The US's Biggest, Baddest Eco-Warriors Represent at the Climate Conference

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World leaders have gathered in Bonn, Germany, to talk climate change at COP23, where they will spend two long weeks hashing out details regarding the Paris Agreement.

In a year where U.S. climate action has been stuck in reverse, there is real delight seeing what some of the badass names with the U.S. People’s Delegation and It Takes Roots Delegation are up to—especially since the U.S.’s official delegation, under the direction of President Donald Trump, is more focused on promoting fossil fuels than addressing the crisis at hand.


The delegations, which have some overlap in representation, include groups like the Indigenous Environmental Network, one of the few indigenous-led environmental groups in the U.S.; Our Children’s Trust, which is showing youth how to use the law to fight climate change; and Grassroots Global Justice and the Climate Justice Alliance, which connects groups nationwide to help the most vulnerable find local solutions.

Some of these delegates spent months camped out in North Dakota in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline last year. Others are suing the federal government for its inaction on climate change. Now, in Germany, delegates are marching alongside local organizers, like they did over the weekend to protest coal. They’ve got more actions planned, too, like the No Climate Change March scheduled for Saturday.


The delegation announced its platform Tuesday. They’re demanding the usual stuff: y’know, an equitable transition to 100 percent renewable energy, an end to the fossil fuel industry, and an increase in the goals set forth in the Paris Agreement.

For advocates who use a race and equity lens, the targets set forth—like keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels—aren’t enough. Island nations will still be underwater with these targets, something of which Fiji, the host of this year’s COP, is acutely aware.


That’s part of the appeal of the Green Climate Fund, a global bucket of money signatories to the international climate accord will pay into to help the Global South pay for climate change adaptation and mitigation. After all, these countries are the least responsible for climate change, but they’ll be hit the hardest.

Even within the United States, the impacts aren’t distributed equally. Look at Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. The island is still largely without power more than a month since the disaster. Activist Katia Avilés-Vázquez of the Boricuá Organization for Ecological Agriculture of Puerto Rico and the U.S. People’s Delegation, made her voice heard at COP.


“Now it is time for both Puerto Rico and U.S. elected officials to follow our lead, to take immediate actions to end the systematic racism that imposes climate change effects on brown bodies,” Avilés-Vázquez said. “Both through ending fossil fuel emissions and climate reparations.”


That’s the message this delegation brings to COP23. Follow them through Germany on Twitter with #ItTakesRoots.