Real sorry I didn’t do a better job of daily updates at the COP16 considering I hear there was very little in the Irish media on it, although I was happy to see Aljezeera and The Guardian had good daily updates, and even hourly ones on the last night.
A week has passed since the end of COP16 official and counter-summits and before things fade more in my mind I’m going to put down some last thoughts and summaries of things that most stood out to me.
Well, last I left ye, it was the day after the big split march. Disillusionment reigned high in my mind at least, as it did in many of the other younger folk in our Chiapas Caravana at least, and some of the other community campaigners who like me, felt unconsulted about this unwanted unnecessary split.
Wednesday I finally managed to attend some more talks at the Dialogo Climatico but things were generally starting to slide quite a bit, with many workshops cancelled or rescheduled and everything slowly descended into more random chaos on Thursday and Friday, with Friday I think being an almost complete cancellation of everything that was scheduled ( I went to the beach for myself that day….twas time!). What a disaster this was as much for the participants, as the speakers…..I bumped into some of the Canadian folk from the Indigenous Environmental Network who’d been at the UK Climate Camp in Edinburgh this summer and their workshop had been cancelled….CRAZY….all that way,…huh…well, luckily they were presenting at some of the other alter-summits….the vastly numerous ones…Klimaforum10 and Villa Climatica (run by the government directly)…not sure if they spoke a Via Campesina.
One of my favourites was Casey Camp-Horinek , a Ponca Pa tha-ta Indian woman from the States (Nebraska I think). She spoke from the soul reaching across languages and cultural divides, and touched the audience which included many indigenous folk from Mexico, Bolivia, Guatemala and more. She spoke of her tribe’s experience, and her personal family’s ordeal, how all the US treaties with her people had been broken, and to not trust REDD in the least. ” This REDD treaty is not ready…. They will take your territories, your land, they will contaminate it. They always do.” she said in her steady wise voice. And as she reached out her hand to grab a fistful of air she added, “See this carbon I just grabbed from the air, it is not mine, the trees are not mine, neither are the waters. They cannot put a price on these things which do not belong to us.” She spoke from the heart and even though I know everything she talked about it, she made me feel it to the bone, and that’s worth a thousand scientific facts and reports and articles.
There was mostly strong oppostion to anything to do with REDD and opposition to the large NGOs who were supporting this….Greenpeace, Oxfam and others. Those NGOs are seen as completely in cohoots with the corporations, and out of touch with reality. As Camila Moreno from FOE Brazil, said “Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres ” (A person is know by the company they keep). And that’s basically it….if these big NGOs are prepared to rub shoulders with the very culprits who’ve caused the vast amount of damage to our planet, they can’t really be trusted in my book at least. She called for agrarian reform on a planetary level, which is Via Campesina’s main call too…..that redistributing land into the hands of small farmers worldwide would be one of the most effective methods of cooling the planet. She mentioned that REDD had divided organisations in Brasil, that those who were attracted to its possible financial gains were being blinded by these trivial crumbs being thrown down from the corporate elite table.
On Thursday Dec. 9th, Evo Morales made an appearance at the Via Campesina camp and gave only a regular enough speech for my liking. He said the usual stuff , no to REDD, no to Capitalism blabla, but nothing much either inspiringly poetic or strong or symbolically captivating. Nimmo Bassy on the other hand, head of Friends of the Earth International, was on just before him and he was way more powerful and emotive. Some representative from the Cuban government was also there (didn’t catch his name) and he also gave the usual old socialist speech with a lot of hailing to Fidel and Chavez by him and Evo. That was not my cup of tea at all. I don’t hail any government or political leaders, only the people who self-organise and take their power back. But what was much more inspiring than the actual speeches was the build-up with andean music playing beforehand and many indigenous Bolivians and many others all dancing energetically and proudly before Evo arrived. Shortly before Evo took to the stage, a glorious rainbow appeared in the sky. This was an amazingly important sign for the Andean community, with their communal flag being the ‘arco iris’. It was a symbol of something great going down….
Thursday night rounded off with a great street jam party which the younger contigents of the separate camps (Anti-C@P, Diálogo Climático, Via Campesina, and Klima Forum) decided to organise (me being one of them) to spite the ‘leaders’ who hadn’t been able to work out their differences even for the march (we advertised it on the radio, net and flyering). So, we took to the streets after Evo’s speech with a jenny-powered sound system owned by two cool Danish lads, and set up residence in a wee plaza up the road. We had a full free show for all to join in on with political clowns doing a fab performance, Canadian rappers, a short theatre piece in ‘theatre of the oppressed’ style depicting the COP with governments, corporations and activists, and well, a lotta lotta dancing! And hey presto, the cops stood off till 1am which is when we roughly had agreed that we’d finish. It was definitely the best night of all….unity in dancing at least I tells ya!
And the official COP? Well, there’s many an article written up about the ins and outs of the negotiations….no targets for emissions were set, REDD wasn’t exactly agreed but is still very much on the cards, Bolivia was the only country to object strongly against the loose agreement signed by 194 nations. At least China seems pretty determined to take some lead on the issue now, indicating that it would be interested in renewing the Kyoto Protocol. Most stuff hase been deferred till next year. All in all, I really wonder what the UN COP is ever going to offer us in the small timeframe we have to stop runaway climate change. It’s desparately daunting and I have less and less faith in it. But what real alternatives have we? Cochabamba and the people’s accord? It’s all nice inspiring wording but there’s no techinical anything to back it up at all…… how do we measure emission reductions etc…it’s very complex. It’s enough to make my brain tumble round a while. I’m a science-head, so without reasonably exact measuring mechanisms, I don’t see how we can really stop climate change. It’s a long road we have to travel….these massive international negotiations have many flaws, but do we the grassroots movements have the capacity to really develop an alternative independent of the UN, without access to paid experts who can flesh out how an alternative system would mean? I hope, I really hope we can…..