Many thousands of people protested in Copenhagen yesterday and last night, demanding, among other things, climate justice. According to tcktcktck.org, which has a gallery of images, many thousands more held vigils areound the world. But what does climate justice mean?
To give you a flavor, here is a statement from an activist named Hemantha Withnage of Sri Lanka, who was speaking to a UN-backed group called the Subsidiary Body for Implementation, which oversees the Kyoto Protocol. I’m not going to comment other than to say that there is a yawning gap between the views expressed here and those heard in the halls of the United States Congress. And yet a global agreement to regulate climate will require an accord that, in some way, takes these views into account. Remember, China and India are seeking climate justice, too.
We are movements gathered under the Climate Justice Now! Network – many from the South, from developing countries. Thousands of our members are here in Copenhagen, joining thousands of other citizens in a historic march.
We are calling for Reparations for Climate Debt, the debt that is owed by northern countries, multinational corporations, and international financial institutions to the peoples and countries of the South. This debt is owed by the North for using up more than their fair share of the earth’s capacity to absorb greenhouse gases, and in the process depriving the peoples of the South of their share, thus creating this climate crisis. Yet it is the people of the South who bear the worst effects.
What developed countries have put on the table, however, is nothing less than an insult to the dignity of the peoples of the South. It demonstrates complete disrespect for the value of our lives.
2.4 billion Euros a year until 2012! [Note: This refers to a new proposal out of the EU for an adaptation fund.] No long term financing! This a mockery. Where are the reparations by developed countries for the damage they have done so far in the developing world?
We are not asking for aid or assistance, but for the North to make good on their climate debt. We are their creditors.
We do not require – or want – the existing multilateral financial institutions. They are part of the problem and the plunder. Climate finance must be provided in a democratic manner-at every level- through a multilateral fund under the authority of the COP.
Finance must be public, not private. It must not involve carbon markets. Such markets are part of the problem, not the solution!
We demand nothing less than climate justice now!
This morning, there were church services all over Copenhagen on behalf of climate justice. The ethics of the climate issue are explored at ClimateEthics.org, a website organized by the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State.