Alternative Settlements – From Local Actions to Global Climate Solutions
On December 5 and 6, the “World Village of Alternatives”, an enormous expo-style event showcasing alternative climate-related solutions for settlements took place in Montreuil, a municipality in the Eastern part of the “big Paris”, as part of the UN Climate Summit, COP21.
A wide array of solutions that are to become the basis for creating climate neutral settlements was presented in the streets and on the plazas surrounding the town hall.
These ideas are already being actively implemented in thousands of cities, towns and villages all over the world - among them are local renewable energy sources, energy efficient solutions for households, products of organic agriculture, and even functional eco-friendly toilets.
Here, every visitor had a chance to taste organic produce that was grown without the use of toxic chemicals, to get a free energy saving showerhead, or rent a bike. One could see every type of bicycle – for one, two and even three people, as well as bicycle trailers, bicycle capsules, etc. But the main idea remained the same - a bicycle is a comfortable vehicle for everyday use. One does not need to move very fast in one’s normal everyday life, thus perpetuating the use of power engines that burn fuel and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Slower movement has its own charm and advantages!
Over 500,000 people have joined the Alternative Settlement movement in the past two years.
As part of the program of the COP21’s World Village of Alternatives, a series of round tables and panel discussions took place at the Montreuil town hall. One of the panel discussions titled «Climate Change - a Just Transition is Possible» was organized by trade unions together with Friends of the Earth and a few other NGOs. The participants agreed that the transition to a climate responsible way of life and economy does not have to entail the loss of jobs and worse conditions for simple working people.
Quite on the contrary, all solutions that deal with emission reduction demand an increased number of helping hands – to insulate houses, set up renewable energy installations, restore our forests, etc. Governments of the world must deliberately create such climate-friendly green jobs. In case we fail to secure jobs while fighting for the protection of our climate, we may lose the working class as a supporter and active participant of the entire process.
The transition to new conditions requires a drastic change in priorities regarding energy production, industry, city planning and rural development, as well as all other areas of life, in order to mitigate our climate impact and to adapt to climate change effects.
“Zero emissions” means new technology, new or modernized production plants – and thus, new climate-friendly green jobs. For many it means new jobs instead of old ones, but one may say that this is some sort of a “recycling” of jobs, a reorientation of occupations based on old ways and fuels.
However, in order for a just and fair transition to a climate neutral life to take place, green jobs must be given a priority – both in national climate plans and the mechanisms of the new universal climate agreement.
Alternative settlements is one of very efficient ways of creating such jobs and promote a climate-friendly way of life from the bottom up.