COP21: We have a Deal…
By Souparna Lahiri
The negotiations are almost over. Governments, civil society, media, NGOs, INGOs, BINGOs have all come out with their demands, expectations and postures. A few caucus of northern groups and NGOs are still busy in their last minute lobbying and trying to connect desperately to some country delegates and their usual contacts. Who will break the news? Who has the latest on the draft text? Who has even the (sketchy) details of the internal discussion? In COP all matters.
It’s a heady mix of backroom lobbying, manipulations, secret meetings and open civil society actions and mobilizations that has been largely regulated this time in Paris. Climate Justice Groups and those representing social movements have to send their action proposals to the UNFCCC and French security for prior permission. Well this is Paris COP 21.
With the new text coming in last night riddled with brackets and hashtags, the response has been varied. Its criminal, anti-people, balanced – with some even having the temerity to congratulate the US and EU on their benevolent role!
Want a little more of the analysis? The text is ambitious but nothing on finance, implementation mechanisms, adaptation, human rights or loss or damage…the lobbyists are still on their laptop or on their phones trying to find their ways in and waiting for the important changes. The justice groups, the action groups and the social movements present in Paris, are busy to strategise their response and actions.
But, Paris, or for that matter, Bonn, Durban, Warsaw or Copenhagen are far away for our communities to connect to such a Global Summit or understand the impacts of such Agreements. It’s their governments that they can best connect to. For them, it is their governments who robs them of their rights over forests for a REDD+ project, dispossesses them of their agricultural land for a CDM project or agrobusiness, it is their government who makes ways for the companies and Multinationals to mine their land and territory or build a mega dam on their rivers.
So, what does COP 21 stands for them or for many of us? The evil alliance is known to all. Most of the global CSO caucus and lobbyists are gunning at the US and EU from the beginning. Perfect! They are the ones to historically blame for everything that has changed. They have to reduce their emissions and pay for their historic blunder – in fact it is the capitalism to be blamed. Therefore, we chant system change not climate change.
But again, where do our countries stand in this global equation or can I say global politics? India is demanding their share of the piece of pie in the left over carbon space. It does not matter how much they increase their emissions in the next few years as long as they can show an increase in their carbon sink – they can go on mining coal, even grab the last remains of commons, pastures and agricultural lands to promote 177GW of solar power and open up indigenous territories to capital and companies because India needs to develop. China commits to peaking only in 2030; it does not matter whether the Chinese people choke to death in Beijing or in Shanghai or in Guangdou.
It does not matter for the negotiators or the lobbyists in COP 21 that Brazil is handing over its Amazon to private capital to conserve its rainforests driving the Amazonians from their ancestral land; all big oil corporations are all over the Andes in Ecuador; South Africa is handing over their grasslands to the timber merchants to grow fake forests to satiate the hunger for more wood; or for that matter fisherfolk are forced to abandon their traditional livelihood in Indonesia. But, who cares? Its global summit after all and we play global politics!
If in not in these global summits where else will these countries be challenged? Off course, the communities will challenge them and they are challenging but instead of challenging these economies of big emitters, land grabbers and deforesters, my friends, you are protecting them, you are siding with the lesser evils against the bigger evils. That is where we feel terribly betrayed.
Text or no text, no deal or bad deal we need to challenge our governments, within our countries and outside. Otherwise we cannot think of building up a real global movement. Not by compromising the positions of the communities and social movements. The perpetrators within cannot be friends outside.
If you need to change the system, global agreements are not the answers, global movements are.
So, where you all will be on December 12th? In front of the Eiffel Tower, on the streets of Paris, or in heart of the Americas, the forests of Congo, the grasslands and mines of Africa, the farmlands of Asia and with the people of Marshall Islands or Tuvalu? Or both?