ClimateCovid P1.2: Climate Justice Movement Strategy During the United Nations Climate Conference, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and Racial Justice Uprisings



Panel 1.2: Climate Justice Movement Strategy During the United Nations Climate Conference, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and Racial Justice Uprisings


“A Colonized CoP: Indigenous Exclusion and Youth Climate Activism at the United Nations Climate Change Negotiations”
Brigid Mark (CU Boulder) and Corrie Grosse (College of Saint Benedict and Saint John)

“Organizing and Mobilizing with #CAYouthVsBigOil: Climate Justice and COVID in California”

Theo Lequesne (Center for Biological Diversity)

“Racial Justice is Climate Justice: COVID, George Floyd and the Next 10 Years”

Sam Grant (MN350)

“Crises with Crises: Climate Organizing During COVID and Racial Justice Uprisings”

Brigid Mark (CU Boulder)

Q & A

If you would like to comment in the Q&A, register here

Note that questions and comments can be intended for individual speakers, the entire panel, or anyone who has posted to the Q&A. Respond directly to a particular question/comment by way of the little “reply” below it. The vertical threadlike lines are there to make it easier to see which part of the discussion (i.e. “thread”) you are taking up. 


6 replies
  1. Corrie Grosse says:

    To get our discussion flowing!: Audience members, what do you see as the most effective methods for building an inclusive intersectional climate justice movement? What should this movement look like at global and local levels? What existing institutions can we leverage to achieve climate justice goals? What institutions do we need to abandon?

  2. Isabella Binger says:

    Thank you all for taking the time out of your day to enrich upon us the informative and critical knowledge you all have amounted throughout your time fighting for climate change and social change. Specifically, I loved hearing about MN350 through your perspective Dr. Grant because I am from Minnesota myself and have heard about the organization throughout my time delving into local led efforts against climate change. Its always good to be reminded that although I am in California and there seems to be an emphasis on climate discussions in this region, that there are still thoughtful and caring people all around the globe who are willing to fight just as hard for their voices to be heard.

    For this reply though, I will be referring to “A Colonized CoP: Indigenous Exclusion and Youth Climate Activism at the United Nations Climate Change Negotiations”:
    I would love to thank you both for your time as well as your own individual efforts at the Conference of the Parties: The UN Framework Convention of Climate Change because your discussion is something that does not receive the recognition it deserves. At an event meant to be an open discussion to all groups, I am still not surprised that it is colonized the way that is: through space, policies and organizing. What I am surprised about though, is how obviously the CoP chooses to present their biases. For example, having the event moved from colonized Chile to colonizing Spain, giving indigenous speakers one of the latest time slots, and differences in response to protests from people such as Greta Thunberg versus indigenous groups reflects this events commitment to patriarchy, capitalism, militarism, colonialism, racism and ecocide rather than equitable change. One point that stuck with me after the presentation was the point of changing organizing patterns, specifically, by creating a horizontal discussion rather than a vertical one. I never realized how damaging and counterproductive it can be to have moderators and ‘higher-ups’ at events meant to suit the needs of every human. Without an open space for all people to discuss without being controlled, such as having to approve protest actions before a board, there cannot be a frank conversation of how colonization has and will impact every climate crisis past and future. If there cannot be the simple acknowledgement of this link from what is one of the most influential environmental meetings, then the link cannot be destroyed and replaced with something equitable for every group, not just the Northern Hemisphere. I would love to know what you both think is the best and most efficient way to achieve this: would you approach this change at the local level, global level or a mixture of both? Thank you both for your time, I loved learning more about indigenous people’s struggle to be acknowledged even when brought into the discussion.

    • Corrie Grosse says:

      Thank you for your engagement with our presentation and ideas! Going to COPs always motivates me to dig in deep at the local level. That is where I see the most change happening and where I have seen the strength of people power build real solutions. However, with the global crisis of climate change, we do need global cooperation and global solutions, so I think the best thing is to work at all levels and on an individual level, work at the level where we can best utilize our skills.

  3. Genevieve Stiers says:

    Sam, your discussion of crisiology is something I find fascinating. I’ve learned something similar to crisiology through the work of Naomi Klein, who writes about using economic disasters as means to restructure and realize that capitalism isn’t working for anyone other than the wealthy (more or less). I believe that situations like this (COVID, George Floyd, the possible crumbling of our democracy) are a wake-up call to make us realize that normal was not working; this is absolutely an opportunity to create a more just and equitable world that values all people and the environment. For this election, I am obviously more likely to vote for non-incumbent candidates because clearly what we were doing before wasn’t working. However, I have also heard of many people who want to re-elect incumbents because they feel that, in this time of crisis, we need someone in office who already knows the job. What do you think about this? Do you think people will realize that re-electing more of the same kind of people will only put us right back where we started, or do you think people will realize that normal wasn’t working and we need to elect a different group of people for public offices?

  4. Sam Grant says:

    Thanks for reflecting with me Genevieve!
    Whether Democrat or Republican, both parties are fossil fuel parties. Republicans to the extreme, Democrats in moderation. If Trump wins our fight for climate integrity gets harder than it already was under the Clinton and Obama Presidency’s, which were both totally inadequate. If Biden wins, his approach is so light on substance that we will still have to push harder than we ought to in a ‘democracy’. Running more people for office to get on the legislative treadmill, which is subservient to ecological imperialism is not going to solve the problem.

    It is time to ask ourselves, what kind of an economy and political system are ecologically sound and deeply democratic enough to promote the well being of the earth, the well being of ALL people EVERYWHERE on earth, and engage us in mutual care for the future. Our current means and social relations of production will not move us toward a radical ecological democracy. People all over the world are divided, living in fear about their own futures, and not engaged at sufficient scale to transform world-ecological norms.

    I had a great dialogue with a legislator and lawyer yesterday and a common sense of part of the struggle that emerged is that we need much more wise legal advocacy for law change, combined with more wise legislation for policy change, and a more culturally-connected, scientifically grounded public always driving the next waves of intercultural intersectionality and wisdom to understand how to co-create the world norms we seek in a perpetual co-evolutionary basis.

    From your comments, I interpret that you still have hope that if we just get the right people in office the system would work well. I concur with Naomi Klein’s point that we need systems change to prevent catastrophic climate change (in too many ways it is already catastrophic). For me, this means openly considering the need to transcend our current economy system – capitalism, our current world-ecology of ecological imperialism, our current organization of the world of nations through nation-states that consistently fail to ‘represent’ and include all of the people.

    However you see things now and act, I wish you the best in the ways you choose to engage in our small, shared world full of both massive crises and opportunities.

  5. tom osher says:

    Sense Making
    The presidential election has made one thing very clear. it doesn’t work.The current system does not work. Covid 19 has made at least two things very clear; our health system and our system of governing doesn’t work. The health system wasn’t prepared for an epidemic and the government had to resort to authoritarian means to respond to the situation. Both are unacceptable.
    Our situation with the climate crises that has us facing extinction makes at least one thing clear, our economic system doesn’t work. Putting personal profit above all other considerations, limitless extraction within a limited system, that has permitted the fouling of our environment to the point of possibly no return is a form of insanity and has led to species extinction on a massive scale to the point where now it is our species that faces extinction.
    The war machine, the idea that might makes right, is so unethical, so criminal, so destructive, and so barbaric that it should have never been permitted ever.
    Humanity cannot continue making the same mistakes over and over like a totally insane and unethical species. We all know at some early age that something is wrong with the way humanity is. Along the way, almost everyone I would surmise, learns that “all is corrupt.” Yet as individuals we feel powerless and that it seems that everything beyond our personal existence is beyond our control and we learn to accept our impotence in this regard and all the unacceptables are accepted as a part of life. Accepting what is unacceptable is unacceptable. This is what must be changed, which is almost everything.
    For one person to be in charge of such complexity doesn’t make sense. Power needs to be decentralized. The time for world leaders is over, maintaining their power becomes more important than serving the people. The same could be said for the nation state. These antiquated, historical ideas of managing systems are way overdue for the trash bin. The first step was to end the idea of kings, now it is time to end presidents, premiers, and dictators. I never wish to be “led” and I don’t wish to lead.. I would rather share the responsibility of managing society with everyone.
    We have three strategies to accomplish this, to share for your consideration: First is to unite all like minded individuals, organizations, and networks digitally such that there is a clear and easy way to communicate, collaborate, and organize, a network of networks (
    And secondly to promote the idea of horizontal governing (…), which is virtually incorruptible, more equitable, and more effective. In this way a new paradigm can emerge organically, autonomously, and collaboratively. We don’t need a blueprint or a plan for something that is far too complex for any static idea.
    A third strategy is to reinvent cities for localization. We can exchange the need for things (quantity) and the commercialization of all life for a deeper kind of existence based on good and honest relationships, a society that is founded on love and caring for one another (quality). These ideas I submit for your evaluation and feedback. (currently under reconstruction).

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply