Climate Business vs. Climate Justice

Climate Business vs. Climate Justice

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Negotiations continued today, largely behind closed doors, with technology transfer for developing countries at the top of the agenda. Rumors are that some agreement has been reached, at least on technology transfer, but it?s unclear whether the final proposal will truly bring things forward towards addressing climate change and the needs of developing countries or whether the meaning has been taken out of the agreement and developing countries have given up fighting. But it now looks like agreement may well be reached tomorrow.

As I sit back and think over the past two weeks, two trends have struck me in observing this summit:

On the one hand, there is an incredible business interest represented–in side events on carbon trading, in the fact that there was a parallel trade ministers meeting during the talks, in expressions by the U.S. delegation that they are more concerned about intellectual property rights than the climate, in the influence of international financial institutions in promoting a variety of climate “solutions,” and in a variety of other ways.

On the other hand, there has been an emerging presence of groups questioning the corporate control over climate responses. A small but growing group of civil society organizations, along with representatives of social movements, affected peoples, farmers, fisherfolk, and indigenous peoples, are questioning how climate change is being dealt with and speaking with increasingly loud voices to call for climate justice.

We have seen it in the Indonesian Civil Society Forum located outside the formal talks, where Indonesian organizations held a series of events during the first week and a half of the summit. We have seen it in the demonstrations — some of the first ever in Indonesia on climate change — on the Global Day of Action. We have seen it in the other alternative events that have gone on parallel to the summit, on debt, on solidarity, questioning carbon trading. And we have seen it in the civil society organizations on the inside of the talks, questioning where the money is going and who stands to benefit or suffer from the climate crisis. 

It has been inspiring to see these groups coming together to challenge the ways in which climate change is being addressed globally. It is imperative that we reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally to protect ourselves from the most severe impacts of climate change, but HOW we do this is just as important. We need to confront climate change in a way that will protect vulnerable people both in developing countries and in the industrialized world. We need to find ways to promote human rights, human development, and local solutions in addition to protecting our environment. 

We have a long way to go, but I am hopeful that these alliances and these messages of climate justice will start to be heard more powerfully following these talks.