The struggle continues.
As I arrive in Ottawa late this evening after fifteen days in Mexico, my thoughts turn to what we as a movement need to do to better address the challenge of the climate change crisis.
1. How do we stop the Harper government?
It's particularly galling to read the commentary that the Harper government can effectively kill the only mandatory global agreement to curb carbon emissions - the Kyoto Protocol - at the Cancun climate conference and face little political risk or electoral consequence. If true, that says to me that our movement at home needs to be much stronger. How do we change that?
2. How do we get Canadians to care?
It's hard to shake the feeling that most Canadians weren't following the climate talks and may even think that climate change is something that is happening elsewhere, but not in Canada. Why weren't Canadians more outraged that the Harper government shot down C-311 in the Senate on the eve of these climate talks?
3. How do we speak the truth without being (further) marginalized?
The Bolivian government made the argument in Cancun that - given that 300,000 people die annually from climate change-related causes and that this number may increase to a million people a year - an ecocide and genocide is happening. Is this something we can say in Canada? Will a related call stating the imperative for Canadians to live in harmony with Mother Earth resonate or be ridiculed?
4. How do we more effectively use mainstream media?
I haven't yet seen how mainstream media in Canada is reporting on the agreement, but there is definitely the concern that they will uncritically frame it as a breakthrough, despite the fact that it is non-binding and allows for a dangerous increase in the planet's temperature. Add to that the Canadian media - unlike some of the foreign media - almost entirely ignored the social movement for climate justice and its actions in Cancun. How do we change this? How do we tell the story to more Canadians than is presently done through alternative media?
5. How do we affect COP 17 in Durban next December?
It has been said that we may have lost Cancun even before it started and that all that remained was for a predetermined script to be played out. Clearly we won't win Durban in Durban, that will happen in the months leading up to it. What do we need to do to achieve this?
There may be better ways of framing these questions and/or many more questions.
I might add - How do we support Bolivia against being politically isolated? Can we bridge some of the divisions in the climate movement?
The reality is that we didn't win in Cancun and that the severity of the climate crisis demands that we do win.
I look forward to the comments and discussions that will follow in the aftermath of the Cancun climate talks.
Hasta la victoria siempre.
Brent Patterson, Director of Campaigns and Communications, Council of Canadians
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