rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

In the wake of Cancun

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

The 16th Climate Summit has washed over us, and thankfully, this vital process is still alive. There were three possible outcomes insiders were predicting here at Cancun -- stagnation, train wreck or fragile life line. We got the life line.

In the wee hours of the morning, on the last day of the talks, a consensus minus one -- due to the vocal opposition of Bolivia -- was reached. The gavel banged, and the UN representatives and NGO's roared their applause. No one is calling the deal perfect -- it's definitely a compromise. But getting the world's nations to come to any kind of a massive agreement like this is an incredible achievement.

Bolivia points to the lack of teeth in the deal, to the ambiguity around the future of the Kyoto Protocol, and the fact the 100 billion dollar climate finance package is intended to be administered by the World Bank, which is indeed problematic. World Bank funded mega projects are infamous for degrading the environment, and crippling developing nations with debt in a strategic and controlling maneuvers. We definitely should not be giving that fox the keys to the chicken shack.

Activists in support of Kyoto Protocol

But these issues will be up for continuing discussion next year in Durban, and the process has definitely rebounded from the calls of backroom deals and lack of transparency of the last COP in Copenhagen, which left the whole process in a shambles.

Concerted efforts were made to ensure transparency, and while that doesn't stop the bullying tactics of the U.S. -- with it's oversized emissions and matching sense of self importance -- there has been real progress in making the process more just. The UN isn't perfect, but it's the best we've got, and it's a step in the right direction, as humanity comes together to tackle the greatest challenge we have ever faced.

As I immersed myself in the world of climate change here in Cancun, it became less and less an abstract issue. I found myself looking straight into the eyes of people on the front lines of climate catastrophe -- like the beautiful people of Kiribati, who's island nations are in danger of drowning due to rising sea levels.

"For us, it is more than a loss of land that's at stake -- it's a loss of our very identity." They performed their songs during one poignant side event. Particularly moving was the "Song of the Frigate," written years before they knew of sea level rise or global warming, this prophetic song tells of a frigate bird that leaves their island home of Kiribati in search of food for her young, only to find, upon her return, that the island has disappeared beneath the sea. The haunting refrain "rise up, rise up Kiribati" brought tears to my eyes.

As Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, told me in a powerful interview -- climate change isn't something that's happening to future generations anymore. It's happening now. It's one huge global experiment, and none of the scientists predicted it would start unravelling this fast.

My search, as always, is for the stories of hope -- the love stories as I'm calling them in my current feature doc project, EVOLVE LOVE: Love in a Time of Climate Crisis. And I certainly found them here in Cancun. The sheer diversity of the people stepping up to the plate to take action, to recognize the gravity of the situation, and the willingness to step across political, economic and cultural divides is astounding.

There are global alliances of grass roots groups like Tck Tck Tck, representing millions of people. There are indigenous people marching side by side with campesinos, with workers, with NGO's and, dancing to their solar powered beat box, the inevitable gaggle of well intentioned hippies who seem to be able to dance endlessly. There are scientists, there are remarkable statesmen, and there are remarkable presidents, who are stepping into their calling in this time of great crisis.

The indigenous President Evo Morales of Bolivia is the most vocal of them all, and also the lone world leader to leave the compound of the Moon Palace, to address the people on the outside.

It was a beautiful moment when he took the stage at La Via Campesina, under a hail of white flower petals, as a double rainbow appeared in the sky overheard. As Ofelia Rivas, O'dham, co-chair of the Working Group on Indigenous Peoples at the Cochabamba, told Red Road Cancun, "As grassroots people, we needed to hear that strength in his voice. The strength of the people was confirmed by the double full rainbow when President Morales arrived."

What became clear is that while we absolutely need these talks at the nation state level, we also can't wait around -- there is no time to lose. Change needs to begin, from the bottom up, all over the world. City by city, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, we need to make the transition to a carbon free future happen ourselves.

The gathering at COP 16 was yet another stepping stone towards the formation of the groundswell that needs to happen if we're going to turn the corner on this one. The solutions need to come from every corner, from every walk of life.

The wonderful thing is that the transition does not mean a lifestyle downgrade... in fact, what's best for the planet, is also best for humanity. And what if all this global warming talk is just a big hoax -- and we end up creating a sustainable world, with stronger communities, local economies, fresh air, fresh water and healthy ecosystems, all for nothing? Hmmmm.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.