WECAN International Report-Back From GCAS and Peoples Movement Actions, September 2018

Women for Climate Justice on the steps of San Francisco City Hall at the end of the Rise For Climate march – Photo via Emily Arasim/WECAN International
“We are speaking out on behalf of a growing movement of diverse women for global climate justice. We are speaking out in recognition of the sacred interdependence of all life on Earth, and with respect for the Rights of Nature, and with the knowledge that business-as-usual economic models predicated on fossil fuel extraction have ushered in an era of unprecedented planetary distress, in which life as we know it is dangerously threatened.”- From the ‘Call For Climate Justice and Immediate Action’

For several days in mid-September, the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) brought international political, business, and other representatives, to Indigenous Ohlone Territory, San Francisco Bay Area, California to discuss efforts to accelerate the goals of the Paris Climate Accord.

Aware of the extremely dangerous gap between rhetoric and reality within the GCAS – WECAN International joined allied women’s rights, human rights, racial justice, climate change, labor, and Indigenous rights organizations (amongst others) – to seize upon the moment to call out false and inadequate solutions; demonstrate community-driven solutions; and put forward an uncompromising vision for real climate leadership that breaks free from the fossil fuel industry, and is led by those most impacted by social and environmental injustice.

WECAN International team members spent a week on-the-ground in the Bay Area, participating alongside many allies in vital peoples movement actions, events, and activities parallel to the Global Climate Action Summit – and were also joined by various WECAN International coordinators and advisors.

Our work included organizing and marching with a ‘Women for Climate Justice’ Contingent at the Rise For Climate march; holding a press conference featuring prominent grassroots leaders; hosting a full day public event, the ‘Women’s Assembly For Climate Justice’; writing and presenting a vital ‘Call to Climate Justice and Immediate Action’ to the GCAS leadership; advocating inside of the GCAS; and joining allies in the streets for actions to denounce false solutions and corporate greenwashing – and instead lift up community-led solutions, Indigenous rights, rights of nature, and feminist leadership.

Women organizing together in parallel to and inside of GCAS was an opportunity to lift up narratives on the effectiveness of  regional solutions specific to place and local communities, and show how these community-led programs and projects are essential for just climate solutions. We brought forward the question of how women’s groups can and are influencing the political discourse – and can address root causes of the climate crisis and social and economic injustices, thus creating a counter- narrative to business as usual by many elected officials.

Our strategy and analysis at GCAS, and far beyond, is best summarized with the words of our ‘Call to Climate Justice and Immediate Action’, which reads –

“We are calling for a transformation of how we relate to the natural world and to one another. We must transition from an extractivist, colonial paradigm of “exploit and extract” to a sustainable, globally-conscious one of “respect, restore and replenish.” We must rapidly halt the extraction and burning of coal, oil and gas, while simultaneously building a new economy predicated on community-led solutions and women’s rights, Indigenous rights, the rights of nature and the rights of future generations.

This starts with policies to promote energy democracy, in which women, Indigenous people, communities of color, low-income communities, municipalities and small businesses are empowered to own and manage our energy resources. We must recognize the inalienable rights and invaluable traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples, and follow their environmental justice leadership in climate solutions. Such a plan must also prioritize and advance women’s leadership, as women are disproportionately harmed by climate change while possessing unique knowledge and skills to drive innovative solutions. Finally, we must protect biodiversity, seed sovereignty, and food security, and respect the rights of nature for the forests, oceans, rivers and lands upon which all life depends.

Crucially, we must do everything we can to ensure justice is respected in the transition to 100% renewable, regenerative energy. Any solution that does not safeguard the dignity and flourishing of people and the planet must be rejected. False solutions, such as dangerous nuclear power plants; increased natural gas extraction; mega-dams that cause irreversible damage to biodiversity, food sovereignty and livelihoods; geo-engineering; bioenergy; carbon trading schemes; and carbon capture and storage have no place in the Just Transition.

Finally, we call on all governments to respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest, and to immediately halt the criminalization of land defenders, whose efforts are central to a climate-just world.”

Learn more about core actions and events via this recap blog of analysis, resources, photos, and videos.

Women For Climate Justice Press Conference

To begin our week of activities, the Women’s Earth and Climate Action network organized and hosted a live press conference ‘Stories and Solutions From Grassroots, Frontline, and Indigenous Women’, featuring women living and working on  the frontlines of climate change: Kandi Mossett White(Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lead Organizer on the Extreme Energy & Just Transition Campaign with the Indigenous Environmental Network); Eriel Deranger (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Indigenous Climate Action, Canada); Jacqueline Patterson(Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Environmental and Climate Justice Program); Thilmeeza Hussain (Former Deputy Ambassador to the UN from the Maldives; WECAN Advisory Council Member; Founder of Voice of Women, Maldives); and Antonia Juhasz (Energy author, investigative journalist and analyst); with Osprey Orielle Lake (Executive Director of WECAN International)..

Watch the full press conference here – and learn more via the press conference recap press release here.

Women For Climate Justice In Action For

‘Rise For Climate, Jobs, and Justice’

Women for Climate Justice prepare to march together in San Francisco – Photo via Emily Arasim/WECAN International