December 16, 2009

When all is said and done in Carbon-hagen

lobbying-at-copenhagen.JPG Wednesday December 16th, “Reclaim Power” day in Copenhagen, inside the Africans are shouting at the Ethiopians and outside the Climate Justice advocates are shouting at the COP who they accuse of being co-opted by corporate lobbyists. To a lobbyist climate change is an oportunity. Should the worst come to the worst they can take the last high speed yacht out of Houston to their favorite Caribbean Island and batten down the hatches in hurricane season.

There is a dearth of hope in Copenhagen, the islands states claim genocide and technically they are correct but no-one listens. Justice is the last thing on people’s minds in the Bella Center, and the second last thing on their minds is global warming. Their climate problems come from slipping on the ice in leather soled shoes or having to wait for their Mercedes taxis in the snow without an umbrella.

What is on people’s minds is money and the numbers are enormous. The Clean Development System (CDM) is a procedure made in America. The Clinton delegation said that the US would never sign a treaty that was not market based and did not have CDM (MDL in Spanish), the rest of the world said "Yes!" and the US did not sign anyway.

The Global South is looking for money too in the form of reparations. Not just seriously affected regions like Andean Bolivia and coastal Peru, highly dependent on glacial water supplies, but also the middle income countries like Argentina are calling for the repayment of “Ecological Debt”. Maybe these oil exporting countries, and one might include Venezuela in this too, might want to stop exporting oil before they ask for reparations for a problem from those who burn their own oil?

In the end the flurries of activity in Copenhagen are not about oil, nor are they about debt, but they very much about finance. The annex one countries and most especially the United States are there to create markets, markets in carbon credits, their offsets, and their derivatives. Financial services are what their economy do best, at least in the short term.

Sure if the US accepts a Kyoto-like deal in Copenhagen they too will have to buy carbon-credits abroad thereby imposing a cost on their economy, but this could be more than ‘offset’ by creating ever more CDM offsets thereby increasing supply and keeping their costs down. Also if their carbon traders could even get half of the commissions charged by the World Bank on offset trades (18% of the transaction) they would be happy indeed. However difficult this might be for the real economy, the three trillion US dollar carbon credit market will keep Citibank Financial and Goldman Sachs happy.

A Happy Christmas to all.

Posted by Tony Phillips at 07:56 PM | Comments (1)

Reclaim Power Video

Posted by Tony Phillips at 01:05 PM | Comments (1)

December 13, 2009

It happened before in Denmark, a Viking story

clontarf.jpg Saturday I visited The National Museum (NATIONALMUSEET) in Copenhagen. I was walking back from the 100,000 person march against climate change billed as “Planet first. People first”. It was a few degrees below zero and I had been out for two hours. Inside I began to thaw. I decided to ask about the Vikings. Rather than sound too touristy, I inquired about the 900’s to the 1100’s and was directed to the Vikings section by a very pleasant blonde attendant.

The Vikings founded my city, Dublin. They constructed a quay from a field very close to the Coombe hospital where I was born. The Coombe and the Liberties are new names for the first settlement of Dublin. The Vikings, like the hospital, have “ceased to be”, their remains flattened below the offices that manage the new City of Dublin. Modernism is not the friend of history.

I’m Dublin! Three generations on all sides (and much more) so it is likely that I carry Viking blood in my veins. Maybe the result of a drunken crush finally consummated with a blond warrior on a foggy night in the 12th Century or a rape in the 10th. century invasion. These details matter little now. Danes accost me in the streets of Copenhagen asking directions in Danish so I reckon I’m at least a cousin.

What does matter is what our great leaders decide in the COP-15. Maybe the delegates might want to visit the MUSEET before they accept the lobbyist shilling. There they will find that the Viking age happened just after the Iron Age. With a huge leap in technology the Danes sailed forth to conquer parts of Europe that they had never before seen. They went further settling Greenland in the 11th Century. Others ended their lives as warriors protecting the Eastern Emperor of the Holy Empire in Constantinople.

But why?

The Vikings had no choice! Their weather changed. Their families suffered famine. They chose to go to war, killing to survive. Every other animal on this planet does it. This is not the place to argue the divine difference between man and other animals. Suffice to read the history books who now write books little read. For the price of that dense tome that is none too fun we can hop on Ryanair, take a break from grim reality, recession, overpopulation, climate change – what a bummer.

Best to take a wait and see approach! No?

In his keynote speech today in Copenhagen an Indian environmentalist told us that eighty billion Indians depend on their knowledge of regional weather patterns to grow enough to feed themselves. They are poor. They don’t store food. Anyway, how long would it last?

Their weather too has begun to change.

We are different in one way, from the animals, even from the Vikings. Our knowledge of science gives us a good idea what is to come, we watch weather patterns from space. We can choose from alternative futures. Thousands of scientists dedicate their working lives to provide politicians with the information we need to make a decision here in Copenhagen. The best of them work for the IPCC. They have reported four times since 1990. Their fifth report comes out in 2014 but they think it might be too late then.

Our politicians are not scientists but they have advisers who interpret their findings. They too foresee what is to come if we don’t make drastic changes now. Some leaders think about this more than others. The island nations in the Pacific have been thinking long and hard on the options, the people in Mali and Bangladesh too.

Nnimmo Bassey is International Chair of Friends of the Earth International, he also works with Oilwatch International. Mr. Bassey grew up in Nigeria like many of the people living now far from their homes in the neighbourhood where I was born. They are early refugees of oil wars. Last Monday Mr. Bassey gave a speech on Climate Change with Naomi Klein opening the alternative conference here in Copenhagen called Klimaforum09. He gave us this piece of advice:

“The stone age did not end because of the
lack of stones and the oil age does not have
to wait till the last drop of crude is gone”

The lobbyists in Copenhagen are paid by organizations who don’t agree. They sleep in five star hotels renamed “Bright Green”. Quarterly results blur their vision.

They don’t go to museums any more.

Posted by Tony Phillips at 07:44 AM | Comments (1)

December 11, 2009

Age of stupid Show

Posted by Tony Phillips at 04:43 PM | Comments (1)

December 08, 2009

Naomi Klein opens Kilmaforum09 in Copenhagen, the People’s Climate summit


Tambien disponible en espanol en de la Argentina.

Naomi Klein was in fine form as she opened the Klimaforum09 counter-conference in Copenhagen Monday night 7/12. She gave a keynote opening speech to open the summit of ecological NGO’s that bills itself as The People’s Climate Summit. The Canadian author is perhaps best known for her books No Logo and The Shock Doctrine, the latter book based in no small part on her experiences living in Argentina during the crisis of 2001-2002. She shared the stage with Nnimmo Bassey from Nigeria, Chair of Friends Of the Earth International, and Henry Saragih from Indonesia general coordinator for La Via Campesina. Ms. Klein told us that she is “not an expert on climate change” however she added with gross understatement that she “knows a little bit about global corporations”.

Referring to the climate, Ms. Klein explained that everyone at Kilmaforum09 was there “fighting to protect something that is too important to be left to the market”. By the market Ms. Klein was referring to plans to expand the global market in carbon credits to enable those countries who can afford to do so to continue to pollute in greenhouse gasses.

Referring to US plans to extend the global trade in carbon credits Ms. Klein rejected the idea of exporting restrictions from the developed world to the developing world by buying up carbon credits. This puts Ms. Klein firmly in the camp of the eminent NASA climate scientist James Hansen, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the first scientist to warn the US Congress about global warming. Hansen has been quoted recently saying that no deal in Copenhagen is better than a bad deal that will not work.

But Ms. Klein was not saying that there would be no deal in Copenhagen, quite the contrary. “[US President] Obama would not be coming if he did not think that there was going to be a deal” she told the audience. “These meetings have their own momentum”, Ms. Klein added, as she believes that negotiators from the developed world would strong-arm even the African block into agreement. The Africans walked out of the last meeting on Climate Change in Barcelona because they thought that developed countries were not putting a reasonable offer on the table. The African continent is experiencing serious problems due to Climate change including expansion of deserts like the Sahara. Ms. Klein felt that even Africa would be coerced into signing on to a bad deal by tough negotiating tactics.

Ms. Klein closed her speech referring to the tactics of social groups outside of the official United Nations (UNFCCC) government negotiations in the Bella Center. Referring to tactics that were used ten years ago in Seattle at the WTO conference in 1999, Ms. Klein said “Rage has a place here and we shouldn’t forget it!”

Social movements, she said, “had a coming out in Seattle” and they would have “A Coming of Age in Copenhagen.” Referring to the tradition in social movements of disobedience she referred to the alternative saying "Life may be terminated because of too many acts of obedience."

Posted by Tony Phillips at 03:31 PM | Comments (1)

Callout from Copenhagen


Hello from Denmark,

Decided to come freeze my little tush off in Copenhagen for eleven days for global warming (COP-15, look it up). Sounds like fun? Well, sort of!

Anyway I'm writing articles for a few people here and I thought that you might like to see what I'm writing. If not just delete the next few emails from tones and it will go quiet in a few days again when I go home to visit family in Ireland.

The first piece is one on the opening speech I attended last night by Naomi Klein, that one is worth reading anyway ...

Here's hoping I don't get arrested!

Posted by Tony Phillips at 01:47 PM | Comments (1)