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Tar Sands Action in Copenhagen

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Canadian First Nations People Protest the Tar Sands in Copenhagen

December 14, 2009

Canadian First Nations at COP 15 Roll Out the Welcome Mat for Stephen Harper in Rally at Canadian Embassy

“Hey Harper: Climate Commitments = Shut Down Tar Sands”

Copenhagen, Denmark - Indigenous Peoples of Canada and their allies from around the world are in Copenhagen for the UN summit on climate change. Today they rolled out the “welcome mat” for Prime Minister Stephen Harper near the Canadian Embassy in Copenhagen. This action was part of a global day of action against the Canadian tar sands. The tar sands are the largest and most carbon intensive industrial project on the planet. Indigenous leaders of communities impacted by the tar sands and allied campaigners contend that Canada hasn’t kept Kyoto commitments and hasn’t ratified the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) because of the half-trillion dollar investments the massive tar sands development represents.

In a gesture of hospitality for the Prime Minister and an act of solidarity with communities directly impacted by the tar sands, Indigenous representatives and their allies delivered a gift basket full of Treaties for Prime Minister Harper to honor and/or sign in Copenhagen. These included important documents such as the Kyoto Protocol, First Nations Treaties and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Tar Sands Protest

Indigenous Peoples' protest tar sands and they were stopped one half block short by police from going to the Canadian Embassy in Copenhagen. They rally did occur. There were no arrests/ photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

“As Indigenous People, we are here at the international climate negotiations to speak about threats to our cultural survival and the direct life-threatening impacts of climate change in our communities,” said Clayton Thomas Muller, Tar Sands Campaigner of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Canada has been blocking the climate negotiations and hasn’t kept Kyoto commitments or ratified the UNDRIP because of the tar sands.”

“Fossil fuel extraction from the tar sands are killing our people with cancer, killing our culture by destroying our traditional lands, and killing our planet with CO2,” said Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, member of the Athbasca Chipewyan First Nation and Tar Sands Campaigner for the Rainforest Action Network. “It seems that Canada is more committed to fossil fuels than human rights or real action for the climate. Mr. Harper – We welcome you to Copenhagen because we want real action on climate, and that means shutting down the tar sands and a moratorium on new fossil fuel development.”

“The tar sands are a key reason why Canada has failed to take climate action. In the same timeframe that Harper promises to cut Canada’s emissions a paltry 3 per cent, tar sands emissions are expected to triple,” said Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians.

Today’s action is part of a global day of action organized by a coalition of groups including: Indigenous Environmental Network, Rainforest Action Network, Council of Canadians, Indigenous Peoples Power Project, and UK Tar Sands Group.

Actions are occurring in tandem with the Copenhagen events in London (UK), Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver and all across North America.

About Indigenous Environmental Network: Indigenous Peoples empowering Indigenous Nations and communities towards sustainable livelihoods, demanding environmental justice and maintaining the Sacred Fire of our traditions. <http://www.ienearth.org/cits>www.ienearth.org/cits

The Indigenous Environmental Network is in Copenhagen for the duration of COP 15. Copenhagen Media Line: +45-526-85596

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Post #8 December 12, 2009

Photo essay of the 12 December March in Copenhagen continues after this blog post

Copenhagen Day of Action on Climate Change:

Energy in the Streets; Disappointment in the Negotiations

Late last night a draft text on the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) scheme was released.  It was strongly condemned by NGOs from around the world.  The text of this agreement gave mere lip service to Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and to safeguards against conversion of native forests to timber plantations, not including them in the legally binding body, but rather referring to them in a preamble.

This was no surprise to those of us who have been following REDD since it was formally announced at the UN Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia in 2007.  It was clear then that this was a bunch of greenwash aimed at enriching the world’s most notorious deforesters, while providing the impetus for a massive global land grab directed at the world’s remaining forested lands—most of which are in the territories of Indigenous Peoples.

Thus we were not shocked when, at the Climate Conference last year in Poznan, all references to Indigenous Rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples were struck from the text by the gang of four: the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand—who always seem to be the bad guys in these UN negotiations.

Nonetheless, for those of us who have been fighting to stop the rampant destruction of native forests for so many years, the total corruption of an agreement to ostensibly curb deforestation is a major kick in the gut.

So it was with REDD in mind that we joined the massive show of people rallying for real and effective action on climate change at Parliament Square in Copenhagen earlier this afternoon.

March organizers estimated the swarming crowd at 100,000.  The police said 50,000.  The reality being somewhere in the middle, it was certainly the largest protest against climate change ever to have taken place.  And when coupled with the marches and protests in more than 100 other countries around the world, it was massive indeed.

Orin and I can attest to the impressive crowd as we crossed through it en route to find our allies in the “system change not climate change” bloc, on the exact opposite side of the square.  After 15 or so minutes of squeezing through the crush of the crowd, we managed to find our way to the coffee cart where several of our friends were waiting in an impossible queue for something warm to drink.  After waiting for what seemed like forever, with coffees finally in hand, we and our friends made our way in the direction of the “system change not climate change” sound trucks, which were to lead the bloc, but not before one of our German comrades warmed everyone’s coffee with a dollop of whiskey.  “To help warm you up on the inside,” he explained.

Another U.S.-based colleague and I remarked that we had certainly never experienced THAT before at a U.S. protest!

We found the Climate Justice Now! bloc with our allies, and ran into Melissa, a woman we had met fifteen years before during the struggle to save the ancient redwoods in California.  She had worked with Judi Bari, our friend and colleague who had been blown up by a pipe bomb in 1990 for trying to stop the rampant logging of some of the oldest and most majestic trees on the planet—the 100 meter tall, 2,000 year old redwoods, being felled for hot tubs and outdoor furniture.  Melissa was passing out stickers that elicited naughty giggles in nearly everyone who read them. They read “fck, fck, fck the system,”—a direct response to the very mainstream “tck, tck tck” campaign initiated by some of the larger NGOs.

The march consisted of numerous blocs, spread out over several kilometers.  Orin and I made our way to the very beginning of the march, where the Indigenous Peoples’ delegation was leading the way.  Orin photographed their delegation and we then gravitated to the side where we documented each bloc as it passed, waiting for our allies with the System Change bloc.  The images he captured during the hour or more that the march flowed by are captured in the photo essay included here.

After an interminably long time, toward the end of the march we finally spied the sound trucks with the green banners that signified the beginning of the System Change bloc.  We connected with some of our allies and photographed them moving by.  After they had passed we walked toward the back of the bloc to see what else we could find, and just as we did, a mass of police vans moved in and blocked the street, cutting off a section of the march.  Another cluster of police vans cut them off from the back.  We tried to move in to take photos of the situation and document the preemptive roundup, but were roughly shoved back by police who quickly taped off the area. We watched the stand off for 40 minutes or so, alerting some of our allies to the alarming situation.

Hundreds of march participants flooded back to the scene of the round up, and we could here pounding drums along with the chant, “Let them go! Let them go!” echoing through the corridor of tall brick Danish buildings.  They were not let go, and at last report, an estimated 700 had been arrested.

We unfortunately had to leave before the conclusion of the standoff because Orin had lost his official UN press credentials somewhere in the crush of people.  Without them he would be unable to participate in the protests and other events planned inside the Bella Centre in the coming week.  So we needed to get them replaced before the registration desk closed for the night.  We found a running metro that delivered us to the Bella Centre.  We managed to avoid the incredibly long line of unaccredited people shivering in the frigid Danish air through some evasive action that took us inside to the press accreditation line and resulted in Orin procuring a new badge in record time.

In the security line for the metal detectors, we bumped into another colleague who recounted to us her experience with nearly getting nabbed in the roundup.  She told us she sensed something was up and literally ran ahead, just missing the advance of the police vans.  She continued with the march, she told us, to the very end at the Bella Centre, but was prevented from entering the UN premises, even with her accreditation badge, because she was with the march.  “So I climbed the fence,” she told us.  “I was just too cold to wait any longer.”

So much for their security…

The metro ride back toward the hotel was hellish.  The metro arrived at the Bella Center stop already crowded.  We and about four others managed to smash ourselves on, thinking not one more person could possibly fit.  We were proved wrong about 2 stops down where another half dozen people forced their way into our end of the car.  By the time we got to the Christianshavn stop, we couldn’t stand it anymore and retreated to the street to find a bus.  This stop was only a few blocks from where we had stood when the black bloc had been surrounded, and the police lights were still blazing.  Realizing quickly that this meant no buses were to come, we waved down a cab and zoomed back to the hotel to sit down, finally, warm up and to complete our computer work for the day.

This is not the last, but the first big action this week.  Tomorrow there is an action planned which intends to shut down the Copenhagen port, to call attention to the massive greenhouse gas emissions caused by the shipping industry.  Nearly every day next week some action is planned and will reach a crescendo with the “Reclaim Power” action on Wednesday—the day that the high level ministers arrive—which is intended to occur both on the inside of the Bella Centre, as well as on the outside, with both sides to meet for a “Peoples’ Assembly” to discuss real and just solutions to the climate crisis.

The big challenge of that day is the fact that the UN Climate Secretariat has announced that they are severely restricting the access of NGOs to the Bella Centre—only allowing access to a privileged handful of “observers.”

Some of us believe that this signals the end of the UN Climate process.  It has truly become the World Carbon Trade Organization and is behaving as such through meetings behind closed doors and absolute restriction of participation to only those chosen few, and their complicit, bleating, sheep-like media.

Now it is time for the people of the world who want to stop the oncoming train of climate catastrophe to stand up and “Reclaim Power.”  We will be reporting from the Reclaim Power protests in Copenhagen this coming Wednesday.

Wish us luck.

Reporting from the streets of Copenhagen,

Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Indigenous Peoples led the march of an estimated 50,00 to 100,000.  Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Indigenous Peoples led the march of an estimated 50,00 to 100,000. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

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Post #7 December 11, 2009

At Indigenous Peoples Speak Out. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

At Indigenous Peoples Speak Out. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

 Indigenous Peoples Speak Out.  Global Justice Ecology Project teamed up with the Indigenous Environmental Network with co-sponsorship by Global Forest Coalition to help create a space for Indigenous Peoples to share their experiences, stories and songs.  We felt this was a critically important event to highlight the voices of Peoples who are being shut out of the official climate negotiations, even though they are some of the peoples being most profoundly affected by the climate crisis.

Indigenous Peoples Speak Out. Global Justice Ecology Project teamed up with the Indigenous Environmental Network with co-sponsorship by Global Forest Coalition to help create a space for Indigenous Peoples to share their experiences, stories and songs. We felt this was a critically important event to highlight the voices of Peoples who are being shut out of the official climate negotiations, even though they are some of the peoples being most profoundly affected by the climate crisis.

At Indigenous Peoples Speak Out Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Panel discussion from Klimaforum09’s “Towards a Peoples Tribunal on Ecological Debt and Climate Justice.” New Voices on Climate Change participant Lidy Nacpil from Jubilee South listens to Ricardo Navarro of Friends of the Earth El Salvador (left); Naomi Klein sits between them. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Global Forest Coalition releases their monitoring report on the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation scheme. GFC had people monitor the potential impacts of REDD in countries targeted for REDD projects. The report was highly critical of the potential social and ecological impacts of this market-driven forest scheme. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Trees protest inside the UN conference negotiations. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Outside the conference protest like this are happening daily. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

Protest against the military junta outside the UN climate conference. Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC

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Post #6 December 10, 2009

Camila Moreno rails against REDD. Photo: Petermann/ GJEP-GFC

Outrage at CorporateHaven

by Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Emotions here at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen are beginning to run very high.

The leak to the press of a document prepared by the Danish government in collaboration with other rich countries raised a lot of ire among those countries and peoples who were excluded from this process, which apparently occurred behind some very closed and secret doors.

In response, the African delegation staged a spontaneous and angry protest in the halls of the Bella Center, chanting “two degrees is suicide!” in reference to a section of the leaked Danish that would allow for a two degree rise in global temperatures–which would lead to the deaths of millions of people in Africa due to expanding droughts and floods, as well as loss of crop productivity.

And this theme of expressing outrage over the impacts of climate change on indigenous and forest dependent communities and others was carried over with a series of events and protests today.

This morning, on Human Rights Day, the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Indigenous Peoples Power Project held a “Procession, Prayer and Rally for Indigenous Rights” at the US Embassy in Copenhagen.  On the day that Obama accepted his unfathomably ironic Nobel Peace Prize, this rally took place to raise awareness about the impacts of the US energy industry’s war on Indigenous lands in the US.  Later in the day another Indigenous protest was held against the US when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar spoke at a press conference about the US commitment to renewable energy–on the very same day they announced that they were opening up the arctic to oil drilling.  Hypocritical doesn’t even begin to describe this callous and calculated PR move.

The expansion of oil drilling in the Arctic is a slap in the face to the rest of the world that came to Copenhagen hoping for leadership from Obama, and instead got the same old US obstructionism that has contributed to the negative image of the US internationally.

The Change promised by the Obama Administration seemingly refers to Climate Change.  It really has been a whole lot of hot air.

As I write this, the Indigenous Peoples Speak Out is taking place.  Global Justice Ecology Project teamed up with the Indigenous Environmental Network with co-sponsorship by Global Forest Coalition to create a space for Indigenous Peoples to share their experiences, stories and songs.  We felt this was a critically important event to highlight the voices of Peoples who are being shut out of the official climate negotiations, even though they are some of the peoples being most profoundly affected by the climate crisis.

The event started with a prayer by IEN Director Tom Goldtooth and songs by IEN youth and staff–Day Gots and Clayton Thomas-Mueller.  Throughout the afternoon Indigenous Peoples shared their stories about the histories of their people, and the impacts of fossil fuels and climate change on their communities and lands.  Powerful voices poignantly described the effects of the melting of the arctic on the islands off of Alaska, the devastating results of the rising sea levels on the islands of the South Pacific, the cancers and diseases being experienced by native peoples as a result of the energy industry.  Participants came from North and South America, Africa and the South Pacific, yet the stories they shared all echoed one another.

The undercurrent was one of profound anger and sadness.

Down the hall, a Peoples Tribunal on Climate Debt is under way, with representatives of the developing world discussing the historical obligations of rich countries to repay the South for the resources stolen over the course of hundreds of years, and for the impacts today of climate change.

Yesterday, Global Justice Ecology Project organized a panel on the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation scheme.  Presenters included Sandy Gauntlett, a Maori from Aoteroa (New Zealand) who expressed his seething ire over REDD because it was doing nothing to stop the sinking of the islands of his region.  Camila Moreno was indignant over the implementation of REDD in Brazil, where some of the people most responsible for the rampant destruction of the Amazon stood to profit handsomely from this scheme.  Marcial Arias, a Kuna from Panama passionately described the displacement of Indigenous Peoples in Panama for projects designed to offset carbon emissions in the North.

The outrage is growing.  It has been simmering under the surface with year after year of inaction, and now the rapidly accelerating crisis of climate change has caused the pot to begin boiling over, and we will be seeing more and more outrage and anger over the coming days.

We will do our best to cover these protests and their messages and give you our reactions to them.

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Post #5: African Delegation Protests “Danish Text” December 9, 2009

A spontaneous march erupted yesterday by African participants inside the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen demanding an end to climate colonialism.  This was in response to the leaked “Danish text” or the “Copenhagen Agreement” which includes provisions to only limit the rise in global temperatures to two degrees.  According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change a two degree increase in the global mean temperature will cause a three or more degree increase for temperatures in Africa. Such an increase in temperature would lead to widespread devastation including predictions of a 50% reduction in crop yields in some areas, cutting food outputs in half, more than 600 million people left without adequate water supplies, and massive damage to coastlines, rural communities and cities.

Marching through the Conference Center African groups chanted: “Two degrees is suicide” “One Africa, One Degree” and “No to Climate Colonialism, No to Climate Genocide” in response to the proposal.
Additionally Indigenous Peoples from around the world condemned the leaked texts which totally excluded Indigenous Peoples’ rights on all key issues.

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GJEP’s Anne Petermann on WORT FM

October 26th--Check out Global Justice Ecology Project’s E.D., Anne Petermann, speaking about the links between forests, the REDD scheme and the upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen (CorporateHaven) on WORT’s program A Public Affair out of Madison, Wisconsin.  She is in interviewed in the second half of the show after co-author of Climate Coverup, The Crusade to Deny Global Warming, James Hogan.

To listen, please click HERE

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Burlington, VT Co-director/Strategist Addresses Rally

October 24, 2009–Global Justice Ecology Project Co-Director/ Strategist Orin Langelle spoke at the 350.org International Day of Action sponsored by Greenpeace in Burlington.  As Langelle spoke, other people from GJEP passed out the “deal or no deal?” zine and the “350 reasons to oppose carbon trading” stickers, both supplied by Rising Tide North America. Langelle’s talk revolved around climate justice, false solutions to climate change (including carbon trading and agrofuels), and against the sell-out U.S. climate bill.  He explained why the UN climate talks in Copenhagen this December are really a Corporatehaven.  He also spoke about international non-violent direct actions planned for November 30–the 10th anniversary of the WTO shutdown in Seattle; also one week before the CorporateHaven negotiations. He challenged the City of Burlington and the media there to look into the Burlington Electric Department’s McNeil power (biomass) plant which once was described by the EPA as the #1 polluter in VT and to investigate the health hazards posed to the nearby communities, workers in the plant and the environment.

 

 

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