Occupy COP-Finding Real Solutions to the Climate Crisis
By Kaleigh McGregor-Bales
“We only have one planet so we have to get this right. The space ship they are building is only for the rich and the powerful. We won’t be on that spaceship,” Yvette, an Indigenous South African explained, and we all echoed back through the people’s microphone, at the opening of the first General Assembly of Occupy COP.
Another speaker described how, “Inside COP 17 the lions are talking about how to save a deer.” He explained that the negotiators who ‘know about climate change’ are debating away the futures of those who actually know intimately the effects of climate change.
People on the frontlines of climate change who feel the impacts the most often also hold the solutions. The knowledge of traditional peoples who know how to live healthy and fulfilling lives without depleting out natural capital hold invaluable wisdom.
So do all of us. At the GA today, one person spoke about learning to take care of ourselves and our communities. We need to reclaim control over our health and education, which have been commodified and corporatized. Our environment is being destroyed and the rights of Indigenous people are being violated in the pursuit of ‘cures’ to diseases. Our education system excludes most and forces debt-ridden graduates into jobs that destroy the environment and violate human rights.
We can break free from this and build inclusive alternatives. By learning about the plants that can heal us and sharing this knowledge with our friends, family and neighbours, by growing food that prevents illness and sharing it with our communities and by engaging in peer-to-peer popular education to share our skills for free, we are weakening the foundation of the power of the 1% and simultaneously building the solutions we need.
One person spoke about how word of mouth, art and theater can be used to spread knowledge of climate impacts and solutions and the power of art to overcome language barriers.
Throughout the General Assembly, ideas and solutions took many shapes but the common thread throughout was that there is a need to expose the corporate influence on our governments and the climate negotiations, and because this influence has to date successfully stalled action, that there is a need to dire need to build solutions in our communities and not just wait for an international agreement.
We do not need to shoot mirrors into space, wrap the desert in white plastic or dump iron into the ocean.
These solutions are a bargain with our future, and ultimately keep the power in the hands of the people that caused the economic crisis and the climate crisis. Real solutions decentralize the power, value local knowledge and Indigenous practices and address the root cause of the economic crisis, which is the same as the root cause of climate crisis-neoliberal market deregulation and unrestrained corporate greed.
While many Parties inside COP will likely promote false market-based solutions again this year, today outside people came together, like they have been coming together in cities around the world, to reclaim their futures.