Independent News from Alternative Sources
Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity
Paris, 14 December 2015
On the occasion of the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate, held in “Paris 2015” – COP21, the role offree trade agreements, investment regimes and transnational corporations (TNCs) in driving climate crisis has been exposed through several workshops and ‘prohibited’ protests across the city of Paris during the Peoples Climate Summit.
The closing day of action on the streets of Paris on December 12, resounded to the declaration of a state of emergency on climate change as corporate captured governments prepared to leave the COP 21, having once again refused any binding commitments to address the climate crisis. Social movements and climate justice campaigns however are even more determined in their responsibilities and to work towards a change of the economic and political system that will cool the planet.
Among the Top 25 corporations classified by revenue, 15 are linked to the fossil fuels industry, and are accountable for greenhouse gas emissions that are burning our planet – e.g Shell, Exon-Mobil, Sinopec-China Petroleum, BP, Petro China, Total, Chevron, ENI, Petrobras, Gazprom, Statoil. Transnational corporations (TNCs) are also peddling false solutions to climate change, based on market mechanisms, having aggressively captured the agenda and policy making of the UN climate talks. According to Diana Aguiar,of FASE (Brazil), member of the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power participating at the Peoples Climate Summit in Paris, “among the key drivers of the environmental collapse that affects the whole planet, we must highlight the Trade and Investment regime as well as the role of Transnational Corporations”.
TNCs further enclose the commons through a global resource grab, and act with widespread impunity despite the devastating social, economic and environmental impacts of their operations. According to Ben Lilliston of the U.S.-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, “the granting of special corporate rights that is accelerating climate change is built on a Trade and Investment regime, where agreements such as TTIP, CETA, TPP and TISA and other US and EU regional free trade agreements provide exclusive investor protection and deny protection of the public interest and Peoples rights”.
An intensifying corporate capture was very evident at the COP 21 in various versions of the negotiations text. The false market and technical solutions proposed by corporate criminals driving the COP have been exposed at Le Grand Palais and denounced during a “Toxic Lobby Tour”, at the Rights of Nature International Tribunal, and in several protest events led by Indigenous Peoples and frontline communities. Key moments of mobilisation at the Peoples Summit sought to build convergences among shared strategies and struggles – between land and water defenders as well as between resistances to trade and corporations. In this context, processes of building resistances and alternatives such as the International Peoples Treaty on Peoples sovereignty and the initiatives for a binding instrument on TNCs and Human Rights at the UN were discussed during two Workshops on December 6th. Cases exposing the systemic character of corporate impunity across communities in all global regions included: Chevron Texaco in Ecuador, ProSAVANA in Mozambique, Veolia in Morocco, EDF – Engie in Poland and the UK, mining companies in African countries and the Philippines, and Vale in Brazil and Mozambique.
Simultaneously, the narrative from many campaigns and communities of resistance shared also strategies and practices of alternatives that are cooling the planet. Those elements were also presented in the proposals of the agro ecology of Via Campesina, the Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens (MAB- Brazil),and several networks reclaiming people’s rights and sovereignty over water, food and energy. The collective debate highlighted a range of proposals from social movements that focused citizen debt audit initiatives (CADTM) and on the need to reclaim democracy over Corporate power, to pursue peace instead of war, to underpin migrant and refugee rights, as well as in accumulating new practices in economic, political, gender, social, climate and environmental Justice. The Development Platform for the Americas (PLADA) was presented also with concrete alternatives elaborated by the Trade Unions, and the World March of Women organised several activities demonstrating the defence of Earth, territories and the bodies of women.
Despite the official state of emergency and the ban on public demonstrations, the Peoples Summit erupted in several protests and rallies across Paris – from the human chain on November 29 to protests at the Headquarters of Danone, Total, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the toxic tour at Le Grande Palais, the Bank BNP Paribas and the December 12 Last Word demonstrations on COP 21.
The Convergences, Assemblies and momentum of the Peoples Summit in Paris December 2015 has also resulted in a calendar of social movement and Campaigns’ Action days anticipating 2016. This includes the proposal for the hemispheric Days of Action against FTAs and Transnational Corporations on November 4-5 ledby the Latin American Trade Unions and social movements who gathered in Havana for the 10th Anniversary of the peoples’ victory against the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA). Such Calls to Action as well as the convergences that brought together movements and organizations in Paris to have the last word for climate justice strengthen synergies and joint strategies across diverse movements and struggles that, as Lyda Fernanda (Transnational Institute) says, are needed to “confront corporate power and bring all struggles into one united front to defend life and the planet”.
 See The State of the Power 2014