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 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.

ESF preparatory meeting in Diyarbakir ended with demonstration

Tord Björk | ESF | Tuesday, September 29th, 2009
In June 2010 will the next Euro Social Forum take place in Istanbul. In its preparation, there were Friday and Saturday, September 26 and 25 in the ‘unofficial capital of the Kurds’, in Diyarbakir, a meeting of the European Preparatory Assambly (EPA). Participants came from Turkey, Western and Eastern Europe. It has been specifically defined topics for Istanbul 2010 ( ‘axis’) and further mobilisations steps were discussed. There were greetings, among other things from the mayor of Diyarbakir and the general secretary of the left trade union DISK Görgün Tayfun.

At the end of the EPA and as a prelude to Mesopotamia Social Forum, a demonstration was held. Oman-you start at the park is and Sümer Park, where a cultural program was organized.

More than 4000 people attended the demonstration, were naturally the suppression of the Kurdish people were at the heart of the message. Particularly impressing was to watch the reactions of passers-by and local residents who, out of the windows or climbing on top of the roofs (!): Again and again applauded, and making the victory sign with their fingers.

From a report by Hermann Dworzak
The axis proposals discussed directly prior to the EPA meeting at a European program meeting were the following:
Axes Proposals from program and structure working group meeting in Istanbul

1. Global Economic crises, resistance and alternatives
2. Social Rights for Social Europe, Public Services for all
3. Democratic and rights based Europe
4. National and minority rights
5. Discrimination and equality, against male domination and homophobia
6. A sustainable world, agriculture, water, food sovereignity, energy,
enviromental and climate change
7. War and peace, against war, militarism, occupation
8. Youth: right to educaiton, work and future
9. Democratising knowledge, creating alternatives
10. Social Movements, the state and future of global justice movement

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

Stora Enso lied blaiming falsely MST to be violent

Tord Björk | Action,MST,Propaganda,Stora Enso,Uncategorized | Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Stora Enso is a Finnish-Swedish forest company involved in land conflicts with movements in the third world. It has a strong Finnish state ownership. on August 30 the biggest daily in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat published an article on three pages which for the first time broadly criticized the company for its actvitiy on Brasil. The title was: Stora Enso earns a lot of money and causes much pain.  It was denouncing the companies operations Rio Grande do Sul and Bahia.
But it had an error, the reporter wrote it as a quote from Joao Paulo speaking at reunion July 8 as he had threatened with violence and death if Stora Enso did not leave the country. This was the claim of the communications director Lauri Peltola, who said that Stora Enso had a recording that confirms this. The reporter accepted it as truth and wrote it as a quotation.

This was false. There were other recordings of the same meeting showing that Stora Enso misinterpreted what had been said. The newspaper was informed by Friends of MST in Finland that the article was wrong. After that the recordings has been translated by the magazine Voima and published on the net and some other translations were done Helsingin Sanomat made a correction. The title now was: Stora Enso distorted (lied) about threats of violence.

The police pointing their gun at MST activist during an occupation of Stora Enso plantation in Rio Grande do Sul. Many female activists were injured during the police action against the occupation. For more information read this blog:

This article corrects the error. In fact there has been in total 5 insertions in the newspaper on the subject, Stora Enso had its reputation tarnished. Some of the developments can be followed here:

The first article published 30.8.2009 in Helsingin Sanomat English:’s+jackpot/1135248979552

After that article, Stora Enso CEO claims Finnish Friends of the Landless to be aggressive and spreading wrong information from Stora Enso. CEO explains also the claims from the public prosecutor of the city of Eunápolis accusing Stora Enso for their activites, Mr. João Alves da Silva Neto, to be ” a single individual made” and without any proof. In English:

Friends of the landless replied to these blames, concerning MST to be violent and Friends of the Landless Finland to be aggressive and misleading, with two published responses. Published 10.9.2009 and 13.9.2009 in Helsingin Sanomat
In Finnish:

Fighting continued in the media between translations that has been made from the speech made by MST leader Joao Paolo Rodriguez. MST leaders and Stora Enso had a meeting in Sao Paulo recently, it looks like both, MST and Stora Enso has recorded the meeting. Finnish indymedia

newspaper Voima got the tape recorded by MST and it published the tape in its web-news called fifi ( Fifi published the tape in Hanna Nikkanen’s blog. published 18.09.2009 In Finnish:

Via Campesina actions at COP15

This is how Via Campesina describes it actions in relation to the Climate Summit in Copenhagen:

“From December 7 to 18 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 15 will be held in Copenhagen). The Climate Justice Action Network, supported by many others networks, is organizing a caravan called « From Trade to Climate ». This caravan will start in Geneva on the 3rd of September to reach Copenhagen. La Via Campesina will take part in this caravan. Two or three routes are planned and buses will stop in France, Belgium and Germany. You can support this initiative by attending the stops (more info : havaria [at] or elviejo [at] In Copenhagen the Via Campesina will participate with all the other social movements in a great march on December 12. We will organize some farmers’ actions on December 13 and we will also participate in a special day of action on agriculture, planned for December 15. In addition, we have registered workshops on food sovereignty and we will be co-organizers of a joint forum with the Women’s World March, Friends of the Earth International and the Global Forest Coalition. The Youth of Reclaim the Fields will also be present and active throughout the meeting of the COP 15 (more info at:

Join the mobilization! Inform us of your actions, and don’t hesitate to send photos and videos at viacampesina[at]!”

Others that joins the action on agriculture on December 15 are A SEED and Climate Justice Action

More information on VC website

and CJA:

Via Campesina Brazil demonstrates against the crisis this year with the MST message, The crisis is not ours

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 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; <>
(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:

Why campaigning on climate is difficult

Tord Björk | Climate,Environmental movements | Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Here is a text written by Chris Rose on the problems of climate campaigning. It is the only text to my knowledge that makes an overview of climate campaigning and a critical assessment from many different angles. It has the rare quality among NGO campaigners to have a long perspective and being self-critical. It is still limited in some crucial aspects in the way anglo-american texts tend to be. The story is false on one substantial level. There were from the beginning to different climate campaigns. One was starting on Finnish-Indian intiative focusing on conflicts much the way Rose present how campaigning best can be done. This initiative starting at a Finnish third world meeting in 1989 continued with a march against the construction of a motorway and the initiation of Climate Action Days coordinated together with Swedish organisations, A SEED and YEFA in 70 countries world-wide. The other was the initially anglo-American dominated Climate Action Network that as Rose confirms choosed lobbying instead of action. Actually CAN refused to cooperate with the International Climate Action Day but was successful in getting funding for their campaigning as well as high salaries for their lobbyists isolated from troublesome initiation of local action.

The main stream lobbyists in CAN together with their allies at other NGO offices continued in their isolated world together with the governments and business representatives, sometimes bringing a “victim” as a decoration into their lobby activities. The Finnish-Indian-Swedish initiative dried out of money but the kind of conflict perspective that carried this campaigning continued in actions as struggle against deforestation, oil drilling or motorways by Reclaiming the Streets which by the end of the 1990s got expressed in such initiatives as People’s Global Action.

Today the challenge is how these two strands can complement each other as both are needed in spite of that politically there is a clear contradiction. Between those that promotes the idea that the present political system must be kept at all costs and that it is more important to save the climate treaty than to save the climate and those that see the need of over throwing the present political system and uses climate change as an excuse there is a possibility for conflict campaigning going beyond the two ideological strands by focusing on the social side of the climate issue.

Rose analysis is a help in making us better understand the conditions for climate campaigning and better able to meet the challenges.

Why campaigning on climate is difficult

In Britain and elsewhere in Europe NGOs are getting together to launch joint campaigns to ‘mobilise’ the public on climate change. In the US, the ‘failure’ of climate campaigning has sparked controversy over whether ‘environmentalism is dead’ (see last newsletter). Carl Pope of the Sierra Club has argued there’s “something different about climate change”.

Here are ten factors which have made it hard to campaign effectively ‘on climate’. It’s not an exhaustive list.

1. Scientists defined the issue

2. Governments ran off with the issue

3. There was no campaign [sequence]: NGOs adopted secondary roles

4. The issue had no public

5. The media were left to define the issue in visual terms

6. Governments soft pedalled on the issue

7. Scientists led calls for education of the public

8. Many NGOs tried to make the Framework Convention ‘work’

9. Other NGOs tried to connect it with “bigger issues”

10. There is no common proposition

Before looking at these in any detail it’s worth remembering that the alarm on climate change was only sounded around 1988, and it really is a huge problem demanding huge changes. NGOs can also claim many specific successes in changing policies of governments and businesses. But overall it is true that action remains disastrously inadequate, the engaged are too few, strategies are largely uncoordinated and many efforts could probably be better placed elsewhere.

1. Scientists defined the issue

Unlike almost any other ‘environmental issue’, NGOs did not announce, discover, ‘construct’ or define climate change as a problem. Comparison of climate model predictions led a small group of climatologists – mostly government scientists – and officials to engineer the first moves towards action. From the start, ‘climate change’ as a problem was conceived through scientific models, and the subsequent responses have been framed and interpreted by scientist’s ideas of how progress can be achieved.

The ’causes’ for example were ’emissions’ (Global Climate Model inputs). In 1997 we counted it as a success when a NGO campaign managed to change the language of the public debate by inserting ‘fossil fuels’ as the main source, rather than ’emissions’. Progressing by testing and the pursuit of knowledge, science creates political processes in its own image, and these are always susceptible to delay through manipulation by work commissioned to muddy the water, and raising hypotheses that need tedious if sometimes obvious disproofs. Hence, for many years, the success of the Global Climate Coalition and others in paying for science to create delay.

Because of this, the actors critically responsible for the problem – such as the fossil fuel, car and chemical industries – were able for a long time, to stay outside the picture altogether. Source industries, technology choices and commercial imperatives were missing from the scientific and diplomatic negotiations, which consequently created instruments with little or no traction on them.

2. Governments ran off with the issue

In the late 1980s the few NGOs struggling to get involved in the ‘issue’ were mostly concerned with organising themselves to ‘track the process’. We set up the Climate Action Network for instance because we feared that none but the best resourced large, ‘Northern’ NGOs could even find out what was going on in the inter-government processes. Meanwhile these, driven by politicians such as Margaret Thatcher who were determined not to be caught out as they had been over ozone depletion, steamed ahead. The ‘answer’ was to evolve through a combination of diplomacy, inter-governmental agreement and climate science. The media followed the scientific revelations and the international gatherings, with NGOs, representing the public, in the corridors and outside with banners.

3. There was no campaign [sequence]: NGOs adopted secondary roles

Most campaigns follow a sequence something like:

awareness > alignment > engagement > action.

This time there was awareness – though of a problem framed in abstruse scientific terms – and action which ordinary individuals could play no part in. Only extraordinary individuals such as Aubrey Meyer, father of ‘contraction and convergence’, managed to penetrate this remote citadel. NGOs could prioritise it but they were stuck in someone else’s game. Alignment to the problem and solution was largely absent and engagement opportunities were almost absent.

4. The issue had no public

Consequently the issue developed without a ‘public’, outside of the policy community. Normally the public constituency of concern comes first. By the time NGOs (and now governments) started to try and create one (with climate witnesses etc), the problem and solution had been defined in elite, inaccessible terms. Contrast this for instance with the driving impact of disadvantaged German forest owners during the development of forest-decline as an issue in Europe in the early 1980s. There was no army of affected interests, no bottom-up pressure for remedial action.

5. The media were left to define the issue in visual terms

Visuals are generally the most powerful communication. Here the issue looked like disagreement at meetings (very dull and like any other gathering in suits), scenarios, or the sources of ’emissions’. There was no compelling scientific image like the ozone hole. Hadley Centre visualisations of the ‘cooking’ earth came late. Hence the prevailing formative images have been tailpipes and steamy smoke stacks – with no particular ownership. In Greenpeace we spent years trying to change this, with little success until a photographer on an Arctic voyage snapped a walrus sitting on a rapidly melting ice floe. If the story had begun with visuals of submerging Pacific islands and the human flight from homes, then it would have developed differently.

6. Governments soft pedalled on the issue

Having become the controlling ‘owners’ of the issue, by the mid 1990s governments began to lose the will to do what was needed to fast-track industrial change. The progressive ‘like minded’ turned to NGOs to take on leadership and ‘put on the pressure’ but NGOs lacked the army, authority and even the visual iconography to do so. Progress slowed to the pace of the slowest parts of the inter governmental agreements.

7. Scientists led calls for education of the public

Faced with inadequate political responses and significant intransigence from many powerful industries, concerned scientists led calls to ‘educate’ the public, so ‘awareness’ would lead to ‘action’. Unfortunately education (especially about the functioning of the global climate) is not a good way to achieve action. This fallacy was reinforced by many pundits who had pronounced climate change as huge, complex and hard to deal with. Not exactly conducive to engaging anyone in trying.

8. Many NGOs tried to make the Framework Convention ‘work’

Naive in some cases, pragmatic in others, most of the growing band of NGOs ‘working on climate’ focussed on ‘Kyoto’ and the framework set up by the Climate Convention. They tried to ‘make it work’. Here I agree with Shellenberger and Noordahus – a literal approach of trying to mobilize public pressure by overt calls for technical policy measures is a bloodless stratagem, lacking drama, agency and short term rewards. Alternative strategies have been few (trying to start an end-game for carbon reserves for example). At this level many NGOs have just drifted into the ‘climate game’ and are now prisoners of the policy community rather than creating social and political imperatives for industrial and political action – something best done from outside. Nor are many looking at alternative delivery routes.

9. Other NGOs tried to connect it with “bigger issues”

Some people like to split, others like to lump. Some NGOs specialise in ‘stepping up’ and have used climate change to illustrate ‘bigger’ problems – sustainable development or ‘globalisation’ for instance. This has not yielded any additional influence to promote climate action, nor even made much difference to winning arguments.

10. There is no common proposition

With this legacy, many NGOs are committed to special niches within ‘the climate issue’ as defined by the administrative architecture of ‘the problem’. There are dozens of lobbyists for example working on Joint Implementation or the Clean Development Mechanism, while others specialize in certain impacts or sources or geographical regions. This ‘niche specialisation’ works against a common focus of public pressure. An effective campaign proposition usually requires an identification of the responsible party, the overall problem and solution, the specific action needed and the consequent public benefit (see the extract “Constructing RASPB propositions” at – current pre-publication from “How To Win Campaigns”). If NGOs are now to focus their efforts, then they will need to do so on a much narrower front within ‘the climate issue’, if they are to change it.


A Campaign Strategy Article – © Chris Rose.
You are free to reproduce all or any part of this article if you credit the source. is a non-profit website on campaign techniques and strategies, designed to help NGOs.

How a professional NGO campaigner think

Tord Björk | Uncategorized | Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Quite often I wonder if NGO campaigners at all think. Looking at one more antipoverty website with a single child with hungry eyes begging for a gift I sometimes wonder if they want poverty to continue for ever. The same goes for climate campaigners wishing us all to take our individual consumer responsibility and pay some lobbyists to do the politics for us.

So I was gladly surprised when I found a professional environmental campaigner who had some qualified thoughts about campaigning. His name is Chris Rose from UK. He has been working for many of the main stream environmental NGOs as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.

One of his main points is that campaigning is about motivation and not education. That is a point which can equally be made towards both the main-stream NGO campaigner and the left-wing activists. This when the NGO-campaigner stresses how complex the situation is and how many new words and abbrivations it is necessary to learn to be able to participate in his campaign or when the left-winger sees spreading anti-capitalist ideology as more important than to take action in conflicts with the aim to win. Education and ideology is of course of importance for a movement, but we shoud use them in campaigns to guide us towards choosing the right conflicts to address, not to make ideology and education the dominating part of campaigning.

Rose tells us:

“Environmental campaigns are like a game in which rules are a matter of opinion; where you have to attract and hold support and build the team by persuasion; and in which people join, or leave, as they like. Campaigns are conversations with society, wars of persuasion, and a politics of the people, for the public good, by the people.

Yet campaigns usually fail. A few change outcomes, more achieve publicity but little else, and most splutter out quietly or stagger on ineffectively.”

He do not believe there is a single formula to for success but gives us 12 ideas to think about:

1 Reality check

“Do you really need to campaign? It can be fun, but it’s often hard, dull, frustrating and unsuccessful.”

2 It’s motivation, stupid…

“… not education. Education, while good in itself, is a broadening exercise. It uses examples to reveal layers of complexity, leading to lower certainty but higher understanding. Don’t use it to campaign. Campaigning maximises motivation of an audience, not its knowledge. If campaigns have an “educational” effect, it’s through doing, not being given information.”

3 Analyse the forces at play

“You know what needs to change (that’s the easy bit). Ask: “Why hasn’t it happened already?” Map the forces for and against what you want to happen: people involved, organisations, institutions. Work out exactly what the mechanisms are for the decisions you want to change. Identify allies and opponents. Work out your target audience for each step to your objective. Look at it from their point of view.”

4 Make it simple

“Campaigns are needed if an urgent problem has to be made public to be resolved. Non-urgent problems are unlikely to justify campaigns. Motivation needs simplicity in message and purpose. Communicate one thing at a time. Use an unambiguous “call to action” that needs no explanation.”

5 Get the right components in the right order

“A more typical campaign plan might look something like this, introducing both the problem, the “enemy” (the responsible agent of the problem), and the solution. The campaign involves a deliberate series of revelations to take the “audience” from ignorance, through interest and concern (components of awareness), to anger and engagement (motivation), and finally into a state of satisfaction or reward.

If that happens, the campaign’s participants and supporters will be ready for more. On their own, these components do not make sense: they’ll get a “so what?” response. Communicate them all at once and there’s no involvement in the “story” of the campaign. A campaign has to be like a book or drama – the outcome must be important but unknown.”

6 Start from where your audience is

“An old dictum of marketing. A salesman tries to get you to buy something by adding value – extra features, extra benefits. A marketer finds out what you want, what you already do and think, and creates a product to fit you.”

7 Make a critical path

“All issues are complex, but your campaign must not be. The politics of your town or street are as byzantine as the UN’s, but that’s no excuse for communicating complexity. Complexity demotivates. It makes people feel confused, and if they feel confused, they will think you are confused and not worth listening to.”

8 Campaign against the unacceptable

“Most campaigns need to attract broad support. To do that, narrow the focus. It is better to campaign against a small part of a big problem unacceptable to 99 per cent of people than a large part of the problem unacceptable to only 1 per cent.”

9 Make events happen

“Events, my dear boy, events,” said Harold Macmillan when, as prime minister of this country, he was asked what he was most worried about when running the government.

Don’t argue, do. Events are the stuff of all kinds of politics – formal politics, business politics, personal politics or even the politics of the dung heap.

News is not about ideas or concepts – it is about things that happen. Ask yourself every day: what is this campaign doing? What’s the verb? Is it starting something, publishing, blocking, rescuing, occupying, marching, lobbying, painting… What exactly are you doing?”

10 Say what you mean

“Directly or indirectly, a campaign consists of persuading others not just that you are right, but that you are so right that they must take some form of action.”

“The simplest thing you can do to help your message get across is to be direct and straightforward. Forget being “clever”. When all else fails (as it probably will), say what you mean. Try telling a member of your family, and when they “get it”, use their way of saying it.”

11 Find the conflict in events

“This is often misunderstood. Conflict is inherent to campaigns. Without a conflict of interest, a campaign would not be needed.”

12 Make the news

“Conflict signals outcomes someone cares about. To launch the London Wildlife Trust, we wanted to plant wild primroses on Primrose Hill. Not news – until the Royal Parks refused permission. Officials even asked: “How tall is it?” (apparently thinking it was a tree). We made the front page of The Observer.

Here was a story the press could handle: bureaucracy vs the little people. There was a conflict and “human interest” – a formula the paper recognised. News is often a new twist on an old story. Your campaign will be in conflict with someone, somewhere.”

You find the full text at:

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