Protests Inside and Outside COP-16 Climate Summit Expose the Corrupt COP Process and Uphold the Cochabamba People’s as the Path towards Real Solutions

Indigenous Environmental Network and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance march with thousands in Cancun to Demand Respect for Indigenous Rights and a Rejection of REDD

Cross-posted from Indigenous Environmental Network

Cancún, Q. Roo, Mexico, December 7, 2010 – As thousands of people marched today on the COP-16 climate summit to condemn the false solutions and backroom deals being pushed in the negotiations, solidarity actions unfolded in over 100 cities around the world. The march was organized by La Via Campesina, the world’s largest federation of peasant and smallholder farmers, and was the anchor action of the 1000 Cancúns Global Day of Action for Climate Justice.

The diverse array of social movement organizations, representing Indigenous peoples, small farmers, youth, communities impacted by the climate change to call for mobilizations and actions worldwide for climate solutions based in traditional Indigenous knowledge, community-based practices, human rights and the rights of nature.

Simultaneously, the press conference hosted by Global Justice Ecology Project and organized by La Via Campesina, Indigenous Environmental Network and Friends of the Earth International turned into a spontaneous action as speakers expressed anger over the direction of the climate talks in Cancún. Following the press conference, activists from Youth 4 Climate Justice and Grassroots Global Justice led the protest out of the climate talks.

Anne Petermann of Global Justice Ecology Project opened the press conference by evoking the name of Lee Kyung Hae, the South Korean farmer and La Via Campesina member who took his life during mobilizations against the World Trade Organization here in 2003 wearing a sign saying “The WTO Kills Farmers.” “Then we were fighting against the World Trade Organization,” Petermann said. “Today we have to fight the World Carbon Trade Organization.”

Tom Goldtooth, the Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network explained why so many people around the world were taking action. “It is clear that the false solutions offered at this COP-16 and previous COPs are being used to create markets and generate capital without regard to the fundamental concern for reducing emissions. The Cochabamba People’s Agreement remains a statement of the people of the world and against the commercialization of our climate, our air, our forests, our water and our very existence as humanity but it has been unilaterally deleted in the current negotiating text. As indigenous peoples, social movements and affected peoples we reject the carbon market mechanisms of REDD.”

Mari Rose Taruc of the Asia Pacific Environmental Network and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance described the situation facing her community of Richmond, California which lives in the shadow of a massive Chevron refinery. “Our communities are already dying from pollution. Unfortunately the UN process is focused on market based mechanisms that will allow companies like Chevron to buy offsets instead of reducing emissions at their source, creating more toxic hot spots in low income communities of color.”

Representatives of ALBA countries, Miguel Lovera, Chief Adviser of Paraguay and Paul Oquin of Nicaragua also expressed their solidarity with the people and condemned the moves of developed countries to avoid their historical responsibility and climate debt.

“We are here as young people from impacted communities to make sure that our voices are heard and respected,” said Kari Fulton, founding member of Youth 4 Climate Justice. Fulton continued, “Whether you live in the forest, whether you live in the hood, you will be impacted by false solutions. And REDD, REDD+, REDD++, is a false solution that will create a market in forests at the expense of human rights and the environment. We are here to say we want you to protect the Rights of Mother Earth and the voices of the people.”

Following the press conference, activists from Youth for Climate Justice and the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance led a protest out of the press conference and onto the front stairs, where Bolivian Ambassador Pablo Solon spoke to the crowd and the gathered media.

Solon stated, “What is most important is the struggle of the people and their demands for real solutions to climate change… Every year, 300,000 people die because of natural disasters caused by climate change. This will grow to millions if we do not have, here, a real agreement, instead of a Cancun-hagen”.

The youth activists went on to loudly denounce the inaccessibility and unjust nature of the talks and express outrage over having been repeatedly denied permission to hold a youth delegation protest on the UN grounds. As the youth marched away, they were accosted by UN security, stripped of their badges, put onto buses and evicted from the climate conference.

Tom Goldtooth, Pablo Solon and other delegates were later able to make their way to join the thousands-strong People’s Assembly for Environmental and Climate Justice, held in the street less than two miles from the official climate conference.

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