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Far from Bali, home in the United States, it appears the US environmental movement is so desperate that we can do little but focus on getting something, anything from our country's negotiators at the UN Climate meetings, who appear to be bent on utter inaction.

Yet the appearance of unmovable obstructionism hides a deeper truth.

Behind the scenes, through extensive lobbying by US industries, allies within European governments, corrupt yet powerful US environmental groups, and influential international monetary institutions, the US is very actively engaged in climate policy, exporting models of addressing climate change to the world, with made-in-the-USA technologies, research, and economic theory.

Our narrow, US-centric focus on the obstinate evil Bush distracts us from major conflicts in climate policy at Bali. The reality is that the movement for climate justice in the majority world - for climate justice activists from the Global South (derisively known as the "third world") - Bush's is but one side of the climate injustice coin.

What we here in the US are missing is that this struggle is an old one: it's the struggle of the powerful against the disempowered, against the hegemony of the United States and it's allies, their dominance of everything and anything, including "saving the planet".

The battlegrounds in this struggle today are over colonialist "green" carbon offset projects (CDMs, or Clean Development Mechanisms in UN speak) and agrofuel planatations, couched in climate saving rhetoric, financed and controlled by polluting energy companies and the World Bank. The conflict is also about the defacto "Rights to the Atmosphere" gained by Northern Countries industries under Carbon Trading. Worst of all, despite taking center stage in climate policy, carbon offsets, carbon trading, and agrofuel have a at best an uneven record of doing anything to protect the climate.

Moving from Carbonacracy (dominance by the carbon industry and their allies in the rich governments) to Climate Justice is about more than addressing inequity in pollution. Climate Justice is about addressing inequity of POWER, which starts with addressing inequity in crafting environmental policy.

That to me means shifting leadership on climate policy from the US / EU environmental mainstream, toward environmental visionaries and indigenous people's voices from the Global South, and directly impacted communities here in the United States.

So where to start? Where's a skeptical US climate activist to go to get past the Bush bashing and get to the rest of the story?

I'd start with getting some news updates and analysis from non-US environmentalists. from the amazing Southern activists at OilWatch International -- who recently proposed a novel solution to oil conflicts and climate change: keeping oil in the ground! -- and the World Rainforest Movement.

The Nation magazine just ran an excellent and timely update from Bali here:

Alter-Eco is newsletter from published in Bali by a group of non-governmental organizations, indigenous people's organizations and social movements. The groups came together to make a unified call in support of real solutions to climate change and against the false market-based solutions to climate change that are being implemented under the Kyoto Protocol.

Check it out at

If you want to get involved in the movement for climate justice here in the US, here's some good groups to connect with:

Climate Justice Chicago, the Energy Justice Network, the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative, the Global Justice Ecology Project, Indigenous Environmental Network, the International Forum on Globalization, the Just Transition Alliance, Rising Tide North America, and the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network.

Originally posted to RisingTideNA on Thu Dec 13, 2007 at 04:35 PM PST.

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