Freitag, 29. November 2013
All seasoned observers of climate talks did not expect much to come out of the Warsaw climate negotiations. But when Typhoon Hajan´s brutal devastation sent what seemed to many a signal to negotiators; when Yeb Sano articulated the need to “stop the climate madness” more eloquently than anyone before at a climate meeting. Then, it seemed, for a brief moment, like may be life could be different? May be the crying delegates from many countries would remember their children and act?
It wasn´t to be. Indeed, even to a long term observe like myself, it was simply devastating to see how quickly business as usual, jockeying for positions, dragging of feet and time wasting were the order of the day again after the extraordinary first day of COP19. Neither the rich countries nor BASIC countries were willing to move forward in offering concrete measures to reduce their emissions, or even agree on a concrete date for doing so. Even though there is much to gain from climate action in terms of new jobs and avoided costs, the talks were once again conducted as if climate action was all about pain.
There was much talk about “equity” and “justice” in the statements. But the rich world shirked the responsibility for their historical emissions. And other countries, like Brazil, only seemed to want to talk about history in order to avoid taking action on current and future emissions. Policies that protect the poor and vulnerable, though, will need action by all who can act.
Rich countries pledged only peanuts to the Adaptation Fund and to support countries in their efforts to tackle climate change and to build up climate friendly economies and failed to provide the much needed long term certainty of support. Japan and Australia added insult to injury by tearing up their previous climate commitments right in the middle of a COP. Brazil, meanwhile, had the audacity to praise it´s new forest law (the “Forest Code”) at a COP19 event, just as a 28% jump in deforestation rates in the Amazon over the last year got confirmed. And while China is making big strides domestically in tackling pollution from its coal industry and advancing renewable energy, it is completely failing to translate this into a willingness to lead on the global negotiations stage.
Governments, in short, seemed to only want to illustrate that they are serving the fossil fuel industries, not their people. No wonder, that all of civil society was disgusted at the lack of progress and urgency. A large section of civil society said “enough is enough” and staged a first ever walk out from a COP. While we walked, we did not move away from global effort to protect the climate or the UNFCCC. We were walking away from a poisoned COP where the bags sponsored by an oil company were the symbol of all that is rotten in the state of climate politics. The message of the walk out was simple: governments at the UNFCCC need to protect the climate and the people, not the coal and the oil industry.
Indeed, all major NGOs after COP19 seemed to have only one message: “Nothing will change, unless we mobilize for more change” (see Oxfam or WWF´s release for two examples). That unity is heartening. Because it is indeed the case, that a global treaty in Paris in 2015 won't be possible without a paradigm shift away from fossil fuels and nuclear power and towards renewable energy everywhere - and especially in the EU, the US, China, India and South Africa.
COP19 did provide some positive lessons too. In Poland, at least, we managed to mobilize for the change we need due to the meeting taking place there. Never before has the Polish government been so publicly exposed for not being in line with their own people. 89% percent of Polish citizens want more energy coming from renewable sources – but nobody used to know that. Following the many protests, not least against the insensitive
“Coal Summit” staged by the Polish government, everyone in Poland knows now – even the government. Poland, due to COP19, has a much more open and real energy debate. Will it be enough to turn the tide and stop the Polish government from preventing higher climate ambition in the EU only to serve their own coal interests? Only, if civil society can continue the pressure. Only, if international civil society keeps watching.
Greenpeace, looking, forward, will be pushing all national governments throughout 2014 so that they come to the Ban Ki-Moon summit in September with meaningful emission reduction offers and are prepared to fill the Green Climate Fund. In particular, Greenpeace is expecting concrete and ambitious proposals in 2014 for reducing climate pollution from China, the US and the European Union.
The message from COP19 is that more and more people are getting less and less patient with corporate polluters, only 90 of which are responsible for approximately 63 % of cumulative global emissions of industrial CO2 and methane (calculated as CO2 equivalents) between 1854 and 2010. A growing number of people are also prepared to take direct action against the coal, oil, gas and nuclear industries and demand a different kind of energy system. The solidarity shown to the “Arctic 30” at COP 19 - from civil society and many government delegates - was truly moving. That these activists and journalists - facing long prison sentences for trying to prevent Gazprom from drilling for Arctic oil that must stay in the ground if we are to avoid the worst of climate change – are heros to so many who attended COP 19 shows that more and more people agree that climate change is now so serious that civil disobedience is the only appropriate response. As Tomasz, the Polish Arctic 30 activist, reminded us in a quote used by the Climate Action Network in their opening statement to COP 19: “Nowadays, environmental protection demands more courageous actions … In order to protect what is valuable for us, we have to undertake further actions.” That is the lesson from COP19. We must all work together to break the stranglehold of the fossil fuel lobbies on our governments in time for meaningful deal to be agreed in Paris in 2015.
Donnerstag, 28. November 2013
Every time my daughters jumped onto my lap I felt a little shiver, a little pain. And at the same time a renewed determination to help #FreeTheArctic30 and to intensify our opposition to fossil fuels. Because it is fossil fuels that will, if unchecked, turn our children's future unpleasant, dangerous and chaotic. So, I find myself in Warsaw, Poland, following the absurd, frustrating (but not irrelevant)global climate negotiations. Thinking of the Arctic 30, it´s a privilege to be able to choose to forgo kuddles and laughs with my family in order to try to end the stranglehold the fossil fuel industries have on global politics.
We couldn't be at a better place for this struggle. If the Prirazlomnaya platform is the symbol for the absurd quest of oil at all cost, Poland is the perfect place to draw attention to the other fundamental threat to our climate: coal. Poland is one of the most coal dependent countries in the world. 90.4% of Poland's electricity comes from coal. Every time I switch a light on I picture a coal plant in my mind. A particularly dirty one -- as Poland runs the dirtiest power plant fleet in the EU, causing an estimated 5,400 premature deaths from air pollution in 2010. Yesterday we exposed six of Poland's power plants as the places which cause climate change. We projected slogans such as "Arctic melt starts here!", "Air pollution starts here!", "Storms start here" onto these fossil fuel monsters, including the Bełchatów lignite power plant, the 4th biggest coal plant in the world -- the largest in Europe.
As we were projecting "Storms start here!" we, of course, were thinking of the Philippines being ravaged by what may be the strongest typhoon ever and hoping for our colleagues there to be safe. While we can't yet say how much climate change influenced this monster typhoon, we do know that extreme weather events are becoming more extreme and frequent because of climate change. I am sure everybody following the climate negotiations today was reminded of the Philippines´ emotional intervention at last years climate summit. Then, too, a typhoon ravaged the Philippines. Please take a moment to listen here.
Faced with such devastation (and emotions), it's infuriating that the Polish government continues to block the EU from taking ambitious climate action – one factor stalling the global negotiations. Sadly, Poland also fails to grasp the great opportunities that an energy revolution based on renewables and energy efficiency could bring to Poland. The fact is: Already by 2030 Poland could halve its coal demand, quadruple its renewable energy use and create 100,000 new jobs in the energy sector, if the right incentives are put in place.
Instead of going for the energy revolution needed, the Polish government has given the fossil fuel industry unprecedented access to this climate summit. The wolves are running the hen house here in Warsaw and coal, the most climate damaging of all energy forms, is portrayed as part of the solution to climate change. Seriously. Poland is, for example, co-hosting a "Coal and Climate Summit" - an oxymoron if there ever was one.
So we have the work cut out for us for the next two weeks; especially when many other governments are also in cahoots with the fossil fuel industry. I would be able to tell my children that governments made progress if Warsaw agreed to commit to additional climate action and finance renewable energy in the developing world before 2020. If governments decided not to drag their feet, but say by next year by how much they will be willing to cut emissions after 2020; and spend 2015 looking at whether the numbers on the table are actually good enough to prevent dangerous climate change and are fair.
Governments plan to sign a climate agreement in Paris in 2015. That deal will only be worth spending any days of my life -- away from my daughters -- if it puts the world on the road to end fossil fuel use by 2050. Which brings me back to the Arctic 30. They risked their freedom, because they knew we need to keep the vast majority of the fossil fuels in the ground, if our children are not to live in climate hell. For us, here in Warsaw, thinking of their children (and ours´) will spur us to push as hard as we can for this climate summit to be a step forward. To keeping it from being the coal-fueled farce the Polish government seems to have in mind.
Wish us luck. Support the Arctic 30 here so that they can be back with their families soon. Join the many ordinary people doing extraordinary things in defense of our planet. Help us, in whatever you can, to take the struggle for our children's future to the fossil fuel industry. It's either them, or our children, who will live well.
First published on www.greenpeace.org
First published on www.greenpeace.org
It's not often that the President of Brazil, the Vice President of Iran, the Chancellor of Germany, the Argentinian Senate, the EU parliament, Burma's opposition leader, 13 Nobel Peace Prize winners, and hundreds of parliamentarians all over the world agree on anything.
But that they all agree with Greenpeace? That's truly humbling, and — as far as I know — unprecedented. I have been doing work with politicians all over the world for many years. But I have never seen such a truly global outpouring of support. For which we say: Thank you.
Let me take you on a small world tour, which illustrates the depth and breadth of the support we have received. Especially when you remember, that this is just a small selection, a snapshot.
Dr. Massoumeh Ebtekar, Iran's Vice President and Head of their Department of the Environment, has described the peaceful actions taken by the Arctic 30 as "an act of compassion" as it was aimed at keeping Arctic oil in the ground. Burma's opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has applauded the peacefulness of our activists, while Indian politician Maneka Gandhi has been calling on governments to support those defending the earth, not her destroyers.
In Brazil, every political leader has been supporting the call to free Ana Paula — at 31, one of the youngest of the Arctic 30. President Dilma Rousseff, the Foreign Minister, Mr. Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, the President of the Brazilian Congress, Senator Renan Calheiros, the governor of Rio Grande do Sul, Mr. Tarso Genro, and many Members of Congress all have stated their support. In Argentina, meanwhile, the Senate has expressed concern about the Arctic 30 arrest just as much as the City Councils of Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata, and 28 Members of Parliament have signed letters of support. The Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, as well as no fewer than 45 local councillors, have also called publicly to #FreeTheArctic30.
In Mexico, Senators such as Angélica de la Peña, Alejandro Encina or Gerardo Flores have supported us as well as Deputies Gloria Bautista, Aleida Alavez or Ricardo Mejía, who wrote letters of support, and the President of the PRD (the Party of the Democratic Revolution), Jesús Zambrano Grijalba. And while we wish that the Canadian government would act more decisively to free their citizens, Paul and Alexandre, in Canada, too, we have had outspoken support, for example, from MP Elizabeth May.
In Europe, meanwhile, we are grateful for the explicit support by Germany's Chancellor Merkel, UK Prime Minister Cameron as well as France's Prime Minster Ayrault and hundreds of Members of Parliaments — over 100 each in Italy, the UK or Spain for example. The list of Members of the European Parliament who are raising their voice also continues to grow (have a look here). The recent debate at the European Parliament is well worth listening to. In it, EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik reminded the world that "Greenpeace had a message for all of us": we need to act urgently on climate change, if we want to protect the Arctic.
I could go on for a lot longer listing support — from the Mayor of Naples to some 50 MPs in Turkey and over 60 in Sweden or the beautiful support from Desmond Tutu. In some ways I should, as everyone who has supported us deserves a loud shout out, including the more than two million of you who have sent a letter to a Russian embassy (if you have not, please do so now).
If every politician who is supporting the efforts to free the Arctic 30 acted decisively on climate change, we would have a good chance of protecting the Arctic from the destruction my colleagues were peacefully protesting against. Only when we have as broad a coalition of support to implement the energy revolution we need, deliver zero deforestation, protect the High Seas, or produce food ecologically, will the world be the better place that the Arctic 30 were calling for.
I suspect that I — indeed we all— still have numerous heated discussions with many politicians ahead of us, before we reach that goal. There will be a time for that. For now, though, I am just grateful that the Arctic 30 do have so many good friends in high places. And your support!
Obrigado. Gracias. Merci. Danke. Thank you. Please do not waver in your determination and support until the Arctic 30 are back where they belong: with their families.
First published on www.greenpeace.org