Category Archives: Climate Justice

Earth Watch: Tom Goldtooth from the Venezuelan Social PreCOP

Tom Goldtooth presenting at the start of Mesa III: Social Participation in Decision Making

Tom Goldtooth (left, white shirt) presenting at the start of Mesa III: Social Participation in Decision Making

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network and Grassroots Global Justice delegate to Venezuela, spoke to Margaret Prescod (KPFK) from the Social PreCOP on Margarita Island.

Goldtooth spoke about the goals for the Social PreCOP, the vital importance of the inclusion of Indigenous peoples in climate discussions and action, the Indigenous-rooted concept of good living (buen vivir), and the need for real, sustainable climate action that does not accept false solutions like REDD.

Listen to the interview here, from the July 17th Sojourner Truth show.

Read the talking points from Tom’s presentation at the start of Mesa III: Social Participation in Decision Making here.

Tom Goldtooth is a member of our New Voices Speakers Bureau.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Earth Radio, Earth Watch, Indigenous Peoples, KPFK

On Bill McKibben’s ‘call to arms’ for the New York climate summit

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, from the Venezuela Social Pre-COP

Today’s blog post is not addressing directly what is happening here in Venezuela at the SocialPreCOP, but something on the minds of many people here–the next step in the series of climate meetings/actions this year.  That is the upcoming climate march planned for New York City on September 21st, two days before UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s UN Climate Summit–a closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conference (COP20) in Lima, Peru. Part of the objective of the Venezuelan government at this SocialPreCOP meeting is to come away with a set of demands from people gathered here that they can take to this exclusive summit.

The September climate march was called for by Big Green NGOs 350.org and Avaaz, who have thrown copious quantities of cash at it. But many environmental and climate justice organizations and alliances based in the New York/New Jersey region and across the US have demanded a seat at the organizing table to ensure that the voices of front line and impacted communities are heard, despite their small budgets.

The demands of the march: there will be 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, no strong political demands.  Just people showing up with the overarching message that the world’s leaders should take action on climate change.

Please.

What kind of climate action should be taken is a question that has long been debated by climate justice activists, organizations, social movements and Indigenous Peoples all over the world for decades.   “Climate action” can include things like geoengineering schemes–manmade manipulations of nature on such a massive scale that the impacts can’t possibly be known, but could definitely be catastrophic.  They can also include actions already taking place, such as the building of vast hydroelectric dams that flood vast expanses of land and displace thousands of Indigenous Peoples or land-based communities. Climate action can also include ongoing grabbing of land for the development of vast plantations of oil palm, GMO soy or non-native trees for so-called bioenergy.

So no, not all “climate action” is created equal.  A lack of clear justice-based and ecologically sound demands in this “historic” march will leave a vacuum.  And no vacuum remains empty for long.  It’s simple physics.  The media will not cover a march with no demands. They will find a message.  And likely, as so often happens, those with the connections and the money will win the messaging game.

Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Posts from Anne Petermann

Ife Kilimanjaro’s perspective starting the Venezuela Pre-COP

Ife Kilimanjaro is co-director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) and one of the three delegates from the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance at the Venezuela Social Pre-COP, along with Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network) and Diana Lopez (Southwest Workers Union). She shares her perspective on the pre-COP in a recent blog post, beginning with concerns and questions shared by others:

Though there are some questions circulating about the underlying intentions of the Venezuelan government and caution by people who know what it is like to be tokenized or have their work/ideas appropriated by larger bodies and institutions (be spoken for by them), one thing is clear; that this is a huge (though not unprecedented) undertaking deserving of note.

She further articulates goals similar to that expressed by Anne Petermann’s first post from the Pre-COP, but also adding specific events of particular interest:

While here, we aim to  deepen relationships with national and international groups that work to address the causes and impacts of climate change; deepen understanding among international allies of the ways that people of color, poor folks and Indigenous communities are negatively impacted by U.S.-led domestic and international policies and practices; and build unity and support toward the Our Power national gathering (Richmond) and the People ‘s Summit (New York). 

These goals and topics, hopefully, will be further developed in the days to come.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice

Venezuela Blog post #2: Buen Vivir vs. Predator Capitalism

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, from the Social PreCOP in Venezuela

Traditional dancers and music at the Social PreCOP dinner reception in Venezuela. Photo: Petermann

Another theme of the Social PreCOP meeting I am attending in Venezuela is Buen Vivir, loosely translated as “the good life,” a worldview toward which increasing numbers, especially in Latin America, are striving. Buen Vivir speaks to a philosophy of living derived from an Indigenous worldview that life should be about living in harmony with one’s community and one’s environment—and not about exploitation or commerce or about making others rich with one’s labor.

Achieving Buen Vivir is directly linked to the official theme of the conference: Changing the System, Not the Climate. This theme’s roots come from the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in 2009. There, the US led secret meetings with a small cabal of countries to hammer out the infamous “Copenhagen Accord,” which was introduced at the last minute to the negotiations, flying in the face of the long arduous consensus process in which the other delegates had been engaged for two weeks.

Climate Justice Action and Climate Justice Now! organized a “Reclaim Power” march in Copenhagen, where more than 300 Indigenous Peoples, social movements, NGOs, activists and even country delegates marched out of the conference, demanding “system change not climate change.” They attempted to meet up with activists marching to the conference from the outside for a Peoples’ Assembly, where real peoples’ solutions to the climate crisis would be identified. The assembly was brutally attacked by the Danish Police, and several activists were charged with terrorism.

Bsq6Pm5IQAA5NaKAccording to Venezuelan Climate delegate Claudia Salerno in her address to the crowd yesterday morning here, Hugo Chavez was so inspired by the march out and the outrage of the activists against the US manipulations that he brought the idea of “System Change not Climate Change” into his thinking about climate change. In Venezuela’s final Copenhagen press release he stated:

In Copenhagen, from the beginning, the cards were on the table for all to see. On the one hand, the cards of brutal meanness and stupidity of capitalism, which did not budge in defense of its logic: the logic of capital, which leaves only death and destruction in its wake at an increasingly rapid pace.  One the other hand, the cards of the peoples demanding human dignity, the salvation of the planet, and for a radical change, not of the climate, but of a world system that has brought us to the bring of unprecedented ecological and social catastrophe.

Salerno led the effort inside the negotiations to ensure Obama’s Copenhagen Accord was rejected. There was a moment at the end of the negotiations, in the middle of the night where she, using her metal name tag as a gavel, demanded attention from the COP President who was ignoring her.  She famously cut open her hand in her attempt, but was ultimately successful, and the Copenhagen Accord was merely “Acknowledged” and not adopted—a huge blow to President Obama.

The utter lack of real progress, and the growing domination of the climate talks by corporate interests is part of the story of how this Social PreCOP meeting came about. The goal of this meeting and the next PreCOP meeting in November is to bring the demands of the People to the governments of the world in advance of the next Climate Conference in Lima, Peru as a means to create a great mobilization to contribute to the salvation of life on earth—and the human species.  The Venezuelan government hopes to incorporate the social movement agendas into the official framework and negotiations, to speak, as they put it, “against the Capitalist predator model.”

While I honestly cannot bring myself to believe that the UN Climate Conference will accomplish anything but more of the same, I am here for the work outside of the official agenda, the face time with allies, the discussions between social movements from different parts of the world to share their experiences in dealing with the climate crisis. I am here to learn what People are doing/inventing/exploring in their efforts to cope with/address/take action against the horrific reality of climate change, on top of the already horrific reality of the neoliberal stranglehold attempting to choke the independence, the creativity and the life out of the vibrant and rich countries of the Global South—the heart of Buen Vivir.

Photo 1: 7/15 event, taken by Anne Petermann
Photo 2: Claudia Salerno at opening event, Social PreCOP Twitter feed

2 Comments

Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Uncategorized

Blogging from the Venezuela Climate Summit

Report from GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann from the Venezuela Social Pre-Cop on Margarita Island.

Anne-Venezuela1

“Changing the System not the Climate”/“Cambiando el Sistema no el Clima” 

That is the theme here at the Climate Change meeting being held on Margarita Island in the Caribbean off of the coast of Venezuela.

The meeting, organized by the Venezuelan government, brings together social/ecological justice organizations such as ours, with NGOs and representatives from social movements, Southern governments and a few UN-lings to hash out a new set of justice-based demands to bring to the upcoming UN Climate Conference (COP 20) in Lima Peru in December.

The meeting here is a reaction to the increasingly heavy-handed approach of Northern governments–led by the United States–to dominate the annual UN climate COPs.  Of course the US government cannot really be blamed, it is only doing what its corporate puppet-masters demand–pushing their profit-motivated false solutions coupled with a fanatical obsession with suicidal business-as-usual schemes until the world ends.  Simple.  The fact that these obsessions are already leading to climate-chaos driven suffering in poor communities all over the world–especially in the South, but including the North, and yes, even the US–is of no relevance.

The hope, as espoused by the Venezuelan hosts here, is to come up with a new set of demands/solutions/ideas that might be able to advance a peoples’ effort to stabilize the climate and stave off the worst of the oncoming climate catastrophe.

Of course the fact that the host country is one of the world’s leading oil producers is a slight problem, and one that is already being hotly debated both within these walls and by those who have sought to condemn the meetings before they even happen.

Flying to this meeting was itself a surreal experience, as it always is pumping out carbon emissions as part of an effort to help organize a coordinated response to the system that is literally destroying our ability to live on the planet.  But a global problem of the scale of global warming demands a global movement coordinated in some fashion, and in my experience, this is best done face to face.

But soaring over Caracas last night, gazing down at the bejeweled coast, densely populated by the water and leading in multicolored strands up the hillside, so much like an ostentatious necklace adorning a starlet on the red carpet, was a sight that both inspired, awed and humbled me.  It reminded me that I was again outside of the United States and back in a country where life is so much more alive.

Buen Vivir (The Good Life)

Photos: Anne Petermann interviewed by a reporter in Venezuela. Below also shows Lindsey Gillies, part of the GJEP team there.

Anne-Venezuela7-15

2 Comments

Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Posts from Anne Petermann, Uncategorized

Sea level rise threatens future of Pacific and Indic islands peoples

By CIEMEN, June 25, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry
Kiribati: Toani Benson stands on the ruins of the store that sold him petrol for his school's generator in the mid-1990s. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Global Mail

Kiribati: Toani Benson stands on the ruins of the store that sold him petrol for his school’s generator in the mid-1990s. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Global Mail

While a conference of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change was being held in Bonn (4th to 15th June), Republic of Kiribati President Anote Tong was recalling that, according to scientific projections, the disappearance of his country under the Pacific Ocean waters seems to be unavoidable. Tong noted that, apart from Kiribati, also the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and the Maldives are facing a similar situation: those islands have been inhabited for centuries or even millennia by peoples who currently have their own, sovereign states. But all those islands rise very little above the ocean’s surface, and because of current sea level rise, many of them may soon find themselves sinking. This is one of many effects triggered by climate change, mostly due to pollution from Northern countries and developing countries such as China. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice

Monkton landowners: no improvements in Vt. Gas negotiations

By Zach Despart, June 23, 2014. Source: Addison County Independent

Photo from www.risingtidevermont.org

Photo from www.risingtidevermont.org

In a June 19 meeting with legislators and the head of the Department of Public Service, dozens of Monkton residents said they’re still nowhere close to signing easements with Vermont Gas Systems that will allow the company to lay a new pipeline across the town.

In the three months since Monkton residents held a similar meeting with state regulators to address Vermont Gas’ negotiating tactics with regard to its Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project, not a single landowner at this past Thursday evening’s meeting at the Monkton firehouse said that talks with company representatives had improved.

Instead, landowners said Vermont Gas fails to respond to their questions in a timely manner, does not address concerns they harbor, is not offering fair compensation for their land and is secretive about its business practices.

“Nothing has changed,” landowner Selina Peyser said.

The meeting was chaired by Sen. Chris Bray, D-New Haven, and Department of Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia. In addition two dozen landowners, Rep. David Sharpe, D-Bristol, and Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison, also attended. Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Justice, Fracking, Greenwashing, Land Grabs

Siberian Global Warming meets lukewarm reaction in Russia

By Pavol Stracansky, June 21, 2014.  Source: IPS

Climate change will cause the Siberian permafrost to thaw. Photo by Softpedia/Celsias

Climate change will cause the Siberian permafrost to thaw. Photo by Softpedia/Celsias

People in Siberia must prepare to face frequent repeats of recent devastating floods as well as other natural disasters, scientists and ecologists are warning, amid growing evidence of the effects of global warming on one of the world’s most ecologically diverse regions.

More than 50,000 people were affected by floods in the Altai region and Khakassia and Altai republics in southern Siberia at the end of May and early June. These came just over half a year since the worst floods in Siberia in living memory.

But while floods caused by snowmelt are not uncommon to Siberia, these most recent ones were caused by excessive rainfall – a phenomenon global warming is expected to make much more frequent in future.

As the world’s fourth largest greenhouse gas producer behind the United States, India and China, and with a fossil fuel-intensive economy which the government is desperate to boost, Russia has historically been far from the vanguard of global environmental policy reform.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice

Unist’ot’en Clan Refuse All Pipeline Projects: A Video Message

 

Asserting Indigenous Law Over Unceded Lands

Source: Reclaim Turtle Island

-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- June 18th, 2014 [Unist’ot’en Territory - near Smithers, BC]   Amid threats of a raid and impending pipeline approvals, the Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation are prepared to continue to defend their territories against the incursion of government and industry. A soft blockade was erected in 2009, which remains today, to insure that pipeline projects which violate Wet’suwet’en Law would not trespass onto Wet’suwet’en territories to develop projects without their consent. Yesterday the Federal government approved the Northern Gateway Pipeline, but the Uni’stot’en Camp still remains in the path of the proposed pipe as well as several others. The Northern Gateway is intended to expand the Athabasca Tar Sands facilitating the export of bitumen to international markets via supertankers off the West Coast. The Uni’stot’en Clan is part of the hereditary chief system which has governed Wet’suwet’en lands since time immemorial and is not subject to the Indian Act or other impositions of colonial occupation. “Harper is illegal, Canada is illegal. The Provincial and Federal governments are illegal because they don’t have jurisdiction in our peoples territory. We have never signed any treaties, this land is unceded.” states Freda Huson, Unist’ot’en Clan member and spokesperson for the camp. Huson references a Supreme Court ruling in the Delgamuukw vs. British Columbia case that clearly states the ownership of unceded territories remains with the Indigenous peoples and that Band Council Chiefs and Indian Act Agents have no authority over these lands. In fact, consultation and consent must be given by the traditional and hereditary governance systems. Huson explains, “They’ve tried to get our consent and our Chiefs have said no to these projects and no means no. Wet’suwet’en law applies to these [projects]. Developers can go ahead and try and put their projects through here but they will be considered trespassers and we’ll enforce Wet’suwet’en law against trespassers… We’re not afraid of the Harper government, we’re not afraid of anyone who is going to try and forcefully put their project through our territory when we’ve already said no.” Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island have been standing up against resource extraction projects which infringe on our collective sovereignty and attack our territories, our peoples and our nations. Continued pushes for pipeline project approvals, tar sands expansion and fracking by the Federal government will only result in increased mobilization by Indigenous peoples. “Our numbers are quite high across Canada, Indigenous people probably out-number settler people and you can guarantee that if there is an uprising in one community – especially with a bigger project that impacts the whole world through global warming – you’re going to have a lot of upset people across Canada, this impacts every body.” Temporary highway, rail and port blockades have been used to show support with other Indigenous communities across Turtle Island and Huson asserts that any attack on the Unist’ot’en will result in widespread, global support. “We had people make vows that they will shut down major highways to impact the Canadian economy if the Harper government is going to ignore Indigenous people.” Dini Ze Toghestiy, a Hereditary Chief for the Likhs’amisyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and member of the Unist’ot’en Camp asserts, “Supporters are repositioning themselves in surrounding towns to help build local support, and people in the cities are mobilized now. There’s individuals all over the world who have pledged to do what they can to help us.” Concerning the threat of a raid on the camp, there was no police presence on Unist’ot’en territory on June 15th – the date set for the anticipated raid. A tip from the BC Civil Liberties Association informed the Unist’ot’en Camp that there’s a rumour going around Victoria that the government, rather than file an injunction against the camp, file a charge for trespass using the Crown Lands Act. “But this is not Crown land” stated Toghestiy, “this land is unceded and we’re still here. We’re not going anywhere. People are showing up to the camp every day, our numbers are growing. This war is far from bring over and we’re going to win this one. We’re going to win it decisively.”

Media Contact: Freda Huson: 778-210-1100

Unistoten_Enbridge_Decision_mem1-1024x1022

Leave a Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, BREAKING NEWS, Climate Justice, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Political Repression

Chile: HidroAysén dam project is scrapped

June 17, 2014. Source: WW4 Report

Photo from CBC

Photo from CBC

Chile’s environment, energy, agriculture, mining, economy and health ministers voted unanimously at a June 10 meeting to terminate plans for the $8 billion HidroAysén hydroelectric project, a complex of five dams that was to be built on the Baker and Pascua rivers in the Aysén region in southern Patagonia. Environmentalists and many area residents had vigorously opposed the project since it was first proposed in August 2007. HidroAysén supporters said the dams were necessary to meet energy requirements for the country, which currently gets about 40% of its power from hydroelectric projects. But Socialist president Michelle Bachelet, who began her second term on Mar. 11, has indicated that her government will push instead for more use of alternative sources and for the importation of liquefied natural gas. The companies behind the project—the Spanish-Italian electric energy consortium Endesa-Enel, which owns 51%, and the Chilean company Colbún S.A.—have 30 days to appeal the ministers’ decision. Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Climate Justice, Hydroelectric dams, South America