CJA statement on Copenhagen protests

CJA statement on Copenhagen protests
Media reactive
December 12th demonstration, differences between groups & violence
In the lead-up to, and during, the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen 7-18th December many groups will significantly increase their level of public activity, media and campaigning efforts. Groups, from all over the world, are of course very different. Within the movement there is a range of difference in the approach, values, demands and tactics used to bring about change. We welcome this diversity.
There have been a number of media reports about ‘radical green groups’ planning to ‘storm’ the Copenhagen Summit and disrupt the meeting, and how certain groups want to ‘set Copenhagen on fire’. These are likely to increase in number as we approach Copenhagen (e.g. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/21/copenhagen-climate-summit-protest , http://www.information.dk/216605 (in Danish)
Media are already searching for signs of divisions from within the movement to produce media stories that will focus on the differences between groups and not the fact that we are a diverse movement with a loud and clear message: we need action to avoid catastrophic climate change now. We need to steer away from these attempts and always focus on the message. We need to be aware that a divided movement, with groups fighting groups, can be used as an excuse for non-action on climate. We cannot afford this to happen.
We need to specifically make sure that the global day of action, December 12th, is messaged as a day when we all stand united across the world.
There are two networks that the media are focusing specifically on: Climate Justice Action (CJA) and Never Trust a COP (NTAC).
CJA is a global network of people and groups including Friends of the Earth and Focus on the Global South and a full member of the coordination group of the Dec 12th demonstration, enjoying the same trust and respect as anyone else within the diversity of the coalition. The CJA are organising a series of non-violent direct actions in the lead up to and at Copenhagen, including plans to mobilize between 5-15,000 protestors to take over the meeting space at the Bella Centre on 16 December. More info on CJA: www.peoplesclimateaction.net
NTAC is a relatively small direct action network that was formed as a network to mobilise the radical left towards the COP15 climate summit in Copenhagen. The network has now dissolved as ‘mobilisation is complete’ and there will be no activities in the name of the network, but rather different action groups and activists taking the agenda forward during COP15. NTAC recently posted a video online (War on Capitalism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n62BhmVGdPs) that resulted in many media stories around that this network wants to ‘set Copenhagen on fire’ and the prospect of violence during COP15.
In is important to note that both the coordination group for the Dec12th demonstration and the Danish police feel confident that the risk of violence is being managed appropriately. There is a call-out for all groups to respect the ‘codex’ and the principles of the Dec 12th demonstration, which has hitherto been adhered to. There is also agreement within the Dec 12th coordination group that the strategy for dealing with concerns about violence that might occur should be to: a) not assume there will be violence before it has happened, b) have a ‘no comment policy’ on the planned actions of other groups, c) only respond in the media if in fact violence does occur (see reactive below).
Please feel free to use the following reactive or use as inspiration if it helps you answer tricky questions from the media.
We welcome the diversity of the climate movement. We do not comment specifically on the tactics employed by other organizations, networks or groups. We support the right to peaceful protest including non-violent direct action.
Tens of thousands of people will be gathering in Copenhagen at the end of the year to demand urgent action on climate change – backed by hundreds of millions more right across the world. There will be differences of opinion and differences of approach but most share a common goal – to avoid catastrophic climate change. Action is urgently needed now to dramatically cut emissions and support the world’s poorest people who are already being hit hard by a changing climate.
We do not comment on the plans and activities of other groups and networks. We support the right to peaceful protest including non-violent direct action.
We believe the international climate talks – which involve all the worlds’ nations – are currently our best chance of finding a global solution to the climate crisis. The ingredients of a fair, ambitious and binding agreement in Copenhagen are already on the table. The only thing lacking is the political will to negotiate final choices.
There are a number of issues where groups agree, and issues where we do not, however the main message is the same: we demand urgent action now to dramatically cut emissions and to support the world’s poorest people who are being hit first and hit hardest by a changing climate. We must avoid catastrophic climate change.
We do not comment on the plans and activities of other groups and networks. We support the right to peaceful protest including non-violent direct action.
We do not comment on activities that have not yet taken place or the plans and activities of other groups and networks. We support the right to peaceful protest including non-violent direct action. We do not support or condone any form of violence.
The Dec 12th global day of action is about millions of people standing united on this day to demand action on climate change.
Thousands of people of all ages, nationalities and all walks of life will be gathered in Copenhagen to make their voices heard as part of a mass peaceful protest. They will demand urgent action now to dramatically cut emissions and to support the world’s poorest people who are being hit first and hit hardest by a changing climate. World leaders must listen to these voices.
We do not support or condone violence in any form. The climate movement is truly global and diverse – the vast majority of which are committed to peaceful protest. We cannot take responsibility for the actions of individual groups. We are in Copenhagen – along with hundreds of organisations representing millions of people around the world – to peacefully protest for a fair and strong climate deal.
The police in Denmark have come under unprecedented criticism for their disproportionate policing of protest (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/15/world/europe/15denmark.html) and the Danish government have been heavily criticized for their new ‘hoodlum law package’ (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/26/denmark-police-powers-copenhagen)aimed at extending police powers for arresting protesters during the Copenhagen Summit. We supports trade unions, developmental, environmental and other organisations in their valid protests against the law package (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/04/copenhagen-climate-talks-protest-law) and call for the Danish government to uphold the right to legitimate protest during the Copenhagen Summit.

PS to my knowledge Friends of the Earth  has not decided to be a member of CJA but have attended meetings and is thus listed on the website. Friends of the Earth in many countries cooperates with CJA, Via Campesina and many other popular movements in a climate justice block in the December 12 demonstration.

Henry, Nnimmo and Naomi opened Klimaforum09

Tord Björk | civil disobedience,Climate,Friends of the Earth,Klimaforum,Summits,Via Campesina | Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

With small economic resources the small Danish organisations behind the Klimaforum arranged a grand and promising opening of the alternative summit.



I must admit that I had some thoughts for a while. The whole atmosphere was high-tech superprofessional in a huge hall for the kind of events separating a passive audience from the artists and speakers upon the scene with two enourmous screens as back drops. The acoustic music in the beginning seemed to continue for ever. Activists were murmuring and asked when will the speeches begin.



But then finally Henry Saragi from Indonesia and general secretary of Via Campesina International entered the scene in his traditional Indonesian hat. Here was the leader of the biggest popular movement in our time with 200 million peasants. Henry is timid, it is at first hard to believe that he is a key person in modern world politics, but he addresses consistently the concerns of food sovereignity and climate justice.



Nnimmo Bassey from Nigeria, chair of Friends of the Earth International followed. When he started to shout slogans the audience immediately followed, the diffrerence between the audience and the speakers were gone. We all knew that now have the People’s Copenhagen Summit started. Resist and transform, that is what we are here for.



Naomi Klein from Canada was the last key note speaker bringing the spirit from Seattle and stating the need for civil disobedience. Thus the peasants, the environmentalists and the global justice movement were united. The Danes that for many months against late funding troubles and almost all odds had organized the Klimaforum were pleased and so were the rest of us. Expectation was in the air.

The Heat Is On, nr 3 Copenhagen process update

While the official COP15 process runs into more and more problems the movements are getting better and better organised for the Copenhagen summit in December. US has taken the lead dragging EU along on forgetting about the Kyoto protocol and replacing it with self regulation. With India wanting to split the G77 and opt for an alliance with the US positions to put the good parts of the Kyoto protocol aside and replace it with a non-agreement the situation becomes more shaky than ever. In Denmark the chief negotiator have left the process.  It seems like it is only the Danish environmental and energy minister and incoming COP15 president, Connie Hedegaard, that keeps smiling presenting the idea of agreeing on a non-agreement without a protocol as a successful outcome – “I think what matters is that we, when we depart from Copenhagen, with credibility can say we brought the world on the right track, on a track that makes it credible that we can stay below the two degrees average increase in temperature worldwide. That is basically the success criteria we must try to deliver on.” She also stress that there must be some money from developed countries to the developing world. A new agreement is no longer a goal. It is thoughtful if the most badly hit countries will accept a less strong decision than the already too weak Kyoto protocol when it becomes more and more evident that the climate change is worsening.

For an interview with Connie Hedegard read

Analysis over the present negotiation situation you will find at many places.

Content The Heat Is On nr 3 issued October 25 2009

1. Biggest environmental action day ever October 24.

” The outcome must be described as successful. The creativity used all across the globe to present the message of the campaign have shown that many wants to participate in new ways that was first used very broadly at the Anti Iraq war demonstrations in 2003. The large number of activities shows the effectiveness of American campaigning. ”

” One way that the climate justice movement used the October 24 international action day was to expose carbon trading scam.”

Read more: http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=710

2. International Climate Justice Tribunal 13-14 October

In Cochabamba in Bolivia an International Climate Justice Tribunal was organised on October 13-14. Seven cases was addressed by the tribunal in Bolia, El Salvador, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. Accused were rich countries that are included in the Kyoto agreement in Annex 1,the Dutch foundation Forest Absorbing Carbon Emissions and a number of other economic organisations.

Reda more at http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=707

3. The crucial role of migrants in the climate justice movement

” Both at a meeting called Inspiration Latin America in Stockholm an at a consultation organised by People’s Movement on Climate Change in Copenhagen it became evident that migrants will play a crucial role in the Copenhagen process.”

Read more at http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=692

4. Climate Justice Now cooperates more closely with CJA and Klimaforum

“A Climate Justice Action meeting took place in Copenhagen to prepare for actions in December October 15-18 and a Klimaforum meeting on October 18. At both occasions Climate Justice Now organisations as Via Campesina was a strong cooperation partner.”


5. December 16 more non-violent than December 12?

” One thing is for sure. Some organisers of the broad climate demonstration on December 12 as representatives of Climate Action in Sweden tries to claim that they are doing a good non-violent manifestation while Climate Justice Action on December 16 is doing something more violent. Now it is clear. They do not know what they talk about. ”

Read more at http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=679

6. Repression unifies.

“A proposal for new legislation against riots in Denmark can severely effect the demonstrations during COP15. Sentences for a number of acts like staying in a demonstration after it has been dissolved by the police or other crimes that are hard to define in a grey zone is supposed to be followed by much higher sentences in prison or fines than before.

This has caused also main stream NGOs to react apart from active work from Danish CJA activists.”

Including some notes concerning repression in Denmark from a Swedish perspective

“The Danish political culture is rather repressive. This is not only due to the government, the political parties, the police and the media but also highly competiveness between organisations.”

Read more at http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=690

The Heat Is On, nr 2 Copenhagen process update during a week

The Heat Is On, nr 2 Copenhagen process update during a week

From FoE Sweden perspectives

1. Building a movement of movements takes great steps forward. Both Climate Justice Action and Climate Forum 09 gets much stronger support from global popular movements and organisers of the two initiatives show more openness in listening to criticism.

2. Via Campesina moves forward in the process linking more closely to Climate Forum and strengthening action-orientation. 

3. Anti-imperialistic forces strengthen their role in Copenhagen in both CJA, Climate Forum process and by initiating the probably biggest mass meeting during COP15 on December 17.

4. Big NGOs criticised and change position.

5. Memorandum on the December 16 action 

6. Changing main stream leftist and environmental messaging in Sweden towards COP15.


Demonstrators at the Bangkok meeting demanding climate justice

The last climate justice week have seen some drastic changes towards strengthening a climate alliance before, during and after Copenhagen. While the US and EU more and more tries to avoid the responsibility of rich nations to make substantial contributions to stop global warming an alliance of popular movements and impoverished nations take great leaps forward. This can be seen in Bangkok among both those inside the negotiations and outside, both among governments and the so called civil society and its non-government organisations. When the US and EU goes drastically in the direction of even attempting at destroying the Kyoto agreement replacing it with a useless process with no specific demands governments in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific increasingly oppose the political pressure from the rich countries. Now not only activists talks about “Seattle the Copenhagen process” but also some governmental voices.

What we can hope for according to Tadzio Müller, a German activists in the Climate Justice Action, as a historical new alliance emerging between the old environmental movement, the globalisation critical movement and many mass movements from the south building a movement of movements for the struggle for climate justice.  


1. Building a movement of movements takes great steps forward. Both Climate Justice Action and Climate Forum 09 gets much stronger support from global popular movements and organisers of the two initiatives show more openness in listening to criticism.

Climate Justice Now! Network followed suit after People’s Movement on Climate Change and decided to co-arrange the CJA reclaim Power action on December 16 with some decisive changes. No more mass penetration of the official venue but pushing forward to the fences and there create a space for climate justice demands together with government and NGO delegations from the inside. Almost no Danish organisations is yet behind the initiative while now global popular movements intervene in the Danish passivity and forces Danish organisations to choose between being bystanders or participate and influence the mass action. The CJA meeting to discuss further takes place in Copenhagen October 15-17. 

Friends of the Earth International and Via Campesina also followed suit after PMCC and became more seriously involved in the Climate Forum 09 process. At a meeting with Joseph Zacune from FOEI and Nico Verhagen from Via Campesina a common understanding was established and an outline of a closer relationship between global popular movements and Climate Forum 09 discussed including active participation ion the declaration process. The Danish initiators made it clear that they adjust to the criticism for aiming at a to long declaration but stick to their intention to include a piece on the goal of sustainable transition of our societies and how it can be done while also including the climate justice demands. A meeting has been announced for October 18 in conjunction to the CJA meeting to discuss the international cooperation and declaration process further.

2. Via Campesina moves forward in the process linking more closely to Climate Forum and strengthening action-orientation. 

Via Campesinas active involvement have lessoned tensions in Copenhagen. With important and good experience from Summits as in Cancun 2003 with solidarity between many different protesters and bad experiences from Hongkong 2004 VC plays a crucial role in understanding the need for combining mass actions on the streets with political struggle inside negotiations and links to progressive governments. VC os active in the Trade to Climate caravan from the WTRO summit in Geneva to Copenhagen and in organizing agricultural actions on December 15. 

3. Anti-imperialistic forces strengthen their role in Copenhagen in both CJA, Climate Forum process and by initiating the probably biggest mass meeting during COP15 on December 17.

While other international organisations were more reluctant peoples Movement on Climate Change was very active both in the CJA process and the Climate forum declaration process as well as in Bangkok. This have put this anti-imperialistic initiative in an advantage position that is now changing somewhat as new international organisations becomes involved. 18 Danish organisations now also announces that they will arrange the probaly biggest mass meeting during COP on december 17 with the presidents of the ALBA countries from Latin America at the Valby hall with space for 5000 participants.

4. Big NGOs criticised and change position.

Southern nations have been radicalised during the Bangkok meeting and now starts to question the position of some Northern NGOs. Meanwhile it is reported that for the first time CAN, Climate Action Network is critical towards emission trading. The whole political field is moving towards more polarisation and the big NGOs have to adjust. Also from the December 12 initiatives comes more radical messages about what the demonstration is about.

5. Memorandum on the December 16 action 

FoE Sweden climate actvists have made a memorandum on the december 16 CJA action. At a meeting on October 8 in Malmö it became clear that many of the priciples have been met by changes in the plans and due to influence from CJN! But quite a few questions remains to be addressed. 

6. Changing main stream leftist and environmental messaging in Sweden towards COP15.

See the report From Confrontation to reconciliation in Malmö

Confrontation became Reconciliation in Malmö towards COP15

What strategies should the climate movement which is becoming a climate justice movement have before, during and after the Copenhagen summit? These were issues that were debated at a cafe meeting arranged by the Friends of the Earth and Attac Malmö at the Kvarnby People’s High School October 8 some 45 minutes by public transport from the COP15 venue. Tadzio Mueller from the Climate Justice Action and Reclaim Power action December 16 were invited to speak together with Andreas Malm from the December 12 Initiative, which organizes a demonstration in Copenhagen. The meeting was well attended by some 70 people, mainly young activists from Malmö.

The meeting was opened by a confrontation. Andreas Malm attacked the ideas to penetrate in mass scale the Bella Center on December 16, where the climate negotiations with the heads of states takes place. Malm also sharply attacked the shortcomings of the Kyoto protocol and the way that rich countries are opposed to the poorer countries’ demands in the process. The political power struggle in Copenhagen he described as periphery struggling for survival against the Center. He argued further that a bad treaty in Copenhagen is worse than no treaty at all. Such a bad agreement is now what the United States and Europe promotes. It would contribute to false solutions to climate change and also be worse than the original Kyoto protocol. He also stated that denouncing the UN or the COP process as such was a big mistake. It is necessary to acknowledge the difference between the UN as the only body in which all countries can have their voice heard and bodies like the WTO or G8, where the rich countries sets the agenda. An example of this anti-UN and COP position he took was the Network Never Trust a COP who oppose the government’s legitimacy and the whole climate summit. Instead of this attitude and an action aiming at occupying the conference for a whole day Malm suggested that more important was broad mobilizations such as the December 12 Initiative. This initiative brought together a wide range behind the radical demand that the Western countries that emitted most greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are most responsible for act and promote solutions. Market solutions as a model for climate policy was rejected according to Malm by the December 12 initiative. Instead the platform promotes that rich countries invests in renewable energy and adaptation to climate change in poorer countries. 

Tadzio Mueller pointed to the need for mass action that highlights the existing conflicts. He said that even broad mass demonstrations and can have demobilising effects and not establish any lasting movement. He took the anti Iraq war demonstrations as an example. In contrast he put Seattle in 1999 that led to the movements that had previously been separated formed a globalization-critical movement. Many were inspired by the mass actions in Seattle, and particularly the civil disobedience actions that tens of thousands took part in while the violent clashes with the police were very few. In addition, Tadzio could announce that Climate Justice Now, which consists of mass movements in particular from the South decided to support and co-organize the mass action at Bella Center December 16 in a modified form. Massive penetration is no longer the issue but to press forward to the fences around the Bella Center and create a space for climate justice together with delegations from the inside. 

There has been in Sweden a strong concern among many organizations against the decision taken by the Climate Justice Action in June promoting a mass-scale penetration COP15 meeting at the Bella Center on December 16. The worries have existed in both Klimax, autonomous groups, Friends of the Earth, Climate Action and other leftist and environmental groups. The basis of the concern has been to different reasons. One common Swedish concern among a wide range of political forces is well-targeted actions based on good information about what is politically and practically feasible and a good trust in each other where there is confidence in the commitment to common principles. Organizations may have different tactics and strategy in general also in Copenhagen. But there is in Sweden a strong desire to cooperate across differences in actions that shows the seriousness of the climate justice demands and how they are in conflict with the prevailing policies of rich countries in the COP process and influence in world politics more generally. A penetration action in mass scale at the Bella Center could well lead to an escalation of violence that makes political damage and can cause very serious injuries. No organization in Sweden have supported this idea as we know of, on the contrary, there has been strong disapproval. 

Friends of the Earth has been actively intervening in order to change the way the action was planned and influence both the Danish organizations, Climate Justice Action and international social movement. Instead of penetrating in mass scale FoE Sweden climate group proposed a mass action towards the Bella Center, were only a group a group representing the mass action mainly with representatives from the South are demanded to come into  the summit to present their case. If this is not possible to arrange a meeting at the barriers between the delegations of governments and NGOs on the inside supporting climate justice demands and the mass action on the outside can in practice move the COP15 and get a focus on the alliance between social movements and governments that may be the lasting power of Copenhagen to continue struggling for Climate justice demands. 

The developments therefore was perceived as very positive at the meeting which ended in a general reconciliation. Many problems remain both concerning the action December 16, and the demonstration December 12. How shall the action at the Bella Center be designed to meet its political objectives. How is it possible that Danish organizations so far most totally against the action realize the fact that global social movements will organize the action anyway and would gladly discuss with Danish movements how it can best be designed . Around the December 12 demonstration were more question marks. It can be seen as a fragmented alliance of large NGOs, a few trade unions, environmental organizations and radical groups, without a clear unifying political idea. It may also be that the type of organizations that are behind the initiative is unable to convince the various factions involved to stick to a single line. Malm stated that the political platform was clear and that market solutions were rejected. This can be seen as crucial for a sufficiently uniting the participants. He said it was a change in the political platform of the demonstration and referred to the homepage for the December 12 initiative. It reads as follows: 

“We demand that world leaders take the urgent and resolute action that is needed to prevent the catastrophic destabilisation of global climate, so that the entire world can move as rapidly as possible to a stronger emissions reductions treaty which is both equitable and effective in minimising dangerous climate change.

We demand that the long-industrialised countries that have emitted most greenhouse gases currently in the atmosphere take responsibility for climate change mitigation by immediately reducing their own emissions as well as investing in a clean energy revolution in the developing world. Developed countries must take their fair share of the responsibility to pay for the adaptive measures that have to be taken, especially by low-emitting countries with limited economic resources.

Climate change will hit the poorest first and hardest. All who have the economic means to act, must therefore urgently and decisively do so.”

If this is a clear message enough message can be discussed. A clear climate justice message can and should also be directed against big NGOs now criticized by the governments of the South not to pursue climate justice demands during the climate negotiations. It can be seen as the contrary as if the platform gives free rein to the message from big NGOs for charity in support of poor victims of climate change instead of struggling for climate justic against market based solutions together with the global majority rather than Malm’s interpretation. 

Tord Björk

This report raised some discussion. It is true that the goal is not any more to organise a mass penetration of the Bella Center. Instead it is to overcome police barriers and enter the Bella center area, which is slightly differtn from what is stated above, to press forward to the fences around the Bella Center.

The point of views in this report does not necessarily are the same as that of Friends of the Earth Sweden.

Memorandum on the 16th of December COP15 action

Memorandum on the 16th of December COP15 action

Mass action at Bella center during the EU-Summit 2002, photo copyleft Tord Björk

This has been discussed among members in the climate group of the Friends of the Earth Sweden. It has not yet been discussed and decided in the board. As Climate Justice Now! and Climate Justice Action have meetings tommorrow and day after tomorrow in Bangkok we saw the need to send this now to relevant email lists.

There has been raised some questions concerning the forms of the mass action at the Bella Center December 16 announced by Climate Justice Action

The following principle could be useful:

1. There should be a political goal with the action possible to achieve

2. The goal is to create a outside-inside action with the collective help of both people on the outside and inside which puts forward demands for social and global justice to the climate crisis.

3. UN in Denmark and also to many mass movements from the South has legitimacy.

4. The demand that COP15 becomes a temporary platform for collective voices from the outside and especially from the South is legitimite.

5. The pressure rich countries put on poor countries in the negotiations makes it necessary to use mass actions to support voices free from this external pressure from rich countries.

6. It is necessary that the action becomes predictable for the partcipants

7. It is helpful if the action becomes unpredictable for those resisting climate justice demands

8. A key to success is representatives from mass movements in the South as well as some few governmental delagations and radical NGOs inside the negotiations that support climate justice demands.

9. Another key is mass participation in the action

Environmental activists marching towards Bella center 2002, photo copyleft Tord Björk

These principles and the political goal is not possible to achieve with the way the decision at the CJA meeting in June has been presented. Firstly it is not practically possible for a mass action to completly take over the COP15 for one day. This both due to the legitimate response from the police on such a goal and the physical situation of the Bella Center which makes it impossible to come into the building the way that has been proposed. It has already been tested unsuccessfully at an EU Summit in December 2002. Furthermore many organisations supporting the climate justice demands of such an action sees the proposed form of the action as contraproductive and only resulting in violence. The necessary mass participation both from the outside but also from the inside will not be possible to achieve.

Become unpredictable to the opponents of climate justice

To become unpredictable for those opposing climate justice demands it is necessary to build on the unique possibilities to make a combined outside-inside action. An action were the main collective strength comes from the mass participation on the outside and the unpredictability from how well the legitimate concerns from outside voices especially from the South can get support from people in common and voices inside. The political price for the organisers of the conference has to be so high that they have to allow at least a core group with a majority of voices from the South of the mass manifestation to use COP15 as a platform for its message. The alternative if the possbilites to get inside will be exhausted and politically impossible in spite of pressure and on the spot negotiations is a mass meeting at the cordon at the Bella Center with people from the inside and outside making this in practice the temporary platform of the COP15.

To create a platform inside was possible at the UN Summit on sustainable development in Bergen 1990 for industrial countries. Here the conference venue was surrounded by demonstrators who did not allow the participants to go to a dinner. Finally persons from the movement against Union Carbide from Bhopal in India and one from an industrial country were invited to bring forward the message of the action at the conference. In Copenhagen the number of demonstrators and official delegates will be many more and the tensions between rich countries and some countries from the South more intense opening up more opportunities as well as need for well-informed choices. With an action that focus upon political goals and the dynamics that a mass action and inside-outside alliances can build it is possible to create a situation with the message that the solution to the climate crisis is only possible through social and global justice.

Become predictable for the participants in the mass action

To become predictable to participants, which among others movements from the South have requested, it is of importance with some measures. It is of importance to acknowledge that Danish authorities and political parties is escalating a repressive political climate against protesters. Thus the fine for confronting the police have been raised ten-fold, a new law making it possible to arrest people and temporarily move them have been implemented and the media is doing its best to present committed activists as violent. The police in general is known to be brutal and unpredictable at many occasions and the public known to not react much on such police brutality against protesters.

Firstly the kind of strict non-violence including not responding to escalation from the side of the police which was part of the decision at the CJA meeting in June is good. These principles have in practice been successfully used at the Shut it down action against a coal plant in Copenhagen when police but not demonstrators used some violence. This action was helped by the homogenous composition of the participants which will not be the case in December. The strict non-violence code of conduct is crucial in getting wide support for the action and limit the possibilities of the police to be brutal when the future of the world is negotiated at COP15 and voices from the outside have legitimate concerns to be heard.

It is necessary to demand a dialogue with the police to strengthen the political position of the action thus making participation more predictable. One cannot necessarily trust the police to follow what they say but the price for repressions against an action will be higher by demanding dialogue. If the police refuse and maintain an antidialogue policy which has been common in Denmark sometimes it is necessary to demand from political parties that this is maintained. It should be clear who is responsible for not wanting a dialogue. It is also useful to ask for permission to march to the Bella Center. But the question of allowance for the action is less important. The action have a legitimate concern and authorities should not be allowed to define if it can take place at the Bella Center or not. Allowance should be applied for and if not given demands should be put forward for a dialogue with the police.

Deescalate internal conflicts by acknowledging the outside-inside dynamics

Ways to further deescalate the polarisation and attempts at creating a split in the climate justice opinion can be counteracted also by other means. What creates the strength of the action is outside-inside action at the Bella Center and mass participation focusing on the legitimacy of the global majority. Thus supporting the Southern representatives in the action and rather dress up as Southern populations than in young militant European outfit could be a way to promote the goal of the action. Involving different groups in Copenhagen and international guests in making our demands and broad representation visible is importance to challenge the enemy image which our opponents tries to promote. There could be different solutions to get a broad involvement in the action. It is necessary to understand the need for take into consideration that the UN in Denmark is legitimate and to question the UN or the Summit as such will not get support. This is also the case for mass movements from the South. They make a clear distinction regarding WTO, G8 or other institutions which they often regard as illegitimate while the UN in spite of it short comings is seen as legitimate as an institution.

Tord Björk

Active in the climate group of Friends of the Earth Sweden/Miljöförbundet Jordens Vänner

Memorandum om aktionen kring COP15 den 16:e December

Memorandum om aktionen kring COP15 den 16:e December

Olydiga på marsch mot avspärrningarna vid Bella Center vid EU-toppmötet 2002, foto Copyleft  Tord Björk

Detta har diskuterats av medlemmar i klimatgruppen inom Miljöförbundet Jordens Vänner. Det har ännu inte diskuterats och beslutats av styrelsen.

Det har rests frågor kring formerna för massaktionen vid Bella Center den 16:e december som har utlysts av Climate Justice Action.

Följande principer kan vara användbara:

1. Det skall finnas ett politiskt mål med aktionen som är genomförbart.

2. Målet är att skapa en samordnad aktion som överbryggar klyftan mellan insida och utsida av konferensen med hjälp av personer både inifrån och utifrån som presenterar krav på global social rättvisa i relation till klimatkrisen.

3. FN har legitimitet i Danmark och hos massrörelser från syd.

4. Kravet att COP15 blir en tillfällig plattform för kollektiva röster från utsidan och speciellt från syd är legitimt.

5. Trycket som de rika länderna utövar mot de fattiga länderna i förhandlingarna gör det nödvändigt att använda sig av massaktioner för att stödja röster som är fria från detta externa tryck.

6. Det är nödvändigt att aktionen blir förutsägbar för deltagarna.

7. Det är fördelaktigt om aktionen blir oförutsägbar för de som motsätter sig rättvisa klimatkrav.

8. En nyckel till framgång är representanter från massrörelser i syd samt vissa officiella delegationer och radikala icke-statliga organisationer inom förhandlingarna som stödjer rättvisa klimatkrav.

9. En annan nyckel är massdeltagande i aktionen.

Dessa principer och det politiska målet är inte möjliga att nå enligt den metod som presenterades på Climate Justice Actions möte i Juni. För det första är det inte praktiskt möjligt för en massaktion för att helt ta över COP15 under en dag. Detta både på grund av polisens legitima reaktion på ett sådant mål och den fysiska situationen runt Bella Center, som gör det omöjligt att komma in i byggnaden på det sätt som har föreslagits. Detta har redan provats utan framgång under EU-mötet i december 2002. Vidare så ser många organisationer som stödjer rättvisa klimatkrav en sådan form av aktion som kontraproduktiv och endast ledande till våldsamheter. Det nödvändiga massdeltagandet från både in- och utsida kommer inte vara möjligt att uppnå.

Att vara oförutsägbar för motståndarna till rättvisa klimatkrav

För att bli oförutsägbar för motståndarna till rättvisa klimatkrav är det nödvändigt att bygga kring den unika möjligheten att genomföra en kombinerad inside-utside-aktion. En aktion där den huvudsakliga kollektiva styrkan kommer från massdeltagande på utsidan och oförutsägbarheten i hur väl legitima röster från utsidan, särskilt från syd, kan få stöd från allmänheten och röster inne på konferensen. Det politiska priset för konferensens organisatörer måste vara så högt att de måste låta åtminstone en kärngrupp från massaktionen, med en majoritet från syd, att använda COP15 som en plattform för sitt budskap. Alternativet om möjligheterna att ta sig in är uttömda och politiskt omöjliga trots påtryckningar och förhandlingar på platsen är ett massmöte vid avspärrningen utanför Bella Center med personer från inifrån och utifrån konferensen, för att på det sättet skapa en tillfällig plattform som i praktiken blir ett fokus i COP15 processen.

Att skapa en plattform på insidan var möjligt under FN-mötet för hållbar utveckling i Bergen 1990 för industriländer. Då omringades konferensen av demonstranter som hindrade deltagarnas passage till en middagsbjudning. Till slut bjöds bland annat aktivister från rörelsen mot Union Carbide i Bhopal, Indien och en från ett industriland in för att framföra aktionens krav på konferensen. I Köpenhamn kommer antalet demonstranter och antalet delegater vara mycket större och även spänningarna mellan rika länder och länder från syd mycket större, vilket öppnar för både fler möjligheter och förstärker behovet av välinformerade beslut. Med en aktion som fokuserar på politiska mål och dynamiken som en allians mellan
massaktionen och grupper på insidan är det möjligt att skapa en situation som för fram budskapet att lösningen på klimatkrisen är endast möjlig genom social och global rättvisa.

Att vara förutsägbar för deltagarna i massaktionen

För att bli förutsägbar för deltagarna, vilket bland annat rörelser från syd har efterfrågat, är vissa förutsättningar nödvändiga. Det är viktigt att understryka att danska myndigheter och politiska partier trappar upp ett repressivt politiskt klimat mot aktivister. Därför har bötessumman för konfrontation med polisen tiodubblats, en ny lag har som gjort det möjligt att frihetsberöva personer har antagits och media gör sitt bästa för att utmåla övertygade aktivister som våldsamma. Polisen i allmänhet är känd för att ha varit brutal och oförutsägbar vid många tillfällen och allmänheten är känd för att inte reagera på polisbrutalitet mot demonstranter.

För det första är den typ av strikt icke-våldsprincip som inkluderar att inte svara på upptrappning från polisens sida som var en del av beslutet på CJA-mötet i juni bra. Dessa principer har i praktiken varit framgångsrika vid Shut it down-aktionen mot ett kolkraftverk i Köpenhamn, där polisen men inga demonstranter kom att använda våld. Denna aktion hade en fördel av att vara mycket homogen, men så kommer inte vara fallet i december. Den strikta icke-våldsprincipen är helt nödvändig för att skapa brett stöd för aktionen och minska riskerna för polisbrutalitet när världens framtid förhandlas om vid COP15 och röster från utsidan har legitima krav som måste bli hörda.

Det är nödvändigt att kräva en dialog med polisen för att stärka aktionens politiska position och genom detta göra aktionen mer förutsägbar. Man kan inte nödvändigtvis lita på att polisen gör som de har sagt, men priset för repression mot en aktion blir högre genom att kräva dialog. Om polisen vägrar och insisterar på en anti-dialogpolicy, vilket varit vanligt i Danmark är det nödvändigt att kräva en sådan av de politiska partierna. Det bör vara tydligt vem som har ansvar för att inte vilja ha någon dialog. Det är också användbart att begära tillstånd att gå till Bella Center. Men frågan om tillståndet att gå till Bella Center är mindre viktigt. Aktionen har en legitim orsak och myndigheter skall inte tillåtas att bestämma om den kan äga rum kring Bella Center eller inte. Man bör ansöka om tillstånd, men om detta inte ges bör man ställa krav på dialog med polisen.

Minska interna konflikter genom att synliggöra dynamiken mellan inne och ute.

Metoder att vidare minska polariseringen och försöken att splittra opinionen för rättvisa klimatkrav kan också motverkas med andra medel. Det som skapar styrka i aktionen är dynamiken mellan inne och ute vid Bella Center och massdeltagande som fokuserar på det legitima hos den globala majoriteten. Att stödja representanterna från syd genom att snarare klä sig som ursprungsbefolkning från syd snarare än som ung europeisk militant kan vara en metod att stödja aktionens mål. Att involvera olika grupper i Köpenhamn och internationella gäster i att framföra aktionens krav samt att skapa synlig och bred representation är vikigt för att utmana hotbilden som våra motståndare försöker lyfta fram. Det är nödvändigt att ta i beaktande att FN i Danmark ses som legitimt så att ifrågasätta FN som helhet eller själva konferensen i sig kommer inte att få stöd. Detta gäller också massrörelser från syd. De gör en tydlig distinktion mellan WTO, G8 och andra institutioner som de ser som illegitima men FN själv ses som legitimt trots dess tillkortakommanden.

Tord Björk

Aktiv i Miljöförbundet Jordens Vänner

The Heat Is On, nr1 Copenhagen process update during a week

The Heat Is On, nr1 Copenhagen process update during a week

A week ago Friends of the Earth Sweden (FoE Sweden)  made some political initiatives.

1. A call for Building a movement of movements for Climate Justice activities at the Climate Forum 09, (CF09)

2. A report on Via Campesina (VC) Brasil visit to Sweden and Denmark

3. The FoE Sweden statement: Stop the Violence Against Oil War Refugees in Denmark!

4. Changing the mainstream leftist and NGO climate messaging in Sweden.

5. A protest against People´s Climate Action (PCA) description of CF09 as a meeting ”aimed primarily at activist left wingers”.

6. Informal contacts to discuss the Climate Justice Action (CJA) Push for Climate Justice activity at COP15 venue December 12.

7. Launched FoE Sweden climate autumn activities

You find the call, report and statement at the blog www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney together with much other climate material.

The outcome this week is the following:

Politicising based on both CF09 and CJA platforms seen as positive

1. The call for Building a movement of movements for Climate Justice with three activities at CF09 was well received. The aim was to focus on politically uniting interests between CF09, CJA and other climate justice initiatives and to use the Copenhagen activities as a platform for the coming years. The response from the CF09 board was an invitation to a meeting to discuss the declaration process. You find more information in a coming invitation letter to the CF09 declaration process. There has been some problems in the relationship between CF09 and CJA with the result that some persons left the board of CF09. What triggered the conflict was requests to support the CJA meeting in October. This is the only open international preparatory process for climate justice activities in Copenhagen. Now with the help of Safania Eriksen from FoE Denmark working at the CF09 office there will be an international preparatory meeting for CF09 in conjunction with the CJA meeting in mid October thus enabling broader participation and possibilities for organisations to participate at both meetings.

Necessary to challenge Western corporation both at home and in the South

2. The report on VC Brazil visit by Terena Castro to Sweden and Denmark focused on political aspects. In a meeting between VC Sweden and VC Brazil  criticism was made towards the position by VC international to focus mainly on agriculture with the argument that it was the crucial point in the negotiations. VC Sweden stated that it rather was forests that was the crucial point. Another main outcome of the seminars were Castro participated was the understanding that it is necessary to address the domestic politics which enables forest and other corporations exploiting nature to become aggressive actors promoting ecologically damaging industrial forestry and agriculture worldwide. This political strategy questions the way many North-South organisations work when they do not address the activities and politics at home that enables corporations to become aggressive in other countries. The response on this report was coming from the organisers of the Trade to Climate caravan who cooperates with VC and liked the political perspective and as well was worried about how they could fund their 60 participants from the South. Persons from VC Sweden and Bente Hesselund from Noah Denmark were positive about the political content of the report.

Policy fragmentation a hinderance for opposing the violence of fossil fuel society

3. The statement Stop the Violence Against Oil War Refugees in Denmark! have caused divergent opinions in Denmark. The protest was directed against the violent fossil fuel development model with its use of violence to deport refugees from Iraq that had searched asylum in the Brorson church in Nörrebro in Copenhagen. There has not been time to spread the statement more widely. One argument from a person in FoE Denmark is that it is impossible for an environmental organisation to mix asylum policy, security policy and environmental policies. A closer look at the statutes of FoE Denmark and FoE Sweden shows a clear difference. In Denmark it is only protection of the environment which includes struggling against the causes of environmental degradation which can include everything and nothing. The Swedish version is that we are both an organisation for the environment and solidarity between people, promotes peace and cooperation between popular movements. We also address the political situation and do not necessarily accept the fragmentation of politics into specific policies. Another argument was that the situation in Denmark is so polarised that any statement to prevent the causes of creation of refugees will be helping nationalists who are against immigration. Do not try to make me explain that argument. Furthermore  was the issue of the deportation of Iraqí refugees so controversial splitting the population in half, one on the left supporting the refugees and the other on the right supporting the government. Any linking to the issue would result in putting a leftist stamp on the environmental organisation that made a statement. Others that are working with the Church asylum issue can report that most people involved see their commitments as only based on humanitarian values and do not see any linkage to any other question and do not consider their action at all political. Thus many actors in Denmark tries to reduce politics to narrow single issue policy activities if not only acts of humanistic concerns. The result is that the FoE flood action that should have passed the Brorson church and primarily was based on Nörrebro support have to be rethought as the activists now only devote their time to the church asylum issue. 20 000 people participated some hours after the deportation of the refugees from the church.

Nort-South organisation understood the need to go beyond North South issues

4. Changing the mainstream leftist and NGO climate messaging in Sweden was not such a hard thing after all. The Latin American Groups in Sweden, a radical well funded solidarity organisation cooperating with popular movements in Latin America proposed a petition for a signature campaign along the normal main stream leftist and NGO lines. It started by stating that an effective climate deal built on climate justice is necessary. ”But this will not happen if the Swedish government did not feel pressure from their citizens”. It continued with addressing the right to development for the poor and labelled the poor as hit by the effects of global warming. This kind of framing of the climate issue is the hegemonic shared by both governments, NGOs and most left wing organisations alike. In the proposed wording the key actor is the Prime minister while others are reduced to individuals using their pressure to make him act or ”poor” people that have the role of being victims. Instead of making the climate issue a question of social justice this framing puts it firmly within a controllable rhetoric were negotiations between states is the only thing that is going on and the role of others is to be pressure groups or victims to be displayed in this power game. From FoE we proposed to change to right to development into: ”The world needs a fair agreement on climate change which gives power to the social forces that can work for social justice and constructive solutions.” Collective action instead of individual. Social justice within countries instead of rich people that are supposed to help the poor. The second hegemonic ideology to challenge was that of only focusing on policy and climate negotiations instead of also addressing the politics which is implemented daily by the government. Thus we proposed that what we want ”can only happen if many people go together and demand that Sweden live as it preaches and does not promote political solutions to energy and transport, which increases emissions, as well as demanding social and global justice in climate negotiations” (badly translated with the help of google. Our proposals were well received. A small step in the struggle against the leftist and NGO hegemony that puts the focus only on North-South issues as trade and other relations between countries and nothing on the social relations within them.

Positive response on critique of Danish NGOs

5. On my way to the CF09 declaration meeting I passed by the PCA offices. Here I met with Lene Villets, the director of PCA and discussed the general situation before Copenhagen. PCA is the only climate initiative with a website that has published a strongly self-critical statement. It is about Danish NGOs by Ben Marjorie, director of the tcktcktck campaign. He claims that the Danish organisations lacks energy and acts too much based on market principles competing with each other instead of cooperating. I informed about that FoE Sweden would make a formal protest against PCA description of CF09 on its webpage. The information was well received and something should be done about it. In the evening we sent our protest and the next day the description was changed. The meeting was positive and could result in contacts for the future. The relationship between PCA and CF09 is a bit tense as CF09 regards PC as a tool for putting pressure on CF09. The original initiative for doing broader activities at COP15 came from Permaculture association and CF09. The government responded by giving 20 million DKK, ca 2,5 million euro to a broader set of organization including big NGOs that named itself PCA. This set up than distributed 8 million to CF09, 8 million to different projects and 4 million to its own operation.

Informal discussions

6. Informal contacts with different actors have been taken by people in FoE Sweden to discuss the CJA Push for Climate Justice activity at COP15 venue December 12. ore information about this will come later.

Climate campaigning in Sweden against motorways and climate trading

7. FoE Sweden launched climate autumn activities on September 16. There has been a camp, actions, meetings and spreading of leaflets. The main focus has been on transport as the government plan hard core neoliberal deregulation of all train and bus services and recently decided to build a motorway on the Western side of Stockholm. There has also been some seminars on linking climate, job and financial crisis issues including the visit from VC Brazil and discussions with car workers on how to make a transition of the transport industry. In the end of November we will focus on trading emissions and offsetting as a false solution to climate change. We have been unsuccessful in fundraising and received zero crowns from our normal donors for the climate issue and as we are a poor organization that caused some problems but we now have 500 euro and are doing better and better. 28 peoples high schools have asked Lars Igeland, active in FoE Sweden climate working group to come and make speeches about our perspective on climate justice.

Promising mass action and less polarisation

Other developments the last week has also been promising.  Most promising is the Shut it down civil disobedience action with 1500 participants against a coal plant on Amager island were the COP15 venue is placed. The whole week there has been climate discussions at Chistiania were the movement freely can meet and gain strength for coming struggles. In general the climate activists have been able to find a model for building a momentum towards COP15 that strengthens the climate justice movement and makes it possible for many to be involved. Each day during COP 15 there will be actions on specific issues enabling many different kind of organisations and people to be involved addressing a wide range of issues. As the climate activists are the only ones that have organised several international open and democratic preparatory meetings for the Copenhagen process they have gained a strong momentum which is hard to ignore.

The other two main actors are big NGOs and small radical or practically oriented environmental organisations. Both belong to the category generals without committed troops. Both also tend to build their identity as an antithesis of the violent climate activists. WWF Denmark claimed in an article in the Guardian that the planned CJA action December 12 was violent and the polarisation has been growing ever since. Among the big NGOs there are now concerns about the lack of focused work. At the PCA office I was told that international NGOs will come to Copenhagen to discuss how things can be improved.

The CF09 gains momentum with 5000 registered participants so far. The initiative to invite to a CF09 preparatory meeting in conjunction with next CJA meeting also contributes to strengthening the climate justice movement. When PCA tried to monopolise all contacts with the municipality excluding Climate Collective from the talks Permaculture international representative in the board of CF09 intervened and the exclusion was stopped.

All in all the week have shown that steps have been taken in the right direction in Denmark. It is about time for movements in other countries to show the same spirit and start to feel the heat from people coming together to change he world.

Via Campesina Brazil visits Sweden and Denmark

September 11 Terena Castro arrived in Sweden, forestry engineer and Via Campesina mono-culture spokesperson in Brazil. I have had the pleasure to meet her at both workshops, a demonstration, along with Torgny Östling NOrdbruK/Via Campesina Sweden and at the home of Lennart Kjörling, active in the MST’s support group and Friends of the Earth Sweden Peasant and Indigenous People’s Committee

September 12 Terena Castro participated in a panel with Torgny Östling on natural resources and the relationship between city and countryside at the September the movement meeting in Stockholm arranged by FoE Sweden, Association Aktivism.info and others. Via Campesina in Brazil and Sweden are very similar in that they both are involved in agriculture and forestry. By contrast, the difference in size is very big. In Brazil, several organizations are members of Via Campesina with in total more than 2 million members, in NordbruK, fewer than a hundred farmers. But the description of the problems of managing natural resources in both Brazil and Sweden are much the same.

Torgny described how agriculture and forestry in Sweden became impoverished by domestic colonization policies for one hundred years ago. Thus the farmers in the Northern half of Sweden lost much of their influence and lost their forests to corporations. Today the same process accelerates through the capital liberalization directive. This EU Directive was accepted with a broad consent in 1993 as part of Sweden’s preparations for becoming member of EMU and EU with the support of all parliamentary parties. It was a deregulation of all previous demands that those owning agricultural land or forests should have competence in agriculture and forestry. It also eliminated the earlier possibilities for farmers to influence the price, logging practices and to avoid constructing forest industry when there was not enough forest. Land ownership became a a market for speculation and the peasants were marginalised while the corporation could grab maximum profit out of the new conditions. This aggressive opportunity for the Swedish forest company strengthened its capacity mainly together with Finnish forest companies to take the lead in the world in launching large-scale monoculture plantations and destruction on a global scale.

For Terena, but also for the seminar participants the description of the Swedish situation was new, while many participants were partially familiar with the situation in Brazil. The conclusion of the seminar was that there is not enough to combat the Swedish-Finnish forestry company Stora Enso in Brasil. It is equally important or more important to also fight for a forest in the Nordic countries to promote biodiversity and power over forestry for the rural population instead of remote destruction organised from corporate offices in big cities.

In the following discussions between Torgny and Terena it became clear that NOrdrbuK  has a special role in the Via Campesina. In the rest of Europe the peasants have mostly experience of farming and coal mining as a problem. In Sweden forestry has been a conflict issue creating the experience for a long time. NOrdruK sits in an EU group in Brussels for forest issues and has long-standing experience to pursue this issue. That is what both the Via Campesina Europe and Via Campesina international needs. It is important for the Via Campesina in countries affected by Nordic forestry companies to get allies to combat these forest companies on their home ground.

It is rarely this insight is expressed. Torgny pointed out that it is only Friends of the Earth Sweden, which has put Via Campesina Sweden and Via Campesina Brazil, in the same panel to discuss common issues. The political, social and economical connection is rarely expressed. The focus is rather directed against morally emberassing conditions in the South while the need to change policy and also the development model in Sweden are missing out.

The following discussion also came up with some criticism of the Via Campesina’s guidelines for climate change talks in Copenhagen. The guidelines said that agriculture has become the central issue. This can be questioned. It is rather the issue of forest natural resources issues. It would be useful if Via Campesina’s position will be improved on this point.

Terena is going to take comments back to the Via Campesina in Brazil on how to act at the Climate Summit in Copenhagen. This is essential for us in the Friends of the Earth Sweden and oru sister organisations world wide. Via Campesina in Brazil has a key role in the Via Campesina International and the Friend sof the Earth International sees Via Campesina as its major cooperation partner.

After the discussions in Stockholm seminars and a demonstration in Växjö followed. On Sunday the People’s Movement No to the EU (FNEU) organised a seminar where Småbrukarna (Small farmers) chairman Åke Carlsson and FNEU’s chairman Jan-Erik Gustavsson talked about the EU’s agricultural policy. Ake was skeptical about the prospects for political change and saw consumer power as a viable approach. Conservatives in Swedish parliament have supported change of regulations to enable farmers to slaughter their cattle at their farms and dairy production to the benefit of farmers and consumers. The interest in organic and locally produced food increases and fairs for interested attracts thousands. I attended the seminar for FoE Sweden and talked about the climate summit and the link with agriculture and forestry. Terena would attend the next day at a seminar organized by Small farmers.

A demonstration on Sunday against GMO gathered nearly a hundred people. Speakers were Rune Lanestrand from Small farmers, a Dutch slow food chef from neigbouring Göinge, a beekeeper, Greenpeace, Green Party, Center Party, Women and more. The audience cheered in the rain with placards and shouting.

After Växjö Terena continous her tour to Malmö and Copenhagen. In Copenhagen she will meet the Climate Forum 09 which organizes a counter summit all through COP15 7-18/12 and International Forum cafe. In Malmö there will be several meetings ending with Moving the World at Kvarnby People’s High School on Sunday 20/9.

PS. Terena Castro also had a meeting with the December 12 initiative that organizes a big demonstration on this date in Copenhagen.

Build a movement of movements for Climate Justice

Tord Björk | Climate,Friends of the Earth,popular movements,Summits | Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Activities at the Klimaforum09 towards building a movement of movements for climate justice
We call for contributing towards building a movement of movements for climate justice by three broader activities at the Klimaforum09 in Copenhagen in December:

1. Building a constructive programme for solving the climate crisis by changing production and consumption models providing jobs or access to resources for everyone.

2. How to strengthen cooperation among movements based in communities and daily life experiences as well as political struggles at national and international level aiming at changing society built on climate justice solutions.

3. How to build a movement of movements for climate justice beyond the Copenhagen Summit planning for actions in 2010 and afterwards.

We want as broad cooperation as possible in preparing of these activities and see them as a contribution to the declaration process initiated by Klimaforum09. The political basis for the activities we propose will be (links to the statements below):

* The political platform for Klimaforum09
* The political platform for Climate Justice Action
* The political platform of Climate Justice Now! network established on Bali 2007
* The statements by Peoples Campaign against Climate Change including the outcome of the coming meeting in Bangkok in October 2009
* The statement by the assembly of climate justice movements at the World Social Forum in Belem in January 2009
* The statements by the preparatory assembly of European Social Forum and the ESF network on climate change in Vienna in June 2009
* Stop the Violence Against Oil War Refugees! statement September 2009

A constructive programme

It is necessary to develop further a constructive programme for both industrial, urban and rural models for sustainable patterns of production and consumption. Building on other activities at Klimaforum seminars on food souvereignity and bringing these together complementing when necessary into a coherent programme for alternative industrial production and reforms of agriculture, forestry, fisheries and urban planning to promote a sustainable society as well as a consumption model based on global justice.*

Movement cooperation

There is a need to strengthen the cooperation between environmental, peasant, women’s, indigenous, pacifist, trade union, urban and other movements to promote a common struggle for climate justice and against repression and criminalisation of popular movements. To strengthen this cooperation this activity is based on preparatory experience exchange and discussing at the forum these experiences to develop better cooperation in the future.

Actions and building a movement of movements 2010 and onwards

This activity we want to be a core activity of the Klimaforum including both regional discussions and discussions among different movements with the aim to jointly contribute to a plan ahead for a movement of movements for climate justice.

Friends of the Earth Sweden

Tord Björk
You find all the statements in this blog below. You also find the first five via url-addresses here:

* The political platform for Klimaforum09

* The political platform for Climate Justice Action

* The political platform of Climate Justice Now!

* The statements by Peoples Campaign against Climate Change including the outcome of the coming meeting in Bangkok in October 2009

* The statement by the assembly of climate justice movements at the World Social Forum in Belem in January 2009

* The statements by the preparatory assembly of European Social Forum and the ESF network on climate change in Vienna in June 2009

* Stop the Violence Against Oil War Refugees! statement September 2009

** Among the inspiration for this constructive programme from the Nordic countries region is the plan made by the 3F trade union in Denmark together with the Ecological council to promote green jobs, the call for jobs, climate and welfare by SEKO trade union in Sweden together with Friends of the Earth Sweden and the Common Welfare Network and the sustainable global justice consumption report made by Coalition for Environment and Development in Finland. At the international level the environmental space studies based on global fair shares made Friends of the Earth groups in all parts of the world as an inspiration as well as other similar efforts by popular movements.

EPA in Vienna – ESF: a Leftist Kindergarten or Social Movement Cooperation

Tord Björk | ESF,Friends of the Earth,Travel | Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

The European Preparatory Assembly (EPA) for next European Social Forum to be held in Istanbul 2010 took place in Vienna in June. In short it was a step backward in spite of Austrian great efforts to strengthen the process. In Turkey the key organization and people that have carried on the preparations so far for almost two years have stepped aside and new people and organizations took over. Central is a committee of five trade unions. The new Turkish cooperation partners said no to strengthen the preparations and the momentum have at least temporarily been broken. The network meetings were few and not well attended but with soem good results as the CEE network. The Climate change network meeting also resulted in a useful outcome stressing the need for cooperation between different movements and constructive programs that can address both climate and job crisis.

I arrived early with the night train from Berlin. Things had changed completely. I needed a telephone book to find a number and address but was told that this did not exist anymore. Nor were there any internet cafés open at the Westbahnhof or nearby. It took me many hours to sort things out. Global 2000 was a great help. This organization is a member of Friends of the Earth. Last time I visited them the office was placed quite far out, filled with activist equipment, placards and the like. This time there was a new office closer to the centre in some less luxurious blocks easy accessible. This saved me and my need to use internet. I also bumped into an office meeting and made a report from FOEE AGM. Global 2000 is an effective NGO with many professionals in the staff working on controversial issues as GMO and nuclear power. There was a sense that the contact with lay activists had been lost and now needed more emphasis. There was a sense of rationality in the air, of high level intellectual and goal-oriented professional action reaching out to the political consumer. Quite far away from the less resourceful Friends of the Earth Sweden.

Finally I found Leo Gabriel from the Austrian Social Forum who had invited me at the anti-racist rally outside the parliament.  Austria have continued to make more and more strict laws against the interest of refugees and immigrants. Also people accused of having a fascist and antisemitic background were members of the parliament and Jews were amongst the protesters in the anti-racist rally which gathered a very large number of participants.

Among the demonstrators was a Swede according to Leo. He presented me to Peter Kreisky who was brought up in Sweden during the war when his father was a refugee.

We talked about the can company Felix were Peter worked as a boy while his father Bruno struggled in the exile resistance against fascism. It was nice to meet someone so well acquainted with Sweden down in the emperors city which Sweden as so many others failed to conquer in its imperialist days. Here the Mongols, Turks and Swedes have failed, only Hitler was well received and could conquer the city without any resistance after the fascists had massacred the workers movement with the Ottakring district as one of the last strongholds for the workers in 1934.

The EPA meeting took place in a Volkhochschule, a People´s high school in the midst of the old worker´s Ottakring district of Vienna established in 1905. It was a hundred years old and still a busy place were people go and learn things, in the old days both workers and women’s liberation activists and today participants in “democratic and intercultural” education. It is one of the oldest schools for education of after adulthood inspired by the Danish peoples high school movement and celebrated equally by social democrats and communists.

Here we entered among the many busy students. The network meetings took place in smaller appropriate rooms. Attendance was low compared to earlier EPAs. The environmental climate meetings though got for the first time a wide interest from others than environmentalist, small farmers and climate campaigners. We were very few from these movements, basically myself from Friends of the Earth Sweden and Alexandra Strickner from Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy and Attac. The Danish delegation from Climate Forum 09 would arrive later to the plenary session on Saturday. Some 40 people attended interested to hear about the preparations for the Copenhagen Summit. The divergence became very clear. Trade unionists from Belgium were especially ambitious in the practical planning. A train for some 700 people was in the preparation for participants to go from Brussels to Copenhagen and the Summit Summit in December. They also stated their political purpose clearly. It was only to support the politicians. This is in strong contrast with the different actions and the Climate Forum 09 that is in preparation. Here the basis are political platforms with specific demands both for constructive solutions and against solutions that will have a negative effect on both environment and social justice. It is clear that participants in the ESF-process have very divergent agendas.

Still yet the network meeting could conclude in making a statement that is useful in the preparations to promote political goals that hitherto have been marginalised. Political goals that are important for building alliances between different movements and for reaching out to the general public. The political demand was to focus on the need for a constructive solution to the climate crisis that will bring about jobs. So far in the preparations the radical activists in the consensus process used in the Climate Justice Action network have blocked this demand from getting wider support. The environmental NGOs tend also to see this demand as marginal and the radical environmental groups tend to focus on degrowth in a socially neutral way and thus also avoiding this issue. Only in the ESF process has it been possible to get a broader support among different movement for this demand.

The next day the European Preparatory meeting started. The main hall were this meeting took place was impressive, once financed by the baron Rotchild who saw the need in supporting education of workers. The assembly was dominated by a struggle between the Austrian organisers and Western Europeans, mainly French attempts at questioning the leadership of the meeting. Under the surface was the fact of the change in leadership of the Turkish Organizing Committee.

The Austrian organisers had untactically named its proposal for a European preparatory group European Organizing Committee. Thus the name was the same as that of the organisers in the host country which is normally also called organizing committee. Such labelling caused confusion. There was also not enough flexibility from the Austrian side once the criticism was expressed although in the end willingness to change the name. The label European Organizing Committee was kept in the discussion to long in spite of that it was not intended to have the same postion visavi ESF as the organizing committee of the host country/ies.

Probably the Austrians felt that their proposals was in the interest of all. They had especially gone to Istanbul to meet the new TOC and present their idea of the need of a European preparatory group that continously could help the Turkish preparations.and that the Turks had agreed to the idea. The need for a better organisation have been clearly seen in the preparation for the ESF 2008 in Malmö. There are numerous practical tasks left without follow-up between the ESFs. The haphazardous way important things as supporting CEE participation, fund-rasing or spreading of information is managed causes severe unnecessary problem. The fact that most ESFs have left big debts behind of hundreds of thousands Euros shows that there is something basically wrong in the preparation process.

But no arguments helped. The TOC opinion, if they ever accepted the Austrian idea in the first place at the visit in Istanbul, was now that they did not want any European group that continously helped with the preparations whatever label it had. To talk to the TOC representatives was as talking to empty eyes. I must admit that it made me very uneasy to sense this lack of interest in practical preparations. It was not only disinterest in the idea of setting up a European preparatory group. Worse was the disinterest in any specific practical experiences from preparing a ESF. As experience tells us that to start in advance is crucial to many aspects as fund-rasing, CEE participation, getting new groups involved etc it was discouraging to to feel that the new TOC tin the hands of trade unions was disinterested in not only a group but also specific ideas and practical needs of immediate nature for improving the organizing of next ESF

Discouraging was also the unqualified assessment of the ESF in Malmö. The practical problems with dispersed localities and unsufficient number of volunteers for organizing the event are well-known facts. In the case of the localities it is trivial. As there were no other option than Malmö to place ESF and as there were no other localities to be found in this small city there were no alternatives. The lack of volunteers could have been different. When similar or higher amounts of people took part in the activities at the EU Summit in Gothenburg these problems did not occur (instead the police caused severe problems). The trade unions and Attac who dominated the board of the Nordic Organizing Committee had chosen a model for the preparations that promoted professionalization and thus activists were marginalised and the mobilization of volunteers failed. The Swedish trade unions were as disinterested in practical preparations as now it seems that the trade union dominated TOC is.

Criticism on these practical matters are well deserved and not much to be embarrassed about. What is discouraging is that the ESF in Malmö also was in general dismissed politically as well. This is false. The assessments made by a large number of groups states the opposite. This becomes obvious when reading some 2000 reports on the internet about ESF in Malmö including many from outside the Nordic countries. More or less all movements report from Malmö that it was a political step forward for them and for cooperation with other movements. What was lacking was a general political debate about the connection of issues and the different crisis. But this was stopped not by the Nordic organizations but by a French intervention against a Via Campesina proposal at a European programme meeting. The political attack on the Nordic organisers coming to a large degree from French delegates is misdirected. It became clear in the discussion that few of the EPA delegates build their judgements on serious analysis and studies. Instead superficial opportunistic arguments dominates the discussion which do not bring the ESF process forward. The experience from the ESF 2008 preparations is also that many Western European organisations claim interest in supporting the practical preparation including funding of the Solidarity fund and then afterwards quickly forget it while an overdimensioned interest instead is put into discussing the programme at high costs at special meetings outside the EPAs.

The Austrians had done a lot of effort in preparing the event. They made strong effort in translation and had interpreters organised. They also made a lot of fund-raising for CEE participants. Thus the tradition to maintain a strong CEE presence in the process from the ESF 2008 process was maintained. The journey to meet the new TOC in Istanbul also shows a clear committment to the practical needs of preparing next ESF. Instead of seeing the psoitive side of these efforts and the need to enforce the practical preparation the meeting tended to act in a rather disgraceful manner. Partly this was due to inflexibility from the Austrian chair but it certainly could have been done in another way. In practice the meeting ended with that the secretary took over and the Austrian leadership of the meeting was put aside.

If the discussions in plenary were discouring the discussions in the corridors was much more so. Thanks god for not being a leftists! I do not mind cooperating with the left and as independent of them I tend to be told all bad things about the others. My own experience is that all strands have positive aspects and that the way criticism against the others are handled sometimes become comical and a way to avoid the problems the own left-wing tendency have. What happened was a big shift in the view of the former main collaboration partners in Turkey. A key organisation in the former TOC was the Socialist Workers Party in Turkey, SWP. Their main strength had been in building broader coalitions working against war and also campaigning on climate change. Now when the power relations shifted in Turkey suddenly many reminded themselves of hw this trotskyist tendency which SWP belongs too was an obstacle to many in different parts of Europe. Whether this was relevant for the case of Turkey seemed not of interest. My experience of the SWP tendency in different countries is different from situation. I do ot like the opportunistic tendency to put only one issue a a time as the only important thing but the activist commitment is many time sincere and important in a European political were politics more and more is based on dependence of donors, a problem which is very clear in the environmental movement. My experience as coordinator of the European contact group for ESF 2008 is that the former TOC was a great help in the preparations that time upon time helped out in practical problematic situations, directly contrary to the experiences which now was brought up from other countries. Two times I also visited EPA meetings in Istanbul and both times it was clear that the participation from  environmentalists and other kind of movements was broad. The climate change network meeting had 55 participants, larger than any other environmental network meeting during EPAs that I know of. The discussion also had a high level, more so than in Vienna. It is as if the left that dominates the EPA process opportunistically changes its assessments according to who is in power and not according to principles and relevant serious judgement.

Now what caused the split in Turkey was never really clear. The SWP people stated that it was political and part of a great split in the whole left in Turkey and due to the developments when five trade unions established a  special committee within TOC to guide the work. Thus they saw both political developments outside TOC and thus only informally connected to the ESF process as well as the formal aspects within TOC as an argument for leaving their active participation. The new TOC organisers claimed that the informal political aspects was irrelevant and at the formal level that SWP at first had agreed to the new group of five trade unions as guiding and not controlling the TOC. Only when, in the new situation, SWP people presented the idea that some of them should be part of the professional staff to prepare ESF and were refused so the SWP left. The two stories are not necessarily contradictory. What is illogical is the way the new TOC treats the two similar ideas to have guiding groups supporting TOC, in one case consisting of five Turkish trade union, in the other case European organisations helping with the preparation. In the case of the five trade unions guiding group this is not only willingly accepted but also claimed to be of no importance for the possibility for TOC to have a open and democratic decision process. In the case of an All-European support group the claims are exactly the opposite and the idea bluntly refused.

My role at the meeting was rather ungrateful. I reported about the bankruptcy of the Nordic organisers after ESF and the failure in paying the costs of Babels and cultural workers as well as others. This issue is something I might come back to in later contribution on my blog socialforumjourney. The reactions on the report were firstly to the point but after a while there were tendencies to state things against a position that was claimed to be ours in the Nordic countries when it fact in was a speculation made by the person thus enabling himself or herself to make a stronger statement against a non-existant position. It was also discouraging to sense a lack of interest in being committed to the idea to expand the ESF process to the Nordic countries. It was if the challenge to integrate the Nordic experiences was a to hard task for the original initiators of the ESF process in Southern Europe and that they now gladly retracted back to the Mediterranean waters.

In my role as one of the few environmentalists it was more fun. The statements on climate change and job-creation in plenary and in the network meeting is most helpful. I found two French delegates that helped my out a lot with the climate network meeting. As I have a private ”campaign” blaming more or less all bad things about the ESF process on the French it was lovely to find some French delegates who both talked and did things in a focused and  efficient way. It is nice to get my prejudices contradicted. So it was when reading the reports from ESF in Malmö. No country had as diverging reports as those in France. Both experienced activists as Christophe Aguiton and young activists as one contributor to L’Humanité had strong positive evaluation of ESF 2008, in L’Humanité the message was that Malmö was young and energetic. In not other country were the opnions as contradictory and strongly expressed as in France to my knowledge. But the positive judgements now seemed wiped away from the minds of the French.

Conclusions are hard to make. My obsession with the problems dealing with a consensus process in practice dominated by internal French positions that quite often are contradictory was met by a commentator from the old TOC, this is a French affair and it is just to love it or leave it. Another Greek comment was that ESF 2101 will be a Turkish affair and that this is good. The Turkish mass organisations have the capacity to carry out the task well practically. To a large degree this EPA behaved as a leftist kindergarten.

In general the kind of movement that participate in the ESF process are of utmost importance for the strand of the environmental movement that I belong to. Many environmental organisations only focus on environmental issues and often only on lobbying. My strand sees the necessity of alliances between different social movements. In the preparations for the Climate summit and the building of a movement of movements for climate justice this is of great importance. In the ESF process there are both in Eastern and Western Europe many of the only really existing social movements able and actively interested in building such alliances. But that the dominant leftist forces sees the trade unions as the cardinal and unquestionable central movement creates problems, also for the trade unions that in this way are not confronted with the need to treat other movements as equal cooperation partners.

What was really fun was to meet all the CEE participants, the famous Matyas Benyik and Endre Simo from Hungary, Peter Damo from Romania, Mirek Prokes as always administrating all our needs for minutes and order in the papers, the nicely provocative Alla Glinchikova from Russia as well as  Svetlana and Yulia from Law Institute in Moscow. Together with the Austrian pacifist Mathias Reichl and the Russian women the EPA meeting in Vienna ended with all the human benefits that one can get out of political meetings.

We talked a lot about Stanislav Markelov from the Law Institute in Moscow that did so much for the ESF process at the EPA meeting in Kiev and as a strong advocate for Caucasian cases at ESF in Malmö. He was murdered in January directly outside the court building in Moscow together with the young activists Anastasia Baburova directly after a trial against someone accused of human rights violation in Chechnya. It was clear that is very hard to replace this very committed lawyer who have helped so many social movements in Russia. We strolled along the streets in Vienna guided by our Austrian friend, went to the empress castle and looked at an exhibition of paintings and drawings from the time of Rembrandt. This made me leave Vienna in a nice mood.

PS You can read about Stanislav’s adventures during ESF at the mayors dinner and with the police on this blog: http://www.aktivism.info/socialforumjourney/?p=142

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