The UN Climate Conference (COP16) in Cancun is turning out to be both anti-climactic and anti-climatic.
Negotiators have given up on a binding agreement to limit emissions of greenhouse gases. Instead, they are seeking to expand schemes to allow contaminating industries and nations to continue with business as usual and add another lucrative area to their portfolios–trade in carbon offsets and credits.
On Tuesday, as U.N. negotiations on climate change geared up in the Caribbean beach resort of Cancún, thousands of people marched through the streets of Mexico City to demand grassroots solutions to global warming—and to the slew of other crises they face.
The peasants and workers, students and environmentalists gathered here don’t draw lines around issues. Demands for rural development and the release of political prisoners mix with calls to stop global warming and save the jungles. Peasant farmers from the poor southern states of Mexico walk somberly down the Paseo de la Reforma in four straight lines, their silence broken by the occasional collective slogan. Their discipline and gravity are a far cry from the image of destructive “globalphobics” that the Mexican government has reportedly been warning Cancún locals about. The smaller groups of students and activists are rowdier, dancing down the streets, holding banners, and laughing along the way.
Néstor Carlos Kirchner died Oct. 27 of a sudden heart attack. The former Argentine President and First General Secretary from UNASUR, died at the age of 60 years old at the peak of his political career. His wife, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will continue to run the country as she has been since December 2007. She will keep her governing role, but now without her operator, without the man who was willing to get his hands dirty, and loved it.
On Oct. 31, Brazilians elected their new president, Worker’s Party (PT) candidate, Dilma Rousseff. Over the last eight years, President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, has turned the world’s attention to Brazil like never before, as his country has increasingly participated on the international scene.
To understand what this will look like under the Dilma government, I sat down with Igor Fuser, international journalist and Professor at the Cásper Libero University in São Paulo. Fuser has a Masters degree in International Relations and is the author of the book “Petroleum and Power: U.S. Military Involvement in the Persian Gulf.”
When the environmental assembly of Gualeguaychú decided to lift the three-year blockade of the bridge that unites Uruguay and Argentina, a new stage of environmental social action began. Although resistance to the pulp mill continues, a new set of environmental problems affecting the people of the Uruguay River is beginning to appear on the horizon.
Managing our water commons thoughtfully in an age of growing energy demand and climate change is a considerable challenge, especially when the World Bank ignores its own advice to wean ourselves off large dams. That study by the World Commission on Dams finds large dams inconsistent with environmental and human rights standards. A global movement, including activists from Our Water Commons, continues to press to rein in the dam industry, invest in truly green solutions and apply common sense principles for how we manage our water.