Conclusion. What You Can Do Today …
As an individual …
#1 – Most importantly – get in touch with any environmental NGOs you support. Ask them their position on the global peak emissions date. And if it’s any later than 2010, then cancel your membership.
Ask them if they support any temperature that exceeds 1C – the temperature we must stay below if we are avoid catastrophic climate change – if it is any higher – if they are evasive in any way – again – cancel your membership.
Invest in a local grassroots organization instead.
#2 – Move your money from a national bank to that of a credit union / cooperative bank or a community bank. Shift the power.
Since companies cannot act in any wider interest than the interest of profit, CSR is of limited use in creating social change. Since CSR is also a vehicle for companies to thwart attempts to control corporate power and to gain access to markets, CSR is a problem not a solution.
Efforts to control corporations’ destructive impacts must have a critique of corporate power at their heart and a will to dismantle corporate power as their goal, otherwise they reinforce rather than challenge power structures, and undermine popular struggles for autonomy, democracy, human rights and environmental sustainability. If CSR is the wrong strategy then the million dollar question is, which strategies will be effective in this struggle? Answering this question is beyond the scope of this report, but certain strategies clearly stand out.
- Regulation – Regulation is a key step in achieving this power shift. But it will happen only when the pressure is greater for governments to regulate than it is for them to listen to the corporate lobby. Campaigns pushing for binding regulation of corporations cannot be successful in isolation from confrontational campaigns attacking the corporate power base.
- Grassroots action and international solidarity – Some of the most effective activism currently taking place is by Southern communities directly fighting for their lives and livelihoods in the face of corporate abuse. This includes networks such as: the international peasant movement, Via Campesina, the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), Oilwatch (the South to South network opposing oil companies), activists internationally opposing privatisation of services from Bolivia to South Africa and taking control of their own basic needs, Argentinian workers taking over abandoned factories, Indian farmers shutting down Coca Cola bottling plants, and hundreds of other diverse campaigns across the world. These uncompromising struggles reflect popular outrage, and call for international solidarity to strike at abusive companies in the world’s financial centres, and not to be sold out by Northern NGOs which claim to act on their behalf.
Our campaigns must take a confrontational approach, not challenging companies to make reforms but attacking their legitimacy and license to operate.
- Challenging the expansion of corporate power – Through international trade rules on services, intellectual property, competition, procurement and investment, corporations are pushing to extend their power base. Corporate involvement in international summits and multistakeholder fora is motivated purely by an interest in extending the reach of corporate influence, accessing markets and asserting their dominance. At all stages this must be resisted. Similarly the trend towards corporate concentration represents further centralising of power.
- Exposing the corporation – Information is power. The disinformation that pervades our society through the mass media – which tells us that capitalism is the only way of organising our societies, that corporations are socially responsible, that consumption will make us happy – is a foundation stone of our consent to corporate domination. Dismantling these myths through research exposing corporate crime, corruption, exploitation and greed is the only way to awaken wider society to the need for new ways to organise our societies that assert people’s rights to control over their economies and resources.
- Building alternatives – Fairtrade, local and organic food, permaculture, seed swaps, low-impact design, community renewable energy projects, co-operatives, limited liability partnerships, social enterprises, community organisations, people’s juries, non-hierarchical organising, consensus based decision making, and countless other initiatives and ways of organising, each in their own way represent alternatives to corporate dominated society, enabling people to have autonomy over their livelihoods, meet their needs, and participate in decisions which affect them. Building alternatives helps to create new societies in the shell of the old.