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Market-based solutions will not work. We need to change the capitalist system.

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

Since yesterday morning, I have gone to formal panel discussions on the evidence for the climate crisis and the role that free trade agreements, transnational corporations and global financial institutions play in worsening it.  I have listened to Indigenous Peoples from across the world talk in these panels about the rights of Mother Earth and the need for climate justice.  I heard arguments for the necessity to look at our forests as the generators of life instead of just carbon stores. 

In all of these panel discussions, as well as more intimate roundtable discussions that I have participated in, one common theme has stuck out.  Market-based solutions are not the answer.  The fundamental logical flaws of capitalism – the continual accumulation of resources in a resource-finite world – is what has gotten us to 390 parts per million of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.  It is what has allowed us to already see the devastating effects of climate change around the world as a result of that unsustainable and suicidal number. 

Most involved in the COP-16 negotiations refuse to see how climate change can be adequately addressed without a solution that plays on the interests of capitalism and the corporate elite.  What I am hearing here, instead, is a strong and widespread call to work towards toppling the entire capitalist system as the only way to adequately address climate change.  The “solutions” being brought forward in the capitalist framework has led to the rapid expansion of biofuels, as well as the development of programs like REDD and REDD+, which set the framework for polluting corporations in the North to purchase carbon offsetting credits from the countries of the south, without having to reduce their emissions. 

These programs are not only being debated and promoted as we speak, but are already starting to be implemented in places across the world as “REDD-Readiness” programs, without any clear basis for believing it will have any real impact on carbon reductions, and worse, ignoring the concrete logic and experience that would say otherwise.

Furthermore, it will most likely result in the privatization of the world’s forests, irrespective of public spaces or the needs of Indigenous Peoples and forest-based communities.  Are we really okay with that?

Across Guatemala City, and passing through some of the towns on the way to Cancun, it isn’t uncommon to see “¡Ya, basta!” – enough already! - spray painted on the sides of buildings.  As grassroots political messages wouldn’t last long in the tourist town of Cancun, I don’t see it much on the walls here.  But as we get ready to participate in the big climate justice march tomorrow, I am reminded by the countless signs and banners that people have brought from all over Latin America that people are bringing that message here anyway.   YA, BASTA!!!  People are sick of the false solutions coming from the capitalist paradigm that sees the rich getting richer while the poor are left to drown.   

***

Something really stuck out for me today.  At the panel discussion on our forests as carbon stores, one of the speakers called on the people of the south, with allies from the north, to unite to confront these false, market-based solutions.  In a statement that weighs on me the more I think about it, she said: “We have nothing to lose but our chance.”


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