by Mari Rose Taruc
The early winter cold of Copenhagen turns my face into a popsicle, but all I had to do was join the “Flood for Climate Justice” march of a hundred thousand energetic people from around the world to feel warm. A 4 mile, 4+ hour mobilization is enough to keep anyone from freezing. Signs of hope/despair: “There is no planet B,” “Nature doesn’t compromise,” to “systems change, not climate change.”
While on the march, a UK Guardian TV reporter asked me if I was optimistic or skeptical of these climate negotiations. Both. Skeptical because there’s no denying that many of our elected officials are in bed with corporations [while I held up my transported Bay area protest sign “Chevron, Corporations OUT of Copenhagen Climate Talks”]. And optimistic because I can’t just let my babies, family & community die from climate disruption.
We have work to do. I’m already learning a lot just by allies briefing me from the first week of these climate negotiations. Something we don’t hear often in the US is “ecological debt” or what some refer to as “carbon colonization”. It’s that rich countries have colonized the atmosphere with their industrial carbon pollution for so long that it’s time they pay for the mess they’ve caused. And rightly so, as small island nations like Tuvalu are headed to go under water this century, or African nations whose severe droughts have caused massive displacement & wars, they have every right to demand the strictest emissions reductions possible to stabilize the planet. Another big debate is with REDD, which our allies oppose because it would not only displace indigenous forest-dependent peoples, but also start a huge fake forest program around the world. Some say it’s like a rich person could say they’re carbon neutral if they pay to plant a tree but still drive their gas guzzling car.
It makes me think about how deeply we here in Copenhagen really understand the weight & depth of our actions & even solutions. Right now, most of us agree that we need climate justice… but what does that really mean? In this next & last week of the climate talks, our grassroots delegations of frontline, impacted communities & countries need to be heard: from the seriousness of the problems in our communities now, to the solutions we really need to turn the ecological crisis around.
There are many exciting & important events ahead: US grassroots/EJ discussion about how we will apply pressure on Obama as he represents the US later this week, a strategy discussion between North-South base-building allies on how our movements need to step up, to the midweek convergence of “inside” & “outside” delegates into a people’s assembly for climate justice. More stories to come & flood out of our delegation.