Day I in Copenhagen—Climate Change Deniers Seize on Email Scandal and Sisters Leading on Green Jobs

By Jacqui Patterson, Director of the NAACP Climate Justice Initiative

My blog for the day will be brief, as the UN Center didn’t open for non-governmental organizations until noon and then I, along with hundreds of others, spent three hours in the cold awaiting our accreditation. Just thinking about it makes my fingers and toes go numb again from the memory of the misery. J

Anyway, I digress.  As per the subject line, the big news of the day was the hacking of the emails of some climate scientists in the United Kingdom. Supposedly some comments were taken out of context and the hackers interpreted the scientists as saying they needed to hide the fact that climate change is actually on the decline.  This was like chum to sharks for the climate change deniers and they are jumping all over the information and using it to say, “See! It’s all a lie!”

Meanwhile whereas before there was a question as to whether binding agreements would come out of this meeting, there has been a significant shift and now countries are coming with various pledges to cap the carbon emissions that are partially responsible for advancing climate change and the feeling is that they are determined to emerge from the UNFCCC with an agreement. President Obama is coming in for the last two days and folks are taking his timing as a good sign that he is intentionally coming when the deals will be sealed and that he plans to participate in that process and proffer US commitments.

So, back to my frigid wait to get into the “Bella Center” where the meeting is being held. The good thing about standing in line for hours on end was that I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with a young sister from Flagstaff Arizona, Nikke Alex, who works with the Black Mesa Water Coalition and is a part of the Indigenous Environmental Network delegation to this meeting. She graciously allowed me to interview her about her work as an organizer focused on green jobs.  When I asked her about how the Black Mesa Water Coalition is describing “green jobs” she said that she takes each community with whom she works through a process of defining for themselves what they mean by green jobs and what types of enterprises/sources of revenue are most appropriate for their communities. I learned a lot from Nikke in my 3 hours with her and will definitely add her to the list of resource people doing great work.

Nikke’s work reminded me of the work of NAACP member Sylvia Arthur, whose activism in Ohio is also featured in this blogspot.  Please read about her work with her community in determining how they will take the lead on their community economic development and provide sustainable and safe revenue streams.

Both Nikke and Sylvia represent the types of strategies that would widely benefit communities of color and low income communities as they are leading in processes of self-determination, resource generation and leadership for our folks so that we aren’t subject to the whims of folks who are more interested in protecting their profit margins than people and those who deny that climate change is even happening (when Katrina, droughts, rising sea levels and other events tell us otherwise).

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