We, the people of the Grassroots Global Justice Delegation to COP17, as members of climate-impacted communities in the United States, condemn the Durban delay as a disaster for all people and the planet.
We bear witness to the fact that what happened in Durban is nothing more than a criminal delay in the action that must happen to save millions of lives. The only thing “historic” about the Durban package is the historic devastation that it will bring to Africa and small island nations. The Indigenous Environmental Network is calling this “climate racism, ecocide and genocide of an unprecedented scale.” Friends of the Earth is saying “the disastrous Durban outcome is attributable to a combined effort by the governments of rich industrialized countries.” Climate Justice Now! is calling the result of COP17 “climate apartheid”.
We add our voices to this choir of impacted communities to condemn the U.S. government as the primary perpetrator of this crime. The U.S. has been systematically sabotaging the UN climate negotiations since its refusal to sign on to Kyoto in 1997. Instead of offering bold leadership to reduce emissions and pay for the U.S.’ climate debt, Jonathan Pershing, Todd Sterns and the rest of the U.S. delegation did nothing more than blame China, India and Brazil for blocking progress on a legally binding deal.
The U.S. State Department wasted our taxpayer dollars in Durban. They showed that they care more about dirty money from the oil and coal lobby than about poor, indigenous and people of color communities in the U.S. and around the world. Every U.S. resident should be outraged. We will not rest in our struggles to hold our government accountable.
“The U.S. is still the world’s biggest polluter,” says Francisca Porchas of the Labor Community Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union in Los Angeles. “Regardless of the 2020 timeline set by the disastrous Durban delay, the U.S. government must take immediate action to reduce its carbon emissions to 50% of current levels by 2017, as outlined in the Cochabamba Accord. It can do this by listening to us and the rest of its people: stop dirty and destructive projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, and put federal money directly into community efforts for mass transit, local agriculture, and truly clean and renewable energy.”
While we condemn the official negotiations as an anti-democratic failure and a terrible waste of resources, we draw hope from the power of mass organizing. This is the force of change that brought 10,000 people into the street on December 3rd for the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice. It is the force that united Grassroots Global Justice and La Via Campesina North America to coordinate 20 actions across the US and to gather more than 7,000 signatures to Reject, not Reroute the Keystone XL Pipeline.
It is also the force that brought about the most inspiring changes between November 28 and December 9. While negotiators debated over the miserable Durban text that will fail the test of survival, members of social movements made significant advances toward climate justice:
- TRADE UNIONS LAID THE GROUNDWORK FOR UNITING THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT WITH ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE JUSTICE MOVEMENTS and for creating an international workers’ movement for millions of low-carbon and just economy jobs. GGJ delegates Treston Davis-Faulkner of Jobs with Justice and Francisca Porchas of the Labor Community Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union in Los Angeles were leading participants in this work.
- THE 1 MILLION CLIMATE JOBS CAMPAIGN was launched in South Africa and will serve as a model for similar climate job campaigns across the world. See Rehana Dada’s interview with GGJ, in which she discusses how climate jobs differ from green jobs.
- IEN LED THE CREATION OF A NEW COALITION FOR A MORATORIUM AGAINST REDDs Little progress was made in developing REDD+ on the inside, social movements can take advantage of this delay to ramp up organizing for a moratorium against REDD+ and other carbon offset schemes that privatize nature while allowing corporations to profit even more off of land grabs and pollution.
- ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE COMMUNITIES CONNECTED IN FIGHTS AGAINST BP, SHELL AND OTHER BIG OIL COMPANIES through IEN’s solidarity protest against Shell and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance toxic tour and speakout against ENGEN.
- A NEW AFRICAN FOOD SOVEREIGNTY ALLIANCE WAS LAUNCHED AND THE INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY STRENGTHENED through the work of La Via Campesina, the Southern African Rural Women’s Assembly, and GGJ Delegate Rosalinda Guillen representing the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. The food sovereignty movement led by La Via Campesina was a strong voice opposed to the false solution of “climate smart agriculture” (GMO seeds engineered to withstand climate disruption) being proposed by transnational agribusiness corporations.
- WASTE REDUCTION AND WORKERS MODELING ZERO WASTE ADVANCES THROUGH THE GLOBAL ALLIANCE OF WASTEPICKERS AND ALLIES who strengthened their alliance through strategy development and the creation of more wastepicker unions throughout the world. GGJ delegate Ahmina Maxey was an active participant representing Zero Waste Detroit.
We are bringing home inspiring lessons from this work in order to strengthen our own. Unlike the COP process, which is now entering its 18th year, the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance has just begun organizing for worldwide systems change.
We pledge to continue our cross-sector organizing in the U.S., we pledge to deepen our connections with international social movements including the Indigenous Environmental Network, La Via Campesina, the World March of Women, Friends of the Earth, and Climate Justice Now, and we pledge to create and advance the grassroots solutions necessary to not only cool the planet and protect Mother Earth, but also to transform our economic and political systems towards justice, sustainability, and true democracy — all rooted in the communities who care for our soil, our forests, our water and our well-being.
LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE NOT THE POLLUTERS!
DECOLONIZE THE EARTH AND UNOCCUPY THE SKY!
ADVANCE COMMUNITY ORGANIZING FOR REAL SOLUTIONS THAT COOL THE PLANET AND PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF MOTHER EARTH!
Twitter: @ggjalliance Facebook: Grassroots Global Justice Alliance Web: ggjalliance.org