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Mind the gap: Climate negotiators and civil society don’t agree

By Elisa Garcia for Global Sisters Report
International Rights of Nature Tribunal - Mind the Gap Climate Negotiators and Civil Society Dont AgreePhoto: Indigenous leader from Ecuador speaks to crimes against nature by Chevron to a 13-member international panel of judges headed by South African lawyer Cormac Cullinan, author of Wild Law. Left is co-prosecutor Ramiro Avila. (GSR photo / Elise D. Garcia)

As the second day of the International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature opened in the packed auditorium of Maison des Métallos, a cultural center in the heart of Paris, a disturbing word was shared about the COP21 negotiations taking place just north of the city.

“Some countries are working to remove Proposal 10 today,” Ecuadoran Natalia Greene, secretary-general of the tribunal, said. “This is the only provision in the climate agreement that mentions indigenous people, the integrity of ecosystems, and Mother Earth.” She asked the 500 or more people attending to help generate a “Twitter storm,” urging climate negotiators to retain the language.

The struggle over that provision illustrates the gap that exists between civil society and COP21 government negotiators over what is needed to keep global warming below catastrophic levels. For civil-society and faith-based groups, the climate agreement must be responsive to the harm done to indigenous people and other communities already experiencing the ravaging impacts of climate change. It must protect the interconnected ecosystems that sustain life on our finite planet. And it must recognize our dependence on Earth and our interdependent relationship with one another and the larger community of life on Earth.

These aims require major economic, legal and social systems change, as reflected in the ubiquitous slogan on banners and posters, “Systems change, not climate change.”

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In her closing remarks, Linda Sheehan, JD, co-prosecutor at the International Rights of Nature Tribunal, observed, “There is not one word in the [COP21 climate agreement] about dams, or water, or fossil fuels, or fracking, or even oil.”

The draft agreement mentions the Earth only once, in the preamble. In contrast, Sheehan said, the agreement “mentions economics and the economic system 49 times.”

Read the full article Mind the gap: Climate negotiators and civil society don’t agree

Adrian Dominican Sr. Elise D. García is director of communications for her congregation and the former co-director of Santuario Sisterfarm, an ecology center in the Texas Hill Country dedicated to cultivating cultural and biological diversity. Follow her on Twitter: @elisegarciaop.