
- We call on the peoples of the South to reject false solutions that come with new forms of energy colonialism, now in the name of a Green transition. We make an explicit call to continue political coordination among the peoples of the south while also pursuing strategic alliances with critical sectors in the North.
- To mitigate the havoc of the climate crisis and advance a just and popular ecosocial transition, we demand the payment of the ecological debt. This means, in the face of the disproportionate Global North responsibility for the climate crisis and ecological collapse, the real implementation of a system of compensation to the global South. This system should include a considerable transfer of funds and appropriate technology, and should consider sovereign debt cancellation for the countries of the South. We support reparations for loss and damage experienced by Indigenous peoples, vulnerable groups and local communities due to mining, big dams, and dirty energy projects.
- We reject the expansion of the hydrocarbon border in our countries—through fracking and offshore projects—and repudiate the hypocritical discourse of the European Union, which recently declared natural gas and nuclear energy to be “clean energies.” As already proposed in the Yasuni Initiative in Ecuador in 2007 and today supported by many social sectors and organizations, we endorse leaving fossil fuels underground and generating the social and labor conditions necessary to abandon extractivism and move toward a post-fossil-fuel future.
- We similarly reject “green colonialism” in the form of land grabs for solar and wind farms, the indiscriminate mining of critical minerals, and the promotion of technological “fixes” such as blue or grey hydrogen. Enclosure, exclusion, violence, encroachment, and entrenchment have characterized past and current North-South energy relations and are not acceptable in an era of ecosocial transitions.
- We demand the genuine protection of environment and human rights defenders, particularly indigenous peoples and women at the forefront of resisting extractivism.
- The elimination of energy poverty in the countries of the South should be among our fundamental objectives—as well as the energy poverty of parts of the Global North—through alternative, decentralized, equitably distributed projects of renewable energy that are owned and operated by communities themselves.
- We denounce international trade agreements that penalize countries that want to curb fossil fuel extraction. We must stop the use of trade and investment agreements controlled by multinational corporations that ultimately promote more extraction and reinforce a new colonialism.
Our ecosocial alternative is based on countless struggles, strategies, proposals, and community-based initiatives. Our Manifesto connects with the lived experience and critical perspectives of Indigenous peoples and other local communities, women, and youth throughout the Global South. It is inspired by the work done on the rights of nature, buen vivir, vivir sabroso, sumac kawsay, ubuntu, swaraj, the commons, the care economy, agroecology, food sovereignty, post-extractivism, the pluriverse, autonomy, and energy sovereignty. Above all, we call for a radical, democratic, popular, gender-just, regenerative, and comprehensive ecosocial transition.