Blog Post by Edgar Franks, Formacion Civica Coordinator.
Coming out of the COP21 in Paris last December, we on the front lines knew that the agreement was not a real solution to our climate crisis. It was apparent that this was a world wide market scheme that didn't do much for the people who are already dealing with the consequences of global warming and rising sea levels. Effected communities called for an end to fracking, to leave fossil fuels in the ground, and to keep global temperatures from rising past the 1.5 Celsius degree threshold. The overarching demand was to end false solutions and techno fixes to the climate crises. such as the carbon market.
The COP21 heard arguments from indigenous people from across the globe and also from peasant farmers and fisherfolk who reject the false promises of market-based solutions. Unfortunately their pleas were not listened to. The people we claim are our heroes, the ones that are resisting mega extractive projects like pipelines, mining, coal ports, and industrial agriculture, were left out of the climate talks. The loss of the their voices at the table resulted was the loss of a human rights and indigenous rights framework for our future.
Among the groups at the table were established "civil" society groups, the ones who claim to be experts and work with the grassroots communities. They usually get their funding from governments and corporations with a specific agenda: to make minimal reforms without changing the structures or systems that are causing harm to Mother Earth; the systems that keep money flowing to the polluters while the rest of the world burns.
We left the COP more motivated than ever to make sure that these false solutions didn't take hold in our local communities. Here in Washington we are at a critical time. Even though we are blessed with an abundance of natural resources and beauty, we are not immune to the effects of climate change. Just last year the Olympic forest caught fire for the first time in recorded history. Our waters are warming so fast that we are in danger of losing salmon and shellfish. We experienced an unprecedented drought that we still haven't recovered from. All this is the new normal. We can only expect things to get worse unless we act and begin to put forth bold ideas and action.
In order for this to happen we must listen to the voices of those on the ground who have to deal with the daily consequences of climate change and environmental damage. Who are these people in our own backyard? They are those who live in poverty who are exposed to higher levels of toxics and pollutants (like farm workers who, in order to make a living, have to work under the increasingly hot summer sun for over 12 hours in pesticide and agrochemical covered fields). They are the people in the cities who breathe in the pollutants from traffic and other industries. They are the native people who are at risk of losing their livelihood, salmon and water that they fought to preserve for generations. They are the workers who are in refineries but want to transition to a new fossil fuel free economy. These people feel the impact of climate change and they deserve a seat at the table when it comes to proposing solutions, especially because these decisions impact their lives culturally and economically.
We have seen this cycle of "experts", think tanks, and non-profits try to say that they represent us. And just like at the COP21 they only speak for their own interests. If we get mentioned it's only in a paternalistic and tokenized way. But we are no longer willing to play that game because we ourselves have the solutions. Carbon markets and capitalism have proven to be disastrous and the reason why we are at this critical point of no return in climate crisis. Ask the people in the gulf coast and in Haiti who are now dealing with yet another crisis, and the people in Standing Rock who are fighting against the pipelines, wether they think a climate tax will save them.
We propose to have a bold vision and just transition where a new economy is based on justice and sustainably and not on profits and extraction.