The Climate Talks: Quotes From Women in Copenhagen

Lucinda Marshall

From impressions of Obama's handling of climate change to effects on women worldwide, a roundup of quotes from key players in the debate.

As pressure to address climate change increases, long-simmering debates
on the connections between population and environment have been
renewed. Historically, concerns have been expressed about the impact of “population” policies on human rights. 
Rewire welcomes open debate on these
issues and encourages both comments on this and other articles as well
as submissions from other authors.

This article was originally published on Feminist Peace Network, and is reprinted with permission.

Activist Naomi Klein
kicked off the Klimaforum, the alternative people’s gathering being
held in conjunction with the Copenhagen Climate Change talks by
pointing out that the official talks had official corporate sponsors,
which says it all when it comes to integrity:

Naomi also had critical words to say about Hopenhagen
and its branding extravaganza. “The globe has Siemens logo on the
bottom and the whole event is sponsored by Coke. That is a
capitalization of hope but Klimaforum09 is where the real hope lies,”
she said.

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“Klimaforum is not about giving charity to the developing world its
about taking responsibility and the industrialized countries cleaning
up our own mess,” she concluded.

In a followup article, she writes,

A highlight of my time at COP15 so far was a
conversation with the extraordinary Nigerian poet and activist Nnimmo
Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International. We talked about
the fact that some of the toughest activists here still pull their
punches when it comes to Obama, even as his climate team works
tirelessly to do away with the Kyoto Protocol, replacing it with much
weaker piecemeal targets.

If George W. Bush had pulled some of the things Obama has done here,
he would have been burned in effigy on the steps of the convention
center. With Obama, however, even the most timid actions are greeted as
historic breakthroughs, or at least a good start.

“Everyone says: ‘give Obama time,’” Bassey told me. “But when it
comes to climate change, there is no more time.” The best analogy, he
said, is a soccer game that has gone into overtime. “It’s not even
injury time, it’s sudden death. It’s the nick of time, but there is no
more extra time.”

Global Sister has an excellent article up called, A Feminist Focus on Climate Change which points to a fascinating study by BRIDGE that looks at linkages between gender and climate change, well worth the read.

UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid has this to say:

“Women should be part of any agreement on climate change
— not as an afterthought or because it’s politically correct, but
because it’s the right thing to do. Our future as humanity depends on
unleashing the full potential of all human beings, and the full
capacity of women, to bring about change.”

Women, Water, and Climate Justice—Cameroonian Human Rights Activist Asaha Elizabeth Ufei Leads the Way
posted by the NAACP Climate Justice Iniative provides an excellent
analysis of how the impact off climate change on water supplies
influences women:

As the climate conditions worsen, women are finding it
harder to provide food and water for their families. The once reliable
and nearby water sources are drying up or contaminated; and the crops
aren’t producing enough. So we are faced with questions: How many more
miles must women have to walk to provide basic life-sources? What other
ways can women sustain their families when the traditional agriculture
and craft materials are gone? How many women will have to uproot their
families and migrate to other places—that may be hostile to
immigrants—because they can longer find food and shelter in their
communities? How many more women and girls will be pushed into survival sex work
because there are fewer economic opportunities?  How many more people
who speak up about human rights and organize for change will be
severely punished, coerced to leave their countries, or forever


Dr Sue Wareham, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons’ (ICAN) Australian board member discusses whether nuclear power has a place in how we address climate change in this Q&A with IPS:

IPS: Is nuclear power, being carbon-free, the panacea
for climate change problems and should it be a substitute for
coal-fuelled power stations?

SW: We don’t agree nuclear power is a sensible way forward in
response to climate change. Nuclear power cannot address the issue of
climate change. There are physical limitations to the number of nuclear
power stations that could be built in the next decade or so.

Even if there is further development of nuclear power, it will be
far too slow because it takes 10 to 15 years to get a nuclear power
plant at a point of producing electricity. We need action faster than

Particularly important also is the links with weapons. We know there
are definite links between the civilian and military fuel cycles, and
that is a particular problem that will remain as long as nuclear power
is there.

There is also the problem of nuclear waste to which no country has a
solution yet. We regard it as unacceptable that this generation should
leave our waste to future generations. The technological and practical
reality is that we don’t have any way of separating nuclear waste from
the environment.

Our message is that the world really needs to put serious and
significant funding into further promotion, development and
implementation of renewable energies—solar, wind, geothermal and
biofuels, which have been underused and under-resourced.

In this thoughtful piece, Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai discusses what poorer nations need to combat climate change:

Unless the poor countries commit to development, they
will continue to be under-developed and they will not be able to
improve the quality of life of their people. Yet, any path that
continues to encourage growth and use of fossil fuels will generate
disquiet. It is for this reason that these poor countries need
financial help, capacity building and transfer of not only available,
but also affordable technology.

Vandana Shiva speaks to protesters in Copenhagen:


And Democracy NOW’s Amy Goodman reports on Shiva’s thoughts about U.S. responsibility when it comes to financial responsibility for fighting global warming,

Afterward, I asked her to respond to U.S. climate
negotiator Jonathan Pershing, who said the Obama administration is
willing to pay its fair share, but added that donors “don’t have
unlimited largesse to disburse.” Shiva responded, “I think it’s time
for the U.S. to stop seeing itself as a donor and recognize itself as a
polluter, a polluter who must pay. … This is not about charity. This is
about justice.”

Sister Joan Chittister in remarks a t Copenhagen,

From where I stand, several strains were clear: Whatever
agreements come out of Cop15, enforceability is key. Classism-poor
against rich-is a danger. Multilateralism that does not support those
nations who stand to be as smothered by the effects of national
agreements that deny them economic development as they are by the
effects of achieving it through the energy sources of the past will
become a major political problem in the future. And, finally, this is
only the beginning of a real struggle to resolve it.

Latin American Women Want Modified Trade Rules:

“Where there is biodiversity, where there is wealth,
where there is culture, that’s where corporate interests
flock,”(Norma)  Maldonado, deputy head of Ecumenical Services for
Christian Development in Central America (SEFCA), an organisation
working with women and young people for community development and
political effectiveness, told TerraViva.

As the climate talks in Copenhagen develop, I will update this as warranted regarding perspectives on women and climate change.

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