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      Climate Justice Now! System Change, Not Climate Change!
      Climate Convergence in the struggle for a better world

      By Alison Bodine

      In 2022, the human cost of a rapidly warming planet and the climate chaos imposed on people worldwide was immense. Just 10 devasting events caused USD 168.1billion in losses, according to a report from the relief and development agency Christian Aid - Hurricane Ian (the U.S., Cuba), extreme drought in Europe, floods in China, drought in China, floods in Australia, floods in Pakistan, Storm "Eunice” (northern and central Europe), drought in Brazil, Hurricane Fiona (Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Canada), and floods in South Africa. The loss of life, mental and physical sickness and injury, unemployment, and complete disruption of the lives of poor, working and oppressed people around the world brought on by these disastrous events and more is not calculated, but it is undoubtedly even more devastating.

      Meanwhile, governments of the world’s richest capitalist countries, the world’s biggest polluters, continued to facilitate and subsidize business-as-usual climate destruction. This was blatantly evident in the COP27 Climate Change and COP15 Biodiversity United Nations international conferences.

      The United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP27 took place November 6-18 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. However, COP27 concluded with no concrete actions from the world's worst polluters to combat climate change or provide “loss and damage” funding to developing countries to combat the climate crisis and mitigate the devastating impacts that are already a reality. Instead, there are more empty promises. As with the previous 26 UN climate conferences, none of the agreements made during COP27 are binding, and there are no consequences if countries and governments do not fulfil their promises or meet their targets.

      This includes the government of Canada, which once again attempted to portray itself as a world leader in climate action at COP27. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. If the fact that the government of Canada owns the climate-destroying Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX) project wasn’t enough to expose their hypocrisy already, the Canada exhibition at COP27 quickly became infamous for giving a platform to climate criminals including tar-sands oil and gas executives and big bankers.

      The COP15 United Nations biodiversity conference took place in Montreal from December 7 – 19. Although this meeting ended with a deal to protect 30% of all land and water on Earth by 2030, it is plagued by the same contradictions as COP27, including that the agreements made are not binding. There are also concerns from many Indigenous peoples around the world that the protection of land and water will come in the form of a land grab against their traditional territories as governments find ways to meet the agreement without impacting lands and waters being exploited by the world’s richest resource extraction, manufacturing, and agricultural corporations.

      From oil, gas, and mining executives to representatives from Microsoft and Amazon, some of the world’s most prominent climate criminals were also at COP15 to be sure to impose their will on the conference outcome. This included representatives from the Canadian Bankers Association, representing the biggest five banks in Canada: RBC, TD, Scotiabank, CIBC and BMO. Since the Paris climate agreement in 2015, these banks have invested more than $900 billion into fossil fuels (National Observer).

      Yes, 2022 was a challenging year for Mother Earth and humanity, but it was also an important year of successful united organizing in defense of people and the planet.

      Climate Convergence Continues Organizing for Climate Justice

      In Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver, a grassroots climate justice coalition, organized 15 public actions in 2022, including 5 international webinars, 4 banner drops, 5 street actions, and 2 get-togethers for painting banners. Climate Convergence also collaborated on 7 united actions for climate justice, working with organizations such as the Mountain Protectors, Protect the Planet, SFU-350, 350Vancouver, BROKE, and Old-growth Vancity.

      Many of these successful actions were organized in November and December 2022, as organizing against the Coastal Gaslink (CGL) fracked gas pipeline and Trans Mountain expansion (TMX) dirty tar-sands oil pipeline increased in the face of escalating construction costs (and costs to taxpayers in Canada) and the continued violation of Indigenous rights.

      This began with a united action on November 5 to demand an end to the drilling under the Wedzin Kwa (Morice River) on Wet’suwet’en territory in Northern B.C. TC Energy, the company building the pipeline, began drilling in November despite the opposition of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and community members whose unceded land it crosses.

      Decolonial Solidarity, which has formed to campaign against RBC banks investment in the CGL pipeline, called on grassroots organizations, including Climate Convergence, to come together for a rally at Connaught Park in Vancouver, followed by a march to the RBC bank branch at Broadway and McDonald. Over 200 people joined the action, singing and chanting together to denounce the environmental destruction of the CGL pipeline and the ongoing harassment and brutality of Wet’suwet’en people and land defenders by RCMP and other police and security forces.

      The struggle against the CGL pipeline and the TMX pipeline are closely related, and it is important that organizing in the Lower Mainland continues to tie these struggles together – and expose that both the federal Liberal government and B.C. NDP government continue to give lip service to environmental concerns and Indigenous rights — while pressing ahead with massive resource extraction projects which entirely disregard both.

      On November 16, Climate Convergence organized a rush-hour Intersection action at 49th Avenue and Fraser Street in Vancouver, demanding: Stop the TMX & CGL Pipelines! People and Planet Before Pipelines and Profit! Activists joined with Decolonial Solidarity, who had an adopt-a-branch- action at the RBC on the corner earlier in the day, for a lively united protest of singing and chanting, and lots of support from cars passing by. There was also a light sign display, banners, and a table with information about the dangers of the TMX and CGL pipelines and the need to fight against the climate crisis.

      Then on December 7, Climate Convergence held our first in-person gathering and banner painting of the season. Organizers came together to share refreshments, discuss our future work, and create new bold and impactful banners to use at future events and actions – including the successful December 11 Festive Hug at Burnaby Mountain.

      The Festive Hug – a continuation of the “Hug Burnaby Mountain” event against the TMX pipeline in April 2022, was a great success. Climate Convergence co-sponsored the action alongside the main event organizers, Protect the Planet, Mountain Protectors, and 17 other organizations. There was a dynamic stage program, many beautiful crafts to create, and a great atmosphere of building for united work to stop the TMX pipeline as over 200 people gathered on Burnaby Mountain.

      In addition to ongoing work against the CGL and TMX pipelines, Climate Convergence also continued to organize events and actions around other issues vital to the local and international struggle for climate justice.

      On November 8, Climate Convergence organized a webinar, “Puerto Rico: Climate Catastrophe, Colonization and the Struggle for Independence.” This webinar featured special guest Monisha Rios, the founding director of Centro Solidario de Puerto Rico and current president of SOLI Puerto Rico, a network of Puerto Ricans in the struggle for peace and international solidarity. Monisha spoke passionately about Puerto Rico and her experiences in the climate and social justice movement, as well as about the ties of the government of Canada and Canada-based corporations to the ongoing colonization and destruction of the island's environment.

      Following Monisha, the webinar featured live greetings from the Protect the Planet, Stop TMX! Stoney Creek camp against the TMX pipeline from the land defender and water protector, Khursten. Then Alison Bodine, the host of the webinar and Climate Convergence central organizer, gave updates about the current struggle against the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline, emphasizing the importance of building a local movement connect to, and standing in solidarity with, the international struggle for climate justice.

      Then on December 17, Old-growth Vancity and Climate Convergence joined together for a rally for biodiversity coinciding with the United Nations COP15 biodiversity conference that was taking place in Montreal. The dynamic action was held in front of the constituent office of British Columbia NDP Premier David Eby in Vancouver. It called attention to the fact that while B.C. has the most biodiversity, meaning the highest variety of plants, animals and fungi, in all of Canada, the laws to protect it are practically toothless, and projects like the Coastal GasLink (CGL) and Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX) are destroying vital ecosystems daily. Activists demanded that Premier David Eby: Respect Indigenous knowledge and self-determination! Protect BC’s Biodiversity! Put People & Planet Before Pipelines! And Save Old-Growth Forests! Local television station CTV also came to cover the action, and an interview with Climate Convergence central organizer Alison Bodine aired on the news that evening.

      As long as we struggle, we know we can win!

      2023 will be an important year in the struggle for climate justice. Locally, across Canada and worldwide, we must work together to build a more united and stronger movement for climate justice. A movement that is capable of ending the status quo climate destruction and reversing its devastating impacts on people, biodiversity, and the environment.

      To do this, we must understand that what we need to build a sustainable and just future is not empty promises and completely inadequate commitments like those at COP27 and COP15, but a fundamental change in the relationship between humanity and Mother Earth. The planet can no longer sustain the capitalist system’s constant need for more resources and expanding markets. For this reason, we demand System Change, Not Climate Change! And we invite you to join us in this struggle!

      Climate Convergence meetings are held twice a month on Wednesday evenings, and everyone interested in joining the struggle for climate justice is encouraged to attend these meetings and other actions. Visit www.climateconvergence.ca for more information.

      Follow Alison on Twitter: @Alisoncolette

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