Category Archives: Copenhagen/COP-15


Call for “System Change not Climate Change” Unites Global Movement

Note:  The first post is the  Poznan statement from the Climate Justice Now! alliance from 12 December 2008 after the UN climate talks that year.  The second was published by CJN immediately following the Copenhagen UN climate talks in 2009.  More than ever, we believe it’s time for the 1% who control the UN climate talks to do something for the climate–like get out of the way so that people and social movements can counter their false solutions to climate change with real grassroots solutions in order to avert climate catastrophe.  The Earth can’t wait.

Follow our blogs from the Durban UN climate circus from 28 Nov – 10 Dec on Climate Connections.

-The GJEP Team


Poznan statement from the Climate Justice Now! alliance

12 December 2008

Members of Climate Justice Now! – a worldwide alliance of more than 160 organisations — have been in Poznan for the past two weeks closely following developments in the UN climate negotiations.

This statement is our assessment of the Conference of Parties (COP) 14, and articulates our principles for achieving climate justice.


On the streets of Poznan, Poland 2008. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

We will not be able to stop climate change if we don’t change the neo-liberal and corporate-based economy which stops us from achieving sustainable societies. Corporate globalisation must be stopped.

The historical responsibility for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions lies with the industrialised countries of the North. Even though the primary responsibility of the North to reduce emissions has been recognised in the Convention, their production and consumption habits continue to threaten the survival of humanity and biodiversity. It is imperative that the North urgently shifts to a low carbon economy. At the same time in order to avoid the damaging carbon intensive model of industrialisation, the South is entitled to resources and technology to make this transition.

We believe that any ´shared vision´ on addressing the climate crisis must start with climate justice and with a radical re-thinking of the dominant development model.

Indigenous Peoples, peasant communities, fisherfolk, and especially women in these communities, have been living harmoniously and sustainably with the Earth for millennia. They are not only the most affected by climate change, but also its false solutions, such as agrofuels, mega-dams, genetic modification, tree plantations and carbon offset schemes. Instead of market led schemes, their sustainable practices should be seen as offering the real solutions to climate change.


Governments and international institutions have to recognise that the Kyoto mechanisms have failed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – common but differentiated responsibilities, inter-generational equity, and polluter pays — have been undermined in favour of market mechanisms. The three main pillars of the Kyoto agreement –the clean development mechanism, joint implementation and emissions trading schemes — have been completely ineffective in reducing emissions, yet they continue to be at the center of the negotiations.

Kyoto is based on carbon-trading mechanisms which allow Northern countries to continue business as usual by paying for “clean development” projects in developing and transition countries. This is a scheme designed deliberately to allow polluters to avoid reducing emissions domestically. Clean development mechanism projects, which are supposed to support “sustainable development”, include infrastructure projects such as big dams and coal-fired power plants, and monoculture tree plantations. Not only do these projects fail to reduce carbon emissions, they accelerate the privatisation and corporate take-over of the natural world, at the expense of local communities and Indigenous Peoples.

Proposals on the table in Poznan are heading in the same direction.

In the current negotiations, industrialised countries continue to act on the basis of self-interest, using all their negotiating tactics to avoid their obligations to reduce carbon emissions, to finance adaptation and mitigation and transfer technology to the South.

In their pursuit of growth at any cost, many Southern governments at the talks are trading away the rights of their peoples and resources. We remind them that a climate agreement is not a trade agreement.

The main protagonists for climate stability – Indigenous Peoples, women, peasant and family farmers, fisherfolk, forest dependent communities, youth, and marginalised and affected communities in the global South and North, are systematically excluded. Despite repeated demands, Indigenous Peoples are not recognised as an official party to the negotiations. Neither are women’s voices and gender considerations recognised and included in the process.

At the same time, private investors are circling the talks like vultures, swooping in on every opportunity for creating new profits. Business and corporate lobbyists expanded their influence and monopolized conference space at Poznan. At least 1500 industry lobbyists were present either as NGOs or as members of government delegations.

The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) scheme could create the climate regime’s largest ever loophole, giving Northern polluters yet another opportunity to buy their way out of emissions reductions. With no mention of biodiversity or Indigenous Peoples’ rights, this scheme might give a huge incentive for countries to sell off their forests, expel Indigenous and peasant communities, and transform forests into tree plantations under corporate-control. Plantations are not forests. Privatisation and dispossession through REDD or any other mechanisms must be stopped.

The World Bank is attempting to carve a niche in the international climate change regime. This is unacceptable as the Bank continues to fund polluting industries and drive deforestation by promoting industrial logging and agrofuels. The Bank’s recently launched Climate Investment Funds goes against government initiatives at the UN and promotes dirty industries such as coal, while forcing developing countries into the fundamentally unequal aid framework of donor and recipient. The World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility aiming to finance REDD through a forest carbon mechanism serves the interest of private companies and opens the path for commodification of forests.

These developments are to be expected. Market ideology has totally infiltrated the climate talks, and the UNFCCC negotiations are now like trade fairs hawking investment opportunities.


Solutions to the climate crisis will not come from industrialised countries and big business. Effective and enduring solutions will come from those who have protected the environment – Indigenous Peoples, women, peasant and family farmers, fisherfolk, forest dependent communities, youth and marginalised and affected communities in the global South and North. These include:

  • Achieving low carbon economies, without resorting to offsetting and false solutions such as nuclear energy and “clean coal”, while protecting the rights of those affected by the transition, especially workers.
  • Keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
  • Implementing people’s food and energy sovereignty.
  • Guaranteeing community control of natural resources.
  • Re-localisation of production and consumption, prioritising local markets
  • Full recognition of Indigenous Peoples, peasant and local community rights,
  • Democratically controlled clean renewable energy.
  • Rights based resource conservation that enforces indigenous land rights and promotes peoples sovereignty and public ownership over energy, forests, seeds, land and water
  • Ending deforestation and its underlying causes.
  • Ending excessive consumption by elites in the North and in the South.
  • Massive investment in public transport
  • Ensuring gender justice by recognising existing gender injustices and involving women in decision making.
  • Cancelling illegitimate debts claimed by northern governments and IFIs. The illegitimacy of these debts is underscored by the much greater historical, social and ecological debts owed to people of the South.

We stand at the crossroads. We call for a radical change in direction to put climate justice and people’s rights at the centre of these negotiations.

In the lead-up to the 2009 COP 15 at Copenhagen and beyond, the Climate Justice Now! alliance will continue to monitor governments and to mobilise social forces from the south and the north to achieve climate justice.



Call for “System Change not Climate Change” Unites Global Movement


Corrupt Copenhagen ‘accord’ exposes gulf between peoples demands and elite political interests

The highly anticipated UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen ended with a fraudulent agreement, engineered by the United States and dropped into the conference at the last moment.  The “agreement” was not adopted.  Instead, it was “noted” in an absurd parliamentary invention designed to accommodate the United States and permit Ban Ki-moon to utter the ridiculous pronouncement “We have a deal.”

The UN conference was unable to deliver solutions to the climate crisis, or even minimal progress toward them.  Instead, the talks were a complete betrayal of impoverished nations and island states, producing nothing but embarrassment for the United Nations and the Danish government.  In a conference designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions there was very little talk of emission reductions.  Rich, developed countries continued to delay any talk of drastic reductions, instead shifting the burden to less developed countries and showing no willingness to make reparations for the damage they have caused.

The Climate Justice Now! coalition, alongside other networks, was united here at COP15 in the call for System Change, Not Climate Change.  In contrast, the Copenhagen climate conference itself demonstrated that real solutions, as opposed to false, market-based solutions, will not be adopted until we overcome the existing unjust political and economic system.

Government and corporate elites here in Copenhagen made no attempt to satisfy the expectations of the world.  False solutions and corporations completely co-opted the United Nations process.  The global elite would like to privatize the atmosphere through carbon markets; carve up the remaining forests, bushes and grasslands of the world through the abandonment of indigenous rights and land-grabbing; convert real forests into monoculture tree plantations and agricultural soils into carbon sinks; and complete the capitalist enclosure of commons.  Virtually every proposal discussed in Copenhagen was based on a desire to create opportunities for profit rather than to reduce emissions.

The only discussions of real solutions in Copenhagen took place in social movements. Climate Justice Now!, Climate Justice Action and Klimaforum09 articulated many creative ideas and attempted to deliver those ideas to the UN Climate Change Conference through the Klimaforum09 People’s Declaration and the Reclaim Power People’s Assembly.  Among nations, the ALBA countries, many African nations and AOSIS often echoed the messages of the climate justice movement, speaking of the need to repay climate debt, create mitigation and adaptation funds outside of neoliberal institutions like the World Bank and IMF, and keep global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees.

The UN and the Danish government served the interests of the rich, industrialized countries, excluding our voices and the voices of the least powerful throughout the world, and attempting to silence our demands to talk about real solutions.  Nevertheles, our voices grew stronger and more united day by day during the two-week conference.  As we grew stronger, the mechanisms implemented by the UN and the Danish for the inclusion of civil society grew more dysfunctional, repressive and undemocratic, very much like the WTO and Davos.  Social movement participation was limited throughout the conference, drastically curtailed in week two, and several civil society organizations even had their admission credentials revoked midway through the second week.  At the same time, corporations continued lobbying inside the Bella Center.

Outside the conference, the Danish police extended the repressive framework, launching a massive clampdown on the right to free expression and arresting and beating thousands, including civil society delegates to the climate conference.  Our movement overcame this repression to raise our voices in protest over and over again.  Our demonstrations mobilized more than 100,000 people in Denmark to press for climate justice, while social movements around the world mobilized hundreds of thousands more in local climate justice demonstrations.  In spite of repression by the Danish government and exclusion by the United Nations, the movement for system change not climate change is now stronger than when we arrived in Denmark.

While Copenhagen has been a disaster for climate solutions, it has been an inspiring watershed moment in the battle for climate justice.  The governments of the elite have no solutions to offer, but the climate justice movement has provided strong vision and clear alternatives.  Copenhagen will be remembered as an historic event for global social movements.  It will be remembered, along with Seattle and Cancun, as a critical moment when the diverse agendas of many social movements coalesced and became stronger, asking in one voice for system change, not climate change.

The Climate Justice Now! coalition calls for social movements around the world to mobilize in support of climate justice.

We will take our struggle forward not just in climate talks, but on the ground and in the streets, to promote genuine solutions that include:

– leaving fossil fuels in the ground and investing instead in appropriate energy-efficiency and safe, clean and community-led renewable energy

– radically reducing wasteful consumption, first and foremost in the North, but also by Southern elites.

– huge financial transfers from North to South, based on the repayment of climate debts and subject to democratic control. The costs of adaptation and mitigation should be paid for by redirecting military budgets, progressive and innovative taxes and debt cancellation.

– rights-based resource conservation that enforces Indigenous land rights and promotes peoples’ sovereignty over energy, forests, land and water.

sustainable family farming and fishing, and peoples’ food sovereignty.

We are committed to building a diverse movement – locally and globally – for a better world.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Copenhagen/COP-15, Corporate Globalization, Forests and Climate Change, REDD, UNFCCC

New Trial Begins Against Copenhagen Climate Activists

Note: Stine and Tannie are good friends of Global Justice Ecology Project.  We got to know them through the year and a half of organizing meetings under the “Climate Justice Action” umbrella in preparation for “Reclaim Power” action at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.  We deplore the fact that they are being scapegoated and charged under Danish anti-terrorism laws.  Stine and Tannie are participants in our New Voices on Climate Change Program. We stand in solidarity with Stine and Tannie and echo the demand that all of their charges be dropped.  We will post updates and action alerts as we receive them.

–The GJEP Team

From the Climate Collective

With the beginning of the new trial, Climate Collective expresses once again its solidarity and support to the climate activists Stine and
Tannie that are facing charges in relation to the ‘Reclaim Power! Pushing for Climate Justice’ action that took place during the protests
against COP15 in 2009. Stine and Tannie acted as spokespersons for the Climate Justice Action (CJA) network, communicating and explaining the Reclaim Power! action to the media. Reclaim Power was built and planned on consensus in open, international meetings that took place before and during COP15 in Copenhagen. Climate Collective finds it outrageous that two activists are made responsible for the actions of an entire movement.

After being sentenced to four months on probation, yesterday the appeal case started at the second court level. Climate Collective support Stine
and Tannie’s position and demand once again for all charges to be dropped. The trial will continue until mid next week and it is not yet
clear when a final verdict will be announced.

Updates on the court case will be posted on in the coming days.

More info on the previous court case can be found at these links:

In solidarity,
Climate Collective

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Justice, Copenhagen/COP-15

Global Justice Ecology Project’s 2009 Annual Report is now online.

An Indigenous participant speaks during the REDD Capacity Building Training for Indigenous Peoples. The REDD training took place on May 30th in New York City and was organized by Indigenous Environmental Network and Global Forest Coalition. Global Justice Ecology Project gave a detailed powerpoint presentation about the social, environmental and health threats posed by GE tree plantations. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Global Justice Ecology Project’s 2009 Annual Report is now online.  You can find the link to download the 10 page by clicking here.

What You Will Find in Our 2009 Annual Report:

• GJEP’s Climate Justice Program: Accomplishments at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark; and building the climate justice movement in North America

• Updates on the STOP GE Trees Campaign and our work in support of the rights of Indigenous and forest-dependent communities

• Media Support work: The Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change

• New Voices on Climate Change: Fall Tour and G20 Protests in Pittsburgh

• GJEP’s Visual Impact: the photography of Orin Langelle

• GJEP’s work in Vermont

• Global Forest Coalition

• 2009 Financial Report

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Copenhagen/COP-15

All mass arrests during COP15 last year declared illegal by Copenhagen City Court

Cross-posted from Climate Justice Action

December 16th, 2010

Climate Collective, Copenhagen

The City Court of Copenhagen ruled today that the all the mass arrests during the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009 were illigal and the police have to pay 9.000 DKK in damages to the protestors, who have complaint so far. The verdict declares that all the preventive arrests from the 11th to the 16th of december 2009 were illegal, and so the actions of the police during the COP15 is not accepted by the court.

Nearly 2000 people were preemptively arrested last year during the COP15 Climate Summit in Copenhagen. 250 of these people have complained and have sued the police for unlawful arrest and detainment. The case can set important precedence in Denmark, and has been going on since spring of this year.

Knud Foldschack, the lawyer for some of the complainers that were arrested on the 12th of December, said:

“The events on the 12th of December 2009 have damaged the reputation of Denmark abroad. A lot of internationals came to Denmark to demonstrate with an expectation that Denmark was a country where you don’t have to fear the police. They were deeply disappointed.”

Today the Copenhagen city court condemned the actions of the police. Knud Foldschack says:

“This verdict is a clear signal to the Danish Parliament that they should stop degrading legal rights in Denmark, in order to comply with international conventions such as the European Convention on Human Rights.”

The verdict is a relief to those people who were preemptively arrested during the Climate Summit. Nina Liv Brøndum, who was arrested the 12th of December said:

*“This is a really important outcome, it means that people don’t have to fear getting randomly arrested when they go to demonstrations, which many of us experienced during the Climate Summit. It was a very rough experience, not only because we were treated cruelly but because we were denied our most fundamental rights.”

Questions about the appeal and verdict should be sent to:

Klimakollektivet Tlf: (+45) 50 27 19 86

For more information and statements, please contact the office of the laywers Foldschack and Forchhammer at (+45) 33 44 55 66

If you were preemptively arrested during the Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009, but never complained, please contact the Danish legal group RUSK. If they win the court case, then there might be a possibility to get compensation as well, even though you were not part of the lawsuit. Email (please specify name, address, nationality, and date, place and time of the arrest)


Nearly 2000 people were preemptly arrested during the Climate Summit COP15 in December last year. At the demonstration the 12th of December, which garthered more than 100.000 people, almost a 1000 people were arrested in the biggest mass arrest in Danish history. One of many to criticize this has been Amnesty International, which in an annual report criticized the excessive abuse of power by the police. Now 250 people from Denmark, Sweden, England, and France have complained about the preemptive arrests and the behavior of the police.

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*Climate spokespersons sentenced guilty: This is a giant defeat for democracy *

Danish Court Sentences Nonviolent Activists Arrested During Protests Against UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009:  Free Speech Criminalized

Today, the Copenhagen District Court found Stine Gry Jonassen and Tannie Nyboe guilty in charges of being organisers and instigators of violence and vandalism. The incident took place on 16th of December at Bella Center last year during the climate summit in Copenhagen. The two women were sentenced to four months of probation. One of the judges disagreed with the verdict and thought the accused should be freed of all charges.

Stine Gry and Tannie Nyboe both acted as spokespersons for the Global
Network “Climate Justice Action” (CJA) and Stine was accredited as an official UN Observer through Global Justice Ecology Project.  Both Stine and Tannie are members of Global Justice Ecology Project’s New Voices on Climate Change program.  Find their bios by clicking here

During the Cop15 last year, CJA organised several non-violent civil
disobedience protests, including the “Reclaim Power – Push for Climate
Justice” rally on 16th of December. The two women were both the public
facesof the movement and they are now found guilty in charges of being organisers and instigators of violence and riots. They are both deeply shocked by the outcome of the trial and are now considering an appeal.

Stine Gry considers the whole trial absurd:

*“There has been a clear political rationale with these trials. It is
obvious that Tannie and I were accused because we acted as public faces of the movement. This trial sends a significant message: if you have the nerve to stand up and express a critical point of view of society, the authorities will do whatever they can to silence you. It is absurd that a large public movement as CJA is criminalised because they – as one of the few – dared to criticise the ongoing climate negotiations during the summit; especially in the light of how poorly things turned out with the negotiations and how criticisable Denmark’s role was. The verdict is a defeat for democracy because it hinders politically engaged people in using their democratic right to demonstrate and express themselves critically.” *

Tannie explains:  *“It** is an evident political attempt to limit the opportunity to criticise the negotiations during the summit and the whole bedrock of the climate process. The right to demonstrate is an
essentialpart of democracy, despite it is the existing political
system that is being criticised. I really hope that people will still use their democratic right to express themselves critically, though one might risk being accused personally by the court. However, I fear that this case will scare people from protesting and organising themselves politically in the
future. Consequently it is just as big a defeat for the political work and democracy in Denmark,as it is for us personally.”

For further information, interviews etc. contact the Climate Collective’s
press group:

Phone: (+45) 50 58 87 51


** <>

* *


Climate Justice Action (CJA) is a global network of social movements and groups, which mobilised and called out for protests during the climate summit in Copenhagen in December last year, in order to challenge the insubstantial political negotiations at the Bella Centre and demanding just solutions to the climate problems. On 16th of December, CJA organised the demonstration “Reclaim Power – Push for Climate Justice” to give voice to the people mostly affected by climate changes – the same people who were not heard inside the Bella Centre.

At the time, Stine Gry and Tannie were spokespersons for the movement and argued for the right to protest and for the freedom of speech. They are now found guilty in planning the “Reclaim Power” demonstration and of plotting violence against an official in function, of severe vandalism, of serious disturbance of public peace and order, and of illegal trespassing. Several hundred people were arrested in relation to the action, but none of these have since been accused anything illegal.

The trial of the two spokespersons took place in Copenhagen City Court on 6th, 27th, and 28th of October 2010 at 9.30 AM.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Copenhagen/COP-15

A climate conference, old and new oil curses, and Norwegian ‘Good Samaritans’

By Patrick Bond

The stench of rotting blubber would hang for days over The Bluff in South Durban, thanks to Norwegian immigrants whose harpooning skills helped stock the town with cooking fat, margarine and soap, starting about a century ago. The fumes became unbearable, and a local uproar soon compelled the Norwegians to move the whale processing factory from within Africa’s largest port to a less-populated site a few kilometers southeast.

There, on The Bluff’s glorious Indian Ocean beachfront, the white working-class residents of Marine Drive (perhaps including those in the apartment where I now live) also complained bitterly about the odor from flensing, whereby blubber, meat and bone were separated at the world’s largest onshore whaling station.

Ever since, our neighborhood has been the armpit of South Africa. A bit further south and west, in a black residential area, the country’s largest oil refinery was built in the 1950s, followed by the production and on-site disposal of nearly every toxic substance known to science.

The whalers gracefully retreated into comfortable retirement in the mid-1970s, their prey threatened by extinction. Conservationists had mobilized internationally, and thanks to the OPEC cartel, the cost of oil for ship transport soared in 1974, so the industry ceased operating in Durban. Even apartheid South Africa signed the global whaling ban in 1976.

What’s left is a small Bluff Whaling Museum where you sense the early Norwegians’ Vikingesque stance: brave, defiant, unforgiving to those they raped and pillaged, and utterly unconcerned about the sustainability of the environment they had conquered. The Bluff’s world-class surfing waves regularly toss ashore decayed fragments of sperm, blue, fin and humpback whales’ skeletons; tens of thousands were killed.

Déjà vu, earlier this month, when an invisible cloud suffused with a cat’s-piss ammonia stench floated from the South Durban petro-chemical complex – the continent’s largest – across the still racially-segregated belt of 300,000 residents. Once again the community’s salt-of-the-earth rabble-rouser, Des D’Sa of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), called a picket against an uncaring municipal bureaucracy on November 12, and in the next two weeks further protests are planned in Durban against inadequate national energy policy and global climate policy.

The unbearable smell, apparently emanating from the powerful corporation FFS, lasted for days, reappearing again last Friday night. Further south, the rotten-egg sulfur odor from petroleum refinery SO2 emissions is a permanent feature. These persistent pollution crises are a visceral reminder: we must follow the example of Norwegian whalers on The Bluff, gracefully retreating from capitalism’s reckless dependence upon oil, coal and gas. It is a task that society cannot avoid much longer, as a devastating climate change tipping point looms sometime in the next decade.

So nearly everyone was pleased, a fortnight ago, with the choice of Durban to host the 2011 Conference of the Parties (COP) 17, the world climate summit. Competition was tough. The conference centre in beautiful Cape Town was rejected, according to a guest post on former CT City Manager Andrew Boraine’s blog, because of “the high levels of security required… The CT International Conference Centre (ICC) falls way behind the ICC complex in Durban. You can lock it down completely and keep the over-the-top protesters well away from the high level attendees.”

Boraine, a Johannesburg NGO colleague of mine two decades ago when he helped Alexandra Township civic associations defend their over-the-top protests against apartheid, is now a public-private partnership facilitator. “Cape Town’s proposal,” he rebutted, “took into account the need to be able to lock down certain areas for government delegations and VIPs.”

Sorry, I don’t accept the need for to safely insulate these rascals, for last December in Copenhagen I witnessed how badly the VIPs performed when tasked with making binding emissions cuts. Not only were none made but even the 1997 Kyoto Protocol’s minor five percent cuts (measured from 1990-2012) were completely undermined.

SA and US presidents Jacob Zuma and Barack Obama joined Chinese, Indian and Brazilian leaders in wrecking the last vestiges of UN democracy and threatening their own societies (especially Zulu and Luo kinfolk who are on the climate frontline), on behalf of the (mainly white-owned) fossil fuel industry and (mainly white) frequent fliers (like myself). Chief negotiator for the G77, Lumumba Di-Apeng, poignantly asked, “What is Obama going to tell his daughters? That their [Kenyan] relatives’ lives are not worth anything?”

At the COP 16 climate summit, lasting through December 11 in Cancun, Mexico, these VIPs definitely need a strong wake-up slap – as activists there gave World Trade Organisation negotiators in 2003 – not a quiet meeting place where they’ll just back-slap.

Actually, the strategy many in civil society considered around this time last year, was what Boraine unintentionally advocated: ‘locking down’ (and in) the world leaders inside Copenhagen’s Bella Centre, so they would finally feel the pressure to sign a real deal, instead of the sleazy Copenhagen Accord.

This would have involved blockades preventing delegates from departing last December 19, the way activists did in September 2000 at Prague’s ancient palace, where SA finance minister Trevor Manuel chaired the World Bank’s annual meeting. The VIPs barely scampered to safety from global-justice protesters, after again doing nothing to reform globalisation.

The plan to lock down the climate-negotiating VIPs in Copenhagen was considered and then abandoned when Danish police turned semi-fascistic. It’s not even an option worth discussing in Durban given that City Manager Mike Sutcliffe regularly denies permission to peacefully protest.

But come to think of it, on 31 August 2001, a march of 15,000 to the ICC led by the late Fatima Meer and Dennis Brutus against a pathetic UN racism conference came close to barging in on the lethargic delegates. Recall the activists’ valid complaints then: no UN discussion of reparations needed for slavery, colonialism and apartheid, and no action against Israeli racial oppression and occupation of Palestine.

The reason why next year, leading climate activists may decline the opportunity to appeal to ICC elites – either asking politely, or amplified with a chorus of vuvuzelas – is simple: rapidly-rising disgust with filthy leaders who cannot even clean up the world’s fouled financial nests, judging by the recent South Korean G20 meeting, much less planet-threatening emissions.

The Cancun COP will again demonstrate that US and EU rulers will spend trillions of dollars to pacify the world’s richest speculators in financial markets, from Wall Street in 2008 to those holding state bonds in Athens, Dublin and Lisbon this month. But they’ll balk at a few hundred billion required annually to save the planet.

“If planet Earth was a bank, they’d have bailed it out long ago,” British climate campaigner Jonathan Neale remarked to laughter at the Norway Social Forum’s opening session last Thursday. The money is certainly available in Oslo, thanks to a petroleum rainy-day fund worth $500 billion, the world’s second largest sovereign hoard.

Norwegians in the campaigning group Attac with whom I spent the last few days are also intent on fighting what a workshop leader, Heidi Lundeberg, last Thursday termed Norway’s “Good Samaritan masking the face of our new oil imperialism”. Lundeberg’s edited collection for Attac, Klima for ny Oljepolitikk (Oslo, 2008), demolishes Norway’s image as responsible global citizen.

University of Bergen eco-social scientist Terje Tvedt has also complained that Oslo’s spin-doctoring generates “an aura of moral-ideological irrefutability”. It’s especially irritating when accompanying a revitalized eco-Viking rape-and-pillage mentality, such as growing collaboration with the likes of the World Bank, led by one of the world’s most destructive men, Robert Zoellick.

The fake Samaritan tendency, evident when former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland ran a 1983-87 world ‘sustainable development’ commission, is being taken to extremes by current prime minister Jens Stoltenberg and environment/development minister Erik Stolheim.

Workshop debate immediately ensued with the outraged director of the Oslo government’s Oil for Development fund, Petter Nore, who back in 1979 coedited a great book, Oil and Class Struggle. “We are NOT the Samaritan face of imperialism!”, he clamoured, yet his own reports reveal the fund’s role in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, donating millions to lubricate the US looting of petrol and gas, and supporting a stable of venal oil-rich African dictators.

Nore’s office also promotes carbon trading to mitigate the flaring of gas at oil wells. He rewards both Northern financiers and Big Oil polluters with ‘Clean Development Mechanism’ payola, buying ‘emissions reduction credits’ for the Norwegian state in order to reform extraction systems in which, at possibly the world’s worst site, the Niger Delta, flaring has been declared illegal in any case.

As do so many ex-leftist Scandinavian technocrats, Nore has capitulated to the worst global trends. He’s using Norway’s oil-infused cash-flush aid to reward corporations for what they should be doing free. Activists from Port Harcourt’s Environmental Rights Action movement, led by Nnimmo Bassey (co-winner of the Right Livelihood Award last month) know better, demanding that carbon trading must not legitimize illegal flaring.

The same problem can be found in another Norwegian Clean Development Mechanism strategy: planting alien invasive trees in plantations across several East African countries. This wrecks local ecology and pushes out indigenous people, as my colleague Blessing Karumbidza from the Durban NGO Timberwatch recently reported: “the Norwegian firm Green Resources has entrenched itself in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania where it looks to acquire at least 142 000 hectares of land… to plant exotic trees (varieties of eucalyptus and pine) for the purpose of selling an expected 400 000 tons of carbon credits to the Norwegian government.”

Along with Norway’s serious environmentalists and development advocates, I find it heartbreaking that the government’s wonderful Soria Moria declaration is being trashed by Stoltenberg and Stolheim. The 2005 manifesto promised a U-turn, for example, through shifting funding from the World Bank to the United Nations.

Even in the North’s most left-leaning government, it was all fibbery, as shown when Bank executive directors had a chance to turn down the notorious $3.75 billion Medupi coal loan in April. The Norwegian representative only managed a limp abstention, not the “no!” vote demanded by a South African-led global coalition of 200 concerned groups.

When Nore told the workshop that fifty governments had come to his agency for assistance in managing oil resources, including South Africa, I flashed back to South Durban’s oil grievances:
• massive greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to SA’s emissions of CO2 per unit of per person GDP being twenty times worse than even the US,
• regular fires, explosions, and devastating oil pipe leaks,
• the world’s highest recorded school asthma rates (Settlers Primary) and a leukemia pandemic,
• extreme capital-intensity in petro-chem production and extreme unemployment in surrounding communities,
• a huge new pipeline to double the oil flow from Durban to Johannesburg (already two children were killed after falling into unprotected trenches), and
• an old airport earmarked for expansion of the petrochemical, auto and shipping industries.

South Durban is one of the world’s extreme sites of climate change cause and effect: well-paid managers run leaky-bucket toxic factories by day and escape to plush suburbs by night, and gasping residents either slowly die from the exhaust or wake in fear when the refineries erupt with noxious fumes late at night. Yet thanks to one of Africa’s finest eco-social campaigning groups, SDCEA, the area can become an inspiring site for fighting petro-power and visioning alternatives.

Consistent with a global consensus that whales should be left in the ocean, the only solution to the climate crisis is one that genuinely decent Norwegian community residents, fisherfolk, environmentalists and social activists are promoting in their own petrol-rich Lofoten region. The demand there is identical to one made by South Durban residents fed up with smells far more damaging than the decomposing blubber of yesteryear: “leave the oil in the soil!”

(Patrick Bond, based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society – – and University of California-Berkeley Department of Geography, co-edited a 2009 UKZN Press book: Climate Change, Carbon Trading and Civil Society.)

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Private finance role in $100bn climate pledge ‘difficult’ – Barker

Cross-posted from Carbon Finance

10 November, 2010

Private investors are key to delivering the $100 billion a year of climate finance pledged under the Copenhagen Accord, a high-level UN group found last week. But some countries are distrustful of private finance and it will be difficult to agree this internationally, the UK’s climate change minister has warned.

Speaking at Environmental Finance Publication’s Climate Finance 2010 conference in London this week, Greg Barker said that public-private partnership is needed at the global level to tackle climate change, as well as domestically within the UK.

He was responding to a report last Friday from the UN’s High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, which was established last year by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to establish where industrialised countries could find the $100 billion a year in climate financing promised to developing countries by 2020.

Announcing its findings last Friday, the group emphasised the importance of a carbon price of $20-25 per tonne of carbon dioxide in driving revenues, as it could generate $100 billion-200 billion in gross private capital flows. This would result in a net benefit to developing countries of $10 billion-20 billion.

But convincing all countries to accept this will be difficult, Barker warned. “Not only do some countries in the developing world still question the role of private sector finance, there are outright sceptical and hostile to private sector finance,” he said.

There is a “perception that we are trying to wriggle out of our responsibilities”.

While accepting a role for public finance, particularly in helping countries adapt to climate change, he argued that “private sector finance can bring more value, more additionality and more wealth than public finance.”

The UN advisory group identified a number of possible sources of climate finance, acknowledging that there were ‘unresolved difficulties’ in some of the approaches and they did not necessarily represent consensus among the 21-strong group, which included the heads of state of Norway, Ethiopia and Guyana.

These include:
• $10 billion from carbon taxes and $8-32 billion from auctioning of emissions allowances in developed countries (assuming a $25 per tonne carbon price);
• $6-12 billion from pricing carbon (at $25/t) in aviation and shipping;
• $10 billion from removal of fossil fuel subsidies and a tax on financial transactions;
• $8-14 billion net flows from carbon offsets; and
• $11 billion net flows could be leveraged from multilateral banks making $10 billion available.

But the group struggled to say how much could be delivered by direct budget contributions. “The political acceptability of such sources will depend on national circumstances and on the domestic fiscal environment, which has currently put many developed countries under extreme pressure,” it said in its report.

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Filed under Carbon Trading, Copenhagen/COP-15, UNFCCC

COP 16 Confab On Climate Change – Like Copenhagen, Like Cancun?

Cross-posted from AllAfrica

October 26,2010

By Kingsley Alu

African Delegation Protest at the COP-15 in Copenhagen Photo: Langelle/ GJEP-GFC

Against the backdrop of last year’s Conference of the Parties (COP 15) held in Copenhagen, Denmark to tackle issues of climate change, Kingsley Alu warns that this year’s COP 16 meeting due for Cancun, Mexico may not be any different.

Following a five – day climate negotiations in Bonn last week, social movements, environment experts and concerned agencies from around the world are getting ready for the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP 16) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that will take place in Cancun, Mexico from 29 November to 10 December, 2010.

The last COP 15 in Copenhagen last December demonstrated governments’ incapacity to tackle the root causes of the current climate chaos. At the very last moment, the US undemocratically pushed through the so called “Copenhagen Accord”, in an attempt to move the debate out of the UN and the Kyoto promises and to favour even more voluntarily free market solutions.

It does appear that every step forward has been replied with a ‘two-steps backward’ intervention by countries that hold the key to global action on climate.From all indications, Copenhagen’s indistinct outcomes are set to be repeated all over again. The meeting in Bonn was met with a profound display of disinterest.

There is no doubt that climate negotiations have turned into a huge market place. Developed countries, historically responsible for most of the greenhouse gas emissions have been inventing all possible diversionary themes to avoid reducing their own emissions. For example, the “Clean Development Mechanism” (CDM) under the Kyoto protocol allows countries to continue polluting and consuming as usual, while paying low prices supposedly so that developing countries reduce their emissions.

Many governments of developing countries, attracted by the potential profits, are betting on these false solutions and refusing to implement measures that effectively confront climate change, such as supporting sustainable peasant agriculture, orienting production towards internal markets, establishing effective energy saving policies for industry, etc.

It is about time the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) embark on resolute policies to contribute to solve the climate chaos. Countries need to take strong and binding commitments to radically cut gas emissions and radically change their mode of production and consumption.

The fact that climate change also is worsening the migration crisis is no longer an understatement. The droughts, the terrible floods caused by severe storms, water contamination, soil erosion and degradation, as well as other destructive impacts of the neoliberal environmental disaster are bringing about the displacement of thousands of people, mainly women and ruined farmers, from their rural communities and forcing them towards the cities and the North in a desperate search for the means of survival for them and their families.

It is estimated that 50 million people have been forced to migrate due to the effects of climate change. These “climate displaced persons” have come to swell the ranks of the more than 300 million people, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), that today represent the worse crisis of migration that humanity has faced.

But solutions do exist. There is urgent need for the UNFCCC to reject all false solutions being cooked up for the moment ahead of the conference date . Among them:

Geo-engineering: Large-scale proposals to deliberately alter the climate, such as biochar; genetically modified plants to supposedly increase reflectivity and resistance to drought, heat and salt; the fertilization of the ocean or the massive creation of clouds, only create new unmanageable problems, they are not solutions. Geo-engineering is only one example of how transnational companies are willing to play with the future of the planet and humanity in order to create new sources of profit.

Carbon trading schemes and Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM): Carbon trading has proven extremely lucrative in terms of generating investor dividends, but has completely failed in reducing greenhouse gas. In the new invented “carbon market” the price of carbon keeps dropping to rock bottom, which encourages further pollution. All carbon emissions should be reduced from the source, rather than allowing payment for the right to pollute.

Land and forest rights: The REDD + initiative (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) should be rejected. Protecting forests and reforesting degraded forests is an obligation of all governments that should be implemented without limiting the autonomy, the rights or the control of indigenous and peasant peoples over the land and their territories, and without serving as an excuse so that other countries and corporations continue contaminating and planting tree monocultures. Territorial and cultural rights of indigenous and peasant peoples should be explicitly recognized in any climate accord.

The participation of the World Bank in the management of funds and policies related to climate change must be rejected.

Scientific research shows that peasant and indigenous peoples could reduce current global emissions to 75per cent by increasing biodiversity, recuperating soil organic matter, replacing industrial meat production with small-scale diversified food production, expanding local markets, halting deforestation and practicing integrated forest management.

Experts have contended that peasant agriculture not only contribute positively to the carbon balance of the planet, it also gives employment to over 3.2 billion people, women and men around the world, and it remains the best way to combat hunger, malnutrition and the current food crisis.

The right to land and the reclaiming for territories, food sovereignty, access to water as a common good and a human right, the right to use, conserve and exchange seeds, the de-concentration and promotion of local markets, are the indispensable conditions so that peasant and indigenous peoples can continue feeding the world and cooling the planet.

Because of the collapse of the financial speculative markets, investors are now looking for new ways to make large, quick profits. Some investors are engaging in massive, world-wide land-grabbing, the purchasing of agricultural lands in developing countries. This drives up the price of the land, pushing peasants off their farms, and putting developing countries in the position of having to put easy capital over their long-term agricultural interests. Additionally, control over biomass production such as agro-fuels increases the pressure on land.

It is the poor who are already bearing the brunt of this crisis; Rural families must absorb laid-off workers, employees are seeing their wages cut, citizens will pay higher taxes, children will be taken out of school to work, and millions will simply lose their jobs and sources of income. Meanwhile the banking system is rescued by governments who spent billions in bailing them out.

At the moment, governments are only concerned with stopping the slide, propping up the banks, and increasing GDP and global growth, while ignoring the pressing environmental concerns of a limited resource base and the climate change crisis.

The stimulus packages currently adopted by various countries and institutions to increase consumption are mainly a response to abusive corporate lobbies such as the car industry. By making only some minor changes, like producing higher mileage vehicles, these packages take minor and insufficient steps toward addressing the environmental challenges. The G20 stated that in total 500b dollars would be spent in order to “save and create millions of jobs that otherwise would have been destroyed” . The G20 states that it wants to “accelerate the transition to a green economy” but no concrete measures are mentioned.

Governments worldwide are encouraging the same system that has led to climate change, pollution, and global environmental degradation. Instead of leaving the initiative to the G20, the UN should use the opportunity of the coming conference to re-orient the global economy away from the current endless and wasteful consumption.

The G20 in London agreed to give the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 500 billion dollars in extra funds for loans to countries that face difficulties because of the crisis. This renewed focus on the IMF as “lender of last resort” removes economic control from the individual countries and places it in the hands of IMF economists who are proponents of strict neo liberal reforms. The IMF states that fiscal stimulus is needed; however, in some program countries, the IMF is still pushing the old policy stipulations: reduce public spending, cut salaries in the public sector and eliminate subsidies . We have already seen how these policies affected developing countries in the 1980s and 1990s: growth at the expense of the rural poor.

Those who are part of the crisis, such as the G8, the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and their collaborators in governments , should not be expected to resolve it. The UN should play a central role and facilitate an in-depth analysis of this crisis, including the participation of key actors in civil society. Solving this crisis must take place in democratic and representative forum, where participants from all nations can participate and without rich countries throwing dollar figures at poor countries in the hope that they could wake up the ghost of Copenhagen.

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Filed under Climate Justice, Copenhagen/COP-15, REDD