COP17: Inspiring the global climate justice movement

by Nnimmo Bassey

PAMBAZUKA NEWS: What role will Environmental Rights Action (ERA) and Friends of the Earth International be playing at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban? What will you be pushing for?

NNIMMO BASSEY: While there is a generally low level of expectation from the Durban Conference of the Parties (COP17), we see it as a great moment to stand with impacted peoples and the environmental justice movement and call for a climate tackling regime that understands the depth of the crises and the fact that the impacts are already manifesting. We will push for polluting countries to cut emissions at source and not through offsets and related market mechanisms that help polluters profit from the damage they do. We will push for legally binding emissions reduction targets to ensure that temperature increase is kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. ERA will demand the recognition and payment of the accumulated climate debt due to centuries of exploitation and colonisation of the atmosphere. Continue reading

The climate justice approach and the politics of climate change

by Lim Li Lin

The climate change talks have been going on for a long time. Since Rio in 1992, when the Climate Convention was adopted, there have been 16 Conference of the Parties (COPs). Then in 2007, a new round of negotiations was launched in Bali.

Many thought Parties were going to arrive at a deal in Copenhagen, COP 15, but that proved a mirage. And then there was Cancun, and now Durban, where it is clear that negotiations will not conclude. What is perhaps unclear is what will happen after Durban. Continue reading

CJN! members call on governments to support Cochabamba proposals

During the last Climate Talks in Bonn in August some concrete proposals were brought to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in order to advance the negotiations to cut the greenhouse gas emissions in a new and positive way. The main demands of the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (Cochabamba, April 2010) have been incorporated in the negotiation text of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperation under the UNFCCC.

In the Cochabamba Conference, more than 35,000 people from governments and civil society representatives of 140 countries discussed areas of the UNFCCC negotiations and issues demanded by social organizations and indigenous peoples. The Cochabamba Agreement emerged from this process, incorporating themes such as the structural causes of the climate crisis, agriculture and food sovereignty, the breakdown of harmony with nature, the importance of creating a binding framework to identify and judge climate crimes, and the development of a global democracy for the people to decide on an issue that affects all humanity and the planet.

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From Copenhagen to Cochabamba: Walking We Ask Questions, 2.0?

by Tadzio Mueller, May 2010

The Run-Up

Copenhagen, Denmark, December 2009. The climate summit’s failure manages to underwhelm even the already low expectations of the emerging global climate justice movement. Once it becomes obvious that none of the major emitters, neither the US nor the EU, Japan or Australia, has committed to the necessary dramatic emissions reductions, the so-called “Copenhagen Accord” is being negotiated outside the official processes under the leadership of the United States. (And why should the major emitters reduce their emissions? In a fossil-fuel based capitalist economy, reducing emissions implies a politically unpalatable reduction of economic growth.) The Accord claims it wants to limit global warming to 2° Celsius, but in pursuit of this ambitious goal it proposes only voluntary emissions reductions, without any mechanisms for enforcing these commitments, or for penalising those countries that fail to meet their commitments.

It is the resistance of governments from Venezuela, Sudan and Bolivia that ultimately stops the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) from officially adopting the Accord. Instead, the text it is merely “taken note of” – as is the quality of the catering at the summit. The worst-case scenario feared by many in the movements and in critical NGOs, that a bad deal might be greenwashed, thus does not come to pass. Only the politically colour-blind could see the Accord as being genuinely green. The supposedly “last, best chance to save the planet” thus passes, after a two-week summit during which the prospect of the disappearance of entire island states under water and the evacuation of their populations had become a new normality that people accepted without flinching.

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World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth
April 22nd, Cochabamba, Bolivia

Today, our Mother Earth is wounded and the future of humanity is in danger.

If global warming increases by more than 2 degrees Celsius, a situation that the “Copenhagen Accord” could lead to, there is a 50% probability that the damages caused to our Mother Earth will be completely irreversible. Between 20% and 30% of species would be in danger of disappearing. Large extensions of forest would be affected, droughts and floods would affect different regions of the planet, deserts would expand, and the melting of the polar ice caps and the glaciers in the Andes and Himalayas would worsen. Many island states would disappear, and Africa would suffer an increase in temperature of more than 3 degrees Celsius. Likewise, the production of food would diminish in the world, causing catastrophic impact on the survival of inhabitants from vast regions in the planet, and the number of people in the world suffering from hunger would increase dramatically, a figure that already exceeds 1.02 billion people.

The corporations and governments of the so-called “developed” countries, in complicity with a segment of the scientific community, have led us to discuss climate change as a problem limited to the rise in temperature without questioning the cause, which is the capitalist system. Continue reading

System crisis, climate crisis

Letter of the Social Movements Assembly at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth
21 April 2010

Movements, networks and social organizations gathered at the Assembly of Social Movements held in Cochabamba, in the framework of the World People’s Conference on Climate Change, welcome the initiative of President Evo Morales Ayma and respond to the global call to confront the commodification and privatization of common goods and the climate change debate itself.

We consider that the issue of climate change is important along with other manifestations of the global systemic crisis. To confront the imperialist offensive there must be an end to the militarization of our territories and the criminalization of social movements, an end to the neocolonial agenda included in the FTAs, an end to the power of transnational corporations and especially the agribusiness and extractive model that promote the privatization of life and nature.

The resistance is being built from the relationship among different anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal, anti-colonial and anti-racist perspectives, which claim that this systemic crisis will not be paid by the peoples, and at the same time promote alternatives to find a new paradigm based on equality, good living and sovereignty of the peoples.

This process of articulation in permanent construction is dynamic, comprehensive, popular and decentralized, and seeks greater coordination among social movements to strengthen popular mobilizations. From the Assembly of Social Movements we are committed to expand our work by strengthening processes in Asia, Africa, North America and Europe.

We consider that one of the main challenges is to strengthen our platform of common struggles and alternatives in a process that is reinforced by the regions and seeks global impact.

The Assembly of Social Movements is part of an agenda made up by many key spaces, including the People’s Summit “Enlazando Alternativas” IV in Madrid (14-18 May), the Social Forum of the United States, the Mesoamerican Forum against Agribusiness in El Salvador (3-5 June), the 4th Social Forum of the Americas in Asuncion (11-15 August), the International Day Against Monoculture Tree Plantations on September 21 and the Global Day of Action against Monsanto (October 16), the 4th World Social Forum on Migration in Ecuador (October), the Third International Action of the World March of Women in Congo (14-17 October) and the mobilization process towards Cancun where the COP 16 will be held.  We are also planning to have in October a global week of action for climate justice, unifying the struggles as the ones carried out by movements resisting the privatization and commodification of water in “Blue October.”

We want the Assembly of Social Movements to continue being a dynamic space to join our processes and actions, and to continue being another tool to coordinate our struggles.

We hope that the results of this conference in Cochabamba strengthen the mobilization and resistance process, notably the Global Referendum on Climate Change, which we must promote, discuss and include in our movements as an important element to raise awareness towards Cancún and the People’s Tribunal on Ecological Debt and Climate Justice.

We call the social movements of the continent and the world to promote a unified and broad mobilization to demand change, denouncing those responsible for driving the false solutions to the systemic crisis, including the climate crisis.

Climate battle moves to Bolivia

Martin Khor*
Published in The Star (Malaysia), Monday 26 April 2010

Last week over 30,000 people converged in the Bolivian town of Cochabamba in the heart of the Andes mountains for an unusual summit on climate change – it involved thousands of grassroots leaders as well as some political leaders and government officials.

It was a stark contrast to the stuffy conference rooms and diplomatic language of the formal climate negotiations.  Indeed the 4-day People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth was meant to both challenge and to contribute to the United Nations’ official climate talks.

The Cochabamba gathering was convened by Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, as a response to what he saw was the unfair way in which the Copenhagen climate conference was organised.

“When I arrived in Copenhagen, I was struck by environmental activists braving the freezing weather to voice their disappointment at being locked out of the meeting,” said Morales, an indigenous people’s leader who came to power some years ago on the wave of a popular movement.

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Indigenous peoples take on the climate crisis in Cochabamba

Daphne Wysham

by Daphne Wysham*

First published in AlterNet

[Cochabamba, 21 April 2010] Four months after world leaders who gathered in frigid Copenhagen failed to agree on a binding climate treaty, a peoples’ summit on climate change and the rights of Mother Earth is underway in the sun-dappled hills of Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Convened by Bolivian President Evo Morales, allegedly the first fully indigenous president since the Spanish conquest, the conference is an attempt to place indigenous peoples – and marginalized peoples from around the world – at the center of the global conversation on climate change.

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La Via Campesina participates in the inauguration of the Peoples’ climate conference

[Cochabamba, 20 April, 2010] This morning Itelvina Masioli, a Brazilian leader of the international peasant movement La Via Campesina, spoke at the inauguration of the People’s World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Bolivian President Evo Morales was the keynote speaker to the crowd of several thousand.

The conference, organized by the Bolivian government after countries failed to agree on a plan to stop climate change in Copenhagen last December, is being held from April 19 thru 22. Its goal is to amplify the voices of those who were not heard in Copenhagen.
“We are here together with President Evo Morales to play an active role in this grand global mobilization in Defense of Mother Earth,” said Masioli. “Our planet is in danger, and if our planet is in danger, then life is in danger.”

Social movements for system change

[Cochabamba, April 19, 2010] On April 19, an Assembly of the Social Movements was one of the first activities on the agenda at the People’s World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The Assembly highlighted the popular focus of the conference, which was organized by the Bolivian government after the failure of governments and industries to negotiate a plan to stop climate change in Copenhagen last December.

The conference is being held from April 19 through 22 and is meant to amplify the voices of those who were not heard in Copenhagen. The Assembly of Social Movements was founded about 10 years ago within the World Social Forum process to strengthen the voice and the political agenda of social movements from all over the world.

The Assembly is important “in order to have common policies to construct an agenda of struggle, resistance and proposals,” says Fausto Torres, a member of the Association of Rural Workers in Nicaragua and the international food sovereignty movement La Via Campesina.

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