mostly written by Tanya Kerrsen of Food First.
CANG8 Environmental Working Group – Vision Statement & Call to Action (DRAFT)
We stand in solidarity with rural and urban communities of the global North and South who are exposed to the hazards of climate change; ecological degradation and contamination; and land and resource grabs. We believe in food, resource and climate justice rooted in sustainability and democracy. We call on activists, concerned citizens, farmers, indigenous peoples and environmentalists to join us in Chicago in non-violent protest of the closed-door NATO/G8 summits and to participate in an open, civil society discussion of the G8’s environmental impacts and community-based alternatives.
What is CANG8?
The Coalition Against NATO/G8 (CANG8) is a broad-based coalition of civil society groups—including environmental, interfaith, labor, LGBTQ groups and others—formed in opposition to the NATO/G8 “war and poverty agenda.” Leaders and finance ministers of the Group of Eight (G8) economic powers as well as representatives of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance will be coming together for a private summit in Chicago on May 19–21, 2012. The policy priorities of these two bodies have enormous influence on communities throughout the world, yet their summits are closed to democratic participation. By sponsoring a parallel Peoples’ Summit, rally and march, CANG8 aims to raise the voices of civil society groups to articulate their own needs, experiences and priorities for global development and security.
What is the CANG8 Environmental Working Group?
The CANG8 Environmental Working Group (EWG) was formed to highlight the environmental impacts of G8 policies at the NATO/G8 protests in Chicago. The goal of the EWG is to amplify the voices of affected communities and social movements—locally, nationally and globally—fighting to protect their lands, natural resources and biodiversity from destructive and exploitative development policies. We also seek to help connect the dots between war and militarism; the extractive, expansionist development model; and the global environmental and climate crisis. What CANG8 calls the “war and poverty” agenda is also an agenda of environmental destruction and climate chaos.
As of 2010, the G8 countries represented 51 percent of global energy production, 55 percent of global energy consumption and 42 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Keystone XL pipeline is perhaps the highest profile recent example of the expansion of extractive industries, which is moving increasingly into high-risk environments like the Alberta Tar Sands, the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, shale oil and gas fields around the world, and deepwater reserves like the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea. Families and children affected by hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for natural gas suffer grave illness from water contamination and the destruction of their rural economies based on tourism, agriculture and recreation. Meanwhile, degradation and climate change is devastating millions of livelihoods, particularly in the global South. Indigenous peoples and subsistence farmers face floods, droughts and other extreme weather events. As many as 200 million people will be displaced by worsening natural disasters and climate change. Without a radical change in our global energy use and economic system, such “climate chaos” is expected to worsen, with devastating consequences for the world’s most vulnerable people. The global climate crisis requires that we rethink “business as usual,” respect natural limits to economic growth, and rebuild sustainable local economies.
Resource wars waged over the control of land, water, minerals, oil, gas and other natural resources. [In Africa, for instance, over 35 million hectares (86m acres) of prime farmland and forests have been violently grabbed for export production or land speculation since 2008.] We strongly condemn the forced displacement and military and police repression of communities struggling to defend their lands and resources.
Free trade agreements that open the door to the unfettered corporate exploitation of natural resources; destroy locally-based economies and food systems; and promote a corporate “race to the bottom” towards countries (and “free trade zones”) with lower or non-existent environmental and labor regulations.
False solutions to climate change that allow the biggest polluters to pay their way out of genuinely reducing emissions and other environmental impacts. While we recognize the good faith efforts of some corporations to “green” their supply chains, we reject sustainability certifications based only on voluntary compliance, which are difficult to enforce and leave large gaps for abuse. [We reject agricultural biofuels as a false solution to climate change and energy security that is leading to deforestation, human rights abuses, increased GHG emissions and rising food prices, especially in the global South.]
Community-oriented sustainable development that promotes local, democratic control over resources; provides high quality, living wage jobs; supports workers and immigrant rights; reduces energy consumption; and contributes positively to community wellbeing. We support private businesses—[as well as cooperatives, public enterprises and other economic models]—that place people and ecosystems before profits.
A binding climate agreement in which G8 countries live up to their historical responsibility for global climate change and commit to legally binding obligations to dramatically cut GHG emissions, without conditions or mechanisms that allow big polluters to evade regulations. Climate commitments must also include support for poor countries and vulnerable communities to build sustainable, climate resilient economies.
Peoples’ right to food sovereignty, meaning the right of rural and urban communities to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. Food sovereignty means protecting food-producing resources from agrochemicals, GMOs and other industrial technologies that in the long term deplete soil, pollute water, reduce biodiversity, contaminate native seeds and worsen climate change.
Call to Action
We believe that the current environmental crisis requires a broad convergence of social movements to demand environmental regulations and meaningful climate commitments, especially from the world’s most powerful countries. We call on activists and communities, rural and urban, North and South, to join the EWG in protest of the May 2012 NATO/G8 summits in Chicago and participate in an inclusive, civil society discussion of the environmental impacts of G8 policies. Activities will include workshops, alliance-building sessions, non-violent protest and special events TBD.