U.S. Inaction on Climate “Criminal” Activists Say

U.S. Inaction on Climate “Criminal” Activists Say

Kenya D’almeida,

Interpress News Service/News Report

 Published: Monday 5 December 2011
In fact, the World Bank said back in February that an additional 44 million people were pushed into poverty this year as a result of rising food prices and millions more could be hungry by the end of 2012 if current trends continue.
Article image

The United States’ del­e­ga­tion at the 17th an­nual Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties (COP) to the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UN FCC) in Dur­ban, South Africa has come under heavy fire from civil so­ci­ety lead­ers and ac­tivists around the globe for stand­ing in the way of real so­lu­tions to cli­mate change.

Be­tween 15,000 and 20,000 farm­ers, union­ists, teach­ers, peas­ants, stu­dents, garbage pick­ers, trans­port work­ers and other in­dig­nant cit­i­zens gath­ered out­side the U.N. con­sul­ta­tion cham­bers in Dur­ban on Sat­ur­day call­ing for “sys­tem change, not cli­mate change”.

Many of these pro­tes­tors marched to the U.S. em­bassy, de­mand­ing that the “world’s biggest pol­luter” start sup­port­ing cli­mate so­lu­tions that ben­e­fit the 99 per­cent.

In sol­i­dar­ity with their African coun­ter­parts, cit­i­zens in 20 cities across the U.S. ral­lied against the eco-de­struc­tive ac­tions of the “one per­cent” as part of the Dec. 3 global day of ac­tion to save the planet and “oc­cupy the cli­mate”.

Spear­headed by the Grass­roots Global Jus­tice Al­liance (GGJA), a na­tional net­work of grass­roots or­ga­ni­za­tions, along with the North Amer­i­can chap­ter of the 200 mil­lion mem­ber in­ter­na­tional farm­ers’ move­ment, La Via Campesina, Sat­ur­day’s events were an at­tempt to draw to­gether dis­parate cli­mate-re­lated strug­gles under one ban­ner.

“We are mo­bi­liz­ing to de­nounce quick fix so­lu­tions being pro­moted by gov­ern­ments and cor­po­ra­tions – like car­bon mar­kets, REDD++, and geo- en­gi­neer­ing – all of which are just cre­ative ways for cor­po­ra­tions to con­tinue prof­it­ing at the ex­pense of the peo­ple and Mother Earth,” said Dena Hoff, a Mon­tana-based mem­ber of the Na­tional Fam­ily Farm Coali­tion.

“As stew­ards of the land, feed­ing the world’s peo­ple, we can’t stand by as our ecosys­tems are de­stroyed for cor­po­rate greed,” she added.

“U.S. gov­ern­ment and cor­po­ra­tions are the one per­cent re­spon­si­ble for the ma­jor­ity of pol­lu­tion af­fect­ing the 99 per­cent of the world,” Fran­cisca Por­chas of the LA-based Labor Com­mu­nity Strat­egy Cen­ter, said Sat­ur­day. “We de­mand that the U.S. im­me­di­ately re­duce car­bon emis­sions to 50 per­cent of cur­rent lev­els by 2017, and stop ob­struct­ing progress to­wards pay­ing cli­mate debt and forg­ing an in­ter­na­tion­ally bind­ing deal.”

Ac­tions in the U.S. kicked off Fri­day, when a del­e­ga­tion rep­re­sent­ing lead­ers from hun­dreds of Na­tive Amer­i­can tribes pre­sented Pres­i­dent Barack Obama with the Mother Earth Ac­cord, a doc­u­ment stat­ing their op­po­si­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of the bit­terly con­tested Tran­sCanada Key­stone XL Pipeline through In­dian coun­try. 

“Rec­og­niz­ing that the pipeline would stretch 1,980 miles, from Al­berta, Canada to Ned­er­land, Texas, car­ry­ing up to 900,000 bar­rels per day of filthy tar sands crude oil,” the Ac­cord roundly con­demned the pro­ject as “sui­ci­dal” for scores of Na­tive com­mu­ni­ties and sa­cred sites as well as for the Ogal­lala Aquifer, which cur­rently sus­tains mil­lions of peo­ple and ir­ri­gates huge swathes of farm­land through­out the heart­land of the United States.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment’s in­de­ci­sion on the pro­ject, de­spite re­ported ev­i­dence of nu­mer­ous spills and ir­refutable data on the pipeline’s im­pact, is in­dica­tive of its over­all in­dif­fer­ence to so­cial move­ments and civil so­ci­ety’s de­mands, ac­tivists say.

The U.S. del­e­ga­tion in Dur­ban, led by spe­cial envoy Todd Stern and his deputy Jonathan Per­sh­ing, have re­mained im­mune to civil so­ci­ety pres­sure by con­tin­u­ing to push its agenda of pro­mot­ing new “cli­mate fi­nanc­ing” sys­tems to mit­i­gate the im­pacts of car­bon emis­sions and global warm­ing.

This, de­spite the fact that a 2011 World Bank re­port, pre­pared for this year’s G20 meet­ing in France and leaked to the British Guardian in Sep­tem­ber, con­fessed that global car­bon mar­kets are in deep trou­ble.

“The value of trans­ac­tions in the pri­mary CDM mar­ket de­clined sharply in 2009 and fur­ther in 2010 … amid chronic un­cer­tain­ties about fu­ture mit­i­ga­tion tar­gets and mar­ket mech­a­nisms after 2012,” the re­port said.

The fail­ure of fi­nan­cial mar­kets to reg­u­late them­selves, much less the cli­mate, notwith­stand­ing, Stern and Per­sh­ing have blocked even the most wa­tered down pro­pos­als on the ne­go­ti­at­ing table in Dur­ban, such as the es­tab­lish­ment of a Green Cli­mate Fund, en­dorsed by most de­vel­op­ing na­tions as well as the Eu­ro­zone.

“The U.S. is putting the cart be­fore the horse in terms of the cli­mate fund by re­fus­ing to sign onto some­thing be­fore the de­tails have been worked out,” Jen So­ri­ano, com­mu­ni­ca­tions co­or­di­na­tor for the Dur­ban del­e­ga­tion of the GGJA, told IPS. “In fact, noth­ing can be con­cretized until coun­tries like the U.S. com­mit to the fund in the first place, so this is the per­fect stall tac­tic.”

“It re­flects the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s total in­abil­ity to take the lead, even over a pro­posal that would es­sen­tially be man­aged by (con­tro­ver­sial) for-profit ac­tors like the World Bank,” she added.

“The U.S. del­e­ga­tion also told a gath­er­ing of NGOs in Dur­ban yes­ter­day that they would ab­solutely not re-rat­ify an up­dated ver­sion of the Kyoto pro­to­col until 2020… prov­ing that there is no sci­en­tific basis to the U.S.’s agenda,” So­ri­ano said.

In fact, every note­wor­thy doc­u­ment on cli­mate change, from the land­mark Cochabamba Peo­ple’s Agree­ment signed last year in Bo­livia to the U.N.’s own In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change (UN IPCC) 2011 re­port, pre­dict cat­a­strophic re­sults if in­dus­trial coun­tries don’t limit global warm­ing to less than two de­grees Cel­sius and fol­low the basic con­di­tions laid out in the Kyoto pro­to­col.

The sig­na­to­ries to the Cochabamba Agree­ment stressed, “Be­tween 20 per­cent and 30 per­cent of species would be in dan­ger of dis­ap­pear­ing, large ex­ten­sions of for­est would be af­fected, droughts and floods would af­fect dif­fer­ent re­gions of the planet, deserts would ex­pand, and the melt­ing of the polar ice caps and the glac­i­ers in the Andes and Hi­malayas would worsen.

“Many is­land states would dis­ap­pear, and Africa would suf­fer an in­crease in tem­per­a­ture of more than three de­grees Cel­sius. Like­wise, the pro­duc­tion of food would di­min­ish and the num­ber of peo­ple in the world suf­fer­ing from hunger would in­crease dra­mat­i­cally, a fig­ure that al­ready ex­ceeds 1.02 bil­lion peo­ple.”

Mean­while the 220 sci­en­tists who com­prise the U.N.’s IPCC noted last month that “ex­treme weather events” would likely suck bil­lions out of na­tional economies and de­stroy mil­lions of lives, par­tic­u­larly in Africa.

“We have to think not only in terms of loss of life but also cli­mate dis­place­ment, the loss of homes, sep­a­ra­tion from fam­i­lies and poverty,” Jill John­ston, pro­grams co­or­di­na­tor of the South­west Work­ers Union, told IPS.

In fact, the World Bank said back in Feb­ru­ary that an ad­di­tional 44 mil­lion peo­ple were pushed into poverty this year as a re­sult of ris­ing food prices and mil­lions more could be hun­gry by the end of 2012 if cur­rent trends con­tinue.

“Viewed against this back­drop, the U.S. has been in­cred­i­bly ir­re­spon­si­ble at these talks. Its neg­li­gence in find­ing real so­lu­tions to the cli­mate cri­sis often bor­ders on crim­i­nal,” John­ston added.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close