Interesting Lessons From Copenhagen via: The Root

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2009 at 3:28 pm

OK Copenhagen was a bust 

 , decent  summary and call to action  from The Root.  

I've edited this for length (but have the meat of it below). I have also taken out direct references to  people of colour as I think the arguments stand up well without this emphasis.  Identity matters global climate change effects some communities disproportionately but this is not a minority issue it's by definition a global crisis. 

10. This is NOT what democracy looks like.

Danish texts,” back-door deals, walkouts, secondary passes and restricted access.Early last week, we learned that wealthy nations had structured the conference to make sure that major decisions on resource allocation remained in their hands, a clear violation of the U.N. processes. At the same time, access to the convention for activists was cut by 66 percent at the beginning of the second week and by 99.5 percent by the end of the week while world leaders were in town. Social movement leaders from Africa and around the world, were literally barred from its most important moments.


9. Two degrees of warming equals suffering and death. 

Delegates from wealthy countries are floating the notion of “tolerable” levels of global warming—arguing that an average warming of two degrees is acceptable. But a two-degrees average could be disastrous particularly because the average fails to confront the harmful effects to those living on the high side of the equation. Take Africa for instance; the two-degree global average translates into 3.75 degrees of annual warming, which leads to famine, drought, displacement, disease and death.


8. The “This is Africa” syndrome prevails. 

There is an insidious devaluing of the lives of people in the global south. It seems to matter little that some communities and regions will be uninhabitable in the next generation, or at least it doesn’t matter enough to restrict SUVs, exotic fruit imports or the emissions of harmful toxins from power plants.


7. We can all use the same words, but mean very different things. 

“Green economy,” “green jobs” and “clean energy” are things we all agree are good, right? The problem is that these phrases are vague—often deliberately so. For some, a discussion of “clean energy” includes the concept of “clean coal” which, of course, is an oxymoron. There is no such thing as coal mining and processing that isn’t hazardous to the environment and its inhabitants. Similarly, many other so-called solutions for climate change may be ineffective at best, and harmful at worst.


6. What seems “good” to some isn’t necessarily good for all. 

For every proposed “solution,” there is an impact that must be considered. On its face, the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) sounds like a positive global-warming solution. But according to indigenous communities globally, the REDD may result in a government land grab on long-held indigenous territory in countries such as Guyana, Indonesia, Suriname, Paraguay, etc., taking away rights to forests, traditional territories and medicines. 


5. Identity is related to level of oppression. 

Whether it is the climate justice movement or the targets of our activism, we have all fallen short of recognizing and addressing intersectionality, or, put simply, the intersection of identity and oppression. For example, the disproportionate impact of climate change on women is well-documented—women experience increased work burdens during food shortages, for example, and are often the last to eat the worst portion in times of famine. And often we fail to mention the added burden on women when we’re talking about race, class, indigenous issues, etc.


4. Local community action is the key to real and lasting change. 

In order to survive the coming transition and mitigate the impact of climate change, communities must focus on self-reliance, resistance and resilience. Across the globe, local communities are already engaged in emergency planning for climate-related disasters, and are beginning to look at ways to develop self-sustaining economies that minimize energy-dependent imports. Some have begun to fight back against those who would encroach on their rights.


3. President Obama may not be able to do it alone, but WE CAN do it together. And we must! 

President Obama has the power to lead wealthy nations toward strong emissions-cutting targets. Now we need to support him in delivering on those promises by speaking with one voice, pushing for aggressive targets.  


2. A people, united, will never be defeated

Over the course of this convention, communities have come together to strategize, develop messaging that conveys what we want out of the negotiations, and act jointly to advance our demands and ensure that they are heard by those making decisions that impact us. Across borders and constituency groups, we have so much more that unites us than divides us. We must harness our power and advance collective positioning in the face of resistance and opposition by developed nations.


1. Another world is possible. 

When I told a friend about the civil-society demand for total elimination of the use of fossil fuels her first question was, “Is that realistic?” …Our opponents have always been stronger than us, and the odds have been against us, but through it all we have always managed to redefine the possible.

So yes, with technology and innovation, I do believe it is realistic, and it only takes the will and mobilization of the people to make it happen. 

Posted via email from Urban Ascetic (Lite)

  1. I appreciate your referencing our story but I was puzzled by your comment about taking out the references to people of color. Why does the particularity of our perspective make it less of a teaching moment or reduce its universal value. Would you say, I’m taking out the Jewish perspective or the feminist perspective because this is a global issue? I think a variety of perspectives adds value.

  2. Hi thanks for the comment and thanks for the article I enjoyed it and I thought it was an excellent summary/critique.

    I hear you on the point above, I’m black and I’m a diversity trainer I read the root. I loved the message in the article but I definitely felt that focusing on the people of colour angle did lessen the appeal/reach of the message somewhat.

    I’m not saying that such an appeal doesn’t have merit it does, but it excludes many people who would share common cause with every point but,who aren’t usually considered ‘people of colour’.
    At this juncture surely the main drive should be to bring as many people of common cause together into a coherent force not risk splitting it up ? It was a well written and well argued piece I enjoyed the article, I read the root anyway, my post was just trying to expand the reach of the main message.

    On the Jewish front I would have done exactly the same thing namely pulled out the key analysis and remove the specific emphasis while pointing at the original in an effort to show where our common cause could take us.

    I hope that explains my thinking anyway.

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