In advance of Sunday's People's Climate March, global climate activists, social justice organizers, and environmental leaders gathered in New York City on Saturday for the NYC Climate Convergence, a "conference, skill share, and festival rolled into one."
Featuring labor leader and clean water activist Oscar Olivera; anti-GMO activist and author Vandana Shiva; undergound hip hop artist and humanitarian Immortal Technique; Climate Justice Initiative Director for the NAACP Jacqui Patterson; and Green Shadow Cabinet president and former presidential candidate Jill Stein, along with many others, the event is aimed at expanding people's perception of climate movement and advocating concrete solutions that challenge an exploitative economic system rather than accommodate it.
Scheduled workshops and panel discussions address everything from the politics of boycotts to indigenous rights to the connection between war and climate change. The closing session on Saturday evening will feature author Naomi Klein, whose new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate is the galvanizing tome of the weekend. She’ll be joined by South African community organizer Desmond D’Sa, Olga Bautista from the Southeast Side Coalition against Petcoke, and the NAACP's Patterson.
The Organic Consumers Association, with whom Shiva will be marching on Sunday, was one of the long list of organizations hosting multiple workshops during the conference.
“OCA is participating in the organization of this year’s Climate Convergence...in order to draw attention to the climate crisis caused by our modern industrial agriculture model, and the role organic agriculture can play in solving this crisis,” said Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexico affiliate, Via Organica.
- Millions of jobs in renewable energy, conservation, and public transit
- A just transition from fossil fuels and nuclear power
- Climate-friendly food and farming; new water and sanitation systems
- An emergency transition to a new kind of economy
- Tax the rich and slash the bloated military budget
Organizers said grassroots mobilization was necessary in the face of bureaucratic inaction.
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“After 19 years it’s clear that the UN climate change negotiating process is broken,” said Pace University physics professor Chris Williams, co-founder of System Change Not Climate Change. “A profound shift in emphasis and action toward confrontation with the priorities of corporations, neoliberalism and the political bankruptcy of world leaders is required.”
In a public letter to "fellow climate justice campaigners," Stein added:
We cannot solve the climate emergency while the predatory neoliberal assault rages on in all other sectors of society. So the Convergence is working to expand the “climate” movement into a unifying movement for People, Planet and Peace over Profit, calling for system solutions as big as the crisis barreling down on us, AKA a Green New Deal: 10s of millions of jobs to create 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, new water, health and public transit systems, and climate friendly organic food production—paid for by taxing the top 1%, and slashing the bloated military budget.
We are Converging not only to march, but to advance the concrete agenda, strategy and infrastructure for this movement of movements that is emerging before our very eyes, and none to soon.
Watch the NYC Climate Convergence live stream here: