Calif. climate activists set sights on COP21

By NICHOLAS ISAAC

 As governments and some 40,000 corporate negotiators, scientists of different persuasions, and other mostly corporate-friendly parties prepare to attend the Nov. 30-Dec. 12 United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, environmental and climate-crisis organizations are preparing massive and perhaps unprecedented mobilizations around the world.

Fear is widespread that this 21st UN-sponsored climate meeting will propose nothing to stop the earth’s temperature from rising beyond the point of no return—the point where catastrophic and irreversible changes threaten all life on earth. Few, if any, environmental and related movement organizations believe that the world’s greatest polluters have any intention of subordinating their highly profitable fossil-fuel extraction to the interests of humanity. Indeed, the greatest of the polluters, the U.S. and China, have every intention of increasing their production and use of fossil fuels!

Activists from 350.org and a broad range of other concerned organizations on the East Coast are making preparations for a massive mobilization in Boston on Dec. 12, the last day of COP21. They chose the last day of COP21 to indicate their lack of confidence in any of the “solutions” proposed to date and to state unequivocally that only a massive international movement, a “movements of movements,” is capable of saving the earth and its inhabitants from the destructive forces of today’s profit-driven polluters.

In Northern California, a broad coalition of environmental groups, labor unions, social justice, antiwar, and human rights groups, and a number of socialist parties, has been meeting in Oakland union halls for the past two months to plan a mass march and rally through downtown Oakland on Nov. 21. Leading organizations include 350.org chapters in all Bay Area counties, the Sunflower Alliance—which focuses on defending frontline communities—System Change Not Climate Change, and a host of groups aimed at fighting California fracking, coal transport, explosive bomb trains, and environmental racism. Socialist Action, Solidarity, DSA, ISO, and CoC have also been actively building this effort.

The Northern California Climate Mobilization (NCCM) traces its origin to its Sept. 21, 2014, mobilization of 5000 in Oakland in solidarity with the historic New York City march of 400,000 on the same date.

The coalition’s meetings have democratically discussed, debated, and hammered out an impressive list of points of unity and demands, perhaps the most advanced in the U.S. climate-crisis movement to date.

In contrast to the powerful 350.org-sponsored Sept. 21 mass march through Midtown Manhattan last year, which had no formal demands or speakers, and was led by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Albert Gore, and an assortment of some 25 elected Democrats, the Northern California Climate Mobilization demands reflect a growing awareness that the powers that be have no intention of implementing any “solutions” other than the ineffective palliatives that meet the corporate-driven headlong rush for increased fossil fuel extraction, not to mention endless oil wars for imperial domination.

This year, after another 12 months of capitalism’s pillaging the environment and an outpouring of scientific confirmation of global warming rates exceeding initial predictions—not to mention unprecedented and deadly heat waves everywhere—the movement has taken some important steps forward.

The NCCM demands include: “A global agreement to implement dramatic and rapid reduction in global warming pollution—Keep fossil fuels in the ground!” and “100% clean, safe, renewable energy!”

Central demands also include: “End all fracking, tar sands mining and pipelines, offshore drilling, arctic drilling! Stop expansion of the extractive economy! Wind, solar, geothermal power now! No coal exports or crude-by-rail bomb trains in Northern California!”

The coalition also focuses on a host of inseparable issues aimed at uniting the broadest sectors of working class America, oppressed people and the labor movement. These can serve the emerging and critically necessary U.S. “movement of movements” quite well as an initial political orientation for effective mass resistance to the doomsday scenario increasingly pressed forward by corporate America’s “profits first at any cost,” ruling elite. The NCCM states that all of the above are “the conditions necessary to create…

  • “A world united to repair the ravages of climate change:

“Industrial countries and polluting corporations of the global north need to pay their ecological debt to society and to the global south by providing funding for developing countries and vulnerable communities worldwide to adapt to the impacts of climate change and convert to sustainable economies.

  • “A world with an economy that works for people and the planet:

“Billions of dollars for energy efficiency and conservation. We need a just transition to a sustainable, demilitarized economy based on renewable energy, clean transportation, and jobs for all at union wages. Convert water-wasting, polluting factory farms to sustainable organic agriculture. End corporate personhood; end ‘money equals free speech’; end billionaire purchase of elections.

  • “A demilitarized world with peace and social justice for everyone; where Black Lives Matter; where good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities belong to all:

“End all forms of oppression and discrimination. No to environmental racism and pollution of indigenous, low-income, and frontline nations and communities. Respect all indigenous lands. No militarized police. No wars. No nuclear weapons or power. A true ecological approach must integrate questions of justice to protect biodiversity, honor all life on earth, and lift all people out of poverty” (See NorCalClimateMob.net).

Climate scientists examining previously submitted COP21 proposals have concluded that none come close to achieving the UN’s own announced goal of preventing a 2-degrees Celsius global temperature rise. Indeed, the new proposals lead toward a mean global warming temperature rise of 3 or 4 degrees Celsius, which would reshape the world.

California, which has experienced 1.3 degrees Celsius of warming in the last 100 years—and the rate of warming has accelerated in recent decades—is currently in the midst of a historic drought that has completely eliminated drinking water in some areas. There is no time to wait while the capitalists talk it over.

The only way to prevent further devastation is to build a powerful worldwide mobilization whose focus goes far beyond targeting climate-change deniers and a few egregious corporations, and leads in the direction of challenging capitalism itself—the polluting and pillaging system ruled by the minority corporate elite who are destroying the planet.