Copenhagen to Cochabamba to Cancun
The Gulf between Catastrophic Climate Change and Survival Today, I am in sunny Cancun as a Canadian Youth Delegate at the first day of COP16, this year’s UN Climate Summit. The happenings of the conference will likely underline the gulf between what has been presented by global elites and the calls from impacted communities that has grown over the past year. A year ago at COP15 in Copenhagen, people were hoping for a follow up to the Kyoto protocol that would lead us away from the destruction of ecosystems and communities brought by human-induced climate change, and instead point us towards survival. However, when the final days rolled around, it became clear that we would not have the commitment to a fair, ambitious, and legally-binding deal that many were calling for. Instead, the Copenhagen Accord, a three page document drafted in a backroom at the last minute, commits us to catastrophic climate change. What are being called “adaptation funds” for most-impacted communities are actually coming out of existing development aid and are in the form of World Bank loans, instead of the grants that those who created climate change should be providing. Furthermore, they planned to turn the world’s vital ecosystems that we rely on into commodities up to be bought and sold.
Completely unsatisfied with the dangerous and undemocratic outcome of Copenhagen, people from all over the world came together in Cochabamba, Bolivia a few months later for the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth, the largest ever gathering of directly impacted communities. These people were not waiting for world elites to make decisions. Instead, they operated under the idea that those most impacted by climate change and those creating the grassroots solutions that we need should be at the forefront of discussions. The Cochabamba People’s Agreement calls for “harmony and balance among all… things” and “collective well-being and the satisfaction of the basic necessities of all”, and thus is fundamentally at odds with the Copenhagen text. Here in Cancun, both the Copenhagen and Cochabamba texts will be pushed at the Conference; and the Canadian government will be leading the charge of those pedaling backwards on just climate action. Our government is pushing to have our unmet Kyoto commitments eliminated from future agreements, and is lobbying other governments to lessen domestic policy to allow for the import of tar sands crude. Therefore, I am here to demonstrate that, unlike our government, youth from Canada are ready to get to work to transition off of fossil fuels and move towards climate justice. We will be bringing updates from Cancun, both inside the negotiations, from impacted communities who are taking to the streets, and from the many alternative forums back to communities in Canada. Other than two very interesting weeks and a stead fast understanding that we need to do something about climate change, there is only one thing that is for sure about what will happen during the next two-weeks in Cancun: I will probably get a sunburn.