messages of solidarity
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.
Jul 07, 2010
Friends of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland react to the news that the scientists accused of dishonesty over climate data have been cleared.
Commenting on today's report by Sir Muir Russell on the leaked e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, Friends of the Earth's
Executive Director Andy Atkins said:
"By confirming the integrity of the climate scientists this report shows we cannot afford to ignore expert warnings on the risks of climate change.
"The vast majority of climate scientists agree that man-made climate change is happening - if nine out of 10 pilots said that they thought that a plane was likely to crash no-one would be foolish enough to fly in it.
"Reducing our growing dependency on fossil fuels by investing in green power and slashing energy waste will also boost the economy by strengthening our energy security and create new jobs and business opportunities.
"It's time to see through the dangerous smokescreen of climate scepticism and get on with the urgent task of building a clean, safe and low-carbon future."
Friends of the Earth International is shocked by the police harassment of 15 international environmental activists. The group were arrested and detained for more than 24 hours, after Indonesian police dispersed a peaceful press conference. They are now safe and on their way to their home-countries.
In an interview, Judith Pasimio, the executive director of Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KsK) said that on July 5, Jean Marie M. Ferraris, team leader of LRC-KsK’s Davao office, together with 14 other green activists were in a middle of a press conference on the ill-effects of coal-fired power plants, when some 100 Indonesian police barged in and arrested the activists.
"This outrage only shows what appears to be collusion between the Indonesian government and the Cirebon Elektrik, Ltd. We denounce how the police violently disrupted a peaceful and legitimate practice in the defence of the environment and the rights of its people" said Ms Pasimio.
"Jean went to Indonesia to share the Philippine experience on the deadly impact of coal and our own learnings from our anti-coal campaigns, particularly in Maasim, Saranggani. She kept her humour throughout the ordeal.
"We maintain that the Indonesian government should explain this affront against the rights of peoples to peacefully assemble and pursue genuine solutions to our deteriorating environment and rational utilisation of natural resources for the national interest and not for the profits of corporations,” Ms Pasimo continued.
The delegation claim that representatives of coal-fired power plant Cirebon Elektrik, Ltd. accompanied the 100 Indonesian police when they were arrested.
An emailed statement from LRC-KsK, appealed for President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to immediately intervene and demand an explanation from the Indonesian government.
"The new administration of President Aquino must send a strong message to the international community that it is committed to protecting our citizens from abuses committed on foreign soil, even if it is by a foreign government," it stated.
background on the incident
In an email, Tuesday evening, Amalie Conchelle C. Hamoy-Obusan, one of the anti-coal campaign network members detained, said that she, together with other activists from Greenpeace and communities in China, Indonesia, Thailand and India were apprehended at around 2pm on Monday and detained for more than 24 hours.
"We were in the village simply to give support and learn from the experiences of our brothers and sisters who share the same plight as our countrymen living around coal-fired power plants," Ms. Hamoy-Obusan said in her email.
She claimed that while at the Cirebon police station, they were accused of "visa irregularities" and "engaging in activities that create instability."
"The interrogation lasted through the night and we’ve had little sleep," said Ms. Hamoy-Obusan.
One of the unilateral agreements of member-nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is that visa is not required if a citizen of any member-nation—visiting an ASEAN country—for visits of less than a week.
Jul 02, 2010
Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International has been in Italy for the last few days enjoying life in a sustainable village one day and denouncing oil companies in Rome the next.
These past few days I have been in Avellino, Cairano and Rome all in Italy, of course. Friends from the unit of Amici della Terra (Friends of the Earth Italy) – in the Avellino area invited me to participate in Cairano 7X – a week-long festival where artists, poets, writers, philosophers, musicians, farmers, carpenters, travellers, meet, have workshops and enjoy hospitality in the houses of the inhabitants of Cairano. I am sure you would want to be there! They are all engaged in a unique local struggle to show how a sustainable village can thrive and to make a plea that Cairano must not die. Local struggles in local contexts multiply like drops of water to form the ocean of our collective struggles and fights.
It is indeed a huge cultural experiment with seven projects over a seven day period. The dates set for the event this year were 20-27 June. But I was busy elsewhere at that time and had to visit Cairano a couple of days after the event.
Did I miss a lot? You bet! But, because Cairano is a living event, I still met the atmosphere and the footprints the festival left behind. I should let you know that Cairano is also the name of the village in which Cairano7X takes place annually. As we headed west of Aviello towards Cairano on a warm afternoon, my hosts Luca Battista, his wife and Letizia Leito began to fill me in on what to expect.
By the way, the Aviello landscape is incredibly beautiful. Mountains surround you in every direction; protected parks ensure that those who wish can stay green (with envy). We rode over a series of bridges with no rivers beneath them. That really surprised me. We eventually saw two minuscule rivers and an artificial lake (a dammed river).
A new humanism
Letizia, my interpreter, by the way, reminded me of the words of Franco Arminio, poet, writer and the Artistic director of Cairano7X. He had explained the Cairano project this way: Cairano 7x is a simple but a very ambitious idea: we think that a new humanism may develop somewhere and we think mountains are the best place for its development: we call this humanism “paesologia”, a discipline that looks at the villages as they are and as they could become rather than think of them as they were, typical activity of the scholars of “paesologia.”
One has to be at Cairano to fully comprehend what the festival seeks to achieve and what it is all about. Cairano is a village set on a hilltop and cannot be hidden. The hill itself is a sculpturesque cape that reminds you of so many things at the same time. Could it have been dropped here from space? All around the hill are farmlands and a little way off wind power generates electricity for equally far off places.
Cairano had a population of 1,410 people in 1951. Currently the population has dropped to about 300 or less, mainly elderly men and women who sit in the summer sun probably recalling the days of old when the village was bustling with folk. A few young couples live here, so you will find kids and some youths. There is only one kindergarten, so the young folks have to attend school in other villages or towns. Great thing, I soon found out is that you don’t really need a wrist watch here, because the bell tower at the church sends out chimes on the hour and also every other 15 minutes or so. I wondered if that continued through the night.
So here we were. A team was waiting to receive us, and then the tour of the village begun. Cairano7X’s focus this year was on migration. I learned that in the distant past this was a point where folks moving elsewhere paused before proceeding with their journey.
During the week-long event artists set up sculptures and dynamic art works that tell the story of migration. One very interesting one was made of paper cut-outs of birds and snails denoting rapid movement and the crawl. We found these paper birds sitting on door posts, window ledges and walls. Of course, the snails crawled at the base of walls. There were moments of dispersal and moments of convergence. Exciting.
And then a big scaffold that held different expressions of movements: barbed wires representing restricted access, a huge nest made of grass representing the idea of home. There were seeds in a trough speaking of life and settlement. So many symbols. You could stand before this architectonic sculpture for hours and there would still be more to see.
And what about the wooden chair that is stuck precariously up a wall? I could not figure that one out. Except if it means to say it is no time for sitting down. Keep moving. But then a piece of paper looking like a giant price tag tells another story: you may have to sell this, and move. My imagination ran riot!
How about the workshop in an abandoned building, with a giant wooden leaf on the floor and vertical poles rising from it? On the wall is a wooden block on which is a call for the world to move away from fossil fuels and leave the oil in the soil. Yes!
All around this area there are stone and concrete dice of different colours. The urge to roll the dice was so strong I had to move my attention to giant spider legs of sticks and a body of a bulbous glass jar.
Come with me. Let us climb higher up and see the beauty of this “deserted” village.
We were soon confronted with a brick and terracotta building constructed on the principles of a compass with horizontal and vertical axes, according to Luca. The architect who invented this compass and method of construction had used it to construct a hospital in Mali. And I suspect the same was replicated in the artisan markets of Bamako (where I must say is the only place I find hand made sandals that my feet love!) Ah!
Up at the pinnacle of this beautiful village is a brow of a ship constructed of sticks and ropes. It perches precariously on the precipice overlooking a lake in the distance and giving you a true sense of sailing… into the future. And then next to it are chairs and a bench.
It was instructive to observe that all the artistic projects here were executed with locally sourced materials. Nothing was imported in. As we left Cairano the young folks regretted that people had to leave after arriving at the village. The wished that folks would come to stay. Hmmm, it was sad to say goodbye.
I couldn’t capture the sounds of music that must have wafted across the Cairano landscape during the event. The plugs had been pulled and the platforms were being dismantled. The gardens developed by some of the participants were alive and well and I keep wondering how come flowers were already blooming if they were planted just the week before. As we descended from Cairano, I wished we could actually stay. The memory of the event hung thick in the air. And we took a part of it away to the seminar that was to hold the next day.
addressing the causes of climate change
The seminar took place at Avellino and I was honoured to speak about the structural causes of climate change, promote elements of the Chochabamba Peoples Agreement on Climate Change and also talk about the gushing oil in the Gulf of Mexico and the forgotten spills in the Niger Delta. I also read a poem I wrote in Bolivia, I will Not Dance to Your Beat. Other speakers spoke on the fact that the limitless growth was impossible in a finite planet.
Cairano is seen as representative of a place that is “sustainable in itself, not having yet saturated its ability to bear the pressures due to human activities. Giving a new demographic and economic meaning to these western territories is probably one of the most important policy actions for the environment having the goal of reducing the climate altering emissions and of ensuring civil rights not unrelated to health and safety provided by the environment.”
The seminar was followed by excellent local food and folk music. I felt like skipping to the beat!
July 1 saw me heading to Rome with Raffaele Spagnuolo, President of Friends of the Earth Campania. Max Bienati and Rosa Filippini of Friends of the Earth Italy were waiting having left Avellino the day before. Rome was the venue of a vital press conference to call the attention of the Italian public to the fact that although everyone speaks of the oil spill gushing in the Gulf of Mexico, United States, there are unreported disasters happening everyday in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. And an Italian oil company, ENI or AGIP is neck deep in the murk along with their cohorts.
The press conference was moderated by Rosa and addressed by me, Christine Weise of Amnesty International and Elena Gerebizza of the Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale. The press were there and so were representatives from the Italian oil giant ENI. Having the oil company represented was quite something!
gas flaring in the dock
The conference opened with a video clip of gas flaring around the world, produced by the World Bank. It shows the Russian Federation as the top gas flarer in the world, with Nigeria taking the silver medal.
Our focus was on the evil and illegal practice of gas flaring in Nigeria (illegal since 1984) and the fact that the BP’s spill in the USA shows clearly that the best oil industry standards are not nearly good enough. Plus the fact that reliable data is hard to come by. One high profile example is the BP spill that has grown from 1000 barrels a day to over 100,000 barrels. Not to mention their cut-and-paste environmental impact studies and spill response plans.
Christine spoke primarily of the fact that environmental rights are human rights and that the oil majors operating in the Niger Delta have played foul in every imaginable way – spilling equivalent of one Exxon Valdez every year over 50 years. Plus the human rights abuses ongoing in the oil fields and in Nigeria generally.
Elena focused on the footprint of international finance institutions in this mire. And she also brought up the case of the Italian oil company ENI getting a nod to receive carbon credits for halting an illegal activity in one location in Nigeria.
We went for lunch after the conference. I have thoroughly enjoyed pasta and cheese these past few days. Over lunch Laura Radiconci from Friends of the Earth Italy, who writes books under the pen name Camilla, presented me with a very apt give. She gave me a copy of her book “The Parachutist” – a story of an American World War II soldier who was actually a vampire, fierce, desperate and bloodthirsty. The question on the blurb of this book is “Will he see his love again and resist the urge to kill her?”
I told her that she might have to write a new story about another vampire, the oil companies, who have sunk their fangs into the necks of poor communities.
I had looked forward to enjoying this trip. I was not disappointed. Saying good-bye was not easy. But Cairano7X will also happen in 2011. Mark your diaries.
Jun 25, 2010
Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific (FoE APAC) is pleased to host the Conference on Forest and Biodiversity, Community Rights and Indigenous Peoples with the theme "Ecological Equity: Sharing the Stories, Reclaiming our Rights", which will take place at the Jerejak Rainforest Resort, Penang, Malaysia, in October 14-17, 2010.
The conference aims to provide a space for indigenous communities from all over the world to share stories about their struggle for ecological equity. While learning from them, the conference will give us the opportunity to share ideas with the communities in order to advance their cause on their rights to forests and biodiversity.
FoE APAC along with FoE Malaysia, in consultation with the FoEI Forests and Biodiversity program are finalising speakers now from indigenous communities in the region.
If you want to express your interest in the conference you can do so by emailing Shujata Shalini email@example.com.
Jun 03, 2010
Justice for the Free Gaza flotilla victims and the Gaza people - end Israeli aggression now!
The women, children and men of Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific are outraged by the Israeli attack on the Free Gaza flotilla and the continued injustice towards the Gaza people. Israeli elite navy corps stormed the ships filled with civilians, killing 19 according to reports and injuring dozens. The attack done on international waters was an act of piracy. This marks the latest attack in an escalation of violence and repression against people standing up against Israeli crimes. Israel has decided to silence, by death or imprisonment, all those ready to speak out.
The Israeli attack was well prepared and according to Israeli news the political establishment had calculated that media backlash was less important than keeping the people in Gaza cut off from the world and humanitarian aid.
Not content with massacres against the Palestinian population, international solidarity is in Israel’s crosshairs now. People telling the true story, people defying the dictates of Israeli racist and colonial laws have become a threat to Israeli apartheid. Ironically, this brutal attack highlights the strength people can have when they are determined to resist power and injustice.
The suffering of the people in Gaza must end now! It is time to end Israeli apartheid, colonialism and aggression!
Hundreds of activists around Asia Pacific and the world protested the raid and the blockade - joining demonstrations around the world. Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific calls on all activists around the world to join in solidarity and hold protests and vigils in memory of the people killed on board the ships.
Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific urges international solidarity groups to work with even more determination to build a strong and effective movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions until Israel respects human rights and international law, and until justice prevails in Palestine.
Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific, calls on the United Nations, the European Commission and the United States of America to:
- Suspend trade agreements with Israel
- Condemn this violation of international law
- Provide humanitarian assistance to participants in the flotilla and act to lift the blockade of Gaza
- Call for the urgent establishment of an independent international commission of inquiry into the attack
The victims on board the Free Gaza flotilla may not be brought back, but with our concerted actions, we can make a difference and claim justice for the victims and stand with our sisters and brothers in Gaza.
May 26, 2010
FoEI Chair Nnimmo Bassey talks about what the recent Cochabamba climate summit in Bolivia meant to him.
May 03, 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Friends of the Earth's president, Erich Pica, had the following response to President Barack Obama's remarks this afternoon in Louisiana:
"President Obama was correct when he said BP is responsible for this spill. But the government bears responsibility too, as it failed to protect U.S. waters and the people who depend on them. Offshore oil drilling is inherently dirty and dangerous. In order to fulfill its responsibility to protect its citizens and territory, the government must establish a permanent moratorium on offshore drilling."
More information about offshore drilling, the oil spill and Friends of the Earth’s response can be found here: http://www.foe.org/gulf-oil-spill