Action by 2015!

By Kimberly Lopez Castellanos

“0 by 2050!” no “0 by 2030!”

Arguments and discussions on some political messages have arisen within the youth constituency. While drafting an intervention on the Long Term Goal, we discussed whether or not equity, common but differentiated responsibilities, and historical responsibilities should be in the text. Some said the inclusion of those words would diminish the probability of the negotiators listening to what the youth have to say because it is too ambitious. By not engaging as much in the conversation as other people, I was able to get an “observer’s” perspective.

These young voices are arguing about a text having terms, like CBDR, Historical responsibilities, and equity. Sound familiar? They’re turning into negotiators because they are so wrapped up in the technicalities and making sure that the text is realistic so certain countries pay attention and pass on the text. They refuse to make the draft ambitious to please others, when in reality, there are people suffering now!

This past week, I attended multiple discussions with people who are on the frontline. Frontline members are the people who are witnessing the most drastic impacts of climate change in their communities. I had the opportunity to attend a discussion with Kisilu Musya, a small-scale Kenyan farmer, who fought for about four years to get an irrigation system into his community. Through a documentary that was created from his video diaries, the audience saw Kisilu’s struggle. We saw as unexpected rains tore off his home’s roof. His crops were dying year after year despite having planted drought-resistant crops, like cassava and sweet potato. We also saw that his children were unable to go to school. Because of the accumulation of these problems, he began to fight for a working irrigation system in his community. It is not a solution to the whole problem, but it is a way to adapt to the unfortunate circumstances.

I also attended Crystal Lameman’s presentation, from the Beaver Lake Cree tribe in Canada. Due to the tar sands toxins in Alberta, the nation is suing Canada and Alberta to stop the over-development of in situ/SAGD tar sands developments to save what is left of their homeland and its resources. The toxics are getting into the waters from where they drink and polluting the air that they breathe. Because of these issues, she is involved in the Leap Manifesto that provides a guide to other struggling communities. The production of the Leap Manifesto was created to form a collaboration between activists and political figures, such as renowned writer/activist Naomi Klein and actress Rachel McAdams. The goal of this manifesto is to help figure out the “People’s” agenda, which in this case is to figure out what it is that the people of Canada want to happen in their country. That is why people from multiple backgrounds are involved and giving their input to what they believe is necessary to have a coherent vision in transitioning to a more sustainable path and to accomplish that, solutions need to come from a rights-based approach.

Then there are conversations that happen with people who are attending the COP to learn about what they can take back home. I talked to an individual from Nigeria that said he was not going to the inside space because it was a space that he could track from home. He preferred to be on the outside because he had the opportunity to talk to people acting NOW! He does not have time for negotiators to decide what could or should happen in his home. He wants to encounter people who are already doing something to make a change.

Situations like these are why we need the mechanism of Loss and Damage to become active. Developing countries need the finance from developed countries because they don’t have any more time to wait for adaptation! Adaptation is no longer an option. The need for common but differentiated responsibilities is necessary because developed countries need to be held accountable for their historical and even current emissions. They industrialized so much to become the greatest. They did not take into consideration the impacts this industrialization would have in other places. Now, they want the less than 500 billion tons of our carbon budget leftover to be distributed equally, rather than equitably. Equality does not have historical responsibilities. Developed countries refuse to take on the task of having to give finance to developing countries because that would mean allocating resources to places that are not their own. This nationalistic pride worsens basic human right principles by giving into the capitalistic greed. We see this in the draft text where “human rights” is in brackets in article 2bis; some countries have already decided to omit that essential wording. In a talk I attended at the Conference of the Youth, Sulak Sivaraksa said that in a Buddhist’s perspective, the three things that are the reasons behind suffering in this time of anthropogenic climatic change include greed, illusion, and hate. So much time is being spent questioning the validity of this calamity that we forget so much is already happening that needs resolution. So instead of planning on making a change in 2030 or 2050, why aren’t we working for a change to commence in 2015?

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