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Apr 05, 2011

Life in a city, 40 km from Fukushima

by PhilLee — last modified Apr 05, 2011 12:09 PM

Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Japan are writing a blog on life after the earthquake and tsunami. They will be documenting how they, and fellow citizens, are rebuilding their lives and addressing some of the issues that have arisen as the country recovers from its biggest crisis since World War II.

I would like to introduce an essay from one of our friends, who lives in Iwaki City, 40 km from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.


japan earthquake tsunami 2Two weeks after the hydrogen explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant building, we've returned to Iwaki City at last. Iwaki is 40 km away from the Fukushima plant and is neither within the 20 km evacuation zone nor within the 30 km safety zone.

 

However, immediately after the nuclear explosion following the earthquakes and tsunamis, we were not able to determine the degree of risks involved and evacuated to Ibaraki Prefecture, 160 km from Iwaki city.

 

My wife works at a high school, 34 km from the Fukushima plant. Two days after the evacuation, she insisted on returning to Iwaki City. I was against this. At the time, there'd been a second hydrogen explosion. Upon hearing about this, my wife still persisted with her plans to return and we began to quarrel. One hour after the second explosion, the school finally got in contact with her with an official notice to stay on stand-by and not to return, my wife conceded.

 

I was relieved to settle this matter. We then began to worry about our cat that was left behind. This cat, being semi-wild, lies idly during the day in the neighboring field and returns home at night. We were certain that she would take refuge in the field and was not likely to starve, thus the problem was her radiation exposure.

 

The radiation monitoring began in Iwaki City and was reported to be about 1 micro sieverts per hour (Sv/h) in the atmosphere above normal levels. The soil contamination too appears relatively serious. As our cat lives in the field, she must be covered with the dirt. I wonder how much she has been exposed to.

 

Two weeks later as we returned to Iwaki city, our cat was fortunately alive and well. I wondered what she had been eating. We brought her into the bathroom immediately and washed her with some cat-shampoo. So as not to bring the radioactive material into the house, we had initially decided to wash her outside. However, the joy of finding her alive left us with no such reason.

 

The hardest part came afterwards. The cat naturally wants to go outside; she kept crying so that we could not keep her indoors any longer. As we told her, "outside you will be exposed to radiation", she would not listen and began rolling around in the field again.

 

Like many cats, our cat too dislikes getting wet; therefore we cannot wash her every day. We ourselves are wearing masks when outside and we take our clothes off in the entrance hall so as not to bring the radiation material into our bedroom. But is it any good at all if the cat comes in full of dirt?

 

Thus far when we brought her inside our home, we used disposable body-towels. However, since these towels are relatively expensive, and do not come in large amounts, we opted to use baby-wipes. We soak them very lightly and wipe her three times and needless to say they are then discarded.

 

We are well aware of the radiation risks and have some knowledge. Yet as we restart our lives, we end up not thinking of this risks as everyday needs and emotional needs take over. People living outside the immediate danger are far more sensitive to such risks. In fact, prior to our return to Iwaki City, our family members and friends living outside Fukushima Prefecture were very concerned and strongly opposed our return.

 

Despite this, my wife decided to return out of her sense of duty and out of her guilt for left behind. While I, with my affection for our cat, selfishly reasoned that "the plant will not explode immediately," "we can secure the gasoline if needed," "1 micro Sv/h does not present a high risk," and so on.

 

Upon returning, we found the shelves of the supermarket empty and about 100 cars lined up at the gas station. Yet here the sky is blue, and so ordinary is our everyday it makes it difficult to believe that only 40 km from here are the damaged nuclear plants.

 

Whether our cat is exposed to radiation is still unknown, and recently we nicknamed her Sievert. More accurately, as the cat is treated as a nuclear material, Becquerel is appropriate. Therefore, we thought of calling her Becky, however, my wife thought Sievert prettier and there was no use in arguing.

 

By continuing this life, the risk of radiation will be forgotten unless the situation worsens at the plants or until the onset of cancer emerges. I wonder for those who have settled here for good, this may well be a happier life.

 

Even if her life ends prematurely, our cat might be content to roll around in the field as usual. I too am defeated by my own emotion and no longer troubled by the thought of letting our cat into our home even if this means shortening my life a little.

 

Photo credit: DigitalGlobe

Apr 04, 2011

Constructing temporary houses in Japan

by PhilLee — last modified Apr 04, 2011 03:00 PM
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Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Japan are writing a blog on life after the earthquake and tsunami. They will be documenting how they, and fellow citizens, are rebuilding their lives and addressing some of the issues that have arisen as the country recovers from its biggest crisis since World War II.

Building new homes in japanIt has been three weeks since the earthquake and tsunami hit Touhoku and Kanto area. In Miyagi prefecture, the construction of temporary houses
has started for people whose homes were completely destroyed or washed away.

In Iwanuma City, the first 100 houses are under construction and another 58 will be added. In Miyagi Prefecture 10,000 houses will be constructed and, as of April 1, 2300 houses are already in the process of being built.

In Yamamoto town, consultations for residents were held, but information is said to be insufficient. For example, it's not known whether there's an option to move into temporary housing into other prefectures (districts). It will be a long way from fully satisfying people's needs. But at the same time, local officials are working so hard for the people.

japan earthquake tsunami notice boardIwanuma City Hall

In Iwanuma City Hall, since the earthquake and tsunami occurred, a disaster centre has been established under the Mayor's initiative. When I visited the centre the staff seemed to be busy with recovering the bodies. They have been sleeping in the City Hall since the disaster to deal with huge loss and damage that has been gradually unfolding. The health condition of the workers is a serious concern. 

 

YN

 

Top photo: Construction begins in Iwanuma City. Bottom: A message board in Iwanuma City

Apr 01, 2011

Assessing needs in Iwanuma city

by PhilLee — last modified Apr 01, 2011 11:50 AM
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Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Japan are writing a blog on life after the earthquake and tsunami. They will be documenting how they, and fellow citizens, are rebuilding their lives and addressing some of the issues that have arisen as the country recovers from its biggest crisis since World War II.

On March 31, one of our staff members went to Iwanuma city, Miyagi Prefecture, one of the areas most affected by the tsunami to grasp the needs on the ground.

 

Those needs are still being assessed, but here are some photos of the devastation in Iwanuma City.

Iwanuma City, Japan, post tsunami 1
The remains of a road.


Iwanuma City, Japan, post tsunami 4

Paddy fields remain strewn with rubble and salt damage could harm future rice production.

Iwanuma City, Japan, post tsunami 3

These trees used to form a disaster-prevention forest, but were felled by
the tsunami.

Three weeks after the earthquake and tsunami happened, Sendai Airport (in Miyagi Prefecture) has reopened. We hope this will facilitate relief work and put forward the reconstruction.

Mar 31, 2011

The so-called nuclear 'experts'

by PhilLee — last modified Mar 31, 2011 02:16 PM

Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Japan are writing a blog on life after the earthquake and tsunami. They will be documenting how they, and fellow citizens, are rebuilding their lives and addressing some of the issues that have arisen as the country recovers from its biggest crisis since World War II.

I have often been upset by so-called 'experts' when I watch nuclear issues being covered on the TV in Japan. 

 

A nuclear expert who used to work at Toshiba said, one day, 

 

"Japaese nuclear technique will possibly be praised and we should be proud of it, as we could avoid the worst of the worst." 

 

How could he possibly say such a thing in such a way, almost ignoring those affected already in many ways!? And, he still continues to be on TV.

 

Yesterday, another expert on radiation in the sea, said that the fish are safe to eat, as we have already been taking in plutonium previously releaed in the pacific from elsewhere. 

 

This cannot be the reason why we are safe!! 

 

I do not blame all the experts. But, it strikes me some experts are exposed to media just to defend safety or protect themselves.

 

NS

Mar 30, 2011

Social and economic impacts caused by nuclear accidents becoming evident

by PhilLee — last modified Mar 30, 2011 12:20 PM
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Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Japan are writing a blog on life after the earthquake and tsunami. They will be documenting how they, and fellow citizens, are rebuilding their lives and addressing some of the issues that have arisen as the country recovers from its biggest crisis since World War II.

On 24 March a 64-age vegetable farmer in Fukushima committed suicide. It was just one day after the Japanese government declared restrictions on  eating several kinds of vegetables produced in Fukushima and neighbouring areas.

He had a cabbage patch growing 7500 cabbages. According to Mainichi Newspaper, his son said 'If we did not have the nuclear accidents, he would still be here today.'

In addition, last night, I saw on the NHK news that a very old Ryokan (Japanese Inn) in Fukushima was closed for the first time in more than 100 years due to cancellations after nuclear accidents.

The Ryokan was not affected by earthquake and tsunami, but it was 60km from the nuclear plants, outside of the evacuation zone. Rooms were fully booked up until mid-May. However, they were all cancelled after the nuclear accidents.

These are the stories covered by the major Japanese media, but I guess there are hundreds or thousands of similar stories.

It's really difficult to describe how I feel about this story.. It's just so sad. Those affected can ask for compensation or help from TEPCO, or the  government, but life will never be how it was before the accident.

NS

Demonstrating against nuclear power in Tokyo

by PhilLee — last modified Mar 30, 2011 12:05 PM
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Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Japan are writing a blog on life after the earthquake and tsunami. They will be documenting how they, and fellow citizens, are rebuilding their lives and addressing some of the issues that have arisen as the country recovers from its biggest crisis since World War II.

Japan blog-water-demo-1On Sunday 27 March around 1,200 demonstrators walked through Ginza, one of the most famous shopping areas in Tokyo, to appeal against Japanese nuclear policy.

 

Alarmed by the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, several anti-nuclear groups, as well as individual activists, organised the demonstration to appeal for an evaluation of nuclear policy and prompt updates on the situation in Fukushima.

 

The crowd's chants were loud and direct:

 

"We need no Genpatsu (nuclear power plant)!"
"Stop Genpatsu right now!"
"No more Fukushima, no more Chelnobyl."
"Life is more important than electricity !"

The parade started from Ginza, went via the Tepco head office and cumulated in an assembly in Hibiya park.

Japan blog-demo-3A young woman from a small town 5km from Fukushima's first nuclear reactor spoke to the crowd about the serious situation faced by local people and appealed to save them.

A young man who lead the demonstration insisted that we Japanese citizens now have to speak as one voice to get rid of nuclear policy.

 

Some foreign media reported the demonstration, but no Japanese media.

Euronews coverage
BBC coverage
TF1 coverage

 

AY

Mar 28, 2011

The true cost of nuclear power

by PhilLee — last modified Mar 28, 2011 01:57 PM
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Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Japan are writing a blog on life after the earthquake and tsunami. They will be documenting how they, and fellow citizens, are rebuilding their lives and addressing some of the issues that have arisen as the country recovers from its biggest crisis since World War II.

Have you ever thought you will be affected by radiation or nuclear accidents? I, myself, did not. At least before the accident happened in Fukushima.

 

A few days ago, three workers of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were exposed to high level radiation in the plant. They were not wearing long boots, which meant their feet were soaked by radioactive-contaminated water on the ground. They were sent to the hospital. 

 

Life and safety in Fukushima and the neibouring area will come back only at the sacrifice of these workers. I know nuclear power plants can only work if there are workers who are always facing the risks of radiation.

 

And there are many people living near the power plant, who were told 'you'll be safe!' by companies and governments. They were reconciled, or accepted that, it would not happen in their 'backyard'. I understood in my head, but might not have felt that from my heart.

 

The nuclear accidents have changed too many things here in Japan. Sometimes you only know you've lost something once its gone. But, when you lose it, it is often too late.  

 

After facing accidents in Fukushima, I really know what it means for us to have nuclear power plants in my country. Too many people's life can be devastated by only one accident. 

 

NS

Mar 25, 2011

Supporting the people of Minami-Souma City

by PhilLee — last modified Mar 25, 2011 08:19 PM
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Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Japan are writing a blog on life after the earthquake and tsunami. They will be documenting how they, and fellow citizens, are rebuilding their lives and addressing some of the issues that have arisen as the country recovers from its biggest crisis since World War II.

The anxiety of people in Tokyo after the accidents at Fukushima nuclear
power plant have been growing day by day. But the anxiety of the people in Fukushima is beyond my imagination.

Japan Chernobyl Fund (JCF), which is one of the groups we are supporting through donations made to FoE International, is focusing on people staying in Minami-Souma City.

 

JCF's staff, doctors and nurses are providing medical assistance in shelters and the city hospital, located only 23 kms from the nuclear power plant.

More than 1000 people are said to have died as a result of the earthquake and tsunami in Minami-Souma City. However, the residents' sorrow is not only caused by the natural disaster but by a human-made disaster, the nuclear accident.

Due to fears that the area is contaminated by radiation, the distribution of gas, medicines and foods have been stopped, and all the shops are closed. The residents are said to be "fourfold suffering".

"Many people have fallen sick with stress caused by the shocks and the changing environment after the disaster, although they were not affected directly by the earthquake and tsunami." said Ms. Kamiya, JCF staff.

"In the long-term, health damage caused by exposure to radiation is a concern. But at the moment, it is most important to deal with chronic disease and infectious disease caused by sleeplessness and stress" (Source: JCF Staff's blog http://jcf.ne.jp/cp-bin/blog/)

Many residents have moved from the city after the nuclear accidents while many people still remain in their hometown (26,000 out of 71,000 residents are staying).

 

There must be different situation that each family is facing but the reality is the residents of the city are forced to be divided, and their land and loving nature have been contaminated. I cannot imagine the sorrow of people in Fukushima.

Because the electricity made in Fukushima nuclear power plant was sent to Tokyo and the neighboring area, not Fukushima, I feel guilty for what the people in Fukushima are facing.

 

We should really think about what we can do to prevent another catastrophe. I am really hoping that the situation of the nuclear power plant will be stabilised as soon as possible.

 

EW

Mar 24, 2011

No more than two bottles of water per person

by PhilLee — last modified Mar 24, 2011 12:55 PM
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Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Japan are writing a blog on life after the earthquake and tsunami. They will be documenting how they, and fellow citizens, are rebuilding their lives and addressing some of the issues that have arisen as the country recovers from its biggest crisis since World War II.

Japan blog-water-2On 2Japan blog-water-13 March the Japanese government announced not only vegetables, such as spinach produced in Fukushima, but also tap water in Tokyo is contaminated with radioactive materials.

Although the level of contamination is said to be only risky to babies, and it does not pose an immediate threat in any way, especially to adults, many people scrambled for bottled water.

 

I went to a shop to get water on my way home, but, too late.... No bottled water! Just tea and other sweet drinks were left. Instead I got one bottle of oolong tea. 

 

NS

 

 

Photos: A fridge in a Tokyo shop cleared out of water, and a sign rationing water to two bottles per person.

 

FoE Japan Statement on Fukushima Nuclear Accident

by PhilLee — last modified Mar 24, 2011 12:03 PM
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Below is a statement issued by our colleagues at Friends of the Earth Japan.

japan earthquake tsunami 2To the victims of the 2011 Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake and tsunami, we send our deepest condolences. To those surviving the aftermath in shelters, those engaged in relief activities in the affected areas, and those who have been working tirelessly day and night to minimize the damage from the resulting nuclear accident, we would also send our heartfelt appreciation and encouragement. 

 

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident following the earthquake has, unfortunately, become the strongest repudiation to date of the Japanese government's and power companies' justification of nuclear power. 

 

We believe that, besides full support for current efforts in the field, to move forward from this situation, it is imperative now to mobilize the collective wisdom of citizens in our society and non-governmental organizations with expertise in relevant fields. 

 

We also call for timely and full disclosure by the government of Japan, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), nuclear agencies, and local governments, about the constantly-changing situation at the nuclear plant, in addition to information related to radioactive materials, their quantities, and possible radiation exposure in the affected region. 

 

FoE Japan has for some time been advocating for a low-energy and nuclear-free society and working to curb the publicly-subsidized export of Japanese nuclear power plants to developing countries. The ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis is a direct result of Japan's official energy policy, which is skewed toward nuclear power. 

 

In the coming weeks and months, we hope to see a meaningful review, not only in Japan but also internationally, of nuclear policies and issues surrounding nuclear exports. A fundamental review is needed of our energy-intensive economies and societies. We would like to cooperate with all interested parties and contribute to national and international discussions for the further promotion of renewable and nuclear-free energy. 

 

We offer our prayers for the safety of those in the affected areas, those who have been evacuated, those working in the vicinity of the nuclear plants, and for everyone in Japan, and hope the situation will improve and return to calm in the coming days. 

 

March 18, 2011 

From All Staff of Friends of the Earth Japan

 

Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe

Mar 15, 2011

Solidarity for Japan

by PhilLee — last modified Mar 15, 2011 10:25 AM
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Friends of the Earth International statement in response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Friends of the Earth International expresses solidarity with the people of Japan who have been affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami. 

 

We are also greatly concerned about the worsening situation at the Fukushima nuclear power station. We are in regular contact with our national member group in Japan who are safe and monitoring the situation. 

 

Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, said:

 

"We sympathise with the people of Japan over the tragic disasters following the earthquake and tsunami. While these are natural disasters, the additional nuclear disaster is human made and clearly shows the urgent need for Japan and other countries to halt plans for new nuclear plants, decommission existing ones, and invest in safe, renewable energy forms." 

Feb 21, 2011

Solidarity for our missing colleague in Colombia

by PhilLee — last modified Feb 21, 2011 05:39 PM
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Friends of the Earth International is extremely concerned about the disappearance of our colleague from Friends of the Earth Colombia. Below is a statement on the situation. We will be updating you shortly on how you can help.

We, Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean - a regional organization member of Friends of the Earth International, a federation of 76 member groups around the world - hereby express our deepest concern for the well-being of Sandra Viviana Cuellar Gallego, a young environmental activist who disappeared on February 17, near Puente del Comercio, in the exit towards Palmira, in Cali, Colombia.

 

 

We demand the Colombian authorities to take urgent measures to find our colleague as soon as possible, to protect her life and speed up her search. We are following this concerning and saddening incident closely within our federation.

Jan 03, 2011

The betrayal at Cancun

by PhilLee — last modified Jan 03, 2011 12:15 PM
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Chair of Friends of the Earth International Nnimmo Bassey writes about the outcome of the UN climate summit that took place in Cancun, Mexico last month.

March of the Campesinos, cancunIt was obvious to observers that the climate negotiations at Cancun were wired to support commerce rather than tackling the climate crisis that the world is confronted with. This trend took solid steps a year earlier at the summit in Copenhagen when a handful of nations sidestepped the multilateral tradition of the United Nations and working through “green rooms” away from the conference floor concocted the so-called Copenhagen Accord instead.

The Copenhagen Accord could not be adopted at the end of the 2009 conference for the basic reason that majority of country delegations did not know how it was crafted and on what basis. Countries like Bolivia and Venezuela stood resolutely against it and that conference only agreed to take note that such a document existed.

The fact that the Accord was not adopted as a conference outcome did not deter its authors, principally the United States, from working behind the scenes, bilaterally, to get several countries to endorse it. Some analysts have said that the endorsement was achieved through arm-twisting tactics and promises of financial and other aids. Those who refused to yield were sanctioned by way of having climate or environment assistance cut.

From the beginning of the Cancun negotiations, signals were sent that its essence was to elevate the Copenhagen Accord to the level of being the conference outcome. The first salvo was fired by the delegation of Papua New Guinea who declared that a few nations with divergent votes from the majority must not prevent the conference from reaching a decision. They suggested that if a consensus became impossible a decision should be made by a vote. This position, as noted in an earlier article on Cancun, was immediately objected to by the delegations of Bolivia, India, Saudi Arabia and others.

At the end of the Cancun summit, with the Copenhagen Accord now dressed in new garbs, there was no consensus for its adoption. Not to be deterred, the Mexican presidency of the conference banged the gavel repeatedly on her table and rammed the document through, after redefining consensus as not necessarily meaning unanimity.

Empty promises

Nations yelped and cheered. Cancun had delivered; they enthused and backslapped each other. But what did Cancun deliver and how will the planet fare under the scenario set by what has been termed Copenhagen Accord 2?

The conference outcome avoided legally binding emissions reduction targets for the main polluting nations - the rich industrialised countries - and rather urges a voluntary pledge based system with no monitoring mechanisms. From recent WikiLeaks regarding discussions in France, it is clear that the rich countries are determined not to make binding commitments to act for the safety of the planet.

Looking for something to celebrate, some countries latched on the promise to create a Climate Fund within the United Nations climate change framework but having the World Bank as a trustee. The promised climate fund did not specify how the funds would be sourced.

The agreement did not review subsisting intellectual property regime that does not freely allow the exchange of green technology. It took big steps in paving the way for new market based mechanisms that would allow for speculation and avoidance of actions to reduce emissions at source and generally position the planet at great risks of catastrophic climate change.

Teresa Andersen of the Gaia Foundation, who wrote about the manner the Cancun conference ended, captures the disbelief of critical observers:

"We sat in disbelief as the crowds leapt to their feet, cheering, applauding, whooping and whistling the Mexican chair of the Cancun climate negotiations. Mexico’s foreign secretary, Patricia Espinosa, graciously bowed her head, her hands crossed over her heart in an authoritarian simulation of modesty, as we shook our heads, open-mouthed, at the eerie frenzy taking place around us. In the last hours of the Cancun climate negotiations, the world’s deluded leaders were cheering as they tossed the planet onto the bonfire."

According to Teresa, "The Cancun Agreement, we are told, has “saved multilateralism”. What it has not done though, is offer any meaningful solution to climate change. As it stands, the Cancun Agreement could mean global temperature rises of up to 5 degrees centigrade, and a possible 6.5 degrees in Africa."

Friends of the Earth International's initial analysis of the Cancun outcome sees the prospects of opening new market mechanisms as potentially creating practices that are more harmful to the climate than current ones.

We believe the establishment of one or more market-based mechanisms over the course of the next year is to be considered, with a view to taking a decision to adopt these new mechanisms at COP 17 in South Africa. The new mechanisms could include a number of different types of instruments, some of which would be more destructive than others.

Little gains

All was not lost in Cancun. Social movements pushed the path of climate justice in various venues in Cancun. The government of Bolivia, which had facilitated a Peoples Conference on climate change and the Rights of Mother Earth in April 2010, stood with the people, pushing the right analysis and solutions, right to the end of the conference.

Social and climate justice movements clearly stated that the causes of climate change are systemic and that the only way to tackle the climate crisis is through a change of the capitalist and patriarchal system that caused it.

With the clear indication that rich nations are not keen to tackle climate change, but would rather make bogus promises that poor vulnerable nations unfortunately lap up, it is doubtful if the 2011 conference to be hosted in Durban, South Africa, will produce anything different from Copenhagen and Cancun.

The South African government has dubbed COP17 the Peoples COP. It will be seen whether the voices of the people will prevail or if corporations and their surrogate politicians will hold sway in their market-based chariots.

Dec 10, 2010

How Africa's voice has been hijacked

by PhilLee — last modified Dec 10, 2010 11:22 AM

Nnimmo Bassey writes in the UK Guardian on how a scramble for individual leaders to speak for the whole of Africa undermines the common voice

 

Read the article here 

Dec 08, 2010

World Bank criticized for establishing carbon market fund

by PhilLee — last modified Dec 08, 2010 12:26 PM

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/)

 

Watch a video of FoEI Chair Nnimmo Bassey explaining why we want the World Bank to stay out of any climate agreement.

Nnimmo Bassey collects his 'Right Livelihood Award'

by PhilLee — last modified Dec 08, 2010 12:19 PM

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.

He was awarded the honour for revealing the full ecological and human horrors of oil production and for his inspired work to strengthen the environmental movement in Nigeria and globally.

 

Watch his acceptance speech here
Find out more about the Right Livelihood Award

Dec 07, 2010

Photos from Cancun

by PhilLee — last modified Dec 07, 2010 05:28 PM

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, cancun

Preparing for the International Day of Climate Action on December 7, 2010.

March of the Campesinos, cancun

March of the Campesinos: Marching for the rights of the Indigenous Villagers.

 

Clima radio, cancun

Clima Radio: Broadcasting live directly from the peoples' alternative summit.

alternative people's summit cancun

Indigenous Bolivians attending the alternative peoples' summit.

 

See all the photos from the Cancun climate talks and the mobilisations for climate justice around the world.

 

Photo credits: Sheila Menon/Marco Cadena

Videos from Cancun

by PhilLee — last modified Dec 07, 2010 12:47 PM

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

Bringing Cancun to London

by PhilLee — last modified Dec 06, 2010 05:12 PM

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.

andy atkins addresses climate march

Dec 05, 2010

The Climate Carbon Stock Exchange drags on

by PhilLee — last modified Dec 05, 2010 09:20 PM
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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.

nnimmo bassey in cancun"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.

 

Killing Kyoto

cancun: intervention by domingoSo 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.

 

Mexican Text

cancun mobilizationAs 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.

 

Action time

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.

 

Photo credits: Sheila Menon

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