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

Enclosed
 
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.

G20 Pittsburgh demonstration and climate justice camp

Protesting against G20 failure in addressing climate change

Some 4000 to 10000 protesters gathered at the G20 Summit and 4900 policemen. The G20 failed in addressing the issue of how to solve the crisis for those most severly hit in the South and focused mostly on moralistic superficial goals as actions against bonuses for bosses, an issue that looks good in the mass media in rich countries.

The main demonstration People’s March was initiated by the peace organization Thomas Merton Center. The issues raised by protesters had a wide range from supporting workers hit by the crisis to peace and climate change. Camps were organized as Three Rivers Climate Convergence (3RCC), pink code for women’s peace activism and others.

3RCC reports as many other groups harassments by the police from refusal to allow demonstrations to walk according to the permit given to the use of new anti-demonstration weapons. The Police unleashed tear gas and sound cannon. Alternative media reports almost 200 arrested, the police 83. 19 businessmen had their windows smashed.

It seems as the G20 protests were more a testing ground for technology than a place were politics was developed. The new police weapon against demonstrators  was in use as well as pepper spray, extra long sticks etc. The demonstrators used Twitter to communicate. The puppets that once was a favourite in antiglobalization demonstrations is no gone according to one report. Instead masks with politicians are as popular as ever.

Workshops were puppets were built before demonstrations was popular for the police in implementing a new police strategy after Seattle built on lies and knowledge of psychology. In April 2000 and later the police claimed that molotov cocktail or similar weapons were inside the buildings were the puppets were made. Then they stormed the workshop with predictable result. Protesters came to the place in solidarity, there were clashes with the police and the proactive strategy had been successful. The police could both arrest those that had strong solidariet feelings and present an image to the media of violent demonstrators. Of course the molotov cocktails never existed. This proactive US police tactic to escalate violence at Summits were in June 2001 brought to Europe by Håkan Jaldung, head of the police operation during the EU Summit in Gothenburg and partcipant in education for police offciers 40 times in the US. The difference was that while the US police had used the tactic against puppet workshops with some 75 people inside the Swedish police used against the mina convergence center, counter summit and sleeping quarters of 700 people. Jaldung made the action in close connection with US intelligence against the advice from Swedish national security police who had many infiltrators inside and saw no reason to storm the convergence center. The result was chaos during three days initiatied by the police, shooting against demonstrators with live ammunition and 90 per cent of the population supporting the police. 50 demonstrators were sentenced in total 50 years to prison and the left split blaiming each other for the riots instead of defending those on trial. So watch out for US police tactics.

The article below that have received very many responses and started a debate is: Are We Addicted to Rioting?

Tord Björk

From Gipfelsoli Newsletter – Globalized Solidarity:

G20 Protests Rock Pittsburgh

News, updates and analysis on the G20 summit in Pittsburgh and associated
protests.

See http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=2009092501263020#comments

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Protests at Group of 20 Conference [Photos]

More: http://www.gipfelsoli.org/Home/G20_2009_Pittsburgh_Pictures

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G20 riots in Pittsburgh – How I organized them via Twitter

During the recent G20 protests in Pittsburgh a group of on-the-ground
participants, residents from Pittsburgh, mainstream and alternative media
writers, left-wing activists and regular folks came together to form a virtual
community on Twitter. We shared info, were collectively shocked at police
violence and plugged important gaps in mainstream coverage of the protests.
Here, Mike Gogulski responds to the charge that he was responsible for rioting
protesters.

by Mike Gogulski
from NoState.com

More:
http://socialistwebzine.blogspot.com/2009/10/g20-riots-in-pittsburgh-how-i-organized.html

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Are We Addicted to Rioting?

The G20 is upon us, and though BBC world news featured some of “the troubles” in
Pittsburgh, on the ground reports hardly match up with the media-inflation,
police-inflation, and activist-inflation of the actual thing. As one who was
not present in Pittsburgh, I cannot give a first-hand account. Phone calls with
friends on the ground and various independent and corporate-media accounts are
my window to the events. But as one who has participated in countless similar
events, who didn’t attend the G20 due to feelings of disconnection/confusion
with my own people, I felt strongly enough to write this.

More: http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=2009092714272755#comments

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Robocops Come to Pittsburgh…and Bring the Latest Weaponry with Them

By mike ferner

No longer the stuff of disturbing futuristic fantasies, an arsenal of “crowd
control munitions,” including one that reportedly made its debut in the U.S.,
was deployed with a massive, overpowering police presence in Pittsburgh during
last week’s G-20 protests.

Nearly 200 arrests were made and civil liberties groups charged the many
thousands of police (most transported on Port Authority buses displaying
“PITTSBURGH WELCOMES THE WORLD”), from as far away as Arizona and Florida with
overreacting”and they had plenty of weaponry with which to do it.

Bean bags fired from shotguns, CS (tear) gas, OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) spray,
flash-bang grenades, batons and, according to local news reports, for the first
time on the streets of America, the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).

Mounted in the turret of an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), I saw the LRAD in
action twice in the area of 25th, Penn and Liberty Streets of Lawrenceville, an
old Pittsburgh neighborhood. Blasting a shrill, piercing noise like a
high-pitched police siren on steroids, it quickly swept streets and sidewalks
of pedestrians, merchants and journalists and drove residents into their homes,
but in neither case were any demonstrators present. The APC, oversized and
sinister for a city street, together with lines of police in full riot gear
looking like darkly threatening Michelin Men, made for a scene out of a movie
you didn’t want to be in.

More:
http://www.opednews.com/articles/2/Robocops-Come-to-Pittsburg-by-mike-ferner-090928-713.html

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Groggy but not subdued, anarchists hail protest success with little damage

They weren’t stockpiling human waste to throw at police.

They didn’t set cars ablaze or chain themselves together in “sleeping dragons”
with PVC pipe.

The anarchists who police and media had warned for months could wreak havoc on
the city during the G-20 summit didn’t exactly fulfill that expectation.
Instead, they smashed some windows and turned over a few Dumpsters, flooded the
streets of Lawrenceville and staged sporadic uprisings for hours elsewhere, met
by a large contingent of riot police at almost every turn.

Some were sprayed with OC gas, others pelted with rubber bullets. Still others
were arrested in the demonstrations, which they had spent their summers
planning.

More: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09269/1000990-482.stm

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Pittsburgh police use sub-lethal weapons against protestors

Mega-events are often the time for some surveillance / control / security innovation and experimentation by states. In what seems to be a rather unwelcome first, the Pittsburgh police have used a military sonic canon to clear protestors off the streets at the G20 summit. These devices are among many so-called ’sub-lethal weapons’ (see the article by Steve Wright here) that have been gradually migrating from military to civilian use for a number of years – see for example the ongoing debate over the use in the UK of the ultrasonic ‘Mosquito’ device, which is supposed to target young people; its makers rather cynically advertise it as ’so effective that they tried to ban it’.

The particular weapon used by the Pittsburgh police is the Long Range Accoustic Device (LRAD) made by the American Technology Corporation, which generates a piercing noise that is not only extremely unpleasant, it can damage eardrums and cause heart problems. It was rather eeriely appropriate to see them being used (as you can on The Guardian’s website) on the same day that TNI / Statewatch released their report on the security-industrial complex and a reminder that this is a global phenomenon.

More: http://ubisurv.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/pittsburgh-police-use-sub-lethal-weapons-against-protestors/

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G-20 opponents, police clash on Pittsburgh streets

PITTSBURGH — Police threw canisters of pepper spray and smoke at marchers protesting the Group of 20 summit Thursday after anarchists responded to calls to disperse by rolling trash bins and throwing rocks.

The march turned chaotic at just about the same time that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived for a meeting with leaders of the world’s major economies.

The clashes began after hundreds of protesters, many advocating against capitalism, tried to march from an outlying neighborhood toward the convention center where the summit is being held.

Police in riot gear stood guard near the protesters, who banged on drums and chanted “Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ’cause the power of the people don’t stop.”

The hundreds of marchers included small groups of self-described anarchists, some wearing dark clothes and bandanas and carrying black flags. Others wore helmets and safety goggles.

More: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5izJGY1GNeNYgNG6q1N0bsXCVfBeAD9ATUDIG1

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66 arrested in Pittsburgh G20 protests

POLICE in Pittsburgh have arrested 66 people after a night of battles with protesters who tried to march on a summit of the world’s top leaders, the FBI says.
Twenty-four people were arrested yesterday when groups of diehard youths refused to disperse when police used pepper spray and fired bean bag rounds to break up an unauthorised demonstration of around 1000 protesters.

Anarchists had attempted to march on the conference centre hosting the Group of 20 summit of the world’s leading economies, which anti-capitalist activists regard as an unaccountable group that ignores the world’s poor.

A further 42 people were arrested when protests erupted in Schenley Plaza near the University of Pittsburgh in the evening, the FBI said in a statement today.

More: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,26126665-12377,00.html

You find more similar material at www.gipfelsoli.org

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.

Nine women from Via Campesina prosecuted

Activists during the occupation

Nine women from Via Campesina has been charged for having participated 2008 in the occupation of a large estate Tarum, belonging to Swedish-Finnish Stora Enso, in Rio Gande do Sul in southern Brazil. According to the newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo the activists are accused of organizing a gang gangs (formação de quadrilha), burglary (Invasão de propriedade), corruption of minors (Corrupção de menores) and violence against officers (desobediência judicial).
4 March 2008 about 500 women occupied a large estate Tarum, belonging to the Swedish-Finnish paper company, the action was in protest against the expansion of Stora Enso’s eucalyptus plantations in the region and its devastating ecological and social consequences. The action was also directed against the alleged illegal land purchase, since a large estate was in Brazil’s frontier region, an area where foreign companies can not own land without a special permit from the Security Council. A condition that Stora Enso had not yet lived up to.
During the occupation, the police intervened against women and children with rubber bullets. According to the newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo hospital treated 69 women and children with injuries from police action. Journalists who were present was escorted from the premises and those who refused to move his equipment was confiscated. Irma Ostrovsk, one of the nine identified Via Campesina women is also charged with attempted murder (tentativa de homicidio) when she was allegedly held police commander Lauro Binsfeld with a scythe.

Two of the occupants

Stora Enso lies and prosecution of MST activists

The image of Via Campesina and MST as violent is wide-spread and recurrent in Brazilian media. Often activists are described as armed and violent, even when the official police reports and witness statements after the event proves the opposite.

Recently the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Samonat was sucked into this gossip carousel when they told that MST, at a meeting with Stora Enso, had threatened the company with violence and murder unless the eucalyptus plantation ceased. This was simply a lie. I who had attended the meeting (and have it all taped) can confirm that MST not to said anything close to this. After having contacted the newspaper and sent the recording to them they were forced  to publish a correction.

But the damage is already done and it is this media logic that strikes against the social movements in Brazil right now. The steady stream of accusations and charges against activists of the MST and Via Campesina attaches itself to the public retina and the social movements gest increasingly isolated.

When I talked to one of the MST’s lawyers a few weeks ago, I realized how few of the criminal investigation brought against MST activists led to any convictions. Activists acquitted almost always. The MST-lawyer did not believe that the Via Campesina women would be sentenced when the evidence provided in this case was weak. I’m no lawyer and can not really judge that. Anyway, one might wonder why so much time and resources are spent on these investigations as they almost never lead to any convictions? Why prosecute if you do not have proof?

My own explanation is that it works in the media. Every time the MST, or Via Campesina mentioned can reporters say “The women, who were charged with burglary and attempted murder” or “MST, which is currently investigated for embezzlement” and so on.

The allegations raised often takes several years to examine and is a simple way to link the movements with illegal and violent activities. And in the long run MST and Via Campesina becomes more and more isolated because of this. Even if newspapers occasionally publish a correction.

from email by Max da Rocha, Friends of MST Sweden

One of the 69 injured female activists during the occupation of Stora Enso plantation

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.

Via Campesina Call to mobilise for a Cool Planet

Tord Björk | agriculture,Climate,Summits,Via Campesina | Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Via Campesina Call to mobilise for a Cool Planet – Copenhagen December 2009

Stop! The UNFCCC is going off the rails!

Don’t trade off Peasant’s agriculture for rights to pollute

While scientific predictions of climate catastrophe continue to grow, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen on 7-18 December 2009 for the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The solutions being discussed by the UNFCCC continue to allow big energy consumers to pollute with impunity while paying others to implement projects supposed to capture carbon. The Kyoto protocol and the market mechanisms it implemented have failed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to slow down climate changes(1).

Notwithstanding the urgency of the situation, this convention has failed to radically question the current models of consumption and production based on the illusion of continuous growth. Instead, they have invented new business opportunities for the private sector to continue to make huge profits at the expense of the destruction of the planet. Carbon has become a new privatised commodity in the hands of speculators who use it as a new product in the non-real economy that has lead to the current economic crisis.

Agriculture is now at the centre of the climate talks. According to the statistics, agricultural practices contributed about 17 per cent of global emissions between 1990 and 2005. Moreover, the increased pressure on agricultural land is likely to be one of the main drivers of deforestation, an other major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. (2) Actually, forest destruction as well as environment degradation from the agricultural sector mainly come from industrial agriculture.

Large agribusiness extensions and vast monocultures make an intensive use of oil-based chemical fertilisers, pesticides and machinery, they convert carbon-rich forest and prairie into green deserts and they are based on a long and unnecessary chain of secondary processing and transport links.
On the other hand, small scale sustainable family farming is a key solution to Climate Change. It contributes to cooling down the earth and plays a vital part in the relocalisation of economies which will allow us to live in a sustainable society.

Sustainable local food production uses less energy, eliminates dependence on imported animal feedstuffs and retains carbon in the soil while increasing biodiversity. Native seeds are more adaptable to the changes in climate which are already affecting us. Family farming does not only contribute positively to the carbon balance of the planet, it also gives employment to 2,8 billion of people(3) – women and men – around the world and it remains the best way to combat hunger, malnutrition and the current food crisis. If small farmers are given access to land, water, education and health and are supported by food sovereignty policies they will keep feeding the world and protecting the planet.

For peasants around the world, the false solutions proposed in the climate talks, such as the REDD initiative (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), the carbon offsetting mechanisms and geo-engineering projects are as threatening as the draughts, tornadoes and new climate patterns themselves. Other proposals such as the biochar initiative, no till agriculture and climate resistant GMOs are the proposals of agribusinesses and will further marginalise small farmers. The heavy promotion of industrial monoculture plantations and agrofuels as solutions to the crisis actually increase pressure on agricultural land. It has already led to massive land grabbing by transnational companies in developing countries, kicking farmers and indigenous communities out of their territories.

It is unfair to use the benefits that small farmers provide to the environment as an excuse to keep polluting as usual. The UNFCCC is currently discussing mechanisms to include agricultural land in carbon trading mechanisms, a move that could leave farmers with no other support than dirty money from polluters. These mechanisms are bound to fail, because they are not focused on reducing use of fossil fuels or reducing emissions in industrialised countries.

Therefore La Via Campesina calls all its members, friends and allies to mobilise in Copenhagen and around the world during the UNFCCC conference in December 2009. A special action day on agriculture will be declared as part of the mass protests by hundreds of social movements and organisations.

Towards Copenhagen: What you can do at national and local level

1.Collect data and information related to the impact of climate change on small farmer agriculture and small farmer livelihood

2.Collect data and information related to the impact of market based solutions/ false solutions to climate change on small farmer

3.Bring information from the grass-roots level on how small farmers’ agriculture has been conserving ecosystems.

4.Persuade your government to reject market-based and pro-business “solutions” and to promote real solutions to the current crisis such as the protection of small scale sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty.

5.Join the mobilisation! Together with other social movement we will participate in various parallel activities in September in Bangkok during the UNFCCC last preparatory meeting towards Copenhagen. We will also mobilise for social and climate justice during the expected WTO meeting and the FAO food Summit in October/November 2009.

We reject the false business solutions of the UNFCCC!

We demand an urgent reorientation of the world’s economy towards a people – centred economy where peasant’s agriculture and local food systems play a major role.

People and the planet are more important than profit!

Don’t make business out of an environmental catastrophe!

Small scale family farming and food sovereignty cools down the earth!

(1) Peter Atherton of Citigroup who was heavily involved in Carbon Trading has said about the world’s biggest Carbon market – “ The European Emissions Trading Scheme has done nothing to curb emissions…Have policy goals been achieved? Prices up, emissions up, profits up…so no, not really” . (Citigroup Global Markets (2007), quoted in L. Lohmann in Governance as Corruption, presentation, Athens, November 2008; www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/pdf/document/ATHENS%2010.pdf <http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/pdf/document/ATHENS%2010.pdf>
(2) Address by Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , 14 May 2009
(3) Le Monde, 23 April 2009.

Original text with links:

http://www.viacampesina.org/main_en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=745&Itemid=1

Friends of the Earth Sweden becomes main stream

Tord Björk | Environmental movements,Friends of the Earth,Via Campesina | Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

In earlier days FoE Sweden seemed odd to many FoE groups in Europe. We were closer to FoE groups in the third world with our strong emphasis of being a popular movement and cooperating with other popular movement and with our opposition to EU. Popular or social movement was an odd concept to many who rather called themselves NGO. More federalism in the EU was seen as a main strategy for solving environmental problems.

Now the strategic document states that EU:s influence globally by promoting strongly neoliberal models is a threat to the environment and the earlier rather uncritical attitude to EU is gone. Of course EU is there and should be addressed when there is a need on environmental and linked issues, but there is now a lot more realism in the relationship with EU.

Demonstrators at the EU-Summit in Gothenburg 2001 when FoE Sweden and FoE Europe made a break-through in cooperation between anti-EU FoE groups and Pro-EU FoE groups ending with FoE Sweden, FoE Europe and FoE International sitting in a panel together wih Attac in the first videolinked direct discussion with EU politicians at an EU-Summit.

The real radical change comes in the way FoEE looks upon itself. When being part of the EU system is less attractive membership in FOEI have been seen as more important. And FOEi have decided to become a social movement and furthermore sees Via Campesina as a main partner. FoE Sweden even have ”popular movement cooperation” in its statutes and have long time experience in expanding from a small organisation into a core organisation in large coalitions or during Summits. We also have a closer relationship with Via Campesina than probably any other organisation and cooperate often with small farmers, recently to a high degree at ESF in Malmö 2008 were also Via Campesina Europe became an important cooperation partner.

Joint Via Campesina and FoE youth camp at ESF 2008

Now the participants at tthe FOEEAGM were supposed to sit and answer on questions as what is a social movement and how can we develop towards such a way of acting as well as questions concerning cooperation with Via Campesina. FoE Sweden suddenly became fairly alone in living up to cooperating with Via Campesina in Europe and feeling at home with questions concerning what is a social movement.

It was a pleasant feeling to become main stream. It is quite much easier when the whole movement goes in the same direction, at least in words. To mainly be an opponent in an organisation is not necessarily bad but not interesting as a role all the time. Even better was the sense that FOEE really is in a process asking itself what should be its role in the future and its main cooperation partners.  It is clear that it will not be an easy discussion, not for FoE Sweden either. There were a lot of uncertainty and quick changes from a position to another. But anyway steps have been taken and I believe FOEE never will be the same again, and hopefully not FoE Swedem either.- We live in new tomes and to address the environmental issue in a more social way as well as see the need in change through social movements rather than the routines set up by governments in your own country, Brussels or at Summits or the routines of the market is less and less an option. When FOE decided to become a social movement rather than an NGO it was a historic decision and FOEE is seriously starting to follow the decision. It will take time, but the journey have started.

Becoming a social movement will necessarily need more of a general vision for were FOEE is heading. Now the work is structured almost only according to limited campaigns, both in the strategic plan and concerning budget. The kind of common purpose for the movement as a whole is somewhat missing. There is a need for both a cosmology, ways of organizing and technology that challenges the present society if we should be able to solve the ecological and social crisis. And the three are strongly interlinked. This was according to movement intellectuals as Andy Jamison and Ron Eyerman once the strength of the environmental movement which any movement needs to be able to bring about change. Some steps to regain that strength has now been taken, interestingly even at the global level. We will see what will follow. As someone who was nick named grandfather of the the environmental movement by activists of EYFA and A SEED already 1990 it will certainly be interesting to see how the movement will develop in the future.

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