The People’s Climate Justice Summit was convened on September 22 and 23rd, 2014, concurrent with the Climate Leaders Assembly convened by UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon in New York City. Held in the UN Church Center directly across the street from the UN, the People’s Summit brought together frontline communities from across the U.S. and around the world who are organizing against the roots causes of climate change and cultivating real solutions to these causes. Over two days, community leaders described their strategies for building pathways of resiliency and resistance on the frontlines of the global economic and ecological climate crisis.
Hosted by the Climate Justice Alliance, together with friends and allies, the proceedings were live-streamed to a larger audience at The New School on both days.
Video of the People’s Climate Justice Summit at the UN Church Center
Can be seen on The New School archived LIVE STREAM
Additional panel discussions were held at The New School, providing a robust two-day convening of frontline communities, including a People’s Tribunal on Tuesday that indicted the corporate takeover of the UN climate negotiations and the privatization of land, water, and air resources under the guise of a global climate compact.
But world leaders weren’t listening. So the Climate Justice Alliance issued a Statement denouncing the exclusion of frontline community members from the discussion across the street at the UN.
Climate Justice Alliance Statement to World Leaders and President Obama at the UN Summit, September 23, 2014
Statement to World Leaders and President Obama at the United Nations Climate Summit
This Sunday, over 400,000 people marched on the streets of New York City in solidarity with communities around the world living on the frontlines of both climate change and the exploitative systems driving this planetary crisis. Thousands more took direct action yesterday by “Flooding Wall Street” to target the polluting corporations and their financiers profiteering from such global harm.
Today, as world leaders gather at the United Nations Climate Summit 2014, we – members and affiliates of the Climate Justice Alliance—duly note that these climate arenas are taken over by a corporate agenda that continues the onslaught of business-as-usual, the global expansion of fossil fuel development rather than action to cut greenhouse gases at source.
In place of genuine climate action, the UN Climate Summit 2014 is little more than a pep rally pushing carbon trading offsets and weak voluntary or limited pledges for emission cuts leading up to the global climate treaty negotiations in Paris next year. Today, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stated a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020. On the surface this appears good. In reality, it is thinly veiled language for the promotion of market-based and destructive public-private partnership initiatives such as REDD+, Climate-Smart Agriculture and the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative – which will further exploit human and natural resources to expand the profits of the world’s most wealthy.
As communities first and most impacted by the storms, floods and droughts, we are also at the forefront of the fight against the pollution, the poverty, the police violence, the land grabs, the water shutoffs, the forced migration and the human rights violations symptomatic of the climate crises. Which is why our communities are uniting for a Just Transition away from the “dig, burn, dump” economy and towards local, living economies that meet the material needs of people and where communities and workers are in charge.
For decades we have been cultivating real solutions where we live, work, play and pray. Our solutions define a new system that moves us away from an economy of endless growth that exploits people and nature to one that seeks harmony between humans and nature. We need a system that links climate change and human rights; that recognizes the rights of Indigenous peoples and the self-determination of frontline communities. Our planet, Mother Earth, and her natural resources cannot sustain the increasing greed, consumption, extraction, pollution and waste associated with the 1%. We require a new system that addresses the needs of the majority and not of the few. To move in this direction, we need a redistribution of resources and a new definition of wellbeing and prosperity for all life on the planet in recognition of the limits and the rights of our Mother Earth and Nature.
We demand that world leaders support and move money to our community-led priorities and local infrastructure needs to build sustainable community economies, energy democracy, zero waste, food justice, public transit and affordable housing – pathways that can create millions of long-term jobs and put our communities back to work. We support Indigenous peoples, our brothers and sisters of the North and the Gobal South, in their climate justice struggles linking land and water rights, land title and the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Sunflowers serve to remove harmful toxics from the soil, while providing nutrients and shelter for animal life above ground. We present these sunflowers to the global leaders at the UN Climate Summit as a symbol of the community-led solutions we are growing.
For two insightful articles about frontline communities gathered at the People’s Summit, and our attempt to deliver our statement to the UN Summit, see the following two articles: