Corrie Ellis (IICAT:2/27/2014) / Richard Widick (IICAT:9/25/2016)
Greetings! We are the IICAT Climate Justice Project, consisting of eight researchers and activists at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the International Institute of Climate Action and Theory:
UCSB Sociology professor John Foran, Dr. Richard Widick of UCSB’s Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies, UCSB Sociology graduate students Corrie Ellis and Summer Gray, Sociology major Ben Liddie, and 2013 UCSB graduates Natasha Weidner (Environmental Studies) and Emily Williams (Environmental Studies).
We traveled to COP 19 in Warsaw to participate in the UN climate talks, where we interviewed climate youth activists for eventual production of e-book and a film that we hope will help build the climate justice movement as it tries to shape the global climate treaty that is being negotiated for 2015.
On Saturday, May 10, 2014, we hosted a conference, “Re-imagining Climate Justice,” at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Visit our conference website www.climatejusticeproject.org for more information.
Scroll down to check out our posts from After Warsaw, Just Back from Warsaw, and On the Ground in WARSAW. Keep scrolling down to earn more about who we are and our plan for a year of public scholarship and activism focused on climate justice politics and the next universal climate treaty, now under construction by the member states of the United Nations….
— AFTER WARSAW —
As the weeks and months pass after Warsaw COP 19, our team has had time to reflect on some of the larger lessons that might be learned from time spent inside the negotiating halls.
The following space is dedicated to these Post Warsaw Reflections from members of IICAT CJP.
Stop being disappointed: re-imagine climate governance: A reflection on the UN approach to climate governance
by Natasha Joyce Weidner, September 1, 2014
There is a perpetual cloud of disappointment hovering over the UN climate change negotiations. Rich countries won’t give money to poor countries for adaptation and mitigation. Heavy emitters won’t commit to meaningful emissions cuts. Nations are unwilling to compromise with one another, unwilling to take the actions that the science recommends, unwilling to come to an agreement that might save humanity from the greatest ecological crisis in our history. My question is, how can we expect them to? We live in a globalized world dictated by the merciless greed of the capitalist economy, which benefits a very small proportion of the people on earth and exploits the rest. >>>read more
–Just Back from WARSAW–
We are back on the ground in Santa Barbara where we plan to refresh our energies and then get to work analyzing the 25+ interviews, hours and hours of film, photos, notes, thoughts and analyses we collected in Warsaw. We feel privileged to have learned from so many diverse, passionate and talented activists who converged in Warsaw to address climate change. While Warsaw was a disappointment, the movement is growing, getting stronger and planning to work throughout the coming year to build links, share knowledge and go to COP 20 armed with energy and support to push for action at the COP.
— ON THE GROUND IN WARSAW —
The COP has begun! The IICAT Climate Justice Project is busy collecting interviews with climate activists, making connections, observing actions and filming it all.
We’re here and we’re meeting and speaking to many amazing people who’ve come together because they care about solving the biggest crisis we’ve ever confronted. There is an outpouring of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Philippines – folks are fasting in solidarity and working to make sure that this conference of the parties makes decisions that will help those suffering from typhoon Haiyan and other climate change disasters around the world. As one of our interviewees said, however, the COP didn’t cause climate change and it likely won’t solve the problem. On the flip side, capitalism has caused the problem and is not the solution. As many here remain oblivious to this fact, we think it is important for all who can be present at the COP to engage with this process. That’s why we are here. We, the IICAT Climate Justice Project, are getting involved in this argument and documenting and supporting the voices pushing for climate justice. We advance what knowledge we have, we lend all of the strength that we can muster and we ask for help and for people to share their knowledge so we can become better oriented and better serve the climate justice movement in our mission of creating knowledge for more precise climate action and more just climate governance.
November 21st – The Walk Out
On the second to last day of the conference, climate justice activists, lead by the youth and joined by an unprecedented coalition of the major NGOs (Oxfam, WWF, Friends of the Earth, Action Aid, Greenpeace) walked out on the COP to protest the utterly inadequate ambition and complete absence of action or progress toward addressing the climate crisis.
Walk Outers – iicat members included- wore white shirts and/or signs saying “COP 19: They Talk, We Walk” and on the back “Volvermos”, which means “we will be back” in Spanish, to signify that they were walking out on COP19 but not on the UN process and space. Most activists planned to return to the COP in 2014, to be held in Lima.
The Walk Outers lined up on the entrance steps of the National Stadium COP venue in Warsaw.
View from within the crowd as we walked out. A sense of joy and excitement to get to work planning and strategizing throughout the year and for COP 20 filled the air.
Before the walk out began, spokespeople from major NGOs held a press conference within the COP to explain why they were walking out. Black clad media swarm around the white clad spokespeople.
The Convergence Space: Activists made a vibrant community in a large building near the university in Warsaw. Important conversations and meetings of the Climate Justice Assembly, coffee, tea, apples, posters and people passionate about climate justice filled the space over the two weeks of the COP.
Wall size satirical posters linking each COP to a movie filled the main room.
Poster hanging in the main entrance: The Halls of Generation Zero
COP 1992, The Earth Summit in Rio, is framed by The Sound of Music. Above the movie title, “Capitalism and Free Markets” – The Happiest Sound in the World – gives the impression of COP 1.
COP 15, in Copenhangen in 2009, which smashed the hopes of many around the world, is framed by the Full Monty.
COP 19, in Warsaw is as simple as Dumb Happens
November 18th action at the World Coal Summit, held in Warsaw during the COP. Youth Activists uninvited the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueras from speaking at their conference after Figueras chose speaking at the Coal Summit over the youth. In this action, the medical community, anti-coal activists and a healthy lung triumph over dirty coal lobbyists. The banner on the ground reads “People Before Coal.”
More Photos of the Coal Summit Protest
—Sign held by activists
—Doctors vs. Lobbyists
—Activists mockingly play the role of the coal lobby, fanning themselves with loads of cash.
—People Before Coal and a Clean and Healthy Future are central messages of this action.
—November 16th March for Climate and Social Justice, Warsaw.
Team Member Natasha Weidner stands with the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change as marchers prepare to leave the Palace of Culture for the National Stadium.
Activists brave gray skies and cool temperatures during the march.
Hundreds of activists, like this man in the blue hat, rode “the climate train” to Warsaw from Belgium.
Team Member Summer Gray (foreground grey hat) films the march.
The fact that Warsaw is hosting the “Coal and Climate Summit” on November 18 and 19th is outrageous. Even more outrageous is the fact that Christiana Figueras, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, is speaking at the event! Early on, during the conference of youth, YUNGO – the youth coalition of the COP – gave Christiana a choice whether to present for YUNGO or the Coal Summit. Christiana chose coal.
Young people from around the world marched, urging adults to get their act together.
IICAT Press Conference on Youth Climate Movement with speakers Anjali Appadurai of Third World Network and formerly Earth in Brackets, John Foran of IICAT, Silje Lundburg of Young Friends of the Earth Norway and Reem Al Maella of the Arab Youth Climate Movement.
Polar bears, penguins and humans tug of war over the climate. The animals, of course, win!
Mock bureaucrat auctions off the COP to corporate interests such as IKEA, BMW and others.
Youth activists hold a lemonade sale for the Adaptation Fund. The meager donations they receive – a few Norweigian krone, half a dollar and a few Polish zloty – makes a huge contribution to the fund, which is currently full of empty promises from developed countries.
The Venue: The National Stadium in Warsaw.
Panel at Third World Network Side Event “What to Expect in Warsaw From the Negotiations.” Yeb Sano, the Delegate from the Philippines, sits second from right. At the opening plenary of the COP, Yeb made a moving speech in which he urged the COP to take strong action at this conference and announced that he will fast for the next two weeks in solidarity with the Filipino people dealing with the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.
Our team collecting an interview with a youth activist from Brahma Kumaris Environmental Initiative.
Youth action and fast in solidarity with the Philippines.
— WHO WE ARE —
Greetings! We are IICAT Climate Justice Project, consisting of eight researchers and activists associated with the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the International Institute of Climate Action and Theory:
UCSB Sociology professor John Foran, Dr. Richard Widick, UCSB Sociology graduate students Corrie Ellis and Summer Gray, Sociology major Ben Liddie, and 2013 UCSB graduates Natasha Weidner (Environmental Studies) and Emily Williams (Environmental Studies).
We traveled to the COP (Conference of the Parties) 19 in Warsaw to participate in the UN climate negotiations and to make an e-book and produce a movie to help build the climate justice movement as it tries to shape the global climate treaty that is being negotiated for 2015.
On May 10, 2014, we are hosting a conference, “Re-imagining Climate Justice,” at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Visit our conference website www.climatejusticeproject.com for more information.
“Climate justice” can mean many things: for us it is meaningful action toward the most progressive possible global climate treaty, the strongest possible social movement participation in creating that treaty, and through both of these channels the creation of a low-carbon, sustainable, equitable, and deeply democratic future. We believe that if we are to inhabit a livable world in coming years, this movement must become the biggest the world has ever seen.
Our goals for this year are to produce a book and a film documenting the global fight for climate justice, both of which we will make available to the public for free.
The project consists of several intertwined activities:
Attending the climate talks in Warsaw where our team of activists, investigators, writers, and photographers will be documenting the climate negotiators, carbon capitalists, and global climate justice movement activists, by interviewing whomever we can, with special focus on youth delegates and climate activists from the global south. We will be writing blogs and news analysis from Warsaw, posting photos and videos, and doing film and interviews while we are there.
Producing a 45-minute film, At the COP: The Global Youth Climate Justice Movement, that focuses on the actions and visions of the young activists of the movement for use in schools, community settings, and in movement organizations, to be ready in the summer of 2014.
Publishing a high-quality, beautifully illustrated and wonderfully free of cost e-book, At the COP: Global Climate Justice Youth Speak Out, to be ready in May 2014, including interviews, blog posts, and other materials gathered at COP17 in Durban, South Africa in 2011 and COP18 in Doha, Qatar in 2012.
Hosting a conference, Reimagining Climate Justice, at our home institution, the University of California, Santa Barbara, on May 10th 2014. This gathering, open to everyone, is a space for envisioning ways to help make the many struggles for climate justice stronger and more creative as they scale up their efforts to force governments and the corporations who control them to take the measures necessary to ensure a livable planet for future generations.
No political process or treaty construction has ever held more universal importance, so we think it’s crucial to get involved and let people know that the whole world is not only watching, but participating in whatever way they can. We hope to provide them with the support they need; by scrutinizing the small print of the official documents, tracking the polite but deadly serious exchanges between negotiators, exposing the maneuvers of the big corporations and their cheerleaders, and, especially, spreading far and wide the analyses, actions, and dreams of the climate justice movement, composed of organizations and individuals from all over the world.
— OUR TEAM —
Corrie Ellis is a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, an activist with 350 Santa Barbara and a Research Associate with the International Institute of Climate Action and Theory. Corrie studies women, climate change activism, development and labor. Her master’s thesis documents women’s accounts of life and labor conditions on a Fairtrade rose farm in Ecuador. She is excited to be embarking on a new project focused on how women and men activate as climate justice activists and the challenges and supports they encounter as they fight to save our Earth. Raised in Idaho, Corrie loves being outside and working to ensure that all people are able to enjoy a beautiful and healthy environment now, and in the future.
John Foran has taught sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara since 1989. His books include Fragile Resistance: Social Transformation in Iran from 1500 to the Present (1993, get it free here) and Taking Power: On the Origins of Third World Revolutions (2005). Since attending the COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, he has taken constant inspiration from the global climate justice movement, which he teaches, researches, and speaks about whenever he can (he has been accused of talking about nothing else). His blog from the 2012 Doha COP18 can be found here TBA). He is active in a number of local, national, and global organizations dedicated to climate justice, and writes for a number of on-line publications about these struggles (see his work here and here).
Summer Gray is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Research Associate at the International Institute of Climate Action and Theory. She is studying seawalls and climate change adaptation comparatively around the world, and is especially interested in the Maldives.
Ben Liddie is an undergraduate Sociology major at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he pursues a focus on queer theory, radical social change, and the environment. He is a highly involved student activist passionate about cultivating awareness and understanding of climate justice issues in his community and beyond. Ben is especially interested in networking with and mobilizing other youth activists interested in subverting the power structures, ideologies, and discourses that prevent a just climate from being actualized.
Natasha Joyce Weidner is an undergraduate in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has been involved in climate activism since 2009, when she attended the United Nations COP15 Climate Summit in Copenhagen as an accredited observer. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, her interests include sustainable agriculture, environmental education, radical social change, and latin dance. She is currently working on a thesis that examines sustainable development projects in Cuba.
Richard Widick holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he lectured on theory, culture, media, globalization, social movements and environment before moving to UCSB’s Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies. He is the author of Trouble in the Forest: California’s Redwood Timber Wars (University of Minnesota Press, 2009), an ethnography, cultural analysis, and 150 year social history of the US colonization and industrialization of California’s northern redwood region. The book is a history of the Indian wars and labor trouble that set the legal, social and ecological conditions for converging peoples, labor and environmental movements in the present era of globalization.
Emily Williams is a recent alumnus of UCSB, with a B.S. in Environmental Studies. She is currently a Campaign Director with the California Student Sustainability Coalition. Her primary focus as Campaign Director is in providing students support in their Fossil Free campaigns. The Fossil Free movement aims to get institutions to divest their funds from the top 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies. She was the coordinator for the Fossil Free campaign at UCSB from 2012-2013, and wrote her thesis on quantifying the external costs associated with the coal industry.