Category Archives: Durban/COP-17

The climate change scorecard

Note: While Global Justice Ecology Project maintains that climate change is more about systems of economic and social domination and oppression than parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere, the below article provides some sobering statistics.  Social movements will not create the change needed to deal with and avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change with a compelling data set alone, but it surely helps when the science is on our side.

It is also important to remember that, often, the economic and political elite will try to use such dire climate science forecasts to justify absurd, dangerous, untested false solutions like geoengineering the atmosphere and oceans to absorb greenhouse gases.  This may be an even greater threat facing the world today.

-The GJEP Team

By Dahr Jamail, December 17, 2013. Source: Tom Dispatch

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burning after the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burning after the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico

Since a nuclear weapon went off over Hiroshima, we have been living with visions of global catastrophe, apocalyptic end times, and extinction that were once the sole property of religion. Since August 6, 1945, it has been possible for us to imagine how human beings, not God, could put an end to our lives on this planet. Conceptually speaking, that may be the single most striking development of our age and, to this day, it remains both terrifying and hard to take in. Nonetheless, the apocalyptic possibilities lurking in our scientific-military development stirred popular culture over the decades to a riot of world-ending possibilities.

In more recent decades, a second world-ending (or at least world-as-we-know-it ending) possibility has crept into human consciousness. Until relatively recently, our burning of fossil fuels and spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere represented such a slow-motion approach to end times that we didn’t even notice what was happening. Only in the 1970s did the idea of global warming or climate change begin to penetrate the scientific community, as in the 1990s it edged its way into the rest of our world, and slowly into popular culture, too.

Still, despite ever more powerful weather disruptions — what the news now likes to call “extreme weather” events, including monster typhoons, hurricanes, and winter storms, wildfires, heat waves, droughts, and global temperature records — disaster has still seemed far enough off. Despite a drumbeat of news about startling environmental changes — massive ice melts in Arctic waters, glaciers shrinking worldwide, the Greenland ice shield beginning to melt, as well as the growing acidification of ocean waters — none of this, not even Superstorm Sandy smashing into that iconic global capital, New York, and drowning part of its subway system, has broken through as a climate change 9/11. Not in the United States anyway.
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BRICS lessons in (un)sustainable urbanisation

By Patrick Bond, November 27, 2013. Source: Daily Maverick

Site of the pipeline explosion in Qingdao, China. Screenshot by Sina Weibo

Site of the pipeline explosion in Qingdao, China. Screenshot by Sina Weibo

What is to be done, in the wake of Warsaw climate summit’s conclusive failure to cap emissions last weekend? The answer: walk out of the United Nations process when it needs delegitimation, and work much harder to curtail pollution in your home sites of struggle, everyone in civil society agreed.

For the 40 percent of the world suffering in the increasingly desperate Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) economies, this self-mandate is ever more vital, the more that both irresponsible multinational corporates and homegrown firms abuse the environment and societies, with nods of approval from corrupted, subimperialist local rulers.

It is this crew that our Durban elites are again (as in March this year) hosting in the International Convention Centre: the BRICS ministerial conference ironically entitled “Towards Sustainable Urbanisation.”

Tragically, on everyone’s mind is the explosion in one of China’s largest cities last Friday morning. What spin-doctoring should BRICS delegates believe, regarding Sinopec Corporation’s oil pipeline leak and deadly blast in Durban’s sister city of Qingdao?

With an estimated 60 lives lost, 130 injured and 18,000 evacuated, China’s State Administration of Work Safety quickly announced the culprits: “poor designs of the pipeline and local drainage networks, negligence on the part of safety officials, bad maintenance of the oil pipeline, as well as officials’ failure to seal off the affected area and evacuate residents after they detected the leak, seven hours before the explosions.”

As seven of its officials were arrested just as president Xi Jinping visited the site, Sinopec responded by blaming Qingdao municipal officials. Here in Durban that would indeed be a plausible line of argument, given the city’s decades-long failure to come up with an emergency evacuation plan notwithstanding repeated pipeline leaks and refinery explosions in South Durban.

The politician responsible for city government in our province, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, sent condolences , acknowledging that “Qingdao’s delegation is set to make a presentation on building productive and sustainable urban economies at the Urbanisation Forum.”

Will that presentation concede that China’s cities epitomize unsustainability, what with massive real estate speculation, extreme pollution, a migrant labour system akin to Apartheid’s, and prolific social protests?

If you take advice from Qingdao on sustainable urbanisation, well then why not ask Russia for help with nuclear technology post-Chernobyl, or beg the Pentagon to train SA National Defence Force against terrorism after the brutalising US troops were kicked out of Iraq and Afghanistan? Oh damn it, we do!

Durban, a major port with nearly 4 million residents, is certainly in desperate need of sustainable urbanization, given its history of racial apartheid since 1994 and worsening class apartheid ever since. For one, the city is strewn with white-elephant projects, including the money-losing, elite-magnet Convention Centre itself.

And just before the Qingdao delegation landed in Durban, their airplane flew above a newly-crumpled shopping mall, easily visible, as it lies in the suburb of Tongaat near the King Shaka “international” airport. That mainly empty barn is our most recent poster-child for unsustainable economics: a money-wasting “aerotropolis”-wannabe hub, just a 45-minute flight from Africa’s busiest airport, OR Tambo in Johannesburg.

Since the old South Durban airport was perfectly functional for many more years, the $1 billion spent on King Shaka International could have been put to use in bottom-up development – were it not for seven games of the unsustainable 2010 World Cup here that catalysed its too-early construction, as well as the empty albeit world-class Moses Mabhida Stadium next door to our existing mostly-empty world-class rugby stadium.

Popular anger for the dramatic collapse of the mall – which was still under construction when the collapse killed two people last week – now centres on one Jay Singh, a notorious tenderpreneur-builder who wrecked so much of the nearby Phoenix community’s low-cost (and upon rebuilding, high-cost) housing, not to mention the city’s public bus service (privatised and soon ruined), and therefore also on former city manager Mike Sutcliffe, who egged on Singh and similar cronies from 2002-11 before growing outcries contributed to his unwilling departure.

Holding a BRICS urban conference here is terribly bad timing, at both ends of the sister-city relationship. “As we extend our condolences to our partners from Qingdao, we also hope to exchange with them our own insights from the rescue operation in Tongaat,” said Dube-Ncube on Monday.

Rescue? What about sharing insights about the causes, in Durban’s systematic malgovernance? Much more information about Singh and Sutcliffe can be drawn from the “Manase Report” that Dube-Ncube had herself commissioned in 2011 and then tried to keep secret. It’s a vast 7051-page report, documenting patronage-based, parasitical class formation (the type of study all our BRICS cities need).

Feeling, therefore, right at home, the Chinese delegates might share Sinopec’s insights into expanding oil transport through these cities’ dense-packed residential areas. Sinopec seems to have no qualms about pollution, in a context, in many Chinese cities, where it is unsafe to breathe if you are outside air-conditioned buildings. Sinopec is so irresponsible that in late August, the Chinese state suspended the huge firm from engaging in any new refining and chemical projects because it didn’t meet 2012 emissions targets.

The same crime, ignoring air quality legislation, is daily committed by our own leading energy corporation, Eskom – which is up for the Davos ‘Public Eye’ awards for world’s worst corporation (vote!, please) – as well as by the huge South Durban oil refineries that give our city the reputation of  “Africa’s armpit”.

Yet all continue moving forward with multi-billion dollar expansions, including the doubling of capacity in the Durban-Joburg oil pipeline which – at more than double the advertised initial costing and way behind schedule – was recently rerouted from white through black residential areas due, it would appear, to the parastatal agency Transnet ’s residual racism.

So if Sinopec is having trouble at home, no doubt filthy South Africa offers a welcoming business environment in which to invest. In March, during the BRICS summit at the same Convention Centre, Sinopec announced its partnership in the $8 billion Mthombo project at Port Elizabeth’s Coega zone, a deal which by 2015 will allegedly result in Africa’s single largest oil refinery.

In this context, all the BRICS local government ministers, urban officials and corporate allies meeting in Durban today must be pleased at the outcome of the Warsaw Conference of the Parties 19 to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change last weekend: “let the planet burn!” (Even if that means chunks of coastal cities like Durban and Qingdao sink a meter or two by 2100, including both cities’ ports.)

Already, Durban’s annual per person emissions arehigher than even London’s and Beijing, at eight tonnes of CO2 equivalent, thanks to capital-intensive high-carbon industry and transport. The failure of Singh’s privatised bus service has a little bit to do with that.

But the main problem is the city’s economic development strategy, as endorsed in the country’s National Development Plan, based on sports tourism (maybe an Olympic bid for 2024), petrochemical expansion, and raising the port’s freight traffic from 2.5 million to 20 million containers per year.

This is outrage enough, given Durban’s thousands of truck crashes each year and especially the recent massacre of two dozen black minibus commuters by an out-of-control container truck on one of the hilly highways linking Durban to Johannesburg (Field’s Hill).

Just prior to Durban’s hosting the UN COP17 climate summit in 2011, a $25 billion plan for this extreme port-petrochemical expansion in South Durban was conjured secretly by Transnet and Sutcliffe, with public information flowing like water-drip torture. In 2012, it suddenly became the country’s second largest Strategic Infrastructure Project (after coal exports through Richards Bay).

Sadly, a former trade unionist who is now the minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, is trying to fast-track these mega-projects with minimalist Environmental Impact Assessments. The Centre for Environmental Rights remarked on Patel’s “disregard for the very notion of sustainable development and integrated environmental management and planning.”

In the same spirit, Transnet engaged in climate denialism when making application for a huge berth expansion in the existing harbour. But last month, in an unusual move by the national environment ministry, Transnet’s Environmental Impact Assessment was rejected. By way of disclosure, on several occasions I questioned the draft EIA’s climate-change denialism, alongside the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) which firmly opposes the port-petrochem mega-project for health, social, ecological and economic reasons.

There is more resistance coming. For example, SDCEA’s new six-minute YouTube video threatens Transnet with a financial sanctions campaign against their overly-expensive international bond issues (investors get a 9.5% return in London) if attacks on South Durban residents by the parastatal and its allied oil companies persist:

  • In traditionally coloured (mixed-race) Wentworth township, Shell and BP (together using the Sapref refinery) will move the Single Buoy Mooring pipeline that brings in 80 percent of SA’s oil so as to accommodate the new port, probably disrupting one of the two main beaches traditionally used by South Durban’s black residents.
  • The Indian and African farmers on land next to the old airport – the site of the proposed $10 billion privatized “Dig Out Port” – were just given notice they will be evicted by Transnet, an announcement which brought many residents and the South Durban Climate Camp out to a solidarity protest last week.
  • A bit further southwards, Isipingo residents who will lose their main beach – also enjoyed by predominantly black visitors – are increasingly opposed to the Transnet expansion.
  • Indeed, concerned communities of all races, as far north and west as Queensburgh, Pinetown, Sarnia, the Bluff, Umbilo and Glenwood fighting the new trucking routes.

Durban’s other BRICS-twinned cities presenting at the ICC this week also have their hands full with protesters: tens of thousands of democrats who swarmed St Petersburg in late 2011; in Mumbai, a constant cat-and-mouse struggle by slum-dwellers to survive the increasingly mean streets; and millions who gathered in Rio de Janeiro several times in June this year, to fight public transport rate hikes and Sepp Blatter’s Zurich soccer World Cup mafia.

The most degenerate lessons in crowd control, though, are homegrown: cops at Cato Manor’s police station who decided to execute an estimated 50 suspects since 2003 instead of going to court, and top ruling-party politicians (including the mayor) who incited an Abahlali baseMjondolo community leader’s assassination at a Cato Crest meeting five months ago, expanding Durban’s long-standing record of civil society activist hits.

BRICS from above will probably keep such lessons fresh for as long as they can. Perhaps in future years, a “brics-from-below” side event can link up protesters from Qingdao to South Durban (and in between) to really teach the elites about urban eco-social sustainability. In contrast to their unsustainable, crony-capitalist assassination-cities.

Meantime, much more damage will be done, and multifaceted resistance must likewise strengthen.

(Patrick Bond directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society.)

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Filed under Africa, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Durban/COP-17, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Pollution

Video: Petrochemical expansion threatens South Durban – A $25 billion mega-project mistake

November 27, 2013.  Source: South Durban Community Environmental Alliance


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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Durban/COP-17, Land Grabs, Oceans, Videos

COP19 – the cathedral and the bazaar

By Trevor Davies, 14 November 2013, Source: Thought Leader

The people in suits want to talk and nothing will stop them from listening to the sound of their own voices. COP19, the global climate-change meeting, might seem far away in Warsaw, Poland, this week but like a massive weather system migrating the globe its impact will be felt in Africa for sure.

Africa knows how to throw a party and South Africa — the 13th largest polluter on the planet — added big time to its carbon emissions, thanks to its hosting of the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference popularly known as COP17 in Durban. A primary focus of the conference was to secure a global climate agreement as the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period (2008-2012) was about to end.

This didn’t happen. After two weeks of negotiations a deal was reached only on the last day, Sunday December 11, after a 60-hour marathon negotiation session. The Durban conference agreed to establish a legally binding deal comprising all countries by 2015, which was to take effect in 2020.

The president of the Durban conference, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, declared it a success, but scientists and environmental groups warned then that the deal was not sufficient to avoid global warming beyond 2 °C as more urgent action is needed.

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Filed under Africa, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Durban/COP-17, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Natural Disasters, Politics, Pollution, UNFCCC

Obama’s plan for the climate: Greenwash our way into oblivion

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project


Image captured from The Weather Channel

At 1:45 today, President Obama announced his new Climate Action Plan in a nationally televised speech.

He described the emerging climate crisis and its impacts–both past, present and future, while be suffered the heat of an abnormally warm June day in Washington, DC. His arguments for climate action were compelling and hard to argue with.  Unfortunately his actions do not match his words.

Unlike Bill McKibben, I do not believe that “the solutions agenda [Obama has] begun to advance moves the country in a sane direction.” (Did you read the actual Climate Action Plan, Bill?!?)  No, what I read in Obama’s Action Plan was a rehashing of the same old dangerous false solutions that many of us have been fighting for years and years.  But what’s really criminal is that even though Obama clearly understands both the science and implications of climate change, he still pushes an agenda that will drive us all over the climate cliff.

First the plan’s “Case for Action” reiterates Obama’s pledge to decrease carbon emissions by a paltry 17% below 2005 levels by 2020–but only if all other major economies agree to do so as well. Climate scientists are not calling for 17% reductions by 2020. In fact, countries like the US need to reduce our emissions by 80-90%.  And not in seven years, but immediately.  Last year preferably.

The main takeaway from Obama’s greenwashed nonsense? We can continue our unsustainable way of life indefinitely with just a few key tweaks.

“Deploy Clean Energy.” Ain’t nothin’ clean about this.  Obama’s “clean energy” plan includes more fracking, more oil, more nukes, more biofuels and “clean coal.”  Yes, Obama wants to stop climate change by screwing over rural communities through promotion of more hydrofracking and increased natural gas exports; expanding domestic oil production–including the hellish Bakken shale oil fields (but don’t worry, it will be clean Bakken oil­–no really, that’s in there); devoting more land to growing feedstocks for plant-based liquid fuels (i.e. less land for biodiversity, growing food or for peasant communities to survive on); protecting forests that store carbon while cutting down trees to burn for electricity production; building more nuclear power plants (apparently never heard of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl or Fukushima); and maintaining the fantasy of that wonderful oxymoron “clean coal.” Sane direction?

Spur Investment in Advanced Fossil Energy Projects. Like “clean” coal, we can burn our fossil fuels and stop climate change too!

Maintain Agricultural Sustainability. For this one, Obama wants us to trust the vehemently pro-GMO US Department of Agriculture to “deliver tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.”  ‘Climate ready’ GMO crops anyone?

Negotiate Global Free Trade in Environmental Goods and Services. Right, cuz global free trade has served biodiversity, ecosystems and the 99% so well!

But the most ludicrous item is the last on the menu: “Leading efforts to address climate change through international negotiations.”  (I know, I know, stop laughing)

This section excels in Orwellian newspeak. It highlights the disastrous 2009 UN Copenhagen Climate Conference as “historic progress,” and insists that the secretly negotiated Copenhagen Accord (that was booed even by reporters when Obama announced it late in the negotiations) was a breakthrough in developing “a new regime of international transparency.” Omitted is the fact that this Accord was never actually consensed upon, but merely “noted” by the official body.  Well history is “his story” after all…

The section goes on to trumpet the accomplishments of the equally disastrous UN Climate Conference in Durban in 2011–about which Nature Magazine wrote “It is clear that the science of climate change and the politics of climate change, now inhabit parallel worlds.”

Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International similarly condemned Durban’s outcomes, “developed countries, led by the US, accelerated the demolition of the world’s international framework for fair and urgent climate action. And developing countries have been bullied and forced into accepting an agreement that could be a suicide pill for the world. An increase in global temperatures of four degrees Celsius, permitted under this plan, is a death sentence for Africa, small island states, and the poor and vulnerable worldwide. This summit has amplified climate apartheid whereby the richest 1% of the world have decided that it is acceptable to sacrifice the 99%.”

But Obama’s Climate Action Plan insists Durban was “a breakthrough”–because countries agreed to come up with some kind of new climate agreement that would not go into force until 2020.

Gee, guess who won’t be in office anymore in 2020…


Filed under BREAKING NEWS, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Copenhagen/COP-15, Corporate Globalization, Durban/COP-17, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Greenwashing, Oil, Pollution, Posts from Anne Petermann, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, UNFCCC

Strike four in climate change: A “Climate Space” to rethink analysis and strategies

Note:  While the post below is a few months old, Global Justice Ecology Project find’s former Bolivian climate negotiator Pablo Salon’s analysis on the UNFCCC incredibly relevant and important.  It is due time to rethink strategy and analysis in approaching solutions to climate change, inequality and economic domination.

-The GJEP Team

By Pablo Salon.  Source: Focus on the Global South


In baseball, when you have 3 strikes, you are out. In the climate change negotiations we already have 4 strikes. Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban and now Doha. Four attempts and each of the results were bigger failures than the last. The emission reductions should have been at least 40 to 50% until 2020 based on 1990 levels. Four COPs later, the current numbers are down to a measly 13 to 18%. We are now well on our way to a global temperature increase of 4 to 8ºC.

“The perfect is the enemy of the good” is what some UN negotiators say. To which we can reply: “When our house is burning down, the worst thing you can do is lie to us”. It’s time to rethink what is happening and try to find new strategies to avoid a global catastrophe.

It isn’t because of the lack of evidence

Climate change is no longer a theoretical possibility. It has real impacts on the lives of people, nature and the economy.

Climate change is already contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year[1]. This month, during the COP18 negotiations in Doha, Qatar, Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines with all its intensity, leaving in its wake more than 700 dead. The strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in decades devastated Mindanao, damaging more than 70,000 homes and forcing 30,000 to now live in temporary shelters.
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Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Copenhagen/COP-15, Doha/COP-18, Durban/COP-17, False Solutions to Climate Change, REDD, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Rio+20, UNFCCC

Radical Anthropology 2012 on Commodification of Life, Occupy and more

Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 9.58.21 AM

Cover photo: March for climate justice in Durban, South Africa December 2011 by Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project

To download the PDF of the current edition of Radical Anthropology, click here

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Durban/COP-17, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, REDD, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

The time has come to reform the international climate change negotiation model

By Glenn Ashton, December 12 2012. Source: South African Civil Society Information Service

With the conclusion of COP 18 in Doha, another set of climate change negotiations have come and gone with little real progress toward solving the urgent consequences of increased levels of atmospheric CO2. We clearly need to transform our approach to the problem.

A year ago Durban was under virtual siege by government delegations from around the world, at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP 17 meeting. The conference centre was enclosed in a tight police and UN cordon, effectively separating state representatives and negotiators from the citizenry they were meant to represent.

This year the circus moved to Doha, where real public protest is curtailed by a repressive regime. Yes, the first legal protest in the history of Doha was held but it was a strictly curtailed affair. There should have been angry and ugly protest about the record loss of Arctic sea ice this year, of permafrost melt, of the evident acceleration of the impacts of climate change beyond earlier predictions. Instead the Emir of Doha accommodated tame protestors in five star hotels, with a coffee call to protest at 7am. And of course a list of what was permitted. Continue reading

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GJEP shutting west coast office but continuing our commitment to our work

August 2, 2012

Below please find an important update from Global Justice Ecology Project’s Executive Director and Board Chair, and below that a message from our Communications Director, Jeff Conant, on his time with the organization.

Dear Friends, Supporters and Allies of Global Justice Ecology Project,

As you know, Global Justice Ecology Project is a lean organization that has always achieved a lot with a little.

We are writing today to let you know that GJEP’s Board of Directors recently made the difficult decision to close our west coast office. While this change was necessitated by the same financial realities facing many non-profits, it is not an ending, it is an evolution.

We look forward to continuing our work with the allies and networks we have established on the west coast and in other regions.

In addition to this, earlier this summer, our main Vermont office moved to Buffalo, NY- a move that will benefit the organization’s goals and save us money as well. We will continue our Vermont presence, however, with representation in Burlington by our colleagues at Gears of Change.

As times change, so must we. And that change includes  re-orienting GJEP’s work to emphasize our strengths – specifically our effective campaign strategies, our activist research and analysis, and our support for grassroots efforts in the US – in conjunction with and in parallel to our ongoing work as part of a global network of activists.

GJEP’s evolution comes at a time when the issue of genetically engineered (GE) trees is reaching a crescendo, and as you know, GJEP was one of the first groups to make the clarion call on GE trees. We are now strategically focusing our organizational energies to advance our work to permanently stop the large-scale commercial development of GE tree plantations.

We are taking on some of the largest timber corporations on the planet, but we have a vast national and international network behind us, including hundreds of groups who signed our call for a global ban on GE trees.

We assure you that Global Justice Ecology Project, while changing and evolving, will continue to do what we do best: exposing the intertwined root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction and economic domination, while building bridges between social, environmental and ecological justice groups to strengthen our collective efforts to achieve systemic change.

Thank you for supporting Global Justice Ecology Project as we continue our evolution.

In solidarity,

Anne Petermann                                    Orin Langelle

Executive Director                                                   Board Chair


From (former) GJEP Communications Director Jeff Conant:

Hello GJEP supporters, allies, and friends,

Given the changes afoot in GJEP – the closing of the West Coast office and the end of my formal association with the organization – I want to share a few words.

My relatively brief tenure with GJEP spanned the period between the Cochabamba Peoples Summit of April 2010 and the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit of June 2012. During this time, I had the great thrill of working at the heart of the climate justice movement.

By providing analysis, communications strategy, and media support at international events such as the UN Climate COPs, and by doing so from deep in the trenches of grassroots mobilization, we sent a clear and consistent message that those who determine climate policy should be those who bear the brunt of both climate chaos and the policies it engenders.

Many of our friends have told us – and it seems clear to me – that if the GJEP team had not been at these forums, this message would not gotten out as clearly, as strongly, or as effectively.

Working in the climate justice field during my two years with GJEP, we bridged issues, networks, and movements: drawing the links between forest-carbon offset policies and food sovereignty; between Indigenous Peoples Rights and urban struggles for environmental justice; between genetically engineered trees and synthetic biology; between the false solutions promoted under the rubric of a ‘green economy’ and the corporate concentration of wealth and power that is the primary root cause of the ecological crisis we are facing.

During this period, one of many phases in the evolution of this small but effective organization, GJEP’s work was to make the connections between the broad range of radical movements that essentially define the field of climate justice – without which, I believe, the field would be less articulate, less focused, and less effective.

Much of this work was behind-the-scenes, to facilitate the voices of our partners and allies, bring disparate issues together to help build a movement: and always in the mix – whether in the composition of the press conferences we organized, in the wording of the press releases we put out, or in the editorial vision guiding the Climate Connections blog – was GJEP’s sharp radical critique.

That vision will continue, and will continue to inform both my own work moving forward, and GJEP’s. While leaving the organization is a sad transition, I believe the work will continue as it must. I expect to continue working with Climate Connections, and supporting the organization through my own future initiatives.

In that same spirit, I humbly ask that those of you who have supported GJEP’s work will continue to do so through this transition. 

In the words of the eminent radical photojournalist Orin Langelle: Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

- Jeff Conant, Oakland California, August 1, 2012

P.S. Please note GJEP’s new contact information in Buffalo, NY:

Global Justice Ecology Project
266 Elmwood Avenue, Suite 307
Buffalo, NY 14222   USA

GJEP Board of Directors:

Soren Ambrose, International Policy Manager, ActionAid International

Hallie Boas, Media and Climate Justice Activist

Dr. Aziz Choudry,Professor, McGill University, GATT Watchdog, Asia-Pacific Research Network

Hiroshi Kanno, Water Privatization Activist, Concerned Citizens of Newport

Orin Langelle, Board Chair

Ann Lipsitt, Reading Specialist, Disability Rights Advocate

Dr. Will Miller (in memoriam)

Clayton Thomas-Muller, Mathais Colomb Cree Nation, Tarsands Campaign Organizer, Indigenous Environmental Network

Anne Petermann, Executive Director, STOP GE Trees Campaign Coordinator

Karen Pickett, Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters, Alliance for Sustainable Jobs & the Environment

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Filed under BREAKING NEWS, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Cochabamba, Commodification of Life, Durban/COP-17, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Media, New Voices in the News, Posts from Jeff Conant

Corporate takeover of UN Climate Conference

Note: The following cross-post is from the March 2012 newsletter, published in London, England  from our friends at the Environmental Network for Central America (ENCA).  I have known ENCA contacts and activists Nick Rau and Sheila Amoo-gottried for over a decade now and they have graciously put me up in their homes a few times in London.  Martin Mowforth, from the School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences at Plymouth University has been sending me the ENCA newsletter for more years than I can remember.  I always am grateful to see it arrive.

I received this edition last evening, opened it immediately and was quite surprised to see the following piece written by ENCA’s Barney Thompson.  I smiled when I read the paragraph that begins, “With a similar outlook to ENCA, GJEP highlights the intertwined root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction and economic domination…”  We’re very honored to be considered in the same vein as ENCA, and appreciate the coverage we receive in the following post.

Thanks to ENCA for all of their amazing work in Central America and the service they provide by supporting the people who live in that region and for getting the word out to the rest of the world.

¡La lucha sigue!

-Orin Langelle for the GJEP Team

This short article is a summary of the Global Justice Ecology Project Press Release (13 December 2011) ‘GJEP Direct Action and Climate Justice at the UN Climate Talks’, GJEP, Hinesburg, USA.

Summary by ENCA member Barney Thompson

Frustrated by the lack of any significant progress at the recent UN Climate Conference in South Africa, the US based NGO Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) took direct action alongside hundreds of African youth activists and civil society representatives. On the final day of the conference they staged a sit-in in the convention centre halls which resulted in arrest, ‘debadging’ and ejection from the event. They were one of the very few organisations there to take any such direct action in protest at the corporate takeover and the dominance of empty rhetoric over binding action that has now become the norm at the UN climate talks.

GJEP is removed by UN security during sit-in occupation Photo: Ben Powless

With a similar outlook to ENCA, GJEP highlights the intertwined root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction and economic domination. They work to build bridges between social and environmental justice groups (including those in Central America) to strengthen their collective efforts. In Durban, GJEP raised awareness of the messages of such climate justice experts and front line community representatives by connecting them with major international media outlets for interviews as well as delivering press releases and conferences. Included in the speakers was Friends of the Earth El Salvador’s Ricardo Navarro, also a friend of ENCA. They also participated in a march for climate justice attended by tens of thousands of people before then deciding in frustration to take more direct action.

GJEP’s Executive Director Anne Petermann was one of those arrested and she released the following statement:

“I took this action today because I believe this process is corrupt, this process is bankrupt, and this process is controlled by the One percent. If meaningful action on climate change is to happen, it will need to happen from the bottom up. The action I took today was to remind us all of the power of taking action into our own hands. With the failure of states to provide human leadership, and the corporate capture of the United Nations process, direct action by the ninety-nine percent is the only avenue we have left.”

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Durban/COP-17, UNFCCC