Category Archives: Carbon Trading

Confronting Climate Catastrophe: Direct Action is the Antidote for Despair

Or, Why the UN is Worse than Useless and we need to Flood Wall Street!

Climate Convergence Plenary Address, Friday, 19 September 2014

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer.  Photo: Photolangelle.org

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer. Photo: Photolangelle.org

Good evening everyone and thank you to Jill, Margaret and the other convergence organizers for the opportunity to speak to you tonight.

In four days time, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will hold a UN Climate Summit–a closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conferences (or COPs as they are called) in Lima, Peru and Paris, France.

I was asked to put into context the reason for the march and actions this weekend–especially the problem of the corporate capture of the United Nations Climate Convention, which I have attended and organized around since 2004, when I attended my first UN Climate COP, in Buenos Aires, until 2011 when I was permanently banned from the UN Climate Conferences following a direct action occupation at the Climate COP in Durban, South Africa.

But I actually got involved with the UN Climate Conferences through the work I have dedicated myself to, which is stopping the dangerous genetic engineering of trees.

What happened was in 2003, the UN Climate Conference decided that GE trees could be used in carbon offset forestry plantations. Understanding that this was a potential social and ecological disaster, and being completely naïve about the UN process, we decided to go to the UN and explain to them why this was wrong, and to get them to reverse this bad decision.

But what we found out was that GE trees had been permitted in carbon offset forestry plantations because Norway had tried to get them banned. But Brazil and China were either already growing GE trees or planning to, so they blocked Norway’s proposal. As a result, GE trees were allowed simply because they could not be banned. The UN, we learned, does not reverse decisions, regardless of how ill-informed and destructive they are.

This is the dysfunction of the UN Climate Convention.

But let’s go back a minute to see how we got where we are now.

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Introducing GreenWatch Radio with Dr. Rachel Smolker

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We are pleased to introduce a new Climate Connections feature that we will produce occasionally. GreenWatch Radio with host Jay Burney.

This initial edition features Biofuelwatch co-director Dr. Rachel Smolker and focuses on renewable energy strategies and false solutions to climate change.

Dr. Smolker talks about pressures in the US to produce bioenergy products for world markets and the negative impact that these agricultural developments cause to biodiversity, ecosystems, wildlife and humans that are dependent upon and are a part of these ecosystems. Smolker also talks about the US Military’s evolving investment in biofuels and how this is creating pressures involving both agricultural development and genetic engineering of tree and agrifuel “products.” With Rachel Smolker, Jay Burney, Grady Hawkins, and Joe Schmidbauer.

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Why the UN is useless on Climate Change–from the BBC

Okay, so much for binding climate change agreements.  As we’ve mentioned previously, the UN Climate Convention is worse than useless.  It is controlled by corporate interests while pretending to do something useful–which in turn eliminates the space for real, effective (and justice based) action on climate change.  Yet another reason for more direct action at the People’s Climate March in NYC on the 21st of this month, and the Flood Wall Street action on the 22nd.

Greenhouse gas levels rising at fastest rate since 1984

atmosphere
A surge in atmospheric CO2 saw levels of greenhouse gases reach record levels in 2013, according to new figures.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 2012 and 2013 grew at their fastest rate since 1984.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says that it highlights the need for a global climate treaty.

But the UK’s energy secretary Ed Davey said that any such agreement might not contain legally binding emissions cuts, as has been previously envisaged.

The WMO’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin doesn’t measure emissions from power station smokestacks but instead records how much of the warming gases remain in the atmosphere after the complex interactions that take place between the air, the land and the oceans.

About half of all emissions are taken up by the seas, trees and living things.

According to the bulletin, the globally averaged amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached 396 parts per million (ppm) in 2013, an increase of almost 3ppm over the previous year.

“The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that, far from falling, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually increased last year at the fastest rate for nearly 30 years,” said Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the WMO.

“We must reverse this trend by cutting emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases across the board,” he said.

“We are running out of time.”

Read the complete story here

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Canada Now Leads Brazil in Deforestation

Scientists from the University of Maryland, Greenpeace, Global Forest Watch, and the World Resources Institute are tracking global forest decline and have announced that the rate of decline is accelerating.

Canada has now surpassed all other countries including Brazil as being responsible for loss of forest landscapes since 2000.  According to a story in the Ottawa Citizen published last week, the “main drivers are fire, logging, and energy and industrial development.”

Resource exploitation in the boreal forests of Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta are particularly devastating. Satellite imagery shows that the boreal forests in the area of the oil sands between Fort McMurray and Lake Athabasca has been almost totally devastated.

 

Lakes, like these in Northern Ontario dot Canada's boreal forests and contain 25 percent of the world's wetlands.  Photo- Jeff Wells

Lakes, like these in Northern Ontario dot Canada’s boreal forests and contain 25 percent of the world’s wetlands. Photo- Jeff Wells

According to Dr Nigel Sizer, director of the forest program at the World Resources Institute, “if this rate of degradation continues “business as usual will lead to destruction of most remaining intact forests in this century”

Canada leads world in forest decline, report says
By William Marsden, Ottawa Citizen. September 3, 2014.

WASHINGTON – The world’s virgin forests are being lost at an increasing rate and the largest portion of the degradation is in Canada, according to a new report.

No longer is Brazil the main villain in the struggle to stop forest destruction.

“Canada is the number one in the world for the total area of the loss of intact forest landscapes since 2000,” Peter Lee, of Forest Watch Canada, said in an interview.

He said the main drivers are fires, logging and energy and industrial development.

“There is no political will at federal or provincial levels for conserving primary forests,” he said. “Most logging done in Canada is still to this day done in virgin forests.”

Using satellite technology, scientists from the University of Maryland, Greenpeace, Global Forest Watch and the World Resources Institute have tracked changes in the earth’s forest coverage. The scientists discovered that the pace of decline is accelerating with more than 104 million hectares – about 8.1 per cent of global undisturbed forests — lost from 2000 to 2013.

Read the whole article here

 

 

 

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Climate Activists need to demand system change!

System Change is needed. Without that, positive impacts on climate change will be a pipe dream

cochabamba2

The United Nations is gearing up for the COP 20 Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru in December of this year, and the  UN Climate Change Conference/COP21, to be held in Paris, France in late 2015. A primary goal of the Paris Climate Summit is to ratify a new legal agreement aimed at stemming climate change.

Many people across the earth are concerned UN efforts and these summits will come up far short of any meaningful goals.  This Inside Climate News article, MIT Study: Climate Talks on Path to Fall Far Short of Goals details some of the concerns.

In preparation for the Paris Summit, on 23 September of this year, the United Nations will hold a one day session on Climate Change.  This will garner significant press attention as world leaders including business and political mouthpieces continue to posture for “business as usual” solutions geared toward the potential 2015 legal agreement.

Preceding the one day UN session are two significant events in New York City that you can participate directly in. The Peoples Climate March will be held on Sunday Sept 21, 2014. Organizers are predicting that this will be the largest Climate March in history. Although organizers have not created any demands per se for the goals of the March they feel that press and media attention will go a long way toward establishing public support for change.

An affiliated event,  NYC Climate Convergence, will have an opening plenary session  Friday night 19 September. The weekend long event that will feature important speakers including Naomi Klein and Vandana Shiva, and is described as a weekend packed with skill-shares, teach-ins, speak outs, and protests. Global Justice Ecology Project, Biofuelwatch, and STOP GE Trees Campaign will be participating in these events. Climate Connections will cover these issues and events. Please send us your thoughts!

Our concerns go directly to both demands and the need for system change as the only way to catalyze real strategies that can help to slow down or eventually reverse the onrushing impacts of climate change. These impacts include vast and deadly human rights issues based on the catastrophic consequences of ecological eviseration and the commodification of natural resources and life.

Join us by demanding system change. Identifying the real solutions,  published by System Change Not Climate Change outlines some of the fundamental components of the Cochabamba Peoples Agreement, and it leads the story by referring to our own Green Shock Doctrine.  What could be better for a Monday primer on what’s coming our way in the next several weeks?

Global Justice Ecology Project’s executive director Anne Peterman posted this article “The Need for Clear Demands at the Peoples’ Climate March”  about her perspective at Daily Kos earlier in August.

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Vermont Protest, People’s Climate March and Robin Williams

Dr. Rachel Smolker, Co-director of Biofuelwatch, member of the Steering Committee of The Campaign to STOP GE Trees, and long time friend of Global Justice Ecology Project, published her newest blog at HuffingtonPost “Vermont Protest, People’s Climate March and Robin Williams”

Photo of August 11, 2014 Montpelier Vermont March, by Rachel Smolker

August 11, 2014 Montpelier, Vermont March-photo by Rachel Smolker

Excerpts:

A few days ago, I had the good fortune to be able to participate in a protest march in Vermont’s capitol city of Montpelier. The action was partly an expression of exasperation over the fact that the state is cramming a GazMetro fracked gas pipeline down our throats in spite of ongoing rigorous opposition. It was also the culmination of a weekend long northeast regional “climate convergence” convened by Rising Tide Vermont, 350 Vermont and the Vermont Workers Center. The aim was to build solidarity and facilitate some planning for the People’s Climate March, scheduled for September 21 in New York, and billed as the “biggest march for climate yet”.

I have my concerns about the march — especially because it is not clear what demands are being made other than acknowledging that we are “concerned” about the climate problem and want something done about it. Some are making an unqualified demand for “100 percent renewables” (which in my opinion is like asking for fairies to forever after clean my house and cook for me.) Yet others are asking for “green jobs” (which, in my opinion is like asking for a pair of clean underwear to put on as we march in shackled slavery towards our demise in the machinery of capitalism.

Not approaching the stage with some clear demands is dangerous because of the plethora of false solutions — things that will not help but rather make things worse – disguised as “solutions” and profitable to the corporate one percent.

Read the whole post here

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The Need for Clear Connections at the People’s Climate March

Global Justice Ecology Project  Executive Director Anne Petermann posted this entry at Daily Kos yesterday regarding the September 21 Climate March and associated events in New York City.

In this update from her previous piece about the march, Petermann points out that many climate action contexts promote strategies and actions on climate change that  “include many ‘solutions’ debunked as false by the global climate justice movement, including carbon capture and storage, and other technologies that allow business as usual to bounce happily along while the planet slowly burns.”

If you agree with Anne, support her by adding a comment to the extensive discussion developing on Daily Kos!

Photo by Orin Langelle

Photo by Orin Langelle

 

Climate Action vs. Climate Justice: the Need for Clear Demands at the Peoples’ Climate March in New York City

by Anne Peterman/Daily Kos

In New York City on September 21st, a major climate march is planned. It will take place two days before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s UN Climate Summit–a one-day closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conference (COP20) in Lima Peru.

350.org and Avaaz originally called for the march, but environmental and climate justice organizations and alliances based in the New York/New Jersey region and across the US demanded (and won) a seat at the organizing table to attempt to ensure that the voices of front line and impacted communities are heard.

So, what are the demands of the march? There are none. That’s right. The march will simply bring together an estimated 200,000 people to march through the streets of New York and then…

There will be no rally, no speakers, and no strong political demands. Just people showing up with the overarching message that the world’s leaders should take action on climate change. Why no solid demands? I’ve been informed by organizers that the reason this march is being held with no actual demands is because we need a big tent.

But this tent is so big that it even includes organizations that support fracking and the tar sands gigaproject. Yup, they’re in the tent, too. Call me crazy, but I think that tent is too damn big.

According to some of the organizers, as long as everyone agrees that climate action is needed, then it’s all good. But are all climate actions created equal? No.

Read the Full Article Here 

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South Baltimore incinerator opponents applaud Stop-Work Order

Note: Considering that carbon offsets are a ridiculous scam designed to allow industries to buy an excuse to keep polluting, it is ironic that they were used to stop a polluting incinerator.  Living green carbon cannot be used to offset fossilized carbon that has been released into the atmosphere after being stored in the Earth for millennia–especially when that living green carbon (i.e. native forests, grasslands, etc) is being recklessly and ruthlessly destroyed.

–The GJEP Team

In December, students left flowers at the fence of a former chemical plant in South Baltimore where a trash incinerator is proposed. In December, students left flowers at the fence of a former chemical plant in South Baltimore where a trash incinerator is proposed. Photo by Fern Shen

Photo by Fern Shen

By Fern Shen, June 26, 2014. Source: Baltimore Brew

 

Opponents of the trash-burning incinerator being built near Curtis Bay are rallying there today following an announcement this week that the Maryland Department of the Environment is halting construction because the company had not purchased enough energy offsets to make up for the pollution the plant’s emissions are expected to generate.

“The failure to purchase pollution offsets calls into question the validity of the construction permit, as well as the company’s ability to comply with the Clean Air Act going forward,” said Leah Kelly of the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), announcing a news conference this afternoon at Benjamin Franklin High School.

EIP and United Workers (through their youth-powered human rights committee, Free Your Voice) have been organizing in opposition to the Fairfield Renewable Energy Project, which they say will generate dangerous toxic emissions in an area already burdened with high levels of industrial pollutants.

The Albany, N.Y.-based company building it, Energy Answers, says the 120-megawatt plant will remain within the legal limit for emissions and free up landfill space by burning trash.

Destiny Watford, a long-time resident of Curtis Bay and member of Free Your Voice, said in a news release that the order by the state is good reason for a victory lap.

“This ruling marks one step within our larger fight for the human right to clean air and to live in a healthy community,” she said.

$8 Million Violation, Offer to Settle

First proposed in 2009, the long-delayed project began construction in August. According to MDE, Energy Answers International was required to buy credits representing more than 1,500 tons of emissions of pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, as well as particulates.

But in a June 19 letter to Energy Answers, MDE said Sasol North America notified the state on June 2 that Energy Answers failed to buy about 80 tons of emissions offsets that it had said it would buy from the Houston-based chemical company.

MDE could fine Energy Answers more than $8 million for the violation – $25,000 for each day since construction began last year, letter said. MDE’s letter offers the company a chance to pursue a settlement of the violations, but opponents say they plan to argue that the construction permit is invalid.

In December, along with Unite Here Local 7, the opponents marched from Benjamin Franklin High School to the plant, described meeting door-to-door with 20 area residents and collecting nearly 2,000 signatures on a petition calling for a halt to the project.

Last month, a group of students armed with research, a video and a spirited musical performance went to a city school board meeting to protest the board’s agreement to buy power from the Fairfield plant.

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