messages of solidarity
Dec 09, 2008
Young Europeans show the EU the way forward
What a week it has been. I’ve observed various international meetings and side events, where the urgency of climate change is often stressed. Unfortunately, it seems countries and their delegates are not mirroring the seriousness of the situation with urgency of action.
As European youth, we decided that the EU needed a little prod in the right direction with their upcoming Climate and Energy package. If the EU announces a strong climate package, the whole negotiating machinery here would be massively boosted.
So, we made our own package, complete with emissions cuts of 40% by 2020 (all to come from inside the EU) and an adequate fund for developing countries for both adaptation and mitigation. We made this package in the conference centre to assorted media, international delegates and other youth accompanied by loud cheers, of course.
Click here to watch a video of our action.
In parallel we sent a letter to our MEP’s. In response we hope they'll be producing a strong climate and energy package asap.
It is easy to get caught up in all the politics of climate negotiations and forget the real reason for the conference taking place: potential climate catastrophe. It is inspiring to be with other youth who are not dispassionate about the situation. It’s a serious situation, time for urgent action.
Georgie is away. The equally young Bryn writes here.
Dec 07, 2008
Despite a bit of police intimidation, Saturday's Climate Day of Action rally was all I'd hoped for and more.
YEAAHH!! On the morning of the 6th I just couldn’t get up, not only because of this exhausting week - the party last night also had something to do with it. However, thinking that I was going to bike and march for the climate just pulled me out of bed.
After a good breakfast, we headed to the "castle" in downtown Poznan where at least 200 people were ready to send a strong message: if we as people from all over the world can get together to move around the city without emitting any Co2, why can’t everyone else?
Our Polish friends made arrangements so that everybody could have a non Co2 emitting two wheeler and they did it very well. We had a great ride.
A polish Santa was leading the group shouting climate change stuff in polish, while we were waving at the crowds gathering on the pavements. Everybody was smiling and having fun, plus it was the best way to get to know and feel the city.
And after the ride, the march! It was amazing. It looked more like a party than anything else, people were cheering, laughing, dancing, playing music and having fun. Some had all sorts of crazy outfits, banners and painted faces.
And yes, as always in these kind of demonstrations the police were all over, it was crazy, after the bike ride we saw this police guy with a tank of tear gas, guess where, in front of the MC...yes... pathetic.
The scene was amazing though, people gathering on the streets to fight for the climate were surrounded. Front and back there were police cars and police men following us all the way on the sides. The, almost, armoured horses were blocking the side streets and a helicopter was following us all the way to the conference venue.
There was so much positive energy and determination though, for most of the time, the police were merely a slight distraction.
At the end it all turned out well and people felt they had accomplished what they set out to do. We had this feeling that at last something had happened that was worth being happy about.
Now its Sunday morning and the Friends of the Earth International folks are having a very technical meeting reviewing all the outcomes of the week. I’m just sitting here trying to look smart and taking notes.
There's a lot of talk about the Climate Justice Now - a coalition Friends of the Earth of involved with - because of the great response there was to the march which they organised. Lots of groups had Climate Justice Now banners, especially the ones from the South. This movement could be a force to be reckoned with.
Thanx for reading!
Dec 06, 2008
Today's day of action on climate change prompts a few questions about my own government's action... or lack thereof.
While the negotiations continued today, many frustrated with the lack of progress inside took to the streets for the International Day of Action on Climate Change. With plenty of clowns, props and colourful actors it was a good way to let go and have a bit of fun outside the square buildings and fluorescent lights of the negotiating halls.
Being from 'Down under', the best entertainment for me today was watching a conversation between another young woman from Australia, who's here with Australian Youth Delegation, and a fake Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia. Kevin Rudd was elected late last year, on promises of a change in climate policy, among other things. He promptly ratified the Kyoto Protocol and then.... well, not much really. Obviously this is important to me as a citizen of Australia, but the Rudd government's lack of movement also has an impact on the international negotiations.
Australia could have a positive influence in the negotiations. To start with, Rudd could set strong emissions reductions targets for Australia - at least 40 percent by 2020, not the measly 5-15 percent that is floating around the pages of Australian newspapers.
Rudd also needs to clearly state that these targets are not dependent on the actions of other countries, and that developing countries should not have binding emission reduction targets. This would place at least some pressure on other wealthy nations to do the same, and maybe even lead to something coming out of these talks in Poznan.
At the moment, sadly, it looks like this is about as likely the FoE US woman sitting opposite me jumping up on the table and yelling "I love George Bush" (what I'm saying is that it's bordering on impossible, but there's still a chance, especially considering her level of sleep deprivation over the last week, and tendency to make outrageous comments).
Back to the conversation between the young woman and 'Kev' - with all of her questions, such as why he hasn't set a target, and Kev's lack of response, I had to poke him a few times to make sure he wasn't actually the real Kevin Rudd.
I just realised that I got a bit carried away (build up of frustration and caffeine), and haven't written at all about the International Day of Action. However, a picture says a thousand words, so if you want to know about the actions in Poznan check out Friend of the Earth International's flickr page... http://www.flickr.com/photos/foei/
I hope you had your own fun-packed day of action on climate change. If not, it's never too late to take action... so how about tomorrow?
Dec 05, 2008
Too much talk and, so far, no action.
AHHH I am exhausted and it is only the 4th day of negotiations at COP14!
All this energy from so many people with so many diverse interests and concerns is overwhelming .. but you know, this makes me think that all of this movement, all these side events, workshops and negotiations and so on is like a smokescreen or a diversion from really engaging in real concrete action and just going directly to the point!!
Yeah yeah I know.. it's "very complicated" but aren't all these people attending this conference just too busy keeping busy on so little?
People! We have a deadline to try to save the planet! Scientist's have said repeatedly that if we, (meaning we as all of us no matter from which country or region) do not stop emitting so much Co2 and other green house gases by
RIGHT NOW!! we will reach the point of no return very soon.
I don't want to apply scare tactics on you or anybody, I just would like to hear a country delegate say.. "ok my country will stop emitting hazardous gases to the atmosphere NOW! We will do it by changing our consumption patterns, our transportation habits and by the way, this will not be a problem for the people, will not increase hunger, unemployment...etc., etc..."
Ok ok ok.... I'm being a little pessimistic. Yesterday some countries actually proposed some serious and provocative statements, like Gabon and Brazil. That was great! But these are just little baby steps compared to what needs to be done! And it has to be done now!
I sound repetitive, but yes, its all about the money and the power, and some people are ready to compromise the climate and the planet just to get them.
Not all hope is lost though. The amazing thing about these international conferences is the amount of amazing people from all over the world with a legitimate interest to stop climate change and start working together. This
generates huge networks where information, projects, points of view and experiences are shared. This is where my hopes are. On the people. All Friends of the Earth's friends that are here are just giving it all to keep up. They are working with so much passion and are managing to spread the message that we need to speed up! We together as people can make a difference! Keep up the good work.
Dec 04, 2008
There's lots of talk about a 'shared vision' but some Annex 1 countries seem to have no vision when it comes to emissions targets and taking responsibility.
Day four and energy is picking up, despite the cold and dark, and the multitude of viruses that seem to be hitting the participants. Perhaps it is the lack of natural light... But inside the negotiating halls delegates and observers are pushing on whether they have tissues clamped to their noses or not.
Over the last few days, there have been working groups on shared vision, as part of a process called the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action. I was interested in seeing the relationships between parties' positions, particularly as the Group of 77 plus China - a grouping of 132 countries which works as a block at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - have recently developed a strong position on climate and finance technology. They seem to have quite a united front within the shared vision discussions.
The process of re-discussing a shared vision however, seems to have a major flaw, as pointed out by a delegate from the Philippines at an event late Tuesday night. A shared vision already exists within the convention!
Could it be that developed (or Annex 1) countries, are trying to use these discussions to reclassify states as Annex 1 or Non-Annex 1, and therefore push developing countries into accepting mandatory, legally binding emissions reductions targets? This would be quite convenient, allowing developed countries to escape some of their commitments - most of which have gone entirely unfulfilled - and make countries that don't have a historical responsibility for emissions to accept compulsory emissions targets anyway.
I'm not saying that it's not important to have a shared vision. Of course this is necessary in order for countries to work together, but isn't the shared vision rather obvious? I always thought that we wanted to stop dangerous climate change - that is keeping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere below 350 parts per million CO2 equivalent.
For rich, developed countries this means drastically reducing their own emissions (accepting binding emissions targets), and supporting less financially and technologically capable countries to do the same, without forcing them to reach certain targets.
The overarching global goal or vision, if it needs to be talked about again doesn't need nine hours of workshops plus more hours in smaller contact groups (more informal spaces where the real details of the negotiations are nutted out).
When it looks like many parties won't even reach their emissions reductions targets or finance and technology transfer promises, isn't it a bit premature to start talking about commitments from developing countries?
It seems that many developing countries are onto this tactic, however, and they won't stand for it. The shared vision workshops may be over now, but there are still plenty of opportunities for 'developed' countries either to evade or actually live up to their commitments to emissions reductions... we'll keep you posted.
Dec 03, 2008
The grown ups are getting down with the youth and finding that, actually, we have some interesting things to say.
Today I came away from the conference thinking 'the European ministers are horrid' and 'young people here are by far those with the most sense'.
Sitting in various meetings I learnt that the European Union was last year (in Bali) seen to be leading the progressive approach. So as the EU start to finalise their 'energy package' other international parties will look to the package to act as a benchmark. And what a poor example they are setting, having reduced their carbon reduction commitment by almost half to 20% .
A year ago they also pronounced that they would give financial aid to to help developing countries adapt to climate change, which is logical considering that a lot of carbon emissions originated in Europe. Apparently this is not the case any more. Perhaps they have used all their money to bail out the banks?!
And so to the youth...
The first youth meeting I attended today was amazing! Unlike the 'grown up' international parties, the youth have managed to join together despite cultural, political and religious differences to fight for a future without climate catastrophe!
A man from the UN food and agriculture department (FAO) told us today that they are hoping that young people will be recognised at next year's COP as an official delegation because "we actually seem to care about what is decided". He is correct, its our future they decide in those talks! Perhaps the 'oldies' need to take a leaf from the young book.
The youth have lots of interesting actions planned (a few about the EU) which I will regale you with tales of soon!
There is a clash of climate goals over the 'shared vision' at the COP 14 between rich and poor countries.
Dec 02, 2008
The long days in Poznań have even exhausted the Young Friends of the Earth delegation.
Well what a day...
A couple of us from Young Friends of the Earth Europe (YFoee is easier) were saying we feel like we've been run over by a talking lawnmower! Words and meetings since 8.15 am!
But the day does not end yet, we've still got more meetings and a European 'reception' to go to, where our policy team are hoping to snatch a word with some European delegates.
Everyone has been finding their feet today, getting to grips with the craziness of the place. First we entered through the airport style security and then got given a free goody bag. And an interesting goody bag this is...
One thing that I was particularly intrigued by was the pot of honey in a giant box. I thought maybe it would have a message about the plight of the bees, but it just had a poem about honey inside. The general vibe from most YFoee's was that this bag is a super lot of waste! But still I think a lot of us took one.
Another strange happening at a climate change conference is how hot it is in here (or maybe that isn't so strange?!) in one room the heaters were on full at the same time as the air conditioning!
But in good news today I have heard that the UK has agreed on a national target of a 34% carbon reduction (below 1990 levels) by 2020, regardless of what is decided internationally. But they also said that if the Copenhagen agreement (to replace the current Kyoto Protocol) is a strong agreement, they will increase the percentage to 42%! So although this has yet to be finalized it is the right direction.
Today I also went to the Friends of the Earth talk on some of the problems with REDD (a mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries). The talk was really interesting; there was a great question and answers session. Find out more about REDD here.
I best be off to the reception!
A loophole in proposed schemes to tackle deforestation was exposed at the UN climate talks today.
Dec 01, 2008
It's day one and the friends of the earth team are energized, filled with warm words and on the lookout for fossils.
Right now there is a climate conference going on in Poznan, Poland. Actually it's the 14th conference of its kind and it is properly known as Conference of the Parties or COP 14. A bunch of FoEI members from all over the planet will try to post as much as possible so you all get the feel of what is going on down here in this amazing city.
OK Lets start! The weekend is over and already so much has been going on and we are already exhausted! The youth international group had their conference this weekend it's filled us up with so much energy! These guys are so well organized.
We were also inspired by the launch of a new coalition called Climate Justice Now. This could be the beginning of an international civil society climate movement and could be an amazing voice at the climate talks.
Something that made us laugh was the Climate Action Network's Fossil of the day Award given to countries who seem to be doing the least to combat climate change. Today Poland was the fossil!!
Friends of the Earth folks for the next couple of weeks will be focusing on emission reduction commitments by developed countries (or Annex I countries), conservation of forests (REDD) and finance technology and adaptation. But this blog will be also talking about other activities in and outside of the COP, including the highly active social movements.
COPs are just talk talk talk but the range of NGOs and civil society groups (particularly youth) who are here pushing for equitable and sustainable action on climate change gives inspiration and hope. The welcoming ceremony this morning gave us all plenty of warm fuzzies with statements such as "we are all children of mother earth" (Polish Environment Minister and President of COP14) and plenty of calls for real commitments despite the global financial crisis - which many countries are currently using as an excuse for evading climate action. Whether this talk actually translates into action is another matter entirely.
AHH, I almost forgot, at the welcoming ceremony governments, markets and business were mentioned as crucial to combat climate change but... what about people? People were the big absent actor as a factor of change.
Today's action: the car advertisement covering half of the front entrance to the COP venue disappeared last night, replaced by a 'let's create a climate for change' COP banner, a smart move by the organizers!!
Carlos and Hannah
Nov 27, 2008
Welcome to the Friends of the Earth International blog.
There is so much going on in Friends of the Earth's 77 member groups that we wanted to find a faster and more immediate way to communicate their work to you. That's why we've launched this blog.
What better way to begin than reporting back on the United Nations Climate Conference in Poznań, Poland next week. Ok, so it may not sound too exciting but these talks will be covering crucial climate issues. Developed countries will be called on to make immediate steep emissions reductions, commit to the conservation of the world’s last remaining forests and to financially assist developing countries in adapting to climate change.
We hope that the blog over the course of the conference, and beyond, will give you a better understanding of how we, the world's largest grassroots-based environmental federation, are campaigning for an ecologically sustainable, just and peaceful world.
Friends of the Earth International Website Coordinator.