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Climate justice and energy program highlights

The CJE Program’s overall objective is to build a diverse, effective and global movement for climate justice. Climate justice is a right-based approach to the climate crisis with holds those historically responsible for the climate crisis to account. Climate justice demands structural changes to tackle neo-liberalism and radically reduce consumption. In keeping with FoEI’s mission to influence policies and policy dialogue, the CJE Program also aims to ensure that by rich industrialized Annex I countries commit to needed emissions reductions, and appropriate and sufficient financing and transfers of technology to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change, allowing a just transition to sustainable, fossil-free societies.
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An excellent example of our work to empower communities is the Movement of Victims Affected by Climate Change in Central America (MOVIAC) initiative, which continued in 2009. As part of this, more than a hundred representatives of Central American movements, organizations and networks, met in June, in El Salvador. MOVIAC is an invaluable and inspirational component of the Affected Peoples Campaign. Many other FoEI member groups are now inspired to create similar national and regional grassroots movements with affected communities.


FoEI’s work with affected communities also included the Climate School: Building and Mobilizing Climate Justice, which took place on 24 March 2009, in Medellin, Colombia, within the framework of the actions against the Inter-American Development Bank’s 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting, also in Medellin. In addition, a series of community exchanges between communities in Central America has enabled 120 individuals to live in and exchange experiences with other communities challenged by climate change.


FoEI has also focused on developing and deepening key alliances, in order to contribute to building a diverse, effective and global movement for climate justice and energy sovereignty. For the CJE Program this has involved working closely with key social movements such as La Via Campesina and the World March of Women, throughout the year. In particular, we agreed to cohost a joint assembly at Klimaforum09 in Copenhagen, to advance the design of a political agenda that would allow us to move forward in mobilizing and organizing the defence of land. Additionally, we enhanced our cooperation with other coalitions and strategic alliances including Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, Jubilee South, the Global Forest Coalition, Jubilee South, the Durban Group, REDLAR and others.


Key moments in the evolution of these alliances in 2009 included:


  • An event, "Talks between Environmentalists and Indigenous Peoples," at the World Social Forum, 31 January 2009, Belem do Para, Brazil. Organized by FoEI and the Global Forest Coalition, these strategic talks between Indigenous Peoples and environmentalists, with over 100 participants, allowed us to advance in the establishment of political agreements and strategic actions to build climate justice and to fight against the exploitation of nature.


  • "Environmentalists and Indigenous Peoples united for Climate Justice," at the Foro Andino, in Colombia, 18-19 March 2009. Organized by Friends of the Earth, this event also strengthened the developing relationship between environmentalists and Indigenous Peoples from the Andean region including the U`wa, Wayuú, Nasa, Misak, Quichua and Aymara. The focus of the meeting was the impact of climate change on Indigenous Peoples’ lands and the need to move forward with a shared strategy and joint actions for climate justice.


  • The 5th REDLAR Mesoamerican Conference, Boquete, Panama, 22-25 April 2009. FoE was able to promote the idea of combining Energy Sovereignty, Climate Justice and buen vivir  (literally ‘good living’) to the 264 representatives from Mesoamerica and other areas of the continent. This latter concept is central to the social movement and Indigenous Peoples in America, and is referred to as Abya Yala.


  • 1st Continental Summit of Indigenous Women of Abya Yala and the 4th Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nationalities of Abya Yala, in Puno, Peru, 27-31 May 2009. Together with over 5,000 attendees, Friends of the Earth participated in talks, workshops and meetings at both summits. This was an excellent opportunity to contribute to the establishment of the concept of buen vivir and to strengthen ties and move forward with strategies for climate justice.


  • Friends of the Earth also participated in the Asia Pacific Peoples’ Solidarity for Climate Justice organizing meeting, to contribute to preparations for the week of civil society activities that took place in parallel to the Bangkok UNFCCC intersessional meeting, 28 September to 9 October 2009.


  • At the 1st International Climate Justice Tribunal, Cochabamba, Bolivia, 14-16 October 2009, FoEI presented a case about sugarcane cutters in South-western Colombia to the tribunal, contributing to the debate on environmental crimes, the climate and environmental debt. This case was the direct result of an international mission for the verification of agrofuels in Colombia, which FoEI organized in July 2009, with the participation of more than 40 international delegates. The mission visited five regions in Colombia which have been severely impacted by the expansion of sugar cane and palm oil to produce agrofuels.


  • The months preceding COP-15 in Copenhagen involved extensive and improved collaboration with social movements - especially Via Campesina and the World March of Women - and other civil society organizations, around plans for Copenhagen, including the joint Klimaforum events, mobilizations and media work. FoEI also participated in Climate Justice Action preparations, and organized and participated in a Climate Justice Now! strategy meeting in Bangkok in October.


In 2009 FoEI's campaigning on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations involved the production and distribution of a substantial number of policy proposals and analyses in the run-up to COP-15 in Copenhagen. A new and rapidly developing focus in this respect is climate finance, a cross-cutting campaign being run with FoEI’s Economic Justice Resisting Neoliberalism (EJRN) program. We developed a robust position paper in collaboration with campaigners from the EJRN campaign, which formed the foundation for much of our campaigning before and during Copenhagen. FoEI also began to contribute to the climate finance debate within the climate justice movement. Nearly 10,000 copies of our climate finance materials, "Financing Climate Justice: Ensuring a Just Agreement on Climate Change," and "Financing Climate Justice: Summary of Demands and Ethical Criteria Matrix" were distributed in Copenhagen, in English, French and Spanish. FoEI’s ethical criteria matrix provides governments with a set of criteria for judging climate financing mechanisms proposed during negotiations.


Thousands of copies of our 2008 publication "REDD Myths: a critical review of proposed mechanisms to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries" were also re-printed and distributed in Copenhagen, as was "Voices from communities affected by climate change." In addition, 5,000 copies of the popular FoEI newspaper, "Climate Justice Times," were also distributed.  


The joint efforts of FoEI and key allies has helped to ensure that a number of governments, such as Bolivia, have officially voiced their concerns about the potential negative impacts of UNFCCC, World Bank and national policies to finance Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), especially if REDD is used to support plantations and is funded through carbon markets. As a result of lobbying by FoEI and allies, the UNFCCC’s REDD draft reflected these concerns. A key element in this effort was a side event on the potential impacts of REDD on Indigenous Peoples’ rights and biodiversity and the risks of GE trees, on 3 June, parallel to the meetings of the Subsidiary Bodies to the UNFCCC in Bonn. This was co-organized with the Global Forest Coalition and the International Alliance on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forest. Many FoEI member groups have also been informed and thus enabled to participate in national REDD policy discussions currently underway.


During the year we also produced a video trilogy, "Towards Solutions on Sustainable Energy Practices". In addition, we distributed and publicized a Friends of the Earth Europe Study entitled "The 40% Study: Mobilizing Europe to Achieve Climate Justice," which shows that domestic emissions cuts of at least 40% in Europe by 2020 are both feasible and affordable.


This research, combined with our advocacy activities, also allowed us to be particularly effective in persuading governments in many countries in the global North to introduce binding climate change laws that will help to reduce those countries’ carbon emissions. This was especially the case in Europe where FoE has focused on its Big Ask campaign: France, Scotland and the UK passed climate change laws setting emissions reductions targets, and it seems likely that similar laws will soon be passed in a number of other European countries including Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Ireland and Slovenia.


Other member groups have also been very active on climate change. In March 2009, for example, FoE Japan organized an international workshop on climate change impacts and solutions faced by developing countries, with presentations from the Japanese government, the World Bank and several international organizations. FoEI’s involvement focused on showing how climate change and its false solutions are a result of the current neoliberal production and consumption model.


Although Copenhagen was an abject failure, it was a key moment in the intergovernmental debate on mitigating and adapting to climate change, because of the urgent need to agree and develop a successor to the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol before it expires in 2012. FoEI took a team of 400 activists to Copenhagen: some of them were engaged in lobbying and advocacy work within the Bella Center, whilst others were focused on the daily mobilizations and alternative events, including the Klimaforum, which were so important to ensuring governments heard the critical voices of civil society.


From the talks in the Klimaforum, demonstrations on the streets, and actions in the conference centre, the message was loud and clear: any climate agreement must be based on climate justice. This was an important development: before Copenhagen the term ‘climate justice’ was much discussed in civil society meetings but more-or-less unknown elsewhere. During Copenhagen on the other hand, it began appearing frequently in the mainstream media.


We promoted the development of many actions/spaces for campaigning and mobilizing during COP-15 and Klimaforum09. This included FoE Europe’s work developing the Flood for Climate Justice, an extremely successful demonstration which more than 5,000 people from many countries participated in. The event also involved mock carbon traders trying to sell carbon offsets to protestors, and a fake carbon stock exchange. It ended in front of the Danish Parliament with the creation of a massive human banner reading “Offsetting is a false solution.”


FoEI also drew public attention to our positions and alternatives for sustainable livelihoods through both traditional and new creative media activities and actions. During Copenhagen, we posted 37 blog entries and 9 videos on FoEI's You Tube channel, and 300 high-quality images on Flickr. Prior to Copenhagen, we created a website to feature the Angry Mermaid Award which included an animation story on the effect of corporate neglect of climate change on communities in the South: the website had 23,851 views. In Copenhagen's Klimaforum09, we presented an interactive Climate Capsule installation with videos, photos and drawings from around the world. We also conducted outreach on climate change during the international tour of the rock band Radiohead, and produced the graphic novel "Speechless" about the history of economic globalization.


A further key objective for the CJE program is to stop World Bank pollution of the climate debate. During 2009 we continued to monitor and conduct advocacy around the World Bank’s framework on clean energy investment and the emission-trading schemes promoted by IFIs. In September we organized a public forum on climate debt alongside the Intersessional Meeting on Climate Change in Bangkok, and a public forum on climate change and financing. FoEI was co-organizer of an international meeting on Financing Strategy and Climate, along with other networks and organizations including Jubilee South, Focus on the Global South, and Oilwatch. FoEI also supported the production of the FoEI Asia Pacific (APac) region’s first climate publication, "Climate Impacts of the ADB's Business: How the Asian Development Bank Finances Climate Change."


FoE also participated in the civil society campaign to stop governments subsidizing the climate-wrecking fossil fuels industry. In April 2009, we published Public Money for Fossil Fuels in the EU and three EU Member States, to identify the many sources of public investments in harmful industries. In 2009, both the G-20 and the UN made agreements to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels, which will have a positive impact on policies regarding renewable energy.


Some FoE groups are also focusing on private finance and its role in driving climate change. FoE Netherlands, for example, has conducted research into systems for measuring carbon footprints, which was presented during a Banktrack meeting for private banks in Washington. The Climate Working Group of banks involved in the Equator Principles is now organizing workshops to develop and implement such a methodology. The outcome of our activities is that among these banks the question is not 'whether' or 'why' they should measure carbon footprints, but 'how'. FoE Netherlands has also convinced private banks in the Netherlands to commit to improving their energy-related investment policies.


The Climate Justice & Energy Program working areas are:

  • Energy sovereignty
  • Climate and finance / Carbon and forest markets
  • UNFCCC (including REDD), and
  • Stopping World Bank pollution of the climate debate.


Cross campaign areas include:

  • With the Forests and Biodiversity Program - the REDD campaign
  • With the Forests and Biodiversity Program, the Food Sovereignty Program, and the EJRN Program - Agrofuels
  • With the EJRN program - Financing and Climate, particularly building a common position at the federation level, including on carbon markets and the Clean Development Mechanism

Coordinators and participants

In 2009, the co-coordinators of the Climate Justice & Energy (CJE) Program were:

  • Hildebrando Vélez and Irene Vélez, FoE Colombia
  • Joseph Zacune, FoE EWNI
  • Stephanie Long, FoE Australia

 The CJE Steering Group included:

  • For ATALC: Eduardo Giesen, FoE Chile,
  • For Europe: Sonja Meister, FoE Europe,
  • For Africa: Michael Keania Karikpo, FoE Nigeria
  • For North America: Karen Orenstein, FoE US


Groups that participated actively in the CJE Program in 2009 included: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belgium (Flanders and Brussels), Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, England, Wales & N Ireland, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay and the US.

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