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Worlds Collide at Cancun Climate Talks

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Following the failure of world leaders to arrive at any binding agreements during the last climate talks at Copenhagen, there appears to be little hope for meaningful action at the November/December climate change talks in Cancun, Mexico. In place of climate change skepticism, debunked by overwhelming scientific evidence, leaders are now relying on market-based mechanisms and technological fixes to further drag their feet and avoid confronting the economic model responsible for the crisis.

The upcoming meetings in Cancun are expected to promote a number of deeply flawed market-based proposals. The Clean Development Mechanisms and the UN REDD program, for example, allow polluters to "offset" their emissions by pulling sustainable local communities into corporate management systems, jeopardizing the autonomy, rights, and control of indigenous communities. Other problematic solutions include the construction of greenhouse gas-emitting hydroelectric dams and geo-engineering fixes to manipulate the entire planet's climate systems.

In Cancun, the representatives of developed nations will come face-to-face with the world of small farmers, indigenous peoples, poor urban communities, and other victims of policies driven by profits rather than people. Via Campesina and the Assembly of Environmentally Affected Groups are organizing caravans from across Mexico and Latin America to hold a mega-march in Mexico City on November 30, and to stage a Global Forum for Life and Environmental and Social Justice that will run parallel to the climate talks in Cancun. The forum will pressure governments to adopt small-scale sustainable solutions based on people's sovereignty over their lands, food, and environment. The Forum will also explore the gendered aspects of climate change, the rights of indigenous people, and other topics discussed at the World People's Conference in Cochabamba.

Though two different worlds will collide in Cancun, they must share a single planet. Any hope of a sustainable future will require a new balance; one that considers the voice of the people it ostensibly aims to protect.

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