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Presentation to the Canadian Youth Delegation on People’s Assemblies for Climate Justice

Yesterday I joined youth from across the country in Toronto for the Canadian Youth Delegation (CYD) retreat, to discuss the organizing of People’s Assemblies on Climate Justice during the upcoming UN climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico (November 29 to December 10).

The CYD is a project of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. It coordinates the participation of youth delegates in the UN climate negotiations, taking part in communications, actions, and policy work. This is coupled with the CYD Home Team and Climate Crews working domestically in Canada in the lead up to, and during negotiations.

Alongside the Council of Canadians, KAIROS and Indigenous Environmental Network, the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition endorsed the call to action for People’s Assemblies on Climate Justice during the Cancun negotiations.

I spoke to the home team about organizing assemblies on campuses and joining local organizing efforts to host assemblies across Canada. We talked about different organizing models that can be used to organize assemblies and strategies for building on the momentum generated by the events.

We also discussed opportunities to connect CYD and Council of Canadian delegate actions in Cancun to assemblies in Canada, like beginning an assembly with a skype report-back from Cancun.

What are People’s Assemblies?

A People’s Assembly is an interactive process that provides the opportunity for people to listen and be heard about what climate justice means to them, in their community and globally. It is not a speakers panel or public forum.

It is a movement-building and organizing tool. It is a gathering of people to discuss and analyze climate justice that can featuring a local climate justice issue or campaign.

A People’s Assembly is a space to discuss demands, commitments and visions for how things could be different. It is aimed at transforming awareness into action by invigorating ongoing and new climate justice actions in your community.

We hope that these assemblies will provide an opportunity to delve into an understanding of climate justice that recognizes the need for more than just reducing emissions.

To address the climate crisis we must examine root causes in overproduction, consumption and unsustainable and inequitable global trade systems. With this starting point we can identify both false and real solutions to the climate crisis. False solutions include examples such as carbon offsets, a market solutionat that allows corporations to buy their way out of emission reductions and continue with business as usual, and free trade agreements that enhance corporate control and rights above the interests of people and the environment. Real solutions include examples such as repaying of climate debt to the global South through deep emission reductions and climate financing (two-thirds of historic greenhouse gas emissions are the responsibility of industrialized countries) public and community ownership of renewable energy, increasing conservation and energy efficiency, supporting local sustainable agriculture systems, public transit and transition towns and much more.

It is real solutions such as these that can help us begin to revision our economies and socities to put people and the environment before profit.

To find out more about the call to action for People’s Assemblies on Climate Justice during the Cancun climate negotiations, visit our website.

You can read the full call to action here and a background document about climate justice.

You can also read about the Council of Canadians interventions at the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen (December 2009) here, and the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights here.