Alternate Summit Opens with Call for Climate Justice
The Hague, November 19, 2000-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 lace of significant progress in the climate negotiations on giant oil corporations.
Delegates from people of color communities in the United States,
Mexico, and South Africa lay the groundwork for building a global climate justice movement.
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 ad environment have already bee 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 world's climate."
Also speaking of 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."
Margie Richard of Norco, Louisiana, Bobby Peak of Cape Town, South Africa,
and Isaac Osuoka of the Niger Delta, Nigeria share their common struggle against giant oil refineries.
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 Srivastaava, 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."
Third World Network leader Chee Yoke Ling gives a keynote address at the Climate justice Summit.
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 ad real reductions of CO2 emissions by resisting new oil projects in their lands. People like the Cofanes in Ecuador, the Ijaw in Nigeria and U'wa in Columbia 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 ran through Monday evening, November 20th. For more information see Corporate Watch website at www.corpwatch.org/climate.