Dear ones and fellow travelers,
I arrived safely in Lima Wednesday night, but even before I got here the grave challenges and inspiring opportunities of the COP20 United Nations climate negotiations had set into full swing. I’m traveling here on behalf of Rising Tide North America to organize actions and communications for climate justice.
La Caravana Climatica
On Tuesday Ecuadoran police repeatedly harassed our friends with the Caravana Climática (Climate Caravan) as they headed to Peru on the last leg of their journey. In the middle of the night the police seized their converted school bus!
The Caravana Climática had traveled all the way from Northern Mexico to Ecuador without problems. Along the way they worked with and recorded the voices of dozens communities fighting for climate justice. In Ecuador, The Caravana teamed up with YASunidos, a collective fighting oil extraction in Yasuni National Park in the Amazon. It seems that the Ecuadoran government wants to prevent YASunidos from rallying around their struggle in Lima and making sure the world knows that the only way to build a just and sustainable future is to keep the oil in the ground!
The bus might remain in custody for 7 days but the Ecuadoran government unleashed an outcry. YASunidos, the Caravana and its allies quickly created a social media storm exposing Ecuador’s political oppression. We we’re even able to reach out to Democracy Now! and make sure this embarrassment does not escape international attention.
Members of YASunidos and the Caravana will not be deterred. They’ve continued on by other means and will join us today in Lima.
Here in Lima, the climate justice movement is set by frustration and possibility. I spent my first full day Yesterday at the CasActiva convergence space. The space, organized by Peruvian and Bolivian youth activists with Tierra Activa, is now full of beautiful art and art making and has at least four (four!) wifi routers to help activists organize and communicate out to the world.
Last night, a climate justice assembly gathered at the space. Real frustration, even agony was present. NGO allies with observer status inside the UN negotiations reported that the negotiations we’re not going well. Emissions targets are weak. Rich nations won’t discuss technology transfer and fight to use climate funds to make our planet even less hospitable with increased border patrol and even coal plants. Carbon traders and petrol states are pushing hard for false solutions like carbon capture and storage.
The potential for a terrible international climate agreement sparked a impassioned debate in the assembly. A woman from the Philippines—whose country might face another super-typhoon this week—asked when is it time to say enough, and work to discredit the UN. Another comrade from Madagascar responded that UN is discrediting itself but we need to fight for nations with no historical responsibility for climate change. Compañeros from La Caravána Climatica its time to make clear that local movements will fight for the real solutions to climate change, keeping oil in the ground, community protected forests, and ensuring water is a common good for all and not a commodity for corporate industries.
One clear sentiment emerged from out of this frustration and debate: the global climate justice movement must be more than the United Nations. Think about that, what would it mean to be more than the United Nations? To me, these are the central questions of Lima. What is the global climate movement? What unites us? And since a compromised UN process will never be enough (or even worse than nothing), what will our global movements create for ourselves?