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Resistance and Solidarity at COP20, Lima

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An answer to the climate crisis is emerging right now from Lima, Peru, but it’s not COP20.

At COP 20, political elites haggled over a draft UN climate deal that they hope to ratify next year in Paris. It’s a bad deal. It is narrowly focused on unenforceable commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Those reductions won’t even begin till after 2020 and won’t keep temperature rises below two degrees celsius. At the same time, rich countries, and the corporate lobbyists behind them, worked for a deal that won’t stop them from expanding the extractive industries cooking the planet. And it does nothing to help poor nations adapt to climate change and sustainably lift their people out of poverty.

But outside COP20, a real response to the crisis is emerging: solidarity and resistance.

Thousands of people, representing indigenous communities and their allies from all over Latin America and the world came together for the Cumbre De Los Pueblos, (People’s Summit).

The People’s Summit was an unprecedented moment, particularly for bringing together so many communities from the Amazon and Andean Highlands of Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. Many of these communities are actively resisting extractive projects like gold mining, petroleum extraction, and logging. These communities are connecting their struggles to protect their water from extraction, forests from expropriation and communities from state violence around a framework of justicia climática (climate justice). They are addressing the need to confront neoliberal capital, the system that finances and drives the climate crisis.

Nilda Rojas

The People’s summit hasn’t just created a space for solidarity. Its also created a space for resistance. The communities present are demanding autonomy, so when the news broke that Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia, might speak at the event, many were furious. Nilda Rojas, an Indigenous woman of Consejo Nacional de Ayllus y Markas del Qullasuyu explained that a summit with government officials is not a peoples summit. Her community faces state violence that Evo Morales is responsible for. His presence would undercut the autonomy and potential of the summit and communities fighting for their land and water.

People rallied against government inclusion. On Monday, activists with the Ecuadoran group YASunidos used drums and banners to disrupted a speach by the mayor of Lima. After the disruption, Caravana Climática used its radio equipment to broadcast and amplify voices from dozens of indigenous communities saying they were unhappy with government inclusion. The dissent spread, and in the end Evo Morales did not speak.

Conga No Va

On Tuesday, hundreds from  the region of Cajamarca, Peru arrived in Lima. They immediately took the streets with a giant, river like banner. The people of Cajamarca are fighting the expansion of one of the largest open pit gold mines on the planet, Minas Conga, owned by the U.S. based Newmont Mining Corporation. The energy intensive mine threatens the water supply of Cajamarca, and state repression of protests has lead to the murder of at least five community members.

On Wednesday, up to 20,000 people took the streets in Lima to march in defense of Mother Earth. Nowhere in this march of 20,000 indigenous people, ecologists, feminists, anti-capitalists, could you get away from beautiful banners, and contagious protest songs for land and water and against neoliberal imperialism.

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Demonstrators also confronted the World Climate Summit, a meeting of representatives from Multinational corporations. Even though the Police had used tear gas to disperse the initial march, many reconvened in a park closer to the Hilton where the corporate summit was gathering. We marched straight to the Hilton but were stopped one block from the target by a dense police line. In sight of the summit, we held a rally, standing in solidarity with those killed by state violence and denouncing the multi-nationals poisoning our land, water and climate.

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If there is one lesson from the week, that is never doubt that you are alone in the fight for climate justice. We are a truly global, and growing, movement.

As we learn to work together, we are creating a real answer to the climate crisis, one based on communities protecting their land, water and forests from the industries destroying the planet. We are coming together to keep fossil fuels in the ground, ensure forests belong to the communities that live there and demanding water be protected as a common good.

The political elites at COP20 won’t end the climate crisis. We will.

Update, December 14: Edited to reflect that the COP20 released a draft climate accord in the early morning of Sunday, December 14.

La Caravana Climatica: Epic Climate Action-Tour Through 17 Latin American Countries

Caravana Climatica

As we speak, a group of independent media collectives and activists are taking a bus through Central America. Their destination? COP20, the United Nations climate negotiations in Lima, Peru.

On their way, La Caravana Climatica (Climate Caravan in English) will meet with dozens of communities fighting for climate justice in 17 countries. As experienced media makers, they’ll be working with local radio, documenting everything, and ensuring the voices of the people are heard at COP 20!

Can you chip in $10 to help La Caravana make it all the way to Peru?

Climate change is about to take the international stage like never before. Over the next year and a half world leaders are hoping to carve out a binding deal to reduce climate pollution in a series of three meetings in New York, Lima and Paris.

Experienced activists and documentarians like La Caravana Climatica can make sure that an alternative vision, and not just that of big business, has an impact at the negotiations. But they need your support to make the biggest impact possible.

You can follow La Caravana on their website, Facebook page and twitter. While mostly in Spanish, they’ll be adding English subtitles to their youtube videos soon.

Chip in to La Caravana Climatica’s indiegogo campaign today.

Midwest Rising! Convergence kicks off in St. Louis

This weekend, folks are coming together in St. Louis to create a community with the power to break the social barriers of a society dictated by corporate greed.

 

It’s time we come together and build the movement that moved forward together.

Back in April, 1000 people took over the Department of the Interior during Powershift to protest Earth-devastating energy extraction while 8 people committed acts of civil disobedience at the Wells Fargo Shareholders Meeting in San Francisco to protest banks gone wild. In May, over 800 people in New York faced policemen, police dogs, and mace as they sent a message to the JP Morgan Chase shareholders. In June, 1000 people marched over 5 days to Blair Mountain in West Virginia to demand an end to mountain top removal and the coal industry’s assault on the Appalachians and their mountains. People around the country are coming together to fight foreclosures and
evictions, dirty energy projects, and corporate agendas that put profit before people and the planet.

 

St. Louis, Missouri, home to the headquarters of Monsanto and Peabody and Arch Coal, is hosting a unique combination of community based organizations, low-income community members, environmental justice organizations, and climate activists. We are working together to combine non-violent direct action with an opportunity to take a step back and do some collaborative training and visioning of a world we
want to live in.

 

The Objectives: It is important to realize that this convergence occupies a space that many people on the left identify the need for, but are unsure of how to approach. We identify our key objectives, why they are important, and how we seek to actualize them:

 

1. Creating a space that brings together different forces on the left: Economic justice and environmental movements have been separated from each other historically although both movements have common enemies. Because environmental movements have traditionally been disproportionately represented by white activists with class privilege, they have often failed to draw significant attention to the obvious connection between wide-scale exploitation of and disregard for natural resources and the exploitation and oppression of people.

In order to begin to address privilege and oppression within our movements we will prioritize the voices and experiences of people of color and low-income people.

 

2. Developing a shared analysis of the moment and vision: Corporate interests and the right-wing agenda are on the attack and to imagine a movement powerful enough to reckon with these forces we must move beyond single-issue campaigns that are too easily framed as “special interests” and find a common ground that allows us isolate and call out corporate interests and develop a shared vision for a different world. Understanding the intersectionalities of our struggles allows us to build a more unified movement. We will both draw upon the knowledge of movement leaders and create together collective visions.

 

3. Grassroots organizing and base building training: Grassroots organizing and outreach are necessary for growing our movement and getting to the scale. We will engage in grassroots organizing trainings on 1-1s and door-knocking. In order to ground these trainings in work that is real, we will direct participants to plan

out the 1-1s that will carry their group’s work forward and partner with a local community group to door-knock in targeted communities with a message that moves that group’s work forward.

 

4. Increased urgency and engagement in direct action: Non-violent direct action raises the level of urgency publicly and sows the seeds for the level of resistance it is going to take to see a movement take root, while directly challenging powers that be. We

will conduct intensive trainings in direct action and root these in the actions we take together. MORE has organized non-violent direct actions in St. Louis that targets big banks for more than a year, creating the public outrage that has led locally to dozens of individual homes being saved, increased willingness of banks to work with service agencies, and the drafting of local policy that would force hold banks to higher standard. Actions will advance this campaign and lay groundwork for local participation in national days of resistance planned for fall. Climate Action, a local group, and national groups like Rising Tide have been targeting coal companies for their role in climate change. Locally direct actions have focused

on Peabody Coal. Headquartered in St. Louis, it is the world’s largest coal company. Locally we have been successful in pushing for $10 million in tax breaks to Peabody to be taken back, and see the possibility for actions that would further our local work and national

campaigns against coal.

 

 

 

Why St. Louis?

 

St. Louis is centrally located and has a sponsoring committee made up of a wide range of community, labor and environmental activists. St. Louis is also the headquarters of Peabody Coal, Arch Coal, and Monsanto. St. Louis has hosted a wide array of anti-bank actions as

well, including six people being arrested at Bank of America in December, and is home to Wells Fargo Advisors, the non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo that employs 20,000 people nationally.

 

Historic Earth Day Climate Change Conference

Indigenous Peoples of North America Join President Evo Morales in Bolivia for Historic Earth Day Climate Change Conference

“Respect Indigenous Rights & the Rights of ‘Pachamama’ in UN Climate negotiations”

Pictures and more at: http://pitch.pe/58935

Cochabamba, Bolivia- Indigenous Peoples from across North America and their allies from around the world gathered at the invitation of Bolivian President Evo Morales in Cochabamba this morning for the kick-off of an historic conference on climate change and the “rights of Mother Earth.” Morales called this conference in the wake of failed climate talks in Copenhagen last year. Over 15,000 delegates from 126 countries heard President Morales speak at the soccer stadium in the village of Tiquipaya today, and are meeting in working group sessions this week to develop strategies and make policy proposals on issues such as forests, water, climate debt, and finance, which President Morales pledges to bring to the international negotiations of the COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico later this year.

The convocation this morning included a multi-cultural blessing ceremony by Indigenous Peoples from across the Americas, and speeches by representatives of social movements from five continents on the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for bold action that protects both human rights and the environment.

“Indigenous rights and knowledge are crucial to addressing climate change, but the United States and Canada have not signed on to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIPs), and are pushing corporate climate policy agendas that threaten our homelands and livelihoods,” said Jihan Gearon of the Navajo Nation (AZ), Native Energy Organizer with Indigenous Environmental Network. “We have traveled to Bolivia because President Morales has committed to bring our voices to the global stage at the next round of talks in Cancun.”

“President Morales has asked our recommendations on issues such as REDDs (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation),” said Alberto Saldamando, legal counsel for the International Indian Treaty Council. “REDD is branded as a friendly forest conservation program, yet it is backed by big polluters. REDD is a dangerous distraction from the root issue of fossil fuel pollution, and could mean disaster for forest-dependent Indigenous Peoples the world over.”

“We are here from the far north to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters of the South” said Faith Gemmill, Executive Director of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), who spoke from the stage at the invitation of President Morales. “We have a choice as human kind – a path of life, or a path of destruction. The people who can change the world are here!”

The Indigenous Environmental Network is in Cochabamba for the duration of the Climate Conference (April 20-24). Onsite cell: +591 740 28531 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +591 740 28531 end_of_the_skype_highlighting###

Indigenous Environmental Network: Indigenous Peoples empowering Indigenous Nations and communities towards sustainable livelihoods, demanding environmental justice and maintaining the Sacred Fire of our traditions. www.ienearth.org