Dec 06, 2011

Fighting climate change on the frontline

by PhilLee — last modified Dec 06, 2011 08:57 AM

As environment ministers and heads of state arrive for the second week of the climate talks, hundreds of people affected by climate change were occupying whatever space they could to remind the people inside that the decisions being taken affect them directly.

La Via Campesina March Durban
Members of La Via Campesina on the streets of Durban.
The day started with a march through central Durban with our allies from the international peasant movement La Via Campesina.


Two hundred peasant farmers took to the streets to denounce the model of industrial agriculture as one of the main drivers of climate change and to expose the aggressive land grabbing tactics of agribusiness globally.


Speaking on the march Martin Drago, FoEI's food sovereignty coordinator, talked about the importance of sustainable agriculture:

“The climate and food crisis can be addressed through food sovereignty, basically promoting sustainable peasant agriculture and small-scale food production.”

the invisible entrepreneurs

Inside the walls of the International Conference Centre, the Global Alliance of Wastepickers carried out an action of sorting rubbish to demonstrate the importance of their work in tackling the climate crisis.

Wastepickers are workers in the informal economy who recover recyclable materials from waste. They are invisible entrepreneurs on the frontlines of the fight against climate change yet their abilities to recycle are being undermined by the so called 'solutions' that emanate form the climate talks.


Speaking in a press conference, Suman More from Pune, India, talked about her work as a wastepicker: 


"We sort waste into thirty categories. We compost what we can and sell it to farmers and the society where it was produced. By doing this we ensure that less methane is released in landfill sites."


She emphasised the difference between her work and the new players on the scene in India:


"We recycle waste, waste management companies burn this precious waste" she said.


The wastepickers action in the grounds of the conference centre where the climate talks are taking place.
The wastepickers find it ironic that the Clean Development Mechanism gives carbon credits to companies that operate incinerators and landfills, and that the Green Climate Fund could reward the private sector with contracts to do the work they do for free.

Suman stressed that, she and fellow members of the alliance, are part of the solution and want access to the Green Climate Fund:

"Wastepickers want to be integrated into municipal systems. We want to be allowed to go door to door to collect waste for composting."

strong targets

Later in the day the Rural Women's Assembly - that unites women's farming and agricultural movements from around the world - held a rally at Speakers Corner calling for strong Kyoto Protocol targets in the climate talks.

The women delivered their 'no new mandate' message to Seyne Nafo, a Malian spokesman for the African negotiators.

Today alone three alliances have shown that their ways of life are a solution to the climate crisis. It's only by listening to people who are living and working sustainably can we expect to avert catastrophic climate change. So far the negotiators are only showing token signs of doing that.