Archive for December, 2009

Only two more days until “a deal is signed”

December 16, 2009

 

This is another update from my friend who is in Copenhagen.  She includes some great sources to see what is actually happening since our main news media is not covering it accurately.  She also describes in a nutshell what is being proposed.  Please distribute this post widely about what is REALLY going on there.  We must pay attention, stay alert – so much is at stake.

Please note that a protest and vigil at the Danish Consulate will be held this Friday, December 18th at 4:30.  One California St, at Market St. (Embarcadero BART), San Francisco.  Bring candles and friends.

Dear all,
Firstly, let me tell you with relief that I am safe and sound, warm and dry at the home of a lovely Danish family who are kindly hosting me during my stay here.
 
I am safe, and have been pretty much all day (except when things got really out of hand) because I wore a fluo top announcing myself as interpreter. That, and feeling that I was not alone and that the work to be done was part of my Shambala Warrior mission, allowed me to support others and at one point negotiate with the police so that they would back down and stop the brutal violence they were displaying on totally peaceful protesters. It worked, and we were able to hold a People’s Assembly – not in the Bella Centre as we had intended, but outside on the road, which was a model of self-organising, horizontal meeting and exchange methods.
 
I want to thank you for all your messages of support. I have felt truly accompanied by you on this very difficult, gruelling day. But I am not done for tonight until I send out this information, as we are in a state of urgency, and with only two more days to go before all activists here return to our countries and “a deal is signed”, there is much at stake.
 
About the demo today: 4,000 people from the North and from the South, of all ages and social conditions, of all colours of the rainbow… samba players.. an army of clowns… we marched and were active in freezing temperatures and snow for 9 hours, we were totally peaceful from beginning to end, we protected each other, we united our voices… 
 
We were beaten, pepper-sprayed, thrown around, arrested, terrorised with dogs… and I am humbled at the bravery that people showed all the way through.
 
Here is a link to some of the hardest moments of the day, to show you the level of courage and peaceful stance that people offered in all our names:
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gz_YYFN45mM
 
Around 400 people have been arrested today… added to key people of the movement who have been arrested over the last days and who will appear before Danish judges tomorrow morning in closed sessions… Perhaps some more people who have stepped up today will also be taken… but the movement is growing stronger and more united as we realise that “they” are scared, because we are speaking truths that are truly inconvenient, and the only thing they can resort to is violence, unjustified arrests, confiscating materials (we had to carry out the whole action having lost the truck that had the better sound system and without the army of cyclists who were meant to protect us by surrounding us)… They need to silence us, our voices are too dangerous to their dirty intentions.
 
Meanwhile, inside the Bella Center, 300 delegates (out of the very few from civil society who were even allowed in today) marched all around the inside of  Bella Centre shouting slogans and then marched out from inside to join us outside for the People’s Assembly. The police promised they would allow them to do so… and then beat them up and gassed them!!! Here is another short vid:
 
 
A huge achievement was made inside also by 2 delegates who, in the middle of the main plenary session of the morning, jumped up, grabbed the microphone and shouted that the talks are hijacked by the corporations, that we need real solutions to real problems, and a bunch of other messages… and guess what! A good deal of the people there clapped for ages!!! They may be working for governments and corporations that issue them mandates, but they are also personally disgusted!!!
 
For a ten minute explanation going a bit further into the day and the reasons behind it, watch the very excellent Democracy Now on this link:
 
http://www.democracynow.org/2009/12/16/police_tear_gas_beat_back_protesters
 
Regarding democracy… they have picked up activists here and there, arresting them for no reason and “disappearing” them – people have been picked up by police from the places where they are staying, from the demos or from the street in broad daylight, and some are still missing. Is this what “democracy” now looks like??
 
Here is another site with lots of detail and accounts that are being done by a couple of lovely Canadian ladies who marched next to me today:
 
http://www.canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=2549
 
Regarding the negotiations, and with the activists safely out of the way (those who were accredited and who protested today will not be allowed back in), they have done some of the worst things they could possibly do – they have included agriculture and forestry into the deal by:
  • establishing that the carbon emission limitation strategy will focus on carbon sequestration, including specifically three things: no-till industrial agriculture with OGMs, biochar and biomass
  • proposing that monoculture “forests” be considered as carbon sinks: that means that palm oil or jatropha monoculture plantations will be subsidized AND be given carbon credits!
  • 70% of the planned “reductions” in emissions will come from projects carried out in the South (eg. monoculture forests, agrofuels or GM crops)
  • new “renewable” energies will be promoted as Clean Develpment Mechanisms (CDMs, which means permits and subsidies): “clean” coal, biochar and biomass, and no-till soya
(the following is a great resource for detailed info about the perils of these approaches: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/reports.php – but in a nutshell as an expert here has put it: “converting the global biosphere into mono-plantations is a short-cut to suicide”)
 
Plus all of these plans would cause appropriation of more than 1.5 billion hectares of mainly indigenous and peasant land all over the world… 1.5 times the size of India!!! In the name of protecting the climate!
 
They have hijacked the talks, and two days before Obama arrives and everyone is pressured to “sign the deal” (and with civil society pretty much out of the talks completely and poor countries being bullied and silenced) they have introduced the measures that experts and civil society have been trying to fight off for months and years!!!
 
Friends, I ask you to send this out, blog it, Facebook it…. The hundreds of activists who are organising the actions are planning the next couple of days, and although we are tired and we are fewer as the days go by, we are determined…. and the world’s support is crucial. “They” need to be told that we are awake and we can see through their lies!
 
Actions in the streets and especially information in the media of other countries are very important. Also very important to us here on the ground is support to those detained, so thanks for calling your Danish embassies to those who have (Canada is already writing a draft to include all the complaints they have received – Amanda, you rock!). This kind of policing and silencing is what we can expect in the future everywhere if we do not demand a firm stop to it NOW. Let the Danish and also your own governments know that you are aware of what is going on here to activists, that you condemn the unjustified arrests and that you demand that all people are freed and charges dropped (like “attacking a police officer” or “inciting violence”, which are serious crimes here).
 
Wishing you were all here, and knowing that you are in spirit, I say goodnight – and be awake when you are not sleeping!
 
Love&light

Support needed for those marching in Copenhagan

December 15, 2009

Here is another update from a friend who is among those who are ACTUALLY representing us, our planet, our future generations in Copenhagan. 

Hello all!

I wish I had more time to update you on many things that are going on here, but here go at least some key issues that are happening… especially because the situation has become most urgent:

Although the media is quite probably not reporting on this, a huge assault is going on towards civil society here in Copenhagen. A number of you have expressed feelings of appreciation for me coming over here with you all in my heart… Well, know that your interests and those of future generations are represented here by thousands of people from all sorts of groups from around the world. Now, everyone knew police presence would be high and there could be tension… but over the last days, the police tactic has been to a “preventively” arrest large groups of people – you may have heard of the 900 arrests during the large peaceful march of 100.000 people last Saturday. I know some of the people who were arrested: they are interpreters, NGO volunteers… who were forced to sit on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs in the freezing cold for 5 hours or more… some even had to piss themselves because they were not allowed to get up and use a toilet. All but a dozen people were freed with no charge – they had done nothing wrong. Last night, Christiania (a very special alternative neighbourhood) was assaulted especially harshly during a party where many friends and co-workers were (I would have been there, except I had to interpret last night!), with tear gas bombs, water trucks, dogs and hundreds of police, who terrified people and made selective arrests – they knew who they wanted, and it was the leaders of some of the main movements and networks, the great majority of them peaceful. Things have escalated today: the social movements offered a press conference to denounce last night’s detentions, and shortly after even more leaders, plus most of those who gave the press conference, were also detained. All these detentions are being carried out under the strict Danish law that allows such preventive measures for little or no reason. And why are they doing this, you may wonder? Well, because the social movements are organising and acting together due to the following main issues:

a) the fact that at the official meeting in Bella Center, it is not our governments negotiating in our names to save the climate: it is about corporations sharing out the carbon credit cake. Even hardened activists are shocked at how openly business representatives are trying to make the most bucks out of the proposed carbon markets and Clean Development Mechanisms… the lobbyists are cajolling and bullying their way around… in a nutshell, the corporations have complete hold over the negotiators and the whole process inside the Bella Center – it is not transparent and certainly not in the benefit of the people nor the planet.

Not to mention how developed countries are trying to squeeze their way out of any legally binding limits on the pollution they spew out, whether it’s greenhouse gases or agrochemicals or toxic waste… and the misery they cause to economically poorer countries… This part deserves a whole other email!

b) the fact that the solutions that are being provided to deal with the cllimate problem are “false solutions”:

  • trading markets (putting the problems in the hand of the very economists who caused the financial crisis)
  • geoengineering (with a handful of countries and scientists intending to use untested technology at a scale that would affect the natural cycles and systems that regulate our whole planet – such as sending out nanoparticles to make the clouds whiter so they can reflect more sun, or placing giant mirrors in space, or using biochar at a massive scale)
  • industrial agriculture (supposedly to feed the world – in a world where 40% of food is wasted -, noble words which hide incredible perversions regarding factory farming, transgenics and other new ‘bio’technologies, free trade agreements, water and land grabbing…)
  • agrofuels (or prettily called ‘bio’fuels, by forcing the South to move away from food crops and chop down their forests to grow fuel for our cars in the North, instead of reducing our own consumption)

By the way, one real solution that would seriously help with the food, energy and climate crises that we face is “food sovereignty” and small-scale peasant agriculture 🙂

a + b means that they are negotiating the terms of the contracts that will bind us all further to a system in which everything is for sale, even the air we breathe… and who gets what is being decided by a bunch of corporations whose plans will onlyworsen our future prospects!

c) Civil society had thousands of representatives in Bella Center for the first few days. Yesterday, all of a sudden, new accreditations were required and civil society representation was cut by 40%. Now they will cut it down by 80% and for the final days (when Obama & Co. are there to “sign the deal”), they will only allow 90 observers from civil society!!! To witness (not vote) one of the most significant international deals ever!!! All the more so because it will affect our changing our climate immensely…

And the people who represent you and I and all of us, who are the civil society movements here present, are seeing this and denouncing it – and that is why the police are being used to repress the voices of the people and our possibility to act!

What can you do at this point to support those of us who are trying to defend you?

  • Start by calling the Danish embassy in your country and demanding that the unfair, unprovoked detentions stop, and tell them that the outside world is watching them, even if it is not on the mainstream media
  • Tell all your press and media contacts to follow this story – there will be press releases going out about this all over the world, but the media need to pick up on them. As soon as I get my hands on the official press releases that will come out tomorrow, I will send them on.
  • Put this out on Facebook etc… but please protect my anonimity!
  • Organise a protest in front of the Danish embassy in your country, of UN offices, your own government, or other places you may think of.
  • Use your imagination!

There are thousands of activists here, normal, lovely people like you and me, that are prepared to give a lot here in order to turn this around. We will be marching tomorrow, 16th of Dec, in the streets of Copenhagen to denounce the lack of transparency, the corporate control and the false solutions that are being pushed onto us, and the lack of a space for civil society to . We know it it likely to turn nasty however peacefully we march. We need your support and encouragement. We need you to be alert and make this a global call for social justice and climate justice.

What is Happening in Copenhagen?

December 10, 2009

I had only loosely been following the Copenhagen Climate Change Meetings until I had a dream that I was in the United Kingdom, that the oceans were teaming with warmer water fish like Sting Rays.  The water was rising and covering the land and many of us were trying to get on a train headed for a colder climate.  Many of us were not prepared.  This poignant dream woke me up and I knew that I needed to get more informed.  And then I received an email full of many resources, information and actions to take that I decided to pass it on.  This collection is put together by a friend of mine, who is currently translating at the events in Copenhagen.  It is a selection of the most interesting and insightful information about Copenhagan and the Climate Change movement. It is comprosed of 6 sections takes just a few minutes to read and includes some great resources.  Please feel free to pass this information on!

  1. What is happening this December in Copenhagen?
  2. What is being decided there?
  3. So what is the alternative movement doing?
  4. A great example of a strong grassroots network: La Via Campesina
  5. What can YOU do?
  6. Interesting links

All compiled and sent out with love… So, please read on! 

 

What is happening this December in Copenhagen?

There are two parallel events taking place:

a) a summit of the UNFCCC (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), between delegates from 189 UN countries and other stakeholders (eg. Corporations), which is happening at the Bella Center, a few miles out of Copenhagen city centre. The UN summit is known as COP15.

b) an alternative forum in which literally thousands of groups are represented: NGOs, networks of farmers/fisherfolk/pastoralists, indigenous peoples, women, elders, youth movements… It happening in the centre of Copenhagen and is free and open to all. This parallel summit is called Klimaforum.

 

What is being decided there?

The UNFCCC wishes to negotiate and agree a new “climate deal” to substitute the Kyoto Protocol, which runs out in 2012. Now, whatever percentages and dates are being thrown around in the media by different countries (“China pledges a 30% reduction in emissions by 2020!”) this UN “climate deal” is based on a series of tools:

a) cap and trade

b) carbon emission trading

c) Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMSs)

… if your mind is starting to switch off in boredness at this mumbo-jumbo, fear not! The formidable Annie Leonard (author of “The Story of Stuff”) has just released her brilliant new video: “The Story of Cap-and-Trade”, explaining the whole thing in fun, easy terms in under ten minutes. Please treat yourself and your loved ones to this little jewel: www.storyofcapandtrade.org

For those who would like to really get their teeth into it (also getting a more European view ;), download this great book written by one of the teams who has most researched the issue: “Carbon Trading – How it works and why it fails”

Another big thing that will be negotiated at COP15 is whether or not agriculture and forestry should be included in the “climate deal”, ie. in the carbon emissions trading system. They are saying that “farmers around the world should be compensated for their contribution to capturing CO2”. Sounds great! However, the reality of this idea is indeed perverse: it will benefit large agro-corporations and will result in industrial agriculture being spread even further, more forests being cut down, more peasant farmers being displaced…while seriously undermining localised, ecological, sustainable ways of farming. If you want to know more about agriculture and the reality of its inclusion in the new “climate deal”, then please check out this wonderful document edited by GRAIN discussing “Real Problems, False Solutions”. It is the most explanatory and well-researched article I have found so far to explain this issue, which is so relevant to us all because… we all need to eat! Every day! What happens to our food is crucial to our future and that of our children.

The bottom line of this new “climate deal” is that we are being made to believe that countries must sign it in order to “save the planet” – but surely we must all be aware that signing a bad deal can actually be worse than no deal! A bad deal will put into place structures and legal frameworks to allow destructive practices to continue, without tackling the real problems nor offering support to the real solutions.

 

So what is the alternative movement doing?

Alternative”, by the way, does not mean a bunch of hippies hugging trees. It means everyone who is not invited to the UN official COP15 summit – that is, everyone except country officials, large corporate stakeholders and a handful of selected NGOs… That means you and I and people like us – the vast majority of the world’s population, in fact.

The alternative movements have rallied round to work together and offer a huge array of talks, workshops, debates, activities and actions. Check out www.klimaforum09.org for information about the alternative forum programme. There are also at least two fantastically large groupings, one is Climate Justice Action and the other is the Climate Collective, who are organising all kinds of actions. For your pleasure, I am attaching a poster that shows the main street action demos that will be taking place. Looking good!!!

 A great example of a strong grassroots network: La Via Campesina

Of course, given our share interest in all things agricultural, my pick-o-the-bunch follows this theme! La Via Campesina is an international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small producers, landless people, agricultural workers, indigenous peoples and rural women and youth from around the world. This movement is made up of 150 member organisations active in 70 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas… and I can tell you first-hand that their directing team are dedicated, open, quietly hard-working types. Here is their view, which really sums up the issue in a nutshell:

Farmers movement mobilize in Copenhagen

Industrial agriculture is the skeleton in the closet of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). If we consider production, processing and transportation, the whole food chain could be responsible for up to half of all global greenhouse gas emissions. However, negotiators do not seem ready to acknowledge the impact of our current food and agricultural system – and the need to radically change our food policies.

The international farmers movement La Via Campesina (LVC) which gathers hundreds of millions of small farmers from around the world is going to Copenhagen to claim that sustainable small scale agriculture is the way out of the current crises.

It is time to relocalise food production, to put an end to fossil fuel hungry corporate farming, give land to farmers and to implement food sovereignty. Such a move would provoke a reduction of ½ to 2/3 of current global emissions. Combined with a strong reduction in consumption it would lead to a significant effective reduction, contrary to the false solutions such as carbon trading and the technical fixes presented for corporate agriculture schemes as currently discussed by the UNFCCC.

 
Such a transformation of world agriculture would not only greatly contribute to solving the climate crisis – it would also provide healthy food for all, as well as provide livelihoods to millions of women and men, as was established also by the UN-commissioned IAASTD report, the biggest of its kind with over 400 scientist working for 4 years on it.

Around 100 Via Campesina farmers – women and men – from about 30 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas will join the mobilisations, workshops, debates and protests with a wide range of other social movements from December 10 to 18 in Copenhagen.

 

LVC will have a dedicated press team at Copenhague who will release news constantly in English, Spanish and French. If you have any media contacts who could be supportive of helping “the other side” get media coverage too, then please get them in touch with Isabelle Delforge:  idelforge@viacampesina.org

This is a great movement to support, and helping get their message out is a great way to be part of the action. Which brings us to the next point!

 

What can YOU do?

You can actively strive to be informed and better understand what is going on.

You can inform others – if you liked this email, pass it on to your loved ones! If you’ve got good info, pass it around!

You can get your media contacts involved (eg. by connecting them to LVC’s Isabelle Delforge:  idelforge@viacampesina.org)

You can follow the news… but not just the mass media news! They are unlikely to be telling you the true story!

You can join or support a group that is participating… or even organise your own event in support of those taking place in Copenhague!

… or you can use your imagination! 🙂

 

Interesting sites

To assist you, here is a short list of very interesting, reputable websites that are covering this issue (there are surely many more… feel free to let me know about them!):

www.klimaforum09.org

> The official site of the alternative people’s forum in Copenhagen

www.tni.org

> A fantastic site written by a chosen set of scholars from the Transnational Institute on many topics, from politics to economy to social science… with a team called Carbon Trade Watch (www.carbontradewatch.org) dedicated to the climate deals issue. Check out the articles by Oscar Reyes!  Tip: TNI have a great monthly e-newsletter, definitely worth signing up to.

www.climate-justice-action.org

> A whole bunch of networks who have joined together to take urgent actions to prevent catastrophic climate change.

 

www.climatecollective.org

> A grouping of groups that wish to take their serious concern for the climate into direct actions. Their Resources page has really great articles and books you can download!

www.viacampesina.org

> As said above, a really inspirational movement who are talking truths and offering solutions.

www.grain.org – unmissable for us agro-buffs!

Friends, some say it is too late, that all is lost and corporate greed will get the piece it wants -again- out of this cake. But we must not forget: what is eaten up now, our children will not have to eat in the future. We must not lose hope – and remember that the only way through it is being aware of what is going on and being conscious of the importance of being united and supporting real solutions to these very real problems.

Hoping you have found this information of value to you, and encouraging you to pass it on or use it as you will, I say goodbye for now, feeling the energy of all sentient beings supporting me as I go.

P.S. Don’t forget to watch and pass on Annie Leonard’s www.storyofcapandtrade.org!

The Power that We Are

December 3, 2009

The plaque on The Witches Stone reads, “From Cluny Hill witches were rolled in stout barrels through which spikes were driven. Where the barrels stopped they were burned with their mangled contents. This stone marks the spot of one such burning”.

This poem, entitled, The Power that We Are, started bubbling up inside of me upon experiencing the power of the elements in Scotland and witnessing The Witches Stone in Forres Scotland.  I hope you are inspired by it.

 

Of this I am certain:

We are made of salt and earth,

Our bones of rock and stone,

Our breath of gentle breeze and gale force wind. 

We have the rooted strength of the Scots Pine capable of holding ALL our twisting and branching.

Snowflake shaped water crystals run through our veins every second. 

Moonlight shines into our pores

Fire lives in our bellies: blooming loving passion, butterfly dance, molten lava.

We are made of stardust

We are at the same time both young and ancient

We carry cellular memory of growing legs, coming up out of the drying seas and taking the very first step onto land.

The power that we are

The power and magic of the whole living world inside of us

Is chillingly,

Too often

A witch

That we burn at the stake.

Why do we fear the magnificence of others?

Why do we fear our own bright shiny light?

Perhaps if we burn ourselves first, before giving others a chance,

Then we will not have to experience the pain

That we have had to endure over thousands of years.

Lifetime after lifetime.

AND YET!

If we stop and breathe

And in our one hand, hold all of our own and the world’s strength and fortitude

And in the other, all of our own, each other’s and the worlds’ brokenness and vulnerability.

And we place them both – gently, lovingly, reverently inside our hearts

And we breathe

And we breathe

And we breathe

And feel

And care

And pay attention

Then let our power be these forces that are simply within each of us already.

Let us generate one thousand years of healing for every cell inside us,

Let us radiate this medicine out into the world.

Let us allow the whole world to live inside of us and through us.

And let us step up and give shape to that world.

Step up and give shape to OUR world.

–Diane Osborne