At the Climate Justice Action (CJA) meeting in Amsterdam in February a working group was formed to discuss the People’s conference in Bolivia. A letter, addressed to the conference, was drafted (see below). We have used this as a basis for interviews and the sections of this booklet.
Open Letter to participants in the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth
“Following the complete failure of the COP15 and the climate negotiations that came before it, it is clear that the world’s governments, their intergovernmental organizations, and the corporations who sit at their tables, are not capable of taking the steps needed to prevent further climate change and the devastation it brings. Copenhagen was their ‘last chance’ – and they failed. Instead, they treated all of our futures as another round of trade negotiations. It is now up to people of the world to take back decision-making power and start making the changes that we urgently need. As climate justice activists based in Europe we welcome the People’s Conference as one important step on the long journey towards a post-capitalist society and are happy to have this opportunity to discuss, learn and plan with other climate justice activists around the world.
Our daily lives are increasingly colonised by capitalism, from the land we use and the shelter we need to the water we drink and the food we eat – in some parts of the world even our laughter has become commodified. We are forced into making decisions based on the logic of profit. From famine, war and oppression to dull and demeaning work, the climate crisis is only the latest symptom of this senseless system of endless economic growth on a finite planet. As usual, the impacts of this crisis will be felt most strongly by those least responsible for causing it.
Meanwhile, so-called ‘solutions’ to climate change only extend further the arms of business, financiers, and polluters, commodifying the atmosphere itself. It is clear that carbon trading, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) scheme do not solve the problem but dispossess people of their land and livelihoods while allowing corporations to profit and avoid any real change to their dirty practices. We reject those NGOs that support this insanity whilst claiming to speak ‘on behalf of civil society’. These organisations do not represent us and they are not part of the solution. They exist to advise upon the development of a ‘green’ capitalism; We don’t buy the lie!
We believe that only those committed to living and learning true, bottom up solutions can face the challenges of climate change and make the changes that we now urgently need. Together we must ask the questions and learn from our answers. No business can invest in a future we want to be a part of, no governments can make these changes for us. It is time for us to provide for ourselves, to find new ways to relate to each other and the world around us, and to be able to live without fear of persecution. In order to stop further climate chaos, movements and peoples need to take back control over our own lives.
Those with wealth and power, predominantly based in the geographic Global North, have a legacy of centuries of exploitation of labour and natural resources, and a vicious system of racism and exclusion. We see that national armies and the police exist primarily to preserve this current order. In contrast to this, we aim to work on principles of solidarity, autonomy, cooperation and direct action. We are working to radically change our relationship to the food and energy we produce and consume, and to leave fossil fuels in the ground. We believe in freedom of movement for people and ideas – not capital.
We have come here to listen, discuss and learn, so that together we can see how these principles can be extended into all spheres of life. As people living in Europe involved in small but growing social movements, we want to deepen conversations and dialogue with the rich variety of different experiences here in Cochabamba. Later, we wish to take these ideas back to where we live, to share, to continue the processes of learning in our communities and ultimately build bonds between movements across the world. We have been inspired by what has been achieved in various global struggles. At the same time, we know we constantly need to question where we are going. For these reasons we would like to discuss with you the following questions:
– Do you think that the UNFCC and the COP process can be effectively used to bring about climate justice? If so, how?
– Is climate justice possible without moving beyond capitalist relations?
– What are the possibilities and dangers of social movements cooperating with governments and the state?
– What does solidarity mean, and how can we work together more effectively to build the transnational struggle for climate justice? What are your views on the ‘global south’ and ‘global north’ and their relationships to struggle?
The February gathering of Climate Justice Action (CJA), Amsterdam.”