Climate Justice or Corporate Agenda?

Groups Gather to Redefine Climate Debate

MARRAKECH, Morrocco -- "The Kyoto Protocol is being taken over by false promises. By succumbing to the corporate agenda it is failing to achieve climate justice," says Amit Srivastava of CorpWatch. He was amongst several speakers -- from the Indigenous Environmental Network, Greenpeace International and Third World Network -- who gathered at the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP7) to denounce the corporate takeover of the Kyoto process.

Rather than address the causes of global warming, devastating climate change and the inequalities that divide the developed and developing countries, a coterie of developed nations -- spearheaded by Canada, Japan, Russia and Australia -- have set their delegations the task of paving the way for their business interests to seize a brand-new market: greenhouse gas emissions trading.

"These countries aren't really concerned about reducing their greenhouse gas emissions as a way of staving off global warming. Almost every intervention by countries like Canada in the negotiations has been to safeguard corporate interests. Accountability, public participation and environmental integrity are being crushed to reduce 'investor uncertainty'," says Yin Shao Loong of Third World Network.

The Kyoto Protocol has been reduced to a set of investment projects that would facilitate a market for trading greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. The dense language of the Protocol -- "flexible mechanisms", "joint implementation" and "clean development mechanism" -- is leaving non-bureaucrats and non-specialists out in the cold. The opaque negotiations are making a global concern the preserve of a few and imposing a one-sided understanding of nature. Says Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, "With emissions trading corporations have found a new way of continuing their ruthless commodification of nature. They've lost touch with real issues that affect people. In my language it is hard for people to understand what it means to trade 'air'."

It is not just there that important debates are being covered up. Srivastava says that people should be focused on phasing out the use of fossil fuels, the source of three-quarters of greenhouse gases. Overcoming the powerful vested interests of oil companies, who lie at the heart of the fossil fuel economy, is crucial. Already there are worldwide struggles by local communities against oil exploitation that destroys the environment and violates their land and human rights. These same communities are also among those most affected by the worst impacts of climate change.

"It is not just global warming at stake here, its also issues of land rights, racism, clean energy and the inequality between North and South. Climate change, poverty alleviation and global justice are so intimately tied up, but that's what the Kyoto process is freezing out," says Paul Horsman of Greenpeace International.

CLIMATE JUSTICE is a broad based coalition that redefines climate change from a human rights, environmental justice and labour perspective, ensuring that communities most impacted by climate change are at the forefront of a movement to build a just and equitable society.

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