Monday, December 21, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Today is the 9th day of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (and my forth day in Copenhagen) negotiations for a cleaner future. This negotiated future is to be based on renewable energy, creates truly green jobs, and forces oil companies clean up their spills, and lead to the building of community gardens. Well, at least that's part of my hope for the future.
Preparing for my journey to Copenhagen I stumbled upon many news and blogging sites announcing the strong presence of climate justice activists that have sent a powerful message for just legislation that will benefit everyone. A big hoot to them.
Upon arriving we scurried on the metro, which is free to all UNFCCC-accredited participants, I waited in line for a few hours in the freezing temperatures that my San Antonian butt dislikes very much and went through what was like airport security. Ultimately, my epic journey to get my credentials was a failure, and I felt it a waste of my time instead of taking part in one of the biggest and most historic marches in the world. (read JJ's blog titled 100,000 in Copenhagen march for Climate Justice)
My initial thought was of all the important meetings I was going to miss out on, the key decisions and network opportunities. After attending the Klimaforum, which is the independent Peoples Climate Summit, I felt that this is the space where all the decisions that will initially change the world are taking place. The estimation has been around 25,000 people were there talking about grassroots-level organizing, learning, educating, networking, and taking part in actions and protests.
As the days go by there is a sense of urgency from people of color in Copenhagen trying to get the real issue across instead of the image of violence, an image that i have yet to see. This is important because these talks will affect the rest of our lives and the real voices who are on the frontline of climate change are being shut down by larger environmental groups and the industrialized governments.
From Copenhagen La Lucha Continua!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
A sea of 100,000 folks from around the world demanding climate justice flooded the downtown streets of Copenhagen and marched 4 miles to the negotiations center. Led by the indigenous peoples delegation, the call was made for urgent action in emission reduction that is equitable and effective as the talks entered the sixth day.
SWU joined the ‘Systems Change Not Climate Change’ march bloc demanding an end to climate colonialism, calling for the protection of the most impacted communities and leading the charge for a new paradigm of climate solutions based on social justice and human rights. Along with social justice organizations from the US, the contingencies included grassroots organizations from the South, like Via Campesina. As the convention center prepares to shut out the majority of civil society participants next week as high-level ministers arrive, this march served to elevate the call that world leaders need to listen the global movement, to folks locked out from a seat at the table negotiating our future.
Dressed in several layers and covered with hats, gloves and scarves under the chilly blue skies, energy was high as we took the streets starting at the Danish national palace and moved over numerous canals and through the city center. One human-powered float showed the Presidents of industrialized countries as mere puppets of corporate interests, advocating for more oil and coal – the antithesis of what is needed to protect community health as well as the planet. Samba bands brought music to the street within a sea of color, banners and flags from all part of the world.
Interestingly, the most fortified space during the march was a McDonald’s restaurant, blockaded by riot police standing shoulder to shoulder.
Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network addressed the march at its finale, two hours after the sun went down. He made strong calls for the necessity of explicit language to protect indigenous people’s rights included in any climate treaty as well as the inability of any market based mechanism to solve the climate crisis in a real and equitable manner.
Yesterday’s march took place as part of a larger global day of action with solidarity events occurring around the world.
More pictures (taken by Diana Pei Wu)
System Change -Not Climate Change: A People's Declaration from Klimaforum09.
Friday, December 11, 2009
I joined with thousands of other folks converging on Copenhagen to ensure that voices of environmental justice / climate justice communities are heard inside and outside of the U.N. climate negotiations. Among affected communities, grassroots organizations, small island nations and highly impacted countries, there is a noticeable shift in the discourse about climate change. Unlike a few years ago it is not merely about the science, rather issues of climate change have taken on broader implications of equity, human rights, cultural preservation and gender equality.
With this frame, several actions took place on International Humans Rights Day (December 10th), as President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. Southwest Workers Union joined with the Indigenous Environmental Network, as the North American indigenous delegation delivered a letter to Obama at the U.S. Embassy demanding real action to reduce the emissions from the United State, cease fossil fuel development and end the support of false solutions, like nuclear and tree plantations (carbon sinks). Testimonies offered the human face behind fossil fuel extraction and climate change from Alaska to Arizona. After some negotiations with the extensive police force, the letter was accepted by a deputy at the Embassy. It seems the "Yes We Can" attitude of the Obama administration has rapidly faded from true leadership in Copenhagen. The US government is proposing merely a 3% decrease below 1990 by 2020, falling below even the initial Kyoto targets of 5% and far missing demands of at least 40%.
This is the first international meeting where the U.S. has pledged to take an active role, after 8 years of refusal under the Bush administration. Both the EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, presented briefings at the conference. Despite the presence of high level government representatives and big talk about the US taking leadership, few solutions have been offered. In fact, Salazar's statement came on the heels of his approval of more oil drilling in the last 5% of the protected coastal area in Alaska.
Yesterday afternoon, youth, environmental justice and indigenous delegations formed a human chain and marched throughout the conference center to call for Human Rights and denounce the plan to allow emission reductions through forestry activities (i.e. tree plantations in the tropics). The chain stretched throughout the expansion Bella Center as we called on governments to protect the integrity of forests and biodiversity.
The sense of urgency is real. The Pan-African Congress called a two degrees centigrade temperature rise "genocide." The Tuvalu delegation, a small island nation from the South Pacific, walked out of the official negotiations and demanded a fair, ambitious and binding agreement and called for an open transparent process. (They rejoined the next day.) Unfortunately, the weak links--the US, Canada, Australia and Japan--have done little to move towards a meaningful agreement.
Some things in Copenhagen, however, offer some lessons for us in San Antonio. There are hundreds of miles of dedicated bike lanes throughout the City, which in spite of the chilly wet weather, are generally packed. Buses, trains and metros link the country together with ease. A large wind turbine rises above the convention center, as Denmark has a ambitious plan for expand wind power.
Watch this space for more from Jill and Diana. Also, contact SWU at 210-299-2666 if you would like to participate in an action on the 18th--the day Obama is set to attend the climate change conference--that makes visible the links between what's going on there and what's going on here around the nuclear expansion project.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
The YLO had a meeting with the superintendent of SAISD Dr. Robert J. Duron. Present were two youth leaders Monica Ramos, Ashely Terrazas both Juniors from Edison High School along with SWU mentors Sandra Garcia and Diana Lopez (for support). The discussion was on the Youth Leadership Organization (YLO): who are we, what are our goals and victories in Edison.
Our accomplishments are that we have weekly meetings at EHS on Wednesdays that we have popular education workshops on many issues. The first year we were able to open the door to recycling at for SAISD with Edison and this year with Roy Elementary. We started the garden at the school to help teach student hands-on on how to grow certain plants y crops based on the weather, composting, water catchment and incorporate Envionremntal and Climate Justice issues. The importance on food sovereignty and growing your own food is better then going to chain resturants when most of the food is very unhealthy and based on dirty energy.
Our goals for the meeting included support on the issues we are currently facing and the future ideas that need administrative help from him and staff.
This school year the YLO is taking on an Energy Audit at EHS and we are fully supported by the Edison Principal Mr. Munoz and the superintendent. The YLO asked if SAISD will support us on opening up other school chapter to share the knowledge and help to create leadership with in high school leveled youth, and with a big smile he gladly support us and will help get into other high school within SAISD.
Thanks SAISD for the time to hear our demands and for the support we hope to work with you in the future.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Greeting To All Youth:
We will like to invite you to come and participate and gain some knowledge of Climate Justice and also know how to grow your own food. We are in a struggle right now as
What: Youth Leadership Day / Youth and Climate Justice
When: December 5th 2009 @10am til 12:30pm
Where: SWU Office 1414 E. Commerce
WE LOOK FORWARD ON SEE YOU SOON
If you have any question concerning the meeting please call 210-299-2666