messages of solidarity
Dec 08, 2010
News reports indicate World Bank President Robert Zoellick is coming to Cancun tomorrow to announce the establishment of a multi-million dollar fund to promote the creation of carbon markets in developing countries.
Friends of the Earth U.S. Climate Campaigner Karen Orenstein had the following response:
"Carbon markets are an irreparably flawed means of addressing climate change. They are unreliable and subject to fraud, and they open the door to offset loopholes that undermine environmental integrity. They expand Wall Street influence, and they further entrench the economic arrangements that facilitate the North’s over-consumption and are causing the climate crisis in the first place.
"The World Bank’s decision to establish this fund is yet another blemish on its already-soiled social and environmental record. World Bank coal funding hit a record high of $4.4 billion in 2010, and the Bank has a long history of making decisions that have had tremendously harmful impacts on poor countries.”
The World Bank carbon market fund will be discussed at the Friends of the Earth International press conference in the Moon Palace tomorrow afternoon. (It will also be available online here: http://webcast.cc2010.mx/)
On Monday December 6, Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International, was one of four people to be presented with a Right Livelihood Award in the Swedish parliament.
Dec 07, 2010
A selection of photos from Cancun; from preparing for the International Day of Climate Action to the Alternative Peoples' Summit.
Preparing for the International Day of Climate Action on December 7, 2010.
March of the Campesinos: Marching for the rights of the Indigenous Villagers.
Clima Radio: Broadcasting live directly from the peoples' alternative summit.
Indigenous Bolivians attending the alternative peoples' summit.
Members of the Friends of the Earth International delegation in Cancun have been documenting the mobilisations and interviewing our spokespeople so we can keep you informed on all the twists and turns of the talks.
Here Nnimmo explains why initiatives such as carbon offsetting should really be called 'do nothing solutions'.
Watch all of our videos here
Dec 06, 2010
On Saturday December 4, thousands of people took to the streets of London to call for a zero carbon Britain. Several well known environmental campaigners addressed the crowds including Friends of the Earth's Andy Atkins.
Dec 05, 2010
Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International, is observing the UN climate talks in Cancun. Here he assesses the first week of negotiations; from the nations clambering to reject the Kyoto Protocol to the Mexican hosts cooking up secret texts.
"With the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, emitting greenhouse gas (CHG) emissions over a set limit entails a potential cost. Conversely, emitters able to stay below their limits hold something of potential value. Thus, a new commodity has been created – emission reductions. Because carbon dioxide (CO2) is the principal greenhouse gas, people speak of trading in carbon. Carbon is now tracked and traded like any other commodity."
The above quote is taken from a publication of the UNFCCC on the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms. The publication focuses on international emissions trading, the clean development mechanism and joint implementation – all market based mechanisms set up to ostensibly help the private sector and developing countries to contribute to emissions reduction efforts.
Reflecting on the framing of the protocol one could easily reach the conclusion that there is no point seeking its continuation or validation for another commitment period. It does however appear that the world is in a tight corner right now with the crop of policy makers intent on inventing new ways of carrying on with business as usual and doing nothing concrete to fight climate change. Because the Kyoto Protocol is the only existing climate treaty that has legally binding targets inscribed by parties, many see it as better than nothing.
Could this be a case of half a loaf is better than none? Or is it the case of drowning persons hanging onto straw? You must find your answer!
The first week of the climate conference in Cancun drew to a close with no cheery news and lots to worry about. The first shocker came when Japan declared that they would not inscribe any targets in a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Let me quickly add here that the term inscribe may sound like chiselling a rock, and casting commitments in concrete, but in reality the inscriptions in the first commitment period have been promises made only to be broken. Nothing inscribed in stone or concrete.
So why are people worried? One reason could be that Japan is wishing up to what the USA knew long ago. Let us take a trip to Kyoto in 1997.
It is reported that when the protocol was being negotiated, the USA, led by Al Gore, made the inconvenient demand that carbon emissions reductions must be tackled under a framework of carbon markets. This led, rather conveniently, to the formulation of what some termed innovative ways of emissions reduction through the commodification of carbon or emissions. Did the USA sign the protocol after they got what they wanted? No. They conveniently walked away. Now we are in the inconvenient corner, pressed on every side and perching precariously on the brink of catastrophic climate change. The USA just walked away from Kyoto once they got the world on the roller coaster of carbon markets. Japan can equally walk away. So can Canada. And Australia.
The European Union says they are willing to consider either option. Wise guys. The fence could be a great place to sit, especially when the only smoke of battle is raised not by canons but by carbon trade.
The carbon market paradigm spun the so-called clean development mechanism (CDM), among others. At the Bali conference another item found its way on to the platter – Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). This quickly brought up proposals for REDD plus, REDD pluss pluss… and who knows what else is waiting in the wings. The entire idea is to find ways by which carbon can be quantified and valued wherever it can be found. So far carbon stocks in trees are valued under REDD.
Progress or regress is being made about carbon stocks in the soil, so that those who do not have forests, but presumably have lands can key in and make some bucks from the carbon beneath their feet. For those who have neither forests nor land, there is hope that they can find some carbon in the water on which they float. And if they have no forest, no land and no water they will probably have some air over their heads. The bigger the atmospheric space over your head, the bigger your chance of making a kill in the carbon equation. Probably.
There's no doubt that there may be some folks who in the future may have none of these natural assets: no forest, no water, no land, no air. This will happen when every natural thing would have been privatised. Believe me. In that case, all any one would need to tap into the carbon market will be to prove that their bodies embody some amount of carbon.
As the first week drew to a close, the rumour mill was abuzz with stories of a text being prepared by the Mexican chair of the COP to force a path for the outcome of the conference. This was the method of COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009. If the text is not a phantom, it will materialise over the weekend in time for ministers who will be arriving then to have something to chew on.
In a statement pre-empting this move, civil society advocates, including Friends of the Earth International and the Third World Network demanded, “that delegates reject any attempts to introduce such a text into the conference.”
They said so because the text would seek to replace “the aggregate global emission targets that are supposed to be negotiated under the Kyoto Protocol with the non-binding pledges of the Accord could, according to a UN analysis released November 23, [and] set the planet on a course for devastating changes by the end of the century - as much as 5°C (9°F) of warming.”
It appears that policy makers are not living on planet earth. With a temperature increase of this magnitude, no amount of mitigation or adaptation would preserve most lives, as we know it.
The week was not all talk. Action time came on Friday when groups led by Jubilee South took to the streets of Cancun, marching from the municipal office to a Wal-Mart Supermarket and demanding that the World Bank must not be allowed to become the climate bank. Why? For one, the bank is notorious for funding fossil fuel related projects and is thus one agency that is deeply implicated in the climate chaos.
Will the last week of the COP bring any hope? We will have to see.
Dec 03, 2010
Marco Cadena from Friends of the Earth Hungary writes from Cancun about the hosts of the talks and Mexico's self-styled green president.
Felipe Calderon began his presidency in 2006 with the promise that he will become the 'greenest Mexican president'. Calderon has had the opportunity to see his promise into fruition by hosting COP16. He has said that the conference will be managed under the ethos of 'sostenibilidad' (sustainability).
However, the conference begins in the air conditioned Moon Palace hotel with distinguished delegates sipping their Nescafe with a smile whilst queuing for incredibly low quality ham sandwiches that cost 10 US dollars. This comes across as a slap in the face as the year 2010 sees plenty of European companies importing organic and fair trade coffee from Southern Mexico.
To add further insult to injury these sandwiches are eaten in light of a growing agenda pushing for sustainable small-scale agriculture with particular attention given to the meat and dairy industries.
SostenibilidadSostenibidad is the Spanish word for sustainability. A beautiful (and fashionable) sounding word, however its meaning is a far cry from what you will experience in the Moon Palace. Of course no one is expecting a luxury hotel to be the champion of sustainability - even if they had more than a year and plenty of resources to organise everything. However, with more attention to details, like the appropriate food and drink, the organisers would have spread their messages and marketed their dedication to sustainability a little better.
It is perceived the same way in the international media: The Guardian newspaper criticises the Mexican president's 'greenness' with ironic humour, outlining both the positive and negative achievements.
One positive however, is for example, that Felipe Calderon's forest protection program saw that 70% of Mexico's forests are owned by local communities. However the quality of the delivery and implementation of this scheme received severe criticism by social and environmental organisations both on a national and international level including Friends of the Earth.
With regard to the president, on a less positive note, his reforestation scheme, between 2007 and 2009, saw only 10% of the 500 million trees planted remain alive. This is a massive black spot on the president's green suit, however he received praise and prizes for his scheme from the UN (when the trees were still alive). But what is even sadder, says The Guardian, is that the money for this unsuccessful project was taken from small-scale community forest management projects.
Call on the President to ditch his flawed proposal
And then we have the rumours about the Mexican President's plans to make decisions with limited numbers of Heads of State here in Cancun. This would completely undermine the ethics of the UN Negotiating Processes, which are based on transparency, inclusiveness and democracy. Please take action and tell the Mexican President that Cancun should respect the general ethics of the UN Negotiation Processes:
However the sun is shining which gives us hope. The indigenous caravans from Southern Mexico are arriving in Cancun for Friends of the Earth events held tomorrow. They are coming to voice their concerns with the decision-makers here at COP16. We will probably see more sun in the coming days, as we are planning to cover the Dialogo Climatico and Via Campesina forums taking interviews and plenty of photos.
Dec 02, 2010
Around the world, as part of 1000 Cancuns, people are taking to the streets to call on world leaders to sign up to a just climate agreement. Here are a selection of photos from Brussels and the Philippines.
People take the streets in Brussels.
Philippine Movement for Climate Justice members launch their 12 days of action on the climate. Credit: LRC / Erwin B. Quinones
Friends of the Earth US demonstrate outside the White House.
Dec 01, 2010
This year’s UN climate talks might be happening on the other side of the globe, but that doesn’t mean they are passing people by in Europe. Francesca Gater from Friends of the Earth Europe blogs about the events she's been attending closer to home.
Over the weekend Friends of the Earth was part of several events which brought Cancun to Brussels and recaptured the spirit of the movement for climate justice we felt so much part of in Copenhagen. For those of us not travelling to Mexico it was a chance to come together with activists and allies from across Europe and show solidarity with our colleagues fighting for a just outcome in Cancun.
The weekend began on Friday when Brussels’ regular critical mass took on an international dimension. More than 120 cyclists, including a mounted samba band, toured the part of town where the European Institutions are. “System change not climate change” was their message to European negotiators heading to COP16.
The European Assembly for Climate Justice on Saturday brought together activists from Europe, and beyond, to discuss, debate, learn, share, plan...and enjoy amazing locally-grown food. More than 150 of us debated pertinent questions like, ‘Is there such a thing as green Capitalism?’, ‘How can we challenge the current unbalanced food and agriculture system?’, ‘What are the social and environmental costs of expanding carbon markets?’ and ‘How can we change our patterns of production and consumption to ensure everyone has access to basic human needs?’. Exploring these challenging issues with people from around Europe was fascinating.
We were privileged to be joined by some exceptionally inspirational international speakers. Evguenia Tchirikova from Russia told the assembly about the the battle to defend the Khimki forest on the edge of Moscow, in which she is a leading figure. Russian authorities are trying to chop down the forest to make way for a motorway and shops. The protests have been violently suppressed. Her story brought home the local and global dimensions of environmental struggles. The Khimki forest is one forest but is emblematic of the thousands of forests, lakes and other natural resources in Russia and around the world and those who are trying to profit from their destruction.
Qalandar Bux Memon from Pakistan shared his experiences of this year’s devastating floods which left one fifth of the country under water and 10 million people without homes. Unprecedented rainfall was the biggest factor, but this was exacerbated by the climate effect on melting glaciers, and deforestation and mangrove destruction. We heard how ecological disasters affect the poorest hardest. “Climate change is not tomorrow’s problem, we are already experiencing the catastrophe,” Qalander told us – a very powerful message from someone who has witnessed first-hand the impacts of a changing climate.
Singing for the climate
After an intense and motivating day, a trip to the Brussels Christmas market for a relaxing drink was a mistake. All the outdoor heaters and disposable cups were only a reminder of the scale of the challenge, and made me feel very powerless.
But that changed the next day with the climate march organised by the Belgian Climate Coalition. Evguenia , Qualander and myself joined around 4000 other people to walk through the streets of Brussels and assemble at a mass rally to ‘Sing for the Climate’. We definitely couldn’t compete with The Beatles but our rendition of their classic ‘Hey Jude’ had the right sentiment. The song’s lyrics had been rewritten specially with lines like, “Our earth, is not for sale, So we’ll take actions, to save the climate”. Belgium holds the current rotating Presidency of the European Union and is therefore representing Europe in Cancun, and the song called on its negotiators to work for climate justice at the talks.
It was not the spectacle of the ‘The Flood for Climate Justice’ Friends of the Earth organised last year, but it was nonetheless empowering to recapture some of the energy we had experienced in Copenhagen and to again feel part of a growing international movement. And the message hasn’t changed – negotiators at the climate talks must deliver climate justice, nothing else will do.
It feels like a lot has happened to bring Cancun to Brussels already, and that was all before the negotiations had even started! Now we have two more whole weeks of activities to look forward to. The European Youth Climate Justice Convergence organised by Young Friends of the Earth Europe is just beginning. It will see a daily programme of workshops, debates, skillshares, actions and film screenings in parallel to the negotiations which will show we don’t need to be in Mexico to follow the talks, learn, and take action to demand climate justice.
Nov 30, 2010
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.
It 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.
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.
the 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.”
holding 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.
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.
Nov 25, 2010
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?
One 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
The 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.
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!
Nov 10, 2010
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
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
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
Oct 08, 2010
Friends of the Earth Hungary is calling for donations in order to provide assistance to those living and working in the areas worst affected by the red mud spill.
The Csalán (Nettle) Environmental and Nature Protection Association appeals to everyone in a position to do so to contribute to the purchase of vitally important protective equipment. The Association would like to provide immediate assistance to those living and working in the areas worst affected by the red mud spill, coordinating with the local governments of the affected communities, particularly Kolontár and Devecser.
We would like to provide quick help to those living and working in the areas affected by the unprecedented, catastrophic spill on October 4, 2010. We are coordinating this with those working in the disaster area and Mr. Tamás Toldi, Mayor of Devecser. They emphasized the most urgent need for protective clothing and equipment for those working in the affected areas. Our Association would like to provide all residents of the affected communities with a protective mask (6,000 pieces) , 500 pairs of rubber boots and recovery devices, as much as needed.
About $5 (1000 HUF = 4 EUR) pays for 4 safety face masks with a dust filter, $26 (5000 HUF = 20 EUR) for one set of protective clothing (one pair of rubber boots and gloves),
$26 (5000 HUF = 20 EUR) for one set of recovery devices (spade, shovel
12 500 HUF = 50 EUR for one barrow for those working on the field.
Please provide help according to your abilities!
1. Bank Account below (with a note that the donations is for the RED MUD
Bank Account (in international relations): HU60 1160 0006 0000 0000 0297
Beneficiary’s Name: Csalan Egyesület
Beneficiary’s Address: H-8200 Veszprem, Rakoczi F. u. 3, Hungary
2. Donate through PayPal by clicking on the link below
All donations received are allocated to the purchase and distribution of the above described equipment and we report the amounts received and their use in detail on our website. Based on the donations received as of October 6 and 7, 2010 the distribution of rubber boots and gloves and safety masks has already started. The Csalan Association considers providing accurate information to the citizens critically important, so we prepared and distributed flyers about the basic facts of the accident and priority activities for the first days.
Your donation is highly appreciated – no amount is too small!
Oct 07, 2010
Friends of the Earth Europe sends it condolences to the families of the people who have lost their lives this week in the toxic sludge leak in Hungary. Our thoughts are with the thousands who are suffering from this environmental disaster.
Far too often we see environmental disasters of this kind yet we continue to see corporate opposition to strong environmental, health and safety regulations at a national, European and international level. Corporations say the costs are too high, but the real cost of weak regulation is clear for all to see.
Friends of the Earth Hungary/Magyar Termeszetvedok Szovetsege (MTVSZ) is present in the area and actively assessing and monitoring the situation as the gravity of it unfolds. The priorities must be to safeguard people’s health and protect the repair the local environment. In the longer term environmental protection measures must be strengthened to prevent future disasters.
Read more at FoE Hungary's website: http://www.mtvsz.hu/
Aug 12, 2010
Pakistan is experiencing one of the worst natural disasters in living memory as floods and mudslides claim thousands of lives and destroy entire communities.
Fourteen million people have been affected by the floods and so far at least 1,600 people have lost their lives. It's estimated that some 300,000 homes in all four provinces of Pakistan have been washed away by the flood waters affecting more than 10,000 villages.
We at Friends of the Earth International feel the pain of the Pakistani people as they struggle for survival in this desperate time. We are deeply saddened by their losses.
While we express our solidarity with the Pakistani people and all who are contributing to the efforts to provide assistance to the displaced, we promise to relentlessly work for climate justice, demanding real and urgent actions to confront the realities of the climate crisis.
The Pakistani people are also victims of an international community that has failed to act and address the underlying causes of climate change. The causes of the recent increase in extreme weather conditions must be addressed now.
Pakistan has always had monsoon seasons and for generations people have adapted to them. However, the increase in extreme weather conditions has left the Pakistani people unable to adapt to such rapid change and they have become much more vulnerable.
Deforestation and other natural habitat destruction also play a part in this increased vulnerability, as do large infrastructure projects like mega-dams. Both the Pakistani and the Indian governments released water from their bursting dams due to the flood in order to “save” their dams.
This action proved fatal to scores of people living around these dams. For several years, communities and civil society groups fought against the building of these mega-dams stating that they were catastrophes waiting to happen and the vulnerable communities living along the rivers would be impacted the most. In the event of extreme weather, as we are seeing now, these people would be on the front line. Sadly in the last few weeks these predictions have been realised.
In Pakistan's time of need we urge you to donate to organisations working directly with the Pakistani people to relieve their suffering.
In the long term we hope you will join those like us who campaign for the right of communities to choose their sustainable energy sources and to develop healthy consumption patterns that will lead to sustainable societies.
This, combined with the need for greenhouse gas emissions reduction and for all people to share an equitable amount of resources within ecological limits, is essential to achieving climate justice.
For more information about our climate justice work go to - www.foei.org/en/what-we-do/climate-and-energy
Jul 20, 2010
Come and take part in the 6th European Conference of GMO-Free Regions, Brussels and Ghent, September 16-18, 2010. Co-organised by Friends of the Earth Europe.
2010 will be a decisive year for the future of GMOs in Europe. New approvals for the cultivation of GMOs and new legislative proposals by the European Commission are pending. With his approval of the first GMO for cultivation since 1998 the new Commissioner in charge sent out a clear message about his intentions.GMO-Free Europe 2010 will send back an equally clear message and prepare for further action.
The GMO-Free movement has continuously expanded, increased and diversified all across Europe and well beyond. On September 16 at our session in the European Parliament we will present our demands to the public and to institutions in Brussels. For two days we will then retreat to Ghent for exchanging experience, information, ideas and strategies, for discussing the challenges ahead and for preparing joint activities.
We invite representatives from formal and informal GMO-free regions, GMO-free initiatives and activists on related issues from all over Europe. Breeders and seed exchangers, farmers, bee-keepers, gmo-free traders, processors and retailers as well as consumers, critical scientists and environmental activists are welcome.
- An organizing committee has started to work and is open for your suggestions.
- If you want to organise workshops, present ideas, share experiences please do contact us now.
- If you can help with organisation (e.g. translation, web maintenance, outreach) please let us know.
- The budget for the conference is not yet secured: We are urgently looking for co-sponsors and funders. We therefore cannot make any commitments to fund travel expenses at this moment - but will try our best
- Participants fees will be 80 € for institutions and organisations and 50 € for small NGOs.
Get ready - Get going - lets do it again!
Find out more
Today, Indonesian environmental and social justice groups will ask Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to close the door to illegal timber and forest products. A letter carrying the message will be delivered to the Prime Minister through the Australian Embassy in Jakarta by Friends of the Earth Indonesia.
The Australian Government made an election promise in 2007 to ban illegal timber. Last Saturday, PM Gillard set the date for the next election for August 21st. The Government has just one month left to uphold its commitment on illegal timber.
Australia has continued to expect timber supplying countries, especially Indonesia to stem out illegal logging.
"Of course, Indonesia needs to tackle the serious and chronic problem of illegal logging because it is in our national interest to do so. However, Australia is a timber importing country and an influential power in the Asia-Pacific region. It has to walk the talk on good governance by banning the trade in timber stolen from other country’s forests." says Mohammad Teguh Surya, Head of Campaigns for WALHI.
"For the last few decades, WALHI and other civil society groups in Indonesia have been campaigning hard to fight illegal logging to protect what is left of the once dense and mighty Indonesian tropical rainforests. Teguh explains, "we are fighting a losing uphill battle. Illegal logging operations are organised criminal activities. They operate above the law, bribing law enforcers, using force to intimidate forest communities and those who stand in their ways to cut down the trees, leaving a trail of destruction behind."
Illegal logging is highly profitable. Those who benefit from it will be open for
business as long as there are buyers. A recent UK-based Chatham House research showed that tough actions taken by the US and EU has resulted in a drop in demand for illegal timber. However other timber importing countries including Australia must act aggressively in order to maintain the momentum created to eliminate this trade.
Jul 19, 2010
Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka need your help.
Recently two roads have been developed across the Wilpattu National Park without respecting the value of this natural habitat and the environmental laws.
The park, which was famous for its leopards, was closed due to the civil war in Sri Lanka and has recently been re-opened only to find that this ambitious construction is ruining the park further.
This may be the last chance to save Wilpattu, the largest national park in Sri Lanka.