Thursday 24 December 2009

Sights & sounds of climate justice protest in Wellington

by Grant Brookes  

The collapse of the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, aimed at reaching a binding deal on greenhouse gas emissions, has dismayed people around the world. But it has also made it clearer that we can't rely on business leaders and politicians to solve the problem. The finger pointing has already begun, as political leaders from different countries blame each other for the failure to reach a deal.  

Conflict, rather than cooperation, was built into the talks from the start. The framework for negotiations was all about market mechanisms like emissions trading schemes, where businesses, nations and trading blocs try to secure competitive advantages over their rivals. Even if a deal had been reached at Copenhagen, it would not have been enough to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Emissions trading schemes – proposed by the National-led government and supported in principle by all the other parties in parliament except ACT, and by "Big Green" organisations like Greenpeace – simply allow corporations to pay for the right to cook the planet to death. Emissions trading schemes won't stop climate change and are unjust, shifting costs away from business and onto grassroots people and developing nations.  

This was the message of 150 people who took to the streets in Wellington on the morning of Monday, December 21. The protesters included a group of "Radical Cheerleaders" and a samba band. They took aim at the root causes of climate change, disrupting business at the NZX stock exchange and scaling the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade building to unveil a banner, and were met by a group of counter-demonstrators claiming to belong to "Capitalism Represents Acceptable Policy" (C.R.A.P.). 

The protest came at the culmination of the first Camp for Climate Action Aotearoa in Upper Hutt, where 200 people came together for five days of sustainable living, education, direct action and movement building. Climate Camps (there have been at least 19 worldwide this year) seek to address the real causes of climate change and build a people's movement that can stop it. "

After the inevitable failure of yet another UN climate summit, it should now be clearer than ever that the only people we can count on to stop runanaway climate change are ourselves", said Climate Camp participant Claire Dann. 

  "Just like the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme, the UN climate talks are part of the problem, not the solution", added Gary Cranston. "Both put profit before people, both are infested with polluter friendly loopholes and as a result, neither are capable of achieving climate justice.  

"Trading carbon credits is used to give people the impression that something is being done about climate change, when it actually isn't.

"Ordinary people have the power to stop the government and big business from throwing away our future for continued profit. We invite everybody in Aotearoa to come and join the global movement for climate justice that will address the climate crisis".

Turn up the sound and click on the slideshow below. This is what the movement looks like, and sounds like.


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