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Feb 04, 2008

UN climate change meeting - an analysis

by DebraBroughton — last modified Feb 04, 2008 05:00 PM
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Friends of the Earth International and WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia had a large team of local and international activists campaigning in the lead-up to and throughout the United Nations climate change negotiations in Bali, December 2-15, 2007.

 

civil society in Bali

 

Climate change is now an international environmental and social justice issue with increasing active engagement from social movements and citizens, particularly affected peoples. In Bali there was an unprecedented civil society presence that highlighted the impacts of climate change and proposed solutions. Friends of the Earth believes that a global climate justice movement is necessary to ensure that the responses to climate change are socially and environmentally justice, and that demand a high level of ambition, commitment and action from political leaders.

 

foei side eventFriends of the Earth took part in the development of the so-called "Solidarity Village" in coordination with La Via Campesina and Focus on the Global South. This space allowed communities affected by climate change to build relationships among themselves. They also had the opportunity to express their motivations behind their struggle for climate justice. The issues – ranging from the enforcement of land rights for forest conservation, food and energy sovereignty, privatization, trade liberalization and agrofuels – have had a common theme of corporate globalization taking over the climate agenda and the need to resist this with an alternative agenda that leads us towards sustainable societies.

 

Alliance-building work in Bali culminated in the establishment of a network of organizations such as the Durban Group, Third World Network, Via Campesina and World Rainforest Movement and Indigenous peoples organizations called Climate Justice Now! The purpose of this new coalition is to ensure that justice is put at the heart of the climate agenda – not only in UNFCCC meetings but in other spaces such as the G8 and WSF. This involves, for example, exposing false, corporate-driven solutions such as agrofuels, offsetting and carbon finance for forests and demanding massive North to South financial transfers for adaptation and mitigation, clean renewable energy, a dramatic shift in production and consumption patterns.


During the Global Day of Action (December 8 2007) Friends of the Earth International Climate and Energy Coordinator Hildebrando Velez was a speaker at the People’s Assembly before going to join the mobilization for climate justice. Hundreds of people marched in the hot afternoon sun in Denpasar with organisations such as SPI (Indonesian chapter of Via Campesina), WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia and Friends of the Earth International – chanting and waving banners. Jubilee South had fantastic oversized puppets of political leaders that are spearheading the privatisation of lands, ecosystems and services at the cost of people and the environment.

 

Friends of the Earth recognizes that overconsumption of resources and production of pollution of the atmosphere by the North that is manifests in global climate change, has its roots in economic and social injustice. It is imperative that the global community recognise that the effects of these injustices are suffered most by communities who are already living in highly vulnerable environments due to excessive resource exploitation to meet the market demands of the North. These facts make our main task the consolidation of the Climate Justice movement in which we are already working. Friends of the Earth accepts the task of articulation of the organizations and affected peoples, in particular provide spaces to raise their voices to the decision makers.

 

 
 

inside negotiation halls

Strategically Friends of the Earth chose to focus on lobbying and media work on the obligations of the Annex I (global North) of both emission reductions, finance for technology sharing, deforestation and adaptation. Over the past year there has been an exceeding amount of pressure on non Annex I (global South) to accept 'contributions' of emission reductions mostly because of the international desire to have USA in future climate change agreements, as well as from IPCC reports which state that global emissions reductions are required to keep temperatures even to 2.4 degrees (which is far too high for the most vulnerable peoples and ecosystems). There is very little recognition that this is blatantly inequitable – especially since Annex I countries have failed for over ten years to fulfill their finance obligations to the South for mitigation and adaptation.

 

In Bali we saw major players of the Group of 77 developing countries (G77) and China extremely well-organised and united. China presented a very comprehensive proposal for a multi-lateral fund for technology transfer, which was supported by the G77. The G77 were also outspoken throughout the COP about the bullying tactics being applied - such as threats of trade sanctions. The EU were less strong than in the past and while they managed to retain emissions reductions of 25-40% by 2020 in one of the two main decision texts, they failed to support the proposal for a technology fund.

 

Overall, Bali delivered two main decisions which are the timetable for the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I, and the Bali Action Plan which is a collection of many different aspects of UNFCCC obligations of mitigation, technology, finance and adaptation. Both are really short on content, and negotiating timetables for the next two years. This is expected to deliver a final decision on Copenhagen in 2009 which will become the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

 

The Bali Action Plan was the decision taken first in the last plenary and was achieved after a not-seen-before backlash against the USA in which the USA was forced to reverse their position and accept that they had obligations to reduce emissions and to take special consideration of the national circumstances of non Annex I to not all be signing up for emission reduction mitigation actions – i.e. least developed countries and small island developing states who have comparative low emissions and are extremely vulnerable to climate change. This was widely reported as the 'Bali outcome' and by itself is a really weak decision because it has emissions’ reduction ranges of between 10-40% in a footnote.

However - this decision text has to be considered alongside the second major decision of the workplan of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments of Annex I - which does actually have emissions reduction ranges of 25-40% by 2020 for industrialised countries, global peak and decline of emissions by 2015 and keeping temperature below 2 degrees. This is a Kyoto Protocol decision so doesn't apply to the USA - but theoretically provides an 'in' for the USA once there is a change of administration and predicted change of policy on Kyoto. Hence Friends of the Earth International final press release of a weak 'deal' (http://www.foei.org/en/media/archive/2007/kyoto-afloat-after-attempted-sabotage/)

 

 

 

Useful links:

 

a. Interviews available at Real World Radio http://www.radiomundoreal.fm/rmr/?q=en

b. Third World Network news bulletins www.twnside.org.sg/climate.news.htm
c. Focus on the Global South www.focusweb.org and http://www.focusweb.org/players-and-plays-in-the-bali-climate-drama.html?Itemid=1

d. International Forum on Globalism www.ifg.org/baliblog.htm

e. Transnational Institute http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17794&username=guest@tni.org&password=9999&publish=Y

Dec 10, 2007

Protecting the world’s forests needs more than just money

by Debra Broughton — last modified Dec 10, 2007 12:34 PM
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Governments meeting in Bali, Indonesia for the 13th Conference of the Parties/3rd Meeting of the Parties to the United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 3-14 December 2007, need to recognise that this may be our last opportunity to stop runaway climate change and that with 18-20% of annual carbon emissions being caused by deforestation, protecting our forests is a key part of this.

This problem is made even more important because forests are a key part of the earth’s carbon and hydrological cycles. Without forests rainfall will fail in many regions. Yet forests themselves are being impacted by climate change and may already be losing their ability to regulate the planet’s climate. Further increases in temperature threaten to increase heat stress and drought, causing forests, particularly tropical forests, to become net sources of emissions, rather than stores. Furthermore, deforestation can also trigger irreversible ecosystem die-back.

 

Governments and intergovernmental organisations, including the World Bank, have responded by submitting a number of proposals concerning ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation’ (RED) and, in the case of the Bank, a proposal to launch a Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. However, these proposals, especially those that argue that forests should be included in carbon markets as offsets, fall far short of what is needed to combat climate change swiftly and effectively.

 

Carbon trading and offsetting are being used as a smoke-screen to ward off legislation and delay the urgent action needed to cut emissions and develop alternative low-carbon solutions. At the same time they encourage businesses, governments and people to continue with or even increase unnecessary polluting activities - reducing life to a commodity to be bought and sold.

 

Despite all these concerns, because carbon finance mechanisms hold the prospect of spectacular commercial profit in what may become one of the largest commodity markets in the world, they are at the top of many governmental and commercial agendas here in Bali.

 

Yet the UNFCCC’s project- and trading-based emissions reductions schemes to date have been totally ineffective in terms of their ability to significantly reduce emissions. The UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which was launched in Kyoto in December 1997, was intended to allow countries with emissions reductions targets under the Kyoto Protocol to invest in projects that lead to developing countries being able to reduce their emissions more cheaply.

 

The CDM has not worked. Projects have tended to lead to excessive profits for business, whilst generating investment for many projects that would have happened anyway. Several years of carbon trading have not stopped increasing rates of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, studies show they may be resulting in an overall increase in emissions. Many projects are not ‘clean’ nor are they leading to poverty alleviation or sustainable development, as intended.

 

The World Bank has an equally appalling track record in relation to carbon funding, not least because it continues to fund oil, gas and mining projects, despite recommendations from its own review which suggested most of these projects be rapidly phased out; and as a broker it has a vested interest in promoting carbon trading. Its planned Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) –intended to channel carbon finance from donors to recipient countries - could also have serious negative social and environmental impacts.

  

Carbon financing is proving intensely inequitable. Forests are the home and source of livelihoods for over 1.6 billion people, including Indigenous peoples, and forest-dependent communities. Wealthy companies and countries are able to buy the right to continue to pollute, whilst poor communities often find themselves locked into unfavourable, long-term commercial contracts. Furthermore, forest-dependent Indigenous Peoples and local communities have already found that it is they who may have to bear the real cost of climate mitigation projects based on carbon finance, while garnering none of the benefits. Some carbon finance projects are subsidizing industrial tree plantations at the expense of communities, ecosystems and food production.

 

The proposed RED policies could trigger further displacement, conflict and violence, as forests themselves increase in value they are declared ‘off limits’ to communities that live in them or depend on them for their livelihoods. Women and Indigenous Peoples are the least likely to profit from the destruction of forests and therefore also the least likely to receive compensation. Carbon finance mechanisms result in forests being transferred or sold off to large companies who aim to acquire profitable ‘carbon credits’ at some point in the future.

  

Carbon markets, like other commodities, are also proving notoriously volatile. Far from creating a predictable commercial environment and financial flows, the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme Phase I, for example, has had “very questionable effects” on “the extent to which emissions are reduced, and the extent to which it provides a stable and effective carbon price” (UK Environmental Audit Committee, 28 February 2007). The protection of forests and our climate is essential to all our futures and should not be subject to the vagaries of the market.

 

Recommendations

We are calling for governments to:

  • address the direct and underlying ‘drivers’ of deforestation and the destruction of biodiversity in other ecosystems which are also critical to climate stability by reducing demand for agricultural and forest products and energy; removing trade and investment liberalisation rules that fuel deforestation; and stopping corruption.
  • ensure that all forest protection programs are based upon and uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples (as laid down in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), women and local communities, by prohibiting any actions that seek to exclude Indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities from 'conservation' areas. Outstanding land and tenure questions and the free and prior informed consent of affected communities should be addressed as a prerequisite, before the implementation of any such programs.
  • give the highest priority to halting the development, production and trade of agrofuels, and suspend all targets and other incentives, including subsidies, carbon trading and public and private finance related to the development and production of agrofuels.
  • keep forests out of carbon finance mechanisms, which are unpredictable, inequitable and discourage the reduction of emissions at source. This includes keeping forests out of the Clean Development Mechanism and all carbon trading initiatives; and rejecting the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF).
  • ensure that developing countries are assisted in their efforts to protect their forests with well targeted, predictable and sufficient financial and other support, in the form of an international fund that rewards the complete rather than partial cessation of deforestation; supports policies that promote community-based forest management and reforestation, natural regeneration and ecosystem restoration; and finances a global forest fire fighting fund and expertise, to assist countries unable to prevent or stop out-of-control forest fires.
  • redirect the very substantial amounts of public funds, tax exemptions and other forms of subsidies currently provided to the fossil fuel and agrofuels industries, into avoided deforestation assistance funds, the effective promotion of public transport and the development of solar, wind, geothermal, wave and energy efficiency technologies, (Government spending on energy subsidies currently totals US$250 billion per year.)
  • ensure that funds are not used to compensate logging and plantation companies and others involved in large-scale deforestation.
  • strengthen weak forest conservation policies and institutions, encouraging bans or moratoria on industrial logging and forest conversion, and addressing corruption and lack of enforcement.
  • implement a moratorium on all public financing and subsidies of oil, coal and gas exploration, and rapidly phase in subsidies for clean energy alternatives with just transition programmes to phase out existing fossil fuel activities, whilst protecting ecosystems, communities and food production from agrofuels.

 

Signed by:

Amigos de la Tierra/Friends of the Earth Spain

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Regenwald und Argenschutz, Germany

Agrega a Fundacion Bariloche, Argentina

Asamblea Patagonica contra el Saquco y la Contaminacion, Patagonia, Argentina
Asociación Quechua Aymara para las Comunidades Sustentables, ANDES, Perú
Biofuelwatch
Carbon Trade Watch
Centro de Defeso dos Direitos Humanos, Brazil
COECOCEIBA/Friends of the Earth Costa Rica
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz, Colombia
Community Technology Development Trust, Zimbabwe
Cresente Fertil, Brazil
Down to Earth
Earth Savers Movement, Philippines
Ecologistas en Acción, Spain
Ecological Society of the Philippines
Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative
Environmental Science Institute, Philippines
Equations, India
FERN
Focus on the Global South
Foundation for Ecological Security, India
Freunde der Naturvoelker e.V./ Friends of Peoples close to Nature, Germany
Friends of the Earth Argentina
Friends of the Earth Australia
Friends of the Earth International

Friends of the Siberian Forests, Russia

Genethics Foundation, Netherlands
Gesellschaft fuer bedrohte Voelker, Germany

Global Forest Coalition
Global Justice Ecology Project, US
Grupo Reflexion Rural, Argentina
HATOF Foundation, Ghana
ICTI - Indonesia
ILSA, Colombia
Indigenous Environmental Network
Indigenous Peoples Biodiversity Network
International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests
Just Forests, Ireland
Kalikasan – People's Network for the Environment, Philippines
Madre Tierra/ Friends of the Earth Honduras
Mangrove Action Project
MONLAR, Movement for Land and Agriculture Reform, Sri Lanka
National Farmers Assembly, Sri Lanka
National NGOs Coordinating Committee on Desertification, Kenya
Nature Alert
NOAH/ Friends of the Earth Denmark
O le Siosiomaga Society, Samoa
Ökumenischer Arbeitskreis "Christen & Ökologie", Germany
Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition
Quaker Concern for Animals, UK
Red de Alternativas a la Impunidad y la Globalización
Regional Advisory Information and Network  (RAINS), Ghana
Rettet den Regenwald , Germany
Salva la Selva, Ecuador
Sobrevivencia/  Friends of the Earth Paraguay
Sociedad Ecologica Regional (A Ho Valle y Comarca Andina, Argentina
Sustainable Energy and Economic Network
Swiss Working Group on Colombia (Grupo de Trabajo Suiza Colombia)
Tamil Nadu Environment Council (TNEC), India
Tebtebba, Philippines
Terre des hommes-Arbeitsgruppe Schwäbisch Gmünd / Germany
Timberwatch Coalition, South Africa
Transnational Institute
Via Campesina
WALHI/ Friends of the Earth Indonesia
Watch Indonesia! Germany
World Development Movement, UK
World Rainforest Movement
Xàrxa de l'Observatori del Deute en la Globalització, Barcelona, Catalunya


Individuals:
S. Faizi, India

Climate protest in Bali

by Debra Broughton — last modified Dec 10, 2007 12:05 PM

footage of the climate protest at the COP13 in Bali

Friends of the Earth International groups and campaigners took part in this December 8 2007 climate change protest rally in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

 

 

Nov 27, 2007

UN climate talks in Bali 2007

by DebraBroughton — last modified Nov 27, 2007 01:40 PM
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The the United Nations Climate Change Conference took place in Bali from 3 - 14 December. Friends of the Earth International lobbied for the launch of an ambitious roadmap at the negotiations that will lead to real changes urgently needed in order to address the climate crisis.

outcomes from Bali

 

hildebrando with flagBali delivered two main decisions which are the timetable for the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I, and the Bali Action Plan which is a collection of many different aspects of UNFCCC obligations of mitigation, technology, finance and adaptation. Both are really short on content, and negotiating timetables for the next two years. This is expected to deliver a final decision on Copenhagen in 2009 which will become the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Bali Action Plan was the decision taken after a not-seen-before backlash against the USA in which the USA was forced to reverse their position and accept that they had obligations to reduce emissions and to take special consideration of the least developed countries and small island developing states who have comparative low emissions and are extremely vulnerable to climate change. This was widely reported as the 'Bali outcome' and by itself is a really weak decision because it has emissions’ reduction ranges of between 10-40% in a footnote.

The Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments of Annex I - which does actually have emissions reduction ranges of 25-40% by 2020 for industrialised countries, a global peak and decline of emissions by 2015 and keeping temperature below 2 degrees. This is a Kyoto Protocol decision so doesn't apply to the USA - but theoretically provides an 'in' for the USA once there is a change of administration and predicted change of policy on Kyoto.

In Bali there was an unprecedented civil society presence that highlighted the impacts of climate change and proposed solutions. Friends of the Earth believes that a global climate justice movement is necessary to ensure that the responses to climate change are socially and environmentally justice, and that demand a high level of ambition, commitment and action from political leaders.

Alliance-building work in Bali culminated in the establishment of a network called Climate Justice Now! - made up of organisations such as Third World Network, Via Campesina and World Rainforest Movement and Indigenous Peoples organisations. 

 

Friends of the Earth campaigners from around the world took photos of the event.

And all the latest press releases here

Read more about the Kyoto protocol here
Find out what activities Friends of the Earth International is organising.

Get all the latest coverage and podcasts from Real World Radio

Oct 03, 2007

meena raman's speech to the UN

by HelenOlney — last modified Oct 03, 2007 12:50 PM
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Speech of Ms. Meenakshi Raman, Chair of FOEI at the UN High Level Summit 'Future in our Hands: Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change'

24 September 2007, New York

(Thematic Plenary II on Mitigation)

 

Meenakshi Raman

Distinguished delegates,

 

As we all know, the science of climate change today is clearer than ever. Severe impacts are to be expected around the world, increasing in magnitude with increasing levels of warming, if we cannot stop current trends. Especially vulnerable are the poor of the world who already heavily burdened.

 

The science tells that in order for the most dangerous impacts to be avoided, the average global temperature increase must be kept as far below 2 degrees centigrade as possible, compared with pre-industrial levels. This implies that the long-term concentration of greenhouse gases must be brought back to around 400 ppm carbon dioxide equivalent. The science also suggests that to achieve this, global greenhouse gas emissions needs to be at least halved by the middle of the century, compared with 1990 levels.

Hence, for a post 2012 regime, there has to be agreement on the “burden-sharing” principles between the North and South in avoiding climate catastrophe.

 

In this regard, the deeper the cuts of greenhouse gases for Annex 1 countries, the less is the burden on developing countries. A cut of more than 80% by developed countries by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels) is clearly needed, both from a climate change perspective, as well as to provide the necessary environmental space needed for developing countries to meet their sustainable development needs.

 

The proposal by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel to consider a framework of action leading to equal per capita emissions by around the middle of this century is a first of many steps needed. Action between now and then must also be governed by the principles of historical responsibility and the capacity to act.

 

The issue is whether and how we can find a sustainable development pathway for developing countries that includes not only a climate protection pathway, but also a pathway to improve the living standards of our people and to alleviate poverty within an ecological framework, and enables new policies for agriculture, industry, trade and finance.

For this, mitigation efforts must be integrally linked to the design of the development pathway. Hence, the following issues are critical –

  • The need for coherence in policies at both the international and national levels. In relation to the international level, policy coherence is critical in the WTO, IMF and the World Bank with the MDGs as well as with the climate change regime and sustainable development. Coherence should be around sustainable development and climate change and not around trade. This also requires coherence in developed country policies as well.
  • Instead of advancing such coherence, mercantilist policies are being pursued through the international financial institutions with aid conditionalities, and in the WTO and Free Trade Agreements to open up the economies of the developing countries that undermine sustainable development.
  • How can developing countries put priority in integrating climate change into national policies when international policies and measures exacerbate poverty and inequity, including through the displacement of small farms and firms and loss of access over natural resources to powerful foreign corporations? Such so-called ‘free trade’ policies enhance climate vulnerability as the poor lack the resources to adapt or be resilient to climatic changes.
  • Moreover, for developing countries to undertake a mitigation pathway that enables the rapid domestic deployment of climate friendly technologies, requires changes to the way in which technology transfer is managed andgoverned.  Many of us in the south, like me, believe that there cannot be a strict requirement to comply with intellectual property rights that profits monopolies if we are to succeed.  We must find a way to breakdown the barriers to rapid deployment of clean technologies that the poor can afford.
  • It is also fundamental to undertake lifestyle changes especially in the North and among the elites of the South. We cannot afford to maintain the position that the lifestyles of the rich are not up for negotiation. We have to live simply so that others can simply live!
  • In relation to the technology options for mitigation, we have very serious concerns over nuclear energy, genetically modified trees, carbon capture and storage and biofuels for environmental and safety reasons.Clearly, more emphasis and priority should be focused on energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewables, including decentralized forms of energy production.

 

If these issues are addressed well, it will make it easier for Civil Society Organisations in developing countries to insist on our governments to have top priority on climate change.

 

We therefore appeal to the leadership of the North to seriously address these matters. We also appeal to the Southern leaders to begin to take the necessary steps for a post Kyoto framework, recognizing that this requires complementary polices in the South and fundamental changes in the North. 

 

In Bali, we must see the launch of negotiations for a post-2012 framework in line with the 2 degree centigrade imperative, that will end in 2009 for a more just and climate friendly world.

We in civil society have very high expectations and look forward to you world leaders to deliver this outcome.

 

Thank you.

May 29, 2007

foe canada sues government

by DebraBroughton — last modified May 29, 2007 03:10 PM
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Friends of the Earth Canada has launched a landmark lawsuit against the Government of Canada for abandoning its international commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Filed in Federal Court in Ottawa by Canada ’s foremost environmental law organisation, Sierra Legal, the lawsuit alleges that the federal government is violating Canadian law by failing to meet its binding international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 


europe_climate_two_walls.jpg
Canada is second only to Austria, worldwide, in the staggering size of its failure to meet its Kyoto target, with its greenhouse gas emissions more than 34% above its 6% reduction target. Last month, the Canadian government set greenhouse reduction targets of 20% below 2006 levels by 2020, which would leave Canada about 39% above the Kyoto target for 2008-2012.

In October 2006, an international legal opinion was presented to the Canadian government indicating that Canada had failed to show “demonstrable progress” in achieving its Kyoto target, as required by 2005. This failure, along with others, activated a legal duty on the Environment Minister under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to act to prevent air pollution that violates an international agreement binding on Canada . The lawsuit is an application for judicial review, seeking enforcement of this duty.

“Because climate change is the most urgent crisis ever facing the planet, Friends of the Earth is resorting to the courts to require the federal government to respect its Kyoto promises," said Beatrice Olivastri, Chief Executive Officer of Friends of the Earth Canada, "We must see an end to important programmes being dismantled, terminated and slashed - all part of the pattern of Kyoto denial by the federal government.”

Sierra Legal lawyer Robert Wright  thinks that the Canadian government is letting its voters down.
“Canadians expect the Government of Canada to live up to its domestic and international commitments to combat global warming, and our environmental laws require it to do so," he said. "Our government shouldn't have to be asked to put on a credible and lawful climate change cap.”

The initiative is supported by  the Climate Justice Programme. “ Canada has become the first country to be sued for breaching the Kyoto Protocol. This is possible because Canada is so far off her Kyoto target that her own legal rules designed to prevent pollution in violation of international law kick in, " said Peter Roderick, co-Director of the Climate Justice Poregramme.  "Canada ’s Kyoto performance has been so abysmal that enforcement of her own legal rules is necessary to help stop her traditional reputation as a good international citizen from slipping further.”

Download the history of the case  http://www.foecanada.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=278&Itemid=113  the Application www.sierralegal.org


Friends of the Earth Canada is a voice for the environment, working nationally and internationally to inspire the renewal of communities and the earth through research, education and advocacy. It is the Canadian member of the 69 country strong Friends of the Earth International (www.foecanada.org).


 Sierra Legal  is Canada ’s largest non-profit environmental law organization, dedicated to enforcing and strengthening the laws that safeguard our environment, wildlife and public health (www.www.sierralegal.org)./

The Climate Justice Programme is an international collaboration of lawyers and campaigners encouraging enforcement of the law to combat climate change, hosted by Friends of the Earth International (www.climatelaw.org). 

Apr 20, 2007

mount everest

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:50 PM

impacts of climate change

A series of articles by Bund/Friends of the Earth Germany - 1st published in Frankfurter Rundschau

Impacts of Climate Change - Part 3

BUND/Friends of the Earth Germany

 

Meltdown in Everest - Himalayan Mountain Villages Under Threat From Glacial Melt

Where Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay trekked over never-ending ice on their first ascent of Mount Everest 53 years ago, they would today have to wade through mud. To reach the glacier, which at that time ended just beyond their base camp, they would have to walk for a further two hours today because the Himalayan glaciers – once so majestic – are now melting rapidly at a rate of 15 metres per year.


Goodbye Glaciers, Hello Floods

From his office window, Prakash Sharma can see the highest summit of the Himalayas. Sharma is director of Friends of the Earth, Nepal. Since his childhood, he has known and loved the harsh landscape of the Roof of the World. His voice cannot conceal his concern about what he has observed for years now: “Glaciers are melting everywhere in the Himalayas, leaving behind them a desert of sludge and rubble. These are hideous scars on nature.” It's no wonder this is happening when you consider that the average temperature in the region has increased by one degree Celsius since 1970. As the temperature increases, so the glaciers melt. The economic livelihood of the local community is at stake. “The Sagarmatha National Park, whose highest peak is Everest, is losing its natural beauty”, bemoans Sharma. Endangered species, like the snow leopard and the lesser panda, are disappearing. Sharma fears that tourists will lose interest and will seek out other travel destinations. This would be catastrophic for the country, which ranks as one of the ten poorest in the world.


Friends of the Earth, Nepal, along with the international Climate Justice Programme, have consequently applied to UNESCO to have the Mount Everest National Park included in the list of endangered Natural World Heritage Sites, thereby according it special protection. They are supported by well-known personalities such as Reinhold Messner and Sir David Attenborough and the campaign has met with its first success: a UNESCO panel of experts is assessing the application.


Rising Lake Levels Threaten Mountain Villages

Yet another outcome of climate change is a source of worry for the Himalayan experts. Immense volumes of water are being released from the melting glaciers and are turning what were previously gently flowing rivers into torrents, destroying bridges, ripping away plant life and flooding villages. Elsewhere, the melt water collects in natural hollows and creates new lakes. Where deserts of scree existed 50 years ago, today we find natural reservoirs measuring kilometres in length, which are filled to the brim and are ready to burst. Nothing could withstand the flood that would then plunge towards valleys – the inhabitants of villages lying in those valleys would have no chance. Using satellite images, scientists from the United Nations have come to the conclusion that 44 lakes in Nepal and Bhutan could flood in the next few years. Thirteen of these alone lie within the Sagarmatha National Park.

 

Theoretically, man-made drains could take the pressure off the glacial lakes and could deliver a controlled flow of water to the valley. But this method for alleviating the threat would be too expensive for Nepal. The rich industrialised countries recognise in principle that they are responsible for climate change and that, therefore, they should pay for protective measures. However, concrete negotiations are very slow-moving, perhaps too slow-moving for the mountain villages of Nepal.

 

Translation: Sharon O'Brien

climate change stories

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:45 PM

A list of climate change stories from our member groups around the world.

antarctica

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:45 PM
Filed Under:

The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) was founded in 1978 by FoEI, WWF and other environmental organizations in order to provide a mechanism for the public to monitor and participate in meetings of the Antarctic Treaty System.

ASOC’s website, www.asoc.org, contains all its documents since 2000.

The following Friends of the Earth groups are involved in Antarctic campaigns: Brazil, South Korea and Norway.

penguin_sm.jpg

ASOC now includes over 100 organizations in 30 countries and leads the international campaign to protect the biological diversity and pristine wilderness of Antarctica, including its oceans and marine life. 


ASOC campaign teams attend all meetings of the Antarctic Treaty System as accredited expert observers, and are able to put on the table detailed proposals for change as well as commenting on all government proposals. ASOC also is an observer to the Agreement on Conservation of Albatross and Petrels (ACAP) and the International Whaling Convention (IWC), where we work to protect the integrity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

 

asoc: foei paper before international maritime organization

Friends of the Earth International has submitted a joint paper before the International Maritime Organization, on behalf of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition. ASOC'S Information Paper on Southern Ocean Vessel Issues discusses the desirability of the IMO establishing additional rules for vessels operating in the Southern Ocean, including:

  1. Ice-strengthening standards
  2. Banning use of heavier grade fuel oils
  3. Preventing discharges of oily substances, sewage, graywater and waste
  4. Preventing introduction of alien species, including via hull fouling
  5. Establishment of a universal vessel traffic monitoring and information system for Antarctic vessels.

 

Download the paper

 

Key issues include:

  1. stopping illegal “pirate” fishing in the Southern Ocean, which is harming the most valuable commercial species – Antarctic Toothfish, while killing hundreds of thousands of giant petrels and albatross over the past few years;
  2. ensuring that fishing for krill, the base of the marine food chain, is managed on an ecosystem basis that ensures no harm to predators;
  3. regulation of commercial tourism, which is growing exponentially in recent years and is presently self-regulated by an industry association;
  4. regulation of bio-prospecting, which is growing rapidly without any controls;
  5. ratifying Annex 6 to the Environmental Protocol on liability for harm to the environment;
  6. securing protected status for Lake Vostok;
  7. gaining political support for creation of the world's largest marine protected area – the Ross Sea;
  8. regulating noise pollution from various types of sonars being used in the Southern Ocean;
  9. obtaining appropriate standards and rules for vessels operating in the Southern Ocean;
  10. ensuring the integrity of the Whale Sanctuary by stopping Japan’s ‘scientific’ whaling.

 

Contact person: James Barnes

 

links

foe groups and affiliates

other sites

 

EU spring council

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:20 PM
Filed Under:

Giant EU energy flag outside EU Spring Council

grassroots support for climate-friendly energy as EU leaders seal energy future

9 March 2007

 

eu-flag-action.JPG

As pivotal debate about Europe's future energy policy took place at the EU Spring Council in Brussels, Friends of the Earth activists assembled to construct a 12 metre high bright blue and yellow flag right outside the meeting, demanding that governments stop climate change, cut energy waste and choose renewables. The flag followed the design of the famous EU flag, but contained symbols for sustainable energy choices in the golden stars and was formed by hundreds of people from across Europe, dressed in blue on a giant frame.

 

Participants in the action came from fifteen European countries. A sea of banners at the base of the giant flag displayed the slogan "Stop Climate Change. Cut Energy Waste. Choose Renewables," in multiple languages.

 

According to Jan Kowalzig, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, people across Europe are deeply concerned about climate change. "They are fed up with governments protecting the dirty coal and nuclear industries. Grassroots support for a fundamental shift in energy policy towards renewable energy and energy savings was today thrust right under the noses of the most powerful politicians in Europe."

 

Individual stars in the installation - each 2 metres high - were annotated with signatures, collected out on the streets across Europe in the last few weeks. Thousands of people have endorsed renewable energy and energy efficiency, calling for a shift away from energy based on dirty fossil fuels and dangerous nuclear power.

Each star of the giant EU energy flag represented a specific demand to EU leaders as they agree an action plan today that will govern Europe's energy future for the coming decades.

  • A wind turbine and a sun called for greater promotion of renewable energy: Friends of the Earth insisted that EU leaders adopt a binding target of 25% of primary energy demand to be met by renewable energy by 2020, broken down into specific sectoral targets to stimulate investment in all areas, such as heating and cooling and electricity.
  • A low-energy lightbulb symbolised the demand for a greater commitment to increasing energy efficiency. Friends of the Earth highlighted that although the EU has acknowledged that it has the potential to cut its energy consumption by 20% by 2020, the summit will still fail to make concrete commitments to achieve it.
  • An anti-nuclear symbol called for a phase-out of nuclear power. Friends of the Earth is opposed to nuclear power playing any role in Europe's future energy policy, as it is dangerous, sensationally expensive compared to renewable energy and leaves a legacy of radioactive waste for hundreds of years.
  • An anti-coal symbol represented the demand for a phase-out of subsidies for fossil fuels. Friends of the Earth exposed the glaring hole in the proposed new energy policy, which aims to improve the functioning of Europe's energy markets but does not address billions of Euros of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
  • An anti-oil symbol demanded a reversal of unsustainable trends in the transport sector, for example by forcing carmakers to make more fuel-efficient cars. The action plan for Europe's new energy policy almost ignores the transport sector, which is absurd considering that transport guzzles 70-80% of foreign oil imports and that the EU aims to reduce its dependency on foreign oil.

 

Friends of the Earth also reiterated that the target adopted by the EU today for reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions should be at least 30% by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. Governments will today adopt only a 20% unilateral target, despite recommending that 30% is the level of reduction necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.

ExxonMobil - Climate Killer of the Year

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:20 PM

Vote names oil giant exxonmobil as the worst carbon dinosaur in Finland

 
 

Last July a thousand people in Finland faced a hard decision as they prepared to vote for the Finnish Climate Killer. All ten candidates were horrible remnants from the age of dirty fossil fuels - fighting all attempts to push forward renewable energy and to save the world from catastrophic climate change.

Now the votes have been counted. With an overwhelming 29.4 percent share of the votes, Finnish Esso, the Finnish part of the world’s largest oil company ExxonMobil, is the winner. It received the Climate Killer Award on Monday morning in an impressive ceremony.

Esso failed to send a representative to the event, but Friends of the Earth Finland Chairperson Leo Stranius went ahead with the presentation, handing the Award over to activists dressed as the Esso tiger and a masked version of Exxon Mobil's President Rex W. Tillerson.

In their speech, they stressed that ExxonMobil has time and again over the years that it is committed to use any means to speed up catastrophic climate change. Its products and activities have contributed a remarkable 5 percent towards human made global warming and yet it shows no sign of responsibility in its policies or investment.

Friends of the Earth Finland's Climate Campaign Coordinator Lauri Myllyvirta is impressed by the corpoarte giant's persistence. “Esso has worked tirelessly to sabotage the Kyoto Protocol, spending dozens of millions of dollars on anti-Kyoto publicity campaigns. It has struggled hard against renewable energy and emission reductions. Now we feel this work has got the kind of recognition it deserves.”

“We also want to congratulate the Finnish Trade and Industry Ministry as Finland’s worst genuinely domestic Climate Killer. It has successfully undermined Finnish climate and energy policy, effectively slowing down the switch to renewable and energy efficient technology in Finland,” Myllyvirta said. The latest example is a tax reduction for peat - a non-renewable fuel comparable to coal - put forth by this Climate Killer Ministry. “Without the Trade and Industry Ministry’s dedicated efforts, Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions would be lower and its energy production far more responsible.”

Results:
Candidate/Share of votes
1. Esso: 29,4 %
2. Trade and Industry Ministry: 12,1 %
3. Kimi Raikkonen, F1 driver: 11,7 %
4. Industry and Employers, industry lobby: 10,6 %
5. Eija-Riitta Korhola, Finnish MEP: 8,2 %
6. Matti Viialainen, Trade union leader: 6,4 %
7. Car Union, A pro-cars, pro-highways NGO: 5,8 %
8. Power of Industry, Nuke and coal energy company: 4,5 %
9. Finnair, Flight company: 1,8 %
10. Development Politics Department of Foreign Affairs Ministry: 1,7 %
Others: 7,9 %
TOTAL: 1079 votes

Voters had an option to vote for anyone or anything not included in the list. The most popular suggestions included: ordinary people’s attitudes and lifestyles; the United States; large Finnish cities; many other pro-fossil fuels politicians; and media that pay too little attention to or try to diminish the threat of climate change.

Both advocates and opponents of nuclear power got some votes.

The Climate Killer Vote was part of Carbon Dinosaur Tour in Finland . The tour visited nine targets in six cities with a huge, inflatable Carbon Dino, exposing the opponents of sustainable energy future and mitigation of catastrophic climate change. The tour was a great success when it comes to reaching people and the media.

www.foeeurope.org/dinosaur for the carbon dino tour plan and picture gallery

friends of the earth korea: campaign against nuclear energy

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:20 PM

91% Koreans say nuclear is not the alternative

Nuclear power is becoming more popular as governments seek to break their oil addiction. However, it is not a clean alternative. Dangerous and long lasting waste products have to be dumped somewhere, threatening communities for hundreds of years to come.

 

Residents of Buan county in Korea are facing just such a threat, a huge dump for nuclear waste. On February 14th they held a referendum on whether or not to accept the dump. 50,000 voters out of a total population of about 70,000 participated in the vote. 91% voted against the dump.

 

koreavote-6.jpg

Resistance within Buan to the dump has been enormous. Candlelight vigils have been held for more than 200 days. Elementary, middle and high school students went on strike for 41 days, blocking roads. In addition, there were several demonstrations in which more than 20,000 residents participated.

 

Ultimately, the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy resigned after making apologies to the Buan residents for damages, and he recognized the referendum as an important process to decide upon a nuclear dump site.

Although the Korean government says that it will not accept the result, it will be very hard to ignore the will of the residents. The Buan referendum 2004 made a new page not only in the history of the Korean movement against nuclear energy, but also in the history of Korean democracy.

 

Friends of the Earth Korea website

nepal

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:20 PM

impacts of climate change

A series of articles by Bund/Friends of the Earth Germany - 1st published in Frankfurter Rundschau


Climate Change in Nepal

Nepal's vast changes in altitude over a comparatively small area make the country particularly susceptible to climate change. The lowest point in Nepal is 60 meters, while the highest is 8848 meters, and the climate varies dramatically from tropical to alpine.

cc_nepal_1.jpg Nepal's annual average temperature has risen by 0.06 degrees Celsius, and three snow-fed rivers have already shown signs of reduced flows. But the temperature in the Himalayas is increasing twice as fast, which is having serious impact on glaciers and glacial lakes.

The rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers is increasing the volume of water in glacial lakes. When these lakes become too full, they threaten to burst in torrential floods, called glacial lake outburst floods. These events cause extensive damage to roads, bridges, trekking trails, and villages, and people have also been killed by these events. At least 12 of these glacial lake outburst flows have been reported to date, and with continued regional warming, these events are likely become more common.

  Twenty of Nepal's 2,300 glacial lakes are identified as potentially dangerous for glacial lake outburst floods. But among these lakes, only one has mitigation measures in place.

In a few decades, when the glaciers have melted, water level in rivers will decline, meaning massive economic and environmental problems for people in Western China, Nepal, and Northern India.


Sagarmatha National Park

Sagarmatha National Park is dominated by Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. The park is an area of exceptional natural beauty with dramatic mountains, glaciers and deep valleys, and it has been designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. But climate change seriously threatens the park's glaciers and its ecosystems.

Currently in the Himalayas, 67 percent of glaciers are rapidly retreating. The Rika Samba in the Dhaulagiri region is retreating at a rate of 10 meters per year. This is very unusual as glacial movement is usually measured in millimeters.

cc_nepal_3.jpg This glacial melting will eventually leave Sagarmatha National Park snowless, and will destroy the habitats of the endangered species in the park, such as the Snow Leopard and the Lesser Panda.

Friends of the Earth-Nepal has filed a claim at the United Nations to request the inclusion of Sagarmatha National Park in the list of world heritage in danger as a result of climate change and to ask for protective measures and action.

Nepal's share in the global emission of greenhouse gases is almost nothing, but the consequences of global warming and climate change threaten to wash away vast areas of the country, including the region that is home to Mount Everest.

 

The Need for Action

It is imperative that actions are taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions around the world so that there is some chance of limiting the most severe impacts of global warming, like the loss of sacred places like Mount Everest.

Action must be taken by the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, such as the Group of 8 (G8) countries. These countries represent just 13 per cent of the world's population, but account for 45 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

It is also important to get developing countries like Nepal on clean, renewable energy paths. There are clean alternatives to fossil fuels for power generation and energy, such as wind power, solar power, small hydropower, and biofuels, which should be fully explored as options for developing countries.

 

There is also a need to prepare people for the impacts of climate change that are already occurring. In Nepal, climate change is going to seriously impact the country's water resources. Action is needed to help people understand what climate change means and to protect the poorest people from its effects.

nigeria

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:20 PM

impacts of climate change

A series of articles by Bund/Friends of the Earth Germany - 1st published in Frankfurter Rundschau


Climate Change in Africa

cc_africa_1.jpg Climate change is already affecting many places and communities in Africa. The continent is experiencing more droughts in already dry areas and increased rainfall and flooding in areas that are usually wetter.

The impacts of climate change in Nigeria serve as an example of what will happen in many other parts Africa. From mangroves and rainforests on the Atlantic coast in the south to the savannah in the north bordering the Sahara, Nigeria has a variety of ecosystems. While excessive flooding during the past decade has impacted negatively on farming in coastal communities, desertification is ravaging the Sahel.


Traditionally, desertification in the Sahel has been blamed on overgrazing practices of the local population. But it has been discovered that the real problem is climate change. Rainfall in the Sahel has been declining steadily since the 1960s. The result has been the loss of farmlands and the conflicts between farmers and herdsmen over ever decreasing land. This loss of land is considered the root of the conflict in Dafur in Sudan.

Many different communities, including fishermen, farmers and herdsmen are now confronted with difficulties arising from climatic changes. Peoples' livelihoods are being harmed, and already poor people are becoming even more impoverished. Climate refugees are being created, as climate change makes some land unliveable and impacts water supplies.

 

Oil and Gas in Nigeria

cc_africa_2.jpg While Nigeria is not a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions when compared with industrialized countries, it is a major supplier of oil and gas to countries with high greenhouse gas emissions. The exploitation of gas and oil for export from the Niger Delta both contributes to global warming and it also destroys the environment and harms communities living near these projects.

Oil fields in the Niger Delta of Nigeria contain crude oil mixed with very large amounts of gas. Major oil companies operating in Nigeria separate the oil from its associated gas at flow stations, where the gas is simply burned off, serving no useful purpose and contaminating the air and lands for local communities.

cc_africa_3.jpg For the communities, the effects of gas flaring has been dramatic: continuous noise, rise in temperature in communities close to flare sites, acid rain and retarded crop yield, corroded roofs, respiratory diseases. And the loss of darkness as with the unnatural illumination from gas flares at night. Gas flared in Nigeria, containing high amounts of methane and carbon dioxide-major greenhouse gasses, is also a major contributor to global warming, as it produces emissions that is more than the combined emissions of the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

These oil and gas projects do not provide energy to the people who live in the region. They only pollute their air and lands from the gas flaring by Shell and other major transnational corporations.


False Solutions to Climate Change

Climate change should be addressed by reducing emissions and adopting better and appropriate energy technologies. But market mechanisms that are designed to reduce carbon emissions can encourage or subsidize corporate abuses. Under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) framework of the Kyoto Protocol, oil companies in Nigeria could be given carbon credits to stop gas flaring, rewarding companies for stopping an illegal process.

 

The Nigerian courts have declared gas flaring illegal and a gross violation of human rights, and oil companies and the government have already made commitments to end the criminal practice by 2008. Gas flaring reduction projects in Nigeria cannot and should not qualify for CDM credits as such projects fail on the additionality and sustainable development criteria.


The only reason why gas is flared in Nigeria is because the Nigerian government fails to abide by its own laws while the companies continue the practice to make excess profits. Oil companies in Nigeria can end gas flaring profitably without CDM credits. Gas flaring projects can only be suggested for CDM for the benefit of carbon market profiteers. This is a sad commentary for the CDM as a mechanism for global greenhouse gas reduction.

 

siberia

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:20 PM

impacts of climate change


Impacts of Climate Change - Part 4

BUND/Friends of the Earth Germany


Siberia's houses rest on unstable ground

The 200 000 inhabitants of Jakutsk are tough. No other place on earth is subject to such large temperature fluctuations as this Siberian town with a range of minus 50 degrees Celsius in winter to plus 30 in summer. Jakutsk lies on so-called permafrost. The ground is permanently frozen and even on the hottest days of the year just a few centimetres at the surface thaw. In this way the permafrost has been conserving geological development for thousands of years. It presents a true treasure trove for scientists who can source important facts concerning our climate. They even found a frozen mammoth on one occasion.


Yet now citizens of Jakutsk could literally be losing ground to climate change. In the last 30 years the average temperatures in Siberia have risen by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius. Last year scientists from the west Siberian Tomsk University and the British University of Oxford made a shocking discovery: over an area as large as Germany and France the permafrost is beginning to melt for the first time since the end of the ice age around 11 000 years ago.


The consequences are conspicuous. Locals have for some time now been observing that woodland is tilting due to the thawing permafrost. They named this phenomenon "drunk trees". However, the longer it lasts the less amusing it becomes because the repercussions for Siberia's infrastructure are becoming more acute.


Nuclear power stations falter

Following conclusions made by the International Arctic Research Center, houses, mining pits and factories are considered to be at risk of collapsing. Oil pipellines are close to bursting point, and railway tracks and airports cannot be used on the soft surface. Tarmacked areas and roads crack and sink in the mud. In some regions the number of days on which the roads are accessible has declined from a good 200 to around 120 per year. How safe nuclear power stations are on this spongy ground is also unclear.


Whilst the inhabitants suffer the local repercussions, scientists are fearing an entirely different consequence. Great quantities of organic material, thousands of years old, lies frozen in the permafrost and with that an enormous amount of carbon. When the ground thaws, bacteria begins to decompose this material. As a result of the decay billions of tonnes of methane would be produced and released into the atmosphere. The fears of the scientists become clear when one realises the effect that methane has on the atmosphere. Methane is a highly active greenhouse gas that fuels climate chance twenty times faster than carbon dioxide. Once the permafrost is thawed it will be impossible to prevent its disappearance. A vicious circle kicks in. Climate change causes permafrost to melt, methane is set free and this is turn increases the pace of climate change.


The majority of houses in Jakutsk remain undamaged. The inhabitants have learned how to cope with the most difficult climatic conditions for centuries. They have even established a research institute, the only one of its kind in the whole world, which has for 60 years been investigating how to build houses and roads on permafrost. It's now time for the institute to turn its attentions to the issue of how to build houses on thawing ground.


translation: Hilary Myska

central america

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:20 PM

impacts of climate change

A series of articles by Bund/Friends of the Earth Germany - 1st published in Frankfurter Rundschau

 

Climate Change in Central America

Losses and harms caused by climate change in Central America are becoming more evident every day. In El Salvador, rivers that before were permanent are now seasonal, and rivers that are normally dry from November to April are now completely dry. Forecasts suggest a possible increase in the intensity and duration of droughts. This impacts food production and the livelihoods of many Salvadorans.

 

cc_centralamerica_1.jpg Perhaps even more worrisome, recent research has linked climate change to the increased intensity of severe weather events like hurricanes. In October 2005, Hurricane Stan struck Mexico and Central America. The storm caused pervasive flooding, the overflow of rivers and gorges, and landslides that buried houses and people. The countries most affected in Central America were Guatemala and El Salvador, where the governments declared a national state of emergency.

 

The people most affected by the storm, as always, were the families who live in extreme poverty. In Guatemala, at least 1,500 people were killed and up to 3,000 were confirmed missing. Panabaj, an impoverished Mayan village near Lake Atitlan in the department of Solola, was wiped out by a mudslide that killed every member of the community. In El Salvador, 65 people died, 300 communities were affected, and more than 54,000 people more forced to leave their homes.

 

cc_centralamerica_2.jpg According to the Salvadoran Committee of National Emergencies, “the emergency exceeded the capacity of the aid organizations. There were floods everywhere, bridges on the verge of collapse, landslides, and dozens of roads blocked by mud.”

This storm is evidence of the social, economic, ecological, and political vulnerability of Central American nations to the impacts of climate change.

 

In Central America, people are beginning to understand that these catastrophes are occurring with increasing intensity because of climate change. These countries contribute very little to the problems compared to industrialized countries, but Central Americans and other people from poor nations will bear the brunt of the impacts.

 

Why Large Dams Are Not the Answer

cc_centralamerica_3.jpg One of the technologies proposed by the World Bank in the, ‘Clean Energy and Development: Towards an Investment Framework' is large hydropower. Large dams have caused numerous problems in communities in Central America, and there is substantial public sentiment against the building of dams.

 

The areas where dams are built are often located in indigenous and farming communities, which are rich in natural and cultural resources. When the dams are built and areas are flooded, it destroys peoples' security and livelihoods. Dams can also displace large numbers of people. According to the World Commission on Dams, 40 to 80 million people have been displaced during the construction of 45,000 dams.

cc_centralamerica_4.jpg Dams cause serious environmental and social impacts. And often, these large hydroelectric projects do not supply electricity to towns and communities. Instead, the electricity goes to multi-national corporations and industries for operations that do not benefit the people.

 

Many demonstrations and protests have occurred in Central America over the construction of large dams. Instead of building more dams, Central America must explore other possibilities and technologies for producing clean energy that will benefit communities.

 

pacific

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:20 PM

impacts of climate change

A series of articles by Bund/Friends of the Earth Germany - 1st published in Frankfurter Rundschau

 

Impacts of Climate Change - Part 1

BUND/Friends of the Earth Germany


The Pacific – Flight from Paradise

Leo Falcam, the former president of Micronesia, made the issue very clear when he said: "Climate change is the biggest security threat we face". He was speaking in the year 2000 as a representative of around seven million people who live in the small island states in the Pacific Ocean. Falcam wondered how much longer human life could be sustained on Tonga, Fiji or Samoa.

 

The inhabitants of the Pacific Islands are not responsible for global warming – they account for only 0.06 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. But they are the first victims because most of the islands are small, flat and extremely vulnerable.

 

Experts assume that sea levels will rise in the next few decades. The only question is whether they will rise by 30 centimetres, one metre or perhaps even several metres. Storm tides already flood the islands more frequently these days and whole stretches of coastline are being eaten up by the sea. Some small atolls in Fiji have already lost 30 metres. At the same time, the salt water is seeping into the ground, destroying fertile land and contaminating the groundwater. Climate change is also having an increasing effect on rainfall. In the past years the Marshall Islands, Fiji and Micronesia have experienced the most severe droughts to date. Elsewhere, heavy rainfall has destroyed the harvest.


Droughts Here, Floods There

These weather extremes are in turn accelerating the spread of illnesses like malaria as well as skin and lung infections. A rise in the sea temperature will eventually also threaten the coral reefs that surround the islands. A rise of one degree in the water temperature has already led to the destruction of some coral, destroying in turn many fish habitats. Consequently, the island inhabitants lose an important food source as well as a tourist attraction.

 

With floods, illness and a shortage of food, it is no wonder that island inhabitants can only see one solution: leave their homes and emigrate. The small island state of Tuvalu , which measures 400 metres at its widest, and whose highest point above sea level is just three metres, has already started the process of emigration. In the year 2000 the inhabitants, numbering more than 11,000, had already realised that their island would be uninhabitable in the long-term and they applied for asylum in Australia . But to no avail. Australia – the one large industrial country who, along with the USA , did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change – refused to grant asylum. The Australian government did not recognise environmental refugees in international law as proper refugees because they were not being persecuted by a State. In contrast,  Australia 's neighbour, New Zealand , was willing to accept the Tuvaluese. In cooperation with the governments of Tuvalu and other island states, the New Zealand government developed an evacuation plan for the Pacific area. Under this plan, 75 people will emigrate annually from Tuvalu and Kiribati to New Zealand as well as 250 people each from Fiji and Tonga.

 

Things will happen at an even faster rate on the island of Carteret , which belongs to Papua New Guinea .  In two year's time, the inhabitants  - who amount to just under 1,000 - will have resettled in nearby Bougainville . They have to abandon their six small islands and leave them to the sea. A new Atlantis – engulfed by environmental politics.

The Pacific Islands are the first victims. But scientists reckon that in the next few decades hundreds of millions of people worldwide will become environmental refugees, fleeing from coastal regions where periods of drought or floods have made their countries uninhabitable. When Leo Falkam spoke of a “security threat” to the Pacific island states, he was only anticipating what will soon become a reality for other states.

 

First published in Frankfurter Rundschau (Germany), translation: Sharon O'Brian

 

malaria

by admin — last modified Apr 20, 2007 12:19 PM

impacts of climate change

A series of articles by Bund/Friends of the Earth Germany - 1st published in Frankfurter Rundschau


Impacts of Climate Change - Part 2

BUND/Friends of the Earth Germany


Malaria – the big winner

The dangers of malaria are well known from ancient times. When the Romans conquered northern Africa, they easily defeated the indigenous tribes, but had to flee to the cool of the mountains when the disease blighted them in summer.

 

Today malaria is the world's 2nd biggest killer . Every year, 500 million people are infected and approximately 2.7 million die as a result, the majority of these in Africa. More than 90% of the victims are under five.


Climate change will worsen the situation. During the 20th century the average temperature in Africa rose by around 0.7 °C while annual rainfall declined in some regions. So far the experts agree, but, it is hard to make predictions about future climate change, not least because the network of research centres in Africa is underdeveloped.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the highest international authority for climate researchers, is expecting temperatures in Africa to rise by around 2-5 °C during the course of the 21st century. There will be extensive regional differences – whilst the Sahel region will probably become even hotter, there may be higher rainfall Central Africa. However, several researchers are predicting that the climate will also become very disordered in Africa.

For the anopheles mosquito , the transmitter of malaria, the conditions could not be better. Even just slightly higher temperatures and appropriate larvae hatcheries can result in explosive reproduction rates. What this can entail was shown in Rwanda and Mozambique, where a hot summer in 1987 and a few heavy showers caused a 300% increase in malaria cases in just one year.

 

This was also the first time that the mosquito was able to reach higher climes. Generally it can only survive in lower regions where the climate is tropical. Yet now the disease also occurs in mountainous areas , which were previously considered as malaria-free.

 

The situation has been particularly well researched in South Africa. Scientists estimate that climate change bolsters the spread of malaria so much, that at the Cape of Good Hope alone the mosquito's habitat will double. The number of potential human victims would thereby rise from 2- 7 million.

 

Effective drugs against malaria have long been available, and in many parts of the world the disease has been beaten. However, particularly in rural African regions, medical provision is poor. Malaria claims so many victims here that it destroys social structures of entire villages. Families lose their providers, children become orphans, and villages lack teachers, workers, and even tribal leaders.

 

The UN is acting on the assumption that the consequences of malaria will reduce economic growth in Africa by 1.3 % every year. And most African countries are ill-prepared to face up to these realities . In order to combat malaria large amounts of money would be needed for drugs, hospitals and to destroy mosquito hatcheries. Unfortunately, financial means for this are rarelly available.

 

Author: Markus Steigenberger

Translation: Hilary Myska

First published in Frankfurter Rundschau/ Germany

 

Dec 16, 2006

The Abuja Declaration

by Krista Stryker — last modified Dec 16, 2006 12:15 PM

FoEI member groups from 51 countries met from 28 - 29 September 2006 to discuss alternative energy futures.

Resolution of FoEI Conference on Climate Change

 

Abuja declaration resolution of FoEI International Conference on Climate Change
September 28-29, 2006

 

Another energy future is necessary - alternatives exist!  Stop oil and gas exploration now!


Member groups of Friends of the Earth International (FoEI ) from 51 countries including Nigeria's Environmental Rights Action (ERA) and other national and international civil society groups, representatives of Niger Delta Communities and journalists gathered for the International Conference on Climate Change in Abuja from 28th - 29th September 2006. The conference with the theme: 'Minimizing Climate Change Impact and Curbing Global Energy Chaos'; is one of the activities of the Biennial General Meeting of the Friends of the Earth International.

 

Observations

Following presentations and robust discussions at the conference, participants observed that:

  • All struggles, whether social, economic or environmental are interlinked with political struggles. Therefore, there is the need to link the different messages from around the world and adopt broad strategies that clearly address the issues of Climate Change and Energy Sovereignty, since it is the flawed and exploitative international economic system that drives the climate change phenomenon.
  • There is the need to synchronize the various energy struggles around the world by adopting a global strategy for resisting environmental degradation, destruction of local livelihoods, and rights abuses associated with corporate controlled energy sourcing and consumption globally.
  • There exist attempts by corporations to promote other sources of energy primarily nuclear as an alternative. Nuclear expansion must be resisted it has inherent and irreversible negative impacts.
  • Alternative energy production must not lead to further impoverishment of peoples.
  • The extraction of crude oil has led to unprecedented human rights abuse, environmental problems, fostering political and social conflicts in the Niger Delta and in other communities globally, which have been responded to by the militarization of community lands and sovereign states. In this militarized condition, women in particular have been victims.

 

Resolutions

Arising from the observations, participants resolved that:


Another energy future is necessary based upon:

  • Abandoning the belief in export led growth in favour of servicing local (basic) needs;
  • Restructuring the price and production of energy
  • A new approach to restructuring ownership of the energy regimes; and
  • Abandoning the mistaken dichotomy between development and environment.

 

We therefore:

  • Endeavor to work with and support community struggles towards energy sovereignty and democratic control of natural resources that will be the basis for alternative fair and just trade regimes that link producers with consumers eliminating corporate led control of our energy systems. It is essential that women are fully involved in all negotiations over energy production and allocation of natural resources.
  • Call for fair trade and just direct deals between producers and consumers, built upon energy sovereignty and the transition to alternative energy that cut out the oil middlemen, oil companies and oil speculators. These direct deals in oil can involve barter (as in Venezuela with Cuba, Argentina, and Uruguay) thereby avoiding the use of the US Dollar.
  • Call on Governments across the world to declare a global moratorium on new oil and gas exploration and development until full eco-restoration and reparations is implemented in communities already impacted by extractive industries.
  • Call on Governments in both South and North to focus more on responsible energy consumption and the development of decentralized democratically controlled technology for easy utilization of clean energy like wind and solar energy.
  • Call on Governments of the South to develop gender responsive and clear policies toward attaining energy sovereignty. Such policy should promote sustainable energy, local community control of energy along with the protection of the environment and local livelihoods from corporate and state abuse.
  • Recognize the alliance between the Nigerian and other governments and the oil multinationals in the form of Joint Venture Agreements that negate communities' interests. The terms of these JVA must be made public and repudiated. These JVA must be replaced with democratically controlled government and local community agreements.
  • The Niger Delta crisis should be resolved through dialogue and democratic/political interventions. Such interventions must include communal control of communal resources, protection of local political interests and strict enforcement of environmental standards and codes.
  • Neo-liberal trade agreements and economic policies that have the effect of stripping people of their entitlements to basic resources for a just and human existence and increase the impoverishment of peoples’ must be terminated; finally
  • The super profits of the oil multinationals must be redirected towards clean-up reparations, and the transition to safe energy alternatives under democratic control.

 

Meena Rahman
Chair, Friends of the Earth, International


Nnimmo Bassey
Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria

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