MEDIA ADVISORY: Leaders from US Communities Affected by Climate Change Travel to Climate Talks in Peru

Leaders from US Communities Affected by Climate Change Travel to Climate Talks in Peru

US pledges are insufficient, don't reflect priorities of impacted communities, say organizers

December 8, 2014
Contact in Lima, Peru: Ife Kilimanjaro, * +51 951 34 8466
Contact in United States: Sha Grogan-Brown, * 540-445-0819

Nearly three months after mobilizing over 19,000 people with the Climate Justice Alliance to the People’s Climate March and Summit in New York City during September 2014, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) is leading a delegation of 12 grassroots leaders from frontline communities impacted by economic crisis and climate change in the United States to the People’s Summit on Climate Change COP 20 in Lima, Peru from December 8–11, 2014. 

World leaders are drafting a new agreement on climate change this week in Lima at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference on Parties (COP 20). The final agreement is expected to be signed in 2015 at the COP 21 in Paris, and even UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christina Figueres said in the COP 20 opening press conference on December 1 that current pledges are not enough to get us out of the global climate crisis. 

The People’s Summit on Climate Change will coincide with the last few days of the UN process, and is part of the People’s Climate process on the Road to Paris. In Lima, GGJ leaders will join social movement allies from around the world to oppose false climate promises and corporate climate scams coming from developed countries like the United States, to co-create solutions coming from the grassroots, and to demand that governments be accountable to the People and the Planet. 

Key organizers from US-based communities of color on the frontlines of the climate crisis are available for on-the-ground interviews in Lima this week, during the People’s Summit on December 8-11, and the People’s Climate March in Defense of Mother Earth on December 10. 

Kali Akuno, Coordinator, Cooperation Jackson, Jackson MS, United States
Diana Lopez, Director, Southwest Workers Union, San Antonio, TX, United States
Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network, Bemidji, MN, United States
Cindy Wiesner, National Coordinator, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance; Co-Director, Climate Justice Alliance

“People on the frontlines of the climate crisis know what action needs to be taken, and are ready to make change happen. We need our governments and global leaders to catch up with the people on the ground. Keep the oil in the soil, the coal in the hole, and the tar sands in the land,” says Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network.

“We are here in Lima, Peru to join global movements in calling for System Change, Not Climate Change. We are building a broad global movement for climate, racial, economic and gender justice that puts people who are most impacted at the center of decision-making and at the forefront of visionary change,” says Cindy Wiesner, National Coordinator of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

See below for speaker biographies, and for panel presentations at People's Summit featuring GGJ delegates.

Background materials:

To set up an interview with one of our spokespeople, contact:
Ife Kilimanjaro in Lima: * +51 951 34 8466
Sha Grogan-Brown in the US: * +1 540-445-0819

Kali Akuno   @CooperationJack   @KaliAkuno
Coordinator, Cooperation Jackson: Jackson MS, United States

Kali Akuno is an organizer, educator, and writer for human rights and social justice. He is an organizer for the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) ( and former Co-Director of the US Human Rights Network (  Kali also served as the Executive Director of the Peoples' Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF) based in New Orleans, Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, and was co-founder of the School of Social Justice and Community Development (SSJCD), a public school serving the academic needs of low-income African American and Latino communities in Oakland, California. Kali has authored many articles and pamphlets on how government counterinsurgency, state violence, the drug war, mass incarceration and neoliberalism impact Black communities. Two of his most recent works include, Operation Ghetto Storm: Every 28 Hours report and Let Your Motto Be Resistance: A Handbook on Organizing New Afrikan and Oppressed Communities for Self-Defense. Kali recently served as the Coordinator of Special Projects and External Funding in Jackson, Mississippi in the administration of the late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba. He is also a co-founder and coordinator of Cooperation Jackson, and emerging network of worker and consumer cooperatives in Jackson, MS (

Topics: Cooperatives, Solidarity Economy, Economic Democracy, Racial Justice and the intersection with Environmental Justice. 

Language available for interview in: English

Diana Lopez   @SWUjustice
Director, Southwest Workers Union, San Antonio, TX, United States

Diana Lopez is a Chicana born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Her work with Southwest Workers Union ( involves linking issues around environmental justice, living wage and community accountable governance. Diana’s work has a strong solutions based approach of promoting the implementation of clean energy sources, sustainable practices, youth leadership, and community empowerment. She received the 2009 Brower Youth Award from Earth Island Institute and The Urban Renewal Award for community organizing and food sovereignty. She has brought local struggles to two United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change and the Social Pre-COP process in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. She serves on coordinating committees of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, and South by Southwest Experiment. Diana is currently the Director at Southwest Workers Union, a grassroots organization of workers, families and youth united in one struggle for workers rights, environmental justice and community empowerment. SWU's aim is to build multi-generational grassroots power to create sustainable systemic change and to build the movement for dignity and justice.

Topics: Environmental Justice, Climate Justice, Food Sovereignty, Labor Rights and the intersections with health, environment and climate. 

Languages available for interview in: English, Spanish

Tom B. K. Goldtooth   @IENearth
Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network, Bemidji, MN, United States


Since the late 1980’s, Tom has been involved with environmental related issues and programs working within tribal governments in developing indigenous-based environmental protection infrastructures. Tom works with indigenous peoples worldwide and is known as one of the environmental justice movement grassroots leaders in North America addressing toxics and health, mining, energy, climate, water, globalization, sustainable development and indigenous rights issues. Tom is one of the founders of the Durban Group for Climate Justice; co-founder of Climate Justice NOW!; a co-founder of the U.S. based Environmental Justice Climate Change initiative and a member of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change that operates as the indigenous caucus within the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change. Tom is a policy adviser to indigenous communities on environmental protection and more recently on climate policy focusing on mitigation, adaptation and concerns of false solutions. Tom serves on the coordinating committee of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, and the steering committee of Climate Justice Alliance.

Topics: Indigenous rights, Opposition to REDD+ policies, climate and environmental justice.

Language available for interview in: English

Cindy Wiesner   @ggjalliance   @cindywiesner
National Coordinator, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance; Co-Director, Climate Justice Alliance

CW pic.jpg

Cindy Wiesner is a queer working class Latina, originally from Hollywood, CA, and now based in Miami, FL.  Cindy has been a community organizer for the last 20 years. Previously, she organized with HERE (Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union) Local 2850, POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights), and the Miami Workers Center. As GGJ National Coordinator, she coordinates a broad alliance of US-based grassroots, base-building organizations led by low-income communities, people of color, and indigenous peoples on issues of climate justice, gender justice, new economies and militarism, and bridges US-based organizations with global social movements.

Topics: Global people’s climate process; intersections of race, gender and climate.

Languages available for interview in: English, Spanish

GGJ delegates will present alongside global social movement leaders in these panel activities during the People’s Summit on Climate Change.

Monday December 8; 3pm-5pm
"Pricing Hot Air and the Resurgence of Carbon Markets and the threat of the Neo-liberal trade regime"   

Venue: Telefonica
A space to discuss the new carbon market mechanisms: carbon pricing, cap and trade, climate smart agriculture, blue carbon, REDD and other new mechanisms being promoted by the World Bank in alliance with big corporations in a bottom up approach. Also a space to discuss and raise awareness on the looming threats to the environment by the resurgence of free trade agreements such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the upcoming new regional trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).


Tuesday December 9; 6pm-8pm
Climate Scams: Geoengineering and “Climate-Smart” Agriculture
Venue: Sala 4, Parque de la Exposición
Instead of questioning the real causes of the climate crisis, companies and governments that provoke the crisis are proposing technological “solutions” that only increase the problems. Weather manipulation, or Geoengineering, further the imbalance of the planet’s rain and wind, with even more severe impacts in countries of the Global South. With so-called “Climate-Smart” Agriculture, companies seek to justify their use of genetically-modified crops and convert farmers and peasants into carbon markets, appropriating their land.  We will discuss these and other technological scams, like nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage.


Thursday December 11; 10am-12nn
"Alternativas Sistemicas"
Venue: Sala 4, Parque de la Exposición
A space to discuss alternatives to change the system, not the climate.  How to overcome capitalism, extractivism, anthropocentrism and patriarchy to address the structural causes of climate change with the contributions of Well-Being, the Commons, EcoFeminism, the rights of nature, ecosocialism, and other visions to build alternative systems.