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To Paris and Beyond

December 2015

Two nights ago, we co-hosted a sold-out screening of the Avi Lewis film This Changes Everything, based on Naomi Klein’s recent book about climate change and capitalism.  The energy was electric, as a crowd full of people from the Boston area watched, hissed and cheered in response to stories on the screen. The film exposed the root causes of climate disruption – a global economic system that exploits people and the earth  – as well as highlighting stories of Indigenous Peoples and farmers around the world who are standing together to defend humanity and Mother Earth.

In the coming days, we will be taking the energy from that night with us as we travel to Paris, joining with people from around the world during the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – COP21.  Government leaders will be discussing their pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – but under the influence of transnational corporations, these pledges will fall far short of what is necessary to ensure a safe future.

Furthermore, many of the strategies government leaders and corporations are promoting – including megadams, agrofuels, carbon offsets and trading, genetically modified seeds and so-called “climate-smart agriculture” – will actually do more harm than good. These false solutions privatize land, water, seeds, air, and other critical natural resources and they do not actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  It is devastating but clear that government pledges and approaches are insufficient, non-binding or flat-out going in the wrong direction.

Why, then, are we going?

Because what happens in Paris over the next 10 days is about much more than what happens inside the official UN negotiations.  It is about building a stronger, international and translocal movement for climate justice.

Grassroots organizing groups from around the world are coming together in Paris to make their voices heard share the ways they are experiencing the brunt of  climate impacts show the world how they are creating solutions to address the root causes of climate disruption and building resilience to its impacts.  In addition to lifting up these stories, Paris will be an important moment for movements to take action and develop collective strategies together to build climate justice in the months and years beyond Paris.

Grassroots International will join our global partners and allies, who will be there in force – including an international delegation from La Vía Campesina, a movement of over 250 million families of small-scale farmers and food producers from around the world. We are also proud to be participating in a delegation of over 100 grassroots organizers from low-income communities and communities of color in the US as part of the “It Takes Roots” delegation, led by Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Indigenous Environmental Network, and the Climate Justice Alliance.

Some of the highlights we are particularly looking forward to include:

  • Participating in the People’s Climate Summit, a forum bringing together civil society around the world to share analysis of connections between issues (such as agriculture, trade, energy), alternative systems, and discuss collective strategies;
  • Joining with the World March of Women for a Women’s Assembly, linking gender justice and climate justice;
  • Standing up with La Vía Campesina during their Global Day for Peasant Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, December 9;
  • Celebrating International Human Rights Day, December 10, with the International Land and Water Convergence;
  • Connecting with other ally funders from around the world who want to make philanthropy more supportive of grassroots organizing for climate justice;
  • Connecting our partners from Palestine, Brazil, Haiti, and Mesoamerica with US allies from the It Takes Roots delegation, to build stronger links for joint solidarity.

Throughout all of these activities, we will recognize our unique responsibility coming from the US, the country with the most historical responsibility for climate impacts.  Even though Republicans in Congress are acting out against the regulations President Obama has put in place to limit emissions, we know these regulations are far less than what we need.  As part of the “It Takes Roots” delegation, we will continue to advance our demands to the Obama administration and the US negotiating team, calling on them to:

  1. Put an end to extraction of oil, gas, and coal in the US;
  2. End support for false solutions such as so-called “climate-smart agriculture,” genetically modified seeds, agrofuels and megadams;
  3. Support climate solutions that actually work – for people and communities, not corporations. This includes sustainable, community-based solutions like agroecology, food sovereignty, community-controlled renewable energy, land and water rights, and zero waste practices;
  4. Strengthen the inclusion of human rights and particularly the rights of Indigenous Peoples; and
  5. Establish mandatory – not voluntary – emissions cuts.

We look forward to sharing lessons from these experiences in the coming days and weeks.  To Paris…and beyond… because it is clear to all of us that the best hope for a healthy planet and a transformed economy come from grassroots communities on the frontlines of the ecological crisis.

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