Tag Archives: COP-16

Limited Access and Crack Downs on Civil Society

Civil Society members and guests of GJEP punished for chanting in UN Conference Center

By: Shannon Gibson


Ph.D. Candidate

University of Miami

The Secretariat issued a new Information Note to Intergovernmental and Non-Governmental Organizations today which details the access restrictions for IGO and NGOs as the High Level Segment commences this afternoon.  Reports from our own members (the Climate Justice Now! constituency within the Environmental NGO’s delegation, indicate that we’ll have a whopping 2 passes for plenary access (mind you there are hundreds accredited under our network).  As I type this now, I myself am sitting in a plenary hall watching the Opening Ceremony of the High Level Segment via a live feed over closed circuit televisions.  Additionally, the Note ominously states, “Participants are however reminded of the building fire regulations, and that it is the responsibility of the secretariat to ensure implementation of policies for the safety and security of the participants on the UN conference premises.”  Last I checked, not that many high-level ministers were coming this week….maybe a few dozen.  How an extra few dozen high-level ministers (even with their entourages) justifies the exclusion of hundreds/thousands of civil society members sure beats me.  But then again, they used that same logic on us last year in Copenhagen…..

In terms of action crack downs, following a GJEP-hosted press conference inside the Moon Palace, United Nations security confiscated badges and forced activists engaging in an ‘non-sanctioned’ verbal chant into buses which transported them back to the Cancunmesse (the convention location where most NGO side events and meeting spaces are located…notably a 15 minute bus ride from the main plenary locations).  Below is an excerpt from an email sent by a member of Climate Justice Now! on what she witnessed (names removed to prevent future UN access restrictions):

Today following the CJN press conference in the Moon Palace, 3 of the activists…were very vocal and leading the chants, speaking to eager reporters who taped their speeches.  Then the UN security got a ‘deportation bus’ to usher them out of the Moon Palace, back to Cancunmesse and then out (presumably), after first confiscating their badges.

I was standing near the three of them, behind some reporter, and holding up the back of my badge which had the anti-REDD sticker on the back.  I reminded the speakers to announce their contact info to the media, so they could track them down later.  At that point a security officer asked to see my badge…I said he could see everything printed on it very well, without removing my badge.  He then snatched it from me by force.  I shouted to the media, who were still witnessing the ‘deportation’ of the 3 activists.  I told them my badge was taken without grounds, because I asked a simple question.  One journalist pressed him for an explanation, he said “I don’t have to explain, I am UN security”.  The journalist said of course you have to.  I guess eventually he decided it was bad PR, so after taking down my info, he returned my badge to me.   [A colleague] from GAIA saw when the guy snatched my badge, and came to ask him why he did it.  Immediately another security went after her!  He took down her info, but didn’t take away her badge.

Tomorrow, those of us whose names were taken may find ourselves blocked out.  But in front of one of the remaining secret service person, I told the reporters that I will let them know if I got excluded in later days because of today’s incidence.  Hope that deters them a bit.

For a photo essay of the inside protests by GJEP Director Orin Langelle, click here.

Shannon Gibson is working with Global Justice Ecology Project during COP16/CMP6 to provide daily negotiation updates and policy analysis.  She is a Ph.D. candidate in International Studies at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, where she researches issues pertaining to global environmental politics and global civil society.

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Photo Essay: Action! Protest Erupts In Halls of UN Climate Negotiations: Youth Delegates Ejected

“Thousand Cancúns” action comes to the UN Climate Conference

All Photos by Orin Langelle/ Global Justice Ecology Project – Global Forest Coalition

Cancún, Mexico, December 7, 2010—the “Day of 1,000 Cancuns” actions.  A press conference hosted by Global Justice Ecology Project and organized by La Via Campesina, Indigenous Environmental Network and Friends of the Earth turned into a spontaneous action as speakers expressed anger over the direction of the climate talks in Cancún. Following the press conference, activists from Youth 4 Climate Justice led the protest out of the climate talks.

(protest description continued below photos)


Youth Activists Lead Protest Out of Press Conference

Bolivian Ambassador Pablo Solon Speaks at the Protest

Three Youth Activists are Evicted from the UN Conference

10 Thousand Hectares of Jatropha Fed the Biodiesel Buses In Which the Youth Activists Were Evicted

Continued from Above:

The press conference began with Moderator Anne Petermann, of Global Justice Ecology Project evoking the name of Lee Kyung Hae, the South Korean farmer and member of La Via Campesina who committed suicide atop the barricades during protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Cancún in 2003.  She pointed out that it is now climate change that is killing farmers and other marginalized peoples, and that the UN Climate Conference has degenerated into the World Carbon Trade Organization.

Speakers at the press conference included Delegates from the Paraguayan and Nicaraguan delegations, as well as Tom Goldtooth, of Indigenous Environmental Network, Mary Rose Taruc of the the Asian Pacific Environmental Network and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Kari Fulton of Youth 4 Climate Justice, Josie Riffaud of La Via Campesina, Luis Enrique of the MST of Brazil, and Ricardo Navarro of Friends of the Earth International.

Following the press conference, activists from Youth for Climate Justice and the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance led a protest out of the press conference and onto the front stairs, where Bolivian Ambassador Pablo Solon spoke to the crowd and the media frenzy.   The youth activists went on to loudly denounce the inaccessibility and unjust nature of the talks and express outrage over having been repeatedly denied permission to hold a youth delegation protest on the UN grounds.  As the youth marched away, they were accosted by UN security, stripped of their badges, put onto buses and evicted from the climate conference.

Simultaneous to this action, La Via Campesina was holding a mass march on the highway leading to the Moon Palace–where the climate conference is taking place.

To view the UN footage of the press conference, click here


Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Justice, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, UNFCCC

Photo Essay: Second Indigenous Peoples Protest at Climate Summit

The following photos were taken in the late afternoon of Thursday, December 3rd, outside of the Moon Palace, where countries from around the world are negotiating its fate.  This protest was organized by the International Forum on Indigenous Issues.   Indigenous peoples, whose rights have been historically ignored by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, held a protest to demand the inclusion of their rights in any climate agreement.

Indigenous Peoples have been some of the traditional caretakers of the forests and it is on Indigenous lands where most of the Earth’s intact ecosystems can be found.  These lands are now under threat because of the determination of Industrialized countries to create market-based climate schemes.  Because they are based on the market, these schemes threaten to worsen the problem of global land grabs and displace Indigenous communities from their traditional lands.

This protest followed another protest earlier in the day organized by Indigenous Environmental Network, that targeted Canada’s tarsands gigaproject.  To view that photo essay, click here

All photos below by Anne Petermann/ Global Justice Ecology Project – Global Forest Coalition.

The protest turned into a media feeding frenzy.

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Photo Essay: First 2 Protests at Cancún UN Climate Convention

Two Photo essays by Orin Langelle/GJEP-GFC:

Wastepickers protest outside of UN Negotiations, 1 Dec

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Global Alliance of Wastepickers and Allies (GAWA) stage protest in front of the entrance to the Exposition Center where the UN climate negotiations are taking place.  All photos by Orin Langelle/ GJEP-GFC

GAIA’s Ananda Tan negotiates with security to allow the protest to continue


Indigenous Peoples Protest Canada’s Tarsands Gigaproject on 2 December

The Indigenous Environmental Network and allies protest the Tar Sands gigaproject scheme in front of the Moon Palace where UN climate negotiations are taking place.  All photos by Orin Langelle/ GJEP-GFC

Canada’s massive tarsands gigaproject draws protest from Indigenous Peoples who come from the communities it is and will impact

Maude Barlow, of the Council of Canadians, speaks out against Canada’s toxic tarsands gigaproject

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, Tar Sands, UNFCCC

Burning Forests to Save the Climate? Side Event Tonight 8:15pm

Global Justice Ecology Project Media Alert              2 December, 2010

Burning Forests to Save the Climate?

COP16 SIDE EVENT: Thursday 2 December, 20:15, Cancunmesse, Sandia Room

Large Scale Bioenergy, REDD and GMO Trees

(Sponsored by Global Justice Ecology Project and BiofuelWatch)

The scaling up of industrial wood-based bioenergy in Europe and North America and the promotion of REDD, biochar and GMO trees in climate mitigation schemes will have serious impacts on forests, forest dependent peoples and the climate.

A panel of experts from Global Justice Ecology Project, BiofuelWatch, Global Forest Coalition and Friends of the Earth Brazil will discuss the social and ecological implications of simultaneously attempting to reduce emissions from deforestation while creating a massive new demand for wood to produce electricity and liquid fuels.

Speakers include:

Camila Moreno, Friends of the Earth Brazil

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project

Deepak Rughani, Global Forest Coalition

Rachel Smolker, BiofuelWatch

Contact:        Anne Petermann, +52.998.167.8131

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Welcome to Cancun: Police State Anyone?

By Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project

On November 25th in Denmark, Stine and Tannie, friends of GJEP Co-Director/ Strategist Orin Langelle and myself, were sentenced to four months of probation for violating Denmark’s anti-terrorism laws. Their crime: organizing for climate justice under the auspices of the international Climate Justice Action alliance.

They were arrested and convicted for being effective spokespeople and organizers.  For being strong women who stood up against the threats of state repression on behalf of the billions of voiceless people shut out of the UN Climate Negotiations in Copenhagen.  The people already suffering the impacts of the climate crisis—floods, droughts, the very ground beneath some communities melting away before their very eyes.

I had first met Stine in Copenhagen in September 2008 at the meeting where Climate Justice Action was founded.  More than 120 activists from around the world had come together to lay the groundwork for massive protests at the Copenhagen climate talks in December 2009. Orin and I got to know her better at subsequent CJA meetings in Poznan, Poland, Belem, Brazil and again in Copenhagen in March 2009.  Then, on December 3rd, when Orin and I emerged exhausted and bleary from our international flight to Copenhagen for the climate talks, Stine and Tannie met us with hugs at the airport, video camera in hand, and kindly led our exhausted selves from the airport to our hotel.  We spent the next several days in public spaces finalizing plans for the Reclaim Power action and playing “spot the undercover cop,” which most times was not difficult as they were straining so hard to hear us that they nearly fell off their chairs.

Stine, being Danish, was one of the foremost spokespeople for Climate Justice Action.  Over the months leading up to the Copenhagen Climate COP, she explained the logic of the “Reclaim Power” action that was to take place on December 16th—the day the high level Ministers arrived.  At this action, observers, delegates and Indigenous Peoples marched out of the failing climate talks at the Bella Center in protest not only of their ineffectiveness, but of their outright corruption by industry and the market.  At the same time that the halls of the Bella Center echoed with the booming voices of those reclaiming their power on the inside, Stine and Tannie were leading a contingent of demonstrators on the outside who were marching toward the Bella Center with the intent of meeting those marching out at the security fence that divided the sanctioned or “accredited” participants from those who were not.  The concept of the action was that those disaffected participants from the inside would meet the excluded from the outside and hold a “Peoples’ Assembly” at the fence where participants could discuss real solutions to the climate crisis and strategize ways to make real change.   Security, however, had other ideas and forcibly stopped both contingents before they met at the fence—using truncheons, pepper spray and whatever other “less lethal” weapons they happened to have on hand.

At that moment, the UNFCCC exposed its true self.  It had for years become increasingly undemocratic and repressive and now it was showing the world through this over zealous heavy-handed response to the simple demand of people to meet and talk.  Exposing the UNFCCC was one of the intentions of the action.  We knew the UNFCCC would show its true colors if confronted with people powerfully demanding justice and free speech.

Though she led the march on the outside, Stine was, in fact, accredited by Global Justice Ecology Project and had participated on the inside of the COP—in particular the day before the march out where she spoke at a Climate Justice Action and Climate Justice Now! joint press conference that GJEP had helped arrange.

We knew the “Reclaim Power” action would be a success when Stine walked into the packed press conference room and the cameras began flashing.

But for the action, Stine chose to be part of the group marching to the Bella Center from the outside.  She and Tannie stood on the sound truck and spoke to the crowd about the importance of the action and of standing up for climate justice in the face of oppressive climate negotiations where business and the markets reigned supreme.  When they approached the fence surrounding the Bella Center, they were violently yanked off of the truck by Danish security and arrested under terrorism charges for the heresy of insisting that people have a say in the increasingly urgent issue of the climate crisis.

The timing of the sentencing—nearly a full year after the so-called “crime” was committed, was undoubtedly to warn any ne’er-do-wells at the 2010 Cancun Climate Conference of the consequences of messing with the UN.  The UNFCCC does not want the image of being seen as a target for major protests by “civil society” groups and people around the world who are fed up with their inaction.

I first saw them demonstrate this uneasiness at the Climate Conference (COP-14) in December 2008.  During this climate conference, Climate Justice Now!—the alliance of organizations representing social movements, small farmers, fisherfolk and others on the front lines of the climate crisis—held a press conference.  At this press conference it was announced that Climate Justice Now! was joining together with Climate Justice Action to mobilize protests around the world on the opening day of the Copenhagen Climate conference (COP-15) the next year.  Coincidentally, this COP was timed to open on November 30, 2009—the ten-year anniversary of the “Battle of Seattle” where the meetings of the World Trade Organization were shut down by massive street protests.  This was where “Teamsters and Turtles” united to demonstrate the power that could be wielded when movements united to confront their common root causes—in that case, the WTO—the vilified symbol of corporate globalization, or neoliberalism.  CJN announced at the press conference in Poznan that we would be using that auspicious anniversary to organize protests around the world that would expose the similarities between the World Trade Organization and the UNFCCC—which had become the “World Carbon Trade Organization.”

The very next day, the UNFCCC Secretariat announced a change in plans.  COP-15 in Copenhagen would begin exactly one week later—on December 7th.

We had shown them our intentions and they had backed down.

The build up for the actions in Copenhagen created a rowdy spirit of resistance during the negotiations.  The African delegations walked out of the plenary chanting, “Two degrees is suicide!” when developed countries stated they would be unable to agree to any action that would limit overall global warming to less than two degrees.  Indigenous activists marched against the lack of respect given to the rights of Indigenous Peoples—especially with regard to the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme.  The Youth contingent protested almost daily.  When Obama waltzed into the talks to announce his secretly negotiated “Copenhagen Accord,” even the press booed.  The Secretariat could see the writing on the wall when they would have to face off against Latin America’s brand of resistance the next year at COP-16, which was scheduled for Mexico City.

Their response was to move the talks to Cancun, ironically the place where the WTO had met fierce resistance in 2003 and where Lee Kyung Hae, a South Korean farmer, committed suicide by plunging a knife into his heart atop the barricade protecting the WTO from the people.  His act of martyrdom helped kill the talks that year, which fell apart largely over agriculture.

Cancun, overall, is much more defensible than Mexico City and the location chosen by the Secretariat for COP-16 has multiple benefits.  First it is very small, allowing them to reduce the number of observers by around 40% and the number of press by over half.  Second, it is on the beach south of the hotel zone in Cancun, and has a four kilometer radius perimeter.  It will be heavily patrolled and almost impossible to approach without official sanction—aka the UNFCCC accreditation badge.

Before we even got onto the plane to head to Cancun, we were told by allies on the ground that the city is already under siege with military force visible everywhere.

Once more we threatened the UNFCCC with our collective power, and again they chose to hunker down behind fences and military.

Civil society participation at this COP has become almost impossible.  The Secretariat has organized the logistics so that the important delegates are all staying on site at the Moon Palace—site of the negotiations.  The rest of the activities take place at the Cancun Messe, a 20 minute bus ride farther away—when there is no traffic.

In order for the rest of us to access the Moon Palace without taking a $300P taxi is to take the shuttle bus which bypasses the Moon Palace and takes its cargo further south to the Cancun Messe.  From there, one must catch Bus #9 (Number nine, Number nine, Number nine…) back to the Moon Palace.  On the day that I am writing this (from the bus), I have been on the bus for almost two hours and we are not even to the Cancun Messe yet.

AND we have been warned by some of the country delegates that Observers may lose their access to the buses from the Cancun Messe at any time if we misbehave.  They could just shut down bus access for non-Parties (that is NGOs, Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations, social movements, media…people, that is, as opposed to governments).

Business and the market control the UNFCCC and now they have shown their true colors.  We have exposed them.  Now it is time for us to take the power to act against climate change back into our own hands.  They cannot do it.  They will not allow us to participate.  We must find other means.

There is no other choice.

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Earth Minute on KPFK Sojourner Truth Radio Program

Listen to Global Justice Ecology Project’s most recent Earth Minute and join La Via Campesina‘s call for “Thousands of Cancuns,” the mobilization to end false solutions to climate change at the UN Convention on Climate Change (UN COP-16) in Cancun, Mexico.

Click here to listen!

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And the Absurdity Continues… Report from the interim UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany

photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC

By Anne Petermann

Several interesting developments at the Funny Farm today and yesterday.

The Subsidiary Body on Implementation, or SBI (dontcha just love that UN-speak) met yesterday to address the question of “civil society” (their term, not mine) participation.  Sounds reasonable.  Opening the process to increased civil society participation has long been a demand of climate justice groups working in this process—considered the most closed and restricted of the various UN processes.

Yeah, well…

That wasn’t quite the purpose of the agenda item.  The topic was not raised to increase participation, but to try to avoid the “problems” of Copenhagen.  They discussed, among other things, how to prevent unpermitted protest at the Climate COP in Cancun this coming December; how to restrict the participation of civil society groups in the negotiations; and how to ensure that no Parties (participating countries) include civil society groups on their delegations.  The question of corporate representatives being included in Party delegations, however, was not an issue.  Surprise, surprise.  And as the final slap in the face, the civil society representative that had been selected by Climate Justice Now! to present an ‘intervention’ (short statement) regarding civil society’s thoughts on the question of participation was prevented from giving the statement they had been promised.  The Chair of the session simply refused to call on them.

This is a clear signal to those of us comprising so-called “civil society” that we shall have no role, not even a symbolic one, in the “official” process defining the way forward on climate change mitigation.  While the lack of meaningful participation by NGOs and social movements is nothing new, the blatant-ness of the anti-civil society attitude among the FCCC is revealing indeed, and helps set the stage for how we will be able to “participate” during the climate COP in Cancun.

Slap in the Face Number 2: Cochabamba vs Copenhagen

This UN Climate Meeting follows on the heels of the historic Cochabamba Climate Summit that took place in Bolivia in April.  This summit was called by Evo Morales as a response to the dreadful outcomes of the official Copenhagen UN climate summit where Barak Obama waltzed in with his so-called “Copenhagen Accord,” that was negotiated in secret with a small cabal of countries, subverting the many months of negotiations by 190+ countries leading up to Copenhagen.  It was roundly denounced by numerous Southern countries and never adopted by the Conference of the Parties.

The Cochabamba Summit, on the other hand, came out with very strong climate-justice based statements including a condemnation of the unjust and market-based REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, a call for repayment of climate debt, the establishment of a world tribunal on climate and environmental justice, and many other proposals to move forward with real and meaningful action on climate change.  These consensus agreements were made by 35,000 people over three days in various working groups.  Their outcomes were presented here in Bonn as official submissions to the negotiating text by both Bolivia and Venezuela.

The new draft negotiating text, however, ignores these Cochabamba agreements and instead incorporates ALL of the components of the Copenhagen Accord.

This absurdity was addressed by Climate Justice Now! through an intervention read by Camila Moreno, who represents Global Justice Ecology Project in Brazil with a GJEP desk in the Porto Alegre-based Friends of the Earth office.

Oh yeah, yet another slap in the face—while the Parties are allowed to blather on for 5 or 10 minutes each with essentially unlimited interventions, Climate Justice Now!—an network of some 200 organizations from around the world—was given exactly 60 seconds, and warned that their microphone would be cut off at exactly that.  60 seconds incidentally is about 160 words.

The upcoming Cancun Climate Conference, it seems, is beginning to look more and more like it will be a repeat of the WTO (World Trade Organization) meeting there in September of 2003, where there were massive protests on the outside and disruptions on the inside.  Between the increasing focus of the UN climate talks on trade and market-based mechanisms to “address climate change” [read: make lots of money] and the almost total exclusion of civil society, the UN Climate Convention has truly become the new World Carbon Trade Organization.

Copenhagen was not the climax of the climate justice movement, but rather its launching pad.  Or to paraphrase the motto of Redwood Summer back in 1990: “This decade is going to make the 1960s look like the 1950s.  Wouldn’t that be nice…

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Copenhagen/COP-15, GE Trees, Indigenous Peoples, Posts from Anne Petermann