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Three calls from Copenhagen for Obama to champion climate justice

December 16, 2009

To reach President Obama, call (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414, fax (202) 456-2461 or leave written comments at www.whitehouse.gov/contact

by Baba Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Ma’at

Baba Jahahara, who is covering the UN climate summit for the SF Bay View, is shown on Wednesday’s Democracy Now listening to U.S. chief negotiator Todd Stern, whom he had challenged earlier, reject reparations to save and restore the homelands of those hardest hit by climate change who took no part in creating it. Stern said, “We fully recognize our historic role in putting emissions up in the atmosphere, and we also recognize our responsibility to be part of an overall global effort to help poorer countries, both with regard to the need to adapt to the effects of climate change and the need to help them develop a sustainable path, which at this point in our collective history means a low carbon path. Reparations to me conveys a sense of culpability, guilt, that kind of thing. I don’t think that’s a legitimate way to look at it.” – Video frame: Democracy Now!
Baba Jahahara, who is covering the UN climate summit for the SF Bay View, is shown on Wednesday’s Democracy Now listening to U.S. chief negotiator Todd Stern, whom he had challenged earlier, reject reparations to save and restore the homelands of those hardest hit by climate change who took no part in creating it. Stern said, “We fully recognize our historic role in putting emissions up in the atmosphere, and we also recognize our responsibility to be part of an overall global effort to help poorer countries, both with regard to the need to adapt to the effects of climate change and the need to help them develop a sustainable path, which at this point in our collective history means a low carbon path. Reparations to me conveys a sense of culpability, guilt, that kind of thing. I don’t think that’s a legitimate way to look at it.” – Video frame: Democracy Now!
In Copenhagen, Denmark, tens of thousands of people from around our world have gathered for the important United Nations climate change meetings and related events.

In this brief exposé, we will not detail the continuing rifts between the super-exploited nations and/or former colonies – predominately, though not exclusively, in the Southern Hemisphere – who are suffering and will suffer most from the affects of climate chaos and the unjustly enriched, so-called “developed” states, primarily in the North, who are the chief perpetrators of environmental devastation and atmospheric degradation.

We will have to share with you later the incredible stories of young and elder Pacific Islanders who have already lost their homes to the rising seas and the gardens and sea ponds that have fed their relations for generations.

In good conscience, I cannot waste your time reporting on the murderous Gov. Arnold “Swastika” Schwarzenegger (to use Dr. Henry Clark’s title for him) faking da funk with his phony scripts and acts to those assembled here. We from the land of Queen Calafia (California) know from painful experience of this official’s crimes. For example, he wants to spend hundreds of millions building a new and more “modern” death row at San Quentin than on necessary environmental cleanup and green jobs.

Certainly, it is not my intention to continue the one-sided exchange, which is going nowhere at the present, where I have personally challenged the positions of Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, head of the U.S. delegation to this climate summit. This arrogant official is refusing to acknowledge the crimes or even the culpability of the U.S., saying, “We didn’t know we were polluting at the time … There is no guilt on our part … And this is certainly not a case for Reparations.”

I’m a firm believer that if we take our steps, our divine will do the rest. With the Creator’s intervention, we are too big to fail! Therefore, I’d like to use this critical moment in our story of humanity to issue this urgent 911 call to action: Simply put, we need every one of you – and members of your families, organizations, institutions and networks – to call, email, fax and send out your powerful spiritual energies towards President Barack Obama. Demand that he fully support the righteous demands and proposals of the G77 grouping of “developing” nations, which includes our continental Afrikan states, as well as the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

Remind him that it is the confederacy of states that he represents, the U.S.A., that is the biggest polluter of greenhouse gases and carbon, past and present, per capita. And that the calls from all corners of the earth for Reparations in the hundreds of billions of dollars to save and restore the homelands of his Baba’s (father’s) Kenya, our own sacred lands and so many others must be acknowledged and acted upon immediately.

Please let him know that a bold reinvestment in, recovery for and restoration of our environment is even more critical, and less expensive, I might add, than the trillions he has given to prop up Wall Street, the military contractors, capitalist for-profit corporations and now the insurance industry that stands to benefit so greatly from his health care “reform.”

To reach President Obama, call (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414, fax (202) 456-2461 or leave written comments at www.whitehouse.gov/contact. Also leave a message with Vice-President Biden at vice.president@whitehouse.gov.

As I reminded several people who questioned this activist reporter after my challenges to the European Union and U.S. officials, the proposals of the G77, Africa Group and AOSIS will not only give us a scientific opportunity to correct temperatures and, thus, save smaller nations, island states and millions of people in Afrika, the Arctic, the Pacific, the Caribbean, Asia and Turtle Island (aka, the Americas). Our collective and far-reaching actions today could also help prevent further erosion and massive death on the bigger nations, such as one of my former residences on Long Island, which includes the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens and numerous cities.

Asante sana (many thanks in Kiswahili) for your positive consideration and action. Please forward your comments to us at support@wedemandreparations.com and we will share them with our colleagues here in government and civil society sectors. Asé. Amen.

Baba Jahahara is a veteran justice, community, labor nd environmental organizer, writer and musician. He is a past national co-chairperson of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) and author of the new book, “Many Paths to Kugichagulia” and the recently-released CD titled “Elevate: Rise Up You Mighty Afrikan People!” Reach Baba Jahahara at support@wedemandreparations.com or FONAMI, P.O. Box 10963, Oakland, CA 94610.

U.S. affected people of color urge Obama to be a champion in climate negotiations

Affected communities deliver letter to U.S. Embassy demanding real solutions to climate crisis

by Diana Pei Wu

On Thursday, Dec. 17, at 12 noon, Copenhagen time, the North American Indigenous Delegation, Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project and the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative along with other grassroots groups from the United States will go to the American Embassy, Dag Hammarskjolds Alle 24, 2100 Copenhagen, to deliver a letter to President Barack Obama demanding that the United States take real, rights-based approaches to climate change and ecological debt.

Invited speakers include Diana Lopez of the Southwest Workers Union in San Antonio, Texas; Mari Rose Taruc of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network in Oakland, Calif.; Michele Roberts of Advocates for Environmental Human Rights in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.; representatives from indigenous communities in the United States and Canada and the moderator, Kalila Barnett of Alternatives for Communities and Environment in Boston.

As thousands of activists marched toward the UN climate summit to “Reclaim Power,” to transform the talks into a people’s assembly. One of the marchers interviewed on Wednesday’s Democracy Now was Alicia Garza, co-executive director of POWER in San Francisco and revered as a leader in economic and environmental justice struggles in Bayview Hunters Point. “We’re out here to raise up democracy,” she declared. – Video frame: Democracy Now!
As thousands of activists marched toward the UN climate summit to “Reclaim Power,” to transform the talks into a people’s assembly, one of the marchers interviewed on Wednesday’s Democracy Now was Alicia Garza, co-executive director of POWER in San Francisco and revered as a leader in economic and environmental justice struggles in Bayview Hunters Point. “We’re out here to raise up democracy,” she declared. "We see all of these hundreds of people who want to be inside, who want to have a say, who want a seat at the table, to be able to say, 'Look, we need a better plan. We need to have drastic reductions. We need to raise up resilience in the Global South. And if we don’t do that, if you all are not going to do that for us, then we’re going to do it instead.'” – Video frame: Democracy Now!
Other resource people from many other organizations will also be present, including Gopal Dayaneni of Movement Generation; Alicia Garza of People Organized to Win Employment Rights in San Francisco; Marisa Franco of Right to the City Alliance in New York; Roxana Aguilar of Strategic Actions for a Just Economy in Los Angeles; Jill Johnston of the Southwest Workers Union; José Bravo of Just Transition Alliance in San Diego; Cecil Corbin-Mark of West Harlem Environmental Action and the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum in New York; Jacqui Patterson of Women of Color United in Georgia; and Diana Pei Wu of the Movement Strategy Center in California.

Representatives of indigenous and low-income people of color environmental justice communities from Canada and the United States are in Copenhagen to represent the voices of our communities and the organizations that work to secure the rights and justice of low-income, indigenous, people of color and immigrants in the United States. Throughout our time in Copenhagen at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change we have heard the cries from our brothers and sisters from the Global South and have shared our stories of struggle.

Some of the countries that are most impacted, including Kenya and Indonesia, are the homelands of Obama’s – and our – relatives. We ask that Obama show respect to the peoples of Africa, indigenous groups and the Global South by publicly acknowledging their realities around mitigation and adaptation to climate change and discussing the real solutions the United States can and will offer to those most impacted by climate change in the South.

False solutions increase the pollution experienced in our communities and negatively affect the health and well-being of our people. The negotiating position of the U.S. government in this process has been the single biggest barrier to progress both in the Conference of the Parties process and for real solutions at home. Between out-of-process side deals, weak targets, false solutions, lack of transparency and a failure to commit to a legally binding agreement, the U.S. is gambling with the future of life on this planet.

We come together to demand a more fair and open treaty negotiations processes; rapid, deep reductions in emissions; payment of climate debt; a rights-based approach to international and domestic climate change policy and the inclusion of our communities in the processes.

Diana Pei Wu can be reached at dianapeiwu@gmail.com.

African American environmental justice advocates appeal to world leaders to honor commitment to communities most impacted by climate change

Copenhagen, Denmark – Temperatures are rising at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen as negotiators scuffle to reach a consensus before heads of state arrive later this week. Many African American environmental justice NGO representatives balance support for the Global South and their own communities back home as the focus turns to President Obama’s speech this coming Friday.

Speaking to the press, Felicia Davis of Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative and Black Women’s Roundtable said, “I’m here to advance gender equity within the climate negotiations, to connect with other women from around the world … and certainly to urge President Obama to mention gender and women in his remarks on the 18th. … We suffer more from the impacts of climate change, and we’ve contributed least to the problem. … If we solve problems for women, it tends to solve problems for the whole community.” – Video frame: Dogonvillage
Speaking to the press, Felicia Davis of Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative and Black Women’s Roundtable said, “I’m here to advance gender equity within the climate negotiations, to connect with other women from around the world … and certainly to urge President Obama to mention gender and women in his remarks on the 18th. … We suffer more from the impacts of climate change, and we’ve contributed least to the problem. … If we solve problems for women, it tends to solve problems for the whole community.” – Video frame: Dogonvillage
“We want to support our president and certainly look forward to his speech,” said Felicia M. Davis, an environmental activist attending the conference representing Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (EJCC) and Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR). “However, the situation demands that America steps forward to lead the way by taking bold steps to reduce emissions and to usher in an era of equity in global agreements. Our sisters and brothers in the Global South and Global North are counting on us.”

Representatives from developing nations believe the industrialized world is not doing enough to reduce pollution. They want developed nations to commit to significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions along with the allocation of billions of dollars to poor countries.

“Developed countries created the climate crisis as they became wealthy and they have the financial resources to tackle it,” said Pan African Parliamentarians Network on Climate Change Executive President Awudu Mbaya Cyrpian.

During a press conference last week the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, a coalition of organizations in 43 countries across Africa, presented a letter for delivery to the Obama administration. The letter implores President Obama to consider the impacts of a 2 degree C temperature rise on Africa, describing this target as a death sentence for millions of Africans.

“We join with Africa in an appeal for a fair, ambitious, and binding agreement,” said Davis, who accepted the letter on behalf of EJCC and BWR.

On Monday the negotiations hit a snag after African nations accused rich countries of reneging on promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions and walked out of the negotiations. Delegates from nearly 130 developing countries, including Brazil, India and South Africa followed the Africans in the walk-out. Talks resumed on Tuesday.

“Women in rural Africa and India walk miles to get water; they have no cars. They are not polluting the world, yet their crops are failing due to pollution caused by luxury lifestyles in developed nations,” said Letitia Daniels Jackson, president of Tandeka, LLC, and member of BWR.

Representatives from EJCC and BWR have been in Copenhagen for over a week working to make sure underserved communities and women of color are properly embedded in any new climate protocol.

Nia Robinson, director of EJCC, commented from the nation’s capitol, “EJCC had a large presence at the conference to make sure that principles of environmental justice are included in the final document. We want people to see climate change for what it is, a human rights issue.” Robinson, who traveled to Poland, Montreal and Bali for earlier conferences, continues, “It is disproportionately affecting African Americans, other people of color, low-income people and indigenous communities around the world.”

“Women in rural Africa and India walk miles to get water; they have no cars. They are not polluting the world, yet their crops are failing due to pollution caused by luxury lifestyles in developed nations,” said Letitia Daniels Jackson.

In addition to attending work sessions, side events and private meetings with high level officials, the group joined over 100,000 people from around the world in a rally and march in support of a legally binding global agreement on emissions cuts. EJCC youth created and participated in a number of actions garnering international media attention.

On Wednesday, Dec. 16, BWR and EJCC hosted a roundtable conversation with Black women and women of the Global South at the Greenlantic House in Copenhagen.

The Black Women’s Roundtable is an intergenerational civic engagement network of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. The BWR Healthy, Wealthy & Wise National Policy Forum Series is a national roundtable tour designed to provide women with strategies and tools proven effective in addressing critical issues confronting Black women and girls. This past July, BWR submitted key policy recommendations on climate change to Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Obama for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.

“We advised the administration that Black Women’s Roundtable is extremely concerned about the impact of U.S. climate policy upon women globally – especially impacts in developing regions such as Africa and the Caribbean where women are primary food producers whose livelihoods are threatened by changing climates,” stated Melanie L. Campbell, executive director of The National Coalition and convener of BWR. “These and other disproportionate impacts of climate disaster on poor and rural women should be addressed as the U.S. asserts leadership in this critical policy arena.”

A leader in domestic climate action, EJCC is a national coalition of over 30 environmental and climate justice, advocacy, faith-based and other social justice organizations. The nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots organization is also committed to informing youth of color about the issue of global warming and climate justice.

Contact Edrea Davis at edmedia@dogonvillage.com. For more information, visit www.ncbcp.org and http://beyondcopenhagen.ning.com.

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