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Cancun Climate Summit and the False Solutions of Green Capitalism

November 30, 2010

One could certainly argue that the most pressing issue of the 21st century in global warming. The International Panel of Climate Change has for years made it clear that we need to reduce the current amount of carbon emissions 80% by 2050 if we are to have a safe and stable global temperature.

However, there is not much progress being made in the attempts to reduce carbon emission by both states and private businesses as is evidenced by a new report from the National Climatic Data Center, which states that 2010 is one of the warmest years recorded in human history.

Much of the problem stems from countries like the US which are unwilling to make a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in any substantial way. This was the case over a decade ago at the Kyoto Summit and last year at the international climate summit in Copenhagen.

Cancun Summit

Yesterday, the latest round of international talks on global warming kicked off in Cancun, Mexico. Unlike Copenhagen, the Cancun Summit has received scant attention in the for profit news media. This is in part due to the Obama administration’s general lack of interest on the matter and a continued unwillingness to make any serious commitment to reduce carbon emissions.

Latin American specialist Laura Carlsen writes, “The results of the Cancun climate change talks are a foregone conclusion. Following in the footsteps of the Copenhagen non-agreement, experts, activists, and the negotiators themselves have announced that they expect no binding agreements on emissions controls to come out of the conference.”

In addition to the probability that no binding agreements will come out of the conference, Carlsen believes that the US and other powerful nations will continue to promote false solutions. Some of the major false solutions are Clean Development Mechanisms, carbon trading and geo-engineering.

However, one of the worst solutions that is being promoted is the UN REDD program (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). The REDD program is not only a false solution, but it directly and negatively impacts indigenous communities around the world. According to the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), the REDD program is nothing more than a form of colonialism. The IEN provide excellent analysis of this topic and other false climate solutions in their Indigenous People’s Guide.

Independent and Autonomous actions for Climate Justice

Many groups like the Indigenous Environmental Network and Via Campesina are organizing separate assemblies during the Cancun Summit as well as protests and other actions to confront the delegates. Most of these independent and autonomous groups are anti-capitalist and believe that real climate justice is rooted in localized economies that are based upon cooperation and ecological integrity.

In addition to confronting capitalism, many groups are advocating for a more comprehensive analysis of the roots of global warming, which also means we must confront global poverty and war. This is the message that Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai is communicating with a recent article entitled, Cancun Must Be About More than Just Climate Change.

While we shouldn’t expect that nations will make any meaningful progress at the Climate Summit in Cancun, it is important to pay attention to what civil society groups are doing to both confront the green capitalists and promote real climate justice.

For those wanting to get news and analysis from a grassroots perspective on the Climate Summit check out the Indigenous Environmental Network’s blog RedRoad Cancun and Via Campesina. For those of you who read Spanish, an excellent news resource is Mexico Indy Media.


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