This is my report after my participation in the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference:
🔪🔪🔪 ACUCHILLAR 🔪🔪🔪
I feel that those days I was in the middle of a choreography of inaction, within an expensive and motionless machinery, with mega corporations in the spotlight and with too many middle class people around.
To expand on my frustration let me tell you about one of the days of the conference which was dedicated to the topic of food, of course the main events were basically corporate PR displays, I remember with special rage a panel of supermarket executives in which the CEO of Sainsbury’s, using a very affected tone, made a call to solve the biggest problem regarding food and climate change: we customers should stop picking the products in the back of the shelves in order to get those with the longest expiration date, because if we do that then the supermarket ends up with too much expired food that they have to discard, the executive also added the moving story of a friend of hers who plans his meals for each day except on Thursdays in which he just checks his fridge and improvises some dish using leftovers, to facilitate this innovative technique, Sainsbury’s has a crucial solution: a website full of recipes.
Amiga, I guess you will understand my drive to 🔪acuchillar🔪. By the end of my trip I was barely attending the official spaces of the conference and preferred to participate in the parallel event organized by the COP26 Coalition, the People’s Summit for Climate Justice. And although the corporate obscenities weren’t part of the program, I still ended up somewhat disappointed of many activistic approaches. I also got the impression that it was too middle class and too centered in identity politics. For instance, one day I was at a plenary in which everyone was discussing who had more or less privileges and a young English woman with Tourette’s syndrome argued about the necessity of incorporating matters of disability into the climate justice fight emphasizing that the idea of banning plastic straws was an “eco ableist” measure since some people with disabilities needed them, she claimed that insisting in that policy meant that people with disability wasn’t in the center of the fight and then any revolution would have no value. Well, I hope I don’t get cancelled for this but I have the impression that focusing the debate in those topics demonstrates that some activistic groups do not understand the gravity of the climate emergency. Furthermore, I suspect that this problem of plastic straws and “eco ableism” doesn’t exceed the anecdote because I really doubt that ecological movements oppose that if a person needs a plastic straw for health reasons she should be able to use them. And there I was hearing lots of people stating their specific identities and demanding to be at the center of the struggle, by the end of the day the center was so crowded that it wasn’t even a center anymore.
This reminded me of a point that Andreas Malm made in his book How to Blow a Pipeline (he was also in Glasgow), he affirms that there is an inaction within climate activists which is related to the “blah blah blah” of politicians, according to Malm we are in a state of immobility in which useless discourse is responded with more useless discourse and at some point the structures of power accept the least impactful demands of activism, the demands that do not compromise the economic system. This is why Malm builds up a case in favor of direct action that implies a certain violence and legal transgression. To complement this argument, the author quotes Nelson Mandela who at some point expressed that he supported non-violent methods but just as long as they were useful. All this is also helpful to denounce a type of fetichism that exists in activism towards pacifism and towards actions that are merely performative.
Well, I tell you all this because I’m quite worried about it and because I think it is a territory in which we can contribute. I mean, is was predictable that corporations would be at COP26 proposing rubbish but we should expect better strategies from activist groups, strategies that truly compromise dominant structures.
Still, not everything was bad, also in the People’s Summit, the organizers implemented a location especially dedicated to topics of food sovereignty, I met amazing people with ideas that blew my mind, lots of rural groups were working around these issues in a very strategic way, addressing matters of food technologies and policymaking, I felt so blessed after meeting them especially after the experience with the awful lady from Sainsbury’s. I had a crush on Jesús, activist from the Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica in Puerto Rico and I learned a lot about how policies on food sovereignty must be culturally appropriate and developed by local farmers who know which foods to cultivate and how to organize operations related to cattle and fishing at a local scale, I found that vey important and very revealing, especially as a person who’s a hardcore bragger about her decision of not eating animal corpses haha.
As you can see, I gave very little thought to digital technology issues, when you share with organizations of peasants dealing with such vital concerns, matters of tech are hardly a priority, anyway it was nice to articulate some digital security help and to offer Riseup emails <3. Also, I think we can certainly apply in our endeavors some of the schemes adopted by those who are in the frontlines of land defending: the anti corporate perspective, cultural appropriateness, the end of narcissism dressed as social justice, and so on.
Amiga, I could be talking for hours, we need to see each other in person soon to keep up with the gossip. I owe you my selfie with Greta but here’s a photo of my life hero because we managed to be in Glasgow at the same time.
Oh, how fascinating, my answer to your email would only be: tell me more! What a pity not to have been with you; we would have such a great time gossiping around in the evenings.
I was following the conference reports as far as possible, and I was thinking about the planetary crises that we keep dragging out due to the failure of the UN: migratory emergency, COVID-19 pandemic, and climate crisis. Of course, no one expects much from the UN because of its configuration, but one indeed ends up wondering how to blow a pipeline.
But very influenced by the situation in Chile (and in several Latin American countries), I realize that the danger of fascism is always real and immediate, and you see me here, defending failed mechanisms such as the UN because the other option is, at this point, simply the unbearable silence of violence imposed by reactionary forces. As we always knew, amiga, life was not going to be easy for someone whose dream is to be at home in peace.
I laughed reading you about identity politics at COP26. I think we have talked about it before, you know, about the horrifying show when you empty all power and cling only to the empty gesture of a fixed identity, like advertising on Instagram. Just today, I read an Argentinian living in Holland who was laughing her ass off because a Dutchman had published that a genuine gesture of decolonization would be to stop the prevalence of English in the universities of that country to the detriment of Dutch. So a Dutchman says to a Briton: stop your colonization! HAHAHAHAHAHA.
It is my sincere opinion that whenever ANY conversation gets entangled or tedious, starting with the climate crisis, we must go back to the classic school of analysis: who’s fighting over the land? By the way, this quote I loved (from Kathryn Yusoff’s fascinating “A Billion Black Anthropocene’s or None”): “Aptly, capturing the geomatrix of racial formations and land dispossession under colonialism, W.E.B. Dubois (1920, 54) defined Whiteness as the “ownership of the Earth forever and ever.”
I think, for example, so interesting to analyze this fight when examining the massive demand for “rare earth” elements (so much in need of digitalization and green energies). Those twists and turns of life have made China the dominant producer and all the other colonizers looking for opportunities. And Greenland appears on the map, again, as we talked about before: due to the melting of the Arctic ice, the mining prospecting (including “rare earth” mineral) has even whetted the appetite of the USA, which, with Trump, offered to buy the island (indigenous people there? who cares?). But a few weeks ago, the island inhabitants blocked the most important project of “rare earth” minerals in the place, arguing, among other things, the search for independence from its colonizer, Denmark, and from the imposed economic development model.
Guess where else there is another very controversial “rare earth” project? Yes, you guessed it! But I need a new letter to tell you all about it, and maybe it is better to take that project for 2022, as 2021 already left me with 0 energy to think about the owners de la tierra, las tierras raras y la Tierra.
Happy holidays, dear friend.
I miss you always.