Report: Climate Justice from South Africa to LA City Hall
by Anonymous on Tuesday, December 6, 2011
1,000 Durbans International Day of Action
From South Africa to LA City Hall, the Bus Riders Union joined local and international allies to make a powerful statement on climate justice. Teaming up with Communities for a Better Environment, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, and Physicians for Social Responsibility-LA, the BRU marched to demand the Mayor and the MTA expand the bus system, not the 710 freeway. The march was one of 20 actions nationally as part of the 1,000 Durban Day of Action sponsored by the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ)and La Via Campesina. At the same time, BRU organizer Francisca Porchas building connections with the international climate justice movement as part of the GGJ delegation at the UN Climate Summit in Durban, South Africa.
"Los Angeles could set an example for the rest of the country by implementing a first-class transit system, a network of bus-only lanes across the county, auto-free zones, affordable fares to reduce auto use." --Francisca Porchas, LA Times, 12/4/11
We demand that the U.S. immediately reduce carbon emissions to 50 percent of current levels by 2017, and stop obstructing progress towards paying climate debt and forging an internationally binding deal." -- Francisca Porchas, Institute for Policy Studies, 12/3/11
The Battle in Durban: Rich countries & corporations vs. global movement for climate justice: With the fate of the planet at stake, world leaders are gathering over two weeks in Durban, South Africa for the 17th UN Climate Summit. Rich countries - led by the US and the Obama Administration - are pushing false solutions to climate change that allow the world's biggest polluters to buy their way out of accountability and let corporations profit from the crisis without addressing the real problem. On the outside, Francisca reports that the streets are filled with song - the militant songs of social movements fighting for climate justice, where Africans' chants like "There is no Planet B" were met by our chants "Who's the violator? Who's the perpetrator? Obama, Obama!" Francisca was on two high profile panels - one with transportation workers from around the world linking mass transit to the climate crisis, and the other called "One million climate jobs", where she moderated a discussion with heavy-weights like the Zwelinzima Vavi, Secretary General of the Confederation of South African Trade Unions. We await more updates from Francisca and our Grassroots Global Justice delegation as the battle in Durban unfolds.
1,000 Durbans Climate Justice March on City Hall: With the BRU Drum and Chant team leading the way, a 200 person-strong crowd marched from Placita Olvera to City Hall. Against the backdrop of the vacated Occupy LA encampment evicted earlier in the week by Mayor Villaraigosa and LAPD, we linked climate justice to LA's transportation policy and the global 99% movement. The BRU's Judi Redman broke down how bus service cuts stink for bus riders and stink for the planet, with a degraded transit system forcing a lot of folks to put polluting cars back on the road. Isella Ramirez talked about the the goods movement industry driving an outrageous expansion of the I-710 freeway at the cost of community health for nearby residents -- an example of the insatiable appetite for freeway construction that helps make places like LA and the United States among the world's biggest carbon criminals. Bill Gallegos of Communities for a Better Environment drove home the need for our society to leave behind an economic and political system that prioritizes corporate profits over human health and the environment.
The day before, we had delivered a letter to Mayor Villaraigosa and the MTA demanding that they pursue just solutions to the climate crisis immediately available to them -- restoring bus service to benefit transit-dependent riders and attract drivers out of their cars rather than spending billions of public dollars on yet a larger freeway. We're collecting postcards saying the same and plan to deliver a big stack to the MTA on December 15.
You can also check out more photos from the action: 1,000 Durbans International Day of Action