“Thousand Cancúns” action comes to the UN Climate Conference

“Thousand Cancúns” action comes to the UN Climate Conference

All Photos by Orin Langelle/ Global Justice Ecology Project – Global Forest Coalition
(the Global Justice Ecology Project is a Rising Tide affiliate and ally)

Cancún, Mexico, December 7, 2010-the “Day of 1,000 Cancuns” actions.  A press conference hosted by Global Justice Ecology Project and organized by La Via Campesina, Indigenous Environmental Network and Friends of the Earth turned into a spontaneous action as speakers expressed anger over the direction of the climate talks in Cancún. Following the press conference, activists from Youth 4 Climate Justice led the protest out of the climate talks.
To view the photos, click here

Donate to Save the Int’l Tar Sands Resistance Summit



We Saved the Anti-Tar Sands Summit! And we did it with a network of small donors who mostly gave $50 or less.

Much gratitude to everyone who pitched in and helped us raise $6000 in less than 36 hours!

Northern Rockies Rising TidePeaceful Uprising and others within the Rising Tide network have been involved in organizing an anti-Tar Sands Action Camp in Montana.

A new wave of grassroots resistance and direct action campaigning is emerging in Idaho, Montana and Utah to extractive industry like tar sands and coal.   This camp is part that emerging wave.

The space is reserved. Activists are registered.

But an unforeseen funding complication could stop the whole thing as money for the camp has become no longer available!

To make the camp happen, we need to raise $6000 by Monday evening.

Can you donate $5,$10 or $50 and support grassroots resistance to tar sands infrastructure in the west?


Here’s an open letter for support from the organizers at Northern Rockies Rising Tide:

Dear community,

We at Northern Rockies Rising Tide have been involved in organizing an International Tar Sands Resistance Summit to take place just outside of Missoula, Montana from November 19 – 22. To promote this event we were working in collaboration with the Indigenous Environmental Network, local community groups, and national environmental organizations. The notion of the camp is to bring together communities directly impacted by Tar Sands development and related infrastructure projects to learn from each other, strategize, and take action against what some have characterized as the most devastating industrial project on the planet. To this end, we have invited organizers and engaged citizens from communities impacted by the XL Energy Pipeline, the Alberta Tar Sands, the Utah Tar Sands (which would be the first Tar Sands surface mining operation in the United States), and the mega-load shipments to attend the Summit. The response we have received in support of this summit has been amazing. Continue reading

Good news! UN Agrees Moratorium on Geoengineering Experiments!

Moratorium in Nagoya!

Nagoya, Japan: News Release | 29 October 2010 | www.etcgroup.org

Geoengineering Moratorium at UN Ministerial in Japan

Risky Climate Techno-fixes Blocked

NAGOYA, Japan – In a landmark consensus decision, the 193-member UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will close its tenth biennial meeting with a de facto moratorium on geoengineering projects and experiments. “Any private or public experimentation or adventurism intended to manipulate the planetary thermostat will be in violation of this carefully crafted UN consensus,” stated Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director of ETC Group.

The agreement, reached during the ministerial portion of the two-week meeting which included 110 environment ministers, asks governments to ensure that no geoengineering activities take place until risks to the environmental and biodiversity and associated social, cultural and economic impacts risks have been appropriately considered as well as the socio-economic impacts. The CBD secretariat was also instructed to report back on various geoengineering proposals and potential intergovernmental regulatory measures.

The unusually strong consensus decision builds on the 2008 moratorium on ocean fertilization. That agreement, negotiated at COP 9 in Bonn, put the brakes on a litany of failed “experiments” – both public and private – to sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide in the oceans’ depths by spreading nutrients on the sea surface. Since then, attention has turned to a range of futuristic proposals to block a percentage of solar radiation via large-scale interventions in the atmosphere, stratosphere and outer space that would alter global temperatures and precipitation patterns.

“This decision clearly places the governance of geoengineering in the United Nations where it belongs,” said ETC Group Executive Director Pat Mooney. “This decision is a victory for common sense, and for precaution. It will not inhibit legitimate scientific research. Decisions on geoengineering cannot be made by small groups of scientists from a small group of countries that establish self-serving ‘voluntary guidelines’ on climate hacking. What little credibility such efforts may have had in some policy circles in the global North has been shattered by this decision. The UK Royal Society and its partners should cancel their Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative and respect that the world’s governments have collectively decided that future deliberations on geoengineering should take place in the UN, where all countries have a seat at the table and where civil society can watch and influence what they are doing.”

Delegates in Nagoya have now clearly understood the potential threat that deployment – or even field testing – of geoengineering technologies poses to the protection of biodiversity. The decision was hammered out in long and difficult late night sessions of a “Friends of the chair” group, attended by ETC Group, and adopted by the Working Group 1 Plenary on 27 October 2010. The Chair of the climate and biodiversity negotiations called the final text “a highly delicate compromise.” All that remains to do now is gavel it through in the final plenary at 6 PM Friday (Nagoya time).

“The decision is not perfect,” said Neth Dano of ETC Group Philippines. “Some delegations are understandably concerned that the interim definition of geoengineering is too narrow because it does not include Carbon Capture and Storage technologies. Before the next CBD meeting, there will be ample opportunity to consider these questions in more detail. But climate techno-fixes are now firmly on the UN agenda and will lead to important debates as the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit approaches. A change of course is essential, and geoengineering is clearly not the way forward.”

In Nagoya, Japan

Pat Mooney: mooney@etcgroup.org (Mobile +1-613-240-0045)

Silvia Ribeiro: silvia@etcgroup.org (Mobile (local): + 81 90 5036 4659)

Neth Dano: neth@etcgroup.org (Mobile: + 63-917-532-9369)

In Montreal, Canada:

Diana Bronson: diana@etcgroup.org (Mobile: +1-514-629-9236)

Jim Thomas: jim@etcgroup.org (Mobile: +1-514-516-5759)

To everyone who has supported the HOME Campaign, uploaded their image to the photo petition, written to CBD delegates and spread the word – congratulations to you! This is a huge and important step forward in protecting our home planet from the threat of geoengineering experiments.

Note to Editors:

The full texts of the relevant decisions on geoengineering are copied below:

Under Climate Change and Biodiversity (UNEP/CBD/COP/10/L.36)

8. Invites Parties and other Governments, according to national circumstance and priorities, as well as relevant organizations and processes, to consider the guidance below on ways to conserve, sustainably use and restore biodiversity and ecosystem services while contributing to climate?change mitigation and adaptation:


(w) Ensure, in line and consistent with decision IX/16 C, on ocean fertilization and biodiversity and climate change, in the absence of science based, global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanisms for geo-engineering, and in accordance with the precautionary approach and Article 14 of the Convention, that no climate-related geo-engineering activities[1] that may affect biodiversity take place, until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities and appropriate consideration of the associated risks for the environment and biodiversity and associated social, economic and cultural impacts, with the exception of small scale scientific research studies that would be conducted in a controlled setting in accordance with Article 3 of the Convention, and only if they are justified by the need to gather specific scientific data and are subject to a thorough prior assessment of the potential impacts on the environment;

[1] Without prejudice to future deliberations on the definition of geo-engineering activities, understanding that any technologies that deliberately reduce solar insolation or increase carbon sequestration from the atmosphere on a large scale that may affect biodiversity (excluding carbon capture and storage from fossil fuels when it captures carbon dioxide before it is released into the atmosphere) should be considered as forms of geo-engineering which are relevant to the Convention on Biological Diversity until a more precise definition can be developed. Noting that solar insolation is defined as a measure of solar radiation energy received on a given surface area in a given hour and that carbon sequestration is defined as the process of increasing the carbon content of a reservoir/pool other than the atmosphere.


9 9. Requests the Executive Secretary to:


(o) Compile and synthesize available scientific information, and views and experiences of indigenous and local communities and other stakeholders, on the possible impacts of geo?engineering techniques on biodiversity and associated social, economic and cultural considerations, and options on definitions and understandings of climate-related geo-engineering relevant to the Convention on Biological Diversity and make it available for consideration at a meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice prior to the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties;

(p) Taking into account the possible need for science based global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanisms, subject to the availability of financial resources, undertake a study on gaps in such existing mechanisms for climate-related geo-engineering relevant to the Convention on Biological Diversity, bearing in mind that such mechanisms may not be best placed under the Convention on Biological Diversity, for consideration by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific Technical and Technological Advice prior to a future meeting of the Conference of the Parties and to communicate the results to relevant organizations;

Under New and Emerging Issues UNEP/CBD/COP/10/L.2 :

4. Invites Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations to submit information on synthetic biology and geo-engineering, for the consideration by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, in accordance with the procedures of decision IX/29, while applying the precautionary approach to the field release of synthetic life, cell or genome into the environment;

Under Marine and Coastal Biodiversity UNEP/CBD/COP/10/L.42

13 Reaffirming that the programme of work still corresponds to the global priorities, has been further strengthened through decisions VIII/21, VIII/22, VIII/24, and IX/20, but is not fully implemented, and therefore encourages Parties to continue to implement these programme elements, and endorses the following guidance, where applicable and in accordance with national capacity and circumstances, for enhanced implementation:

(e) Ensuring that no ocean fertilization takes place unless in accordance with decision IX/16 C and taking note of the report (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/14/INF/7) and development noted para 57 – 62;

Impacts of ocean fertilization on marine and coastal biodiversity

57. Welcomes the report on compilation and synthesis of available scientific information on potential impacts of direct human-induced ocean fertilization on marine biodiversity (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/14/INF/7), which was prepared in collaboration with United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the International Maritime Organization in pursuance of paragraph 3 of decision IX/20;

58. Recalling the important decision IX/16 C on ocean fertilization, reaffirming the precautionary approach, recognizes that given the scientific uncertainty that exists, significant concern surrounds the potential intended and unintended impacts of large-scale ocean fertilization on marine ecosystem structure and function, including the sensitivity of species and habitats and the physiological changes induced by micro-nutrient and macro-nutrient additions to surface waters as well as the possibility of persistent alteration of an ecosystem, and requests Parties to implement decision IX/16 C;

59. Notes that the governing bodies under the London Convention and Protocol adopted in 2008 resolution LC-LP.1 (2008) on the regulation of ocean fertilization, in which Contracting Parties declared, inter alia, that given the present state of knowledge, ocean fertilization activities other than legitimate scientific research should not be allowed;

60. Recognizes the work under way within the context of the London Convention and London Protocol to contribute to the development of a regulatory mechanism referred to in decision IX/16 C, and invites Parties and other Governments to act in accordance with the Resolution LC-LP.2(2010) of the London Convention and Protocol ;

61. Notes that in order to provide reliable predictions on the potential adverse impacts on marine biodiversity of activities involving ocean fertilization, further work to enhance our knowledge and modelling of ocean biogeochemical processes is required, in accordance with decision IX/16 (c) and taking into account decision IX/20 and LC-LP.2 (2010);

62. Notes also that there is a pressing need for research to advance our understanding of marine ecosystem dynamics and the role of the ocean in the global carbon cycle;

Geopiracy: The Case Against Geoengineering is a new publication by ETC Group that provides an overview of the issues involved.

To the Board and Staff of 1 Sky

[A Letter from the Grassroots; written by grassroots organizations across the United States (including Grassroots Global Justice, Movement Generation, Indigenous Environmental Network, etc – full list at the end. The letter is a response to 1 Sky’s public statement this August.]

We are grassroots and allied organizations representing racial justice, indigenous rights, economic justice, immigrant rights, youth organizing and environmental justice communities actively engaged in Climate Justice organizing.

Given the very necessary discussion spurred by your recent public letter (August 8, 2010), we wanted to share with you some of the work we have been doing to protect people and planet, as well as our reflections on a forward-thinking movement strategy. Your honest reflections on the political moment in which we find ourselves, alongside the open invitation to join in this discussion, are heartening.

Organizing a Powerful Climate Justice Movement

Like you, we recognize Climate Disruption as a central issue of our time. With the right set of strategies and coordinated efforts we can mobilize diverse communities to powerful action. Our organizing strategy for climate justice is to: 1) Organize in, network with and support communities who have found their frontlines[1] of climate justice; 2) Organize with communities to identify their frontlines of climate justice, and 3) Coalesce these communities towards a common agenda that is manifested from locally defined strategies to state and national policy objectives through to international solidarity agreements.

Community-Led Climate Justice has been Winning

In assessing the broader landscape of climate activism it is critical to recognize that despite the failure of DC policy-led campaigns, there have also been significant successes on the part of grassroots climate justice campaigns across the U.S.

Frontline communities, using grassroots, network-based and actions-led strategies around the country have had considerable success fighting climate-polluting industries in recent years, with far less resources than the large environmental groups in DC. These initiatives have prevented a massive amount of new industrial carbon from coming on board – here are just a few examples:

Stopping King Coal with Community Organizing: The Navajo Nation, led by a Dine’ (Navajo) and Hopi grassroots youth movement, forced the cancellation of a Life of Mine permit on Black Mesa, AZ, for the world’s largest coal company – Peabody Energy. Elsewhere in the U.S. community-based groups in Appalachia galvanized the youth climate movement in their campaigns to stop mountain-top removal (MTR) coal mining, and similar groups in the Powder River Basin have united farmers and ranchers against the expansion of some of the world’s largest coal deposits.

Derailing the Build-out of Coal Power: Nearly two thirds of the 151 new coal power plant proposals from the Bush Energy Plan have been cancelled, abandoned or stalled since 2007 – largely due to community-led opposition.  A recent example of this success is the grassroots campaign of Dine’ grassroots and local citizen groups in the Burnham area of eastern Navajo Nation, NM that have prevented the creation of the Desert Rock coal plant, which would have been the third such polluting monolith in this small, rural community.  Community-based networks such as the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Energy Justice Network and the Western Mining Action Network have played a major role in supporting these efforts to keep the world’s most climate polluting industry at bay.

Preventing the Proliferation of Incinerators: In the last 12 years, no new waste incinerators (which are more carbon-intensive than coal and one of the leading sources of cancer-causing dioxins) have been built in the US, and hundreds of proposals have been defeated by community organizing. In 2009 alone, members of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives prevented dozens of municipal waste incinerators, toxic waste incinerators, tire incinerators and biomass incinerators from being built, and forced Massachusetts to adopt a moratorium on incineration.

Defeating Big Oil In Our Own Backyards: A community-led coalition in Richmond, CA, has, stopped the permitting of Chevron’s refinery expansion in local courts. This expansion of the largest oil refinery on the west coast is part of a massive oil and gas sector expansion focused on importing heavy, high-carbon intensive crude oil from places like the Canada’s Tar Sands. This victory demonstrates that with limited resources, community-led campaigns can prevail over multi-million dollar PR and lobby campaigns deployed by oil companies like Chevron, when these strategies are rooted in organizing resistance in our own backyards.

REDOIL, (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands) an Alaska Native grassroots network, has been effective at ensuring the Native community-based voice is in the forefront of protecting the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas. Together with allies, REDOIL has also prevented Shell from leasing the Alaska outer continental shelf for offshore oil exploration and drilling. Advancing recognition of culture, subsistence and food sovereignty rights of Alaska Natives within a diverse and threatened aquatic ecosystem has been at the heart of their strategy.

Stopping False Solutions like Mega Hydro: Indigenous communities along the Klamath River forced Pacificorp Power company to agree to “Undam the Klamath” by the year 2020, in order to restore the river’s natural ecosystems, salmon runs and traditional land-use capacity. For decades, Indigenous communities have been calling out false solutions – pointing to the fact that energy technologies that compromise traditional land-use, public health and local economies cannot be considered climate solutions.

Building Resilient Communities through Local Action: In communities all over the US, frontline communities are successfully winning campaigns linking climate justice to basic survival:

  • In San Antonio, Texas, the Southwest Workers Union led the fight to divert $20billion dollars from nuclear energy into renewable energy and energy efficiency. In addition, they launched a free weatherization program for low-income families and a community run organic farm.
  • In Oakland, California, the Oakland Climate Action Coalition is leading the fight for an aggressive Climate Energy and Action Plan that both addresses climate disruption and local equity issues.

Lessons from the Beltway Strategy

Our analysis of mainstream climate advocacy’s failure to win in the federal arena echoes yours, but differs in key areas.  We agree there was insufficient investment in movement building, and a “beltway strategy” was prioritized without clarity on what the bottom lines were. “Anything is better than nothing,” will always lead to nothing, because it is a declaration of our intention to compromise. As a result, a decade of advocacy work, however well intentioned, migrated towards false solutions that hurt communities and compromised on key issues such as carbon markets and giveaways to polluters.

These compromises sold out poor communities in exchange for weak targets and more smokestacks that actually prevent us from getting anywhere close to what the science – and common sense – tells us is required. We encapsulate the lessons learned as follows:

Access was confused for Influence. We do not have influence in DC, regardless of how much face-time we get with legislators, or their staffers. To start from a place of power – you must first figure out where you have power, and build from there. We have power in our communities where we have relationships and can hold politicians and corporations accountable. In DC, corporate power rules because they can concentrate energy, resources and relationships there – in ways we cannot. However, when confronting these same corporations in our tribes, cities, and towns, we reveal that they are not nimble or powerful enough to defeat our communities.

Density was confused for Depth; and Mobilizing for Organizing. Since we are calling for a redoubling of grassroots organizing efforts, we should be clear what we mean. Grassroots Organizing is the process by which people in communities rally around a common cause, acting on their own behalf with allies and networks – often against powerful interests, often building new institutions needed to win a lasting change. The material conditions in communities have to change for the material conditions in DC to change. Anyone looking to support real and effective solutions would do well to look outside the beltway.

Targets were confused for Solutions. We will never win by centering our principal energy on CO2 targets alone. Real Solutions must move past carbon targets, whether it is parts per million or percentages of emissions. Here is why:

1) Targets reinforce the “carbon fundamentalism” frame that hides the root causes of climate change. By not talking about root causes, we miss opportunities to connect climate disruption with failures of economic systems, resource wars and forced migration, for example. Targets also serve to reduce discussion on climate to arenas where corporations have greater access.

2) How we get to the targets is more important than the targets. By staking our claim solely around a target, we leave the political space for false solutions wide open. From technology solutions such as “clean coal”, “safe nuclear” and “renewable biomass” to market solutions such as offsets – these so-called solutions serve to line the pockets of those who got us into this mess in the first place, without dealing with the root cause. The targets we do articulate along with our solutions should be extremely aggressive and aligned with call from international social movements, such as those coming from the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.

Flipping the Script: Leading with the Grassroots

Given the significant gains we have had with community-led strategies for Climate Justice, and the failure of resource-intensive, beltway policy campaigns, we need to re-prioritize building power from the bottom up. The strategy we emphasize includes:

1) Investing in grassroots action at frontline struggles to win the victories that build our power, improve our communities and stop the corporations causing climate disruption;

2) Prioritizing local organizing to build the resilient communities, economic alternatives, and political infrastructure that we need to weather the climate crisis; and,

3) Supporting solidarity with grassroots movements around the world, to link our struggles, and to craft policies and structures we need internationally to support solutions determined locally.

International Solidarity for a Stronger Movement – Beyond Cancún

As grassroots forces, we have been building with social movements from around the world. Our groups were well represented at the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia in April 2010. The Peoples’ Conference modeled what a more democratic, transparent policy-making process could look like and resulted in proposals that were formally submitted to the UNFCCC, Conference of Parties 16, in Cancun. These submissions are in the negotiating text, being championed by several southern nations. The demands in these submissions are clear and strong – No Offsets, No (Carbon) Markets, No Commodification of our Atmosphere or of Life.

While “offsets” are often cloaked as opportunities for “clean development”, this claim fails on two counts. First, offsets do not lead to clean development but to greater destruction, displacement and disempowerment. Second, the very premise of offsets is that it is allowable to continue polluting in poor communities and communities of color in the U.S. to justify over-industrialization of communities and their resources elsewhere.

As communities fighting climate pollution in our own backyards, we link our struggles with social movements worldwide to stand against offsets and other false solutions and to build real solutions based in our communities. We call on you to stand with us. If there is anything you can take away from this letter, we reiterate:  The equation of power in our movement, just as in our country, must be inverted.

The leadership is coming from the grassroots everyday.

We will win Climate Justice by supporting the hundreds of communities around the country who are targeting the climate polluters in their communities, whether that is an energy source, a toxic industry, a dirty port, a big box chain, a freeway or a developer driving gentrification. Resources should be deployed to win those fights in those communities – for their own sake.

Grassroots Organizing Cools the Planet.

In power,

Movement Generation: Justice and Ecology Project
Indigenous Environmental Network
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Southwest Workers Union
Southwest Organizing Project
Black Mesa Water Coalition
Resisting Environmental Destruction On Indigenous Lands
Communities for a Better Environment
Just Transition Alliance
Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Alaska Community Action on Toxics
Direct Action for Rights and Equality
Little Village Environmental Justice Organization
People Organized to Win Employment Rights
Youth For Justice Save Our Sacred Earth
Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development
Alternatives for Community and Environment
Justice in Nigeria Now
Ironbound Community Corporation
Don’t Waste Massachusetts Coalition
Berthold Environmental Awareness Committee
Grassroots International
Global Justice Ecology Project
Ruckus Society
Rising Tide North America
Energy Justice Network
Stand Up / Save Lives Campaign
Earth Circle Conservation & Recycling
Climate Ground Zero
Coal River Mountain Watch
Rainforest Action Network
Buckeye Forest Council

(Partial List of Signatures)

[1]Frontline” communities, in this context, are communities who see how they are directly impacted by the root causes of, impacts from and false solutions to the ecological crisis. These communities have connected their struggles against economic exploitation and environmental injustice, for example, to the climate crisis. As the case of Katrina and the Gulf Coast region amply illustrates, the communities already vulnerable to environmental racism are also those most susceptible to the climate crises. Those hit first and worst are most often the least responsible for the crisis yet are actively leading the fight against major climate polluters.