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Back from Copenhagen: Moving Climate Justice Forward


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Street Protests in Copenhagen. Source:

The climate talks at Copenhagen closed in 2009 with no binding agreements or timetables for curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Only pledges were made to avoid more than a two degree Celsius temperature increase and avoid dangerous climate change. On this edition, we hear from climate justice activists who went to Copenhagen. They say we need a system change, not climate change.



Vandana Shiva, ecology activist, author & Research Foundation of Science, Technology, and Natural Resources Director; President Mohammed Nasheed, Republic of Maldives; Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network Executive Director; Victor Minotti, International Forum on Globalization Director; Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan, Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project.

Special thanks to KPFA radio producer, Brian Edwards-Tiekert, who recorded some of this audio at the climate talks at Copenhagen in 2009.

Words from Ecology Activist Vandana Shiva

Thousands of members of civil society came to voice a way forward at last December’s climate talks in Copenhagen. But many weren’t there to talk ‘cap and trade,’ or make a marketplace of air space.  Among them was ecology activist and author Vandana Shiva. She talked about fundamental lifestyle shifts.

Maldives President Advocates Shifting Climate Policy to ‘3-5-0’

Small islands are among the most vulnerable to climate shifts. Take the Republic of Maldives, a thousand-island nation located in the Indian Ocean.  Sources say, in the next hundred years, Maldives could mostly be under water.  Maldives President, Mohammed Nasheed, attended the Copenhagen talks in December 2009.  He urged leaders to create a treaty based on three numbers: 3-5-0. That’s 350 parts-per-million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  That’s what scientists and activists say is the target number to keep the planet healthy and sustainable. Right now, we’re at 387.  Here, Nasheed talks about going carbon-neutral and urges action on the 3-5-0 campaign.

Market-based solutions aren’t real solutions, says Indigenous Environmental Network

When we talk about peoples affected by a changing climate, some argue that no-one feels the affects more than indigenous people.  Whether they’re mountain communities suffering from melting icecaps, or Alaskan natives living on crumbling territories.  People who live off the land are already feeling the affects of ecological imbalances. That’s according to Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network based in Northern Minnesota. He went to Copenhagen to advocate for the adoption of indigenous rights language into the climate accord. Goldtooth spoke with Making Contact producer, Pauline Bartolone.

A Reportback from the International Forum on Globalization Director

Many members of civil society who attended the COP15 talks were part of the climate justice movement. They work locally to create ecological solutions to climate change which alleviate unequal burdens on marginalized communities.  Some groups cited the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as an important set of principles in developing alternative solutions to the carbon trading model.  Victor Minotti is the Director of the International Forum on Globalization. After returning from Copenhagen, he spoke on a panel in Berkeley, California about the goods and the bads of the Copenhagen Accord…  And, more importantly, the road ahead.

Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan of Movement Generation speaks about local solutions

Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan is with the Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project. Before and after the Copenhagen talks, they’ve focused their work in urban centers, where she says folks are hit first and worst by the climate crisis. Here, she gives some examples of how city residents can be in control of managing local resources more sustainably.

For more information:

Indigenous Environmental Network
Bemidji, MN

International Forum on Globalization
San Francisco, CA

Mobilization for Climate Justice National

Mobilization for Climate Justice West

Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project
Oakland, CA


Navdanya International Seeds, Food Security and Sustainability

Republic of Maldives Presidents Office
Republic of Maldives

Author: Radio Project

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