Storytelling and Messaging Strategy

GRASSROOTS SOLUTIONS FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE - NORTH AMERICA

MESSAGING GUIDE for COP 16


By crafting and projecting a consistent message during COP 16, we both win the opportunity to frame the issues, and we strengthen and build our movement. Clearly each of us and each of our organizations carries unique experience and language to address the climate crisis; this guide is an attempt to synthesize some of the common messages that have come across through the gatherings that have led to alignment.

I. Messaging Goals

The overall messaging goals we have agreed to include:

• Continue to build the profile of the US climate justice movement domestically and internationally
• Expose the failure of the Copenhagen Accord and promote support for Cochabamba Peoples Protocol
• Oppose false solutions: REDD/offsets, “market-based solutions” etc.
• Highlight CJ issues and local struggles against fossil fuels back home
• Connect local/global, north/south (Dec 7th 1,000 Cancuns)
• Advance local community solutions and bottom up leadership
• Build cross movement alignment and post-Cancun movement
• Break the media blackout in the US to showcase the real things that people are doing in the US for climate justice--influence public opinion.

II. Key Assumptions To Challenge: These are the messages we are fighting

Shake Down/Get A Piece of US: This is the fundamental failure of the U.S. media narrative to understand or accept core concept of “climate debt,” and its underlying logic which is the recognition that the USʼs wealth is due in part to polluting the planet, which has robbed the South of opportunity. The Wall St Journal COP-15 coverage coined the meme “The Great Climate Shake-Down,” which echoes U.S. envoy Todd Sternsʼ “categorical rejection of guilt, culpability or reparations.”
 
The Market Will Save Us: Carbon Markets/offsets/REDD rely on assumptions that the market is fair, efficient and a necessary part of any global solution; Where governments fail, the market is the solution.  
 
Carbon is Carbon: REDD (and carbon offset schemes in general) assume that all carbon is equal, place doesnʼt matter and plantations are forests. Traditional knowledge/different cosmovisions, Indigenous Peoplesʼ rights and local impacts are left out of the frame.  
 
Carbon Fundamentalism: The assumption that “Itʼs just about the atmosphere” and “Itʼs a science problem” while the systemic roots of the crisis in the dominant economic model are left outside the frame.
 
Technology will save us!:  Grows out of carbon fundamentalism and the market narratives to promote techno-fixes (from geoengineering to GE biofuels) that distract us from systemic change.
 
Only the governments/UN can save us: Community solutions and social movements are left out of the frame.

III. Our Overarching Narrative

Some of the key messages we want to send fall within this version of the story:
 
Problem: The climate crisis is escalating, but the UN process is failing to address the roots of the problem. 16 COPs and each year we are feeling more impacts of climate destabilization on our communities, cultures and ecosystems––drought, floods, destruction and displacement. But the U.S. and other wealthy governments are refusing to take responsibility, while each year the COP process becomes more corrupted by carbon-profiteers, fossil fuel interests and the Wall Street agenda.   
 
Solution: Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Cancun to show the world that there is another way forward: The Cochabamba People's Agreement represents the vision of everyday people from all corners of the globe who are creating the solutions to climate change from the ground up, and calling for a global framework that respects human rights and the rights of Mother Earth.  
 
Action: Community-based solutions can cool the planet! We are coming together to take collective action as part of the "1,000 Cancun" demonstrations, and to build mass peoples movements calling for Climate Justice! We are here to stand up for a global framework for just transition off of fossil fuels. We are here to oppose phony-solutions like carbon offsetting, which give polluters permission to poison our land, water, air, and bodies - and do nothing to address the root causes of climate change. Together peopleʼs movement can get our economy off of fossil fuels and on track to a just future for all.