Prelude to COP15: Climate Justice actions sweep the US before Copenhagen talks

30 11 2009

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Crossposted from Grist.

Today in the U.S., climate justice activists turned up the street heat to corporations in the financial and energy sectors most responsible for the climate crisis.  Initiated by the Mobilization for Climate Justice and the Climate Pledge of Resistance, the day of action came a week before social movements converge in Copenhagen at the U.N. climate talks on Dec. 7 and on the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Organization (WTO) protests in Seattle in 1999.  Major demonstrations, teach-ins, civil disobedience actions anchored the day of action in nine U.S. cities, supplimented by other smaller actions blooming around the country.

Civil disobedience also took place at the Chicago Climate Exchange, the first and largest carbon trading institution in North America.

Renowned climate scientist Dr. James Hansen joined protestors in New York in calling for an end to cap and trade and instead implement a simple carbon tax.  Dr. Hansen wrote in his book Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity, “The picture has become clear. Our planet, with its remarkable array of life, is in imminent danger of crashing… But we should not give up on the democratic system—quite the contrary. We must fight for the principle of equal justice. Civil resistance may be our best hope.”

Already across the globe in the past month, activists have upped the ante on the climate in the U.K. Australia, Canada and at the U.N. talks in Barcelona where the African delegation walked out and nearly a hundred activists blocked the exits, with the message “Without DRASTIC cuts, there is no EXIT”).  Now U.S. activists are joining this growing global resistance by voting with their feet and putting their bodies on the line.  In recent months, millions of people around the world have been taking action to protect their communities and the global climate. Shutting down coal power plants and mining sites, blockading oil refineries and marching on the streets of their cities, an increasing number of people are speaking out against climate pollution and calling for urgent action.

The U.S. is home to some of the world’s most egregious corporate climate polluters such as Chevron, British Petroleum (BP) and American Electric Power, along with their financiers, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase. The false solutions promoted by these corporations, like “clean coal”, nuclear energy, bio-fuels and carbon markets will delay urgent emissions reductions, threaten ecosystems and subsidize the construction of more toxic industries in the backyards of the poor.  Furthermore, the world’s poor, the working class, indigenous peoples and communities of color are systematically excluded from the U.N. process, yet are the hardest hit by the effects of climate change.

Just as a directly democratic anti-corporate global justice movement emerged from the Seattle protests in 1999 larger and stronger than ever before, now the post-Copenhagen mobilization will see the emergence of an anti-corporate climate justice movement that also incorporates a large coalition of groups, a diverse set of tactics, democratic values and developing world nations ready to bring new demands into the climate talks.

The Mobilization for Climate Justice is calling for:

  • Drastic emissions reductions guided by science, without carbon trading, offsetting or other corporate-driven solutions such as nuclear energy, biofuels, clean coal and incinerators.
  • Protection for the rights of those most impacted by polluting industries, climate change impacts and the transition to a clean energy economy.
  • Re-localization of production and consumption, favoring local markets, cooperative economies and community-controlled, renewable energy systems.
  • Rights-based resource conservation that enforces Indigenous land rights and ends corporate control over energy, forests, seeds, land and water.
  • An end to forest and biodiversity destruction, and international sanctions and tariffs supported by Indigenous peoples, peasants, fisher-folk and other frontline communities.

Here’s a quick reportback on some of the actions that have been happening today:

  • On the West Coast, the Mobilization for Climate Justice West organized a march and direct action at the Bank of America (one of the largest funders of the fossil fuels) skyscraper in San Francisco’s Financial District. The day included a 200+ person march,a children’s march, an anarchist marching band and a blockade of the building that led to at least 23 arrests.
  • In Chicago, a coalition of environmental justice organizations and radical climate activists marched through downtown Chicago to the Chicago Climate Exchange, the first and biggest carbon trading institution in the U.S.  At the Climate Exchange, over 120 rallied and 12 climate activists used lockdown equipment and were arrested in front.
  • In Seattle, where ten years ago thousands of activists shut down the World Trade Organization, anti-corporate climate activists took to the streets once again, this time to denounce corporate control of climate solutions.  So far 2 arrests have been reported.
  • Near, Greenvile, South Carolina, four Earth First! and Rising Tide activists immobilized, while in transit, the massive generator of Duke Energy’s new Cliffside coal plant.  Duke is the second largest corporate consumer of mountaintop removal coal in U.S.
  • In New York, Washington D.C. and different parts of New England, activists confronted various corporate institutions as well as their political representatives.
  • In Whitby Ontario, seven activists are engaged in a sit-in at the Canadian Finance Minister’s office.

Please check the Mobilization for Climate Justice’s newswire for more updates.



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