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.

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