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Nov 30, 2010

Report launch: Clearing the air

by PhilLee — last modified Nov 30, 2010 12:00 AM

Today Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland launch an in-depth report about the available alternatives to carbon trading in climate change mitigation and climate finance. Marco Cadena from our Cancun delegation attended the launch.

Speaking at the launch, the report's author, Sarah-Jayne Clifton, outlined the aim of the report:


The report aims to provide real solutions for the establishment of financial framework for climate change mitigation and finance, in an attempt to allow the initiation of genuine low-carbon development in both developing and developed countries. The report analyses the different sectors involved and the provided alternatives. 


Here's a summary of the key points:


A worldwide feed-in tariff in the energy sector would bring down the costs of renewable technologies to an affordable level for everyone.  In addition to the feed-in tariff, a stronger taxation on carbon and energy would trigger energy savings. 


Instead of large-scale industrial agriculture, an expansion of small-scale sustainable farming would lead to emission cuts on a broad level. This would also a tackling of the increasing global demand for large-scale agriculture with particular attention given to the meat and dairy industries

A broad global agreement on universal standards within the heavy industry sector would be the very first step in applying the best technology available worldwide. 


Actions taken in tackling emissions from deforestation and forest degradation need to be monitored and measured to address the main collective issues and to achieve a just solution across the board. This also calls for the protection of the rights of the local communities and the expansion of community forest management. 


Real solutions for climate finance 

A Taxation placed on all international transactions of leading financial institutions and corporations would provide extra income, and would have no financial effect on the general public. 


A Carbon and energy tax would generate $200bn from which climate finance could be easily funded.  The fossil-fuel subsidies are around $700bn per year, worldwide. The producer subsidies consist mostly of funding from Northern governments to fossil-fuel producing companies. The redirection of this money to climate finance would have minimal affect on the citizens in developed countries. 


Later in the evening there was a side event to discuss the report. Several representives from Friends of the Earth member groups were there to share their thoughts and take question. 


The people included Ricardo Navarro from El Salvador; Siziwe Khanyile from South Africa; Samuel Nnah Ndobe from Cameroon; Karen Orenstein from the USA; and the report's author, Sarah-Jayne Clifton from England.  


During the event delegates from developing countries were able to voice their concern regarding the efforts that are being made in pushing the World Bank's lead on handling climate finance for mitigation. 


Members of the panel outlined that previous experience has shown that the World Bank is an unreliable institution, who continue to invest in fossil-fuels which are affecting the natural environment and local communities. 


Siziwe Khanyile pointed out that the World Bank lent almost $4bn to South Africa for coal-fired power station development. Only 1% of this funding was actually spent on renewable energy projects. This example clearly shows that the World Bank lacks experience and sound judgement in promoting funding for development of a low-carbon economy. 


Samuel Nnah Ndobe highlighted the problems associated with the UN REDD programme. In his summary, he states that through the REDD scheme forests will become cheap commodities. To date UN REDD is the biggest forest protection program, however Indigenous communities and developing countries are not necessarily benefiting from it.  


Samuel added: "The debate shifted from climate change to financial mechanisms, which through carbon trading would create the possibility for the continuation of carbon-dioxide emissions and dependency on fossil-fuels." 


Sarah-Jayne Clifton gave a briefing providing a more in-depth look at carbon trading. Clifton outlines that trading with carbon emission credits is not helping to tackle climate change at all, as it provides nothing but a shelter in which industrialized countries can aviod responsibility. 


Sarah-Jayne pointed out that only developed countries benefit form the current carbon trading scheme and that there needs to be solutions implemented that are beneficial for everyone. Moreover, a market based on speculation does not provide a secure alternative to fossil-fuel dependency and it does not provide incentives to reduce emissions in developed countries. 


In conclusion, Sarah-Jayne confirmed the report provides real solutions to climate finance, that will allow both the developed and developing world to implement just and transparent solutions for the procurement of the necessary climate funds. 


Read the report: clearing the air

Cocooned in Cancun

by PhilLee — last modified Nov 30, 2010 12:02 PM

Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International, is observing the UN climate talks in Cancun. Here he sets out the current state of play in the talks and outlines what we can expect. The prognosis is not good, but, there will be plenty of mobilisations and civil society scrutiny to remind the delegates that only a fair and just agreement will do.

un climate talks cancun entranceIt took a whole two hours of crawling on an express-way jammed by cars, buses and trucks heading to the Cancunmesse, a centre where delegates are screened before being ferried another 20-30 minutes to the Moon Palace - the venue of the talks.


For those who have visited this city, the location of the venue is rather isolated from the main city and may well have been selected for this reason. The routes are lined with armed police, including some on vehicles mounted with machine guns. The picture one comes off with is that of security overkill.


While welcoming delegates to the conference of the parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), president Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa of Mexico stated that the world must embark on the pursuit of “green development” and “green economy” as the path to sustainable development.


The president also stated that some of the steps to be taken to attain this ideal include progress on the negotiations on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) as well as development of technologies to reduce fuel emissions. Another key point was that the financing of sustainable development should start with support for the poorest and the most vulnerable countries.


These were nice words. These were also very contentious ideas. There are several red flags and concerns about REDD by indigenous groups and forest dependent peoples as well as mass social movements across the world. The idea of canvassing the extension of financial assistance to the poorest and the most vulnerable countries is also seen by critics as a possible way dividing those same nations and making them pliable to suggestions and decisions that may actually be contrary to their best interests.


another copenhagen?

Even before the Cancun conference opened there were concerns that efforts may already be afoot to rig the outcome, as was the case in Copenhagen in 2009. One concern is about a text for negotiation that is emanating from the chair of one of the working groups through an un-transparent process. Another concern has arisen from a decision of the Mexican president to invite selected heads of states to the conference. The list is not openly available, but already it is becoming clear that some uninvited presidents intend to be in Cancun.


The Copenhagen conference began and ended under a cloud of doubts and perceived undemocratic actions. At that meeting many delegations from developing and vulnerable nations believed that drafts of what would be the final outcome document were being discussed and circulated within privileged circles away from the standard practice where such negotiations took place on the open conference floor. 


Many delegates in Cancun hope that the conference will take a transparent pathway. In Copenhagen there was a steady flow of leaked documents allegedly prepared by the president of the COP. Already in Cancun there are concerns over draft text prepared by the chair of the ad hoc working group on Long-term Cooperative Action (LCA) without due mandate of the working group. The other major working group under the COP is the one that deals with the Kyoto Protocol and another text is being expected from the chair of that working group also possibly without a mandate from the working group.


asad rehman cancunthe copenhagen accord and the peoples agreement

The year between conferences is spent on technical negotiations and preparations during which delegations review texts prepared by chairpersons of the working groups on the basis of the submissions made by the delegations or members. 


The document produced by the chair of the LCA appears to be something quite at variance with what many delegates expected would be the outcome of the negotiations and work done since Copenhagen. The document that delegates are to debate is allegedly based on the "Copenhagen Accord" which some delegates insist was not an agreement at the end of COP15, but was merely taken note of by that conference. Questions are being asked why such a document would now be legitimised and made the foundation for serious negotiations expected to produce a fair and ambitious agreement at the end of the conference in Cancun?  


After the Copenhagen conference ended without an agreement, the government of Bolivia hosted a first ever World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba in April 2010. The outcome of that conference was the Peoples Agreement that the government of Bolivia then articulated into a formal submission to the UNFCCC as well as the Secretary General of the United Nations.


The essential fault line between those following the path crafted by the Copenhagen Accord and those who do not accept it as the way towards a fair agreement that recognises the principle of common and differentiated responsibilities are quite serious and the resolution has deep consequences for the future of our planet and the species that inhabit it, including humankind. 


weak targets and small change

The draft text circulated by the chair of the LCA puts forward the ambition that may lead to an aggregate global temperature increase of up to 2°C as opposed to proposals made by a number of delegations that the target should be between a 1° and 1.5° temperature rise above pre-industrial levels. A 2°C temperature increase would mean catastrophic alteration to some parts of the world, with Africa being particularly vulnerable.


The text in question has also disregarded the demand by vulnerable nations that to ensure urgent and robust technology transfer for the purpose of mitigation and adaptation such transfers should not be governed by subsisting intellectual property rights regimes.


Another sore point in the text is that the financial commitment proposed does not step up to the level of ambition needed to tackle the climate crisis and is even less serious than what was suggested by the so-called Copenhagen Accord.


A coalition of civil society groups complained about the text from the chair of the LCA and also raised concerns about “the Kyoto Protocol negotiations, where the Chair of that track intends to propose his own text that will postpone adoption of legally binding emission reductions targets by the developed countries in Cancun, risks the expansion of accounting loopholes and replaces a legally-binding system with a voluntary pledge-based approach reflected in the Copenhagen Accord.”


meena raman cancunholding on to hope

The immediate past chair of the COP in her final statement indicated that the conference must move in a way that would show that Cancun can deliver a good outcome for tackling climate change.


Papua New Guinea suggested in a first statement at this conference that where there is no consensus, decision should be made by voting. He referred to the rejection of the Copenhagen Accord at COP15 and subsequent signing on by 140 countries. The delegates take was that only a small minority of states were holding others hostage. Papua New Guinea pledged cooperation and reasonableness in the COP. The suggestion by Papua New Guinea was promptly opposed by Bolivia, India and Saudi Arabia among other states. They insisted that that consensus must be maintained as a way to reach decisions.


Besides the crawl to the COP and the fact that getting to the different venues for the side events as well as the mobilisation and civil society spaces could mean a full day travelling, one hopes that the debates will be robust. That is one of the three things that will make being cocooned in Cancun bearable. The other is the exciting camaraderie of being among great Friends of the Earth International folks. And thirdly the first day of a two-week conference is not the appropriate day to lose all hope.


Photos: The entrance to the Moon Palace where the talks will take place; Asad Rehman, climate campaigner at the FoEI delegation meeting; Meena Raman climate campaigner at the FoEI delegation meeting. Copyright: Friends of the Earth International/Sheila Menon

Nov 25, 2010

Commodifying nature in an age of climate change

by PhilLee — last modified Nov 25, 2010 04:17 PM

A few days before the UN climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International, writes about the carbon speculators who will be there hyping the utility of the carbon market as a means of fighting climate change through offsetting rather than taking real drastic action. We will be there to drown out the hype with the message of climate justice.

For about two weeks, starting from next Monday, the world will be locked into another session of negotiations on how to tackle climate change. The conference, to be held in Cancun, Mexico, has drawn less excitement than its predecessor held in Copenhagen, Denmark, a year ago.


The excitement of Copenhagen was partly driven by the false information that circulated that the Kyoto Protocol was ending at that meeting. Though there were serious, but failed efforts, made at that conference to lay the protocol to rest, its first period actually ends in 2012, while a second commitment period will be entered into as soon as the first period elapses.


But why would anyone want to kill the protocol and why should it be sustained? The Kyoto Protocol is seen by some as the only legally binding instrument to which the industrialised and highly polluting nations can be made to commit to cutting emissions at source. From this perspective, when countries fight to abolish the protocol, they are simply trying to avoid making any real commitment to tackling climate change.


leave it to the market?

offsetting magic trickOne problem with the workings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the ongoing negotiations is that it bases a chunk of its reasoning and framings on the market logic. This follows the path created by the mindset that has built a vicious paradigm of disaster capitalism, in which tragedy is seen as opportunity for profit. What do we mean by this?


Rather than take steps to curtail emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming, some people are busy devising ways of making every item of nature a commodity placed at the altar of the market. Through this, everything is being assigned a value and many others are privatised in addition.


What makes this offensive is firstly that you cannot place a price on nature, on life. Secondly, speculators are hyping the utility of the carbon market as a means of fighting climate change. Some of the ways this manifests is through the carbon offsetting projects by which polluters in the industrialised countries continue to pollute, on the calculation that their emissions are being compensated for elsewhere.


As Friends of the Earth International stated in a recent media advisory, “Carbon trading does not lead to real emissions reductions. It is a dangerous distraction from real action to address the structural causes of climate change, such as over-consumption. Developed countries should radically cut their carbon emissions through real change at home, not by buying offsets from other countries. Carbon offsetting has no benefits for the climate or for developing countries - it only benefits developed countries, private investors, and major polluters who want to continue business as usual.”


Cancun will obviously be crawling with carbon speculators and traders, as was the case in Copenhagen. And they have good reasons to be there. They will be there because policy makers on both sides of the divide see benefits in the schemes, even though the so-called benefits are pecuniary and are actually harmful to Mother Earth. But as far as the money enters the pockets of some poor countries, the rich countries can go on polluting, having paid their "penance."


Not just money alone

wb get out from our forestsThe world appears deaf to the need for real actions to curb climate change, and the focus remains on money. In fact, while many of the items of the Cancun agenda have stalled, with regard to reduction of carbon emissions in the industralised nations, there is no shortage of proposals on how carbon markets can be brought in to give appearance of action.


Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) is one of such schemes in the scheme. Quick progress is being made on REDD and already, talks are advancing on other variants of the scheme. Indigenous and forest community people are opposed to REDD and object to its implementation, as attention is being focused on forests merely as carbon stocks for mercantile purposes. Significantly, many see REDD as not seeking to stop deforestation, but merely to reduce it.


It is also argued that that any reduced deforestation may not be sustained, as deforesters may just shift to another forest or zone to continue with their activities. In other words, REDD is a pretty fiction that may pump money into the pockets of some countries and corporations, but will marginalise forest peoples and will not help to fight climate change. The attraction, as critics have said, is that if this mechanism is linked to the carbon market, it will allow developed countries pay money to REDD-projects that preserve forests in developing countries, and in return receive carbon credits - buying the right to pollute.


There will also be strident rejection of any role at all for the World Bank in the climate finance architecture that may be devised in Cancun.


The atmosphere is set for a somber, winding series of negotiations. However, social movements and other civil society groups are set to push up the voices of the people, as already broadly articulated in the Peoples Agreement, reached at the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth held in April 2010 at Cochabamba, Bolivia.


The environmental justice movement that took first serious steps in Copenhagen is sure to take firmer steps on the streets of Cancun and in thousands of Cancuns being planned for a multitude of locations around the world.


The message in Cancun, if we must expect motions towards real actions to tackle climate change, is that governments must pay attention to what the people are saying, to the real challenges faced by vulnerable peoples around the world, and not lend their ears to carbon speculators.


Find out more about what we're calling for in Cancun

The problems of corporate lobbying in the EU and how you can help fix it - today!

by PhilLee — last modified Nov 25, 2010 01:41 PM

Time is running out to vote in the Worst EU lobbying award. Sam Fleet from Friends of the Earth Europe explains why we need your help.

Two major issues marked 2009 and 2010: the financial crisis and the climate crisis. On both fronts corporate lobbying directed to EU decision-makers – in the European Parliament and Commission, but also in national Member States – has been as intense as it was successful. 



The failure of the Copenhagen talks on the one hand, and the lack of strong reforms on the financial markets on the other hand, have demonstrated the strength and the powerful strategies of business when it comes to for-profit lobbying at the expense of more climate- and consumer-friendly regulation. Already, millions of people worldwide are suffering from the consequences. Big business has been profiting at the expense of both people and planet.


That is why this year’s Worst EU Lobbying Awards has a twofold focus: climate and finance. The awards aim to expose and counter the dirty lobbying tactics related to climate change policies and financial regulation in order to make the big business lobby less credible among EU decision-making circles, and to tackle the problem of privileged access to EU decision-makers that these underhand tactics have granted big business.  


However, you can help fix the lobbying mess in the EU! By voting for the worst lobbyists, and sending a message to the European Commissioner in charge of transparency, you are strengthening our campaign for transparent lobbying and the end of privileged access. Not only are you taking part in a massive "name and shame" exercise of the nominees shortlisted this year, but you are also signalling EU decision-makers that they need to take responsibility for the privileged access they allow big business for. Therefore your support is essential! We need your voice to put this message in the priority in-tray of the European Commission.


Time is running out! Voting closes on 26 November! Vote and make a difference!


Find out more about the nominees and cast your vote!

Nov 10, 2010


by PhilLee — last modified Nov 10, 2010 03:44 PM
Filed Under:

The detention and deportation of Filipino activists from Seoul and the harassment and intimidation of a number of other activists at the hands of Korean immigration authorities are manifestations of the undemocratic and anti-people nature of the G20 and further exposed the illegitimacy of this group of self-proclaimed caretakers of the global economy.

The protests and mobilizations in Korea of tens of thousands of people in clear defiance of the Korean governments security measures, is an indication of a clear disconnect between the agenda of the governments of the G20 countries and the interests and aspirations of their people.


The G20 Summit in Korea was supposed to address the issue of the growing gap between the rich and the poor in the wake of the global economic crisis.  The G20’s prescriptions for economic recovery and development, however, anchored on the perpetuation of a flawed corporate driven, export-oriented development model would further exacerbate poverty and inequality and undermine social cohesion across the world.


The whole point of the Peoples Conference in Korea, and the reason why the deported Filipino activists came to Korea, is to articulate the peoples’ opposition and resistance to the G20 and to collectively discuss and put forward alternatives to the failed model of development that the G20 is so desperately trying to preserve.


We say NO to the G20 and the policies that continue to threaten jobs and peoples livelihoods, and erode workers’ rights and welfare;


We say NO to the G20 and policies that cause the expulsion and repatriation of migrants in the name of restrictive and Draconian migration policies and rules;


We say NO to the G20 and the policies that use women as safety nets in crisis, and is blind to the differential decision-making powers in the household and economy in general;


We speak out against the free trade agenda and the push of the G20 governments for more ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreements disguised as economic partnerships but are really instruments of economic domination and control by the rich over the poor within and across countries and regions;


We speak out against the development agenda of the G20 which threatens peoples’ right to food, destroys the environment, and perpetuates unequal access and control over natural resources in support of the profit-driven motives of corporations;


We say NO to the G20. It does not represent the interests of the peoples of the world and it cannot speak on our behalf.


We call on the peoples of the world to come together against the G20 and to intensify the struggle for a better and more just and peaceful world.




Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)

Aniban mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura

Asia-Pacific Network on Food Sovereignty

Ban Toxics!

Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)

Ecological Society of the Philippines (ESP)

Greenresearch Environmental Research Group

Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy

Focus on the Global South

Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)

Friends of the Earth International 
Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific

Jubilee South – APMDD


Kilusang Mangingisda

Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center

Migrants Forum for Asia (MFA)

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ)

Task Force Food Sovereignty (TFFS)

Third World Network

World March of Women - Pilipinas