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What We Celebrate from Paris: 14 Moments and Connections for a Stronger Global Climate Justice Movement

February 2016

In a previous blog, we shared our critiques of the Paris climate agreement, and analysis of what took place. In this photo blog, we share some of the moments and lessons that demonstrate what Grassroots International celebrates from what took place in Paris – the clarity and strength of social movements on the frontlines of the climate crisis, and in the forefront of struggle to expose false solutions and promote real solutions to achieve climate justice. We were honored to be in that space with our Global South partners, US and other international allies, making connections across geographies and issues – these relationships are a key part of what it will take to heal and cool the planet, while developing deep resilience to the shocks and slides to come.

No Borders for Climate Justice

On our first day in Paris, we met up with our partners from La Via Campesina. La Via Campesina brought a delegation of over 30 peasant and family farmer leaders from around the world to raise their voices about food sovereignty and agroecology as real solutions to climate disruption. We were honored to introduce Alberto Gomez Flores of La Via Campesina Mexico (left) and his daughter Ximena (center) to Edgar Franks (right) of Community to Community Development, a farmworker organizing group in Bellingham, Washington that is part of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Climate Justice Alliance, and US Food Sovereignty Alliance.

Biodiversity and Native Seeds = Resilience

La Via Campesina opened up the Alternative Climate Forum space with a mistica ceremony honoring land, water, seeds, and Mother Earth.

The Road to Climate Justice Runs Through a Free Palestine

Grassroots International partner the Union of Agricultural Work Committees sent Hiba Al-Jibeihi to Paris as part of La Via Campesina’s international delegation.

The Solidarity Economy is an Antidote to the Triple Threat of Militarization, Free Trade, and Climate Disruption

Camille Chalmers from the Haitian Platform for Alternative Development

Grassroots International partner Camille Chalmers of the Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development joined us in Paris, and spoke at several events at the Climate Action Zone, an alternative space for people and social movements to strategize with one another.

Climate Justice Requires Human Rights and Energy Sovereignty

Grassroots International partner of the Movement of People Affected by Dams strategized with organizers around the world about the impact of dams and extraction on human rights, and about ways to achieve energy sovereignty as part of climate justice struggles.

To Recover Balance on the Planet, We Must Transform Ourselves

Patricia Gualinga, an Indigenous Kichwa leader from Ecuador, was part of the #IndigenousRising Canoe Action on December 6. With leadership from our ally Indigenous Environmental Network, this action brought together Indigeous Peoples from across the Americas to send a powerful message about the connections between, water, indigenous struggles, and the Rights of Mother Earth.

Women Lead the Struggle for Climate Justice

We were thrilled when our international ally the World March of Women (a global feminist and anti-racist movement) asked the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ is a US alliance of which Grassroots International is a part) to host the WMW US chapter. In this picture, WMW International Coordinator Graça Samo of Mozambique connects with Tere Almaguer, Community Organizer with People Organized to Defend Environmental and Economic Rights, a GGJ member based in San Francisco. Graça shared, “It is important that women lead the struggle for climate justice.  They are the ones who have been taking care of the land, water, natural resources, and life itself.”

It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm

Grassroots was honored to be part of the It Takes Roots delegation, a collaboration between the Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, and Indigenous Environmental Network to bring over 100 delegates, primarily representing communities on the frontlines of struggle and at the forefront of change across North America. The delegation organized several actions in Paris, including one at a detention center, in solidarity with local communities in Paris resisting racism and Islamophobia. On International Human Rights Day (December 10th), the It Takes Roots Delegation organized a creative action in Paris, calling on the US government to accept its responsibility to address the root causes of climate change, and challenging the US to stop blocking the recognition of human rights, including the rights of Indigenous Peoples. In addition to the public action at the Peace Wall in Paris, our delegation also collected and ensured delivery of thousands of petitions with five demands to the US government.

Stop CO2lonialism – Water is Life!

Our partners and international allies, including La Via Campesina, GRAIN, Transnational Institute, and others organized a Land and Water Convergence in Paris to lift up strategies to protect land and water rights. They invited Jihan Gearon of Black Mesa Water Coalition (part of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Climate Justice Alliance, and Indigenous Environmental Network) to share her experience organizing in Navajo/Diné communities in Arizona for a Just Transition from coal extraction and coal power plants to water rights, community-controlled decentralized solar energy, and protection of indigenous territories and lifeways.

“How Can You Buy and Sell the Sky?”

Californian environmental justice groups from the It Takes Roots delegation took action in joint struggle with indigenous communities in the Global South, by speaking up against one of the main false solutions promoted by the UN and by corporations that stand to benefit from it – a carbon offset program called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). REDD+ allows polluters in the Global North to keep polluting, while supposedly “offsetting” that pollution by “protecting” forests in the Global South. However, this causes major violations of the territory rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Global South who have lived and cared for these forests for thousands of years, does not actually lead to decreased greenhouse gas emissions, and causes serious health impacts in communities of color in the US. While in Paris, Californian groups led an action to hold California Governor Jerry Brown accountable for his role in promoting REDD+ through bilateral deals with governors in Mexico, Brazil, and beyond. This is what solidarity looks like!

No War, No Warming!

We had the chance to introduce our partner Hiba Al-Jibeihi of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (Palestine) with allies from the It Takes Roots delegation who expressed solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, including Derek Matthews and Shawna Foster of  Iraq Veterans Against War, and Sean Michael Hardy of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

Small Farmers Cool the Planet

On December 9, La Via Campesina (LVC) led an international day of action for Peasant Agriculture and Food Sovereignty. They convened the General Assembly in the Climate Action Zone (alternative civil society space), bringing together over 500 participants in a conversation about food sovereignty as a solution to climate change. LVC’s connection to culture and community shone through, as they opened with a popular theater mistica, and invited leaders from various movements to join them in the center circle to have a dialogue and share perspectives from their own work, in order to build a more connected movement. Among those invited were our partner Camille Chalmers of Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development and two members of the It Takes Roots delegation, Edgar Franks of Community to Community Development and Farrah Tso of Black Mesa Water Coalition. (photo courtesy of La Via Campesina)

It Is Our Duty to Fight for Our Freedom

Throughout the time in Paris, there was strong organizing to lift up the connections between Black Lives, Racial Justice and Climate Justice. Here, Denise Abdul-Rahman of NAACP Indiana State Conference led our group in the Assata Shakur chant: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

Globalize the Struggle, Globalize Hope!

During the December 12 Day of Action (the last day of the UN climate negotiations), civil society and social movements took to the streets. We were particularly inspired by the way that the delegations of La Via Campesina (green and yellow flags), the World March of Women (purple flags) and It Takes Roots (including Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice, and Indigenous Environmental Network – orange flags) made an intentional decision to accompany one another throughout this day of action – and throughout the time we were together in Paris. Together, we ended up leading an impromptu and unpermitted march of thousands of people from one action site to another, even though Paris had previously said it would not allow marches. People power wins in the streets!

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