Tagged ‘Vandana Shiva‘

Manufacturing Consent on Carbon Trading

“No one raised their hand to object to a single word in the declaration text. In an email distributing the document, Dodd states that, “The Declaration was accepted unanimously by the 1500 NGOs and other stakeholders present.”

By Chris Lang, 26th October 2011


In September 2011, the 64th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference took place in Bonn, Germany. About 1,500 people from 70 countries turned up. On the third day of the meeting, a remarkable thing happened. Not a single participant at the conference put up their hand to disagree with a declaration which promotes REDD as a carbon trading mechanism.

DPI, by the way, stands for Department of Public Information. Every year since 1946, UN DPI has held an NGO conference. Speakers at this year’s conference included Vandana Shiva of Navdanya International, Daniel Mittler of Greenpeace International, Achim Steiner of UNEP, Victoria Tauli Corpuz of Tebtebba and many others. Some of these speakers may be in favour of carbon trading, others are not.

The presentations are available here. In her speech, Vandana Shiva talked about two important principles that “have been used by every local community across the world: the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle.” She talked of the derailing of the World Trade Organisation in 1999 and the slogan “Our world is not for sale”. Which sounds a lot like the slogans that opponents of carbon trading use.

She talked about the economic crisis and the US$16 trillion bailout. She asked, “Can you imagine what US$16 trillion would have done for the earth and the poor people of this planet, if spent in an appropriate way?”

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz spoke on the topic of “sustainable consumption”. She explained that,

“Many indigenous peoples can claim they are the practitioners of sustainable consumption and production and I can say that from my own perspective and experience. I am an Igorot, indigenous peoples from the Philippines. In my community, in my culture, we have very strict customary laws that define how we relate with everybody and of course with the environment.”

She mentioned several of these laws, including what she called the golden rule: “Don’t do to others what you don’t like others to do to you.” This presumably prohibits carbon trading. Just as Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines do not want their air to be polluted, communities living near polluting power plants in California or Glasgow do not want the companies running these plants to be allowed to continue polluting by buying carbon credits.

The UN DPI/NGO Conference declaration (pdf file 147.4 KB) is an outline of “sustainable development goals discussed and identified as key objectives” at the conference, according to the NGO blog of the conference. Delegates got a copy of the draft in their conference bags when they arrived at the meeting.

On the third day of the conference, Felix Dodds of the Stakeholder Forum and chair of this year’s conference asked the meeting to approve the declaration. It took him 49 seconds:

“We’re, I think, very pleased with the quality of the document we have prepared for you over the last two days and I’m going to ask the meeting to show by a show of hands those people who would like to make their support for this being a chair’s text that I should hand on to the German government and the UN. For those people show, by show of hands in favour of me handing this over as your chair to the government. Thank you very much. Is there anyone against? Is there anyone asleep? Thank you, the chair is very happy.”

No one raised their hand to object to a single word in the declaration text. In an email distributing the document, Dodd states that, “The Declaration was accepted unanimously by the 1500 NGOs and other stakeholders present.” The only possible explanation is that when Dodd asked the meeting to support the document, many of those present had not read the text. That’s perfectly understandable, considering that they were busy attending a conference, which in addition to the speakers, featured a series of side events, workshops and exhibits. No doubt that didn’t leave much time to read a long draft declaration written in a mind-numbing UN style.

The German government will present the conference declaration in the UN General Assembly in November 2011. “You have a great opportunity with the declaration,” Dodds said in his presentation. “You have an opportunity through that declaration to suggest to the Rio+20 process what you think are the critical issues that summit should address.”

The declaration makes several references to REDD. The first is part of the “institutional framework for sustainable development”, the second two are part of the “sustainable development goals” or SDGs (the numbers refer to the line numbers in the declaration):

310 We call upon governments to ensure that Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) is implemented with regard to development decisions, and other decisions such as REDD+, that impact indigenous peoples, indigenous groups and tribal and local communities.

479 SDG – CLIMATE SUSTAINABILITY: By 2050, governments should have reached clear pathways towards climate sustainability that regulates the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees C. Emissions of greenhouse gases should be reduced to 25% of 1990 levels by 2020, 40% by 2030, 60% by 2040 and 80% by 2050. Carbon taxes and tariffs should be in place to provide incentives for low-carbon development and manufacturing, finance GHG emissions reduction projects, REDD+ and other offset mechanisms, and green infrastructure solutions to help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change.

534 SDG – HEALTHY FORESTS: By 2020, all remaining frontier forests are protected from conversion and degradation, consistent with the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity adopted at COP10, with a well-resourced and equably [sic] governed REDD+ mechanism in place, which respects the rights and knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities and other environmental and governance safeguards, to reward developing countries for protection and sustainable management of their forests, not only for carbon capture and storage but for their wider ecological services. A policy of no net loss of forestland, globally and nationally, is also achieved by 2020.

At that time, all new forest areas cleared will be offset by ecologically sound restoration of forests in nearby areas. Restoration of over 150 million hectares of cleared or degraded forest landscapes is achieved by 2020, with the creation of millions of new jobs and enhanced livelihoods, improved security and adaptation to climate change.

Reduce deforestation emissions by key corporations and their supply chains committing to avoid the purchase of products that cause deforestation, such as soy or cattle from deforested lands in the Brazilian Amazon, palm oil from deforested agricultural land in Indonesia, or illegal wood and wood products throughout the world.

Additionally, for stakeholders everywhere to undertake and/or participate in large-scale, environmentally and socially responsible reforestation efforts.
[ . . . ]
At Rio+20, we call on governments to pledge concrete and systematic support and promotion of multi-stakeholder managed forest certification systems, in all parts of the world, with particular emphasis on tropical rainforests.

If you’re still awake after reading that, congratulations. The first statement is a reasonably straightforward demand for free, prior and informed consent. Except that without a reference to the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples, this runs the risk of FPIC becoming a rushed process carried out by governments and corporations in order to tick the FPIC box.

The second statement on REDD describes it as an offset mechanism, a carbon trading mechanism. While this accurately reflects the way REDD is developing, it is surprising (to say the least) that none of the NGOs present objected to this acceptance of a trade in forest carbon.

(The sentence at the start of this statement is ridiculous. Requesting that “governments should have reached clear pathways towards climate sustainability”, by 2050 makes no sense whatsoever. If, by 2050, we have not found a way of leaving fossil fuels in the ground, there is a very high probability that the climate will have dramatically changed. This talk by Kevin Anderson of the Tyndale Centre clearly explains why: Climate Change: going beyond dangerous. “Things are getting worse, and they are getting worse at an incredibly fast rate,” Anderson says early on in his presentation. “We are accelerating towards a cliff that we know is there.”)

The third statement is perhaps even more problematic. Protecting frontier forests is mixed with REDD, which the declaration has already stated will be a carbon trading mechanism. The carbon stored in these forests is apparently to be offset against continued pollution elsewhere.

But the declaration does not envisage that deforestation will be stopped by 2020. Only that “no net loss of forestland” will take place. Forest can be cleared as long as other areas are planted with trees. Of course, the declaration insists that this has to be “ecologically sound restoration of forests”. But in its definition of “forests”, the UN does not differentiate between industrial tree plantations and native forests. There is no mention of the UN’s disastrous definition in the conference declaration.

The statement ends with the call for governments to support forest certification. The “gold standard” of forest certification is the Forest Stewardship Council. Yet FSC has certified vast areas of monoculture tree plantations. FSC also certifies industrial logging in primary forests.

But none of the 1,500 people in the meeting objected to any of this – or any of the other statements in the more than 9,000-word declaration. The only possible explanation is that they had not read it. Funnily enough, Stakeholder Forum, the organisation that Felix Dodds works for, claims to be “working to advance sustainable development and promote democracy at a global level”. Dodds, as chair of the meeting, should quietly tear up the document and recycle the paper, as his contribution to sustainable development.

Why I Refuse to Promote Bill McKibben

Why I Refuse to Promote Bill McKibben

Why I Refuse to Promote Bill McKibben

PublishedJuly 7, 2011by Political Context: and Canadians for Action on Climate Change:

Image: Corporate media’s poster boy for the environmental movement, Bill McKibben.

“Nations and peoples are largely the stories they feed themselves. If they tell themselves stories that are lies, they will suffer the future consequences of those lies. If they tell themselves stories that face their own truths, they will free their histories for future flowerings.”Ben Okri, Nigerian poet and novelist

It continues to both concern and baffle me that those within the movement who coined the term “climate justice” continue to promote a false prophet who believes/hopes and promotes that greed can save us (see McKibben’s The Greenback Effect: Greed Has Helped Destroy the Planet – Maybe Now It Can Help Save It). Greed, of course, being one of the ugliest traits in the human species. Greed being the pivotal factor behind the “success” of capitalism. Greed being the reason the world’s wealthiest 15% contribute 75% of all global greenhouse gas emissions (Professor Stephen Pacala) on the backs of the poor and most vulnerable while simultaneously decimating and raping the Earth.

Throughout history, greed has proven to be lethal. Greed and justice cannot co-exist.

The premise that “greed can save us” is void of all ethics. It stems from either desperation or denial, or perhaps both combined.

Perhaps McKibben’s partner – Climate Solutions (who McKibben praised/promoted in a recent article) – will soon see their wish list of “sustainable aviation,” biofuels and carbon offsets morph into a global reality. partner Climate Solutions was a key player in the creation of 1Sky – an incubator project of the Rockefellers, who are pushing/funding REDD (the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program) and many other false solutions that ensure power and monetary wealth remain exactly where it is – in the hands of the few.

Of course, James Hansen’s magic wand (which Hansen himself sometimes refers to) will be most imperative for such false solutions to succeed in cooling the planet and stopping the eradication of most life on Earth.

Do we reject biofuels, carbon offsets, the greenwash and delusional concepts like “sustainable aviation”? Or do we reject these false solutions only when promoted directly by industry and government? If we do reject false solutions outright, why do those who claim to seek climate justice turn a blind eye when our “friends” and “partners” support these false solutions that we must fight against?

Perhaps it is a good time to reflect upon the concept of living well, proposed by Bolivia, which describes the capitalist system and the effects of greed that it perpetuates like this:

“We suffer the severe effects of climate change, of the energy, food and financial crises. This is not the product of human beings in general, but of the existing inhuman capitalist system, with its unlimited industrial development. It is brought about by minority groups who control world power, concentrating wealth and power on themselves alone. Concentrating capital in only a few hands is no solution for humanity, neither for life itself, because as a consequence many lives are lost in floods, by intervention or by wars, so many lives through hunger, poverty and usually curable diseases. It brings selfishness, individualism, even regionalism, thirst for profit, the search for pleasure and luxury thinking only about profiting, never having regard to brotherhood among the human beings who live on planet Earth. This not only affects people, but also nature and the planet. And when the peoples organize themselves, or rise against oppression, those minority groups call for violence, weapons, and even military intervention from other countries.”

It must be remembered that McKibben, and most all other “big greens” have rejected the People’s Agreement of Cochabamba rather than unite behind it, in favour of the false illusion of “green” capitalism.

No Logo

I, for one, choose not to promote organizations or individuals who embrace such a system so unfair that it is systematically destroying all life, nor those who purposely and continually reject and undermine the Cochabamba People’s Agreement. I leave this to the likes of Naomi Klein, who recently joined and other key messengers … celebrated individuals who have warned us of the dangers of unfettered capitalism, yet have chosen to embrace the “green” capitalist entity,

Over a decade ago, Klein brilliantly educated the public on the growing trend of corporations hijacking public entities, including our universities and museums. In a statement on BP’s sponsorship of the Tate Museum, to which Klein is listed as the first signatory, she/they write: “Corporate sponsorship does not exist in an ethical vacuum.”

Yet, hypocritically, when it comes to corporate power funding the entire mainstream environmental movement, Klein and others have not only failed to speak out against it – they have lent their names to it. In the environmental movement, it has been decided by Klein and others that corporate funding sponsorship does indeed exist in an ethical vacuum, thereby lending legitimacy and credibility to an organization that promotes and protects the branded logo 350 – and little else. As much as Klein and other celebrated anti-capitalists such as Vandana Shiva passionately deliver us the imperative truth, when it comes to and pro-free market McKibben, they turn a blind eye to a movement shaped and funded by the industrial machine itself. As the push towards an illusory “green economy” and “climate wealth” strengthens, even those within the climate justice movement itself are covertly being estranged from the truth.

The videos below shed light on our free markets at work. These people represent only a glimpse of those who suffer at the hands of our current economic system. Climate “justice” or any kind of justice just cannot and can never exist in our capitalist economic system, as this system is dependent upon not only continued growth, but continued violence, oppression and exploitation of perhaps 85% of humanity – who emit a mere 25% of all emissions. This way of life is coming to an end. This system is destined to ultimately collapse – or kill us – whichever comes first.

If the definition of justice is “the quality of being just or fair” – our current economic system, that being capitalism, is the furthest thing from any kind of justice. The idea that we can avert climate genocide by embracing “green” capitalism is an illusion. It is a lie whereby the consequences will prove to be lethal beyond anything our species has ever witnessed. Those who truly seek justice must think long and hard about maintaining faith in a system that has finally brought us to the precipice. We may be trapped within it – but that does not mean we cannot fight like hell to break free.

Testimony of Rosa Elbira: Gang-rapes at a Canadian-owned mine in Guatemala:

The “Green Economy” to solve our climate crisis, in a nutshell (this is not a spoof): (don’t miss ten minutes in – featured in doc END:CIV):

Violent Evictions at El Estor, Guatemala:

All That Glitters Isn’t Gold – 10 min. Trailer:

On the Origins of Green Liberalism:

Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on Canadians for Action on Climate Change and The Art of Annihilation site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on Twitter: @elleprovocateur