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Global Connections Beyond Paris

January 2016

Like thousands of people committed to climate justice, I traveled to Paris last month to participate in the historic events surrounding the UN climate change meetings (COP-21). There I connected with Grassroots International’s team – including key staff members and representatives from partner organizations from Brazil, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Palestine – and joined in the activities in the ‘climate action zone’.

The Paris Agreement is an enormous disappointment, a “fraud” in Jim Hansen’s words.  It makes no commitment to do the one thing which we know is necessary to stop climate change: keep fossil fuels in the Earth’s crust.  Moreover, the Paris Agreement deepens the commitment of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to false solutions premised on the logic of the market. The Paris framework uses the same political and economic practices that caused the problem of climate disruption in the first place.

But there was another side to Paris: thousands of activists and representatives from front-line communities came to share knowledge and struggle to create a global climate justice movement.  And here, the work of Grassroots International was really inspiring.  I had the privilege to meet with and learn about a number of the partner organizations that Grassroots has connected me and other donors to — all doing incredible work to build the global climate movement that is so critical for our collective future.

One of those movement leaders is Tchenna Maso from the Movement of People Affected by Dams, a Grassroots’ partner in Brazil.  Her message, reiterated by other movement activists, is that to address climate change, “we have to dismantle corporate power.”

And I had the pleasure to meet Camille Chalmers of the Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development.  He argues that that people and nature to live, we must “conquer this neoliberal project of death and militarization.”  And to demonstrate real alternative possibilities, we must build “people’s projects that rupture the logic of the global capitalist system.”

They are right.  We face enormous challenges in translating these ideas into political and economic transformation.  Solving climate change will require a powerful transnational social movement.  That explains the importance of the Grassroots International’s work with their partners in Paris. Their success is critical for our ability to address climate change by building justice—from the grassroots up.

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