As world leaders start gathering next week in Copenhagen, the people hit hardest by the climate change crisis -- the global poor -- will continue to be systematically excluded from formal discussions of how to address problems like water shortages and crop failures stemming from global warming.
Meanwhile, the world's major corporations have been dominating international and domestic climate policy -- as they did in the international trade policy arena. Carbon-trading and carbon offset projects have already allowed these polluters to avoid cutting emissions and to expand their markets into poor countries, accelerating corporate take-over of the world's resources at the expense of local and indigenous communities.
Whatever happens among the officials gathered in Copenhagen, where 192 nations will come together to try to negotiate a new international climate treaty, climate activists are using the occasion to explore new directions.
Expected to be one of the largest international gatherings ever, with about 15,000 delegates and diplomats working behind the prime ministers and presidents who will make the final decisions, the Copenhagen talks will also be met by a counter-summit featuring tens of thousands of activists, scores of planned protests and talks by people like author and Nation columnist Naomi Klein, author and climate campaigner George Monbiot and the Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva.
Leading up to the Klimaforum09, the alternative "people's summit", is today's Global Day of Action on Climate Crisis. Organized by the Mobilization for Climate Justice, the day's actions include demonstrations, teach-ins and civil disobedience in nine US cities one week before the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen open, and on the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Organization protest in Seattle.
Check out a map of today's actions and a list of ways you can help support future activism at www.actforclimatejustice.org, read and forward Grist's Top 25 reasons to give a damn about climate change, and watch TheNation.com for a special "Cop15" blog featuring running dispatches from Copenhagen during the duration of the talks.