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THE HAGUE -- In sharp contrast to the formal climate negotiations, representatives of communities affected by the fossil fuel industry, countries threatened by global warming's rising tides and grassroots groups working for international environmental justice opened the First Climate Justice Summit today.
Gathering at The Hague's Concordia Theater, speakers from around the world
called for "Climate Justice" -- solutions to the climate change problem that
promote human rights, equity, labor rights and environmental justice
globally and locally.
Conference participants placed much of the blame for both global warming
and the lack of significant progress in the climate negotiations on giant
Dr. Owens Wiwa, brother of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the late Nigerian human rights
and environmental activist, spoke of his homeland, Ogoniland in the Niger
Delta, as an epicenter of climate change. "Rising sea levels are going to
lead to the disappearance of the Niger Delta, whose people and environment
have already been under assault by the oil industry for more than forty
years. It is crucial for the drilling to stop, so as to save both the Delta
and the world's climate."
Also speaking at the Summit was Margie Richard, who came "all the way to
The Hague to tell Shell Oil about what they are doing to my hometown in
Norco, Louisiana." Richard, representing a community-based organization,
Concerned Citizens of Norco, has traveled to Nigeria in the past, and noted
that the pollution in her community "is not all that different than the
Niger Delta. When I saw environmental destruction in Nigeria, I saw the
reflection of my own hometown and cried."
Amit Srivastava, a conference organizer, observed that when taken together,
"the environmental disasters created by the oil industry in places like
Nigeria, Louisiana, and Ecuador add up to a looming global catastrophe
called climate change," said Srivastava, who works as Climate Justice
Coordinator for San Francisco-based Corporate Watch. "What's more, the
process of corporate-led globalization is amplifying the climate crisis."
Chee Yoke Ling, a leader of the Third World Network in Malaysia, warned
that "while agreements like the Kyoto Protocol have the potential to put
environment before globalization's bottom-line driven agenda, corporations
are attempting to take over and undermine the climate treaty. They shaped
the World Trade Organization's agenda in their interests; we cannot afford
to let them do that here."
Ivonne Yanez, a founder of Oilwatch International, an Ecuador-based network
of more than 100 communities and organizations fighting oil development in
the tropics, sounded a positive note when she observed that by working to
stop big oil's ever-expanding drilling frontier, communities are taking the
lead in reducing global warming gasses. "Indigenous people and local
communities in Southern countries are carrying out effective and real
reductions of CO2 emissions by resisting new oil projects in their lands.
People like the Cofanes in Ecuador, the Ijaw in Nigeria and the U'wa in
Colombia are going forward faster than our governments in creating a true
Clean Development Mechanism."
The Climate Justice Summit is sponsored by the Corporate Europe Observatory (Europe), Corporate Watch (USA), Environmental Rights Action (Nigeria), Oilwatch International (Ecuador), People and the Planet (UK), Rising Tide
Coalition (Netherlands), Sustainable Energy and Economy Network (USA), and
World Rainforest Movement (Uruguay).
The Summit will run through Monday evening, November 20th. For an updated
agenda, check www.corpwatch.org/climate.
- 100 Climate Justice Initiative