Socialist Worker

Alternative climate summit prepares for mass protest in Rio

by Martin Empson
Issue No. 2308

The United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainability is set to begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Wednesday of this week.

Richer countries are demanding that poorer ones sign up to plans for a “green economy”—but the draft text gives no commitments for any funding to do this.

An alternative People’s Assembly is taking place outside the UN event next to Rio’s famous Flamengo beach.

The assembly is demanding action and debating alternatives. Thousands are taking part in hundreds of debates, workshops and meetings. Some of the largest meetings discussed food sovereignty and the rights of indigenous people.

The majority of these are from South America, including representatives from trade unions, rural organisations and indigenous peoples.

Joelson is a member of the Brazilian Landless Workers movement. He was at the People's Assembly to demand action to protect the Brazilian forest, which is being destroyed so that multinationals can plant cash crops for export.

“The UN is full of talk but no action,” he told Socialist Worker. He added that he had more faith in the People’s Assembly to bring about real change.

The assembly is set to continue through the week, with a mass demonstration planned for Wednesday evening.

More than 250 people attended the Campaign Against Climate Change alternative conference for the Rio summit in central London on Saturday and Sunday of this week.

Some 55 speakers gave talks including briefings on how renewable energy could meet society’s needs and debates on how the environmental movement has progressed since the first Rio summit 20 years ago.

Meetings on the resistance to environmental destruction brought together campaigns against shale gas “fracking” from across Britain, campaigners against airport expansion and trade unionists building the campaign for a million climate jobs.

At the plenary session on Saturday, Campaign Against Climate Change coordinator Phil Thornhill said, “We’ve had 20 wasted years for the environment. There are now an extra 430 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

Left wing Labour MP John McDonnell condemned David Cameron for not attending the Rio summit.

“We need to reassert environmental politics at the heart of the economic debate,” he said. “Demands like nationalising the energy companies can be very popular in times like these.”

Some 20 people from campaign group Frack Off blockaded a drilling rig owned by Cuadrilla in Chesterfield, Derbyshire on Monday of this week. They locked themselves to gates to block work.

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