Pictured: Attendees at the Texas Eco-Socialism Conference. picture of the release
As the effects of climate change worsen and overwhelming evidence points to the need to change the system immediately, the organized movement to change this system has also grown. Even in Texas, where the oil and gas companies hold the reins of power, organizers staged an unprecedented conference on ecosocialism that drew nearly 100 people.
The Texas branches of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, as well as organizers, activists and workers affected by climate change from Texas, New Mexico, Mississippi, Louisiana and many other states came together to the 2022 Texas Eco-Socialism Conference on April 23. The event was also co-hosted by POWER, which stands for public ownership of water and electricity resources. Presenters covered a wide range of local, national and international issues related to land degradation by capitalism and what we can do to fight back. Activists also held hands-on workshops with attendees on how we can learn from current socialist solutions to environmental degradation.
The first session opened with a panel on issues facing Texas and its connection to international struggles. Many presentations focused on the aftermath of the 2021 winter storm, in which the state’s power grid nearly collapsed completely. More than 700 people died in temperatures colder than parts of Alaska and Siberia, while the state’s power grid prioritized power to empty downtown office buildings and unused stadiums. This institutional failure has affected millions across the state, and is a direct result of Texas energy policy that favors corporate profits over reliability, durability, and readiness. Other panelists described the ongoing daily experiences of environmental racism, climate immigration and refugees, the need for public services, and Texas’ threatening oil and gas industry.
Organizer Brianna Griffith ended the plenary session with an outline of demands for an eco-socialist future for Texas and the world. “The only solution to the contradictions we face — the only permanent set of solutions to the climate crisis — is revolution,” Griffith said. “Capitalism is driving us to the brink of planetary ruin and does not want to hold back, let alone turn back. Only socialism – people power – can raise the bar and save the planet.” Griffith also stressed the need for workers to extend this struggle to all areas:
“What we need to remember is that there is no shortcut, no secret magic trick that will make politicians or corporations give a damn. Only through greater organization, more numbers and a will to fight that we can win.
“This is a fight for unions, tenant unions, for entire communities, for oppressed people, and it has the potential to unite us all. Many of these organizations will have to be built from scratch. Many will have to remember what it is to fight.
“These are the tasks ahead of us: talking to our colleagues, our friends, our neighbours, talking to them, sharing our knowledge, hearing their knowledge, understanding their needs and weaving the bonds of a common struggle to meet those needs and Moreover.
Participants then attended their choice of three breakout workshops, covering topics such as Cuba’s short- and long-term sustainability plans as one of the most environmentally sustainable countries on the planet, the socialist urban planning for public transportation and parks, and indigenous farming and cultivation methods. of sustainable forests.
After lunch, participants continued in afternoon workshops focusing on broader issues and solutions. Anti-war organizers challenged participants to reimagine how we might use resources if we dismantled imperialism. POWER activists detailed the long history of the fight for public services. Tina Landis led a session on ecological regeneration that goes beyond just preventing climate change and moving towards repairing damage. The workshops highlighted the contradictions that render capitalism incapable of solving the climate crisis, but more importantly charted a constructive path towards a future where solving the climate crisis is possible – a socialist future.
Participants gathered for a mid-afternoon panel on local struggles. Presenters discussed local issues facing cities in Texas such as landlord greed, zoning laws, gentrification, poor utility management and how these issues affect their respective cities. Most importantly, the presenters spoke about the work they do with communities to provide relief, fight against capitalist exploitation and win.
Participants then heard the keynote address by Tina Landis, author of Climate solutions beyond capitalism and environmental activist. She discussed concrete solutions to the climate crisis, drawn from existing science and dispelling the nihilistic myth that “there is nothing we can do” to stop climate catastrophe.
“There are real solutions to climate change that could end the crisis in a single generation,” Landis said, “but you’ll never hear that in the corporate media because the transformations needed spell the end of capitalism. “. Landis concluded:
“To get there, we need to organize in our communities, educate each other on the solutions, and demand that our government take concrete action to match the urgency of the crisis. Studies show that despite growing concerns about climate change, only 5% of the American population thinks there is something that can be done to reverse it. If people don’t know there are solutions, they won’t stand up and demand action, which is why we all need to educate others about this pressing issue.
“And ultimately, we need socialism, which reverses the rule of the billionaire class and places the power and resources of society in the hands of the working people. It may seem that we are few and they have all the power, but that is just an illusion. There are millions of people around the world working for real transformation in the way humanity lives on the planet, you just won’t hear about it in the corporate media. Now more than ever, we must harness our revolutionary optimism – our hope that is grounded in reality and the understanding that the working class has the knowledge and ability to bring about the change needed to end the climate crisis…and we must act now. ”
After Landis answered questions, PSL organizers shared the life experiences that led them to join the movement and organize.
The overall theme of the conference emphasized, from start to finish, that although the situation is dire, there are workable solutions that will reverse the tide of climate destruction and heal the planet. But it will take a movement of millions of people – those millions of workers who are so often told we are powerless – to overthrow the exploitative system that is killing the planet. An eco-socialist future is possible if we are willing to fight for it!