Call for “System Change not Climate Change” Unites Global Movement
Note: The first post is the Poznan statement from the Climate Justice Now! alliance from 12 December 2008 after the UN climate talks that year. The second was published by CJN immediately following the Copenhagen UN climate talks in 2009. More than ever, we believe it’s time for the 1% who control the UN climate talks to do something for the climate–like get out of the way so that people and social movements can counter their false solutions to climate change with real grassroots solutions in order to avert climate catastrophe. The Earth can’t wait.
Follow our blogs from the Durban UN climate circus from 28 Nov – 10 Dec on Climate Connections.
-The GJEP Team
RADICAL NEW AGENDA NEEDED TO ACHIEVE CLIMATE JUSTICE
Poznan statement from the Climate Justice Now! alliance
12 December 2008
Members of Climate Justice Now! – a worldwide alliance of more than 160 organisations — have been in Poznan for the past two weeks closely following developments in the UN climate negotiations.
This statement is our assessment of the Conference of Parties (COP) 14, and articulates our principles for achieving climate justice.
THE URGENCY OF CLIMATE JUSTICE
On the streets of Poznan, Poland 2008. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC
We will not be able to stop climate change if we don’t change the neo-liberal and corporate-based economy which stops us from achieving sustainable societies. Corporate globalisation must be stopped.
The historical responsibility for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions lies with the industrialised countries of the North. Even though the primary responsibility of the North to reduce emissions has been recognised in the Convention, their production and consumption habits continue to threaten the survival of humanity and biodiversity. It is imperative that the North urgently shifts to a low carbon economy. At the same time in order to avoid the damaging carbon intensive model of industrialisation, the South is entitled to resources and technology to make this transition.
We believe that any ´shared vision´ on addressing the climate crisis must start with climate justice and with a radical re-thinking of the dominant development model.
Indigenous Peoples, peasant communities, fisherfolk, and especially women in these communities, have been living harmoniously and sustainably with the Earth for millennia. They are not only the most affected by climate change, but also its false solutions, such as agrofuels, mega-dams, genetic modification, tree plantations and carbon offset schemes. Instead of market led schemes, their sustainable practices should be seen as offering the real solutions to climate change.
UNFCCC IN CRISIS
Governments and international institutions have to recognise that the Kyoto mechanisms have failed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – common but differentiated responsibilities, inter-generational equity, and polluter pays — have been undermined in favour of market mechanisms. The three main pillars of the Kyoto agreement –the clean development mechanism, joint implementation and emissions trading schemes — have been completely ineffective in reducing emissions, yet they continue to be at the center of the negotiations.
Kyoto is based on carbon-trading mechanisms which allow Northern countries to continue business as usual by paying for “clean development” projects in developing and transition countries. This is a scheme designed deliberately to allow polluters to avoid reducing emissions domestically. Clean development mechanism projects, which are supposed to support “sustainable development”, include infrastructure projects such as big dams and coal-fired power plants, and monoculture tree plantations. Not only do these projects fail to reduce carbon emissions, they accelerate the privatisation and corporate take-over of the natural world, at the expense of local communities and Indigenous Peoples.
Proposals on the table in Poznan are heading in the same direction.
In the current negotiations, industrialised countries continue to act on the basis of self-interest, using all their negotiating tactics to avoid their obligations to reduce carbon emissions, to finance adaptation and mitigation and transfer technology to the South.
In their pursuit of growth at any cost, many Southern governments at the talks are trading away the rights of their peoples and resources. We remind them that a climate agreement is not a trade agreement.
The main protagonists for climate stability – Indigenous Peoples, women, peasant and family farmers, fisherfolk, forest dependent communities, youth, and marginalised and affected communities in the global South and North, are systematically excluded. Despite repeated demands, Indigenous Peoples are not recognised as an official party to the negotiations. Neither are women’s voices and gender considerations recognised and included in the process.
At the same time, private investors are circling the talks like vultures, swooping in on every opportunity for creating new profits. Business and corporate lobbyists expanded their influence and monopolized conference space at Poznan. At least 1500 industry lobbyists were present either as NGOs or as members of government delegations.
The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) scheme could create the climate regime’s largest ever loophole, giving Northern polluters yet another opportunity to buy their way out of emissions reductions. With no mention of biodiversity or Indigenous Peoples’ rights, this scheme might give a huge incentive for countries to sell off their forests, expel Indigenous and peasant communities, and transform forests into tree plantations under corporate-control. Plantations are not forests. Privatisation and dispossession through REDD or any other mechanisms must be stopped.
The World Bank is attempting to carve a niche in the international climate change regime. This is unacceptable as the Bank continues to fund polluting industries and drive deforestation by promoting industrial logging and agrofuels. The Bank’s recently launched Climate Investment Funds goes against government initiatives at the UN and promotes dirty industries such as coal, while forcing developing countries into the fundamentally unequal aid framework of donor and recipient. The World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility aiming to finance REDD through a forest carbon mechanism serves the interest of private companies and opens the path for commodification of forests.
These developments are to be expected. Market ideology has totally infiltrated the climate talks, and the UNFCCC negotiations are now like trade fairs hawking investment opportunities.
THE REAL SOLUTIONS
Solutions to the climate crisis will not come from industrialised countries and big business. Effective and enduring solutions will come from those who have protected the environment – Indigenous Peoples, women, peasant and family farmers, fisherfolk, forest dependent communities, youth and marginalised and affected communities in the global South and North. These include:
- Achieving low carbon economies, without resorting to offsetting and false solutions such as nuclear energy and “clean coal”, while protecting the rights of those affected by the transition, especially workers.
- Keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
- Implementing people’s food and energy sovereignty.
- Guaranteeing community control of natural resources.
- Re-localisation of production and consumption, prioritising local markets
- Full recognition of Indigenous Peoples, peasant and local community rights,
- Democratically controlled clean renewable energy.
- Rights based resource conservation that enforces indigenous land rights and promotes peoples sovereignty and public ownership over energy, forests, seeds, land and water
- Ending deforestation and its underlying causes.
- Ending excessive consumption by elites in the North and in the South.
- Massive investment in public transport
- Ensuring gender justice by recognising existing gender injustices and involving women in decision making.
- Cancelling illegitimate debts claimed by northern governments and IFIs. The illegitimacy of these debts is underscored by the much greater historical, social and ecological debts owed to people of the South.
We stand at the crossroads. We call for a radical change in direction to put climate justice and people’s rights at the centre of these negotiations.
In the lead-up to the 2009 COP 15 at Copenhagen and beyond, the Climate Justice Now! alliance will continue to monitor governments and to mobilise social forces from the south and the north to achieve climate justice.
Call for “System Change not Climate Change” Unites Global Movement
Corrupt Copenhagen ‘accord’ exposes gulf between peoples demands and elite political interests
The highly anticipated UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen ended with a fraudulent agreement, engineered by the United States and dropped into the conference at the last moment. The “agreement” was not adopted. Instead, it was “noted” in an absurd parliamentary invention designed to accommodate the United States and permit Ban Ki-moon to utter the ridiculous pronouncement “We have a deal.”
The UN conference was unable to deliver solutions to the climate crisis, or even minimal progress toward them. Instead, the talks were a complete betrayal of impoverished nations and island states, producing nothing but embarrassment for the United Nations and the Danish government. In a conference designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions there was very little talk of emission reductions. Rich, developed countries continued to delay any talk of drastic reductions, instead shifting the burden to less developed countries and showing no willingness to make reparations for the damage they have caused.
The Climate Justice Now! coalition, alongside other networks, was united here at COP15 in the call for System Change, Not Climate Change. In contrast, the Copenhagen climate conference itself demonstrated that real solutions, as opposed to false, market-based solutions, will not be adopted until we overcome the existing unjust political and economic system.
Government and corporate elites here in Copenhagen made no attempt to satisfy the expectations of the world. False solutions and corporations completely co-opted the United Nations process. The global elite would like to privatize the atmosphere through carbon markets; carve up the remaining forests, bushes and grasslands of the world through the abandonment of indigenous rights and land-grabbing; convert real forests into monoculture tree plantations and agricultural soils into carbon sinks; and complete the capitalist enclosure of commons. Virtually every proposal discussed in Copenhagen was based on a desire to create opportunities for profit rather than to reduce emissions.
The only discussions of real solutions in Copenhagen took place in social movements. Climate Justice Now!, Climate Justice Action and Klimaforum09 articulated many creative ideas and attempted to deliver those ideas to the UN Climate Change Conference through the Klimaforum09 People’s Declaration and the Reclaim Power People’s Assembly. Among nations, the ALBA countries, many African nations and AOSIS often echoed the messages of the climate justice movement, speaking of the need to repay climate debt, create mitigation and adaptation funds outside of neoliberal institutions like the World Bank and IMF, and keep global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees.
The UN and the Danish government served the interests of the rich, industrialized countries, excluding our voices and the voices of the least powerful throughout the world, and attempting to silence our demands to talk about real solutions. Nevertheles, our voices grew stronger and more united day by day during the two-week conference. As we grew stronger, the mechanisms implemented by the UN and the Danish for the inclusion of civil society grew more dysfunctional, repressive and undemocratic, very much like the WTO and Davos. Social movement participation was limited throughout the conference, drastically curtailed in week two, and several civil society organizations even had their admission credentials revoked midway through the second week. At the same time, corporations continued lobbying inside the Bella Center.
Outside the conference, the Danish police extended the repressive framework, launching a massive clampdown on the right to free expression and arresting and beating thousands, including civil society delegates to the climate conference. Our movement overcame this repression to raise our voices in protest over and over again. Our demonstrations mobilized more than 100,000 people in Denmark to press for climate justice, while social movements around the world mobilized hundreds of thousands more in local climate justice demonstrations. In spite of repression by the Danish government and exclusion by the United Nations, the movement for system change not climate change is now stronger than when we arrived in Denmark.
While Copenhagen has been a disaster for climate solutions, it has been an inspiring watershed moment in the battle for climate justice. The governments of the elite have no solutions to offer, but the climate justice movement has provided strong vision and clear alternatives. Copenhagen will be remembered as an historic event for global social movements. It will be remembered, along with Seattle and Cancun, as a critical moment when the diverse agendas of many social movements coalesced and became stronger, asking in one voice for system change, not climate change.
The Climate Justice Now! coalition calls for social movements around the world to mobilize in support of climate justice.
We will take our struggle forward not just in climate talks, but on the ground and in the streets, to promote genuine solutions that include:
- leaving fossil fuels in the ground and investing instead in appropriate energy-efficiency and safe, clean and community-led renewable energy
- radically reducing wasteful consumption, first and foremost in the North, but also by Southern elites.
- huge financial transfers from North to South, based on the repayment of climate debts and subject to democratic control. The costs of adaptation and mitigation should be paid for by redirecting military budgets, progressive and innovative taxes and debt cancellation.
- rights-based resource conservation that enforces Indigenous land rights and promotes peoples’ sovereignty over energy, forests, land and water.
sustainable family farming and fishing, and peoples’ food sovereignty.
We are committed to building a diverse movement – locally and globally – for a better world.