Climate Change/Social Change conference agenda takes shape


The April 11-13 Climate Change/Social Change conference being organised in Sydney by Green Left Weekly aims to promote recognition that radical social change is necessary to solve the global climate crisis. This is a crisis that at threatens to make the Earth uninhabitable for the vast majority of humans and other species.

In conference plenary sessions, John Bellamy Foster will introduce an analysis of climate change and its social roots. He will examine the place of ecology in the transition from capitalism to socialism. Foster, sociology professor at the University of Oregon, edits Monthly Review and is author of, among other books, Marx's Ecology: Materialism and Nature, Ecology against Capitalism and The Vulnerable Planet: a short Economic History of the Environment.

Another conference plenary session, "Can the market drive climate change solutions?" will be introduced by Patrick Bond, professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Development Studies and director of the Centre for Civil Society. His research focuses on political economy, environment (energy, water and climate change), social policy and geopolitics. His publications include Climate Change, Carbon Trading and Civil Society: Negative Returns on South African Investments (co-edited with Rehana Dada and Graham Erion), Looting Africa: The Economics of Exploitation, and Trouble in the Air: Global Warming and the Privatised Atmosphere (edited with Rehana Dada). Bond will also be addressing a public meeting in Perth.

Foster and Bond will speak, along with David Spratt, from the Australian-based Carbon Equity group, at the conference evening public meeting on April 11, on the theme of Climate change/Social change: The threats/The solutions. Spratt is the co-author with Phillip Sutton of Climate Code Red: the case for emergency action, a new report assessing the urgency of action on climate change.

Cuban permaculturalist Roberto Perez will address the conference dinner on April 11. Perez is featured in the film Power of Community: How Cuba survived peak oil.

In explaining the numerous initiatives the Cuban people took to overcome the sudden evaporation of their access to oil in the 1990s, Perez is able to offer hope for an alternative approach to confronting climate change with an emphasis on community need and grassroots initiatives backed by a government that prioritises social needs instead of business profits.

The solutions to climate change will be further explored in a plenary session, "Transitions to sustainability", introduced by Mark Diesendorf, senior lecturer from the University of NSW's Institute of Environmental Studies. He teaches, researches and consults in sustainable energy, sustainable urban transport, theory of sustainability, ecological economics and practical processes by which government, business and other organisations can achieve ecologically sustainable and socially just development. He is co-editor of Human Ecology, Human Economy: Ideas for an Ecologically Sustainable Future and author of Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy.

In conference workshops, there will be time to discuss numerous aspects of climate change and social change, including how to protect jobs and the environment; food and water security in a warming planet; campaigning against the expansion of the nuclear cycle and coal; the NSW campaign against power privatization; climate refugees, ecological debt and international solidarity; youth, students and radicals in the climate change movement; World Environment Day, climate camp, students of sustainability; how to build the climate change movement, and much more.

The final conference session is intended to allow for discussion of resolutions and initiatives that may come from the workshop and/or plenary discussions.

In the face of the immense threat of climate change, more people are deciding that doing nothing is not an option. This conference promises to be an opportunity to strengthen radical social action to stop climate change. Registration details and other information can be accessed at <>. Updates on the conference agenda can be obtained by subscribing to the mailing list at <> and workshop submissions (deadline March 16) can be sent to <>.