As political and business leaders convened in San Francisco this week for the Global Climate Action Summit, protesters assembled outside the city's Moscone Center on Thursday to denounce politicians and businesses for pushing an agenda that relies too heavily on corporate power and advances "climate capitalism"—instead of one that will truly solve the planterary crisis while representing the interests of the world's most vulnerable populations.
Chanting, "What do we want? Climate justice," hundreds of demonstrators—led by many indigenous and First Nations tribe members—attempted to stop Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) from entering the event. Those protesting demanded that he and other attendees work to end California's continued dependence on oil and gas production and end reliance on wealthy corporations for business-friendly solutions to the climate crisis—and turn instead to communities that are facing its effects head-on.
BREAKING: Climate justice activists, led by frontline communities, are risking arrest taking over the streets to block entrance to Governor Jerry Brown's Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.#BrownsLastChance #CommunitiesNotCorporations
— Kai Newkirk (@kai_newkirk) September 13, 2018
Happening-many protestors blocking streets around moscone center in San Francisco outside of global climate summit pic.twitter.com/itp2gmS95d
— Will Tran (@KRON4WTran) September 13, 2018
Blockade starting outside @JerryBrownGov’s Global Climate Summit, where world leaders are gathered inside. We demand real action, no more empty promises and no more false solutions. #CommunitiesNotCorporations #BrownsLastChance #GCAS2018 pic.twitter.com/fDMrSVYfxr
— Morissa Zuckerman (@mozuckerman) September 13, 2018
Speakers at the summit include Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, and National Resources Defense Council president Rhea Suh—but protesters objected to the inclusion of corporate leaders as well, while local community leaders have been left without a seat at the table.
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"We have the solutions," Darryl Molina Sarmiento, executive director of California-based Communities for a Better Environment, told Earther. "We are the solutions for this climate crisis, so we're here to protest in front of the summit that's on display for climate capitalism, essentially a trade show. We want to lift up that communities are not for sale."
"Jerry Brown is not our climate leader. What we're doing in California is not genuine climate leadership." —Darryl Molina Sarmiento, Communities for a Better Environment
The summit is being held with the aim of promoting action to reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, in the face of President Donald Trump's aggressive efforts to roll back regulations the Obama administration imposed on coal companies, other fossil fuel industries, and vehicle manufacturers in order to curb emissions, as well as his withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.
But while Brown signed a bill this week mandating that California move to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 and has positioned his state as a leader in climate action, he has also overseen the issuing of tens of thousands of fossil fuel permits and nearly 70 percent of Californians living near oil and gas wells represent black and brown communities. Meanwhile, his solar panel mandate for new buildings largely leaves out those same groups, critics say.
"Jerry Brown is not our climate leader," Molina Sarmiento told Earther. "What we're doing in California is not genuine climate leadership. We have been able to make a lot of advances, but the way in which he's proposing these kinds of solutions is creating an increase in oil infrastructure locally."
Protesters say the summit is leaving out the voices of First Nations and other communities that live on the front lines of the battle to stop the climate crisis, in areas facing rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and the construction of fossil fuel-carrying pipelines that are being built on their land.
Mass protest led by frontline communities + indigenous groups disrupting the Global Climate Summit in SF, calling for real solutions to the twin crises of climate change and capitalism #CommunitiesNotCorporations #NoNewFossilFuels #JustTransition #GCAS2018 pic.twitter.com/RSL73DdWSi
— Jason Pfeifle (@JasonPfeifle) September 13, 2018
Will Tran of KRON reported Thursday morning that at least two protesters had been arrested so far.
"Communities have asked that we put our bodies on the line as a response to the tremendous injustice that's going to be played out for the planet and people on the inside of the Global Climate Action Summit," Angela Adrar, executive director of the Climate Justice Alliance, told Earther.