Tag Archives: climate justice

(Climate) Crime and Punishment

Originally published in the Australian Development Review and the Earthsign blog.

Climate change is worsening devastating droughts across East Africa (photo by Save the Children)

“…carbon polluters shouldn’t just be taxed they should be jailed.”– Martin O’Malley, state secretary of the SA branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, March 2011

Last year in Bolivia, a climate change conference was held that attracted over 30,000 people from 142 countries.

As part of this conference, 17 working groups were formed to discuss different aspects of the global climate crisis. These working groups were open to all and decisions were made by consensus. It was a far cry from the disastrous closed shop of the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen six months before and those in Cancun six months after.

One of the most interesting ideas of the Cochabamba conference was discussed by Working Group Five – the idea that an International Climate Justice Tribunal be established. After several days of tough and heated deliberations, they came out with a number of conclusions and this statement:

“The International Tribunal of Climate and Environmental Justice should have the authority to judge, civilly and criminally, states, multilateral organizations, transnational corporations, and any legal persons responsible for aggravating the causes and impacts of climate change and environmental destruction against Mother Earth. Claims may be made by all peoples, nations, nationalities, states, individuals, or corporations who have been affected, without having exhausted national remedies.”
Final Conclusions, 30 April 2010.

The Bolivian Government, as promised, has since lodged this proposal at the UN where of course it is being ignored by most governments who would face prosecution under such a body.

However, the idea is a popular one – at least in Canada where the Council of Canadians tested it via a national poll of 1000 people in October and November 2010. They found that:

77% of Canadians strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement: “There should be a World Climate and Justice Tribunal to judge and penalize countries and corporations whose actions have contributed to climate change and damaged the environment.”

It is not surprising this position attracted strong support. A court to try governments, corporations and individuals for climate crimes is a fantastic idea. The Global Humanitarian Forum in a 2009 report estimated that “every year climate change leaves over 300,000 people dead, 325 million people seriously affected, and economic losses of US$125 billion”. This was in 2009, and the toll is growing every year.

The people who are fighting to prevent action on climate change must be held accountable for the deaths and impoverishment that occur as a result of their actions. There are, however, many questions about how prosecuting climate criminals might work in practice.

I’m no lawyer but I figure a successful prosecution would rest on firstly establishing beyond reasonable doubt that human emissions are causing global warming and associated impacts, and secondly establishing that the person or government or corporation on trial was willingly undertaking actions (to be defined) that make climate change worse. The first point is already done and could be a founding principle as part of the tribunal’s establishment, or potentially you could set precedence in the first trial.

Resolving the second point would open up a big can of worms. Here in Australia there would be some pretty simple open-and-shut cases as well as some more complicated ones. Executives from fossil fuel corporations and their lobbyists in industry bodies and lobbying firms would be the most basic cases. These are people who are fighting appropriate action on climate change due to their greed. They should be in jail.

Climate change deniers who push their lies about the climate science and spread misinformation and doubt in order to stop or delay climate action would seem to be a simple case. However, which deniers should be held liable? Those who are in positions of power and authority? Those who are most active giving talks and commenting in the media? This is a very dangerous area as people are allowed to think what they like – free speech is valued in our society and rightly so. Dealing with climate change denial is probably best done not through the tribunal but by democratising and diversifying the media and splitting up the very few large corporations that control the newspapers and airwaves. Most climate change denial is given oxygen by companies like Newscorp, which have political agendas in line with the fossil fuel corporations and aren’t afraid to compromise their integrity in order to push them.

Then we come to politicians. This is where it gets really complicated. For example, Julia Gillard is currently trying to get a carbon price through the Federal Parliament. While the policy she favours is practically useless, you cannot argue that it is making climate change worse. However, at the same time her government supports (and is funding) a massive expansion in Australian coal and gas exports as well as new coal and gas-fired power stations. These actions will greatly increase emissions even with the implementation of a carbon price. Does one action balance the other? Or should the fact that emissions and coal exports keep rising be enough to condemn someone like Gillard?

The climate crisis is big and complex and we are all part of the problem as consumers of fossil fuels and products made from industrialised agriculture. However, there is a difference between passively accepting the injustices of the world and actively perpetrating them (although both are a problem).

History is littered with examples of justice denied and more often than not, those who perpetrate crimes against humanity are not held accountable (in fact, many retain their positions of wealth and power). In rare cases, justice does triumph and the small probability that a climate justice tribunal will be founded in the near future should not stop us from trying to have it formed. The climate crisis is already resulting in deaths here and overseas and is set to get much worse as the planet continues to heat up. A debate, both within Australia and globally, is urgently needed to determine whether actively worsening this crisis is a crime against humanity and how those responsible should be held accountable.

If anyone (especially lawyers!) is interested in exploring this further, please contact me on pablo@ycan.org.au.

By Pablo Brait

An urgent message from Bolivia

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Steve and Naomi from Rising Tide reporting from Bolivia

Some countries around the world are feeling the effects of climate change more than others, yet most of us are unaware of these struggles. Australia is doing relatively well coping with the current effects of climate change for now, at least compared to some low lying island nations or communities reliant on the melt waters from glaciers.

This was made amazingly clear at the Bolivian hosted World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, April 2010. Throughout the conference, people spoke about losing human rights due to water shortages. Glacier-fed drinking water disappearing as global warming melts the snowy peaks away.

We learned that one of the glaciers in the Andes mountain chain, Chacaltaya was once a popular ski field, but has completely disappeared, years earlier than scientists predicted. And according to these same scientists, in the next 20-30 years most of the glaciers right across the Andes will go, affecting access to water for 70 million people.

One woman was very direct when talking us. “What can we do to stop this?

We considered Australia’s contribution to these climate problems. In Australia, we mine and burn coal as our number one energy source. We have some of the world’s largest per person carbon emissions due to our dirty energy supply. Even this seems insignificant compared to the coal we mine and export, releasing more CO2 than all of our domestic emissions combined.

Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter, and state and federal governments are planning to expand this deadly industry, building roads and railways so we can send the coal to the ports faster, and pushing for new mines to be opened. That is, unless we stop them.

After a little scratching of our heads we turned back to the woman, “We could paint a banner with a glacier-fed community that reads, Please Stop Mining Coal, Climate Change is Taking Our Water”.

There was no going back now. This woman’s question set us on a path high into the Andes Mountains in search of an appropriate community. We found ourselves in the meeting room of local NGO Aqua Sustentable (Water Sustainability) explaining our odd sounding idea to strangers we hoped could help us in our quest to share this message with Australians back home.

Our enthusiasm caught on and days later we took off further up the mountains with their team. Within three hours we arrived at the Khapi community, passing seemingly endless fields of fresh growing food along the way. We learned the Khapi community is made up of about 40 families, all working together to grow their food, live in mud brick homes and use the glacier-fed water supply that literally flows right past their houses.

Upon arriving at the community, we were greeted by 30 smiling faces at the primary school. To begin, we gave a short presentation about Australia (and our world famous kangaroos) the coal industry, renewable alternatives and our climate change work back home. We spoke in English, another woman translated into Spanish, and then another young man spoke in the local Aymara language. Luckily, the photographs projected up onto the wall told most of the story.

It wasn’t a fun story to tell. Photos from near our home in the Hunter Valley NSW, showed open cut coal mining. Tiny spots in the dark hole were revealed to be enormous trucks hauling tones upon tones of coal. Huge smoke stacks spewing dark clouds of pollution. The more we told the story, the more the reality of what is going on really hit us.

The children seemed glued to the slides, including the photos of Australian banners. When we explained our banner idea they all cheered with excitement. They now had a chance to paint their own.

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The kids loved it. We were very impressed with the way they concentrated to make the banner the best it could be. They were obviously very proud of their hard work, parading the banner around the community above their heads, laughing and carrying on.

They soon reached a special lookout where we could see the towering glacier in all its glory. Illimani.

After the laughter and joy we shared with the kids, it was sobering to hear the words of community leader Severino Cortez Bilbao. “Recently we’ve started thinking about our Illimani. Before it was pure white, right down to there. In the last 5 or 6 years it’s suffered badly, it’s all black. Some people don’t think about it, but we are thinking about it, we’re thinking about our children, those who will come after, because we’re already getting on, we may not see what happens later on. If Illimani dries up, there’ll be no water and no life, no life.

This experience turned out to be far more than a banner painting exercise. It was life changing. We knew a little of warming events in mountainous regions of the world, but it was something else to visit a community where their glacier and water supply is disappearing before their eyes.

The challenge to support climate affected communities and to encourage action against climate change and coal mining is a large one, but the smiles of those children with the most to loose will stick with us for a while yet.

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Cochabamba Diary Day 4 – Earth Day

This is the final post from Pablo and Taegen at the Cochabamba conference. Many thanks to them for their thorough updates from this globally important event. They will be back May 2 or 3 but are now heading to the jungle for some r & r.

The People’s Agreement

The conference wound up today on the fortieth anniversary of the first Earth Day. It ended with an epic closing ceremony at the Cochabamba Stadium which lasted around five hours (we were smart enough to show up only for the last two) and featured music and speeches, including one from the show-stealing President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.

Most importantly, the final document to have come out of the summit, the People’s Agreement was presented and accepted. This document represents the work of thousands of people and the synthesis of the conclusions from the 17 working groups we discussed yesterday. The Bolivian Government is now trying to put this agreement on the agenda at the UN Cancun conference in December to allow governments to see and discuss the position of global social movements on the climate crisis.

Some of the points from this document that we left out in yesterday’s summary of the 17 working groups are:
• A call for emissions cuts of Annex 1 (developed) countries of 50% by 2020 on 1990 levels, without the use of any offsets or international carbon markets.
• A recognition of climate refugees and a call for developed countries to take responsibility for them and grant them refugee status in their countries under a special climate refugee category.
• A call for a fund made up of 6% of developed countries’ gross domestic product (GDP) to unconditionally pay back the climate debt to countries already facing severe climate impacts.
• A rejection of free trade agreements which have put the rights of profit-seeking corporations above the rights of people and nature.
• A call for an end to the logging of forests and the urgent re-vegetation of lands. A rejection of the definition within the UN Climate Change Convention of tree plantations as forests and a rejection of the REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) scheme, which rich countries are using to avoid emissions reductions at home and is causing the further theft of indigenous people’s lands.

This agreement must be taken seriously by any government that considers itself democratic. Unlike most past climate agreements and most national climate policies, including those of the Rudd Government, this is a truly democratic document that doesn’t have the dirty fingerprints of greedy corporations all over it. It is an expression of a democratic and deliberative process and represents the views of people, many of whom are facing a very real threat to their own survival.

$2.5 million incentive for the USA?

Shows of defiance against the United States and el imperialismo yanqui, are a dime a dozen in South America and there were many to be found at this conference. Our highlight was an announcement by the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño, at the government/social movements dialogue held this morning (a meeting between representatives of government and grassroots organisations). He explained that the USA had withdrawn $2.5 million of aid funding, because Ecuador refused to sign the pathetic Copenhagen Accord (which was negotiated by the USA and only a few other countries in secret during the Copenhagen talks). In reply, Ecuador has offered the Obama Administration $2.5 million if the USA ratifies the Kyoto Protocol. We hope the price is right!

Six critical differences between climate change discourse and debate at the Cochabamba conference and in Australia

As Aussies attending this conference perhaps the most critical question, and something we have been conscious of throughout the whole event is: How does any of this relate to what is happening in the climate movement/debate in Australia?

We have come up with 6 critical differences between what we have heard and seen of the climate change debate here in Bolivia throughout the course of this conference and what we know of the situation in Australia:

1. Structural causes.
In Australia, there is no serious debate about the structural causes of climate change. Analysis of systemic reasons for our high levels of pollution is decidedly absent or marginal and there is an unspoken (and unproven) implication that we can deal with climate change simply by putting a price on carbon and going on consuming, growing, exporting fossil fuels and so on. Anyone who bothers to look at the big picture quickly understands that something does not add up, but the majority of people just avert their eyes.

At this conference we have heard over and over that the capitalist system and mentality is to blame for climate change and is incompatible with averting climate catastrophe. From Evo´s grandstanding at official plenaries, to the conclusions of the working groups, to the most informal of conversations with participants from different South American delegations, we have heard the mantra – we must choose capitalism or our Earth. Without launching into an assessment of the accuracy of this analysis here, we cannot help but notice how much this discourse jars with what is being discussed in Australia. For the majority of Australians, capitalism is not necessarily a system they are conscious of participating in – it is synonymous with ´just the way things are´. It is not a system widely scrutinised or questioned, let alone vehemently opposed and presented as the ultimate culprit as it is here.

2. A moral leg to stand on.
We, in Australia, are part of the rich, industrialised world. As the world’s highest per capita emitter, we are quite clearly the bad guys and this gives us, as citizens and as a country, a very different perspective from the host country, Bolivia, and many of the other countries most strongly represented here. In Australia, when explaining the impacts of climate change at a global level, there is inevitably some statement about how it is those who live in the poorest nations that are most screwed and (depending on the audience) a cloud of guilt and abstract sympathy inevitably descends. In contrast, the mood at this conference has been very much one of ´we are the victims here and others are to blame´.

3. Agency.
Going beyond the point about who’s got the moral upper hand, there is also the related question of who’s got any power to actually affect climate change and the climate negotiations. When you consider where this conference fits into the grand scheme of things – multi-lateral climate negotiations, the UN process and who inevitably called the shots in Copenhagen, you have to ask what options Bolivia has to influence their own climate future.

In Australia, we are much larger emitters and are the biggest coal exporters in the world. What we do and say matters a lot more in a geopolitical and climate sense than what Bolivia does.

4. Respect for indigenous values.
In Australia, we have no concept of indigenous values and lifestyles as presenting any real alternative to our current lifestyles. This conference has been marked by the presence of indigenous peoples from around the world and none more strongly represented than indigenous peoples from all over Bolivia, young and old alike. You could not turn your head here at this conference without seeing a colourful mish-mash of traditional costumes. Here, the idea of revaluing indigenous knowledge and models for living in harmony with nature is not an abstract concept – it is central to finding an alternative to the destructive capitalist model and considered part of the real solution to climate change.

5. Ideology of the climate movement
In Australia our movement is ideologically broad and, while it does lean to the left, there are representatives from most points on the ideological spectrum taking action on climate change and calling for government action. This may be a product of our lack of analysis of the structural causes of climate change, mentioned in point 1, or it may be because the science clearly shows that the climate crisis poses a threat to all people: rich, poor, right-wing or left-wing. It may be a combination of both.

In Bolivia, it seems that the Right is missing from the climate movement. From the rhetoric at the summit, climate change has been incorporated into the series of threats to human life that the Left attributes to capitalism. There were no defenders of market-based mechanisms or sustainable capitalism at the conference. This may be because the Right is very small compared to Australia, or it may be that the Right here just isn’t thinking about the climate crisis at all.

6. No Deniers
During our five weeks of travel in South America before the conference and during, we did not see one single media report or have a conversation with anyone who took a denialist position on climate change. The plague of climate change deniers we have in Australia seems to be totally non-existent here and acceptance of the overwhelming scientific evidence is widespread.

I did but see her passing by…

At an after-party, attended by mainly gringo activists, held at the office of the Democracy Centre, we were very excited to see the activist, author and all-round hero Naomi Klein (No Logo, The Shock Doctrine) walk in. Unfortunately we were too gutless to go talk to her.

And a quick thanks

Finally we want to say a big thankyou! to our hosts here in Cochabamba, Manuel and Erin, and also to the Bolivian people for getting behind this conference in a big way. While from an organizational point of view it left a little to be desired, the interest shown by the detailed media coverage and the massive turn-out was very encouraging.

Copenhagen analysis

YCAN brings you the best analysis and reactions of the dismal Copenhagen summit failure.

Press conference with Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein

AYCC Video

Millions march for strong climate action

Photo: The Age

Millions of people in around 50 countries have marched this weekend to demand a strong, fair and binding deal at the Copenhagen climate talks.

Around 100,000 protested in Copenhagen itself, while Melbourne had the biggest rally in Australia with police estimates putting the crowd at a massive 40,000 people. The Walk Against Warming, which took place in every Australian capital and many regional centres, showed once again that many Australians are deeply worried about what the climate crisis means for them and their children, and that they are prepared to take to the streets to express this.

Meanwhile the Copenhagen negotiations continue to stall, as the rich countries refuse to accept deep emissions cuts (without being able to buy dodgy offsets to buy their way out of it), and the economically poor countries continue to hold out by refusing to take on binding emissions reduction targets.

Photo: Takver

The talks will continue until Friday.

For ABC news coverage of the Walk click here.

For more photos click here and/or here.

Kevin Rudd takes a bath in “clean coal” Photo: Peter Campbell

See the video below of Leah, Tuvalu-born Australian speaking at the Walk:


Climate Justice Fast! Day 10

I arrive early in the morning and help them set up their marquee on the lawn in front of Parliament House in Canberra. They are not in their usual position today because the lawn will be used to host a barbecue for the former wards of the state after their official apology from the Federal Government and the last thing they want is to be able to smell the food.

All three of the people I’m visiting, Paul, Marcella and Michael are in good spirits even though they have eaten nothing and have drunk only water for the last nine days. As we settle down under their marquee, I get the official business out of the way by letting them know that I am here not only representing myself, but my local climate action group, Yarra Climate Action Now, and that they have our admiration, respect and gratitude.

These three people on hunger strike outside Parliament House are one component of Climate Justice Fast – an international hunger strike for climate justice and for urgent and science-based actions to prevent catastrophic global warming. There are around 100 people around the world taking part in fasts of varying length as part of this action, with numbers growing day by day. Eight of these people, including Paul and Michael here in Canberra are doing the “full” fast, which is indefinite and will probably go until after the Copenhagen negotiations finish – a total of six weeks without food!

The key messages of the fast are that in line with the most robust and up to date climate science, world leaders need to agree to cut emissions and draw-down carbon from the atmosphere in order to get below 350 parts per million (ppm) carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere (currently at around 387ppm and the Rudd Government target is a suicidal 450ppm), and that the rich world must pay the poor world US$160 billion per year to help them cut emissions and adapt to the impacts already being felt.

Paul, 29, from Melbourne and the main organiser of the huger strike said, “We feel that it is our duty to do everything possible to prevent the world’s poorest people and our very own children from suffering at the hands of a problem which they did not create.”

Marcella, 31 and also from Melbourne adds, “we may be suffering by not eating. However, our suffering is voluntary. The victims of the Victorian bushfires and heatwaves last summer died because of the terrible conditions caused in part by our climate changing. Climate change is already causing immense suffering and we can’t stand by and let it get worse.”

We lie under the marquee, it is a 36 degree day and it’s getting hot. Every now and then someone drops in to say hello and have a chat, most are very supportive and Marcella invites them to write in their guest book. At times the conversation is so normal that I forget the immense effort and sacrifice these three people are making. When I remember that they haven’t eaten for almost ten days it feels a little surreal.

I chat to Michael, from Sydney and 61 years old, about renewable energy and carbon sequestration. We eventually get onto the topic of his fast. He tells me that the doctors who examine them regularly say he will most likely end up in hospital. He doesn’t seem too worried about this. For him, the fast is a way to show the Australian public how urgent and serious the climate crisis is. It is also about morality. “We are using our own bodies to expose the moral bankruptcy of our leaders”, he says.

The day ends on an exciting note. The Run for a Safe Climate is passing through Canberra today. They are about half-way through their run from Cooktown to Melbourne via Adelaide, and the 25 runners have run around 20km in the searing heat. I watch as the fasters and the runners, made up of police officers, fire fighters, SES workers and paramedics, chat – the parallels between their actions become obvious as they talk about their experiences.

There are several politicians there to welcome the runners. After the official welcome Paul and Marcella have a chat with Greens Senators Bob Brown and Christine Milne. There is mutual admiration amongst all concerned and I take great pleasure in being able to get some video footage of the chat before a policeman informs me I am not allowed to film because I’m not authorised. As soon as he leaves I pull out the camera again until stopped by another policeman.

Marcella tries to approach Senator Penny Wong, but she makes a run for it as soon as she sees her “Climate Justice Fast!” t-shirt. I wonder out loud why she even bothers to turn up at climate change events considering how woefully her government is dealing with the crisis. Does she have no shame?

Late in the evening we say our goodbyes. As I have my first morsel of food for over 24 hours and get on the bus back to Melbourne the next morning, I think about them once again setting up on the Parliament House lawn and settling in for another day without food. I think about the humble manner by which they are going about their extraordinary action and I hope they are able to get the coverage for the cause that they are aiming for. I also hope they don’t feel alone and isolated in a world that can sometimes seem impervious to acts of sanity like this one.

As the bus leaves Canberra behind my mind settles on one of the entries in their guestbook, written by a year seven student who dropped in to the marquee with his mother. It said, “You are doing a good thing. I wish there were more of you”.

More videos available here.

Rudd unmasked by Africans

The climate change talks in Barcelona have just wound up. These are the last round of talks before the Copenhagen summit starts in four weeks.

The refusal of the developed countries like Australia to commit to the necessary reductions in global warming pollution resulted in a walk-out by the African delegation, with Kevin Rudd and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown specifically targetted for their hypocrisy. The African delegation accused Kevin Rudd of promising a lot on climate but not delivering real action.

“Tell me of any politician who delivered on his political manifesto. Was it Gordon Brown? Was it Kevin Rudd?”, key African negotiator Lumumba Di-Aping said.

The Africans want the rich world to cut emissions by at least 40% by 2020 on 1990 levels, while Kevin Rudd is offering 5-25% – which would be a death sentence for millions of Africans if adopted globally.

Ironically it now seems that China, India, Brazil and Mexico are on track to reduce their emissions by 25% by 2020 on 1990 levels, according to new reasearch, which puts them well ahead of countries like Australia, the USA and Europe.

Awesome August Events

There are a few events coming up this month that you can’t miss!!

Trivia Night Fundraiser

What dinosaur has eight chimneys, eats coal and suffers from terrible gas?

With live music, stand-up comedy, great questions, food and drink.

This is a fun night for all to raise money for the upcoming Hazelwood Power Station protest.

Details: Saturday August 15, 7pm-10pm – Northcote High School, 25 St Georges Road, Northcote.
Price (including light dinner) Table of 8, $120 Individual $20/$15 concession

Book online at www.trybooking.com/BJB
Tickets also available on the night unless sold out.


The Big Melt Tour

Come and hear the world-record holder for the fastest climb of Mt Everest talk about the effects of climate change in the ‘roof of the world’.

See www.thebigmelt.org

Hear Pemba Dorje Sherpa, holder of the world record for the fastest climb of Mount Everest, talk about his experience of global warming in the Himalayas. He is joined by environmental lawyer and activist Prakash Sharma, Pro Public Nepal.

Global warming is already having a big impact on Mount Everest and the Himalayas. Glaciers are melting creating floods and danger for the local people. But the big melt also means a big dry as these ‘water towers’ of Asia lose their capacity to provide water to the giant rivers in the summer months. Eventually rivers like the Ganges in India and the Yellow River in China will lose their dry season flow and the billion people in these river basins will lose their water security.

Details of Public Meeting 6.30 PM – 8.00 PM
Monday, August 17, 2009 Village Roadshow Theatrette
State Library of Victoria
328 Swanston St
(Use Entry 3, La Trobe Street)

Clifton Hill Community Sustainability Meeting
…featuring comedian Rod Quantock on the climate science

We are a group of Clifton Hill residents – not experts – with the shared aim of helping each other to live more sustainably and encouraging action that avoids runaway climate change.

Perhaps you share our concern but find the issues frighteningly large and complex and are unsure of what you can do that will make a difference.

You may be asking yourself…

• Where can I find reliable up-to-date climate change
information?

• What can I do to reduce the likelihood of dangerous
climate change?

• What can I do to reduce the environmental impact of
my lifestyle?

• Will it help if I change my diet or grow some of my own
food?

• If I installed water tanks and solar panels how much
would it help and what will it cost?

If you are interested in any of the above issues, this meeting is for you.

There will be displays with handouts and people with particular expertise to talk to.

For information contact: Doug Evans at dg.evans -at- bigpond.com

Featuring Rod Quantock, Yarra Climate Action Now, Beyond Zero Emissions, The Environment Shop, the Ethical Consumption Group and other local groups.

Details: Sunday, 23 August 2009, 2:30 – 4:30pm
St. Mark’s Church, 100 Hodgkinson St, Clifton Hill

YCAN joins the Climate Justice Now network

Yarra Climate Action Now has recently joined the Climate Justice Now (CJN) network. The network was formed at the Bali climate negotiations in December 2007, and now has hundreds of organisational members from across the globe. It is led and coordinated by climate action groups and others in the developing world.

Climate Justice is based on the understanding that, while climate change requires global action, the historical responsibility for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions over the past 250 years lies with the developed countries like Australia. Cheap energy – in the form of oil, coal and gas – has been the engine of our rapid industrialisation and economic growth.

It is also the poorest communities that will face the worst impacts of climate change, and face them sooner than others. Climate Justice Now works to expose the false solutions to the climate emergency such as forest carbon markets, offsetting and agrofuels and pushes for solutions that will work, including:

  • leaving fossil fuels in the ground and investing instead in appropriate energy-efficiency and safe, clean and community-led renewable energy;
  • radically reducing wasteful consumption, first and foremost in the developed world, but also by developing world elites;
  • huge financial transfers from rich to poor countries, based on the repayment of climate debts and subject to democratic control. The costs of adaptation and mitigation should be paid for by redirecting military budgets, innovative taxes and debt cancellation;
  • rights-based resource conservation that enforces Indigenous land rights and promotes peoples’ sovereignty over energy, forests, land and water; and
  • sustainable family farming and peoples’ food sovereignty.

Yarra Climate Action Now has joined this network to show solidarity with those that are already bearing the brunt of climate change impacts, and to increase the pressure on the governments of the developed countries such as Australia, USA, Japan and Canada so they stop delaying and sabotaging a strong international agreement to reduce emissions and avoid runaway climate change.

If you would like to join the network, visit this website.