messages of solidarity
Dec 08, 2009
The ice is melting - literally. Sam Fleet began day one of the COP in the Bella Center where the official negotiations are taking place.
The day began at 06:30; a rushed breakfast followed by a crowded metro. We arrived at the Bella center to find Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) had installed a melting ice sculpture of the Mermaid statue, calling for climate justice at the entrance.
The atmosphere inside the centre was intense, and one of excitement. It was a huge transformation from the empty atrium I had seen the night before, into something akin to a train station at rush hour. It was entirely possible to spend the day exhausting yourself running around like a headless chicken, rushing from one spot to the next, without achieving anything.
The communications and media teamed discussed their strategy, although judging from the huge number of journalists and camera crews marching around the centre, it seemed there would be no difficulty getting coverage; we just had to provide the spokespeople – something FoEI has no shortage of, representing 77 countries.
I left after lunch in order to head to the Klimaforum – the global civil society counterpart of the official UN conference in the Bella Centre – where the second half of the FoEI communications team were based.
After a brief unintended detour through the centre of Copenhagen, past the Hopenhagen concert arena – a huge corporate sponsored initiative – I arrived at the Klimaform just in time to help out and take pictures at the FoEI opening press conference, with our chair, Nnimmo Bassey.
Nnimmo was then rushed in front of Associated Press, and German, Danish and Swedish TV channels, before taking the stage at the opening event for the Klimaforum. I passed through, en-route to a coordination meeting to watch the Danish Chime Transform - Lisbeth Diers playing on instruments sculpted out of ice. An enchanting performance, compounded by the fact, that near the end of the show, whether by design, or accident, the instruments began to shatter in the musician’s hands – melting under the hot stage lights.
A simple message: climate change waits for no-one. Act Now!
The waiting is over. Yesterday was the first day of the Copenhagen climate summit and the Klimaforum - the people's climate summit. Our first posting is from the Klimaforum where I spent the day.
The official launch of the Klimaforum took place in the evening with music and speeches from Henry Saragih, general coordinator of Via Campesina, Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International and Naomi Klein.
Nnimmo called for an end to backroom deals in the Bella Center - the venue of COP15 - and urged the delegates to listen to the voices coming from the people's summit.
The Kilmaforum was for "real people, talking about real problems, getting together to create movements and share the real solutions to climate change" he said.
On carbon offsetting he issued a red card to REDD, the carbon offsetting mechanism supported by many industrialised countries.
He finished his speech by calling on the audience to join him in one of his chants: "Keep the oil in the soil, keep the coal in the hole, keep the tar sands in the sand." Warmed up with Organic beer the audience were happy to oblige.
Following on from Nnimmo Naomi Klein the Canadian author of No Logo and the Shock Doctrine took to the stage and stated that “There is a difference between a deal and success and Klimaforum09 needs to be the lie detector when the politicians come out with a deal.”
This chimes exactly with Friends of the Earth International's demand that a deal is not what we're after it's a just climate agreement. This means emission cuts in developed countries, and money for developing countries to grow cleanly and adapt to the effects of climate change – but it also means a change in our consumption patterns.
As Naomi Klein put it, "Klimaforum is not about giving charity to the developing world it's about taking responsibility and the industrialised countries cleaning up our own mess.
Elizabeth Bast from Friends of the Earth US rounds up day one of the climate negotiations.
Dec 07, 2009
Naomi Klein praises the work of the climate justice movement and urges everyone not to leave the climate up to developed countries and corporations.
Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International and Henry Saragih, General Coordinator of Via Campesina speak at a press conference at the Klimaforum - the alternative climate summit - outlining their hopes for the two weeks.
Take action with Friends of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland by calling on the UK climate secretary to sign up to the right agreement in Copenhagen.
Call on him to sign up to:
- Emissions cuts of at least 40% by 2020 on 1990 levels for all developed countries.
- A new financial mechanism to support developing countries in tackling climate change.
- Offsetting to be scrapped - including the the use of carbon trading in tackling deforestation. Offsetting is unjust and fundamentally flawed.
Take action now!
On Sunday 7 December the Friends of the Earth International delegation to the climate negotiations met in person for the first time these two weeks to discuss our strategies and get to know each other.
Attended by campaigners, communicators, coordinators and Young Friends of the Earth Europe it was great to finally have everyone in the same place and put faces to names - over the last year we've had numerous phone conferences and exchanged hundreds of emails.
The day began with an introduction from Nnimmo Bassey the Chair of Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) giving one of his motivational speeches that never fails to inspire whilst at the same time putting a smile on every face.
Then it was the turn of some of FoEI's wisest climate minds to give their take on the critical negotiations ahead.
Meena Raman from Friends of the Earth Malaysia talked about the sky grab
that is taking place by developed countries and the Bolivia delegation's recent assertion that there is "little atmospheric space left for developing countries".
We heard about the European Union's position and the various negotiating groups that have formed around the world - the G77, Africa, ALBA, the Umbrella group and AOSIS to name a few.
We also heard about the tactics that some countries are using to divide unified groups by offering bi-lateral deals rather than dealing with a block as a whole.
One of these strong blocks is Africa who, last month in Barcelona, refused to continue formal discussions about offsetting and insisted that the talks focus on real carbon-reduction targets for rich countries.
Finally Kate Horner from Friends of the Earth United States assessed the US position. Asked whether the arrival of President Obama to the talks was a positive step, she expressed concern that in an effort to stay on the right side of the charismatic President some countries may make concessions that would not be in the interests of the kind of agreement developing countries need.
It was a lot to take on board but the overall message was simple, a just agreement will be difficult to secure but is not impossible.
young friends of the earth just keep on going
During lunch, Young Friends of the Earth Europe (YFoEE), never ones to put their feet up, carried out a teaser action in street calling on people to join the Flood for Climate Justice on Saturday 12 December.
In the afternoon we divided into smaller groups: communications,
actions and lobbying, and we discussed how we could best perform the tasks we had been assigned, which for me is communicating to You.
Just after 5pm we were done, a little tired, but raring to go for two weeks of long days and late nights certain in the knowledge that only a just agreement in Copenhagen will do.
Dec 06, 2009
Young Friends of the Earth Europe carried out their first 'teaser' action in Copenhagen. On a chilly Sunday lunchtime they gathered outside the venue of the alternative climate summit - the Klimaforum - and called on people to join them in the Flood for Climate Justice on Saturday 12th December.
Sam Fleet from Friends of the Earth Europe reports on an entertaining journey to the Danish capital all powered by renewable energy, champagne and jazz.
At 08:00 on Friday morning my colleague and I found ourselves in the waiting room for the Climate Express from Brussels to Copenhagen. We were to be ‘eco-passengers’ on the Train to Copenhagen, and would travel direct, powered from renewable sources, with a plethora of events to entertain us en-route, before arriving in Copenhagen 14 hours later.
After dodging the camera crews, we settled into our seats, and prepared flyers and posters for the Friends of the Earth International ‘Flood for Climate Justice’ to spread around the train. I joined the champagne breakfast, accompanied by jazz, in the dimly lit dining car, as the train sped past the still, grey, sleepy Belgian countryside. During the day, a range of talks and presentations across two carriages would cover a range of topics, from climate science to urban transportation, and would continue right up until arrival in Copenhagen at 23:00.
The Climate Express was not as fast as the name implied: train-spotters in Aachen took the opportunity to film the unique Climate Express as it stopped to give way to numerous freight trains.
I photographed Tom Picken, the international climate campaigner from Friends of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland, as he handed over our 40% study, showing that 40% emission cuts are possible in Europe, to the CEO of Eurostar, Richard Brown.
what are we doing in Copenhagen?
The majority of MEPs disembarked in Köln to return to Brussels, and were replaced by more passengers for the stretch to Copenhagen. The media moved from the front of the train to the rear to get a different perspective and the FoEE representatives found themselves in front of an Italian camera crew. The question being asked from the crew was simply, “What will you be doing in Copenhagen?”
Tom provided a sane and sober response – urgent and deep emission cuts for developed countries, without offsetting; money for developing countries to adapt to the effects of climate change; forests out of carbon markets; public money to fight climate change through the UNFCCC, not the World Bank.
When they unexpectedly turned the camera on me, they received a mumbled, embarrassed and red-faced “demand climate justice”, which will no doubt be edited out. A good reason for all those in the FoEI delegation to familiarize themselves with the official FoEI messages and keep their cool in front of the cameras!
The Climate Express took on a very relaxed atmosphere towards the end of the journey, with the media circus calming down, and those remaining on the train until Copenhagen taking what would probably be the last chance for an evening nap. The same Italian TV crew from earlier debated whether the organic tagliatelle to be served for dinner would have been cooked since Köln, and therefore be well past its best – which was thankfully not the case.
My second embarrassing media interview commenced immediately after stepping out of the train into the Copenhagen drizzle, when a Japanese camera crew filmed me holding the ‘seal the deal’ bag that we had all been given on boarding. I tried to convince them that climate justice was more important than just any old deal, but it was lost on them.
For the rest of the COP I will try and stay behind the camera. Blogging is more my thing.
If you want to read our Copenhagen demands you can do so here.
Dec 03, 2009
As world leaders meet in Copenhagen to discuss efforts to tackle global warming, we will be there calling on the rich industrialised countries to agree to urgent and dramatic cuts in their emissions right NOW.
Members of Friends of the Earth International will be in Copenhagen blogging right here on the many events taking place; from the UN negotiations in the Bella Center to the civil society event, the KlimaForum, where the people most affected by climate change will have a voice.
Outside there will be many peaceful demonstrations taking place including the Flood for climate justice where thousands of people are expected to flood through the streets of Copenhagen calling for a just climate agreement.
Also on this site you will find our latest press releases; publications; and the climate capsule where, in words, video and photos, people tell the world why they want a just agreement in Copenhagen.
Elsewhere you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter and view the latest photos on Flickr.
For the general Copenhagen index page click here
See you back here soon.
Dec 02, 2009
Hemantha Withanage a senior environmental scientist and the executive director of the Centre for Environmental Justice / Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka gives his response to the question in his latest blog entry.
Climate change is very high in the global political agenda at the moment. 15th Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol will begin on December 7th, 2009 in Copenhagen. COP 15 will be a very crucial event in the history of human race. However, we cannot have much hope since the developed countries so far very hesitant to accept their historical responsibility to the climate change and enter to a genuine deal...
Nov 24, 2009
Friends of the Earth Denmark are preparing the Danish public for the Flood for Climate Justice march that will take place in Copenhagen on Saturday 12 December.
Watch the video and get involved
Nov 09, 2009
Young Friends of the Earth Europe assesses the performance of leaders at the Barcelona climate talks in the form of a school report and highlights which countries need to pull their socks up.
Nov 03, 2009
African negotiators at the UN climate talks in Barcelona have refused to continue formal discussions about all other issues and are insisting instead that the talks focus on real carbon-reduction targets for rich countries.
Today in solidarity with Africa Friends of the Earth International held an action in support of African delegates’ insistence that developed countries commit to new, strong binding targets. Delegates and observers were invited to join a human shield against the killing of Kyoto targets and instead urged to promote at least 40% emission reductions with no offsets by 2020.
Kamese Geoffrey of NAPE/ Friends of the Earth Uganda warned:
"Rich countries are attempting to dodge their legal and moral responsibilities to reduce emissions. Developing countries and communities have historically had practically no fault in the creation of climate change, yet they will be the first to face the devastating impacts of climate change."
Millions of people are already being affected by climate change impacts such as floods and droughts.
Line Kirk of Young Friends of the Earth said:
"The world needs those responsible for climate change legally bound to act. Rich industrialised (Annex I) countries are proposing the replacement of a legally binding instrument with a voluntary pledge system, which will almost certainly spell disaster for the planet and all people. We demand our future is secured through strong new targets for rich countries - without offsetting - under the Kyoto Protocol."
Young Friends of the Earth Europe are also in Barcelona. Read their blog here
Oct 09, 2009
Today is the last day of the Bangkok climate talks. However, in two weeks of negotiations there has been very little discussion on some of the key political issues that are necessary to ensure that we have a just climate change agreement in Copenhagen. Steph Long, one of FoEI's Climate Coordinators, explains.
It's been a fairly acrimonious two weeks with possibly the highest level of mistrust and tension between negotiating parties in recent years.
In the past two weeks there has been a notable display of innovation: though not at all of the kind of innovation we need, such as declarations to keep the oil in the soil, the coal in the hole and the tar sands in the land - but innovative redefinition of what it means to be historically responsible for climate change.
In attempts to get the US into the climate agreement, developed countries are proposing to junk the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (the only international legally binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions) and arguing that this is the only way to get an effective action on climate change.
After South Africa proposed a means to limit the amount of offsetting that developed countries could use in meeting emissions reduction targets, the New Zealand government was quoted as saying "but if we put limits on offsetting, we would have to move our target to zero".
developed vs developing
A member of the Australian government delegation proposed that we "smooth over" the distinction between developed and developing countries.
After fielding critical questions about the USA government's refusal to enter into an agreement with stringent international compliance; one of their lead negotiators responded with "China has not agreed to any international compliance in last 20 years." [there is the minor level of compliance required in TRIPS and trade agreements for one....]
Developing countries have offered sharp retorts to developed country proposals which also deserve recognition:
In response to developed countries proposals to expand offset markets, the
government of Venezuela on behalf of several Latin American countries
responded "It is simply unfair, unreasonable and unhelpful to hide the conflicting economic interests of developed countries behind efforts to reenact olden days 'land- grabs' by modern days 'sky-grabs'."
In response to developed countries refusal to accept proposals that will required them to finance the mitigation, adaptation and technology transfer needs of developing countries, through new democratic financial institutions rather than the World Bank; the government of Philippines on behalf of the G77+China offered developing countries "Capacity building on how to fulfil Convention obligations."
So, one of the inspiration outcomes of the Bangkok climate talks is the force with which developing countries are refusing to accept the backtracking of developed countries to meet their legal and historical obligations.
Next stop Barcelona. Find out more.
Oct 08, 2009
International climate change negotiations are underway in Bangkok, Thailand. Karen Orenstein and Kate Horner from Friends of the Earth US are there following the developments and reporting back.
Oct 05, 2009
Friends of the Earth International is demonstrating with thousands of Asian and international climate justice activists and representatives of affected communities in Bangkok, Thailand. Steph Long, climate coordinator, writes from Bangkok.
Our civil society debates, demonstrations and forums coincide with the UN climate talks - the fourth gathering of the year in preparation to the climate summit in Copenhagen this December.
The civil society program has included daily mobilisations demanding the repayment of the climate debt, the exclusion of the World Bank and other international financial institutions from climate finance, and the rights of indigenous peoples, fisherfolk and women to be protected.
The forums have focussed on articulating how we can achieve climate justice - real solutions to climate change that don't risk either people or the planet.
Meanwhile the official climate talks have been significantly undermined by the regressive position of wealthy industrialised countries, particularly the US, who are failing to meet their obligations to accept emissions reduction targets and financing for developing countries in line with what science requires.
This is wearing thin the patience of many developing countries who are now questioning whether an agreement in Copenhagen is possible with such limited political will of the developed countries.
Sep 29, 2009
We're delighted to announce that Nnimmo Bassey, from Friends of the Earth Nigeria, and Syeda Rizwana Hasan, from Friends of the Earth Bangladesh, have been nominated by Time magazine as heroes of the environment for 2009.
In his interview with Time magazine Nnimmo talks of how a massacre in 1990 by Nigeria's armed forces prompted him into championing the environment and rights of the people around him.
"We realized that if people don't have a safe environment to live in, then they don't have literally any other rights," he says.
He talks about the work of Friends of the Earth Nigeria in documenting the environmental abuse caused by the oil companies, his efforts to educate people on their rights and the fact that his work often puts him on a collision course with the authorities.
"Oil has been the destruction of the Nigerian economy," says Bassey. "It destroys the relation between the people and the state" he says.
Syeda Rizwana Hasan
Rizwana, who is also a member of the Friends of the Earth International board, has been nominated for her legal work in advocating for tighter regulations for the country's environmentally devastating ship-breaking industry
Ship breaking is a big employer in Bangladesh - last year over 150 ships were decommissioned - and the authorities often turn a blind out to the immense harm it causes.
Rizwana sees it differently, "It's better to be jobless than to have a job that gives you cancer" she says.
In March 2009, the Supreme Court laid down strict regulations on the industry, resulting in the closure of 36 ship breaking yards operating without environmental clearance.
The government has since appealed against the ruling but Rizwana and her team will fight on.
"I don't want the outside world to think of Bangladesh as a dumping site," she says. "It is against my dignity. It is against the dignity of my nation and the dignity of the people."
Sep 23, 2009
Friends of the Earth International statement on the return of the legitimate President of Honduras to the country.
Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) applauds the return to Honduras of its legitimate president, Manuel Zelaya, who has taken refuge in the Embassy of Brazil in Tegucigalpa. At the same time we note with grave concern the siege on the Brazilian Embassy and the increase in repression following the return of President Zelaya.
Friends of the Earth International denounces the gross human rights violations in Honduras perpetuated by the illegitimate government. This repression violates international norms and cannot be accepted under any circumstances.
The people of Honduras have stood firmly by their legitimate president and have not wavered since the day the unfortunate usurpation of power took place on 28 June 2009.
Friends of the Earth International calls on the international community to pressure the illegitimate authorities in Tegucigalpa to step aside for dialogue and for the completion of term of the legitimate president. Specifically, Friends of the Earth International calls on the Security Council of the United Nations to take immediate actions to stem the rise of violence in Honduras.
We also assure the peoples of Honduras of the continued support and solidarity of our 77 groups and 2 million members spread around the world.
Chair, Friends of the Earth International
Sep 21, 2009
On September 15 2009 millions of Hondurans took to the streets to protest against the unelected government that came to power in a coup this July. Here Juan Alemendares, director of Friends of the Earth Honduras, documents the history of his country and wonders whether Hondurans will ever be free to determine their own future.
“Have you ever been inside an empty stadium? Try it sometime. Stand in the middle of the field and listen. There is nothing emptier than an empty stadium. There is nothing more silent than the stands with nobody in them”.
For the last five centuries the West and the hegemonic power of multinational colonization have been stealing the essence of life and the aroma of our Honduran lands. They were violent centuries, with massacres of the first peoples. Centuries of immolation and lies, in the name of the cross, “the idea of civilization” and weapons. Centuries antagonistic to the dreams of Lempira, Morazán, Bolívar, Valle and Martí. Centuries of resistance in historic unity by the peoples of Our America.
We were prisoners in the mining and banana enclaves. Wealth at the expense of hunger and misery. The forests were cut down. The mahogany was used to beautify the mansions in Europe, and adorn the doors of the White House in Washington. Agribusiness, agri-combustibles and the loss of alimentary sovereignty increased the treasures of Wall Street, and international financial capital. Honduras was born during the decadence of the old world and the emergence of the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny. Invaded by marines and modern pirates, who sang in unison the chorus “In God We Trust” - in God and in the World Bank.
At the beginning of the second half of the 20th century, the 1954 banana workers' strike took place. The army, guardians of the banana plantations, controlled by the Pentagon and the CIA, put an end to the workers' movement and participated in the overthrow of the government of Jacobo Árbenz in Guatemala.
In the 80s there is a military occupation of Honduras. The principal strategist, John Dimitri Negroponte, strengthened the National Security Doctrine. The disciples of the School of the Americas put into practice the torture and physical disappearance of people with the acquiescence of the state judicial apparatus.
Since 1956 until the present century, there have been: seven military coups, signifying seven plagues against national progress. The stigmas: “Banana Republic”, “Country for Rent” have injured the national soul. They are damned names that mask a history of crime, corruption and the negation of a people that have always struggled for liberation.
At the end of the 20th century we were hit by Hurricane Mitch; made worse by transnational financial capital that bribes the powers that be, sells territory to the mining companies, textile sweatshops, banana plantations, energy plants, that increase climatic injustice and social poverty.
Over all these centuries, of coups, blows, *paquetazos and trancazos*(economic packages and beatings), to the mother and fatherland, they have accumulated and assimilated their own experiences and those of other peoples. Unity is constructed in the honey of practice of the social being and in the hell of the condemned of mother earth.
We learn to reject the lies against the people and governments of Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Venezuela, El Salvador, Nicaragua and the very government of Honduras presided over by Manuel Zelaya; because there is no bigger truth than the generous testimonies of unconditional solidarity in health, education, economy and transport; that we have received from these sister nations.
The Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) is the most concrete expression of human cooperation and fraternity in the face of the unequal trade agreements with the United States and Europe.
In the first decade of the 21st century, June 28th of 2009; the first political, economic and military coup in Latin America takes place, carried out by an armed, religious, political, ideological and media alliance of local powers in tandem with world imperialist powers.
The de facto regime celebrated its repressive power in the patriotic festivities of September 15. The festivities reminded us of our infancy when we were forced to march in the parades. As children we were dressed in uniform and transformed into “infantry”. We gathered in the stadiums to be passive, tolerant listeners to the despot of the moment. These were like religious rites, football and military rituals, with their generals, captains, bishops, reverends and chaplains and somehow a bad imitation of the carnivals of New York or California.
The lead soldiers marched, the uniformed robots without their masks of crime, the tanks and the canons burned gun powder and shot false canon balls. The speeches were rusty and cheaply patriotic. They debuted manoeuvres
in F5 planes, the parachute show of a parachute government.
The aerial noise did not scare the vultures that share the misery of the children living in the garbage, vultures that fly making fun of the war planes. It was a Neronian circus with forced students and teachers, beaten and threatened. The horses and the cavalry greeted with honors their great perfumed chiefs in ties. The popular protest could never be heard in a sports stadium empty of all popular warmth.
The National Resistance Against the Military Coup marched challenging the de facto government; rejecting the electoral farce, demanding the return to constitutional order and of president Zelaya. The popular clamor was for a Constitutional Assembly, The Second Independence, and the re-founding of the State of Honduras.
Recognition was expressed of the solidarity of all the peoples and governments, social movements, parties, ecclesiastical communities, women´s organizations, gay groups, human rights organizations, social communicators, worldwide fast, Vía Campesina, Friends of the Earth of Latin America and International Friends of the Earth.
On September 15th millions of Hondurans marched against the military political coup. The popular joy announced a dawning of justice. The hummingbirds jumped for joy and bathed in the dew of the ALBA and savored the nectar of the dreams of liberation. The march was the Biggest Embrace in History, with which the people, poets of liberty, have become poets for all the people of the world.
Tegucigalpa, September 15, 2009