Workshop reports

Food sovereignty
Climate change is being driven by a food chain based on fossil fuels, and is also impacting on agricultural production. There is a need for systemic change.
The workshop heard from a couple of concrete examples of food sovereignty:

  • Cuba: This island nation has made a transition from dependency on imports to producing food agro-ecologically. This has been achieved by implementing a series of public driven policies – involving people in the policies.
  • Brussels: Urban farm – teaching people to grow food, selling directly to consumers. Driven by local initiatives.

At the international level, we are seeing an increase in the domination of agribusiness, and speculation. The international food economy is dominated by private industry. Sharing examples of different techniques can serve as a basis for innovation for the future. We need more people to get involved in food production, and also to learn where their food is coming from.

Forest, Carbon trading and REDD
This information sharing workshop looked at cap and trade markets, and the problems that they create. They reward polluting industry, and do not prevent GHG emissions. In particular, the system of international offsets creates negative environmental and social consequences.
Key companies and actors include EU energy companies (EDF) and investment banks (JP Morgan).
When searching for alternatives, we have to be aware that carbon trading puts a lot of things together that don’t belong together (climate finance, reducing emission in rich countries), in order to make a commodity. It delays effective domestic action to tackle climate change.
There is a clear need for developed countries to accept their historical responsibility for creating a climate debt, and shift the model of production within Europe rather than outsourcing.

Cochabamba People’s agreement
This workshop gave an overview of the steps that have been taken towards building a peoples climate movement. In particular, it looked at the “People’s protocol” and Cochabamba “peoples agreement”. A general discussion of strategy in building the movement identified the following points:

  • The importance of local actions and education, linked to global initiatives
  • Opposition to market based mechanisms, and need to reduce emissions in developed world
  • Call to people in Global North to consume less meat, and reduce consumption
  • Need to put human welfare and not profits first
  • Those companies responsible for climate crimes should be brought to justice

Green capitalism
This discussion proposed social strategies to develop consciousness among the exploited and oppressed. There is no short cut through techno-fixes or market based solutions. The change of consumption and production is not in contradiction, as both need to be done at the same time. This means a de-commoditisation of social relationships. Improve direct links between workers and peasants or Indigenous Peoples, for example through urban farming.
Other concrete anti-capitalist measures are needed, like free access to basic needs of the people like water, housing and a radical reduction of the working time and the rhythm of work.
All possibilities must be used to train and educate union activists to improve consciousness of the eco-crisis and global warming.

Indigenous Peoples and the impact of extractive industries
This workshop had presentations from two groups from Peru, opposing extractive industries in their country.
The Government wants to make money from mining in Peru. This threatens the very bio-diverse country, including areas that will be vital for the survival of these regions in times of climate change, particularly due to the supply of drinking water.
There is a growing opposition to these mining plans from social groups, but there is also an increase in repression.
More info on the website of Mining in Paradise: http://mininginparadise.org/

Access to energy/ Access to water
This workshop looked at the social dimension of climate change, including the high costs of energy for people living in poverty. Ecological measures are also not accessible for all, as a lack of funds means that some people are unable to borrow money for ecological investments.
The problem of availability of water is already affecting many regions, and water will become more scarce in some regions, especially those that are already dry.
The tendency to privatise and comodify water services, is also having a negative impact, in some regions access to water is controlled by a pre-paid card, meaning that water is not available to put out fires.
The role of trade relationships, and the inclusion of water in WTO negotiations has also increased the power of companies such as GDF and Suez
A World Water Forum will take place in Marseille in 2012. This is a summit organised by multinationals, but there will be an alternative civil society forum. On 22nd March 2011 there will be a warming up even, also in Marseille.

Lithium – the case of Bolivia
Bolivia plans to exploit Lithium in order to produce rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles. In doing so it is exercising sovereign control over natural resources which are typically exploited by transnational corporations. Bolivia is breaking the classical cycle, and might be considered to be best practice.
Popular support can be enhanced and broadened. Other conditions must also be fulfilled for the project to succeed. There is a need for more expertise (with international development cooperation as a solution) and mandatory transfer of technology, expertise and finance. The question of funding from oil and gas exploration remains.

Nuclear Power
Nuclear developments in Europe include new build of nuclear power, and lifetime extension of existing reactors. This hinders development of real solutions such as energy saving and renewable energy. The nuclear industry is currently trying hard to position itself as a solution to the climate crisis. Pro-nuclear propaganda must therefore be tackled.
There is also a need to look at the social aspect  of the way in which electricity is produced, the conditions of people working in nuclear power plants, and those digging uranium, and the need for a fair electricity price for all – which includes the real cost of nuclear power: decommissioning and waste.
Energy production should be decentralised, without a monopoly of a few companies, and controlled by the population. Liberalisation of energy markets may be a threat or a benefit because it allows alternative energy sources to come into play.

Employment and ecological crisis
This workshop identified challenges for the trade union and ecological movements. Several trade unionists, mainly working in the transport sector, presented their struggles to defend public services, and also for decent pay and conditions. Some trade unionists are working on ecological issues, but the level of awareness is still low. The question is how to make ecological campaigns attractive to working people, and how to work together across different movements. A key part of this struggle will be involving green organisations in the struggles of the trade unions.

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