World Leaders prefer photo ops with community members rather than real talk
New York City — Two days before today’s UN Climate Summit 400,000 people made history on the streets of New York City – joining together to take part in the largest march ever on climate change. But world leaders continue not to listen. They’ll take their photo opportunities in the street, but refuse entrance into the actual halls of power.
Today, the Climate Justice Alliance attempted to bring a statement from the people to world leaders, but were refused entry. Community voices were silenced, even while frontline climate-devastated communities and the 400,000 others who marched on Sunday called for climate action that works for Main Street, not just Wall Street.
“We’re being exploited, assaulted on an everyday basis, by industry that surrounds our community,” said Yuditha Nieto of T.E.J.A.S., an environmental justice organization in Houston, Texas. “We don’t get any support from our representatives. We have to put our two cents in and let them know that we are here.”
The exclusion of community members who live on the frontlines of the climate crisis show that today’s climate decision-making arenas have been taken over by a corporate agenda that prioritizes destructive profit driven policies over the wellbeing of families, workers and communities.
“Those within the UN Climate Summit need to start thinking about ways to change people’s relationship to the earth, ways to change the definition of prosperity and well-being to something that’s not about money for a few people, but for a good livelihood for everybody,” said Jihan Gearon of Black Mesa Water Coalition on the Navajo Nation.
For decades, frontline communities have been cultivating real solutions that move away from an economy of endless growth that exploits people and nature to one that links climate change and human rights, recognizes the rights of Indigenous peoples, and the self-determination of frontline communities.
“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,” the Climate Justice Alliance said in the statement they attempted to deliver to world leaders.
“We support Indigenous peoples, our brothers and sisters of the North and the Global 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.”
Climate Justice Alliance:
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.