by Nancy Lawrence

On Sept. 19, I went to NY as part of the Labor Community Strategy Center/Fight for the Soul of the Cities to take part in the Peoples Climate March. Of course this was more than just a march. The rally was organized by Big Green groups 350.Org and Avaaz. This was in response to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s closed-door session of “world leaders” on climate change, which was designed to ram through market-based false solutions like Climate Smart Agriculture and REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), an aspect of the Kyoto Protocol to offset carbon emissions by financializing the natural processes of forests, that can define eucalyptus plantations as ‘forests.’ These are carbon land grabs that will replace small farmers and indigenous peoples from their lands. The march’s organizers had nothing to say about land grabs, while Ban Ki-Moon was allowed to be part of the march. Needless to say, the communities affected by this were not welcome at the UN’s closed-door session.

There was much controversy about the march, and some said we shouldn’t waste our time even coming to NY. Other controversies arose when the Green Zionist Alliance was allowed in the march following the destruction of Gaza by Israeli military attacks. Also, the march had NO demands. But those of us who want system change came with our own demands.
We have to fight the takeover of our movement by the so-called green capitalists. Actions like Flood Wall Street Stop Capitalism, the NYC Climate Convergence, a people’s climate justice summit, can help save our planet. There we linked the issues like Ferguson, MO, and US wars abroad, with global warming.

Science is telling us we have little time left to save our planet. Yet we live in a consumer society, where we are judged by what and how much we consume. In our car culture, we are separated from each other. The capitalist system has colonized our minds. We have very little time to turn things around.

Some of the most powerful climate warriors who showed up in New York were indigenous peoples from North and South America, as well as communities fighting on the front lines here in the US for environmental justice. For example, the Indigenous Environmental Network in Canada and the US had a strong presence. There were indigenous peasant leaders, such as Antolin Huascar Flores from Peru’s Confederacion Nacional Agraria, and Via Campesina, representing the indigenous campesinos who are a big part of the new global proletariat, two women – Patricia Gualinga Montalvo, a Quechua indigenous leader from the Sarayaku village in the Amazon in Ecuador, and Gloria Hilda Ushigua Santi, a leader of the remote Sapara people from the rain forest, defending Amazon lands and  indigenous rights. She was on a panel with Tom Goldtooth and two First Nation women from the struggle against the tar sands in Canada. Before the march began, at 6:00 AM, 600 indigenous people gathered for a moving and inspiring sunrise ceremony.
It’s important that we follow the lead of indigenous peoples like the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth which came out of Cochabamba, Bolivia. It challenges the capitalist system and US imperialism. We must rid ourselves, especially those of us of European descent, of the notion that the US knows best. We have to be open to new “cosmo-visions,” and reach out and learn from others. Socialism must become biocentric. Only then can we leave this nightmare behind, so that Mother Earth will have a future.

Nancy Lawrence is a member of the Peace & Freedom Party and the Labor Community Strategy Center. She organized a Climate Justice conference with the Grassroots Community Radio Coalition.

Nancy Lawrence is a member of the Peace & Freedom Party and the Labor Community Strategy Center. She organized a Climate Justice conference with the Grassroots Community Radio Coalition.

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