Archive for November, 2012

Breaking the logjam in climate negotiations

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Interview with Praful Bidwai

You attended UN climate negotiations last year in Durban and have reported on them for a number of years. What actions have been taken in that time?

Very little. Since UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009, countries have been following a voluntary regime where they choose what offers to put on the table. These together are at least 40% short of what the world needs to avoid catastrophic climate change of 4, 5 or even 6 degrees (over pre-industrial temperatures). . . .To read article click here

Again: Civil Society representative Anjali Appadurai locked out of Climate Change negotiations in Doha ! Twitter campaign #UNFCCCpress bit.ly/117BptF

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Hi all,
As some of you may know, Anjali Appadurai has been locked out of the negotiations based on the whim of the head of UN security, after polite and diplomatic negotiation with the secretariat and UN security, the final decision has been bumped up to Figueres. It’s time to turn the heat up on her. Earthinbrackets is here to work on substantive issues, our capacity is severely reduced because of this and we are sick of ours and others’ time being wasted. We’d appreciate a push on this so that we can get back to work.

Anjali Appadurai protesting at UNFCCC in Durban (Photo˙ College of the Atlantic)

Civil society Youth delegate Anjali Appadurai protesting at UNFCCC in Durban (Photo˙ College of the Atlantic)

Figueres has tweeted this: To put a question to me at Fri webcast #UNFCCC press conference (12:30 Doha time), use the hashtag #UNFCCCpress bit.ly/117BptF

She is practically begging for a twitter (and human) storm here, please tweet using these hashtags asking tough questions about how the role of civil society is to be taken seriously if we’re locked out of rooms, conferences, not allowed to give substantive interventions, etc…
If you are here in person and can, show up and do the same!

For a sample tweet, feel free to alter:
@cfigures how are we supposed to drive progress in negotiations if you lock our members out when they speak up? #UNFCCCpress @anjaliapp

READ Article from Charlie Butts, and watch videos from Anjali Appadurai speeches
HERE

Заявление Старших должностных лиц и Постоянных участников Арктического Совета относительно Ассоциации Коренных Малочисленных Народов Севера, Сибири и Дальнего Востока Российской Федерации (РАЙПОН)

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Заявление Старших должностных лиц и Постоянных участников Арктического Совета относительно Ассоциации Коренных Малочисленных Народов Севера, Сибири и Дальнего Востока Российской Федерации (РАЙПОН)

Старшие должностные лица и  Постоянные участники Арктического Совета выражают обеспокоенность по поводу отсутствия РАЙПОН в работе Арктического Совета в результате решения, принятого Министерством юстиции Российской Федерации о приостановлении деятельности РАЙПОН до апреля 2013, и в качестве временной меры, обращаются к Старшему должностному лицу от Российской Федерации в тесном сотрудничестве с РАЙПОН и Министерством юстиции РФ, способствовать, насколько возможно, выполнению важной роли РАЙПОН в качестве Постоянного участника Арктического Совета.

14 ноября 2012

Уважаемые Старшие Должностные Лица Арктического Совета:

Мы обращаемся к вам  как представители организаций гражданского общества, имеющие долгую историю работы с Арктическим Советом. Мы ценим вклад, который Совет сделал в области сотрудничества в Арктике.

Мы озабочены решением о приостановке Министерством юстиции РФ правового статуса RAIPON, которая является официальной организацией, представляющей интересы коренных народов Российской Арктики, а также,  и задержанием двух местных руководителей коренных малочисленных народов в Бурятии. RAIPONпредставляет интересы 41 коренных малочисленных групп, представляющих приблизительно 250,000 человек и 34 региональные и этнические организации.
У RAIPON –  длинная и уважаемая история работы в качестве Постоянного Участника Арктического Совета.RAIPON пользуется уважением как государств-членов Арктического Совета,  так и Постоянных Участников и наблюдателей как очень профессиональная организация, которая последовательно вносит ценный вклад в работу Совета для лучшего будущего.

В 1996 г. единодушным согласием арктических государств RAIPON был включен в Декларацию Арктического Совета как одна из исконных коренных организаций со статусом  Постоянного Участника.  Согласно правилам и процедурам Арктического Совета, только единодушное решение Совета может лишить RAIPON статуса Постоянного Участника.

Мы полагаем, что действия Министерства юстиции РФ по приостановлению правового статуса RAIPON  могут иметь непреднамеренные последствия, угрожающие целостности процессов Арктического Совета

Мы надеемся, что вопрос правового статуса RAIPON будет быстро решен для  продолжения эффективного  представления  интересов коренных и малочисленных народов России, включая работу RAIPON в Арктическом Совете.

Искренне Ваши,

Anatoly Lebedev,

Bureau for Regional Outreach Campaigns – BROC Vladivostok, Russia

Eugene Simonov

Rivers Without Boundaries

Alexander Shestakov

WWF Arctic Program

Brooks B. Yeager

Clean Air-Cool Planet

Mr C. Lalremruata

Zo Indigenous Forum

Alex Levinson

Pacific Environment

Iva Kaufman

Circumpolar Conservation Union (CCU), USA

Elsa Stamatopoulou

Ιndigenous Peoples’ Rights Program, Colombia University, USA

Gary Cook

Earth Island Institute Russia Program, USA

Ruth Davis

Greenpeace International

Kathrin Wessendorf

Environment and Climate, Russia and Arctic program,

IWGIA, Denmark

Jennifer Castner

The Altai Project

John Bennett

Arctic Alliance

Sigurd Enge & Karl Kristensen

Bellona Foundation, Norway

Sveinn Atil Gunnarsson

Iceland Nature Conservation Association

Henrik Olsen

Centre of Northern People, Norway

Buck Parker & Erika Rosenthal

Earthjustice

Sigrid Marie Fjellheim Danielsen

Sámi Parliament Youth Council in Norway

Yngvild Lorentzen

Naturvernforbundet/FoE Norway

Geoff Nettleton

Indigenous Peoples Links

Paul Robinson

Southwest Research and Information Center, USA

Federico Lenzerini

Department of Law Rapporteur of the ILA Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Italy)

Vanda Altarelli

Associazione Sonio, Italy

Mamta Kujur

Secretary Adivasi Mahila Mahasangh, India

Daniel Salau Rogei
Simba Maasai Outreach Organization. Kenya

Gunter Wippel
MENSCHENRECHTE 3000 e.V.

Human Rights 3000,

Germany

Eric Guantai

Federation of Indigenous Community of Kenya (FICO Kenya)

Mong Sing Neo Coordinator Kapaeeng Foundation Bangladesh

Sara French Program Manager Munk-Gordon Arctic Security Program Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation, Canada

National Coalition Against Racial Discrimination (NCARD), Nepal

Kabita Chakma,

International Council of the Indigenous Peoples of CHT (ICIP-CHT), Bangladesh

Angela Godfrey-Goldstein,

The Jahalin Association, (Al Khan el Ahmar), Jerusalem

D Roy Laifungbam

President/Convenor Elders’ Council

Centre for Organisation Research & Education, MANIPUR, India

Dennis Mairena

Centro para la Autonomía y Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas (CADPI)/ Center for Indigenous Peoples Autonomy and Development (CADPI)  NICARAGUA

Gopal Dahit Tharu

Chairperson of

Tharu Indigenous NGO Federation

Kathmandu, Nepal

Rebecca Sommer

EARTH PEOPLES

Shisei Toma

Association of Indigenous Peoples in the Ryukyus (AIPR), Japan, Okinawa

Yator Kiptum David,

Executive director SENGWER CULTURAL CENTRE, Kenya

Hera Clarke

Anglican Church indigenous people of Aotearoa, New Zealand

Jannie Lasimbang

Board Member, PACOS Trust, Sabah, Malaysia.

Edgar. G. Rodríguez Cámac

Centro de Promoción para el Desarrollo Comunal INTI, Peru

Alexandra Tomaselli

Institute on Minority Rights of the European Academy Bolzano/Bozen (Italy).

Suzanne Jasper

First Peoples Human Rights Organization, USA

Shankar Limbu

Secretary LAHURNIP (The Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples). Nepal

Windel B. Bolinget

Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Convener, KAMP (National Federation of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines)

Elina Horo, Co-ordinator, Adivasi Women’s Network, Jharkhand, India

Amba Jamir

The Missing Link (TML-India)

Brian Wyatt

National Native Title Council, Australia

Indra Kulung

Association of Nepal Kirat Kulung Language and Cultural Development, ANKKLCD

Patricia Borraz

Coordinator for Indigenous Participation, Grupo Intercultural ALMACIGA, Spain

Jason Pan,

Director TARA-Ping Pu organization (Taiwan)

Chin Thavro

National Program Coordinator

Indigenous Community Support Organization (ICSO). Cambodia

Mark Holden

New South Wales Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO NSW) Mark Holden, AUSTRALIA

Sabine Schielmann,

Chair of the board

Institute for Ecology and Action Anthropology (INFOE), Cologne, Germany

Grüne Lateinamerikakonferenz will Zeichen setzen

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

von Gerhard Dilger

Zwei Wochen ist sie nun schon her: die Lateinamerika-Konferenz der Grünen Bundestagsfraktion und der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, die größte ihrer Art seit den – internationalistisch geprägten – 1980ern, wie Mitorganisator Thilo Hoppe (u.) stolz sagte.

Im Plenum und in sechs Foren wurde einen ganzen Samstag lang im Bundestag über die Verwüstungen des Sojamodells im Cono Sur, über das Buen Vivir oder die nächste EU-Lateinamerikakonferenz im Januar 2013 debattiert. Bemerkenswert war die Resonanz mit gut 400 BesucherInnen, darunter erfreulich vielen jungen.

Uilton Tuxá vom brasilianischen Indigenendachverband APIB (u.) berichtete über die Rahmenbedingungen für eine progressive Indígenapolitik in Brasilien, die sich unter Präsidentin Dilma Rousseff spürbar verschlechtert hätten.

Hier die Beschwerde, die er wenige Tage später bei der Uno-Menschenrechtskommission einreichte.

Navi Pillay: End the impunity of Congo’s war criminals. The soldiers who marched into Goma this week are led by the world’s worst violators of human rights. They must be held responsible

Monday, November 26th, 2012

By Navi Pillay – United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Last Monday, when the eastern Congolese city of Goma once again fell into the hands of an armed group – this time the M23 movement – I had a clear sense of history repeating itself. The name may have changed, but the play and many of its leading characters remain the same – arguably the most brutal and tragic situation anywhere in the world during the last 20 years.

Reports suggest that the fall of Goma has been accompanied by the killing and wounding of scores of civilians – many of them children – during the fighting over the past few days. Tens of thousands of civilians have fled, and many journalists, human rights defenders, and local officials have received death threats from M23 elements.

Photo©SSgt. Jocelyn A. Guthrie

Photo©SSgt. Jocelyn A. Guthrie

The fall of Goma is the latest episode in a longstanding cycle of conflict centred on the huge mineral wealth and fertile land of this part of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over the years, ruthless leaders from within and outside Congo have employed local militias, rebel movements and members of the Congolese army itself, as well as several generations of child soldiers, to gain control of the most lucrative areas. They have consistently used terror, rape and extreme sexual violence as their primary weapons, resulting in untold misery and massive violations of basic human rights for millions.

In 2010, my office published a 550-page report that outlined 617 violent incidents in the DRC from 1993 to 2003, each one involving possible gross violations of international human rights or humanitarian law. One of the most notable of the myriad groups committing grave crimes during that decade of constant conflict was the Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo-Zaire (AFDL), which – among other crimes – violently dismantled refugee camps in the eastern Kivu provinces in October 1996, culminating in several large-scale massacres.

The report also notes how, from 1998 to 2003, members of another Goma-based rebel movement, known as the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD), also subjected civilians to numerous murderous attacks.

A few years later, following the 2006 national elections, many fighters who had fought with these groups started yet another rebel movement, the Congrès Nations pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP), which carried out mass killings in 2008 in the villages of Kalonge and Kiwanja under the command of Bosco Ntaganda, who has been indicted by the international criminal court.

Today, Ntaganda is still at large, and is one of the M23 movement’s top leaders. The group, which includes many other suspected CNDP and RCD war criminals, is led by some of the worst violators of human rights in the world, with appalling track records including responsibility for massacres and involvement in mass rapes. Not surprisingly, since M23 first emerged in April, the UN human rights teams in DRC have documented numerous killings of civilians and other violations, including the forced recruitment of children, which may amount to international crimes.

As demonstrated in the UN expert panel report, published on Wednesday, and in earlier UN reports, the M23 and the other groups named above have all received some degree of support from neighbouring countries, including Rwanda, with devastating and widespread consequences for the human rights situation in DRC.

External state support to a group led by war criminals is totally unacceptable, and clearly contravenes UN security council resolutions. Given the appalling criminal record of many M23 leaders, alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear, but once again international attention has been tepid.

The Congolese army has itself been responsible for many grave human rights violations. Earlier this week, soldiers fleeing Goma took time off to loot the homes of the civilians they were supposed to be protecting. One of the main reasons behind its poor record is the repeated integration, in the lulls after various rebellions, of the leaders of the AFDL, RCD and CNDP rebel movements.

Peace will only take root if the leaders of DRC and neighbouring countries jointly decide to make it happen and, in particular, show genuine resolve to end the devastating impunity of serial human rights violators, whether they belong to rebel groups or the Congolese army. In their summit, scheduled for Saturday in Kampala, those heads of state and international parties who support the talks must work jointly to ensure M23 commanders responsible for war crimes find themselves behind bars, not reintegrated once again into the Congolese army, running gold mines, or enjoying the looted spoils of long-suffering Goma.

Human Rights groups and States concerned over Russian suspension of RAIPON

Monday, November 26th, 2012

By Rebecca Sommer – Earth Peoples

The Russian government surprised everyone, and sparked major reactions internationally, when that country’s Ministry of Justice ordered 1 November 2012 the closure of Russian’s indigenous peoples umbrella organization RAIPON, because of an “alleged lack of correspondence between the association’s statutes and federal law”.

According to Russia’s Ministry of Justice the indigenous peoples association will be closed for six months, whereupon the statutes will have to be adjusted.

Pavel Sulyandziga (RAIPON)

Pavel Sulyandziga (RAIPON)

But RAIPON’s first vice-president Pavel Sulyandziga is determined to fight this decision.

When he lived in the village of Krasny Yar, he was successful in mobilizing the population against the administration’s plans to grant timber harvesting licenses to a Soviet-Korean joint venture led by Hyundai, and showed what kind of quality he’s got.

A Russian indigenous rights activist of Udege nationality, an indigenous nominated United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues member from 2005-2007, a member of the Public Chamber of Russia and the UN Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises, and known to be one of the most outspoken indigenous rights activists in the Russian Federation, he is not willing to give up.

Pavel Sulyandziga argues to the press that federal authorities increasingly see indigenous peoples as a troublesome element in Russia’s development goals. “There is an extensive hike in the level of industrialization in the north, and the indigenous peoples are among the last barriers against the companies’ and state’s development of the resources. The authorities strongly dislike RAIPON’s extensive international engagement.” Sulyaudziga told newspaper Novaya Gazeta. “All basic rights of indigenous peoples are being taken out of federal legislation.” He added.

Furthermore, Sulyandziga informed that he knows that federal authorities are trying to establish alternative organizational structures, which could replace the role of RAIPON.

What is kind of confusing, RAIPON’s president Sergey Kharuchi comments instead to the press that he sees no political motivation behind the decision of the Justice Ministry and that he therefore opposes the statements made by RAIPON’s first vice- president Sulyandziga. These comments coming from the current president of RAIPON have raised more than a few eyebrows among RAIPON’s members and it’s international supporters. Sergey Kharuchi also informed that “the upcoming congress of RAIPON was planned to take place in March 2013, with agenda items to adjust the statutes in line with the demands of the Justice Ministry, but also to make serious conclusions about the organizational structure”.

In the meantime, first vice-presedent of RAIPON, Pavel Sulyandziga, underlines in his request sent to the Russian Supreme Court on 15 November that the Ministry of Justice’s decision to close RAIPON is ill-judged and illegal and must therefore be withdrawn.

Indigenous Peoples, Russia (RAIPON)

Indigenous Peoples, Russia (RAIPON)

In his article in the Vancouver Sun, journalist Bob Weber stated that Canada’s term as head of the Arctic Council could get interesting before it even begins after Russia shut down RAIPON that represents indigenous peoples from Russia not only at international meetings but also at the eight member states Arctic Council.

RAIPON represents more than 250,000 indigenous peoples, and is one of six indigenous organizations that have the status of “permanent participants” at the Arctic Council, that don’t have votes, but have full consultation rights and are part of all discussions. Canada begins a two-year term as the council’s head in the spring.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who sits on the Arctic Council and is an Inuk herself, told The Canadian Press that Canada is concerned about the move and has joined other Arctic states in “expressing their concern”, that have requested that Russia and RAIPON (the Russian Association of Indigenous People of the North) co-operate closely to resolve the situation.”

Duane Smith, head of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference Canada and a council delegate, was quoted that Anton Vasiliev, the Russian ambassador to the council also seemed surprised, he even signed the council’s statement of concern.

“The fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was surprised by this and was willing to come out against it says to me this matter has not been resolved with the Russian government,” Michael Byers, an Arctic expert at the University of British Columbia added.

RAIPON has in its more than 20 years of its existence worked actively to protect indigenous peoples’ human rights and legal interests, as well as to promote their right to self governance. RAIPON represents 40 groups of Indigenous peoples inhabiting huge Arctic territories of the Russian Federation from Murmansk to Kamchatka.

In it’s report on the 11th session, May 2012, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues made some recommendations to the Economic and Social Council regarding Russia, and Indigenous Peoples. Earth Peoples posted below this article relevant excerpts in a jpg.

It would be interesting to learn what exact actions are taken by the United Nations human rights mechanisms, so far we haven’t seen any publicly made statement.

CONCLUSION:

I think, ultimately, it will be President Vladimir Putin who is exercising increasingly control over dissent within Russia who decides on the situation with RAIPON

Support from social movements, organizations and human rights groups is urgently needed, that could send their support letters for RAIPON to Putin, or to Russian Embassies in their countries. They could also sign on petitions, and disseminate information about RAIPON’s suspension on their websites, magazines and social networks. Or people can protest in front of Russian Embassies. Or post comments and send letters to their newspapers.

Support RAIPON and the indigenous peoples from Russia by signing on the petition.

Thank you for your support!

To read Earth Peoples support letter for RAIPON, click here

Russia-PFII_Report-2012

Russia-PFII_Report-2012

Climate talks resume, amid weather chaos (COP18)

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Climate talks resume, amid weather chaos

Doha, 26 November (Martin Khor*)

Civil society protest at UNFCCC (Photo©Rebecca Sommer)

Civil society protest at UNFCCC (Photo©Rebecca Sommer)

It’s that time of year again when the spotlight falls on climate change.

The annual United Nations Climate Conference opens this week in Doha, Qatar with 15,000 people expected to take part.

Actions are more sorely needed than ever before.  The 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 18) meets amidst stark evidence of climate change’s damaging effects.

The most publicised recent event is Hurricane Sandy that caused US$50 billion of devastation in the United States’ eastern coast, including the flooding in New York’s subway system.

“It’s the climate, stupid!” said the cover of Bloomberg Business Week in its pre-election issue.  Its writer said that climate change should have been the biggest election issue. Yet, “the issue is missing in action on Congress’ calendar and in the presidential debates. After Sandy, that is insane.”

It is hoped that American public opinion will change after Sandy.  Climate denialists and conservative politicians have prevented the US from making credible emission-reduction commitments in the climate talks. Indeed, the US is the biggest blocker of global action.

It has promoted the voluntary system of pledges, where each country simply states what it wants to do, instead of a top-down approach preferred by most other countries, in which scientific estimates are made on what needs to be done and then each country is assigned to undertake required cuts comparable to one another.

The world is on track for a disastrous rise of 4 degrees Celsius in average temperature, warned a World Bank report last week, far above the 2 degree C threshold. Even at today’s 0.8 degree C (above the pre-industrial level), extreme weather events such as floods, drought and storms are already causing havoc.

Sobering data was provided by the latest UN Environment Programme report on emissions gap. Annual global emissions have shot up from 40 billion tonnes in 2000 to the present 50 billion tonnes and is projected at 58 billion tonnes in 2020 if there is no action.

This needs to be brought down to 44 billion tonnes in 2020, to stay within the 2 degree limit. But even if countries fulfil the best of their emission-reduction pledges, the 2020 level will be 52 billion tonnes.

UNEP estimates the emissions gap to be 8 to 13 billion tonnes by 2020. This is the difference between what should be the emissions level in 2020 and what it is projected to be. It is thus a measure of the extra effort needed to cut emissions.

Unfortunately COP18 in Doha is unlikely to produce a breakthrough. It is supposed to close the work in two working groups (Kyoto Protocol or KP and Long-term cooperative action under the Convention or LCA) and pave the way for work to start in a third group (Durban Platform or DP).

The DP working group can get into real work only if the other two groups finish their work successfully, and this now seems unlikely.

Under the KP group, COP18 should see developed countries finally binding their commitments to reduce emissions by certain percentages for the next 5 or 8 years under the Kyoto Protocol’s second period (the first period ends in December 2012).

But there are multiple problems.  Canada quit the protocol altogether, just as the US did years ago. Japan, Russia and New Zealand refuse to take part in this second period, and Australia has not yet made up its mind.

That leaves the European countries.  The European Union will only commit to a low number (20% cut by 2020 compared to 1990) and has hinted that instead of this figure being committed in a binding way to be ratified by the Parliaments of its member states, it might propose to do so only through a decision at the COP.

Meanwhile the other developed countries that are not in the Kyoto Protocol are supposed to make a comparable commitment in the LCA group.  However the US has led the move to a “pledge” system, in which countries can pledge as they please.

The US is adamant in closing the LCA group (formed in 2007 to negotiate the Bali Action Plan) even though it has not yet finished its work on mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology.

The US dislikes several things about the Bali Action Plan:  its provision that all developed countries have to make a comparable effort in mitigation, its recognition of the difference in mitigation obligations between developed and developing countries, and the principle that developing countries’ actions depend on their obtaining funds and technology.

The developing countries want the LCA group to complete its work or else to have its outstanding issues properly transferred (together with the principles and framework underlying these issues) to other bodies, before the group closes down.

But they face resistance from several developed countries, which want to get rid of many key issues put forward by developing countries (such as the effects of intellectual property on technology transfer, and to ensure that climate change is not used as a ground for unilateral trade measures).

These developed countries also want to continue the negotiations on certain issues, especially mitigation, but without the principles or understandings already agreed to in the Climate Change Convention and in the LCA group.

They hope that if the KP and LCA groups close down, they can get the new DP group to discuss climate actions on a clean slate, with all countries having to take on similar obligations.  The differences between developed and developing countries would be erased or minimised.

But this is precisely what the developing countries do not want. For them future negotiations on the actions countries should undertake must be guided by the Convention’s principles of equity which recognises “differentiated responsibilities” between developed and developing countries.

They fear that the developed countries are refusing to live up to their commitments to cut emissions and instead are preparing the ground for passing the burden onto the developing countries.

They are also concerned that the developed countries have not kept their promise to transfer technology.  And the new funds to support developing countries are also absent or far below the promised or required levels.

On the other hand, the developed countries want to see the developing countries taking on similar emission-reduction obligations. They fear that otherwise the developing countries will catch up economically, and they will lose their economic dominance.

COP18 will see the continuation of this diplomatic wrangling. The deadlock or at best slow progress in the climate talks is in contrast with the urgency of action needed to combat the rising temperature and the growing number and intensity of extreme weather events.

WATCH VIDEO: Seeds of Freedom

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Watch Seeds of Freedom, a film exploring the history of the corporate takeover of seed, the introduction and spread of GMOs, and the impact that this is having on communities across the world. Help us spread the word!

The Link between Emission Cuts, Right to Development and Transformation of Capitalist System

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

By Pablo Solon, Focus on the Global South

Pablo Solon at UNFCCC (Rebecca Sommer)

Pablo Solon at UNFCCC (Rebecca Sommer)

Humanity is running out of time. If there are no deep and real cuts in the next five years the impacts of climate change will lead to a situation ten times worse than what we have seen with hurricane Sandy and other climate change related events in India, Russia, Philippines and Africa in this past year.

That’s what happens with 0.8ºC of global warming, and the current climate negotiations are leading us to a 4ºC to 8ºC scenario.

More than two-thirds of coal, oil and gas should be left under the soil

sky pollution (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

sky pollution (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Different studies say that to limit the increase in temperature to 2ºC, all countries can only emit 565 gigatons of CO2 between 2010 and 2050[1]. At the current rate of 31 gigatons of global CO2 emissions per year, we are going to expend that budget in 15 years.

According to the International Energy Agency, two-thirds of the known reserves of the world’s coal, oil and gas should remain underground to have 50 percent chance of staying below the 2ºC limit.[2] If we want 75 percent chance, we have to leave 80 percent of these reserves under the soil.[3]

Above the clouds (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Above the clouds (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

To not surpass the limit of 565 gigatons of CO2 until 2050, less than 200 gigatons of CO2 can be sent to the atmosphere from 2010 until 2020. Given this calculation, it is unacceptable and illogical to have a “new” agreement that will only be implemented in 2020, while during this decade, when deep cuts are needed, there will be a “laissez faire” situation in emission reductions with a Kyoto Protocol that is much weaker and has shrunk.

Climate negotiations should agree to leave under the soil more than two-thirds of fossil fuel reserves and negotiate mainly how countries are going to exploit and consume the available reserves taking into account a) their historical emissions and b) their per-capita emission in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.

The United States, as the main historical emitter, has to reduce its emissions more than the others. All developed countries called Annex 1 parties should cut, until 2020, between 40 to 50 percent of their emissions based on 1990 levels. These commitments should be translated into concrete targets in coal, oil and gas usage per year.

The right to development must not be used to promote more consumerist and capitalist societies

The right to development should be understood as the obligation of the states to guarantee the basic needs of the population and their right to enjoy a fulfilled and happy life in harmony with nature, and not as free ticket for a capitalist consumer society that only caters to the excesses of the few while causing the critical financial, social and ecological situation that we are facing now.

China, Brazil, South Africa, India and other emerging economies should also have targets for emission reductions because at present they are becoming great emitters of greenhouse gases. These binding targets should be lower than the targets of Annex 1 parties, following the principles of historical and common but differentiated responsibility.

Developed countries must immediately transfer funds and technology to assist developing countries to undertake mitigation action and to adapt to climate change. Their contributions should be assessed according to their historical and current contributions to GHG emissions and represent at least 10 percent of their military budget for 2013. These funds are necessary not only for GHG emission reduction but also for adaptation and for prevention of damages and losses in developing countries permanently suffering from the effects of typhoons, cyclones, hurricanes, floods and droughts.

monoculture plantation Brazil (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

monoculture plantation Brazil (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

Stop the false solutions

Ending subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and limiting fossil fuels use, although key steps and very important, will not be enough. We also need to stop the advancement of all kinds of false solutions that are equally detrimental to humans and nature like: agrofuels, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), Synthetic Biology,deadly nuclear power, and Geo-engineering, land and forest grabs by big business in collusion with governments in the name of forest protection, and carbon credit trading schemes that traders and polluters love.

The corporations behind these inventions are arrogantly and irresponsibly playing with nature and the planet. The goal of Synthetic Biology to create more life forms than those that exist in nature will have catastrophic consequences. The plan of Geo-engineering to pollute the atmosphere with a different gas to counter balance the effect of greenhouse gases will only worsen the situation of the whole Earth System.

No more speculation with carbon markets

Earth peoples at NO REDD demonstration during COP16 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Earth peoples at NO REDD demonstration during COP16 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Emission cuts have to be real, without loopholes like carbon markets, offsets or hot air. The European Union ETS (Emission Trading System) has demonstrated that the financial sector does not care about climate change. Carbon credits from ETU, CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) or REDD (Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation of forests) are in reality permits to pollute that allow those who are actually contaminating our atmosphere to renege on their obligations. The development of new carbon mechanism for forests, soil and coastal vegetation will only worsen the climate crisis and create new financial bubbles. It is unacceptable that rich countries use climate funding to promote carbon markets through REDD and CDM.

Joint social and environmental struggles to change the balance of forces

The climate crisis caused by the capitalist system is going to be amplified now by its current financial/economic crisis. The capitalist system is seeking to get out of this economic crisis through a process of reconfiguration that implies a new process of exploitation of humans and nature through:

a) reduction of social benefits and wages that workers have won through long history of struggles,

b) grabbing by corporations of the remaining material part of nature (land, water, forest, minerals, etc.),

c) financialization and commodification of the processes and functions of nature (payment for environmental services like REDD, compensation for biodiversity loss, and others), and

d) development of technologies to control, patent and profit from biodiversity and ecosystems (e.g. Synthetic Biology and Geo-engineering).

Corporations have captured governments. To confront the interests and power of corporations, our struggle must have as starting point the daily life of the people affected by climate change and not the UNFCCC negotiations.

W-Shoshone, Carrie Dann, at sacred hot spring that died up due to gold mining (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

W-Shoshone, Carrie Dann, at sacred hot spring that died up due to gold mining (Photo © Rebecca Sommer)

The right to food and water is key component of this fight. A new, intensifying food and water crisis is being triggered worldwide because of climate change. Corporations are seeking to make more profits through food derivatives, GMOs, agrofuels, public-private partnership arrangements in water and other resources, and through other measures. It is only possible to address the issue of food and water if we join social and environmental struggles.

Grassroots mobilizations against coal plants, fracking, tar sands, big dams, land grabbing, water privatization, agrofuels, GMOs, REDD are already showing the way. We need to strengthen these fights, link them and find connection with the social struggles against austerity plans.

Transforming the unsustainable capitalist system

Forced relocation - Peabody Coalmine: Empty Navajo Hogan (Photo©Rebecca Sommer)

Forced relocation - Peabody Coalmine: Empty Navajo Hogan (Photo©Rebecca Sommer)

The big challenge of putting a process in place for collective and gradual transformation from fossil fuel-addicted system of consumption and production towards a low carbon society requires also the transformation of the unsustainable capitalist system. The carbon, oil and gas sector can’t be led by the logic of private profit. The power of fossil fuel corporations has to be dismantled and societies, not the state-bureaucrats, have to take control over these resources and enterprises.

To change the patterns of consumption and production we need to move beyond the all-dominating, profit-driven and unsustainable capitalist system that exploits people and ruin ecosystems. We need to keep a livable planet—this planet!

The alternatives to cool the planet come from below

A “one size fits all” model like neoliberalism or centralized bureaucratic socialism is not the answer. Instead, diversity should be expected and encouraged, as it is in nature.

Ovambo women planting before rain season (Photo©Rebecca Sommer)

Ovambo women planting before rain season (Photo©Rebecca Sommer)

Social groups around the world have a series of alternatives that can help cool the planet. Alternatives like food sovereignty and agro-ecology instead of agro toxics and agribusiness; public transport instead of unsustainable production of cars; durable goods with less use of energy and natural resources instead of products designed for over consumption; local production and consumption to avoid the waste of energy in global transport; de-globalization for the people instead of globalization for the corporations; new balance between agriculture and industry as well as between countryside and city to reverse massive urban slums of rural refugees; social and not private management of the fundamental services. Many of these living alternatives have already been tested to work, while some need the space to be implemented and prove their superiority over the proposed false solutions.

Pablo Solon holds at COP 17 protest banner "Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth" (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Pablo Solon holds at COP 17 protest banner

To reestablish balance in the Earth System, we need to abandon the anthropocentric vision of capitalism and recognize that we are only one component of nature and that in order to live a healthy life we need to respect the vital cycles, the integrity and the interdependence of nature by recognizing and upholding the rights of Mother Earth.

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[1]http://www.wearepowershift.org/blogs/readers-guide-bill-mckibbens-terrifying-new-math-rolling-stone-most-important-thing-ive-writte

[2]International Energy Agency: No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to
2050 if the world is to achieve the 2 °C goal, World Energy Outlook 2012,

[3]The current proven reserves of oil, coal and gas all together have a potential of 2,795 gigatons of CO2, which is five times more than the 565 gigatons budget. This implies that at least 2,230 gigatons of CO2of proven reserves of oil, coal and gas should be kept where they are and not be burned. http://www.carbontracker.org/carbonbubble

Yaqui and Navajo: Theft of water rights is a crime against humanity

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

By Brenda Norrell

VICAM PUEBLO, Sonora, Mexico — Yoeme (Yaqui) traditional leaders completed the final document at the International Forum for the Defense of Water, on Wednesday. The two day gathering, Nov. 20-21, hosted by the Traditional Authority of Vicam Pueblo, brought together Indigenous Peoples in solidarity with the Zapatistas to protect Indian water rights.
Yoeme are now facing the theft of their water by the Mexican government. Yoeme are battling the Independence Aqueduct which would carry water from the Rio Yaqui to Hermosillo.

Diné / Navajo Badlands (Photo © Rebecca Somme

Diné / Navajo Badlands (Photo © Rebecca Somme

Just as in the United States, Mexico’s cities and dirty corporate polluters are wasting water and running out of water.
The cities, states and the governments of the US and Mexico have designed theft plans for Indian water rights. Currently, Yoeme in the state of Sonora, south of Arizona, and Navajos in Arizona, are resisting the theft plans of the governments of Mexico and the US.
In the Yoeme villages, like on Black Mesa in Arizona, most Indian people live without running water, while corporate developers and industries waste water and pollute the water. While Indigenous Peoples live without running water, they live with the pollution and destruction, including coal fired power plants on Navajoland, and chemical and agricultural poisons on Yaqui land.
Navajos are fighting the theft scheme of Dine’ water rights to the Little Colorado River. The scheme is designed to benefit the dirty coal fired power plant Navajo Generating Station, which provides electricity to Arizona’s thirsty cities. Recently a leaked e-mail exposed Interior Sec. Ken Salazar’s plan, with Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, to push a water rights settlement through a lame duck Congress. Navajos have already said “no” to the so-called water rights settlement.
Yoeme and Navajos are now both fighting water rights theft schemes. Yoeme and Navajo are upholding the standard that the right to water is a human right, and the theft of water is a crime against humanity.
Indigenous gathered here spoke on the defense of water and the sacredness of water, for which their futures depend. O’odham Ofelia Rivas sang a sacred water song. The O’odham ceremonial community of Quitovac in northern Sonora is threatened by gold mining, which would poison their water.
During the final session of the water gathering on Vicam Pueblo on Wednesday afternoon, supporters were honored by the traditional Yaqui leaders and thanked for making their long journeys here.
Yaqui said in a written invitation to the gathering, “Before the sacking of its territory and the latent extermination, the Yaqui Tribe again will listen to the voices from the heart of their territory to continue the defense of water, which is not an independent struggle, but a struggle of each and every one of the Indigenous Peoples who are seeking to defend and uphold their territory, autonomy, peace, justice and dignity. It is also the struggle of Mexican society for democracy and freedom.”
Also see: Video conclusion and summary of water forum

Photos of forum by Brenda Norrell