Resist, Reclaim, Restructure: A Call for Transition and Energy Democracy

The global environmental movement has entered a new phase marked by a heightening urgency to address climate change and a public frustrated with our political institutions’ inability to deliver sufficient solutions thus far. The tension between this urgency and our inefficient political institutions has opened up a space to expose capitalism as the primary driver of runaway carbon emissions, and with that, to question how we can transition away from fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and a profit-based, undemocratic economy. So how does this reorientation impact our strategy and demands?

We can already see an array of grassroots movements, many led by women and by indigenous peoples, that are challenging this destructive and unjust economic system on a wide range of fronts. These include movements of resistance against continuing colonization such as Idle No More; struggles for food sovereignty organized under the banner of the international network, Via Campesina; the anti-fracking movement in New York State; the German Energy Transition campaign; and the Million Climate Jobs campaign in the UK. There are also increasing calls for energy democracy and the nationalization of the energy industry, including Trade Unions for Energy Democracy’s 2012 Resist, Reclaim, Restructure publication; proposals in South Africa for a “socially-owned renewable energy sector; and the Center for Social Inclusion’s “Energy Democracy for All” network in the US. Taking inspiration from these movements and proposals, System Change Not Climate Change (SCNCC) is asking supporters and climate justice allies to collaborate in the formation of a North American campaign to demand energy municipalization, nationalization, and democracy.

A truism relevant to our cause: you cannot control what you do not own. Therefore, bringing energy under public ownership and democratic control is essential to shutting down fossil fuel and nuclear energy production. Through the establishment of popular worker/community energy committees at the local, regional and national levels, we can democratically and collectively decide on questions concerning our energy production, distribution, and consumption. Consequently, we can no longer base energy production on profit. Ecological limits must trump the bottom line. This will also allow us to democratically address environmental racism, prioritize social need, develop public transportation, and more.

“Brick by brick, wall by wall, we will make the system fall…” As ecosocialists, we struggle for the democratization of all economic sectors and political processes. SCNCC understands this energy campaign as one project within our greater vision/program of system change, as pulling one (mighty) brick from the wall…

For more information or to endorse and/or help organize the campaign launch, email SCNCC will reach out to allies and plan an initial organizing call this spring and summer. 


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On Sept 19, 2023 ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit in New York City, climate activists gathered for a rally and civil disobedience outside Bank of America Tower in Midtown Manhattan as part of the March to End Fossil Fuels wave of actions resulting in multiple arrests. Activists demand Bank of America to “Defund Climate Chaos and Defend Human Rights” Photo: Erik McGregor (CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed)

Let’s Save Each Other

Let’s Save Each Other

Illustration by Stephanie McMillan. Used with permission