Category Archives: Climatic Change and Resilience

South-South Dialogue: The Bataan Statement

On the 29th and 30th of October, 2016, people from about 20 countries in the global south gathered together in Bataan city in the Philippines, to discuss about the climate catastrophe and dirty energy, from the perspective of southern countries and social, economic and environmental justice. JA! was proud to be part of that gathering. Below is the final statement released by the meeting.

 

SOUTH-SOUTH DIALOGUE: The Bataan Statement

1. The world has already begun to experience unprecedented and unparalleled catastrophes as a consequence of the global climate crisis. While governments have agreed to limit global average temperature rise to below 1.5-degrees Celsius under the Paris Agreement, the combined Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of countries who committed to this target will still ultimately condemn present and future generations to a devastating 3-degree Celsius average increase in the global temperature. Disturbingly, the commitments submitted by the governments of the North fall way below their fair share in combating climate change. The worst lurks in the offing for, should all the coal projects under construction and in the pipeline go online it would usher in a 6-degree Celsius average global temperature increase.

2. The Global North, in continuing to deny their responsibility by not committing to and pursuing an ambitious mitigation pathway, is condemning numerous species to extinction and an end to biological life as we know it, even as we already contend with the impacts of a destabilized climate. It is putting the lives, homes, and livelihoods of peoples across the globe in harm’s way.

3. At the frontlines of suffering from the worst impacts of the climate crisis are indigenous peoples, women, children and youth, workers, farmers, pastoralists, elderly people, differently abled and other marginalized and vulnerable communities, especially of the Global South, who, without the technology and resources to adapt, are left to fend for themselves. This poses an added burden to their daily struggles for survival in the face of poverty, want, hunger, political disenfranchisement, and discrimination.

4. Real solutions to the climate crisis exist in many communities, and we need governments to recognise and promote them. Most, if not all, countries continue to pursue a development pathway heavily reliant on the mass-scale extraction and burning of fossil fuels, however, it is the North who engage in the transfer of their emissions to the South to socialize liability to the detriment of developing countries while concentrating economic gains in their favor. Northern countries and the elites of the South persist in peddling false solutions like the deceptive, dirty lie of “clean coal”, geo-engineering schemes, carbon capture and storage (CCS), bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) as the answer to the much-vaunted industrialization of countries in the South.

6. While we agree on our right to development, as the right of all peoples, we believe that development should not be through dirty energy or else it is not development. Development must mean building sustainable societies, empowering people and communities, challenging injustice, discrimination and inequality at all levels and ensuring security, well-being and peace for all people.

7. We oppose all new coal projects. Furthermore, the climate science demands that all fossil fuels must remain in the ground to keep us from breaching the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold as set in the Paris Agreement. The North must scale up its ambitions in emissions reductions to steer the world away from the road to perdition. All countries should do their fair share of effort. It is thus imperative for countries of the North to fully decarbonize by 2030 and all countries well before 2050. Thus, the North must start phasing out its coal projects now. The South must cancel all coal projects in the pipeline while pursuing the transition to clean renewable forms of energy.

8. We must absolutely resist the attempts by the coal industry and governments to lock us in to coal power, leaving us with stranded assets. Coal extraction and burning do not only cause negative climate change impacts, they result in adverse health and environmental impacts threatening local ecosystems and community livelihoods. In areas where there are coal projects, resisting communities are met with and subjected to intimidation, harassment, human rights violations and other forms of violence.

9. Moreover, Southern governments should not hide behind the poor in their countries. While there are legitimate demands to address energy poverty in the south (1.2 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity), this has been used as an excuse to promote dirty energy policies, which have only benefited elites, transnational corporations and financial institutions, and the governments that support them. Though Southern governments have rightly called out Northern countries for their culpability in creating the climate crisis, we have reached our ecological limits, and no country, North or South, can afford to pursue a carbon-intensive development pathway.

10. The remaining carbon budget must be equitably divided across countries, based on historical responsibility and historical emissions. We oppose the trading of countries’ share of carbon budget, as we oppose nature being turned into a trade-able commodity in other forms as well. The remaining carbon budget must be used for the country’s own development not for export and trade.

11. In the South, our countries have great, enormous potential for clean and renewable energy technologies. However, there are certain renewable energy projects that have contributed to social conflicts, land-grabbing, and exacerbating inequalities. We thus take a strong position that renewable energy projects must be implemented in an equitable, just, safe, sustainable, and democratic way that benefits all and creates truly sustainable societies. We can and must achieve energy sovereignty through fundamental transitions to 100% clean, safe, affordable, locally-appropriate and socially-owned, democratic renewable energy technologies. We also call on the North to deliver climate finance to the South in order to make the clean energy transition possible.

12. We reject any mitigation action that reinforces prevailing exploitative and oppressive relations and policies. Equity and justice should be the driving consideration in taking on the climate crisis.

13. Clearly, the climate science confirms that the sun has set on coal and other fossil fuels. They no longer have a place in an increasingly uncertain future. It is this generation that will make the difference. The urgency to act is especially true for countries of the South who are now bearing the brunt of climate-induced disasters. It is, thus, important for peoples of the South to unite and demand for immediate actions from the North and from their own governments. The window to act is fast closing. Our actions now carry intergenerational consequence as the welfare of this and future generations is hinged on the decision we make today. We offer hope and solidarity by resisting the continued fossil fuel dependence and struggling for genuine change.

Tuloy ang laban! (Onwards with the struggle!)

Signatories of attending organisations:

Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development

Botswana Climate Change Network – Botswana

CENSAT Agua Viva/ Friends of the Earth Colombia

Change/350Vietnam – Vietnam

Center for Energy, Ecology and Development – Philippines

Centre for Environmental Justice/ Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka

Ecodefense – Russia

Earthlife Africa – South Africa

Egyptians Against Coal – Egypt

Environics – India

GreenID – Vietnam

groundWork/FOE South Africa – South Africa

JATAM – Indonesia

Justica Ambiental/FOE Mozambique – Mozambique

Kenya Civil Society Platform on Oil – Kenya,

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice – Philippines

The Egyptian Centre for Civic and Legislation Reform – Egypt

Umeedenoo – Pakistan

Walhi/ Friends of the Earth Indonesia

The Tragic Murder of Berta Caceres

In the early hours of the morning of 3rd March, Indigenous activist from Honduras and human rights defender, Berta Cáceres, was murdered in her home.
 
Berta Caceres 2015 Goldman Environmental Award Recipient

Berta Caceres in the Rio Blanco region of western Honduras. Photo courtesy: Goldman Environmental Prize

Berta organised her fellow indigenous Lenca people. She was the co-founder, in 1993, of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). She was addressing the constant threats posed to indigenous communities in Honduras by illegal logging, and was supporting their fight for their territories and secure their livelihoods. They were opposing the Agua Zarca dam on the sacred Gualcarque river, which was being pushed by Chinese and Honduran companies.
Berta Caceres 2015 Goldman Environmental Award Recipient

Berta Caceres at her beloved and sacred Gualcarque River where she, and the people of Rio Blanco have maintained a two year struggle to halt construction on the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric project. Photo courtesy: Goldman Environmental Prize

 
Since the US-backed military coup in Honduras in 2009, activists and human rights defenders have been under severe threat. Gustavo Castro Soto, from Otros Mundos Chiapas (Friends of the Earth Mexico) was in Berta’s home and is a witness to Berta’s killing. As of this writing, we are demanding that Honduran authorities provide him with safe passage to return to Mexico unharmed.
seguridadparagustavo
  Photo courtesy: Friends of the Earth International.

The Business of Manufacturing Doubt

We are a few short weeks away from what is meant to be an important event. An event where our world leaders get together to deal with one of the biggest threats of our time and to humanity as a whole: climate change. The event is the much-hyped COP 21 in Paris, France.

merchants of doubt- dany- cop21-label

Paris COP21 logo

Yet, almost everyone that really cares about stopping this climate catastrophe does not expect any major success or real solutions coming out of Paris this December. It is expected to be just another failed COP in a long line of endless failures of our leaders to have any backbone about dealing with climate change. And yes it just the political will that is potently lacking, because real solutions to the problem exist and people are working on such solutions every day.

So how can it be that after 21 long years of negotiations, we are still discussing and we still haven’t managed to figure out how to fix the problem of climate change in a global, binding and coordinated manner? The reasons are many, but there is one aspect of the problem that I would like to explore more, and which I feel has been a central cause of the problem around delayed action on climate change. That is the prevalence of manipulation of narratives, through “misdirection”, “distraction”, and “creation of doubt.”

In studying media coverage during the nineties until recently, we often saw an ongoing debate, often with one expert stating that climate change was happening and explaining the need for action, while another claimed that the science was unclear, complicated and that we needed to do more research and discussions before we do anything since that could cause major economic costs. This format gives the false impression that the scientific field is balanced in these different views, that there is still a debate to be had, that there are divergent opinion within the experts. If one looks at the time given to these two views, it is either equal time or in the case of some US channels actually more time is given to climate deniers then to the true experts.

Just in case some of you have been duped by this, it is useful to go through a quick timeline to understand how corporations and governments have been especially effective at redefining the narrative in the face of overwhelming evidence. As early as 1859 Tyndall shows the effect of greenhouse gases and suggested that increases in these gases could case climate change. In 1896 Arrhenius releases its first study calculating the effect of global warming from human emissions of CO2. Just a year later Chamberlin produced the first simple global carbon model with feedbacks, while Callendar in 1938 used records from 147 weather stations to show a correlation between temperature increase and CO2 concentrations. Since then more and more research has clearly showed the link between human-based emissions and climate change, such issues as data showing CO2 based global warming is underway, from the melting of Antarctic ice sheets, to complex global weather models showing the existence of climate change and much, much more all this already existed by the 1960s.

In the 1970s, numerous conferences and institutions starting raising concerns about climate change, with an ever-increasing consensus among leading scientists that serious global climate change was caused by humans and that action was necessary. In the 1970s there were still scientists and experts that had doubts, but as their own research continued one by one they shifted to the truth. By 1985, already 30 years ago, the Villach Conference had declared consensus among experts and called on governments to consider international agreements to restrict emissions.

The world reacted and in 1988 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established and in 1990 they released their first report stating that the world was warming. In 2005, the Kyoto Protocol became the first international law to deal with climate change. Many felt it was too weak, but given that this was a first step, with a guarantee that stronger agreements were to follow, many felt that at least things looked like they were heading in the right direction. However, as we all know it didn’t go as hoped and the Kyoto Protocol died a slow, painful death around 2012 with no new binding global agreement to replace it. Reason seems to have retreated and it feels we are further away from a solution than we were even 10 years ago.

Today for every 100 research papers published on climate change, 99 support the reality of climate change. Don’t be surprised if the last one which doesn’t support the reality is funded by the fossil fuel industry. The problem is that decisions are not based on facts, but political and corporate interests. However, civil society can be a major thorn in the side of these narrow corporate interests; hence defining a narrative to their interests becomes an important part of continued corporate control of our spaces and government.

The public relations type approach that corporates use to develop their narratives is not fine-tuned to facts but rather to peoples’ interests and emotions. It is based on charm, slickness, catchy messages and charisma, and therefor very effective. In contrast the factual science-based approach to develop a narrative is far more restrictive as it needs to be based on data, on falsifiable hypotheses and complex details that are regularly revised, changed and fine-tuned as new research and data are constantly being discovered. This isn’t a good path for igniting mass interest. Add the fact that corporations control most of the media sources, or have the funds to spread their toxic untrue narrative to an endless degree. We can start to understand why we are failing.

In the case of the climate change narrative a further dose of distraction, intentional misinterpretation, suppression of facts, dubious think tanks, pseudo-experts, and more, have even further distorted the odds. For those who are interested in more details can read an interesting book titled “Merchants of Doubt” or watch the documentary of the same name. This book reveals the history of corporate public relations efforts to cast doubt, confusion and skepticism around genuine scientific research if that research goes against their self-interest.

merchants of doubt book

Merchants of Doubt book

The interesting thing that one notices when reading the book is how similar has been the doubt-generating approach to diverse topics and issues from DDT pesticides to ozone depleting CFC´s, from acid rain to the flame-retardants industry. All used the corporate narratives to create doubt and skepticism on the existence of a problem, leading to major delays is solving these issues. The first step to solving any problem is agreeing that there is a problem. If the problem is ignored for long enough, then the solution of what it will take to stop this crisis, can well be ignored. The case that really stands out in the book is that of tobacco industry. The strategies used today for casting doubt on climate change were so similar to the strategies for fudging the health impacts of tobacco. There is even an overlap of the actual pseudo-experts involved. If you can sell big tobacco´s narrative, you can sell any narrative.

Also the reason why tobacco is an important case study is because they wrote the book on using public relations to keep the reality and consequences well hidden. An infamous 1969 tobacco executive memo explained it best by saying “Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the minds of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

The science was clear already in 1950 with numerous studies showing the link between cancer and tobacco. By the end of the 1950s, even the tobacco´s own research had concluded that their product was addictive and caused cancer. In the light of this the tobacco industry realized that denying the harms of smoking would not be enough or effective as a sales strategy. Instead it was important to insist that there were “two sides” to the story and to use the transient and changing nature of science in their favour. It got heavily involved in funding opposing research and partnering with research institutions, and even created some such as the Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC). At least the link with the TIRC was clear, most of the funding was not made known it came from the tobacco industry so to seem independent. Some of the research was heavily base, but some was genuine and good, such as the link between genetics and cancer, but the use of the research was to create alternative hypothesis to better develop doubt.

They developed a diverse and intense advertising campaigns becoming the biggest advertisers in sports and other sectors. They used influential professions such as getting doctors to support the use of tobacco or at least to claim that they smoked. It is technically not a lie, but one can see the problem from miles away. They sponsor celebrities, and sell lifestyles. They were among the first to link up with Hollywood for product placement in movies. The 80´s superman movies had Superman and even Lois Lane (confident girlfriend) smoke for the first time in the franchise and throughout the movies there were Malboro adverts.

All this allowed the tobacco industry to avoid regulation, legislation, liaibility, etc, but more sadly it allow the continued delay to solving the problem and must always keep in mind that when one says delays it mean much more than time, it often mean loss of life.

Climate change has followed the same strategy and the fossil fuel industries and others have been successfully delaying action and capturing our global spaces such as the UNFCCC to the point where even thought the last IPCC report on climate change highlighted the severe and shocking state of our climate and called for drastic action, we still do not expect much of the Paris COP, which is where we met to get some form of international agreement. We have the facts, we know what needs to be done, but our leaders do not want to do it….and the general public in the critical countries like the USA are “doubtful” of the true causes of climate change. Many still doubt  if climate change really exists or not. It may seem like a joke to us, but it is true in many parts of USA. It also help to deny climate change when accepting it means changing some of the excesses of consumption that has become part and parcel of the American way of life and a path that many of our elites have adopted and even elaborated on.

IMG_2046

Stop global warming! Roads sign in Muscat, Oman, September 2009

Now this may seem like a global issue with big players outside the reality of Mozambique, but many of these tricks and strategies are being used day-by-day with us, with Mozambique´s civil society. Its was used when dealing with the illegal logging, the gas, the coal and much more. It is currently happening with Prosavana, one of the largest land grabs in Africa, were civil society has identified numerous fatal flaws and have asked for a halt to the project. The government has done numerous fancy looking documents showing the benefits. It has done a master plan with all the correct language of sustainability, equity, community empowerment, gender sensitivity, etc…They know what to say and they know that what they say and what they do doesn´t have to be the same. Once the project has started its almost impossible to stop, so they just need to say the right thing until the ball gets rolling.

DSC_4544

Coal mining dust in Tete province, Mozambique

Hence, the government has shown a willingness to sit down and discuss. “Let’s not be extreme, they say. “Let’s not halt the project, but find a solution to improve this Prosavana program, work together, etc. It places civil society in a situation where if we say no it makes us look stubborn and feeds the notions of being extreme. The truth is that while we sit down and discuss, chat and work together the project continues. Word stay words and nothing changes in reality. We increase the credibility of the project as they can claim civil society participations. We have been there and have done that too many times.

Let me put it in a simpler way. If I served you a fish that was rotten, you would not accept it and send it back. My reaction should be to say sorry and getting something new, but instead of me throwing it out I say let us talk about it, let us fix the problem. Well I can put salt and piri-piri to help improve the taste and a lot of garlic to improve the smell. Let us not be extreme and compromise. Would you now eat the rotten fish? Didn’t think so. Hence we should find ways ourselves having to discuss projects and issues that are fundamentaly flawed and which affect so many people so deeply. It because the fish is only a few meticais so we can throw it out, but these projects and issues are millions of dollars and that is enough to buy over morality.

The later the change occurs the less impact it has and the slower the results. Do not forget that these issues are linked to peoples’ lives. In the case of climate change one must not forget when we discuss this limit or that limit, we are basically discussing if a few million people can die or many millions can die, that how sever the situation is if we delay action or do too little too late. Do not let the powers at be take us on these endless roundabouts while they continue to impact peoples’ lives.

 

Maputo Declaration of African Civil Society on Climate Justice

english

Climate justice advocates, community peoples and mass movements’ representatives met in Maputo, Mozambique from 21-23 April 2015 to consider the roots, manifestations and impacts of climate change on Africa and to consider needed responses to the crises.

At the end of the deliberations it was agreed that Africa is disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis although she has not significantly contributed to the problem. The conference also noted that the climate crisis is systemic in nature and is a result of defective economic and political systems that require urgent overhaul. In particular, the meeting considered that Africa has been massively plundered over the centuries and continues to suffer severe impacts from resource exploitation and related conflicts.

The meeting noted that the Africa Rising narrative is based on the faulty premises of neoliberalism using tools like discredited measures of GDP and is presented as a bait to draw the continent deeper into extractivism and to promote consumerism.

The meeting further noted human and environmental rights abuses on the continent, as well as the ecological, economic, financial crises, all adversely affect her peoples and impair their capacity to adapt to, mitigate impacts and build collective resilience to climate change.

The meeting frowned at the widening gap between our governments and the grassroots and the increasing corporate capture of African governments and public institutions. These constitute obstacles to the securing climate justice for our peoples.

The long walk to climate justice requires mass education of our populace, as well as our policy makers, on the underpinnings of the climate crisis, the vigorous assertion of our rights and the forging ahead with real alternatives including those of social and political structures and systems. It also demands collective and popular struggles to resist neo-colonialism, new forms of oppression and new manifestations of violence including criminalisation of activists and social movements, and xenophobia. We recognise that as climate change worsens, it will increase the resource crunch and migrations and will lead to more conflicts between people. We also recognise that the exploitation of migrant labour by corporations often leads to conflicts between neighbouring countries.

With justice and equality as the irreducible minimum, the conference further noted and declared as follows:

  1. All nations must act together to ensure that global average temperature rise does not go beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels as anything beyond that will mean a burning of Africa;
  1. In Paris COP21, we demand that African governments defend positions that benefit Africans not the World Bank or corporations;
  1. We reject carbon markets, financialisation of land and natural resources, consumerism and commodification of nature, and all forms of carbon slavery;
  1. We reject all false solutions to climate change including, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), industrial tree plantations, genetic engineering, agrofuels and geoengineering, noting, for example, that clean coal does not exist;
  1. We reject the false notion of “green economy” that is nothing but a ploy to commodify and hasten the destruction of nature;
  1. Renewable energy that is socially controlled must be promoted across the continent.
  1. We call for the creation of financial systems that promote and facilitate clean energy options including by supporting subsidies, facilitated loans, research and development;
  1. We demand an end to financial systems built on extensive subsidies, externalisation of costs, over-optimistic projections, and corruption;
  1. We resolve to work towards reclaiming energy as a public good that is not for profit and reject corporations-driven energy systems;
  1. We say no to mining as we lived better without extreme extractive activities.
  1. Our land is our present and our future livelihood and we reject land grabbing in all its forms including particularly for so-called “investment” projects that are setting the path beyond land grabbing to a full continent grab;
  1. There must be full, transparent and prior informed consent of communities before the use of their lands for any sort of projects;
  1. In all cases the welfare of local communities and our environment must come be prioritised over the profits of investment companies.

In line with the above and through other considerations, the conference demands as follows:

  1. Governments must ensure that the energy needs and priorities of local households, local producers and women – including with regard to social services, transport, health, education and childcare – should be privileged over those of corporations and the rich;
  1. We demand that no new oil exploration permits or coal mines should be granted in order to preserve our environment and to keep in line with demands by science that fossil fuels be left in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change;
  1. We call for and support public and social control of the transition to renewable energy, including by community-based cooperatives, civil society collectives and the provision of local level infrastructure;
  1. Governments must dismantle the barriers of privilege and power including those created and reinforced by financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank;
  1. We demand urgent technology transfer for clean energy production, the abolishment of intellectual property and increased research and development funds to tackle climate change;
  1. We demand full recognition of local community knowledge of forests, food production, medicinal and cultural uses of land and forests; funding of research in this area and use as part of the public education system;
  1. We demand an urgent transition from dirty energy forms to clean energy systems while ensuring that workers are properly equipped and provided with new healthy jobs created by this shift;
  1. Governments must support agro-ecological food production in the hands of small scale producers, prioritise food production over cash crops in order to promote food security in the context of food sovereignty;
  1. Governments to ensure the protection and recognition of farmers’ rights to save, sell and exchange their seeds while rejecting genetic engineering and synthetic biology, including of those seeds manipulated and presented as being climate smart;
  1. Ensure access, security, control, and right to use land for women. We recognise land as a common good;
  1. Tree plantations must not be misrepresented as forests and trees must not be seen simply as carbon stocks, sinks or banks;
  1. Community forest management systems should be adopted across the continent as communities have a genuine stake in preserving the health of forests;
  1. The right to clean water should be enshrined in the constitutions of all African countries;
  1. Governments must halt the privatisation of water and restore public control in already privatised ones;
  1. Governments should halt the building of big dams, other mega structures and unnecessary infrastructure;
  1. Governments should be responsible for holding corporations accountable for all environments degraded by ongoing or historical extractive and other polluting activities. Corporations who have created this contamination must pay to clean it up, but their payment does not constitute ownership of these environments;
  1. Governments to ensure the cost of social and health ills by using energy derived from fossil fuels are not externalised to the people and the environment;
  1. Governments must take up the responsibility of providing hospitals, schools and other social services and not leave these for corporations to provide as corporate social responsibility or other green washing acts.

Conference participants resolved to work with other movements in Africa and globally for the overturning of the capitalist patriarchal system promoted and protected by the global financial institutions, corporations and the global elite to secure the survival of humans and the rights of Mother Earth to maintain her natural cycles.

Signatures:

(A). Signers who participated in the meeting:

Lista

(B). Organisations that signed in solidarity after the meeting: 

  1. Southern Africa Green Revolutionary Council (SAGRC)
  2. GRAIN
  3. COECOCEIBA – Friends of the Earth Costa Rica
  4. Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean (ATALC)
  5. Friends of the Earth Brasil
  6. Sobrevivencia – Friends of the Earth Paraguay
  7. Movimiento Madre Tierra – Friends of the Earth Honduras
  8. Otros Mundos Chiapas – Friends of the Earth México
  9. CESTA – Friends of the Earth El Salvador
  10. CEIBA – Friends of the Earth Guatemala
  11. CENSAT Agua Viva – Friends of the Earth Colombia
  12. NAPE – Friends of the Earth Uganda
  13. Russian Social Ecological Union / Friends of the Earth Russia
  14. Friends of the Siberian Forests Russia
  15. Oilwatch International
  16. Oilwatch Africa
  17. Carbon Trade Watch
  18. Chalimbana Headwaters Conservation Trust, Zimbabwe
  19. Gaia Foundation
  20. United Methodist Caretakers of God’s Creation.
  21. Mupo Foundation
  22. Surplus People Project
  23. Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el Modelo extractivo Minero ­M4
  24. The Inter­American Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development (PIDHDD)
  25. Holy Cross International Justice Office
  26. The Corner House
  27. Global Justice Now
  28. Biofuelwatch, UK/US
  29. Corporate Europe Observatory
  30. Woodland League (Ireland)
  31. Consumers Association of Penang (Malaysia)
  32. Institute for Policy Studies, Climate Policy Programme (USA)
  33. Earth in Brackets
  34. Grassroots International
  35. The Rules
  36. INT Lawyers (International Lawyers)
  37. Khulumani Support Group (South Africa)
  38. Global Forest Coalition
  39. World Rainforest Movement
  40. Young Friends of the Earth Europe
  41. CCFD-Terre Solidaire
  42. The Union Of Agriculture Work Committees (UAWC) in Palestine
  43. One Million Climate Jobs Campaign
  44. International Development Exchange (IDEX)
  45. Oilwatch Latin America
  46. Friends of the Earth Togo
  47. Centre pour l’Environnement et le Development Cameroun (CEDCAM) / Friends of the Earth Cameroon

The world should remember: Lima talks did nothing to stop the climate crisis

The UN climate change talks in Lima are over. Instead of finishing on Friday afternoon, they went on till 4am on Sunday. It came close to a few break-downs because developing countries were really pushing back at the way at which developed countries were trying to control the situation. But finally there was a so-called ‘consensus’. But make no mistake, what was agreed in Lima did not and will not do anything to stop climate change.

The final approved text was driven by the interests of rich developed countries and corporations. This contrasted sharply with the real leadership and inspiration demonstrated in Lima by social movements, organisations and the communities on the frontline, who are already suffering the impacts of climate change.

Rich developed countries came to Lima determined to ensure that the outcome reflected their short term economic interests, as if the climate crisis really does not matter. The outcome lacks courage, justice and solidarity with the billions of people affected by climate change.

DSC_1476

Activists chanting “no justice, no deal” 2 hours before the final terrible text was approved. Photo credit: Yumi Sato
At the same time as the negotiations, again this year the Philippines endured more extreme weather and communities around the world are paying for the carbon excess of others with their lives and livelihoods. The Lima outcome failed people and the planet at a time when real solutions are needed more urgently than ever before.

The outcome says nothing about the drastic emissions reductions needed before 2020, without which we are at risk of an even greater temperature rise and climate breakdown. The outcome undermines historical responsibility. The urgent obligation of developed countries to provide climate finance is glaringly missing. This text creates an architecture that will set us up for a doomed deal in Paris. This is completely unacceptable. Governments of developed countries need to urgently find the necessary courage and political will to deal with the scale of this planetary emergency.

no dirty energy- luka

Protest inside COP 20 demanding an end to dirty energy. Photo credit: Luka Tomac

But away from the negotiating halls, people continue to mobilize and build an enduring movement to implement the real solutions to the climate crisis. Justiça Ambiental was there observing and building alliances with movements and organisations. The Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change (Cumbre de los Pueblos/ Cupula dos Povos) – which ran parallel to the UN talks – gathered together social movements and organisations from Peru, Latin America and all over the world. They exchanged experiences and continued to build momentum for the transformation needed to address the roots of the climate crisis and create a better, cleaner and more just world.

Almost 20,000 people marched in a huge protest (the March in Defense of Mother Earth) on December 10 — international human rights day.

plaza san martin- luka

Thousands marching into the historic Plaza San Martin in central Lima, demanding climate justice. Photo credit: Luka Tomac

From farmers to miners to environmentalists to students… Marchers called for justice and real solutions to the climate crisis, including steep and immediate reductions in carbon emissions, stopping fossil fuels and deforestation, building renewable community-owned energy solutions, and protecting our agroecological food sovereignty systems.

REDD not solution- babawale

 

No false solutions! No REDD! Demands from the Dec 10 Human Rights Day march in Lima. Photo credit: Babawale Obayanju

Tagged , ,

Hot Air at UN Climate Summit

THE LEADERS’ SUMMIT HAS JUST HOT AIR, WHILE THE PEOPLE HAVE THE CLIMATE SOLUTIONS

World leaders and their unreliable promises grabbed all the headlines at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York last week, but if you want to know about the real solutions to the climate crisis you should tune in to what just happened on the streets instead.

Hundreds of thousands of citizens and environmental activists just marched, in cities across the world, from New York to Kathmandu to London to Delhi to Amsterdam, as part of the People’s Climate March, the largest climate action in history. Thousands also marched at the Flood Wall Street marches, to hold accountable corporations’ role in the climate crisis.

for blog- PCM march

Marchers at the New York Peoples’ Climate Mobilisations.

Our message to the so-called ‘world leaders’ is this: This Climate Summit and your empty promises will not bring us closer to solving climate change; you have to make real commitments, take the right actions, or get out of the way. Don’t just talk, walk.

We don’t want these weak voluntary pledges. What we need instead are more legally-binding, ambitious, equitable, science-based emissions cuts. We also need finance and technology for developing countries to deal with the crisis. At the Summit, we heard only the vaguest promises of funding without any real specifics or timelines.

for blog- obama at BKM summit

President Obama’s hot air speech at the UN Climate Summit. (Photo credit: UN)

The Climate Summit York laid out the red carpet for businesses. Developed countries’ leaders have been neglecting their responsibility to prevent climate catastrophe because their priorities are being driven increasingly by the narrow economic and financial interests of corporations, dirty energy companies and wealthy elites.

Not all actions on climate change are the right actions. Unfortunately we have a long list of wrong actions or ‘false solutions’ to climate change that are constantly paraded, including mega-dams, natural gas, so-called “clean coal”, carbon capture and storage,  genetically modified organisms, agrofuels, carbon trading, ‘climate smart agriculture’, nuclear, offsetting and mechanisms like REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation & Forest Degradation). These false fixes distract from the real societal and economic changes that exist and are the real solutions needed to stop the climate crisis.

First and foremost we need reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at source. We also need to transform the way we produce, distribute and consume energy. Dirty energy is causing climate change and also harming workers and local communities. We demand clean sustainable community energy – the right for people to have access to energy; to decide and own their sustainable energy sources and sustainable consumption patterns.

for blog- BKM summit 2

African Union speaking at UN Climate Summit. (Photo credit: UN)

So what did the Mozambican Ministry representative have to say in New York? “Energy, where our goal is to improve access to renewable energy, increase energy efficiency, and promote low-carbon urbanization.”

But what are the actions that Mozambique is taking? Are they walking the talk? Actually they are doing the opposite. Instead of supporting small-scale renewable energy solutions for the 80% of Mozambique’s people without energy access, the government is pushing mega-projects, large-scale coal, oil and gas developments, mega-dams and large-scale land-grabbing. But we will hold them accountable to their words and push for people-centred clean development inside of this current polluter-centred, dirty economy.

Margarita Declaration from Venezuela calls for eradication of dirty energy

Activists from Friends of the Earth, including from Justiça Ambiental, were present at the preparatory meeting for the social pre-COP held in Venezuela in July 2014. We were among about 280 activists from 130 civil society organisations, from Venezuela and across the world. We met for 4 days at Isla Margarita, an island off the mainland of Venezuela, to move to defeat climate change.

margarita_2

Activists at Isla Margarita for the social pre-COP

This social pre-COP was a unique event. There is a pre-COP held every year before the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) COPs, which are the official UN climate change negotiations. However, civil society is usually never included in the pre-COP. This time, the Venezuelan government had a vision to involve civil society and make this a social pre-COP.

claudia

Claudia Salerno. Photo credit: Zack Embree

In fact, the Venezuela government had to make a special effort to politely decline the meddling of the UNFCCC Secretariat in this July meeting that just happened. The pre-COP is being held in 2 parts, one in July and the other in early November. The Secretariat was discouraged from attending the July meeting because the space was for civil society to speak to one another freely. This was a very positive step and allowed rich exchange between civil society organisations and social movements from 6 continents. There was also a bit of freedom to deviate from the strict, alienating language of the UNFCCC space. Usually, the UNFCCC requires people to learn a whole new language to engage with the space. “Do you speak climate change?” asked Claudia Salerno, the Vice-Minister of Venezuela, while she was addressing a climate justice assembly. The July meeting allowed the space for the peoples’ demands in our own words.

The content discussions took place in 5 mesas (roundtables), namely: (1) Social Impacts of Climate Change, (2) Climate and Ethics: differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, (3) Social participation to combat climate change, (4) Social Action for transformation, (5) Empowering Actions in Developing Countries.

Each mesa debated issues under their topic and finalised the language they would like to contribute to the final declaration. It was very important that the declaration process was driven almost entirely by the people, not by governments or by bureaucrats. When the final Margarita declaration was read out by the Venezuela government officials late afternoon on Friday, 18 July, the words were of the participants.

The Margarita Declaration was quite an inspiring document, and included strong statements like calling for the eradication of dirty energy and talked about leaving 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground to stop catastrophic climate change.

Vice-Minister Salerno acknowledged that Venezuela also needs to change, and that developing countries need a just transition away from dirty energy. This was a big step. At a time when other governments, from USA to Australia, India to Indonesia, Argentina to Mozambique all want to ignore climate science and increase dirty energy, this acknowledgement is a step in the right direction.

The declaration acknowledged the historical responsibility of developed countries in creating the crisis and demanded them to reduce emissions drastically, while also providing finance and technology to developing countries so we can provide our people with energy and a life of dignity without dirty and harmful energy.

Responding to the corporate capture of UN spaces and governments, the declaration rejected the interference of corporations in UN decisions.

The declaration unequivocally rejected false solutions to the climate crisis, including carbon markets, commodification of life; geo-engineering, agrofuels, agrotoxics, ‘green economy’, intellectual property rights; the mega-dams, monocultures and nuclear energy.

Notably, the declaration stated that fighting climate change needs a transformation of the economic, political, social and cultural systems at all levels. We need to transform the consumption model into Buen Vivir (Good Living) and global cooperative societies. We agree and, interestingly, JA hosted a seminar on Buen Vivir in Catembe last September.

It was interesting to reflect on Mozambique’s experience while watching Venezuela’s reaction to the declaration. Mozambique also has no historical responsibility for climate change. However, our country is going full steam ahead with dirty energy development, most of which is not even for our people, but rather it is being sold to the highest bidder and shipped out of the ports. We demand community-owned renewable energy to meet the needs of our people, not large-scale dirty energy for elites. You can find the Margarita declaration in English and Spanish.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 Activists at pre-COP showing solidarity with Gaza. Photo credit: Jagoda Munic

NEW REPORT ON INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY EXPOSES HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN MOZAMBIQUE; BUT THE UN RAPPORTEUR REFUSES TO ANSWER US

On the 10th of December, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, a new report was released titled Dirty Profits 2: Report on Companies and Financial Institutions Benefiting from Violations of Human Rights.

Image

The report was released by the Facing Finance campaign, which “calls on investors not to invest in companies profiting from violations of human rights, environmental pollution, corruption or the production of controversial weapons.” Justiça Ambiental (JA, Friends of the Earth Mozambique) is also a part of the campaign, along with Urgewald, Earthlink, SODI, etc.

The report puts a spotlight of shame on almost 40 companies and financial institutions that are building profits on the backs of human rights violations and environmental destruction all over the globe, from Mozambique to Indonesia, Nigeria to Colombia, Chile, India and West Virginia (USA).

JA provided information to expose the human rights violations being caused by dirty energy companies, Vale SA and Jindal Steel & Power, both of which are mining coal in Mozambique’s Tete province.

Image

This report confirms human rights violations in coal mining in Mozambique, just as 7 months have passed since JA wrote to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Professor Raquel Rolnik, who is Brazilian and is based in São Paulo. In April 2013, JA submitted to her office a Letter of Allegation regarding Human Rights Abuses in Cateme, Mozambique. Cateme is where the Brazilian company, Vale has resettled some of its mining-displaced families. We requested confirmation that her office had received the complaint, and they confirmed so. However, despite 7 months having passed, and despite many reminders, we are still yet to hear back about Ms. Rolnik’s process of verification, responses from Vale or the Mozambican government. We have received no information till date, no indication that she intends to do anything at all with the complaint. Her silence is shocking.

WATER FINANCIALIZATION EXPOSED IN NEW REPORT ON EVE OF WTO MEETING; INCLUDES CRITIQUE OF PROPOSED MPHANDA NKUWA DAM IN MOZAMBIQUE

Tomorrow, December 3, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks are to begin in Bali. More information about the WTO talks in Bali can be found here. Today, on the eve of these talks, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) launched a new report exposing how trade and investment strategies, including WTO negotiations, act as economic drivers of water financialization. The report is available online here.

Image

Justiça Ambiental (JA, FoE Mozambique) provided a case study, and was joined by cases from Argentina, Australia, Colombia, El Salvador, England, Mexico, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, United States, and Uruguay.

The cases show the crimes of many corporations, financial institutions, trade agreements and cooperation strategies which are paving the way for water privatisation and financialisation.

A shocking case study in this report exposes the major water injustices faced by Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip). Highly unequal distribution of water and structural barriers to water was also witnessed by Daniel of JA who joined a solidarity trip to the West bank last month. Most water resources are concentrated in the hands of Israel and this is leading to structural environmental racism.

JA’s case study called “Do not damage our life” exposes how the proposed Mphanda Nkuwa dam will further devastate the Zambezi valley. The beautiful Zambezi River, one of Africa’s most important rivers, has been dammed in 2 places already: the Kariba dam in Zimbabwe/ Zambia and the colonial day Cahora Bassa dam in Mozambique. Now the Mozambican government wants to build a new dam just 70kms downstream from Cahora Bassa. This dam will further devastate the Zambezi delta ecology and will displace communities from their homes, villages and livelihoods. JA has been opposing this dam for over 12 years now.

Image

Senhor Morais and his family, which will be affected by the proposed dam. Photo credit: Anabela Lemos

But yet this destructive dam continues to be planned. Recently it was revealed that there are significant conflicts of interest and involvement at the highest levels: with the Presidents of South Africa (Zuma) and Mozambique (Guebuza). A recent article by Oxford scholar and JA member, James Morrissey in the Mail and Guardian exposes how personal self-interest and corporate interest are outweighing lives and livelihoods in the Zambezi valley.

Image

Traditional boat-making in the Zambezi valley. Photo credit: Daniel Ribeiro

CIVIL SOCIETY WALKS OUT OF WARSAW CLIMATE TALKS, SAYS HOPE LIES WITH BUILDING PEOPLES’ POWER

Yesterday was a fantastic day in Warsaw, where the Friends of the Earth International delegation including Justiça Ambiental (JA!, FoE Mozambique), joined 800 people from social movements, NGOs and Trade Unions in a massive walk-out of the COP19 climate talks.

Image

Photo credit: Luka Tomac

Following an ad-hoc press conference with representatives of some of the groups who were joining the walk-out, we filled the corridors of the conference centre walking in a calm and dignified way. Our T-shirts carried the message “polluters talk, we walk” and #volveremos – which means “we will be back” in Spanish, as we build up to COP20 in Peru next year.

“Developed nations governments have been hijacked by corporate polluters and their positions prevented even a minimal progress of the talks. Developed country governments actions in Warsaw demonstrate that they are listening to polluters such as Shell and ArcelorMittal instead of their own people, said Dipti Bhatnagar, Climate Justice and Energy coordinator of Friends of the Earth International and JA!

After the walkout, at the convergence space managed by Polish youth across the river from the COP venue, we gathered to hear moving, empowering and challenging reflections from some of the people who had organsied and participated in the walk-out. We will be meeting again today afternoon with some of these groups to discuss some next steps in building a movement for climate justice.

Warsaw COP19 is one of the most corporate-captured COPs ever, where the Polish hosts officially listed their corporate partners at the COP, including corporations pushing destructive dirty energy across the globe. It is in this context that several southern movements called for ‘redlines’: to cut emissionsprovide real finance and help impacted people. These are absolute basics that we need to get out of COP19. Now the moment has come that it is clear these ‘redlines’ are very far away from being realised by the COP presidency and the world leaders.

We agreed with the movements and NGOs to leave this COP and call for governments to prepare a serious just and binding agreement in the next couple of years. We didn’t walk out of the UNFCCC process. At least, the UN is a supposedly democratic international space for getting a desperately-needed legally-binding, equitable and ambitious treaty. But it has been captured and hence has not been delivering much-needed ambition and finance.

The support we have felt has been fantastic. FoE groups around the world have been taking action together, on social media and on the streets.

Here are some of the media statements produced:

FoEI press release:
http://www.foei.org/en/latest-news

FoEE press release:
http://www.foeeurope.org/sites/default/files/news/media_statement_on_ngos_walk_out_from_cop19.pdf

YFoEE press release:
https://www.foeeurope.org/yfoee/press-release-polluters-talk-we-walk-21112013

Images:
Polluters talk album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/foeeurope/sets/72157637908817256
Full COP19 album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/foeeurope/sets/72157637776415645
Young FoEE album:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/youngfoee/sets/72157637906549166/

Social media:
https://www.facebook.com/FoEEurope
https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/volveremos
https://www.facebook.com/YoungFoEE

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/foeeurope
https://twitter.com/youngfoee

#volveremos
#COP19

%d bloggers like this: