So read a circular banner on a locked-down street in San Francisco on Sept. 21st. Organized by the Mobilization for Climate Justice West, a coalition of groups calling for urgent, direct action in response to climate change, the action comes as a part of a week of activity around the G20 meetings in Pittsburgh. There, activists set up a convergence space to bring international voices together on issues of climate change and justice. In New York City, activists directly confronted attendees of NYC Climate Week, high level meetings of UN delegates, mainstream “Green” NGOs, and government representatives to discuss climate change. A banner drop, direct flyering and discussions with attendees at their offices, and the disruption of a lecture by the Danish minister to chair the upcoming COP15 Climate Talks in Copenhagen.
These actions took a mostly two-pronged approach: First, calling out the flawed and exclusionary ways that the current ineternational regime has arrived at weak, corporate-driven measures to address climate change. Then, demanding that we invite everyone in to make decisions on how we can really bring balance back to the planet in a just, real, and effective way. In New York, activists focused on countering and educating about the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA), which focuses chiefly on a carbon market, cap and trade system to mitigate climate change. The NRDC, EDF, and the Nature Conservancy joined with major polluters such as DuPont, Dow, General Electric, and Alcoa Aluminum to craft the act. Activists in San Francisco acted by blocking four lanes of traffic, highlighting Chevron’s dangerous polluting in the area and the misguided ACESA. In Pittsburgh, Greenpeace and others pushed for a strong international climate treaty as a part of G20 meetings and the COP15 talks, and for including all voices, especially those marginalized by the current system of decision making: indigenous peoples, people of color, working people.
The Mobilization for Climate Justice is calling for mass, non-violent civil disobedience on November 30th (the anniversary of the protests that shut-down the WTO and coincidentally, the opening day of a new round of WTO talks), and to keep the pressure on during the COP15 talks in December. It’s urgent and necessary to become more disruptive and direct in advocating for climate justice, as it’s becoming obvious that the current decision-making regime insists on business as usual – cutting out voices calling for strict, just, life-saving measures to stop a changing climate, and bowing to corporate interests.
Just as the WTO, IMF/World Bank, Gs 7 through 20, and FTA implementers have continued to marginalize ordinary people around the world to further corporate profit in general, the current flurry of talks and activity around climate change are falling into the same pattern. By most accounts, people left out of the dialogue (which is most of us, but especially those in the Global South, indigenous and working people everywhere, people of color, etc.) will also bear the brunt of the chaos and destruction that will follow climate change. We must act to expose the “social, ecological, political and economic causes of the climate crisis”, and work to transform those causes and cool the planet, before its too late. The direct, civilly-disobedient actions that started late last year and have coalesced this past week are a great start and part of that movement, and we can expect them to continue until the victories are realized.