It Takes Roots
In the wake of the Paris attacks, climate activists and the French government are at odds over plans for a massive protest march on Nov. 29 ahead of the U.N. climate talks. French authorities are threatening to curtail public demonstrations and marches, but climate activists insist the right to protest and freedom of speech must be upheld even during a state of emergency. We speak to Alix Mazounie, the international policies coordinator at Climate Action Network France.
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As the effects of climate change continue to hit peak levels of catastrophe, global leaders have been promising a new climate agreement through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP). From failing to sign the Kyoto Accord (1992), to undermining efforts for binding agreements at COP15 in Copenhagen (2009), the US has been playing a contradictory dual role of both moving forward a minimal level of climate action while assuring that the interests of transnational corporate polluters are protected. The insufficient pledges made by the US in Copenhagen in 2009, in addition to the pushing of false solutions such as carbon market, carbon trading and offset mechanisms, set a precedent that continues today. In December 2014, weeks before the COP20 convened in Lima, Peru the US and China announced a bilateral agreement that provides a weak foundation for a new UN climate agreement and sets the stage for a non-transparent and non-enforceable plan for cutting Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. The China-US deal dashed whatever small hopes existed that the COP20 would deliver an outcome to slow the mounting crisis.
This year, the COP21 will take place in Paris, France from November 30-December 11, 2015.We are skeptical that a new agreement reached in Paris will be bold enough, enforceable, and at the scale and pace needed to avert global catastrophe. President Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) has been touted as a blueprint for honoring national commitments that may emerge in a Paris agreement. Yet the CPP has no clear commitment to emissions reduction, it allows too much flexibility for how states will implement the plan, and it requires no commitment to environmental justice principles or policies.
In order to achieve the policy shifts we need for the long-term, even the best inside strategies will not be strong enough if we are not organizing powerful, grassroots pressure on the outside as well. There is a promising, growing unity of social movements at the global scale led by the people most impacted by climate change, who are pressuring governments for more meaningful action, often while implementing their own real solutions on the ground and planning for how vulnerable communities can best survive severe impacts of climate change.
Copenhagen also sparked social movements, Indigenous Peoples’ movements and many Global South governments to declare “No deal is better than a catastrophic deal” and “We Need Systems Change, not Climate Change.” Leaders from frontline communities in the US who went to Copenhagen in 2009 on a delegation with organizations like Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ), Movement Generation and Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) came home determined to build a stronger global social movement around climate change. They went on to form the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) and in 2013 launched the Our Power Campaign: Communities United for a Just Transition. IEN, GGJ and CJA have been leading the participation of frontline communities in the climate movement within the US as well as internationally. Grassroots International (GRI) has been partnering with and accompanying social movements taking leadership for climate justice in the Global South, particularly movements of small-scale farmers (such as La Vía Campesina), Indigenous Peoples and Afro-descendent communities.
During the lead up to the People’s Climate March in September 2014, which mobilized an estimated 400,000 people in the largest climate march in history, GGJ, IEN, and other members of CJA were instrumental in ensuring that Indigenous and frontline communities led the march and commanded the world’s attention as the forefront voices of the climate justice movement. The planning for the People’s Climate March also forged new relationships between the grassroots organizing sector and more mainstream climate organizations, laying the groundwork for ongoing relationships and a broader united movement for climate justice. GGJ and GRI worked together closely to ensure meaningful participation of international social movements in both the march and the Peoples’ Climate Justice Summit, which was an important space for US-based and international climate justice movements to share analysis and strategies with one another.
It will be critical in 2015 to build up the momentum and escalate actions so that by the time we get to Paris, there is consistent pressure from a worldwide movement calling for serious action by governments, rejection of carbon market mechanisms such as REDD+ and other carbon offsets and radical emission cuts. But the battle will not end in Paris, and movements are already making long-term plans to keep up the momentum and share strategies through North-North, North-South, and South-South exchanges, national and international joint strategy sessions and collective action in the streets of Paris.
Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ) is providing leadership nationally and internationally by convening and aligning many key networks and coalitions in the global climate justice movement. Through years of increasingly close collaboration, these emerging networks and coalitions have been deepening the engagement of civil society actors around the world who are not represented in the UNFCCC process, and developing shared analysis and strategy. GGJ has been a key player in a movement of grassroots leaders around the globe that are uniting to strategize effective solutions to the climate crisis, and to develop plans for action post-Paris. People around the world feel a real urgency to develop systemic alternatives, and are at a point where they will not accept decisions by world leaders that fail to kick-start an immediate transition to get us out of this global crisis.
Some of these key formations include:
The Climate Space, which began as a venue at the World Social Forum 2013 in Tunisia to discuss the causes of and alternatives to climate change, has now developed into an ongoing global people’s climate process through a network of 30 international organizations like ATTAC France, ETC Group, Focus on the Global South, Global Forest Coalition, Grassroots Global Justice, Indigenous Environmental Network, La Vía Campesina, Polaris Institute, World March of Women, and others.
The Coalition Climat 21 (CC21), which was convened by French civil society associations, networks and social movements to support diverse, inclusive and collective work toward COP21 in Paris. CC21 is comprised of over 100 organizations in France with European and international participation.
The Mobilization Support Team of the People’s Climate Movement which consists of 350.org, ALIGN, Avaaz, Blue-Green Alliance, Climate Justice Alliance, GGJ, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, Oil Change International, SEIU local 32BJ, Sierra Club, and Uprose.
Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ) is an alliance of 58 US-based grassroots organizing (GRO) groups organizing to build an agenda for power for low-income people and communities of color. We weave and bridge together US-based GRO groups and global social movements working for climate justice, an end to war, and a Just Transition to a new economy that is better for people and the planet. GGJ was founded in 2005 as an alliance of organizations, with clear criteria that prioritize a diverse membership across race, gender, citizenship, class and sexuality, and comprised of people from frontline communities. GGJ was co-founder and co-anchor of Climate Justice Alliance, and now serves as co-chair. GGJ is also building the first-ever US chapter of the World March of Women, a global feminist movement.
Climate Justice Alliance (CJA) is a collaborative of 40 community organizations on the frontlines of the climate crisis, movement networks and support organizations. In 2013, CJA launched the Our Power Campaign (OPC): Communities United for a Just Transition, a national effort uniting communities fighting fossil fuels and other polluting industries around a common vision and strategy – to transition the economy in ways that reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the source, restore equity, and put decision-making in the hands of communities.
Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) was formed in 1990 by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals primarily in North America to address environmental and economic justice. IEN’s activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, health of both Native/Indigenous communities and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities. IEN is on the coordinating committee of GGJ and the steering committee of CJA, and was a founding member of both alliances. IEN has been participating in the UN climate negotiations and mobilizing Indigenous communities, North and in the global South since 1998.
Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) is a community of public scholars and organizers linking peace, justice, and the environment in the U.S. and globally. Since 1963, IPS works with social movements to promote true democracy and challenge concentrated wealth, corporate influence, and military power, and is on the steering committee of CJA.
Grassroots International (GRI), founded in 1983, works in partnership with social movements around the globe to create a just and sustainable world by advancing the human rights to land, water, and food through global grantmaking, building solidarity across organizations and movements, and advocacy in the US. GRI is a member organization of both GGJ and CJA.
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Major marches which had been planned to coincide with the COP21 international climate talks in Paris will not be authorised for security reasons, the French government has said.
Environmental activists – who had expected attract hundreds of thousands people on 29 November and 12 December – said that they accepted Wednesday’s decision with regret, but were now considering “new and imaginative” ways of making their voices heard.
Following the recent terror attacks in Paris, French authorities said a statement that all demonstrations organised in closed spaces or in places where security can easily be ensured could go ahead.
“However, in order to avoid additional risks, the government has decided not to authorise climate marches planned in public places in Paris and other French cities,” it said.
Environmental activists had hoped the marches would attract large numbers to put pressure on governments to cut greenhouse gas emissions. A range of groups have been involved in planning actions during the summit and the position of every one of them was not immediately clear on Wednesday.
Some of those involved say though that more than 2,000 protests in around 150 countries during the talks have taken on a greater significance. They include the campaign group Avaaz, which released a promotional video for the marches it is involved in organising around the world.
Emma Ruby-Sachs, deputy director of Avaaz, said: “The police have just informed us that the tragic attacks in Paris have made the march there impossible.
“Now it’s even more important for people everywhere to march on the weekend of 29 November on behalf of those who can’t, and show that we are more determined than ever to meet the challenges facing humanity with hope, not fear.”
Jean-François Juilliard, Greenpeace France executive director, said that it was a source of huge regret that the French authorities said that they cannot guarantee safety the safety of marchers but the decision must be respected.
He added: “Huge numbers were expected in Paris, but those people will not be silenced. We will find new, imaginative ways to ensure our voices are heard in the UN conference centre and beyond.
“In hundreds of towns and cities across the world people will still march for the climate, for Paris and for our shared humanity. We stand for a vision of human cooperation that the murderers sought to extinguish. They will not succeed.”
Talks between the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, and campaigners over the fate of a huge march before the forthcoming Paris climate summit ended without agreement earlier this week.
Fabius expressed fears on Tuesday about the risk of another terror attack and of the sort of crowd panic seen in Paris’s Place de République on 15 November, when hundreds of people fled a solidarity vigil after firecrackers were let off.
As well as the marches, other protest actions which had been planned include a “people’s summit”, a “climate action zone” involving schools and community groups and a day of civil disobedience at the summit’s end.
Coalition Climat 21, an alliance of civil society groups that had been centrally involved in the Paris protests, had pledged earlier this week to try to continue with public demonstrations within the city in close consultation with the police.
It said in a statement on Wednesday that it would try to find an “alternative form of citizen mobilisation” to demonstrate that COP21 would not just be left to the negotiators.
The organisation said that the climate summit, which was due to be held on 5 and 6 December in the eastern suburb of Montreuil and another event from 7 to 11 December in the centre of Paris should be maintained.
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Ahead of Paris, Grassroots Activists Demand Real Change: “President Obama: Listen To The People, Not Polluters!”
Contact: Preeti Shekar at 510-219-4193, firstname.lastname@example.org
Release Date: Friday, November 13, 2015
“President Obama: Listen To The People, Not Polluters!”
The Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) is excited to announce a delegation of 100 leaders and organizers from US and Canadian grassroots and indigenous communities headed to the upcoming UNCOP21 in Paris later this month. The delegation, titled It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm joins together three powerful alliances of grassroots activists and frontline communities’ leaders: Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), and the Climate Justice Alliance.
As the effects of climate change continue to hit peak levels of catastrophe, global leaders have been promising a new climate agreement through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP). This year, the COP21 will take place in Paris, France, from November 30-December 11, 2015. Thousands of climate justice movements from around the world will converge on the streets of Paris to demand global action to stop the fossil fuel industry’s continued burning of the planet. The It Takes Roots delegation represents cutting edge leadership of communities who have alternative sustainable solutions to the current failed fossil fuel economies that are destroying the planet.
“Everything we are seeing shows that the negotiating text on table right now for the COP21 falls far short of the action needed to avoid global catastrophe. Our communities are already being hit the hardest — from droughts on one coast to floods on the other. The time has come for the US to break with the fossil fuel industry and refuse to accept false solutions and market strategies,” noted Cindy Wiesner, national coordinator of GGJ.More About the It Takes Roots Delegation
It Takes Roots is a broad, powerful delegation including indigenous communities in North America and Canada, and a wide array of regional grassroots groups tackling environmental and health impacts of fracking, extraction, oil refineries and other hallmarks of a toxic fossil fuel dependant economy.
The delegates and the groups they represent are intergenerational, comprising a mix of youth organizers and veteran community leaders, who hail from working class African American, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander and rural white communities, as this cross-section shows:
- Southwest Worker’s Union in San Antonio fighting the impacts of fracking and extraction in Texas.
- The Asian Pacific Environmental Network leading a campaign against Chevron highlighting the health impacts of Chevron’s oil refinery in Richmond, California.
- Cooperation Jackson from Mississippi, building up a network of worker run cooperatives to reduce and challenge waste incineration.
- The Black Mesa Water Coalition waging a powerful campaign to create indigenous owned solar power facilities to replace the coal power facility on native land.
- Kentuckians for the Commonwealth fighting mountain-top removal in Eastern Kentucky.
- Leading social justice organizations like Iraq Veterans Against the War, the National American Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Chinese Progressive Association and several other new actors in the climate movement.
Frontline communities mobilizing to Paris comes on the heels of the historic victory last week when President Obama cancelled the Keystone Pipeline project, in direct response to the enormous activism and leadership of several groups that are a part of the It Takes Roots delegation.
“Years of organizing and mounting pressure led by Indigenous communities from North America led to the rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Now frontline Indigenous communities are heading to Paris prepared to use our bodies to draw a red line of resistance to stop extractive industries and fight for a just transition into renewable energies. The question remains — Will President Obama listen to the polluters or to the people?” asks Kandi Mossett, a climate campaign organizer with the IEN.
“From Hurricane Katrina to Superstorm Sandy, recurrent extreme climate change disasters hit our communities first and worst. These storms are the legacy of decision makers lacking the courage to make bold decisions. The time to act is now. We need to stop fossil fuel dependency and look to alternative, sustainable solutions as the only way forward. The KXL pipeline cancellation was a good start, but only the beginning,” notes Elizabeth Yeampierre, a frontline community organizer with Uprose, a New York-based community organization.
In addition to participating in various civil society formations at COP21, the It Takes Roots delegation will be organizing creative and peaceful actions on the streets of Paris, participating in rallies, solidarity marches, leading workshops, and making local and global connections with frontline communities resisting climate change. With art and music, colorful banners and people chanting slogans, the It Takes Roots delegation will be a forceful voice of dissent, calling out on the deep hypocrisies of state leaders, between their rhetoric and actions, and presenting the real, alternative solutions.Bios of Quoted Delegates:
Cindy Wiesner is the National Coordinator of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) and Co-Chair of the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), and has been active in the grassroots social justice movement, working on the intersections of labor organizing, environmental justice, ending gender-based violence, queer organizing, and migrant rights for over 20 years.
Kandi Mossett is a leading voice in the Indigenous environmental movement in North America. In her most current role as Native Energy and Climate Campaign Organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), and through speaking at UN forums, and by testifying in front of the US Congress, she has played a crucial role in making visible nationally and internationally, the devastating impacts of climate change on Indigenous communities and tribal lands.
Elizabeth Yeampierre is the Executive Director of Uprose, Brooklyn, New York’s oldest Latino community organization. Her organizing prioritizes just transitions, sustainable development, environmental justice, and building community-led climate adaptation and resiliency. A dynamic public speaker, she has presented at the first White House forum on Environmental Justice, and more recently, spoke at the open climate rally for Pope Francis.
Contact: Preeti Shekar, GGJ Media Strategist at 510-219-4193 or email@example.com for more information, to interview delegates, for quotes for articles/profiles, to discuss pitches, and other media inquiries.