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Sunday, April 06, 2008

A rare and remarkable opportunity-Climate Change — Social Change conference by Dick Nichols

Events such as the April 11-13 Climate Change — Social Change conference occur very rarely in the intellectual and political life of an Australian city. This gathering in Sydney will bring together an extraordinary range of speakers to tackle the theme of social action to stop climate change.
The conference doesn’t fit any of the standard conference moulds.

It’s not just a theoretical Marxist conference, but it brings to Australia probably the world’s leading student of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels’s contribution to ecological thought, John Bellamy Foster, as well as KwaZulu University’s Patrick Bond. It’s not just a conference about the state of climate science, but participants will hear from the Carbon Equity Project’s David Spratt, whose recent work Climate Code Red: the case for a sustainability emergency dramatically summarises the present state of the global warming crisis. Green Left Weekly’s Renfrey Clarke will add his own valuable contribution to this analysis.

It’s not just a conference about sustainable agriculture, but Cuban permaculturalist Roberto Perez will provide a remarkable insight into his country’s extraordinary achievements in urban agriculture. It’s not just a conference about the state of renewable energy development, but Mark Diesendorf of the University of New South Wales will contribute his enormous knowledge of the potential of alternative energy technologies. Diesendorf’s book Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy is required reading if we want to understand how polluting, carbon-intensive power generation can actually be uprooted. It’s not just a conference of environment and climate change activists, but speakers like Cam Walker, Jim Green and Stephanie Long (Friends of the Earth), Matthew Wright (Beyond Zero Emissions) and Wenny Theresia (Sydney Nuclear Free Coalition) will be leading the debate on how to act against the global warming threat. Activists Simon Cunich (Resistance), Vanessa Bowden (Climate Camp) and Mel Barnes (Students Against the Pulp Mill) will show how young Australia is leading the fight against global warming at a grassroots level.

It’s not just a conference of unionists concerned about how to struggle for workers’ rights and against global warming at the same time, but Chris Cain (secretary, Maritime Union of Australia, WA), Tim Gooden (secretary, Geelong Trades Hall Council) and Steve Phillips (Rising Tide, Newcastle) will lead discussion on how the working class and environmental movements can act together to defend jobs and reverse global warming. Matt Thistlethwaite from Unions NSW will outline the struggle against the NSW government’s electricity privatisation plans.

It’s not a conference about the Indigenous struggle in Australia, but Queensland Aboriginal leader Sam Watson and Kairie community elder Pat Eatock will bring their perspective on global warming. Finally, it’s not just a conference of political organisations concerned about global warming, but NSW Greens MP Sylvia Hale, the Adelaide Ecosocialist Network’s John Rice and the Socialist Alliance will be looking at the political aspects of the struggle against climate change.

It’s just the sort of conference the movement against global warming sorely needs: by listening and learning from each other we can strengthen our mutual understanding of the issues and the movement’s forms of organisation and collaboration. Everyone who can make it to this special event will learn a lot and go away newly inspired for the fight against global warming, possibly the greatest threat humanity now faces. Dick Nichols [Dick Nichols is the national coordinator of the Socialist Alliance.]

From: Comment & Analysis, Green Left Weekly issue #745 2 April 2008.

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