Tagged ‘Carbon Markets‘

From the Belly of the Beast – A MUST READ on REDD – | REDD is Supported by Greenpeace, Conservation International, Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, WWF & Many More Corporate Greens

Blog Post from the Belly of the Beast: In the Bowels of the World Bank

–by Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project; North American Focal Point, Global Forest Coalition

… the Indonesian military is getting money through climate financing for REDD-type projects. The communities that live in the forests–some of them Indigenous to the area, some of them relocated there in the 80s–are being invaded by heavily armed forest rangers, paramilitaries and police; and are forced to leave at gunpoint while their homes are burned to the ground.

Benoit Bosquet, Coordinator of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, defends the bank’s role in "forest conservation" in Indonesia, where forest-based communities have been forcibly evicted at gunpoint. Behind him is a photo of one such eviction. Photo: Petermann/GJEP

Today commenced the fall meetings of the World Bank in Washington, DC. The Bank has long been known for its strong-arm tactics to force countries in the Global South to turn over their resources–whether natural resources or poor peoples’ labor– to corporations based in the Industrialized North.

While the Bank is notorious as a major funder of fossil fuel projects, devastating large-scale hydroelectric projects and deforestation projects, they have now become one of the leaders in the effort to use “market-based” schemes for climate mitigation. They are the world’s carbon brokers.

Indeed, one of the items on their meeting agenda is climate finance–pumping money into various developing countries to supposedly undertake climate mitigation programs that will predominately benefit countries in the north, by enabling them to maintain business as usual and avoid cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Appropriately, there was a civil society session this morning on the impacts of climate finance for REDD projects in Indonesia. Indonesia is a global focal point for climate action because of the massive climate emissions that have occurred there largely as a result of the burning of primeval peat forests for conversion to oil palm plantations. But even the climate mitigation programs come with a high price, and Indonesia provides a stark case study of the devastating social and ecological impacts of REDD (the scheme to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

But in order to participate in the workshop, it was first necessary to navigate the World Bank’s ridiculous security process.

It became obvious quickly that the Bank is quite paranoid about security. Now why, I wondered sarcastically, would an institution whose mission is ostensibly about poverty eradication need blocks and blocks of metal barricades and legions of police surrounding it?

Perhaps it has something to do with all of the people around the globe who have suffered under their severely unjust policies. Maybe they never quite got over A-16, (April 16, 2000) when thousands of activists descended on DC to blockade all of the streets surrounding the World Bank in a massive condemnation of the Bank’s dirty dealings.

But on this day, there were no protests, yet I still got the run-around by numerous unfriendly security officers and police, directed this way and that until I finally managed to find the registration building.

Once there, I explained for the fourth time that I was only there for one workshop and just needed a day pass. “We’re not giving out day passes today,” the desk jockey muttered. I had not encountered such surly, robot-like people since the Manchester, New Hampshire jail after a group of us were arrested in January 2000 for occupying Al Gore’s NH campaign headquarters in support of the U’Wa people of Colombia, whose lands were threatened by oil drilling by Occidental Petroleum. (Al had a lot of stock in Occidental).

Frustrated, irritated and thoroughly disgusted, I was ready to give up and make the trek back uptown when I saw a separate registration area for CSOs (civil society organizations). Okay, I thought, one more try.

I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say, I talked my way into an official access badge. Then after navigating yet more metal barricades, police officers and a metal detector, I finally arrived at my destination: the workshop on the impacts of REDD and forest “conservation” in Indonesia. It was horrifying.

Global Justice Ecology Project has been exposing the impacts of REDD on communities in Chiapas, Mexico and California as the result of a sub-national REDD carbon offset deal between the two states. Indigenous communities in the jungle of Chiapas are threatened with displacement for “forest protection” projects, and being subjected to intimidation tactics such as the withholding of medical services to try to force them to leave.

But what is happening on the ground in Indonesia is even more extreme. As one panelist pointed out, the violence happening to the people in the forests is even worse than the violence that occurred under the Suharto dictatorship.

While the dictatorship no longer exists, the military still maintains most of the power in the country–and now that the forests have suddenly increased in value because of REDD (because the carbon stored by the trees now has value), people who live in the forests but do not have official title to their lands (which is about 80% of the people in the rural areas) are being violently evicted for “conservation” projects.

In the 1980s, a program was initiated in Indonesia called the Transmigration Program. It moved 2.5 million people off of the heavily populated islands of Bali and Java and onto other islands, leading to tremendous land conflicts. In some areas, the ratio of migrants to locals was 2:1. This, the speaker explained, is exactly what is now happening under REDD. Massive population displacement.

In a nutshell, the Indonesian military is getting money through climate financing for REDD-type projects. The communities that live in the forests–some of them Indigenous to the area, some of them relocated there in the 80s–are being invaded by heavily armed forest rangers, paramilitaries and police; and are forced to leave at gunpoint while their homes are burned to the ground.

All in the name of conservation.

I spoke briefly with the panel moderator, a woman native to Indonesia, about our work in Chiapas and what we had found there.

“Yes,” she replied. “What we see in Indonesia is not unique. It is happening all over with these REDD projects.”

And what is the point of all of this suffering and misery and violence? To provide corporations in the industrialized north with the opportunity to avoid reducing their pollution by “buying” carbon stored in some distant forest thereby “offsetting” their emissions.

So, in other words, impoverished rural and Indigenous peoples are being confronted with unspeakable violence to allow companies in the North to continue to poison and pollute poor communities near their facilities in the North.

Benoit Bosque, of the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (the Bank’s program to help design and fund REDD projects in tropical and subtropical countries) spoke and tried to deflect this intense critique by explaining that REDD was extremely complex, but we shouldn’t give up. “These conflicts are about an accumulation of past mistakes. We cannot let fear of mistakes prevent us from taking bold steps forward.”

Yeah, tell that to the Indigenous Peoples being thrown off of their ancestral lands…

His callous reply received a lot of indignant responses from both the audience and the panel, who pointed out that the World Bank’s track record of enforcing even its own safeguards is terrible. “Consultations have been window dressing. Demands must be made for accountability with World Bank partners or don‘t make them partners. Don’t give them funding!”

At that Benoit bid his adieu before there were any more confrontations about the Bank’s role in funding violence against forest dependent communities.

For these reasons and many, many more, organizations and Indigenous Peoples’ groups around the world are condemning REDD. For more information on this, go to: To learn more about GJEP’s work in Chiapas and California on REDD, go to To view our photo essay from the community of Amador Hernandez in the Lacandon Jungle, click here

Greenpeace forest team works hard toward REDD – A False Solution Opposed by Indigenous Around the World

Forest Code becomes real at UNFCCC climate discussions

Blogpost by John Bowler – June 16, 2011 at 11:14

Bonn jour :-) and "hi" from the UNFCCC climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany where the Greenpeace forest team is working hard to secure a good REDD deal. The REDD concept is fairly simple: rich, developed countries provide funding to help developing countries protect their forests and invest in clean, green development). But we are not just listening, lobbying and negotiating. We are also campaigning. Last week we held a side event focused on the consultancy company McKinsey. I’m not going to get into that here so if you want to know more about that go to David’s blog. What I want to let you know about is a spoof presidential decree from Brazil’s President Dilma that we distributed yesterday morning.

The decree was about Brazil’s Forest Code and although not under discussion here we believe it to be of such importance that we could not let the negotiations end without bringing the problem to the attention of the world’s governments represented here.

Brazil is seen as a leader in reducing rainforest destruction so it is all the more important and urgent to let the international community know what is going on with the Forest Code. The new proposed version of the Forest Code is a dismal affair. It will weaken what in fact is a good law: it will grant amnesty to those who have deforested; reduce the areas to be protected; and lessen the responsibility of the government.

The new Forest Code, if it ever becomes law, will drastically reduce forest protection and kill the government’s goal to achieve an 80% reduction in Amazonian deforestation.

So yesterday morning a small team gathered inside the venue lobby and distributed the spoof decree to delegates as they entered for their early morning meetings. The response was good. Many of those reading it could be seen smiling once they realised that it was not true but a smart Greenpeace communication on what is required to protect Brazil’s rainforests. Simple, and let’s hope effective in initiating international support for President Dilma to deliver on her pre-election promises.

(John Bowler is Greenpeace Forest campaigner, from the UNFCCC Intersessionals in Bonn)



Miguel Valencia
Red Ecologista Autónoma de la Cuenca de México
Acción inmediata frente al Pico del Petróleo y al Cambio Climático
Textos recientes en

Con respecto al comunicado de prensa de OXFAM que abajo viene, quisiera advertir que este comunicado parece esconder la promoción de una de las propuestas más rechazadas, mas denunciadas en la COP-16 de Cancun, por las organizaciones indígenas, la Vía Campesina y la red internacional Climate Justice Now!; me refiero a la propuesta denominada REDD plus  (Reduction Emissions for Deforestation and Degradation), impulsada por el Banco Mundial, los gobiernos poderosos del mundo (EUA, UE, Japon, etc), las transnacionales y el gobierno mexicano, e impuesta a los paises del Sur en las recientes cumbres del clima, por medio de presiones, chantaje, y sobornos..

Esta propuesta REDD+ involucra, como lo dice la Indigenous Environmenal Network, IEN, “el más grande robo de tierras de la historia”, la destrucción de la biodiversidad y un engaño, una Falsa Solución al cambio climático. La participación de las “grandes verdes” o big greens (WWF,  OXFAM, Greenpeace) en la aprobación de este nefasto programa, tanto en Copenhague, como en Cancun, les ha generado  una reprobación mundial a estas organizaciones. El Klimaforum10 ha manifestado su gran inconformidad con la actuación de estas grandes ONGs verdes en estas cumbres, en su Informe y Valuación del Klimaforum10.
En este comunicado de prensa podemos observar como se pretendería introducir en México este turbio programa climático, por medio de una Red Mexicana de Esfuerzos (RIOD-Mexico) que habría que someterla a una rigurosa observación social, ya que hay involucrado un dineral en estas campañas y al parecer estas “grandes verdes” están muy interesadas en sacar una buena tajada del gran negocio que representan las Falsas Soluciones al cambio climáticio, aprobadas en las COP de las Naciones Unidas.  La Unión Europea ha estado muy activa en la promoción de estos programas en los países del Sur. El gobernador Sabines de Chiapas, ya se ha lanzado con estos proyectos REDD plus y, por lo que percibimos en este comunicado, ya empezarían estas organizaciones ambientalistas a involucrar a muchas organizaciones locales en un negocio sucio con el cambio climático.

Quienes deseen contar con mayor información sobre estos programas para reducir la deforestación y degradación de los bosques, se las podemos proporcionar con todo gusto, pues, la organización del Klimaforum10 en Cancun, tuvo tambien como proposito conocer de primera mano los arreglos sobre estos temas que se realizan en estas cumbres del clima.



La Unión Europea, Oxfam y RIOD-Mex se unen en contra de la desertificación en tierras de Mesoamérica

Anuncian la realización del proyecto “Conservación y manejo sustentable de tierras secas en Mesoamérica” para fortalecer la resilencia y sustentabilidad de comunidades rurales de la región sur de México y el corredor seco de Guatemala ante el cambio climático.
México, D.F. a 16 de junio de 2011-  En el marco de la celebración del Día Mundial de Lucha contra la Desertificación y la Sequía, el día de hoy fue dado a conocer el proyecto “Conservación y manejo sustentable de tierras secas en Mesoamérica”  promovido por la Unión Europea, Oxfam México, Oxfam Gran Bretaña y la Red Mexicana de Esfuerzos contra la Desertificación y la Degradación de los Recursos Naturales (RIOD-Mex) como una acción dirigida a enfrentar los efectos del cambio climático.

Con una aportación conjunta de 900 mil euros, el proyecto será implementado en México y en el corredor seco de Guatemala dentro de comunidades marginadas que están experimentando los efectos del cambio climático, con énfasis en la atención de grupos de mujeres campesinas, indígenas y jóvenes.

Para su instrumentación, el proyecto realizará acciones en localidades de los estados de Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla y Veracruz en México, y el Departamento de Baja Verapaz en Guatemala.

En su metodología, el proyecto considera potenciar y privilegiar los procesos locales de producción agrícola y profundizar sobre conocimientos técnicos y empíricos de las comunidades en cuanto al manejo sustentable de tierras, energía y agua en las actividades productivas y de conservación.

El modelo incluye la transferencia de tecnología, la adopción de mejores prácticas agropecuarias, la gestión técnica y el desarrollo de mecanismos innovadores de financiamiento para la seguridad alimentaria y el impulso de economías regionales como estrategias de mitigación y adaptación ante el cambio climático.

El proyecto tendrá una duración de tres años, periodo en el que se espera se consoliden modelos de Manejo Sustentables de Tierras (MST) entre los primeros 500 productoras y productores rurales que a su vez serán replicadores de sus experiencias para generalizar las prácticas sustentables en ambas naciones.

Este esfuerzo involucrará a las autoridades forestales, agropecuarias y de medio ambiente locales y federales con la intención de que las experiencias recabadas confluyan en políticas públicas para México y Guatemala y en la construcción de una Agenda Mesoamericana.

En México, como parte de las actividades de este proyecto Oxfam y RIOD-Mex han iniciado la firma de acuerdos interinstitucionales con organizaciones sociales como la Unión de Comunidades y Ejidos Forestales de las Cordilleras de los Valles Centrales de Oaxaca, A.C. y Silvícola Ocote Real, S.C. de R.L. de C.V. Estas dos organizaciones se están incorporando con actividades en 30 municipios de los estados de Oaxaca y Puebla.

En 1994, la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas designó al 17 de junio como “Día Mundial de Lucha contra la Desertificación y la Sequía” como resultado de las negociaciones de la Cumbre de la Tierra de Río de Janeiro celebrada en 1992.

Sobre la Unión Europea

La Unión Europea está formada por 27 Estados miembros que han decidido unir de forma progresiva sus conocimientos prácticos, sus recursos y sus destinos. A lo largo de un período de ampliación de 50 años, juntos han constituido una zona de estabilidad, democracia y desarrollo sostenible, además de preservar la diversidad cultural, la tolerancia y las libertades individuales.

La Unión Europea tiene el compromiso de compartir sus logros y valores con países y pueblos que se encuentren más allá de sus fronteras.

Sobre Oxfam México

Oxfam México es una asociación civil independiente de cooperación internacional y ayuda humanitaria que promueve la organización de las comunidades para mejorar sus condiciones de vida. Trabaja conforme al principio universal de la Equidad Social, a partir de tres causas: Justicia Económica, Construcción de Ciudadanía y Democracia, y Ayuda Humanitaria.
Su operación se financia con las aportaciones económicas de empresas, fundaciones, gobiernos, organismos internacionales y donaciones individuales, que son asignadas a diversas organizaciones de la sociedad civil para auspiciar proyectos de desarrollo sustentable.

Contacto para medios Oxfam:

La Bola de Papel, Comunicación

Sara Castellanos R.

2454-0400/ 2454/0404

Spanish to English translation (Google Translation)


Miguel Valencia
Red Ecologista Autónoma de la Cuenca de México
Acción inmediata frente al Pico del Petróleo y al Cambio Climático
Textos recientes en

With respect to OXFAM press release that comes down, I realize that this statement seems to hide the promotion of one of the rejected proposals, but reported in the COP-16 in Cancun, indigenous organizations, Via Campesina and the network International Climate Justice Now!, I mean plus the proposal called REDD (Reduction Emissions for Deforestation and Degradation), promoted by the World Bank, the powerful governments of the world (U.S., EU, Japan, etc.), transnational corporations and the Mexican government , and imposed on the countries of the South in the recent climate summit by means of pressure, blackmail and bribes ..

This proposal involves REDD, as stated in the Indigenous Network Environmenal, IEN, “the greatest land theft in history”, the destruction of biodiversity and a delusion, a false solution to climate change. The involvement of “big green” or big greens (WWF, Oxfam, Greenpeace) the approval of this nefarious program, both in Copenhagen and in Cancun, it has generated a global condemnation of these organizations. The Klimaforum10 has expressed great dissatisfaction with the performance of these great green NGOs in these summits, in its Report and Valuation Klimaforum10.

This press release can be seen as an attempt would be introduced in Mexico this cloudy climate program, by a Mexican Network of Efforts (RIOD-Mexico) would have to undergo rigorous social observation, as there are a lot of money involved in these campaigns and apparently these “big green” are very interested in getting a good slice of the big business that represent false solutions to climáticio change, adopted at the United Nations COP. The European Union has been very active in promoting these programs in the South. Governor Sabines in Chiapas, has already launched these projects REDD plus, and what we perceive in this release, and these environmental organizations to begin to involve many local organizations in a dirty business to climate change.

Those wishing to have more information on these programs to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, they can provide you with great pleasure, then, the organization Klimaforum10 in Cancun, was also intended to see first hand the arrangements on these issues are made at these summits climate.



The European Union, Oxfam and RIOD-Mex unite against land desertification in Mesoamerica

Announce the project “Conservation and sustainable management of drylands in Mesoamerica” ??to strengthen the resilience and sustainability of rural communities in southern Mexico and Guatemala dry corridor to climate change.

Mexico, D.F. to June 16, 2011 – As part of the celebration of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, today was released the project “Conservation and sustainable management of drylands in Mesoamerica” ??promoted by the Union Europe, Mexico Oxfam, Oxfam Great Britain and the Mexican Network of Efforts to Combat Desertification and Degradation of Natural Resources (RIOD-Mex) as an action to address the effects of climate change.

With a joint contribution of 900 000 euros, the project will be implemented in Mexico and Guatemala dry corridor within marginalized communities are experiencing the effects of climate change, with emphasis on the care of groups of rural, indigenous and youth.

For its implementation, the project will conduct activities in locations in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla and Veracruz in Mexico, and the Department of Baja Verapaz in Guatemala.

In its methodology, the project considers the processes promoting and privileging local agricultural production and strengthen technical and empirical knowledge of the communities in sustainable management of land, energy and water in the productive and conservation activities.

The model includes the transfer of technology, adoption of improved farming practices, technical management and development of innovative financing mechanisms for food security and boosting regional economies as mitigation strategies and adaptation to climate change.

The project will last three years, a period which is expected to consolidate models of sustainable land management (SLM) in the top 500 producers and farmers to turn their experiences will be replicated for widespread sustainable practices in both nations.

This effort will involve the authorities forestry, agricultural and local and federal environment with the intention of that experience to come together in public policies for Mexico and Guatemala and construction of a Mesoamerican calendar.

In Mexico, as part of the project activities and RIOD-Mex Oxfam have initiated the signing of interagency agreements with organizations such as the Union of forest ejidos and the Cordilleras of the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, AC Real Ocote and Forestry S.C. of R.L. de CV These two organizations are joining with activities in 30 municipalities in the states of Oaxaca and Puebla.

In 1994, the General Assembly of the United Nations designated June 17 as “World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought” as a result of negotiations at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

– Oo0oo-

About the EU
The European Union comprises 27 Member States have decided to gradually link together their know-how, resources and destinies. Over a period of enlargement of 50 years, they have built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development whilst maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedoms.
The European Union is committed to sharing its achievements and values ??with countries and peoples that are beyond their borders.

About Oxfam Mexico
Oxfam is a private Mexico independent international cooperation and humanitarian aid that promotes the organization of communities to improve their living conditions. Work under the universal principle of Social Equity, from three causes: Economic Justice, Citizenship and Democracy Building and Humanitarian Aid.
Its operation is funded by financial contributions from corporations, foundations, governments, international organizations and individual donations, which are assigned to various civil society organizations to sponsor sustainable development projects.

————————————————– ——————————

Oxfam Media Contact:
The Ball of Paper, Communication
Sara Castellanos R.
2454-0400 / 2454/0404

Miguel Valencia
Red Ecologista Autónoma de la Cuenca de México
Acción inmediata frente al Pico del Petróleo y al Cambio Climático
Textos recientes en

In Rubble of Cap-and-Trade, Big Green Taking a Beating

In Rubble of Cap-and-Trade, Big Green Taking a Beating

In the search for what’s next, a range of options including civil disobedience, state-level action, and continued work on Capitol Hill

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 23, 2010

WASHINGTON—Barely a week ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid assured West Virginia governor-cum-senator Joe Manchin that any attempt to control greenhouse gases via a cap-and-trade system is dead and six feet under.

Grassroots and left-leaning environmental organizations, however, claim the Nevada Democrat showed up nearly a year late to the funeral of the much-maligned, market-based measure. A majority of them aren’t mourning the evident demise of poor ol’ cap and trade.

For the most part, they abhorred the book-length version of legislation that Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman and Ed Markey of Massachusetts cobbled together and the House eventually passed as the American Clean Energy and Security Act in June 2009. And they cringed at the versions of its evil twin that reared themselves afterward in the Senate.

While they united against compromised legislation, these more progressive green advocates aren’t unified on a single way forward on how to curb heat-trapping emissions—and if SolveClimate News’s interviews of these groups is any indication, consensus will be hard to come by.

Ideas about strengthening the movement are still being floated and vetted. Many agree the focus needs to be outside the Capital Beltway and some want to incorporate civil disobedience into the mix. Others will continue to work the legislative angle in the U.S. Capitol’s corridors.

Sorting Through Cap-and-Trade Rubble

“What needs to emerge from the rubble of cap and trade is a program that makes polluters pay,” Damon Moglen, climate and energy program director for Friends of the Earth said. “Some of the money needs to go to the public and the rest should be used to develop policy and support renewables.”

Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace never jumped on the Waxman-Markey bandwagon. What sticks in the craw of so many of their fellow environmental advocates is that their well-heeled brethren such as the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council confidently led them down what they promised would be a rosy path toward cap-and-trade nirvana.

And many found it was too late to pull a U-turn when it became clear they were headed for what looked to be a hellish destination that was scientifically unsound and provided Wall Street with alarming amounts of Monopoly money.

“What’s changing now is that the climate movement is no longer willing to follow ‘Big Green,’ which they did before to some degree because they had the power and the money,” explained Tim DeChristopher of Peaceful Uprising in Utah. “There’s certainly an awareness that we need to build a serious movement. We need to use these two years where nothing will happen in Congress to take the focus off Washington and build a social movement.”

EDF and Big Green Take a Beating

Fred Krupp, head of the Environmental Defense Fund, ignited a small-scale firestorm that’s still flaming after writing a 1,700-word missive for The Huffington Post last week vowing to ratchet up the fight for climate legislation by playing hardball with corporate polluters and the fossil fuels industry.

“First of all, that’s EDF being EDF,” Moglen said. “It’s the viewpoint of a single organization and not the voice of the entire environment movement … whatever that is.”

But another climate activist who had frequent dealings with Krupp’s organization—who asked that his name not be used so he could speak freely—was less forgiving.

“This is what Fred always says in front of more left and environmental audiences,” the source said in an interview, pointing out that EDF’s tagline is still, ‘We partner with businesses, governments and communities to find practical environmental solutions.’ “And he acts a certain way when he’s with Republicans. I would roll my eyes if anybody took this seriously.”

While those on Capitol Hill might look at the environmental movement as one entity, he continued, it’s ridiculous to include EDF because it categorizes itself as the triangulator and honest broker seeking common ground. He added that EDF should really be cast in a separate arena as a centrist activist group along the lines of the Democratic Leadership Council.

“People need to understand what EDF is and treat them accordingly,” he said. “If they were the environmental policy arm of Blue Dog Democrats’ caucus, I wouldn’t begrudge them that role.”

Cap and trade and market-based solutions were EDF’s “baby,” because the organization’s staffers had the “policy firepower,” he said, adding that Krupp’s employees are not nearly as well versed on renewable electricity standards and other regulatory solutions.

Calls to the Environmental Defense Fund seeking comment for this article were not returned.

One of EDF’s harshest critics is Rachel Smolker, whose now-deceased father, Robert Smolker, co-founded the organization decades ago during discussions in her childhood home on Long Island.

Smolker, an activist with the United Kingdom-based Biofuelwatch accuses EDF of being extremely cozy with industry and unwilling to listen to grassroots voices outside the nation’s capital.

“Cap and trade is a dangerous approach because it gives control to Wall Street,” she said in an interview from her Vermont office. “It’s the least painful and most profitable route for industry.”

Smolker is also active with Climate SOS, which borrowed a line from James Hansen when labeling the Waxman-Markey bill as “worse than nothing.” Hansen, who has been arrested for climate activism, heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.

“Many grassroots groups have no confidence in Washington,” she said. “Once, the idea of working with markets was a good idea and there were some successes. But attitudes toward cap and trade have changed in the last year.”

Copenhagen a Lost Opportunity

Krupp is correct that the environmental community has an urgent need to mobilize more broadly, Friends of the Earth’s Moglen said. Still, Moglen is flabbergasted that the climate situation has deteriorated so drastically since there was such consensus for action a year ago. Green groups are certainly culpable for losing control of a prime opportunity, he said, but he places the onus on President Obama.

“At the very moment (environmental organizations) created a debate space, this Congress and this president were AWOL,” he said. “The people who flooded into that void were the corporations. Then the flat-Earthers were inhabiting the debate space.”

If Obama had been as vociferous in a call for action at the Copenhagen climate conference in December 2009, as he is being now with the nuclear-arms treaty with Moscow, Moglen is convinced strong legislation would be in place now.

“The president failed on that front,” he said. “He could have gone to Copenhagen and changed the course of human history. It was his moment and he chose to hide behind Congress. Then the whole house of cards came tumbling down.”

Without national legislation, he continued, Obama now has to go to the mat for the Environmental Protection Agency so its authority to regulate greenhouse gases via the Clean Air Act isn’t blocked.

With a fractured House and a weakened Senate, Moglen suspects that cutting-edge solutions to global warming will bubble up from the states instead of trickle down from the federal level.

And as much as other observers see the political spectrum’s left and right as polar opposites, Moglen thinks the two could bond over their opposition to subsidies and tax breaks for the coal and oil industries. That common ground might be a starting point for the beginning of a climate conversation.

“We need to hold the fossil fuels industry accountable,” he said, adding that nobody asked corporations for their help when drafting civil rights legislation in the 1960s. “But we need to hold leaders accountable.”

“(The environmental community) bears responsibility and our leaders bear responsibility for not holding up our end of the bargain.”

Needed: Faster Ship With Bigger Guns

DeChristopher, the Utah activist, said he is encouraged that grassroots groups have finally realized they need to step out of the shadow of large, Washington-centric environmental organizations.

“Watering things down and making allies with corporations that really are enemies hasn’t worked,” he said. “We might as well work for something that will make a difference.”

The Environmental Defense Fund and others in the “Big Green” tent could have garnered support from grassroots groups, he said, if they had thought to admit that they were wrong about how to proceed with climate legislation. But that mea culpa hasn’t come.

The 29-year-old is aware that not everybody is willing to go as far out on a limb as he did in December 2008. He is facing a federal trial and perhaps prison time for disrupting the Bureau of Land Management’s auction of federally owned lands in Utah for oil and gas exploration.

“I’m associated with a certain sort of tactic but this movement needs every type of tactic whether it’s schmoozing with lobbyists or actions on the ground,” DeChristopher said.

He is convinced that citizens will rally around the climate cause if activists demonstrate their commitment to the cause by engaging in acts of civil disobedience.

“Beyond the one-day symbolic actions, the movement hasn’t been heard in a way that rises above the normal hum of politics,” he said. “But more sustained resistance is the activism we’ll see over the next several years.

“Our side will be a lot more willing to go to prison. And we need to escalate things to that level. We don’t need to build a bigger ship, we need a faster one with bigger guns.”

Not One-Click Activism

Though no umbrella group has issued any specifics, DeChristopher said he suspects mountaintop removal surface mining sites and urban areas where coal-fired power plants dirty the air would be prime candidates for protests.

While there’s a sliver of a chance that Congress could choose to grapple with a carbon tax or cap and dividend climate legislation, signs point to the Republicans preferring gridlock.

GOP resistance to engage would serve only to ramp up climate activists’ agenda, DeChristopher said.

“People are ready to be told this battle is not going to be easy,” he emphasized. “This is not one-click activism. We need to stand up and dig out the best in ourselves.”

Even comfortable, rich baby boomers could be motivated to participate, he said, “when they see their kids taking serious risks and see the government waging war against their kids. That wakes those people up.”

Compromise, he said, is not a practical tool when you’re waging a revolution against a country’s power structure because such brokering leads to “small goals and hesitation.”

Smolker, the Vermont activist, is also hopeful that the environmental community loses its “we’ll take whatever we can get” attitude when negotiating the next round of climate legislation.

“I understand that compromise has to occur,” said Smolker, who earned a doctorate in biology. “But if you start with a really weak position on a bill, then you end up with crap. You can’t enter the negotiations whimpering and pandering. You have to come in with a strong position.”

How NGO Bureaucrats and Greenwashed Corporations are Turning Nature Into Investment Capital

The Dead End of Climate Justice

Weekend Edition

January 8 – 10, 2010


On the occasion of its ten-year anniversary, the antiglobalization movement has been brought out of its slumber. This is to be expected, as anniversaries and nostalgia often trump the here and now in political action. What is troublesome, though, is not the celebration of a historical moment but the attempted resurrection of this movement, known by some as the Global Justice Movement, under the banner of Climate Justice.

If only regenerating the zeitgeist of a radical moment was as simple as substituting ‘Climate’ for ‘Global’; if only movements appeared with such eas! In fact, this strategy, pursued to its fullest extent in Copenhagen during the UN COP15 Climate Change Summit, is proving more damaging than useful to those of us who are, and have been for the past decade, actively antagonistic to capitalism and its overarching global structures. Here, we will attempt to illustrate some of the problematic aspects of the troubled rebranding of a praxis particular to a decade past. Namely, we will address the following: the financialization of nature and the indirect reliance on markets and monetary solutions as catalysts for structural change, the obfuscation of internal class antagonisms within states of the Global South in favor of simplistic North-South dichotomies, and the pacification of militant action resulting from an alliance forged with transnational NGOs and reformist environmental groups who have been given minimal access to the halls of power in exchange for their successful policing of the movement.

Many of these problematic aspects of the movement’s rebranding became apparent in Copenhagen during the main, high-profile intellectual event that was organized by Climate Justice Action (CJA) on December 14 . CJA is a new alliance formed among (but of course not limited to) some of the Climate Camp activists from the UK, parts of the Interventionist Left from Germany, non-violent civil disobedience activists from the US and the Negrist Disobbedienti from Italy.

The event, which took place in the "freetown" of Christiania, consisted of the usual suspects: Naomi Klein, Michael Hardt, and CJA spokesperson Tadzio Mueller, and it was MCed by non-violent activist guru Lisa Fithian. In their shared political analysis, all of the speakers emphasized the rebirth of the anti-globalization movement. But an uncomfortable contradiction was overarching: while the speakers sought to underscore the continuity with the decade past, they also presented this summit as different, in that those who came to protest were to be one with a summit of world nations and accredited NGOs, instead of presenting a radical critique and alternative force.

Ecology as Economy and Nature as Investment Capital

"What’s important about the discourse that is so powerful, coming from the Global South right now, about climate debt, is that we know that economic debt is a tool of domination and enforcement. It is how our governments impose their neoliberal capitalist policies around the world, so for the Global South to come to the table and say, ‘Wait a minute, we are the creditors and you are the debtors, you owe us a huge debt’ creates an equalizing dynamic in the negotiations."

Let’s look at this contemporary notion of debt, highlighted by Naomi Klein as the principal avenue of struggle for the emerging climate justice movement. A decade ago, the issue of debt incurred through loans taken out from the IMF and World Bank was an integral part of the antiglobalization movement’s analysis and demand to "Drop the Debt." Now, some of that era’s more prominent organizers and thinkers are presenting something deemed analogous and termed ‘climate debt’. The claim is simple: most of the greenhouse gases have historically been produced by wealthier industrial nations and since those in the Global South will feel most of its devastating environmental effects, those countries that created the problem owe the latter some amount of monetary reparations.

The idea of climate debt, however, poses two large problems.

First, while "Drop the Debt!" was one of the slogans of the antiglobalization movement, the analysis behind it was much more developed. Within the movement everyone recognized debt as a tool of capital for implementing neoliberal structural adjustment programs. Under pressure from piling debt, governments were forced to accept privatization programs and severe austerity regimes that further exposed local economies to the ravages of transnational capital. The idea was that by eliminating this debt, one would not only stop privatization (or at least its primary enabling mechanism) but also open up political space for local social movements to take advantage of. Yet something serious is overlooked in this rhetorical transfer of the concept of debt from the era of globalization to that of climate change. Contemporary demands for reparations justified by the notion of climate debt open a dangerous door to increased green capitalist investment in the Global South. This stands in contrast to the antiglobalization movement’s attempts to limit transnational capital’s advances in these same areas of the world through the elimination of neoliberal debt.

The recent emergence of a highly lucrative market formed around climate, and around carbon in particular cannot be overlooked when we attempt to understand the implications of climate reparations demands. While carbon exchanges are the most blatant form of this emerging green capitalist paradigm, value is being reassigned within many existing commodity markets based on their supposed impact on the climate. Everything from energy to agriculture, from cleaning products to electronics, and especially everything within the biosphere, is being incorporated into this regime of climate markets. One can only imagine the immense possibilities for speculation and financialization in these markets as the green bubble continues to grow.

The foreign aid and investment (i.e. development) that will flow into countries of the Global South as a result of climate debt reparations will have the effect of directly subsidizing those who seek to profit off of and monopolize these emerging climate markets. At the Klimaforum, the alternative forum designed to counter the UN summit, numerous panels presented the material effects that would result from a COP15 agreement. In one session on climate change and agricultural policies in Africa, members of the Africa Biodiversity Network outlined how governments on the continent were enclosing communally owned land, labeling it marginal and selling it to companies under Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) for biofuel cultivation. CDMs were one of the Kyoto Protocol’s arrangements for attracting foreign investment into the Global South under the guise of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. These sorts of green capitalist projects will continue to proliferate across the globe in conjunction with aid given under the logic of climate debt and will help to initiate a new round of capitalist development and accumulation, displacing more people in the Global South and leading to detrimental impacts on ecosystems worldwide.

Second and perhaps more importantly, “Climate Debt” perpetuates a system that assigns economic and financial value to the biosphere, ecosystems and in this case a molecule of CO2 (which, in reductionist science, readily translates into degrees Celsius). “Climate Debt” is indeed an "equalizing dynamic", as it infects relations between the Global North and South with the same logic of commodification that is central to those markets on which carbon is traded upon. In Copenhagen, that speculation on the value of CO2 preoccupied governments, NGOs, corporations and many of the activists organizing the protests. Advertisements for the windmill company Vestas dominated the metro line in Copenhagen leading to the Bella Center. After asserting that the time for action is now, they read "We must find a price for CO2". Everyone from Vestas to the Sudanese government to large NGOs agree on this fundamental principle: that the destruction of nature and its consequences for humans can be remedied through financial markets and trade deals and that monetary value can be assigned to ecosystems. This continued path towards further commodification of nature and climate debt-driven capitalist development runs entirely antithetical to the antiglobalization movement that placed at its heart the conviction that "the world is not for sale!"

The Inside in the Outside

One of the banners and chants that took place during the CJA-organized Reclaim Power demonstration on December 16 was "Whose summit? Our Summit!". This confused paradigm was omnipresent in the first transnational rendezvous of the Climate Justice Movement. Klein depicted her vision of the street movements’ relationship to those in power during her speech in Christiania as follows:

"It’s nothing like Seattle, there are government delegations that are thinking about joining you. If this turns into a riot, it’s gonna be a riot. We know this story. I’m not saying it’s not an interesting story, but it is what it is. It’s only one story. It will turn into that. So I understand the question about how do we take care of each other but I disagree that that means fighting the cops. Never in my life have I ever said that before. [Laughs]. I have never condemned peoples’ tactics. I understand the rage. I don’t do this, I’m doing it now. Because I believe something very, very important is going on, a lot of courage is being shown inside that center. And people need the support."

The concept that those in the streets outside of the summit are supposed to be part of the same political force as the NGOs and governments who have been given a seat at the table of summit negotiations was the main determining factor for the tenor of the actions in Copenhagen. The bureaucratization of the antiglobalization movement (or its remnants), with the increased involvement from NGOs and governments, has been a process that manifested itself in World Social Forums and Make Poverty History rallies. Yet in Copenhagen, NGOs were much more than a distracting sideshow. They formed a constricting force that blunted militant action and softened radical analysis through paternalism and assumed representation of whole continents.

In Copenhagen, the movement was asked by these newly empowered managers of popular resistance to focus solely on supporting actors within the UN framework, primarily leaders of the Global South and NGOs, against others participating in the summit, mainly countries of the Global North. Nothing summarizes this orientation better than the embarrassingly disempowering Greenpeace slogans "Blah Blah Blah, Act Now!" and "Leaders Act!" Addressing politicians rather than ordinary people, the attitude embodied in these slogans is one of relegating the respectable force of almost 100,000 protesters to the role of merely nudging politicians to act in the desired direction, rather than encouraging people to act themselves. This is the logic of lobbying. No display of autonomous, revolutionary potential. Instead, the emphasis is on a mass display of obedient petitioning. One could have just filled out Greenpeace membership forms at home to the same effect.

A big impetus in forging an alliance with NGOs lay in the activists’ undoubtedly genuine desire to be in solidarity with the Global South. But the unfortunate outcome is that a whole hemisphere has been equated with a handful of NGO bureaucrats and allied government leaders who do not necessarily have the same interests as the members of the underclasses in the countries that they claim to represent. In meeting after meeting in Copenhagen where actions were to be planned around the COP15 summit, the presence of NGOs who work in the Global South was equated with the presence of the whole of the Global South itself. Even more disturbing was the fact that most of this rhetoric was advanced by white activists speaking for NGOs, which they posed as speaking on behalf of the Global South.

Klein is correct in this respect: Copenhagen really was nothing like Seattle. The most promising elements of the praxis presented by the antiglobalization movement emphasized the internal class antagonisms within all nation-states and the necessity of building militant resistance to local capitalist elites worldwide. Institutions such as the WTO and trade agreements such as NAFTA were understood as parts of a transnational scheme aimed at freeing local elites and financial capital from the confines of specific nation-states so as to enable a more thorough pillaging of workers and ecosystems across the globe. Ten years ago, resistance to transnational capital went hand in hand with resistance to corrupt governments North and South that were enabling the process of neoliberal globalization. Its important to note that critical voices such as Evo Morales have been added to the chorus of world leaders since then. However, the movement’s current focus on climate negotiations facilitated by the UN is missing a nuanced global class analysis. It instead falls back on a simplistic North-South dichotomy that mistakes working with state and NGO bureaucrats from the Global South for real solidarity with grassroots social movements struggling in the most exploited and oppressed areas of the world.

Enforced Homogeneity of Tactics

Aligning the movement with those working inside the COP15 summit not only had an effect on the politics in the streets but also a serious effect on the tactics of the actions. The relationship of the movement to the summit was one of the main points of discussion about a year ago while Climate Justice Action was being formed. NGOs who were part of the COP15 process argued against taking an oppositional stance towards the summit in its entirety, therefore disqualifying a strategy such as a full shutdown of the summit. The so-called inside/outside strategy arose from this process, and the main action, where people from the inside and the outside would meet in a parking lot outside of the summit for an alternative People’s Assembly, was planned to highlight the supposed political unity of those participating in the COP15 process and those who manifested a radical presence in the streets.

Having made promises to delegates inside the Bella Center on behalf of the movement, Naomi Klein asserted that "Anybody who escalates is not with us," clearly indicating her allegiances. Rather than reentering the debate about the validity of ‘escalating’ tactics in general, arguing whether or not they are appropriate for this situation in particular, or attempting to figure out a way in which different tactics can operate in concert, the movement in Copenhagen was presented with oppressive paternalism disguised as a tactical preference for non-violence.

The antiglobalization movement attempted to surpass the eternal and dichotomizing debate about violence vs. non-violence by recognizing the validity of a diversity of tactics. But in Copenhagen, a move was made on the part of representatives from Climate Justice Action to shut down any discussion of militant tactics, using the excuse of the presence of people (conflated with NGOs) from the Global South. Demonstrators were told that any escalation would put these people in danger and possibly have them banned from traveling back to Europe in the future. With any discussion of confrontational and militant resistance successfully marginalized, the thousands of protesters who arrived in Copenhagen were left with demonstrations dictated by the needs and desires of those participating in and corroborating the summit.

Alongside the accreditation lines that stretched around the summit, UN banners proclaimed "Raise Your Voice," signifying an invitation to participate for those willing to submit to the logic of NGO representation. As we continue to question the significance of NGO involvement and their belief that they are able to influence global decision-making processes, such as the COP15 summit, we must emphasize that these so-called participatory processes are in fact ones of recuperative pacification. In Copenhagen, like never before, this pacification was not only confined to the summit but was successfully extended outward into the demonstrations via movement leaders aligned with NGOs and governments given a seat at the table of negotiations. Those who came to pose a radical alternative to the COP15 in the streets found their energy hijacked by a logic that prioritized attempts to influence the failing summit, leaving street actions uninspired, muffled and constantly waiting for the promised breakthroughs inside the Bella Center that never materialized.

NGO anger mounted when a secondary pass was implemented to enter the summit during the finalfour days, when presidents and prime ministers were due to arrive. Lost in confusion, those demonstrating on the outside were first told that their role was to assist the NGOs on the inside and then were told that they were there to combat the exclusion of the NGOs from the summit. This demand not to be excluded from the summit became the focal politic of the CJA action on December 16. Although termed Reclaim Power, this action actually reinforced the summit, demanding "voices of the excluded to be heard." This demand contradicted the fact that a great section of the Bella Center actually resembled an NGO Green Fair for the majority of the summit. It is clear that exclusionary participation is a structural part of the UN process and while a handful of NGOs were "kicked out" of the summit after signing on to Reclaim Power, NGO participation was primarily limited due to the simple fact that three times as many delegates were registered than the Bella Center could accommodate.

In the end, the display of inside/outside unity that the main action on the 16th attempted to manifest was a complete failure and never materialized. The insistence on strict non-violence prevented any successful attempt on the perimeter fence from the outside while on the inside the majority of the NGO representatives who had planned on joining the People’s Assembly were quickly dissuaded by the threat of arrest. The oppressive insistence by CJA leaders that all energy must be devoted to supporting those on the inside who could successfully influence the outcome of the summit resulted in little to no gains as the talks sputtered into irreconcilable antagonisms and no legally binding agreement at the summit’s close. An important opportunity to launch a militant movement with the potential to challenge the very foundations of global ecological collapse was successfully undermined leaving many demoralized and confused.

Looking Forward: The Real Enemy

As we grapple with these many disturbing trends that have arisen as primary tendencies defining the climate justice movement, we have no intention of further fetishizing the antiglobalization movement and glossing over its many shortcomings. Many of the tendencies we critique here were also apparent at that time. What is important to take away from comparisons between these two historical moments is that those in leadership positions within the contemporary movement that manifested in Copenhagen have learned all the wrong lessons from the past. They have discarded the most promising elements of the antiglobalization struggles: the total rejection of all market and commodity-based solutions, the focus on building grassroots resistance to the capitalist elites of all nation-states, and an understanding that diversity of tactics is a strength of our movements that needs to be encouraged.

The problematic tendencies outlined above led to a disempowering and ineffective mobilization in Copenhagen.Looking back, it is clear that those of us who traveled to the Copenhagen protests made great analytical and tactical mistakes. If climate change and global ecological collapse are indeed the largest threats facing our world today, then the most important front in this struggle must be against green capitalism. Attempting to influence the impotent and stumbling UN COP15 negotiations is a dead end and waste of energy when capital is quickly reorganizing to take advantage of the ‘green revolution’ and use it as a means of sustaining profits and solidifying its hegemony into the future.

Instead of focusing on the clearly bankrupt and stumbling summit happening at the Bella Center, we should have confronted the hyper-green capitalism of Hopenhagen, the massive effort of companies such as Siemens, Coca-Cola, Toyota and Vattenfall to greenwash their image and the other representations of this market ideology within the city center. In the future, our focus must be on destroying this reorganized and rebranded form of capitalism that is successfully manipulating concerns over climate change to continue its uninterrupted exploitation of people and the planet for the sake of accumulation. At our next rendezvous we also need to seriously consider if the NGO/non-profit industrial complex has become a hindrance rather than a contribution to our efforts and thus a parasite that must be neutralized before it can undermine future resistance.

Tim Simons and Ali Tonak can be reached at: anticlimaticgroup