RLA Laureates on the UN climate talks in Lima

News 17.12.2014

Last week, a number of Right Livelihood Award Recipients went to Lima, Peru, for the UN climate talks: Among them climate, land rights, environmental and human rights activists including 350.org, MST, Bianca Jagger,Nnimmo BasseyRené Ngongo, as well as journalist Amy Goodman.

Their assessment of what negotiators brought to the table at the COP20 is sober:

Nnimmo Bassey, describes in an article published on December 13 that they merely heard platitudes and “paltry voluntary pledges of money and carbon emissions offsets”. “This era of voluntarism does nothing to indicate that there is a carbon budget that has to be dealt with.”

Bianca Jagger‘s take is similarly critical on the negotiations failing to tackle questions of climate justice as she writes in the Huffington Post: “I fear this UN climate conference will go down in history as the COP which failed to make provision for the poorest and most vulnerable, that failed to protect the rights of indigenous people and local communities; that postponed REDD+ negotiations, and failed to promote gender equality.”

On the positive side, the Laureates noted a strong mobilisation of citizens. “Waves upon waves of citizens took to the streets denouncing the inaction at the COP, destruction of territories, human rights abuses and demanding the desired seriousness,” Nnimmo Bassey reports.

Jamie Henn of 350.org notes: “We were pleased to see around 100 countries support the goal of phasing out carbon emissions by mid-century. The goal’s inclusion in the draft text is a win for the fossil fuel divestment movement and will add momentum to that growing campaign. But action must begin now, not after decades of delay.” Still, he continues, “We must continue to take on the biggest barrier to progress: the fossil fuel industry. (…) We know that companies like Chevron and Shell are working behind the scenes to block action. They don’t deserve a seat at the table when they’re trying to burn it down.”

Amy Goodman (host of Democracy Now!) comments on the role of media in reporting about climate change and climate change movements: “The major media, especially in the United States, fail to report accurately on the growing climate movement, focusing instead the pronouncements of governments leaders. They report on ‘extreme weather’, but rarely link those events to global warming. Governments will play a major role in tackling the climate crisis, surely. But so, too, will movements – grassroots movements of people around the world, working locally, joining together, creating a sustainable future. We need a media that holds those in power accountable. We need a media that covers the movements – like the movement for climate justice – that make history.” (See also her column reporting from Lima).

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Emoke Bebiak

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