Dec 09, 2011
This afternoon hundreds of climate justice activists staged a protest at the UN climate talks in support of a strong and fair agreement to protect Africa and the world.
FoEI's Chair Nnimmo Bassey said:
“The people have spoken loud and clear: we need climate justice now and this means urgent action. Yet the politicians inside the talks are once again failing to deliver. If urgent, ambitious action is not taken the lives of millions will be in peril.”
“Developed countries are responsible for this crisis. They must now stop trying to protect their polluters. They must commit to the ambitious emissions reductions the science and justice tell us we need to avoid catastrophic climate change.”
As world leaders met in Durban, South Africa to discuss efforts to tackle global warming, Friends of the Earth International were there calling on the rich developed countries, which have historically emitted the most greenhouse gases, to agree to urgent and dramatic cuts in their emissions.
Members of the FoEI delegation carry a 'no carbon trading' banner on the streets of Durban during the Global Day of Action. We're calling on developed countries to tackle climate change by urgently making real changes at home.
Carbon offsetting – when developed countries buy carbon credits from developing countries to avoid cutting emissions themselves – has no part to play in a just international agreement to fight climate change.
We believe in climate justice which means emission cuts in developed countries, and money for developing countries to grow cleanly and adapt to the effects of climate change – but it also means a change in our consumption patterns.
coverage of the talks and further reading
- Disastrous "durban package" accelerates onset of climate catastrophe
- Read all our press releases relating to the talks
- Call one of South Africa's largest polluters to get out of the climate change negotiations
- Stop land grabbing for palm oil in Uganda
FoEI Chair Nnimmo Bassey blogs for the New Internationalist
- Durban became a procrastinators' paradise
- There is no planet b
- The Kyoto Protocol is in grave danger
- Challenging climate apartheid
- Are Durban climate talks worth the bother
Updates from Durban: inside and outside the talks
- The silver lining to a terribly dark cloud - the Green Climate Fund and Durban
- Civil society takes action in Durban for a fair agreement
- 3,000 people demand EU leadership at climate talks
- The youth take a stand
- Profiting from pollution: an introduction to carbon trading
- Fighting climate change on the frontline
- 10,000 people demand climate justice
- Keep corporations out of the Green Climate Fund
- Durban in Brussels: European youth convergence for climate justice
- Exposing climate killers
- FoE US: Climate talks begin with tragic deaths
- REDD in the real world
- Will they listen?
- How corporations rule: a series of case studies exposing corporate influence in climate negotiations
- In the REDD: Australia's carbon offset project in central Kalimantan
- Briefing: Changing the system not the climate
- Carbon markets briefing: our climate is not for sale
- Factsheet: Our climate, our say
Young Friends of the Earth
- Listen to the coverage on our web based radio station Real World Radio
- View photos from the events taking place inside and outside the talks
- View a more extensive selection of high resolution photos on our Flickr account
Civil society events in Durban
Yesterday Friends of the Earth International handed the head of the EU delegation in Durban a list of over 3000 people who have written in to demand strong EU leadership at the UN climate talks.
3,040 people sent a letter via our on-line action, calling on Mr. Tomasz Chruszczow and the EU to take a strong position on the following topics:
- Unconditionally support a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally-binding climate agreement.
- Agree to a legally-binding reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 40 per cent domestically by 2020.
- Close current loopholes, like carbon trading, which allow the EU to keep polluting.
As the Durban negotiations are nearing a close, the EU must show the world that it is serious about tackling climate change and sign a strong and fair agreement.
Dec 07, 2011
Today at the C17 space Friends of the Earth hosted the energy sessions. A range of speakers presented the current energy system's failings and discussed what the alternatives could look like, and what dangers lie ahead.
The afternoon began with Nnimmo Bassey, chairman of Friends of the Earth International, leading a discussion of how our fossil-fuel based system fails people and the planet.
Fossil fuels destroy local environments and communities, drive dangerous climate change and fail to provide sufficient energy to 40 per cent of the world's population.
There are solutions though. In the session 'An energy sector we want to see', Pascoe Sabido from Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland looked at small scale renewable energy, often managed by communities, as a way of reclaiming power.
Pascoe talked about the need for a global feed in tariff (GFIT) that would provide upfront financing from public sources for universal access to renewable electric power and non-electric energy services such as solar water heaters and biogas. The collection and dispersal of funds would take into account the climate debt owed by the north to the south and by the rich to the poor.
The sources of funding for such a mechanism could include the diversion of fossil fuel subsidies, diverting military spending, imposing a levy on aviation and maritime fuels or imposing a financial transaction tax on speculative international money flows.
On the cost of renewables Pascoe believes that economies of scale would also play a part in driving down prices.
"As more people around the world invest in solar and other renewables the price would come down for everyone, in both the north and the south.
"Once the cost of renewables fall below the cost of fossil fuels, they will be the default energy choice" he said.
Friends of the Earth believes that such a radical transformation of the energy system will be handing back power to the people. Not just in the literal sense but it will also mean a shift in power relationships.
"Energy companies would be the consumers, buying surplus energy from the people. This transformative effect could also change communities, promoting true democracy and self organisation" Pascoe concluded.
Further informationRead Friends of the Earth's report 'Reclaiming power'
Today at the C17 civil society space a panel of speakers talked about the various carbon trading initiatives to have emerged from the Kyoto Protocol and the impacts they are having in the real world.
First to speak was Oscar Reyes, from Friends of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
The CDM came out of the Kyoto Protocol. In short, it allows polluting companies in the north to buy credits from polluting companies in the south so they can continue business as usual.
Oscar pointed out the main flaw of the scheme:
"What many people fail to see is that offsets are not reductions. They're moved emissions. They're about storytelling. You predict how much you could have emitted and then promise to emit a little less.
"Once you've done that it's just a case of convincing the UN accreditation panel of your story. If they buy it, you get the credits."
The CDM and Waste
The Wastepickers Alliance at the UN climate talks.
Simon Mbata from the South African Wastepickers Association spoke about the impacts of the CDM on the livelihoods of wastepickers. He explained how CDM funds are being paid to companies to build waste incinerators and to harness methane from landfill sites. As a result wastepickers are often forcibly excluded from waste sites.
He agrees that it's better to put the methane from landfill sites to good use rather than releasing it into the air, but:
"It is even better not to emit methane in the first place. Almost all waste can be treated so it doesn't make it to the landfill. That's why wastepickers need to be part of the process and integrated into the whole waste management system." he said.
easy money for polluters
Tristen Taylor, from Earthlife South Africa, talked about how large energy companies are making money out of carbon offsetting.
He introduced us to the South African energy company Sasol, the world’s leader in coal-to-liquid (CTL) technology - the most carbon-intensive way of making petrol and diesel. Sasol’s Secunda plant produces more carbon dioxide emissions than any other single source in the world.
Sasol is involved in carbon trading through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). It has one CDM approved project for destruction of nitrous oxide, a lucrative and easy option which yielded 260,000 Certified Emission Reductions which the company then went on to sell.
By the time Sasol were ready to submit another project for CDM funds , South African civil society groups were one step ahead of them and reported inaccuracies in the company's application. As a result the application was blocked because meaning that the accreditation board believed the project would have happened anyway without carbon credits.
More information on Sasol and South Africa’s climate policy can be found in our new report
The impact of REDD
A REDD protest in IndonesiaIsaac Rojas, Friends of the Earth International's Forest and Biodiversity coordinator, introduced FoEI's latest report that looks at the impacts of the UN's 'Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries' programme - commonly known as REDD.
'In the REDD' looks at the impact of a REDD pilot project run by Australia in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Isaac first noted that the project does not formally guarantee the rights of indigenous people. This is actually in contravention of one of the UN's own declarations on Indigenous rights.
There has been no respect for traditional rights in the way this project and others - in Ecuador, Congo and Mozambique - are carried out.
Isaac explained the effects of this in practice:
"In indigenous cultures, when someone plants a tree in your forest it means they are claiming ownership. This is therefore creating tension and confusion among local groups. When they are no longer able to access parts of the forest to harvest they think their forest has been taken away from them."
Isaac also pointed out that, in all the REDD projects he's aware of, there is a complete lack of information in the public domain about what is happening.
"People have no idea that their forests are being turned into a global commodity" he said.
Read our report 'In the REDD'
Climate smart agriculture?
It's not only forests that have been commodified, Teresa Anderson from the Gaia foundation talked about how the World Bank is promoting so-called “Climate Smart Agriculture” and carbon offsets as the future of African agriculture and climate solutions.
She believes the figures being banded though are wild estimations.
“Measuring carbon captured in soils presents major problems. It is simply not possible to measure every square metre of land to assess the carbon stored. Variations in soil type and practice means large uncertainties regarding amounts of sequestered carbon from plot to plot.”
What is clear though is the money involved in the project. Teresa talked about the figures involved in a pilot project in Kenya:
"Consultants are making over a million dollars in the course of the pilot, whereas farmers are receiving just a few dollars each."
She concluded by voicing her concerns for what will happen if agriculture is including in carbon markets:
“An agreement on Agriculture at COP17 will lead to land grabs and deliver African farmers into the hands of fickle carbon markets.”
the wrong question
The two hour session finished with panelists looking for a way forward and something positive for people to take with them.
The panel stressed the view that carbon offsetting in all forms is a false solution to climate change - it is simply a way for traders to find new ways to make money.
Oscar Reyes, from Friends of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland made the following observation:
"If trading and making money out of carbon is the answer then we must be asking the wrong question. The question should be: How can we have low impact lifestyles, breakdown the current energy systems and create more renewable energy?"
Further readingRead 'Our climate is not for sale' to find out more about carbon markets
Dec 06, 2011
As environment ministers and heads of state arrive for the second week of the climate talks, hundreds of people affected by climate change were occupying whatever space they could to remind the people inside that the decisions being taken affect them directly.
Members of La Via Campesina on the streets of Durban.
The day started with a march through central Durban with our allies from the international peasant movement La Via Campesina.
Two hundred peasant farmers took to the streets to denounce the model of industrial agriculture as one of the main drivers of climate change and to expose the aggressive land grabbing tactics of agribusiness globally.
Speaking on the march Martin Drago, FoEI's food sovereignty coordinator, talked about the importance of sustainable agriculture:
“The climate and food crisis can be addressed through food sovereignty, basically promoting sustainable peasant agriculture and small-scale food production.”
the invisible entrepreneurs
Inside the walls of the International Conference Centre, the Global Alliance of Wastepickers carried out an action of sorting rubbish to demonstrate the importance of their work in tackling the climate crisis.
Wastepickers are workers in the informal economy who recover recyclable materials from waste. They are invisible entrepreneurs on the frontlines of the fight against climate change yet their abilities to recycle are being undermined by the so called 'solutions' that emanate form the climate talks.
Speaking in a press conference, Suman More from Pune, India, talked about her work as a wastepicker:
"We sort waste into thirty categories. We compost what we can and sell it to farmers and the society where it was produced. By doing this we ensure that less methane is released in landfill sites."
She emphasised the difference between her work and the new players on the scene in India:
"We recycle waste, waste management companies burn this precious waste" she said.
The wastepickers action in the grounds of the conference centre where the climate talks are taking place.
The wastepickers find it ironic that the Clean Development Mechanism gives carbon credits to companies that operate incinerators and landfills, and that the Green Climate Fund could reward the private sector with contracts to do the work they do for free.
Suman stressed that, she and fellow members of the alliance, are part of the solution and want access to the Green Climate Fund:
"Wastepickers want to be integrated into municipal systems. We want to be allowed to go door to door to collect waste for composting."
Later in the day the Rural Women's Assembly - that unites women's farming and agricultural movements from around the world - held a rally at Speakers Corner calling for strong Kyoto Protocol targets in the climate talks.
The women delivered their 'no new mandate' message to Seyne Nafo, a Malian spokesman for the African negotiators.
Today alone three alliances have shown that their ways of life are a solution to the climate crisis. It's only by listening to people who are living and working sustainably can we expect to avert catastrophic climate change. So far the negotiators are only showing token signs of doing that.
Dec 02, 2011
Today we were calling on rich country negotiators, particularly the US, UK and Japan, to keep corporations out of the Green Climate Fund.
Patrick Bond, Centre for Civil Society, speaks in front of the giant octopus at the climate finance rally.
The day started with the issuing of a letter exposing an attempt led by the US, the UK and Japan to turn the Green Climate Fund into a “Greedy Corporate Fund”. The letter was signed by 163 civil society organisations from 39 countries and included Friends of the Earth International.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was created to support people in developing countries – people who are the most affected by the climate crisis but are the least responsible for it.
But developed countries are trying to allow multinational corporations and financiers to directly access GCF financing.
Karen Orenstein from Friends of the Earth US gave her take on the situation:
"Led by the US and the UK on behalf of Wall Street and The City, this attempt to hijack developing countries’ funding is outrageous. Communities need this money to address climate change and to finance their own development – without repeating the same mistakes that the rich countries have made."
A demonstrator likens the plans for the Green Climate Fund as an attempt to turn it into a 'Greedy Corporate Fund'.
In the afternoon the protest was a more vocal affair as people descended on Speakers Corner, with the help of a giant octopus symbolising the fact that Wall Street, the World Bank and multinational corporations have their tentacles all over climate finance.
Several speakers addressed the crowd to talk about the dirty energy being produced in their country's and the need for urgent investment in renewable energy.
In Kosovo, Indonesia, India, Nigeria, South Africa and Brazil the story was the same - the World Bank continues to fund dirty energy.
From the Bank's relationship with South Africa - it's latest US$ 3.75 billion loan is helping to build one of the world’s largest coal plants - to its forays in Kosovo - where it is urging the government to invest in coal despite studies highlighting the fact that Kosovo could meet all its energy needs with renewable energy - the World Bank can't get enough of coal.
Lisa, a midwife from the US, summed up the feelings of many people in the crowd as she pointed to the conference centre:
"They are the 1% creating debt and poverty…I am a midwife and I don't feel safe bringing children into the world whilst the World Bank is in charge" she said.
Dec 01, 2011
International Rivers and Friends of the Earth International have teamed up to create a state-of-the-art Google Earth 3-D tour and video narrated by FoEI Chair Nnimmo Bassey.
The production was launched on the first day of the COP 17 climate meeting in Durban. The video and tour allow viewers to explore why dams are not the right answer to climate change, by learning about topics such as reservoir emissions, dam safety, and adaptation while visiting real case studies in Africa, the Himalayas and the Amazon.
A new report launched today names and shames the banks that are financing the dirty energy investments that are heating up the globe.
Today in Durban, social and environmental justice organisations, including Friends of the Earth South Africa, launched 'Bankrolling climate change', a new report that names and shames the banks that are financing the dirty energy investments that are heating up the globe.
The report contains new research on the portfolios of 93 of the world’s leading banks and their lending for the coal industry, the prime source of global CO2 emissions.
We all know that climate change is happening. But do we know who is financing the dirty energy investments that are heating up the globe? Until now, there has been little investigation of the banks’ role and responsibility for global warming.
While most large commercial banks provide figures on their annual investments into renewable energy, they neither track nor publish their annual investments into fossil fuel projects. Many banks have made far-reaching statements on the climate, but are they putting their money where their mouth is?
Speaking at the event, Bobby Peek from Friends of the Earth South Africa explained the purpose of the report:
“Our study names and shames the banks that are destabilising our climate system. Plans for new coal fired power plants and coal mines are meeting with fierce resistance all over the world and we are going to begin turning that heat on the banks."
During the event the report authors disclosed the top twenty “climate killers” in the banking world - the banks who are financing the most polluting projects. Number one on the list is JPMorgan Chase who like to declare in their advertising that they're “helping the world transition to a low-carbon economy.”
outside the talks
Later in the day, outside the big polluters were again under fire at Speakers Corner.
There Friends of the Earth International, OilWatch, the Indigenous Environmental Network and others called on governments around the world to "Keep the oil in soil, the coal in the hole and tar sands in the land."
Nov 28, 2011
Friends of the Earth International joined a crowd of 10,000 people on the streets of Durban to call on climate negotiators to listen to the voice of the people at the UN climate talks.
Director of Friends of the Earth South Africa, Bobby Peek, explains why many South African civil society organisations are calling these climate talks in Durban the “conference of the polluters”
The 'we have faith' rally took place in the Kings Stadium, Durban. The event was hosted by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a number of South African faith leaders and musicians. FoEI Chair Nnimmo Bassey also addressed the crowd and warned them that Africa will be cooked if countries are allowed to pledge and do as they please in the negotiations.
Nov 18, 2011
The world is on a precipice. Already the lives and livelihoods of millions of people are being devastated by the impact of increased extreme weather events like flooding, droughts and hurricanes. Climate change is directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people per year, most of whom are in poorer communities in the poorest countries of the world.
If urgent action is not taken, not only will climate change get worse but we could overreach dangerous tipping points into irreversible and catastrophic climate change.
Developed countries’ governments are neglecting their responsibility to prevent climate catastrophe. The positions of these governments at global climate talks are increasingly driven by the narrow economic and financial interests of wealthy elites and multinational corporations while the poorest communities suffer.
These interests, tied to the economic sectors responsible for pollution or profiting from false solutions to the climate crisis like carbon trading and fossil fuels, are the key forces behind global inaction.
Tackling climate change means changing the unjust and unsustainable economic system, especially our dependence on polluting fossil fuels and the over-use of the world’s resources. To do this we need to push governments to act in the interests of ordinary people, workers and communities and the poor and vulnerable.
Within the UN, rich developed countries must meet their historical responsibility by committing to urgent and deep emissions cuts through the Kyoto Protocol – the existing legally binding framework, without carbon trading, offsetting and other loopholes, They must also repay their climate debt to poorer countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America so that they too can tackle climate change. This will benefit people all around the world by ensuring a safe climate, more secure livelihoods, more green jobs, clean affordable energy and energy efficiency.
Questions and answers on the talks
WHAT IS HAPPENING AT THE UN CLIMATE TALKS?
What’s more, it looks like rich countries want to use the Durban climate talks to further diminish their responsibilities to tackle climate change and dismantle the whole framework for binding reductions of greenhouse gases, without which we have no chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. They are also pushing for the expansion of false solutions like carbon trading, a further escape hatch from emissions reductions which will make climate change worse and cause further harm to people around the world while bringing huge profits to polluters.
SHOULD THE WORLD ABANDON THE UN TALKS AND TRY AND TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE SOMEWHERE ELSE?
WHAT DO FoEI WANT TO SEE HAPPEN AT COP 17?
Do foei support the continuation of the kyoto protocol?
Rich countries, led by the US, Canada, Japan and Russia, are trying to tear up these international treaties and replace them with a high risk voluntary approach.
Rich countries must agree to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol with strong targets and no carbon trading, offsetting, or other loopholes if we are to have a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH CARBON MARKETS?
Carbon markets also have potential human rights and environmental impacts resulting from the land grabbing associated with many offsetting projects like REDD, plantations and agrofuels.
WHAT is REDD AND what are FORESTS CREDITS?
Now, in addition, there is a strong push from industrialised countries for REDD projects to be financed through the global carbon market, which will open up further loopholes in terms of global cuts in carbon emissions and also dramatically increase the chances of destructive impacts on communities and the environment in countries where REDD projects are based.
Including forests in carbon offsetting initiatives does not work: it diverts attention from real measures to reduce emissions and prevent deforestation, and threatens Indigenous Peoples and local communities who depend on them for survival.
WHAT IS CLIMATE FINANCE?
WHAT IS THE 'CORPORATE CAPTURE OF THE UN'?
what's wrong with biofuels?
Agrofuels benefit large agribusiness and energy companies and their expansion does not help to address climate change. Instead, promoting agrofuels reinforces the current unsustainable model of consumption and production which has fuelled climate change in the first place.
what is industrial AGRICULTURE's role in CLIMATE CHANGE?
Oct 26, 2011
My name is Lucia Ortiz. I've been working with Friends of the Earth Brazil for more than 10 years. In this period, I have joined Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) at UN climate conferences, Rio+10 (the United Nations conference on sustainable development) in Johannesburg and many civil society gatherings. In June 2012 it will be time for us to host friends again in Brazil for the Rio+20 conference.
Lucia Ortiz The discussion about the outcomes and expectations for Rio+20 is starting in the federation, based on the views of member groups. As the national member in Brazil, we would like to share some of our thoughts in this space. We invite you all to have some fun and collective free thinking!
How we see Rio+20 in Brazil
We've been a part of the Brazilian civil society facilitator committee for Rio+20 since November 2010, representing Rede Brasil on Financial Institutions along with twenty other national networks and social movements with diverse perspectives. In this process we have been developing our views from exchanges and collective thinking with our allies, while monitoring the Brazilian government's positions.
There is no real official process to cope with the three main and noble objectives of the conference: to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, to assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps (and why not their structural causes?) in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development since Rio92, and to address new and emerging challenges.
The Conference will also focus on two themes: the first, any guesses? Green economy! And the other one, Global Governance (or control?) of the environment. The most recent UN climate talks related to the issues of sustainable development, and the totally insufficient preparation process for Rio+20, can give us a clue on how controversy it can be.
Currently our main concerns do not lie in the outcomes or possible agreements at the conference itself, as a “zero draft” will be known only by January 2012.
As the official United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) “Road Map to Rio+20” clearly states, while some organisations, as well as corporations, keep busy with these official contributions, the ongoing process consists of "recommending domestic strategies (national policies) that developing countries (not industrialised countries) need to put in place to meet the challenges of transitioning to the green economy”.
The pressure to move to a "green" economy
The pressure to speed up these initiatives are already being felt by peoples in the South. 'Structural adjustment of environmental and land tenure policies', also known as land grabbing, is now taking place on a massive scale at an alarming pace. This is similar to the neoliberal adjustment of national policies in the 1990’s to liberalise public services, or to the rules imposed by TLCs/FTAs to open access to land and minerals by corporations. We are told we must now must adapt domestic laws to the new green capitalist phase which means to liberalise the environment for the markets.
So the transition to the green economy comes in a series of steps described very clearly by a community leader from Amazonia. The dismantling of forest laws, then the approval of so called climate change laws (that do not mention any decrease in fossil fuel consumption but centrally the creation of imaginary caps and carbon markets whose rights are assured by the state), then the new laws on REDD that allow certificates known as green titles to be traded in stock markets to offset pollution by industrialised countries (that do not need any transition to green economy), and finally the laws about Payment for Environmental Services (PES), or the domestic internalisation of The Economy of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB).
Instruments of the green economy, REDD and PES, mean the concrete interpretation of the results of the UN climate summit in Cancun, 2010 (COP16) and of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Nagoya, 2010 (COP10). This threatens the sovereignty of communities over their territories.
By generating green papers out of common goods, such as carbon, water, biodiversity and even cultural values, they are aimed at saving a discredited financial system rather than the people or the planet.
The difference of the Rio+20 tentative global green deal and the neoliberal consensus of Washington is that the last came before the structural adjustments, while Rio+20 will come after and put a green UN label on the false consensus that is green capitalism.
As Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International, once said: "If Rio92 was known as the Earth Summit, Rio+20 can be known as the summit of the commodification of nature."
The problem is it's already happening!
Further informationSee video testimony about REDD and FAS in the Amazonas region, Brazil (in Portuguese)
Read more about structural adjustment policies
Friends of the Earth Brazil's Lucia Ortiz blogs on the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development conference that took place recently in Switzerland.
At the conference I had the chance to put forward FoEI's views on the green economy and to exchange and learn from very committed social researchers, sometimes burdened by the green agendas of donors and agencies, but with a clear call for independent research on real social change in these times of colourful changes.
Scientists are engaged in the challenge to break down the wall of the false dichotomy between social and ecological dimensions in modern science, that have split unnaturally peoples from nature in our industrial society. I have many stories and insights from the conference to share, but the statement I liked the most was a reference to my speech made during the presentation by a UNEP representative.
The representative said: "No comparison can be made with structural adjustments of the '90’s, as a green economy is not about an adjustment of macro economy as it was then, it is only an ‘adjustment of the structure’ (read: of the policies in developing countries)”.
Ah…do you feel any better? I don’t! So the economic system is fine, what needs to adapt to the new capitalist phase are governments, policies, peoples and the environment!
Read the program and papers of the UNRISD Conference
Oct 11, 2011
Civil society organisations from Japan, South Korea, Australia and Malaysia said they are convinced beyond doubt that nuclear power has no place in Malaysian’s quest to chart a sustainable energy future.
Friends of the Earth Australia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and a number of other civil society organisations are urging the government of Malaysia to increase its support for sustainable energy instead of spending taxpayers’ money on nuclear technology which has proven time and again to be economically, environmentally and socially harmful.
The calls come out of a two day public forum which provided an insight into the potential of energy efficiency and renewable energy to achieve a healthy energy mix for Malaysia. The forum heard first-hand the suffering endured by the people of Fukushima from the tsunami which triggered a nuclear crisis as a result of the meltdown of three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Eri Watanabe, the Nuclear and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Japan said:
“The accident in Fukushima reminded us that once a severe accident happens, the environmental and social impacts are irreversible
"So far, the Japanese government cannot sufficiently protect their people from radiation. However, the government still continues its policy to promote exports of nuclear power technology. This is morally wrong because its own people are still suffering so much from the accident.
"I strongly recommend that the Malaysian government and people rethink the introduction of nuclear energy for your prosperity and for the next generation.
Seiichi Nakate, a Representative of the Fukushima Network for Protecting Children from Radiation said:
“I would not want the Malaysian people to experience the tragedy that people in Fukushima are now facing. I came here only because I wanted to tell you this. In Fukushima, more than 100,000 families have been separated because of the nuclear accident. And even now, one million people still live in contaminated areas with deep sufferings and anxiety.
"Human beings must abandon nuclear power plants. We must not allow a single nuclear power plant to be built any more.”
Kim Hye Jeong, Executive Coordinator of Friends of the Earth Korea said:
“Korea’s nuclear technologies are questionable as shown by its track record of 646 minor and major accidents in a period of 32 years since the installation of its first nuclear power plant in 1978.
“We are appalled that the APR1400 nuclear reactor that has yet to be commercially tested in South Korea might just be the type of reactor that the Malaysian government is considering buying from us.
"We condemn the South Korean Government’s plan to export such sub‐standard technology to a developing country like Malaysia under the pretext of international technical cooperation,” she added.
Dr Jim Green, National nuclear campaigner at Friends of the Earth Australia said:
“Australian uranium was used in the Fukushima reactors that were destroyed in March. We Australians do not want to be responsible for similar disasters in Malaysia.”
He also added that, over a 50 year lifespan, a single nuclear reactor is responsible for 1,500 tonnes of high level nuclear waste and a staggering 35 million tonnes of low level radioactive tailings waste. The Malaysian government should not bequeath this toxic legacy to future generations.
After the forum, several Malaysian civil society groups who were present pledged to work together in a concerted campaign against the proposed nuclear power plants.
Aug 11, 2011
On the 66th Peace Memorial Day of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Junichi Mishiba, the Executive Director of Friends of the Earth Japan issued this statement.
On 6 and 9 August we will commemorate the 66th Peace Memorial Day of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We express heartfelt condolences for the victims who died in radiation, heat ray, and hellish flames 66 years ago, and those who died of radiation exposure afterwards. We also express our sincere solidarity with the people who are still suffering and fighting radiation-caused illnesses.
This year, however, we have to give our serious thoughts to the grave situation the people in Fukushima are exposed at the risk of radiation poisoning due to the Fukushima Daiichi accident.
Radioactive materials still continue polluting our ocean, atmosphere, and ground, driving the people who lived in the surrounding area of the nuclear plant away far from their home towns. A lot of people who live in the polluted area in Fukushima and neighbouring area are exposed to high radiation dosages every day without sufficient measures taken for their protection.
We the Japanese people have promoted nuclear power generation and the nuclear fuel cycle use as "peaceful" use knowing risks posed by radiation. Even though it was clear to many of us that nuclear power generation was expensive, had high risk and had potentially enormous negative environmental impacts, huge funds have been invested in the repeated propaganda re-assuming "Nuclear power is safe and clean." They weren't telling the truth.
Many troubles, accidents, and the plant-workers’ health issues surfaced one after another, were deliberately understated and the policy to promote nuclear power continued.
However, this accident in Fukushima has revealed that nuclear power has gone totally out of our control. It was the government and the industry that craved for nuclear power and we citizens allowed that policy. We owe the future generation the grave responsibility.
We make our resolution on this Peace Memorial Day in 2011, to stand up and face the grave threats of nuclear power and radiation as a country that has experienced devastating radiation exposures and the worst nuclear plant accident in the world’s history.
We again appeal to our government that the suffering of Fukushima is not in any way underestimated, and that all the available measures are taken to protect people and the environment. We work for a drastic reform of social structure and the way we use energy.
Moreover, we share the reality we’ve learned with international community and work to prevent proliferation of the utilization of nuclear energy. We citizens must change the policy NOW and the whole society. Our childrens' future depends upon our choice today.
Let us our voices heard and make our own future by ourselves.
Please consider donating to Friends of the Earth Japan's anti nuclear campaign.
Jun 09, 2011
The United Nations climate negotiations resumed in Bonn, Germany, on 6 June 2011. This session follows the slow progress made at earlier talks in Bangkok in April, and are essential for building momentum toward the Durban climate conference in November.
The Bangkok talks were focused on setting the agenda for the negotiations for the rest of the year and were setback by divisions between countries over the scope of international climate talks. In Bangkok some rich developed countries insisted on limiting the negotiations to implementing the narrow range of issues agreed at Cancun; in contrast most countries supported continuing under an agreed workplan from 2007 (the Bali Action Plan).
The Bonn talks are to be based on the broad agenda advocated by most countries in Bangkok, but the clash in the 'paradigm' for the negotiations will underline further disagreements in Bonn.
These fault-lines include:
- Setting binding emissions reduction targets through the Kyoto Protocol
- Insufficient emissions reduction targets currently on the table
- The Green Climate Fund
1. Setting new binding emission reduction targets in 2011?
The Kyoto Protocol represents the current model of international climate law – it requires developed countries to set binding emission reduction targets and to meet them over a 5 year period. The first five-year period ends in 2012 and time is running out to agree on targets for the next ‘commitment period’ (2013-2017/2020) in accordance with the mandated negotiations, which have been running since 2005.
Developing countries, particularly the Africa Group, have made clear that a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol is essential, as it provides a paradigm of legally binding emission reduction targets. Some developed countries, including Russia and Japan, have indicated they will walk away from their international legal obligations to agree commitments for the period after 2012. The United States is similarly opposed to binding emissions reduction targets. Instead of negotiating science-based targets reflecting their fair share of the global effort, they are now proposing a “pledge-based” system in which each country does whatever it determines domestically.
Bonn represents a pivotal moment for the future of the Kyoto Protocol. The Bonn climate talks need to pave the way for agreement in Durban on the next phase of legally binding emission reduction targets. Durban is the last chance to agree, as the first phase of commitments ends in 2012. If there is no agreement in Durban, the world may be faced with climate anarchy, without an international regime in place.
2. Will those new pledges be enough?
The latest science shows that negotiators at Bonn will be out of touch with what the latest science clearly requires if the world is to avert dangerous climate change. The current pledges risk warming of 2.5 to 5 degrees according to the United Nations Environment Programme. The problems with developed countries’ proposed targets are manifold: they are too low to meet what the science requires but they are also accompanied by ‘creative accounting’ proposals which result in emissions reductions only on paper. Furthermore the extensive use of offsets will see rich countries shift the burden for reducing emissions to developing countries – while doing almost nothing at home.
Analysis revealed in Bangkok showed that when emission reductions were converted into gross amounts – rather than percentages – it was clear that developing countries’ pledges for emission reductions were even higher than those from developed countries (3.6 Gigatonnes to occur in developing countries with only 1.9 Gigatonnes to occur in developed countries). Together, these pledges fell well short of the 14+ Gigatonnes the UN says is necessary to be on path to remain below 2 or 1.5 degrees C.
In addition, the emissions reduction targets proposed by developed countries are ridden with loopholes. The rules currently being considered do not take into account emissions from shipping and aviation, overestimate emissions reductions by forests and land use in developed countries and allow the carry-over of unused pollution permits and offset credits . This means that the total emission of developed countries could actually increase even if their ‘official’ targets say they are making reductions.
The debate over these rules, how they shift the burden of reducing emissions to developing countries and whether they are in line with the science will be of central importance in Bonn – particularly as the agenda sets particular time for addressing this issue.
3. Creating a ‘Green Climate Fund’
In Cancun one of the few areas of agreement was the establishment of a ‘Green Climate Fund’ (GCF) to oversee the collection and disbursement of ‘climate finance.’ Currently the details of the GCF are being negotiated by a ‘Transitional Committee’ (TC) which has already met in Mexico in April and again in Bonn from May 30.
Flashpoint issues in the negotiations of the GCF have already included the role of the World Bank as its trustee, given concerns regarding its potential conflicts of interest due to its role in financing fossil-fuel based projects, and its practice of mixing roles as a banker, financial advisor and project implementer (known as the “Arthur Anderson syndrome” following the financial crisis). This conflict may be compounded by proposals relating to secondments and staffing of the new fund, which draw heavily on the World Bank as a source.
Similarly, many observers are concerned that the process of the GCF is off-track. It is currently heavily focused on technicalities and structure – without having agreed to what the priorities of the fund should be or the actual scale of public funding. In Cancun, countries agreed to a “goal” to “mobilize” $100 billion by 2020 from “a wide variety of sources”. However, developed countries are yet to commit to any specific level of public funding.
A further critical question here is what a “balanced” allocation of finance between adaptation and mitigation really means. It is to be expected at Bonn that developing countries, who are the most vulnerable to climate impacts, will push the GCF to identify the needs and priorities of recipients before designing structures to best meet those needs.
Finally there is concern that the GCF is too focused on ‘private finance’ options (through loan guarantees, publicly-provided insurance, or other risk sharing instruments) and thus risks putting too much power into the hands of profit-driven interests. Market failures and distortions by private interests are a significant structural cause of the climate crisis and many countries fear a continued focus on the ‘private market’ could have the effect of financing projects that are ineffective at confronting climate change but are very effective at transferring public monies into private coffers. These countries and observers will be pushing for the GCF to be primarily funded through public sources (including innovative mechanisms such as Special Drawing Rights and the ‘Robin Hood Tax’).
May 27, 2011
Friends of the Earth Chile (FoE Chile) are campaigning against a hydroelectric project which threatens delicate ecosystems and endangered species.
The objective of the HydroAysén project is the construction and operation of five hydroelectric power plants; two of them on the Baker river and three of them on the Pascua river. FoE Chile believe that the recent approval of the project is the result of a series of irregularities and negligence during the environmental impact study.
"The process was inadequate from the beginning" Says Bernardo Zentilli, President of FoE Chile. "It is outrageous that the dams were submitted to an environmental study without the inclusion of the necessary overhead lines for energy transmission."
"Besides this, 10,000 citizens' objections were arbitrarily excluded from the participatory process provided by law, thanks to the early closing of the process due to pressure from the Minister of the Interior" concludes Bernardo.
The group are taking part in demonstrations against the project that have been attended by tens of thousands of people. They are calling on people outside the country to register their disapproval of the project at Chilean embassies.
According to FoE Chile, the environmental approval for the project was given without the company's response to the many observations made by the body in charge of the evaluation. Observations such as illegal flooding in the San Rafael Lagoon national park; or the dams capacity to support the simultaneous emptying of the glacier lakes that feed the rivers were ignored.
The flooding of the land endangers the Huemul, also know as the South Andean deer, an endangered species and a national symbol, of which only 2,500 remain.
Prior to the project's approval, the authorities had mocked the independence that the Commission for Environmental Impact Study should have to make a decision based on technical information. They even publicly expressed their agreement with carrying out the HydroAysén project, regardless of whether it complied with the environmental legislation in force.
The Minister of Environment has underestimated HydroAysén's environmental impact saying that it would 'barely' flood 0.05% of the Aysén Region. While President Piñera claims "we are condemning the country to a blackout if projects like this one are not built."
Nothing is being said about the 24,000 additional hectares that will be impacted by the 2,200 km of overhead power lines associated with the project.
As it was pointed out to the Minister of Environment, "Today it is not possible to make a difference between the government's discourse and the discourse of the company behind the project."
An unsustainable development
Given the greenhouse gas emissions produced during the construction of the dams and the deforestation incurred to make way for the overhead lines, HydroAysén cannot be considered a clean energy project. This, in addition to the fragmentation of water and land habitats, the irregularities in the approval of the project and the exclusion of citizens from the project, makes HydroAysén's the opposite of 'sustainable development'.
FoE Chile are urging the authorities to stop legitimising this project and instead promote the massive incorporation of renewable energies to the Chilean energy matrix, which have the potential of generating more electricity than HydroAysén.
Patagonia is a beautiful place with potential for social, cultural and tourist development unique in the planet. It hosts a large part of Chile's water reserves and should not be destroyed for the benefit of private interests.
May 06, 2011
Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Meeting with Japanese government to demand rescinding of 20mSv/y radiation exposure standard for children
Friends of the Earth Japan and other civil society groups in Japan recently met with the government to call for them to reverse a decision to increase the level of 'safe' radiation exposure to children.
The meeting began with The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), followed by The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC). Not only did the two ministries fail to respond with certainty about their understanding of and decision-making process taken for arriving at the "20mSv/standard, the NSC also stated that it does not endorse "20mSv/y" as a standard. The conundrum over how and by which government authority the standard was determined is deepening.
The MHLW has stated that children should not/ cannot be allowed to play within a radiation-controlled area (0.6microSv/h or more), however, the ministry did not respond to whether or not playing in an area of
equivalent contamination as a radiation-controlled area should be/ could be allowed.
The NSC stated that it does not endorse "20mSv" as a standard. In addition, it confirmed that none of the Nuclear Safety Commissioners or any of the experts that were involved in the decision-making had deemed 20mSv/y was safe.
MEXT has admitted that the“3.8microSv/h” standard, which allows for outdoor activities, does not take internal exposure into consideration. It said it concluded this because breathing in dust etc. comprised only 2% of total exposure and was therefore only minor exposure. However, it supplied no data to back up its exposure assessment.
Apr 06, 2011
Friends of the Earth South Africa / groundWork are celebrating the achievements of a group of waste pickers who've been recognised for their innovative recycling work. Their success is in part due to a law that groundWork saw repealed, allowing people to earn a living from waste picking.
Fifteen tons of plastic and paper. Ten tons of glass. This is how much ten waste pickers collect every month from the Mooi River waste dump for recycling, earning them a collective of R10 000 per month (1000 euros).
The group, for the past five years, have made this a full-time job and now earn their living from recycling other people’s rubbish. The group of formerly unemployed people have formed a cooperative and today are known as Mooi River Waste Reclaiming.
In March 2011 their efforts were rewarded when they received the SEED Award for their innovative work. This award is given to local people and organisations globally who are developing livelihood strategies through programmes of environmental sustainability.
Sbusiso Dladla, who received the award on behalf of the collective is a young father, who has been working on the landfill site for 5 years. Dladla had worked in the hotel industry before giving it up for waste picking so that he could work on his own terms instead of in an exploitative formal environment.
groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa, has supported the waste pickers in their endeavours. In a first in South Africa, the Mpofane Municipality granted the waste pickers the right to salvage waste from the local landfill site. This builds upon the commitments made in the National Environmental Management: Waste Act 59 of 2008, where groundWork successfully lobbied for recognition in the Act for people who earn a living from waste picking.
Mar 04, 2011
Friends of the Earth Australia is deeply concerned about changes to planning rules for wind farms which threaten to heavily restrict where they can be located.
The changes to the planning law will give local councils a greater role in deciding the location of wind farms, regardless of the size of the project.
"We are happy to support the primary decision making powers going back to councils on the proviso that they can opt out and refer an application to the Minister, and that there are time limits decisions." said Cam Walker, Campaigns Co-ordinator at Friends of the Earth Australia.
"Without a set time line, a council could chose to sit on a proposal indefinitely and delay to the point the project is no longer viable," he said.
"We remain deeply concerned that the overall intent of the Coalition’s pre-election wind farm policy is to create broadly defined ‘no go’ zones, which would exclude wind farms from areas with some of Victoria’s best wind resources.
"We urge the coalition government to re-consider the most arbitary aspects of their policy: the creation of no go zones and 2 km setbacks of wind farms from houses, which are not based on any available evidence about the impact of wind farms.
Over forty groups, including unions, green groups and churches, who represent over 100, 000 Australians from the the state of Victorian have signed a letter opposing the government’s pre-election policy on the location on wind farms.
"At a time when both the effects of climate change and the economic benefits of the renewable energy industry are well known, the government’s wind policy is very much the wrong direction for Victoria to take," said renewable energy campaigner Ellen Roberts.
"Just this week Victorians have learnt of plans for a dramatic increase in coal exploration in our state.
"There is clearly a double standard at play here. While the government seems intent on placing excessive restrictions on wind energy, local communities are not offered the same protections when it comes to coal exploration and production.
"The only conclusion to be drawn from the amendments is that the Coalition government intends to make it easier to open a coal mine than start a wind farm in the state of Victoria," concluded Ms Roberts.