COP 17: Global Leaders Powerfully Denounce Green Economy; Expose its impacts on peoples and ecosystems

8 December 2011

* Clown Ejected and Photographer Assaulted by UN Security *

(video of press conference follows in next blog post)

GJEP ED Anne Petermann introduces the press conference. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

Durban, South Africa–During a Global Justice Ecology Project press conference today at the UN Climate Conference COP 17, Indigenous Peoples, youth, social movement leaders and ecological justice activists gave powerful testimonies about the looming impacts of the “economic integration” of carbon offsets schemes across the world through the “Green Economy.”

Speakers condemned the Green Economy as a repeat of the failed and unjust dominant economic model, predicated on the expansion of the controversial REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) offset scheme to privatize and market the carbon stored in oceans, soils, agriculture, and biodiversity – that is, every entity on earth. They further explained how this emerging economic scheme will exacerbate impacts on communities already suffering from climate change, fossil fuel pollution, and false solutions to the climate crisis.

A team of clowns dressed as Uncle Sam and his economic advisors defended the 1% global elite that the Green Economy is designed to serve.

Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, who moderated the event, opened with a quote from Einstein. “Einstein famously said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. From that perspective, this COP is insane.”

Demond D'Sa. Photo: Langelle/ GJEP

Desmond D’Sa of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance spoke next. “This conference of polluters has been a failure,” he declared. “It’s not going to assist the communities in South Durban or anywhere. Today as we sit inside this funeral parlor, we lament the deaths of our mothers, our children, and our families. The decisions we see coming out of here are in the interest of greed and corruption.” He closed his talk by invoking the anti-Apartheid call, “Amandla!” which means, ‘power to the people!’

Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network, and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance broke down in tears when she spoke of the mounting numbers of deaths on her home reservation in North Dakota, where natural gas fracking is destroying the water table and fracturing the community.

Referring to one of the key events of social movement groups at COP17 this week, Mossett said, “We called for a moratorium on REDD this week because this is the only thing that is going to save people – to stop these crazy policies.”

Ricardo Navarro, of Friends of the Earth El Salvador added, “Here at COP17, we are seeing nothing less than the moral collapse of governments. The politicians here do not represent us. We are the ninety nine percent, and we have to take the streets.”

Clowns, led by Uncle Sam, then took over the stage and spoke on behalf of the United States and the global elites.

“We are the ones that caused the climate crisis,” the clowns announced. “And we are the only ones that can solve it!

Uncle Sam and his economic clowns. Photo: Langelle/ GJEP

Referring to REDD, Uncle Sam declared, Forests are very messy. They contain many useless life forms. If they’re not good for the economy, I say get rid of them.”

When asked by the press, “What is your Plan B?”, Uncle Sam, portrayed by Kevin Buckland, a US-based activist and member of the Youth delegation, answered, “Mars.”

During follow up interviews in the hallway of the ICC, UN Security detained Buckland, in clown regalia, while being interviewed on camera. He was debadged and evicted for alleged violation of the UN code of Conduct. (Clown suits are not, apparently, in the dress code.)

While taking photos to document Buckland’s detention, Vermont-based photographer Orin Langelle, Co-Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, on assignment for Z Magazine, was assaulted by UN Security who shoved his camera in his face.

And so the United Nations Circus of Polluters begins to draw to its fractious end.

UN security detains a "de-clowned" Uncle Sam. Photo: Langelle/ GJEP

Note: Full Statements by Press Conference Participants below

Statement by Anne Petermann, Moderator, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Welcome everyone. We have invited climate justice allies from around the globe to join us at this press conference to highlight the inherent dangers of the Green Economy and explain why we are uniting to blockade the “road to Rio.”

Einstein famously said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” In that light, this UNFCCC COP process is insane.

But even more insane is the direction in which it is headed. Not only in terms of setting into motion mandates that will allow business as usual until the planet is cooked, but most of all by moving forward with this so-called ‘green economy.’

The logo of COP 17 is a perfect example of this disastrous economic system and this corrupt COP process. It is a giant dead tree, painted green that is smothering the Earth.

We’ve seen for centuries how the market system of transforming resources and human labor into capital for the 1% has impacted critical ecosystems and driven entire peoples into extinction. But now they want to expand this market. They want to take the disaster of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and expand that offset scheme to every plant, animal and ecosystem on Earth.

They are developing plans now for Blue REDD, Brown REDD, Yellow REDD, Green REDD, REDD in every color of the rainbow. They want to use the carbon stored by every entity on the planet–including not just forests, but oceans and biodiversity, soils and agriculture to offset pollution from industry in the North, so they can go on polluting.

Already we are confronted not only by the climate crisis, but also by the food crisis, the water crisis, the biodiversity crisis, and the crisis of the oceans. And the Green Economy, in squeezing control of the natural world into fewer and fewer hands of the 1% will exacerbate these problems and drive planet earth to the point where, as Native American activist and poet John Trudell said, “Civilized man may make survival by civilized man impossible.”

Statement by Desmond D’sa, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance.

This Conference of Polluters has been a failure. It’s not going to assist the communities back home where I come from, or any communities anywhere in the world. Today as we sit inside this funeral parlor, we lament the deaths of our mothers, our children, and our families.

This funeral parlor has increased misinformation, it has withheld information, and it has not been transparent. The decisions are not in the interest of mankind, the decisions we see coming out of here are in the interest of greed and corruption.

We have to say to today in no uncertain terms, that the conference is a failure. It has wasted resources that could have been used to bring about better things in the world.

We the citizens of the world, the 99% we will continue to fight them in every corner of the world, we will continue to hold them accountable.

Speaking united with one voice we will continue to do this.

Down with the corrupt governments! Amandla!


Kandi Mossett. Photo: Langelle/ GJEP

Statement by Kandi Mosset, Indigenous Environmental Network and GGJA

Hello. I am Eagle woman

This is the seventeenth Conference of the Polluters. And what have they done in that time? Nothing!

I grew up on a reservation. We are watching our people die. While I was here my cousin died. He was only 36 years old. Heart attacks, cancers, asthma. Everybody is being affected by the dirty industries on the reservation–industries allowed to continue polluting because of offsets. Because of REDD.

We called for a moratorium on REDD because that is the only thing that is going to save people – to stop these crazy policies. As Indigenous Peoples, as traditional people, we know better than anybody, better than these high level people, how to live upon the land. We resist these people that say ‘we will make the decisions for you.’

I can’t tell you what it’s like to keep going to these funerals, when the coffins are getting smaller and smaller.

I’m not here to compare our struggles; I’m here to unite. Because there is strength in unity and we must unite.

Decolonize the COP and unoccupy the sky!

Ricardo Navarro. Photo: Langelle/ GJEP

Statement by Ricardo Navarro, Friends of the Earth El Salvador

We are here to express our disappointment. We are facing a big threat to the future of humanity. The scientists say they are guaranteeing a world that is 5 degrees warmer, by the end of the century.

To allow this to happen is criminal. Politicians are criminals for allowing this to happen. We are talking about the future of humanity, our sons, our daughters.

The message we are getting here is that politicians do not represent us.

We have to take the streets. We are the 99%, and we have to take the streets.

We are seeing nothing less than the moral collapse of governments.

Statement by Uncle Sam (clown Kevin Buckland):

Hello.  I am Uncle Sam.  I was pleased to be a part of the World Corporate Climate Summit, which I helped organize over the weekend here in Durban.  Oh yeah and the COP 17 whatever process.

But I’m here today at this press conference because I have a dream.  I have a dream that one day corporations will not be judged by the actions that they take, but by how much of the Earth’s surface they control.  But this dream is threatened.  It is threatened by regulation.  Human rights laws, environmental regulations, unions.  All of these stand in the way of progress.   It is not right.  It is not just.  We have paid good money to our government partners to ensure the outcomes of these talks, and by god, we mean to see those outcomes realized.  Neoliberalism must prevail or all life on earth will be threatened.  And by all life on earth, I mean, of course, the 1%.

Uncle Sam is interviewed by the media, shortly before being detained by UN security. Photo: Langelle/ GJEP

After all, we, the 1% have a very long track record, going back hundreds of years, of improving upon nature.  Nature is very slow and inefficient. For example, nature eliminates the weak and sick one individual at a time; where we eliminate entire ecosystems and peoples!  It is a much more efficient process.

With the Green Economy, we, the 1%, are now taking our experience and advancing it to the next level.   It’s like this COP 17 logo.  Note that it depicts a giant dead tree, painted green, that is covering the earth.  This is what we are about.  This is the progress we are moving toward.  Currently, forests are made up of living trees that take years to grow, must be cut down, debarked, and sawed into lumber or pulped for paper.  Forests are very messy, with lots of extraneous life forms and human communities that serve no purpose. With the green economy, we can use new technologies–geoengineering, synthetic biology, nanotechnology and genetic engineering –to develop trees that sprout from the earth, grow to a massive size, are perfectly square, and fall to the ground, ready for harvest.  And we will engineer them to be green so they will make people feel good.

It’s a win-win.  We eliminate the surplus human population and monopolize the planet’s resources, channeling them for the benefit of us, the 1%.

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Land Grabs, REDD, Rio+20, UNFCCC

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