Tag Archives: UN Climate talks

Snowden Docs: U.S. Spied on Negotiators At 2009 Climate Summit

January 29, 2014.  Source:  Huffington Post

snowden nsa surveillance obama copenhagen

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency monitored the communications of other governments ahead of and during the 2009 United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to the latest document from whistleblower Edward Snowden.The document, with portions marked “top secret,” indicates that the NSA was monitoring the communications of other countries ahead of the conference, and intended to continue doing so throughout the meeting. Posted on an internal NSA website on Dec. 7, 2009, the first day of the Copenhagen summit, it states that “analysts here at NSA, as well as our Second Party partners, will continue to provide policymakers with unique, timely, and valuable insights into key countries’ preparations and goals for the conference, as well as the deliberations within countries on climate change policies and negotiation strategies.”

“Second Party partners” refers to the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, with which the U.S. has an intelligence-sharing relationship. “While the outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference remains uncertain, signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the 2-week event,” the document says.

The Huffington Post published the documents Wednesday night in coordination with the Danish daily newspaper Information, which worked with American journalist Laura Poitras.

The December 2009 meeting in Copenhagen was the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which brings together 195 countries to negotiate measures to address rising greenhouse gas emissions and their impact. The Copenhagen summit was the first big climate meeting after the election of President Barack Obama, and was widely expected to yield a significant breakthrough. Other major developed nations were already part of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set emissions limits, while the United States — the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases when the protocol went into effect in 2004 — had famously declined to join. The two-week meeting was supposed to produce a successor agreement that would include the U.S., as well as China, India and other countries with rapidly increasing emissions.

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Copenhagen/COP-15, Political Repression, Politics

US chides NGOs at Doha summit, outlines its positions not ‘based on need’

Note: Good old Pershing.  Can always be counted on to be an ass…

–The GJEP Team

Nov 30, 2012. Source: IBON International Update

The US chief negotiator at COP 18 issued a strong rebuke to NGOs in an off-the-record meeting, which has now been published in Indian media.

Jonathan Pershing told NGOs they should recognize that the US makes it possible for them to be present at COP 18. And while many parties and NGOs at COP18 are calling for agreements based on science, Pershing said that US positions are not based on the reality of “what is needed”. He went on to rubbish the concept of sharing atmospheric space, underlining that US positions are based on what can be sold to the US Congress.

“We are one of the funders to make it possible for you to be at the table,” Pershing told NGOs present in the meeting. “I hope you recognize that many of you who come to the meetings you do, the US fights for you at every chance to give you a chance to be in this room.”

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Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Greenwashing, Politics, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, UNFCCC

UN Climate talks open today: Urgent progress still not in sight

Note: The 18th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-18) opened today in Doha, Qatar.  Below is Friends of the Earth’s take on the negotiations.

–The GJEP Team

23 November 2012. Source: Friends of the Earth

DOHA, QATAR While delegates from around the world prepare to meet for the annual United Nations climate talks in Doha next week, Friends of the Earth International expressed strong concerns over the continued lack of progress by developed countries which are supposed to take the lead to stop climate devastation and avoid catastrophic climate change [1].

The UN climate talks, ongoing now for 20 years, have made little progress in delivering concrete climate action and are now heading backwards. Most recently they agreed 2015 as the date to launch a new treaty to deal with climate action which probably won’t come into force until 2020 [2].

And many governments look set to attend the talks in Doha to promote a further weakening of the framework for global emissions reductions, while at home they continue to support the expansion of false solutions to the climate crisis.

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Politics, Pollution, UNFCCC

Mexico legislation underlines transformation in global warming debate

Cross-Posted from Reuters

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–Rt Hon John Gummer, Lord Deben, is President of Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) and former UK Secretary of State for the Environment, and Rt Hon John Prescott, Lord Prescott, is a Member of GLOBE, and former UK Deputy Prime Minister and Europe’s Lead Negotiator at Kyoto. The opinions expressed are their own.–

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Below the global radar-screen, the Mexican Parliament gave final passage on April 19 to the General Law on Climate Change, a landmark piece of national environmental legislation.  This is a truly significant move and comes at a time when the country has also just approved a far-reaching REDD+ law that will set a benchmark for international best practice on tacking deforestation and forest degradation.

Passage of Mexico’s far-reaching climate law (which was supported, significantly, on a cross-party basis) highlights the remarkable progress on climate change now being made globally. A critical mass of strategically significant – often emerging – economies have made landmark climate and energy-related legislation over the last year. These countries, including China, are advancing laws at a pace that contrasts sharply with the UN-brokered climate change talks that formally convene again in Qatar in late November.

This trend comes at a time of pivotal change in international relations with continuing economic downturn in the West being counterpoised with the increasingly rapid shift of power to emerging economies.  Mirroring this structural shift is a fundamental repositioning of the centre of gravity of the global climate change debate towards domestic climate change legislation. This is nothing less than game changing.

As a recent study, by Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE) and the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics, documents:

  • China is developing comprehensive climate change legislation and has included carbon targets in its latest Five Year Plan.
  • South Africa’s government has released its climate change white paper, including a raft of measures such as renewable energy targets and a carbon tax.
  • The Australian government’s Clean Energy Act puts Australia on a trajectory to reduce its emissions by 80% by 2050.
  • Germany has outlined a radical new energy plan in response to the Fukushima disaster, including a massive increase in renewable energy investment.
  • South Korea is in the process of passing legislation for an emissions trading scheme which would be binding by 2015 and covers those facilities producing more than 25,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

As in Mexico, adoption of such landmark initiatives is — with a few notable exceptions which include Australia — largely cross-party. One key reason for this encouraging move towards political consensus is that many legislators increasingly recognise the positive co-benefits of climate change legislation. These range from greater resource efficiency and increased energy security to the reduction of air pollution.

All this, in turn, mirrors a crucial shift in the political debate on climate change. Until now, it has been largely framed by the narrative of sharing a global burden — with governments, naturally, trying to minimise their share.

Now, legislators increasingly view the issue as one of national self-interest, with each nation trying to maximise the benefits of climate change legislation. Indeed, those countries with strong national legislation are already attracting most inward investment on low-carbon technologies because there is greater business certainty rather than high regulatory risk.

Encouraging as this shift is, it is as yet insufficient to avoid dangerous climate change of greater than 2 degrees Celsius. Nonetheless, the national legal and policy frameworks to measure, report, verify and manage carbon that are now being created have the potential of significant tightening. This will be the more likely as governments experience the benefits of lower energy use, reduced costs, improved competitiveness, and greater energy security.

As this happens, the goal must be to translate such progress into a comprehensive, global deal by 2015 under the negotiations that began at Durban and are due to finish in 2015.

Such a deal will probably only be possible when even more countries are committed to taking action on climate change because it is to their advantage rather than out of perceived altruism. In other words, such a deal will reflect domestic political conditions not define them.

Given this outlook, a key danger is that some developed countries might lower their long-term ambition and harden their stances in dealing with others in the UN discussions. At a time when the climate change debate is undergoing such profound change, this would be particularly counter-productive.

The UN negotiations should be used as the forum for countries to invest more in climate diplomacy and practical international cooperation.  This will help to expedite the creation of conditions within nations, both developed and developing, that will enable them to agree a comprehensive global treaty by 2015.  Countries that have found it hard to agree to international action are now outdoing their commitments in domestic legislation.

Having taken those steps at home they will find it much easier to commit to a global agreement which confirms the decisions they have already taken of their sovereign free will. A curmudgeonly response from the developed world is now the biggest threat to the Kyoto process.

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Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Politics, REDD, UNFCCC

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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DVD Now Available: “A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests”

Global Justice Ecology Project and Global Forest Coalition are proud to announce that the DVD of our 28-minute documentary film:
A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests is now available.  

In the month since we released it online, A Darker Shade of Green has been viewed more than 3,500 times. The DVD edition, produced for use in classrooms, public showings and by social movement organizations, is released this week with a full-color cover designed by Melanie Cervantes, with original art by Santiago Armengod as well as special bonus features.

The DVD edition contains not only A Darker Shade of Green in both English and Spanish, in also includes two bonus features: an hour-long feature by our friends at Otros Mundos in Chiapas, called REDD: the Greed for Trees (in Spanish and English), as well as GJEP’s first 10 minute production on the topic, Amador Hernández, Chiapas: Starved of Medical Services for REDD +, also in Spanish and English.

To watch the three-minute trailer, click here.

For more about the film, click here.   

To order copies of the DVD, click here.

About the film:

As policies and programs to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) are promoted around the world by global and national elites, Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities are raising the alarm that these programs will have serious negative impacts – and will not reduce the cascading threats of the climate crisis.    

 A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forestsintroduces these many concerns about REDD from the perspective of the people who are most impacted, featuring interviews and testimonies from Mexico, Brazil, Panama, Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, Uganda, India, and California.

Over the course of a year, Global Justice Ecology Project worked with and documented resistance to REDD in Chiapas, Mexico, in Acre, Brazil, and among environmental justice communities in California. To date, this work has resulted in numerous articles, photo essays, and reports.     

A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests puts this investigative work in the compelling form of a short, sharp video, for use in outreach, community education, and social justice campaigns to raise awareness of this dangerous false solution to the climate crisis.

To watch the three-minute trailer, click here 

For more about the film, click here.  

To order copies of the DVD, click here.

To tell us how much you enjoyed watching, and to share ideas for further outreach, write to: jc@globaljusticeecology.org

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD, Videos

Assaulted photographer accuses UN of cover-up

Note: Global Justice Ecology Project board chair and photojournalist Orin Langelle is continuing his pursual of justice and accountability from the UN regarding the irresponsible actions of their security guards during the climate convention in Durban, South Africa.  UN security have been reacting to journalists and civil society observers in increasingly hostile ways, and Langelle is intent on holding them accountable so that the UN repression of the truth will not continue.

For more background please see Orin Langelle’s Formal Complaint Against UN Security and the response Langelle received from John Hay, UN Media Relations Officer UN denies security used undue force when smashing camera into photographer’s face] -The GJEP Team

7 February 2012

John Hay, Media Relations Officer

c/o Elke Hoekstra ehoekstra@unfccc.int, Staff Assistant, Communications & Knowledge Management

United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change

Martin-Luther-King-Strasse 8-53175 Bonn-Germany

Cc: secretariat@unfccc.int

Dear Mr. Hay,

By now you have received an official statement from Kevin Buckland, a witness to the scene I described in my official complaint on 16 December 2011.  As you can see from Mr. Buckland’s letter, he confirms that undue force was used on me during the incident in which an unidentified UN security guard smashed my camera into my face without a warning.  He is not the only witness.

I received an email last night from another witness to the event who said,  “I followed Kevin [Buckland] and the security guard with a flip-cam, videoing from behind and to the side, then moving to about a ‘3 oclock’ position to them to get a better face shot.  At this point the security guard saw me, made a 90 degree turn, strode over and literally had to yank it out of my hand, because I said ‘you’ve given me no warning’ and held tight to the camera.  After grabbing it and beginning to walk away, I pointed out that other folks were also photographing and videoing- so why the random application of this rule?  … said guard immediately stopped, scanned around, then bee-lined for [another witness], grabbed his camera, and then turned back towards the security/UN station/room…Yes, they erased the video of the incident, and I believe erased [the other person’s] as well.”

I will continue to pursue this matter as your response on 2 February 2012 to my official complaint is unacceptable and is devoid of the facts despite your investigation. How did you conduct the investigation? How did you come to the conclusion that undue force was not used on me?  Who provided the information to you regarding the incident in question?

Facts are facts and it is my duty as a journalist to report the truth.  What is occurring now is a concealment of those facts by either yourself or the investigators of the incident, or is false testimony by UN security.

Whoever is responsible, it is clear that the United Nations is officially and explicitly engaged in a cover-up.

I formally request further action on this matter.

Furthermore, how do I file official charges of the assault by a member of the UN security that could have resulted in great bodily harm to me?

This is a very serious matter that concerns not only me, but all journalists and people who believe in the right to document and report the truth.

I find your response an insult to me and to all that seek justice.

Sincerely,

Orin Langelle

International Federation of Journalists                          Card Nr.  U S 1198

National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO)  ID#83303

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Another witness of UN security violence to photographer during Durban Climate Convention

Note:  This official statement below, from Kevin Buckland, was sent to the UN today regarding Orin Langelle’s Formal Complaint Against UN Security and the response Langelle received from the UN’s John Hay, UN Media Relations Officer.  [See the response from the UN that Climate Connections posted last Friday: UN denies security used undue force when smashing camera into photographer’s face]  Langelle was on assignment for Z Magazine and he is also the board chair for Global Justice Ecology Project. We will continue to keep you posted as things develop.-The GJEP Team

To Whom it May Concern,

I am writing to submit an official statement regarding an act of violence that occurred inside the ICC on December 8th, 2011 in Durban, South Africa by a member of the UNFCCC  Security. As mentioned in the official complaint filed by Orin Langelle, I was being escorted by security after giving an interview wearing a traditional clown costume (at this moment, I will not raise question as to the legitimacy of this expulsion). Upon descending a staircase, a reporter, Orin Langelle, began to loudly question the security officer asking (I do not recall the exact wording): “Is this man being expelled from the conference? What rules have been broken? Are you arresting him?” At which point the security officer very quickly approached Mr. Langelle and grabbed the front of the lens of his camera covering it so he could not photograph. The officer did not attempt to remove the camera from Mr. Langelle, but instead decided to very aggressively physically pushed the camera into his face. Mr. Langelle was notably distraught after such an unwarranted act of violence. In the next 30 meters, from the bottom of the stairs to the security office, the same officer aggressively but nonviolently confiscated two more cameras of two other conference attendants who began to photograph the incident. The officer did give a warning to one of the photographers who was photographing immediately before taking his camera, but no warning was given to Mr. Langelle or the other photographer. The officer arrived to the security office with no less than 3 cameras he had confiscated (these were shortly returned).

As I was being informed of my expulsion from the conference. I commented to UNFCCC official Warren Waetford on the surprisingly aggressive attitude of the officer – considering there was absolutely no aggression besides his own. (I had been walking calmly behind him as I am sure he will acknowledge.) I recommended to Mr. Waetford that this unprovoked act of aggression be addressed, and would like to reiterate that recommendation now to the UNFCCC secretariat, and formally.

I also asked why any security officer had the right to confiscate cameras at will, and was informed that UNFCCC Security Officers have the right not to be photographed, but are required to ask photographers to stop photographing, and only if the photographer refused could the officer confiscate their cameras. In the case of Mr. Langelle and another unnamed photographer, no warning was given.

Finally, I would like to comment on the official response issued by the UN regarding this incident. It stated: “Our investigations indicate that it was necessary to clear a passage within the conference center that was being obstructed, in the interest of the safety of all participants and in the interest of the smooth operation of the conference.  At no time was undue force applied in the exercise.” I would like to attest, as a witness to the incident, that this official statement is not true. If this statement derives from testaments by the arresting officer, then he has then both committed an act of violence and lied. No passage was blocked. It was the Security Guard who first approached Mr. Langelle because of his loud questioning, straying from the most direct path to the security office, and without any verbal warnings violently and aggressively took his camera. Undue force was very clearly applied.

I believe this incident should call into question the UNFCCC’s prohibition on documentation of its own security forces. As this case demonstrates – a clear violation both of the policy of giving warnings before confiscation of cameras, as well as an unwarranted act of violence, occurred. If we are denied even the freedom of press to protect ourselves against violence by armed officials inside a space under the jurisdiction of the United Nations, then the UN itself is complicit in the tyranny it was founded to confront.

Sincerely,

Kevin Buckland

Barcelona, Spain

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