10 Lessons From Copenhagen

Between meetings, demonstrations, conversations and media interviews, the NAACP emerges with 10 lessons from the Climate Change Conference.

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Over the course of this convention, communities of color have come together to strategize, develop messaging that conveys what we want out of the negotiations, and act jointly to advance our demands and ensure that they are heard by those making decisions that impact us. Across borders and constituency groups, we have so much more that unites us than divides us. We must harness our power and advance collective positioning in the face of resistance and opposition by developed nations.

1. Another world is possible.

When I told a friend about the civil-society demand for total elimination of the use of fossil fuels her first question was, “Is that realistic?” My response is that the NAACP has always embraced the impossible. My mother remembers when she couldn’t drink from the same fountain as a white person. Today, a black man is the president of the United States. Our opponents have always been stronger than us, and the odds have been against us, but through it all we have always managed to redefine the possible.

So yes, with technology and innovation, I do believe it is realistic, and it only takes the will and mobilization of the people to make it happen. The saying goes, “when the U.S. sneezes, the world gets a cold.” America’s influence in these climate talks has been evident throughout. Communities of color in the United States have a role to play in making sure that we do the right thing in this pivotal moment.

A luta continua! (The struggle continues!)

Jacqui Patterson is a member of NAACP Climate Justice Initiative.