Rejecting Rio+20 & Other Cocktail Parties

Published on March 28, 2012

Republished June 28, 2012

by Gregory Vickrey

During the COP17 spectacle (17th Conference of Parties, the UN summit on Climate Change) in Durban, South Africa, in December 2011, La Via Campesina, the International Peasants Movement, issued a statement declaring certain actions be taken and conditions be met in order to prevent, forestall, or otherwise derail climate catastrophe. Because several of the actions do not appear to be copacetic with scientific reality, we endeavored to contact the organization, and sent the following email on December 7:

Dear Boa Monjane:


I write to you today with grave concerns about your recently publicized statement at COP17, and hope this will bring a fruitful dialogue.


Your statement exclaims a set of solutions seeking to limit “further” temperature rise to 1 degree. Given that the planet is currently up .8 by all relevant calculations, your statement leads a reader to believe you are seeking a ceiling at 1.8. If so, this is an incredibly dangerous number to stand behind, given the mathematical reality that we are, at a minimum, locked into 1.8 due to inertia, hydrates, and other feedback mechanisms. If not, and your statement purports an argument that we can and should stay below 1.0 total, it is an unachievable dream and must be clarified as such.


Returning to 1.8 and the best case reality of that number, it is only achievable with immediate and irreversible 100% reductions, yet your statement calls for a minimum of 50% to achieve your solution set. I believe it is irresponsible to promote 50% as a solution to climate crisis when anything less than 100% locks us into the scientific reality of inertia and systems betrayal through feedback mechanisms. It also comes nowhere close to making 1.8 – where we are already committed assuming 100% emissions reduction today – achievable, even with an unlikely assumption that methane hydrates are completely negated by nature.


I would very much like to understand why you claim 50% is part of the solution.


Another point of contention is your stated reliance on capitalism in the developed world for various funding mechanisms. It should be well understood that reliance upon any functional component of industrial capitalism for mitigation, adaptation, and reparation for any length of time lends credence to the mechanism, perpetuates it, and demands the growth of it, ironically, as the world condition grows more dire. Making statements where the world utilizes the very economic machinery responsible for the planet being on the brink of collapse in order to prevent the collapse is more than troubling. It is criminal.


Do you really believe the patriarchal industrial north has the means, the motive, and the benefit of planetary reality to stem the tide through finance? Many of us in developed countries know what it means to call for, and succeed in getting, 100% reductions. It means the end of nearly all we know, save maybe the planet. Those of us who understand the demands of Mother Earth in that context also recognize more people must rise up and fight for 100% all over the globe. Will La Via Campesina do so?

I very much look forward to your responses and the ensuing dialogue. I have cced my dear colleague and friend based in Canada, Cory Morningstar.


We received no response. On January 5, Cory Morningstar again sought feedback from the Via Campesina representative. No response. And now we are at the eve of Rio+20, where most of the same players will convene and further deteriorate any reasonable chance we have, as civil society, to stem the tide of climate change. As expected, the usual troop of NGOs will attend, claiming to speak for all of us while clamoring for cozy seats and sharp cocktails amongst the global elite. La Via Campesina will be there, too.