LIONS’ TALES – 2nd Climate Justice workshop 18/02/12

The workshop was lively, informative and interactive.  An initial activity enabled us to introduce ourselves and to show our interconnectedness.

In small groups, we examined and ranked according to future significance a number of global trends. There was consensus that the growing division between the countries of the rich North and the poor South, generated by the world’s economic system, will create serious future problems. Currently $60trillion = global GDP; 7 billion people – so equal distribution of wealth would give $8,500 for each person in the world per year.

Do you need position to have influence? The case of Wangari Mathai – getting access and influence – she was listened to. Counter example given of Rosa Parks – she was part of systematic campaign – one of many ‘Rosa Parks’ and the bit that gained media political attention- a massive campaign and fight for justice. Riding on the shoulders of little people as well as giants. Every action counts.

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar gave a presentation on the impact of climate change on Pakistan.  The flooding of 2010 had a serious impact on fresh water supplies and on agriculture, with women and children being particularly vulnerable. Rising sea levels are destroying the mangroves along the coast. Women, who own only 1% of the land, are especially affected and groups are pressing for an end to discrimination. The ‘War on Terror’ and international conflict takes resources and attention away from the issue of climate change impact.

In groups we identified climate change impacts that we knew of and then a list of success stories, some of which were shared with the whole group. (see below)

Caroline Downey gave a short talk on ‘Earth Rights’. Climate change is increasing poverty and impacting on poor people in all countries. East Africa has been dealing with increased drought for years. We noted the huge contraction of the Aral Sea in central Asia. Although corporations such as BP, Ford and Shell advertise their green credentials, they are at best just tinkering. At worst, as with Shell in Nigeria, water, land and air have been polluted, health and safety neglected, armed conflict generated and activists such as Ken Saro-Wiwa have been murdered.

The concept of the rights of Mother Earth was introduced, seeing the earth as living and having intrinsic worth which could be protected by property law. Lawyer and activist Polly Higgins is working to make ‘ecocide’ legal to protect the planet from exploitative and damaging activity. Besides the Earth Rights Institute in Senegal, other inspiring initiatives are Practical Action and the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature with Bolivia taking a lead.

An interesting quote

‘about Mother Earth’; ‘rights of Mother Earth’

‘Manchester: a Certain Future is not a climate change action plan but a carbon reduction plan’

‘solar energy more used in the South’

A key questions raised

‘why local councils are slow in taking steps towards tackling the issue’

‘how do we communicate effectively within the local population’

‘how much are we doing as a city council in terms of actions rather than just plain talk’

‘I would like to know more about glacial meltdown and how it affects the environment’

Some key points from Session One

Global capitalist economic system and economic-political pressure for economic growth – driving rising CO2 emissions and global warming. Historically the North is responsible; currently Northern living standards and increasing Southern emulation are feeding the trend to dangerous levels.

Climate science shows the cause of increasing extreme and unpredictable weather events – but do Governments and corporations  – where most decision making power is sited – want to just ‘manage the monster’ , or seek more radical response. Climate violence = decisions taken, such as Tar Sands exploitation, even though the science tells us this will lead to more climate change impact , more deaths and loss of livelihood; an abuse and misuse of power.

Southern Indigenous peoples’ thinking and spiritual relationship with the Earth – is a different way of conceptualizing the issue.

For more information on exercises, actions and responses click on this link.