Tag Archives: UNFCCC

KPFK Pacifica Los Angeles Interview with GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann on the Durban Disaster

Global Justice Ecology Project Executive Director Anne Petermann was interviewed on the Sojourner Truth show with Margaret Prescod on KPFK on Thursday, January 5 about the outcomes from the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa and the civil society protests there.

To listen, click on the link below and scroll to minute 37:56:

http://archive.kpfk.org/mp3/kpfk_120105_070010sojourner.MP3

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute every Tuesday and weekly interviews with activists on key environmental and ecological justice issues every Thursday.  In addition, during major events such as the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa, we organize daily interviews Tuesday through Friday.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, UNFCCC

Report Back from Durban, South Africa: Grassroots vs. the 1% at the UN Climate Negotiations

The March outside of the Conference of Polluters in Durban. Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC

Burlington, VT–Global Justice Ecology Project’s Anne Petermann,  Orin Langelle and Jeff Conant along with Keith Brunner and Lindsey Gillies will give a report back from last month’s controversial UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa on Wednesday, January 11, at the Fletcher Free Library Community Room in Burlington, Vermont from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.  All five presenters were in Durban for the climate negotiations.

Fletcher Free Library is located at 235 College Street in Burlington, VT.  Burlington Action Against Nukes and the Environmental Action Group of Occupy Burlington are sponsoring the event, which is free and open to the public.

“The Durban disaster marks the lost decade in the fight against climate change,” said Anne Petermann, Executive Director of GJEP, whose international office is in Hinesburg, VT. “These talks accomplished nothing except to delay any implementation of a UN plan to stop climate change until 2020,” she stated.

Both Petermann and Brunner were carried out of the talks by UN security, ejected from the UN grounds and turned over to the South African police for staging an unpermitted sit-in protest of the corporate take-over of the negotiations. [1] Gillies was also ejected.

Earlier that week, photojournalist Orin Langelle, on assignment for Z Magazine, had his camera shoved into his face by a UN security officer because Langelle was taking a photograph of the officer ejecting a person who was giving an interview to the media following a UN-approved Global Justice Ecology Project press conference. This incident led Langelle to file a formal complaint against UN security. [2] Langelle will show his documentary photographs of the “Durban Disaster” at the upcoming event.

Jeff Conant, Global Justice Ecology Project’s Communications Director who was also present in Durban, will take part via live-stream from the GJEP Oakland, CA office to discuss the perspectives of other climate justice groups on the Durban negotiations.

The entire two weeks in Durban were marred with controversy, which included the corporate takeover of the UN climate talks, heavy handed security measures to prevent civil society participation in the talks, and the attempt by “Big Green” Non Governmental Organizations (i.e. Greenpeace and 350.org) to control a major “Occupy” protest there.  This attempted control of dissent prompted Petermann to write a controversial critique of the big NGOs, titled “Showdown at the Durban Disaster: Challenging the Big Green Patriarchy.” [3]

Notes:

[1] Global Justice Ecology Project Director Anne Petermann Ejected from COP17   http://wp.me/pDT6U-3hX

[2] Formal Complaint Filed Against UN Security Actions in Durban  http://wp.me/pDT6U-3jy

[3] Showdown at the Durban Disaster: Challenging the ‘Big Green’ Patriarchy   http://wp.me/pDT6U-3iE

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, UNFCCC

Photo Essay: UN Climate COP: Corporate Exhibitionism (parting shots)

Note:  Anne Petermann and I went to our first UNFCCC COP (Conference of the Polluters) in 2004 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  One  of my first observations was that this was a bizarre trade show–from ‘clean coal’ to ‘clean nuclear’ to a clean way to get fucked.  Smile.  I was not impressed.  Well,  going into the exhibition center was more exciting than the plenaries packed with, for the most part,  suited charlatans. Fast forward to Montreal, Nairobi, Bali, Poznan, Copenhagen, Cancún and now all the way  to Durban, South Africa; and guess what?–the 1% have been and still are in control (for now). But one of the good things that has happened over these years is that the resistance has risen from a couple of handfuls of us to thousands.  It is evident to GJEP that the COP process is nothing more than the rich figuring out how to make more money off Mother Earth and her inhabitants under the guise of addressing climate change.  So this photo essay, with text by Anne Petermann, is my parting shot to this entire unjust, racist, classist, land-grabbing COP crap.  No to the next meeting in Dubai and yes to mobilization for the Peoples Summit during Rio +20.  GJEP will continue to support the social movements, Indigenous Peoples and those who struggle for justice. Please enjoy the trade show photos and note that the last two photos in this series show the discrepancy between the 1% and the 99%.  Orin Langelle for the GJEP Team.

All photos:  Langelle/GJEP       Captions:  Anne Petermann

The Road to Rio.  “Wait, I think we spelled that wrong–isn’t it supposed to be “Greed Economy”?

“Ohm…no Fukushimi…Ohm…no Fukushima…”

” Look into the blank screen… You are feeling sleepy…Join us…join us…join us…repeat after me…I believe in the green economy…Robert Zoellick is a nice guy…REDD will save the forests…The World Bank’s mission is poverty alleviation…”

What the World Bank said…

“Carbon bubble, what carbon bubble?  A ton of carbon is supposed to be cheaper than a pizza.  Isn’t a pizza made of carbon?  It all makes sense to me!”
“With the Green Economy we can even make fabrics out of tree pulp!  Fabulous Fashions From Foliage!  Yummy Eucalyptus unitards! Perky Plantation Pant Suits!  Thank God for the Green Economy!”
“We help cool down climate change by logging tropical forests…What, you gotta problem with that?”

“We magically transform ancient tropical forests into biodiesel plantations!.  Birds love ’em!  (F*#k the orangutans).”

” Oooo…that panda makes me so hot…”

People need nature to thrive–which is why we have to protect nature from them!

“These charts clearly show that it’s the NGOs that are responsible for carbon emissions.  That’s why we have to ban NGOs from the climate talks; if there were no NGOs there would be no climate change.  Listen to me.  I’m a white guy and I know.”

“Screw you anti-capitalist NGO bastards. Market-based schemes like the CDM are the best solution to climate change!  So what if they don’t reduce carbon emissions.  Piss off.”

How the 1% live.  The pretentious Southern Sun Elangeni Hotel in Durban was host to the World Climate Summit, 3-4 December, which was a high-level and high-security event where business, finance and government leaders met to celebrate the glory of their green-ness with events like “The Gigatonne Award” for whatever company’s PR campaign was the biggest pile of “green” manure.

 The following week the corporate conference sponsors offered side events for UN government delegates on the theme of “Advancing Public-Private Partnerships for REDD+ and Green Growth” i.e. how to ensure profit-making as usual in the face of ecological collapse and rising public outrage.

How the 99% live.  This tent was where the delegation met that came to Durban with La Via Campesina, the world’s largest peasant organization.  Their slogan, Small Farmers Cool the Planet, confronts the myth that governments and the UN will take care of climate change for us and promotes the idea that bottom up, small scale, community-controlled and bioregionally appropriate solutions are what is needed. The building behind the tent was where La Via slept and ate meals–not as pretentious as the Southern Sun Elangeni Hotel, but the people were real.

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Geoengineering, Land Grabs, Nuclear power, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, REDD, UNFCCC

Video: Climate Justice Outcry! Dudes co-opt COP 17 final march

Note:  Nope, that headline is not from GJEP.  In fact it’s the title of one of the videos shot by the Media Co-op in Montreal during the Durban meetings of the UN climate negotiations.  Their Canadian network spans: The Dominion • Halifax • Vancouver • Montreal • Toronto.  There is a lot of controversy surrounding the action this video documents, including GJEP’s Anne Petermann’s scathing post on Friday “Showdown at the Durban Disaster: Challenging the ‘Big Green’ Patriarchy.”  GJEP and Anne are receiving many comments and emails, both pro and con on Anne’s article.  To those who disagree with Anne’s analysis:  please watch this.  To everyone else, let’s have a laugh, albeit a sad one, and resolve to up the ante for the people and the planet with concrete, meaningful action and analysis, and make Climate Justice! more than just two words to chant.  After Copenhagen COP 15, many of us lost a long time friend and comrade, Dennis Brutus: poet, scholar and  anti-apartheid activist.  If Dennis was still physically present, I believe he would have linked arms with Anne and Keith; Dennis knew what struggle meant. For more Media Co-op coverage of Durban, please go to http://mediacoop.ca/durban.  -Orin Langelle for the GJEP Team

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Independent Media, Media

Radio Interview: Soils and Agriculture in the Carbon Market on KPFK Los Angeles

Teresa Anderson of the Gaia Foundation is interviewed on the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK on Wednesday December 7th about the impacts on Africa of including agriculture in the Durban climate talks, and turning agriculture into a new carbon offset.

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK Los Angeles for a weekly Earth Minute and weekly interviews with activists on key environmental and ecological justice issues.  In addition, during major events such as the UN Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa, we organize daily interviews Tuesday through Thursday.

To listen, click on the link below and scroll to minute 27:39.

The Sojourner Truth Show

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Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Land Grabs, REDD, UNFCCC

Showdown at the Durban Disaster: Challenging the ‘Big Green’ Patriarchy

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Dedicated to Judi Bari, Emma Goldman, my mother and all of the other strong women who inspire me

An action loses all of its teeth when it is orchestrated with the approval of the authorities.  It becomes strictly theater for the benefit of the media.  With no intent or ability to truly challenge power.

I hate actions like that.

GJEP's Anne Petermann (right) and GEAR's Keith Brunner (both sitting) before being forcibly ejected from the UN climate conference. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

And so it happened that I wound up getting ejected from one such action after challenging its top-down, male domination.  I helped stage an unsanctioned ‘sit-in’ at the action with a dozen or so others who were tired of being told what to do by the authoritarian male leadership of the “big green’ action organizers–Greenpeace and 350.org.

I had no intention of being arrested that day.  I came to the action at the UN Climate Convention center in Durban, South Africa on a whim, hearing about it from one of GJEP’s youth delegates who sent a text saying to show up outside of the Sweet Thorne room at 2:45.

So GJEP co-Director Orin Langelle and I went there together, cameras at the ready.

We arrived to a room filled with cameras.  Still cameras, television cameras, flip cameras–whatever was planned had been well publicized.  That was my first clue as to the action’s true nature.  Real direct actions designed to break the rules and challenge power are generally not broadly announced.  It’s hard to pull off a surprise action with dozens of reporters and photographers milling around.

Media feeding frenzy at the action. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

After ten or so minutes, a powerful young voice yelled “mic check!” and the action began.  A young man from 350.org was giving a call and response “mic check” message and initiating chants like “we stand with Africa,” “We want a real deal,” and “Listen to the people, not the polluters.”  Many of the youth participants wore “I [heart] KP” t-shirts–following the messaging strategy of the ‘big greens,’ who were bound and determined to salvage something of the Kyoto Protocol global warming agreement, regardless of whether or not it would help stop climate catastrophe.

The messaging and choreography of the action were tightly controlled for the first hour or so by the male leadership. The growing mass of youth activists and media moved slowly down the cramped corridor toward the main plenary room and straight into a phalanx of UN security who stood as a human blockade, hands tightly gripped into the belts of the officers on either side.  I found myself wedged between the group and the guards.

Pink badges (parties) and orange badges (media) were allowed through the barricade, but yellow badges (NGOs) were strictly forbidden–unless one happened to be one of the ‘big green’ male leadership.  They miraculously found themselves at various times on either side of the barricade.  The Greenpeace banners, I might add, were also displayed on the non-blockaded side of security, providing a perfect visual image for the media: Greenpeace banners in front of the UN Security, who were in front of the mass of youth.  This was another indication that the “action” was not what it appeared to be.  No, the rising up of impassioned youth taking over the hallway of the climate convention to demand just and effective action on climate change was just a carefully calculated ‘big green’ photo op.

There was wild applause when Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace (at that moment on the protester side of the security barricade) introduced the Party delegate from The Maldives–one of the small island nations threatened with drowning under rising sea levels.  He addressed the crowd with an impassioned plea for help.  Later, the official delegate from Egypt was introduced and, with a great big grin, gave his own mic check about the power youth in his country had had in making great change.  He was clearly thrilled to be there in that throbbing mass of youthful exuberance.

Youth confront security during the protest. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

But as with many actions that bring together such a diversity of people (youth being a very politically broad constituency), at a certain point the action diverged from the script.  The tightly controlled messaging of the pre-arranged mic checks, began to metamorphose as youth began to embody the spirit of the occupy movement, from which the “mic check” had been borrowed.  New people began calling mic check and giving their own messages.  Unsanctioned messages such as “World Bank out of climate finance,” “no REDD,” “no carbon markets” and “occupy the COP” began to emerge as repeated themes.  At first, the action’s youth leaders tried to counter-mic check and smother these unauthorized messages, but eventually they were overwhelmed.

After a few hours of this, with no sign of the energy waning, the “big green” male leadership huddled with security to figure out what to do with this anarchistic mass. Kumi, or it might have been Will Bates from 350.org, explained to the group that they had talked it over with UN security and arranged for the group to be allowed to leave the building and continue the protest just outside, where people could yell and protest as long as they wished.

This is a typical de-escalation tactic.  A group is led out of the space where it is effectively disrupting business as usual to a space where it can easily be ignored in exchange for not being arrested.  In my experience, this is a disempowering scenario where energy rapidly fizzles, and people leave feeling deflated.

I feared that this group of youth, many of whom were taking action for the first or second time in their lives, and on an issue that was literally about taking back control over their very future, would leave feeling disempowered.  I could feel the frustration deep in my belly.  We need to be building a powerful movement for climate justice, not using young people as pawns in some twisted messaging game.

There was clear dissention within the protest.  People could feel the power of being in that hallway and were uneasy with the option of leaving.  Finally I offered my own ‘mic check.’  “While we are inside,” I explained, “the delegates can hear us.  If we go outside, we will lose our voice.”

But the ‘big green’ patriarchy refused to cede control of the action to the youth.  They ratcheted up the pressure.  “If you choose to stay,” Kumi warned, “you will lose your access badge and your ability to come back into this climate COP and any future climate COPs.”  Knowing this to be patently untrue, I cut him off. “That’s not true! I was de-badged last year and here I am today!”  This took Kumi completely by surprise–that someone was challenging his authority (he was clearly not used to that)–and he mumbled in reply, “well, that’s what I was told by security.”

Crowd scene in the hallway. Photo: Langelle

Will Bates, who was on the “safe” side of the security line, explained that UN security was giving the group “a few minutes to think about what you want to do.” While the group pondered, Will reminded the group that anyone who refused to leave would lose their badge and their access to the COP.  “That’s not letting us make up our minds!” yelled a young woman.

I felt compelled to give the group some support. I mic checked again, “there is nothing to fear/ about losing your badge,” I explained, adding, “Being debadged/ is a badge of honor.”

After the question was posed about how many people planned to stay, and dozens of hands shot up, the pressure was laid on thicker. This time the ‘big green’ patriarchy warned that if we refused to leave, not only would we be debadged, UN security would escort us off the premises and we would be handed over to South African police and charged with trespass.

At that a young South African man stood up and defiantly raised his voice.  “I am South African.  This is my country.  If you want to arrest anyone for trespass, you will start with me!” he said gesturing at his chest.  Then he said, “I want to sing Shosholoza!”

Shosholoza is a traditional South African Folk song that was sung in a call and response style by migrant workers that worked in the South African mines.

The group joined the young South African man in singing Shosholoza and soon the entire hallway was resounding with the powerful South African workers’ anthem.

Once consensus was clearly established to do an occupation and anyone that did not want to lose his or her badge had left, Kumi piped up again.  “Okay. I have spoken with security and this what we are going to do.  Then he magically walked through UN security blockade.  “We will remove our badge (he demonstrated this with a grand sweeping gesture pulling the badge and lanyard over his head) and hand it over to security as we walk out of the building.  We do not anyone to be able to accuse of us trying to disrupt the talks.”

That really made me mad.  The top down, male-dominated nature of the action and the coercion being employed to force the youth activists to blindly obey UN security was too much.  I’d been pushed around by too many authoritarian males in my life to let this one slide, so I mic checked again.  “We just decided/ that we want to stay/ to make our voices heard/ and now we are being told/ how to leave!”  “I will not hand my badge to security.  I am going to sit right here and security can take it.”

And I sat down cross-legged on the floor, cursing my luck for choosing to wear a skirt that day.  Gradually, about a dozen other people–mostly youth–sat down with me, including Keith and Lindsey–two of our Global Justice Ecology Project youth contingent.

But still the male leadership wouldn’t let it go.  I’ve never seen activists so eager to do security’s work for them.  “Okay,” Kumi said, “but when security taps you on the shoulder, you have to get up and leave with them.  We are going to be peaceful, we don’t want any confrontation.”  Sorry, but in my experience, civil disobedience and non-compliance are peaceful acts.  And I find it impossible to imagine that meaningful change will be achieved without confrontation.

At some point from the floor, I decided I should explain to the crowd who I was.  I mic checked.  “I come from the United States/ which has historically been/ one of the greatest obstacles/ to addressing climate change.  I am sitting down/ in the great tradition/ of civil disobedience/ that gave women the right to vote/ won civil rights/ and helped stop the Vietnam War.”

Karuna Rana (left), sits in at the action. Photo: Langelle

About that time, a young woman named Karuna Rana, from the small island of Mauritius, off the southeast coast of Africa, sat down in front of me and spoke up.  “I am the only young person here from Mauritius. These climate COPs have been going for seventeen years!  And what have they accomplished?  Nothing!  My island is literally drowning and so I am sitting down to take action–for my people and for my island.  Something must be done.”  Her voice, from such a small person, was powerful indeed.  An hour or two later, while standing in the chilly rain at the Speakers’ Corner across the street after we’d been ejected from the COP, she told me that it was my action that had inspired her to sit down.  “You inspired me by standing up to the people that wanted us to leave.”  I told her that her bravery had similarly inspired me.

Kumi led a group of protesters down the hall, handing his badge to UN security. Those of us who remained sitting on the floor were next approached by security.  One by one, people were tapped on the shoulder and stood up to walk out and be debadged.  Keith, who was sitting next to me said, “Are you going to walk out?”  “No.”

Security tapped us and said, “C’mon, you have to leave.”  “No.”  Keith and I linked arms.

Then the security forcibly removed all of the media that remained.  I watched Orin, who was taking photos of the event, as well as Amy Goodman and the crew of Democracy Now! be forced up the stairs and out of view.  As they were removed, Amy yelled, “What’s your name?!”  “Anne Petermann. I am the Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project.”

I was familiar with the unpleasant behavior of UN security from previous experiences, and so I was somewhat unnerved when security removed the media.  Earlier in the week a UN security officer had shoved Orin’s big Nikon into his face when he was photographing the officer ejecting one of the speakers from our GJEP press conference who was dressed as a clown.   Silly wigs are grounds for arrest at the UN.

One of the reasons that media have become targets of police and military violence all over the world is because they document the behavior of the authorities, and sometimes, depending on their intentions, the authorities don’t want their behavior documented.  Not knowing what UN security had in store for us, I decided I should let the remaining people in the hall–who could no longer see Keith and I since we were sitting and completely surrounded by security–know what was happening.  I explained at the top of my voice that that the media had been forced to leave, and encouraged anyone with a camera to come and take photos.  The photos on this blog post by Ben Powless of Indigenous Environmental Network are some of the only ones I know of that document our arrests.

Keith Brunner is hauled away by UN security during the sit-in outside of the plenary at the UN Climate Convention. Photo: Ben Powless/ IEN

They took Keith first, hauling him away with officers grabbing him by his legs and under his arms and rushing him into the plenary hall–which, we found out, had been earlier emptied of all of the UN delegates so the racket outside would not disturb them.  I was then loaded into a wheelchair by two female security guards.  A male guard grabbed my badge and roughly yanked it, tearing it free from the lanyard, “I’ll take that,” he sneered.   I was then unceremoniously wheeled through the empty plenary, past the security fence and into the blocked off street, where I was handed over to South African police.

“They’re all yours,” said the UN security who then left.  The South African police discussed what to do with us.  “What did they do?” asked one.  “They sat down.”  “Sat down?”  “Yes, sat down.  They are environmentalists or something.”  “Let’s just take them out of here.”  So I was loaded into the police van, where Keith sat waiting, and we were driven around the corner, past the conference center and to the “Speakers’ Corner” across the street, where the outside “Occupy COP 17” activists had been having daily general assemblies during the two weeks of the climate conference.  “Hey, that’s cool,” said Keith.  “We got a free ride to the Speakers’ Corner.”

I was told later that Kumi was the first arrested and had been led out of the building in plastic handcuffs, offering a beautiful Greenpeace photo op for the media. I rolled my eyes.  “You’ve GOT to be kidding me.  They used HANDcuffs???  Gimme a break.”  More theater.  Greenpeace is nothing if not good at working the media with theatrical drama such as pre-orchestrated arrests. Kumi may not have wanted to lose his badge, but he made the most of it.  At the Speakers’ Corner following our arrests, the media flocked to him while I stood on the sidelines.  The articles about the protest in many of the papers the next day featured Kumi speaking at the protest, Greenpeace banners prominent.  The fact that it was a COP 17 occupation that he had repeatedly attempted to squelch somehow did not make it into the news.

I lost a lot of respect for Greenpeace that day.

But many of the youth also saw how it went down.  I was thanked by several participants in the protest for standing up to the ‘big green’ male leadership and defending the right to occupy the space.  I, myself was deeply grateful for the opportunity to do something that felt actually meaningful in that lifeless convention center where the most powerful countries of the world played deadly games with the future.


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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Posts from Anne Petermann, UNFCCC

Protesters Expelled From UN Climate Conference Hall

Cross-posted from Environmental News Service
DURBAN, South Africa, December 9, 2011 (ENS) – Demonstrators calling for “Climate Justice Now” interrupted climate negotiations today in Durban on what was to have been the last official day of the annual United Nations climate conference as agreement contined to elude negotiators.

After government delegates from around the world talked without resolution until nearly midnight, officials called it a night and decided to reconvene for further talks at 10:00 am Saturday morning.

Head of the U.S. delegation to Durban Todd Stern, left, with China’s head of delegation, Xie Zhenhua. (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

A special type of meeting indigenous to Southern Africa, known as an Indaba, is continuing until 4:00 am to resolve outstanding issues. At an Indaba, everyone has a voice and there is an attempt to find common ground.

Conference President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane(Photo courtesy ENB)

Conference President, South African Foreign Affairs Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said, “The Parties are engaging genuinely and working very hard to ensure that agreement is reached on the matters before the conference. Parties are looking at convergences, guided by trust and a spirit of give-and-take.”

The Parties are considering their options “in relation to the issue of the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol and future process” as well as long-term finance “with specific reference to the operationalization of the Green Climate Fund,” she said.

“Parties are expressing the hope that the Green Climate Fund can be launched here in Durban,” she said of the multi-billion dollar fund to help developing countries cope with climate impacts agreed in principle at last year’s UN climate conference in Cancun, Mexico.

“The various groups, including the Association of Small Island States, the Least Developed Countries, the European Union and the Africa Group are moving towards common ground on various aspects of the negotiations. Other parties are coming on board. Despite these positive sentiments, we are still not there yet,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

Protesters block the halls at the Durban International Conference Center, December 9, 2011 (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

Meanwhile, civil society activists erupted in protest this afternoon, blocking the plenary halls and bursting into chants of “Climate Justice Now!” “Don’t Kill Africa!” “World Bank out of Climate Finance,” “No Carbon Trading,” and “No REDD!”

When UN Security began to remove the activists, Anne Petermann, executive director of the Vermont-based Global Justice Ecology Project, sat down. When she was asked to leave willingly, she refused to comply. While others were escorted out, Petermann refused to go, until she was lifted into a wheelchair, and rolled out of the conference center.

Petermann sent a statement to a press conference held by Climate Justice Now!, a coalition she co-founded in 2007.

“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,” Petermann said using language of the Occupy Movement.

“If meaningful action on climate change is to happen, it will need to happen from the bottom up,” she said. “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.”

Anne Petermann of the Global Justice Ecology Project (Photo courtesy Global Forest Coalition)
Journalist Rana Karuna of Mauritius on the beach in Durban (Photo byChangeandSwitch)

Also removed from the hall was Karuna Rana, a young woman from Mauritius, who refused to leave willingly. Rana is in Durban with a group of young journalists called Speak Your Mind.

Standing with Petermann in the rain at “Speaker’s Corner,” the Occupy site outside the Conference Center, Rana said, “I went to the protest action to take a picture, but I got emotionally empowered and I started to take part. I am the only young Mauritian here, so I found it my responsibility to speak on behalf of Mauritius, of small islands, and of global youth.”

“I’m scared for my future. Mauritius is a small island state and it’s terribly unfair to have no voice in this process,” said Rana. “If I did not take a stand, my voice would not have reached the negotiators.”

Desmond D’Sa, of South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, who also was expelled, said, “We cannot wait for 2020, as that will result in millions being displaced or dying in poverty due to extreme climatic conditions.”

Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director, and other Greenpeacers also were escorted out after the protest action inside the International Conference Center.

A South African human rights activist among those who battled apartheid and won, Naidoo wrote online today in an open letter to climate negotiators, “Now, twenty years after our victory, in the remaining hours of the Durban climate talks, with great urgency we call for a similar breakthrough – one as unexpected, as deserved and as vital as South Africa’s transition to democracy.”

Kumi Naidoo, head of Greenpeace International, second from right, and other protesters are removed from the conference center by UN security, December 9, 2011 (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin)

“You may not have felt it inside the rarefied air-conditioned corridors of the conference centre, but a restless anger stalks this land – an anger driven by a new apartheid that has trapped close to half of humanity in a deadly embrace of poverty, inequality and hunger,” wrote Naidoo.

“Our institutions – local, national and global, across public and private sectors – are rapidly losing legitimacy,” Naidoo wrote. “A mistrust that is driven by the human greed of a minority has plundered the hopes and aspirations of the majority. People sense it at a visceral level, this year alone it has toppled dictators, and someday soon – perhaps not this year or the next, but someday soon – the victims of rising temperatures will similarly find their voice.

“Your job is to meet their hopes before you meet their anger.”

Mike Ballile of Greenpeace International was also escorted out of the conference center. Ballile wrote online just after 11 pm, “We were told our chants of “2020 too late,” could be heard as the lame U.S. proposal for implementation after 2020 was rejected. We wanted vulnerable countries to know that we support their fight, and climate laggards to feel a little more pressure and from what we hear that’s exactly what happened.”

“The peaceful protest carried on until we were removed by UN police, de-badged, and escorted out the ICC,” wrote Ballile. “I walked out with other young people from Egypt, the Maldives and South Africa, and we were happy to have taken a stand and raised our voices to the injustice we had witnessed.”

Hopes for a fair deal in Durban are sinking, said Ballile. “But for a few hours this afternoon, in the heart of the conference centre, the governments were forced to listen to the people and not the polluters and our message was clear: act on climate change now!”

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Global Justice Ecology Project Director Anne Petermann Ejected from COP17

Delegates from Mauritius, South Africa, and Elsewhere Expelled as Well

GJEP's Anne Petermann (right) and GEAR's Keith Brunner (both sitting) before their forced removal. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

December 9, 2011, Durban, South Africa – Civil society activists erupted into protest in the halls of the UN Climate Summit this afternoon, blocking the plenary halls and bursting into chants of “Climate Justice Now!”, “Don’t Kill Africa!”, “World Bank out of Climate Finance, “No Carbon Trading,” and “No REDD!” When UN Security began to remove the activists, Anne Petermann, Executive Director of GJEP, sat down. When she was asked to leave willingly, she refused to comply. While others were escorted out, Petermann, and GEAR’s Keith Brunner refused to go.  Brunner was carried out and Petermann was lifted into a wheelchair, and rolled out of the Conference Center.

Close by was Karuna Rana, a 23 year-old woman from Mauritius, who similarly refused to comply.

Crowd scene in the hallway. Photo: Langelle

Petermann sent the following statement to a press conference held by Climate Justice Now!, a coalition co-founded  in 2007 by Petermann and GJEP:

“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.”

On hearing the news of Petermann’s expulsion, Flora Mmereki, of Botswana, who also took part in the spontaneous protest, said, “It really broke my heart seeing Anne taken out in a wheelchair, because she was acting for climate justice. It is so, so sad to see how they are treating people who stand up for humanity.”

Karuna Rana, at the action earlier in the day. Photo: Langelle

Karuna Rana, of Mauritius, is in Durban with a group of young journalists called Speak Your Mind. Runa, standing with Petermann in the rain at “Speaker’s Corner,” the Occupy site outside the Conference Center, explained her motivation: “I went to the protest action to take a picture, but I got emotionally empowered and I started to take part. I am the only young Mauritian here, so I found it my responsibility to speak on behalf of Mauritius, of small islands, and of global youth. I’m scared for my future. Mauritius is a small island state and it’s terribly unfair to have no voice in this process. If I did not take a stand, my voice would not have reached the negotiators.”

Petermann said, “We willingly took this action that cost us our credentials because we know that the only time to act is now. We hope that our refusal to move – our refusal to comply with the bankrupt UNFCCC process – will inspire others to take action in support of a new world – a transformed world that will be rooted in justice and in harmony with the earth.”

Emotions were high during the protest. Photo: Langelle

Petermann will sit out the rest of COP17 at the Speakers’ Corner, as global decision-makers come to the most likely outcome of these negotiations: a new non-binding legal framework, to begin in 2015, to begin voluntarily reducing emissions in 2020.

Local Desmond D’Sa, of South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, who was expelled as well, said, “We cannot wait for 2020, as that will result in millions being displaced or dying in poverty due to extreme climatic conditions.”

In other words, the talks have failed, the world powers are stalling for time, and the voice of civil society is locked out. Again.

Locked out, but for how long? Photo: Langelle

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