Colonialism and the dual forces of mass-consumption in the North and mass-production in the South have created a system of unequal exchange and mass inequalities.
A fundraiser has been launched today to enable young Brazilian activists to attend the largest climate negotiations in the world.
The COP – conference of parties – has recently been relocated from Chile to Madrid, following protest against Chile’s neoliberal regime and subsequent human rights abuses. Relocating the negotiations to the Global North has rendered thousands of activists from the Global South unable to attend, with many spending their budget for the entire year on preparing for Chile.
The call to arms comes from the UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC), a national group of young people who donate their free time to fighting for climate justice. They are asking the public for help to raise £7000 to allow their youth counterparts in the Global South to attend the negotiations.
By moving the location from the Global South to the Global North, thousands of activists who have planned and fundraised their trips must forgo their non-refundable travel.
More importantly, it means that the most radical and challenging actors are now going to be missing in the space. Those spearheading the dissident thinking which is required to unshackle us from a 3.5 degree warming may not be in attendance.
It is crucial that these voices attend the COP. Neoliberal politics and consumption in the Global North have set the Amazon on fire. Environmental killings in the Global South remain devastatingly common - in 2016, 200 people were killed for defending their land, forests and rivers against destructive industries.
It is essential that these talking points – human rights, exploitation, justice, reparations, loss and damage – are tabled, discussed and engaged with at the COP, which has not taken place in a Global South country since 2014.
Young Brazilian activists have watched Bolsanaro sell off the Amazon and more recently watched massive amounts of oil wash up on their beaches; it is critical that they bring these injustices to the international negotiating space.
In an act of solidarity, UKYCC is attempting to raise £7000 to fund travel and accommodation for youth organisations in the Global South to better ensure fair representation. Sending one activist from the Brazilian youth organisation Engajamundo will cost around £700 and they are calling to send ten.
Izzy Gough, a campaigner with UKYCC has said: "This fundraiser is so important to me as I am one of those lucky privileged few who has had easy access to COP when I needed it. Now, those who need to share their story the most are being denied that right simply because they can’t get there. The ability to fight for climate justice should not depend on where you are born.’’
If you aren’t convinced that a Global South presence is crucial in Madrid then take a glance at this weeks news.
The fundraiser has been launched on the same day as the announcement that 11,000 scientists have declared a global climate emergency, predicting ‘untold human suffering’. This suffering will fall disproportionately on those in the Global South, particularly woman, and the world’s poorest inhabitants.
It comes on the same day that President Trump has begun the process of withdrawing the US from the Paris Agreement. This grants impunity to one of the biggest and richest polluting nations, who have historically and currently been allowed to profit from the degradation of the environments’ and livelihoods of those in the Global South.
Colonialism and the dual forces of mass-consumption in the North and mass-production in the South have created a system of unequal exchange and mass inequalities. Who better to explain this than a young person from the Global South?
The urgency for us to amplify young voices from the Global South has never been greater. As young people, we nudge towards the precipice of the greatest fight of our lives. Find the fundraiser here.
Katie Hodgetts is an avid campaigner for both youth potential and climate justice. She tweets personally at @ktclimate.
Image: Engajamundo. Takver, Flickr.