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Frontline Communities and Climate Justice Organizers Shrug Shoulders and Keep Working While Piece of Paper Lauded as “Better Than Nothing”

"Seriously? Again?” thought by activists around the globe

by Cameron Fenton

Frontline Communities and Climate Justice Organizers Shrug Shoulders and Keep Working While Piece of Paper Lauded as “Better Than Nothing”
Tar Sands: not affected by Cancun deal.
Tar Sands: not affected by Cancun deal.

Pick a town – The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ended yesterday with the announcement of a new text, to be known as the Cancun Accord, Mexico Roadmap, Yucatan scrap of paper or the popular “don’t worry, we’ll figure it all out next year” hope/prayer pledge.

The document, which was deemed “imperfect”, “flawed” and “okay” by spokespeople from a number of nations and civil society groups, was passed minutes before the closing of Senor Frogs, allowing for a last call rush of delegates to chug margaritas, Coronas and celebratory tequila.  

The agreement, deemed a “modest plan”, does not ensure the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol, or require signatories of that agreement to complete the targets they agreed to under the Protocol. For those who may not remember, Kyoto was another piece of paper, also lauded for the roadmap it laid out to mitigate climate change. It was ignored, with the majority of signatories failing to come close to their pledged targets.

Many environmentalists and politicians celebrated the Cancun piece of paper as much better than the smaller, but also “better than nothing”, Copenhagen Accord. They point to the creation of a $100 billion “Green Climate Fund” to be managed by internationally known global do-gooding financial organization, the World Bank.

The Cancun Scrap of Paper was also seen by many as a fundamental step to rebuilding confidence in the United Nations system. Politicians and negotiators celebrated that consensus had been reached using a long standing United Nations policy of ignoring countries from the Global South such as Bolivia, who refused to join the consensus. Critics consider Bolivia’s position in favour of deep enough global greenhouse gas reductions from the Global North to stem the death and displacement of hundreds of thousands of people unreasonable.

Newly minted Environment Minister John Baird applauded the agreement and called for other nations, like India and China, to do their share. In an unrelated note, high fives were heard in the offices of oil and gas companies across Canada.

Meanwhile, in communities across the globe, Climate Justice activists rolled their eyes and shrugged, many unaware that politicians and business leaders had righted the ship and were solving the climate crisis. There are also reports that other communities have not been informed that climate solutions are on the way. Communities, such as those downstream of the Alberta tar sands and in the coalfields of Appalachia, as well as those living in the Arctic, on small island nations and all across the Global south, are reported to be continuing to fight for the protection of their life, land and livelihoods, despite a “modest” plan for stopping planet wide environmental catastrophe.  
If you haven’t caught on by now, this is sarcasm.

On a serious note, isn’t it about time that climate activists stopped celebrating when we achieve “better than nothing” because “what we need” isn’t politically practical?

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Topics: Environment
480 words


Nice juxtaposition!

That poster "The Real Cancun" is so perfect, along with the tar sands caption... Nice!

[why does "nice juxtaposition" sound like i'm making some lewd remark?]

Like!  When apparent

Like!  When apparent "activists" are calling the pushing of the root causes of climate change to continue in a text on climate change (because we all know that the false solutions ruining communities will be the things in this text that actually get followed through with and the targets etc will be completely ignored) a "lifeline" scenario, we have a serious problem.  Also, some serious resistance from global south activists and their allies actually kept the World Bank, while not completely out (they are not explicitly refered to, but will probably advise for the first 3 years of development, after that it will be an independant board under the UNFCCC), a lot further away from the Green Fund than could have been the case otherwise! 

For my refelections after being at (and getting booted from) the conference, see here:

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