News from 350.org
Mundra a small town in the state of Gujarat, India was well-known for salt and spice trading in the past. Now the town stands as an ironic example of inequality and injustice. While the Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (CGPL), Tata Power’s wholly-owned subsidiary, claims TATA Mundra to be India’s most efficient and clean thermal power plant, the people in Mundra narrate a different story. Since its inception, the plant has met stiff resistance by local communities and environment groups worldwide. The project proponents and government did their best to hide these protests and continued to project TATA Mundra as a proud achievement for India.
However the recent internal investigation by International Finance Corporation's(IFC) Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) into the controversial Tata Mundra project found widespread environmental and policy violations. Notwithstanding this, the report also mentioned serious violations of mandatory safeguards. The report brought with it fresh hope for people of Mundra and for those fighting for environmental justice. Little did they know the World Bank would not just ignore CAO’s hint to stop funding TATA Mundra, it would instead try its best to prove these aspects of the report as irrelevant.
World Bank president Dr Jim Kim’s decision to defend IFC’s support to the project and to sweep the report under the rug is not acceptable. As the head of one of the biggest financial institution Dr Kim needs to answer people of Mundra about his decision support the TATA Mundra power plant. Soon after the release of the report many groups wrote to Dr Kim seeking justification for his inaction. So far all we have received is silence. It is time that we gather more support for voices from Mundra.
Last year World Bank started an innovative way to interact with Dr Kim. They encouraged the general public to ask their questions regarding World Bank’s policies directly and he answered selected questions via a video recording. So it is time we asked Dr Kim the much needed questions about World Bank’s position on TATA Mundra. To challenge World Bank’s stand, all it would take is a simple tweet! We are trying to mobilize people around the world to use World Bank’s existing online platform and ask Dr Kim to stop financing destruction in Mundra.
So on 5th December 2013, lets ask Dr Kim about TATA Mundra and see if he is willing to answer us. Send in your Tweets at #AskJimKim and let him know you are someone who is standing up for the communities in Mundra.
Visit 350.org/askjimkim to show your support for people of Mundra.
In case you haven't caught up with the news from Down Under, there's a new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, trying to run Australia. Since taking power, Abbott and his Government have demolished any sense of sensible climate policy. They've decommissioned the Climate Commission and are routing the carbon price (amongst other things), which they are replacing with a weak policy called 'Direct Action.' In a recent survey, 32 out of 35 renowned Australian economists said that the Direct Action policy is both economically and environmentally inferior to the existing carbon price. The policy does not guarantee any emission reductions.
The only thing going for the Direct Action policy is its name -- because Mr Abbott, we wholeheartedly agree that it is time to take direct action to solve climate change. We're glad that you have legitimised the term. We're also now going to take this opportunity to show you the type of direct action that is required to genuinely reduce Australia's emissions.
That's why, tonight, as part of the launch of 'Summer Heat Australia’, the faces and names of hundreds of community members who have pledged to stand up to the fossil fuel industry were projected onto the side of the Minerals Council of Australia building in Canberra (which recently engulfed the Australia Coal Association).
Summer Heat campaign coordinator Josh Creaser said that the action was designed to tell the industry that even if Tony Abbott refused to take climate change seriously and halt these dangerous plans, the Australian community will.
“With the Abbott Government failing to lead on climate change, the community has decided to take real Direct Action. As the temperature rises over Summer, people from communities across Australia will be stepping up campaigns to target the industry and stop their radical plans.”
This isn’t a movement of radical activists. It is mothers and fathers, grandparents, church leaders, lawyers, teachers, nurses and students. This is a community standing up to an industry that is threatening our future.
“Australia has seen brutal summer heat in recent years; now it's time to turn up the heat on those responsible -- the out-of-control fossil fuel industry”, said 350.org Co-founder Bill McKibben from the US.
Fossil fuel companies currently have plans to double Australia’s coal and gas exports. Mines such as those proposed in the Galilee Basin would be the largest in the country and some of the largest in the world. These dramatic and dangerous plans would lead to more pollution, higher sea levels and more extreme weather events such as the recent bushfires in New South Wales and typhoon in the Philippines.
Summer heat is a national campaign of community members from around the country stepping up to the fossil fuel industry to say enough is enough, it’s time to act on climate change and end our dependence on fossil fuels.
“Today is just the start.” Creaser said. “We will keep campaigning until these plans are stopped project by project and until this industry realises that they cannot continue to expand if we are to survive.”
For more information about The Summer Heat campaign: http://joinsummerheat.org
An update from Leon Dulce and the 350 Pilipinas / Power Shift Pilipinas team
I just came home from a national relief caravan last November 21 to 25 organized by the Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan (Cooperation for the People) or BALSA, of which Brigada Kalikasan is a part of. It was a remarkable and massive undertaking of various sectors and social movements, including peasant federations, trade unions, environmental advocates, political activists and even survivors from Typhoon Bopha, where we saw the mobilization of 600 volunteers from across the country travelling into the remote, least-served communities affected by Haiyan to deliver relief, services and solidarity.
Through the various efforts under BALSA, we were able to deliver food relief, psycho-social therapy and medical services to over 27,000 least-served families in the Leyte and Samar provinces! Despite the caravan’s long and hard travel across land and sea, it felt truly amazing to have touched the lives of our fellow countrymen, especially as they shared to us that they have not yet received aid from government two weeks after Haiyan ravaged their community.
This would not have been possible if not for those who quickly responded to our call for donations from Brigada Kalikasan’s networks and especially from the 350.org international community. As of November 26, we have already raised over ten thousand dollars (US$10,359.92) and several tons of relief goods, some of which we have contributed to the BALSA national relief caravan and other relief missions we supported in the Leyte, Samar and Panay island regions.
We encourage everyone to sustain the donation drive through the Brigada Kalikasan web portal as we prepare for the next national relief caravan this December, and as we move to the phase of infrastructure rehabilitation, livelihood recovery and climate change adaptation. Follow the website as well for calls for volunteers.
From solidarity to justice in the face of criminal negligence
Indeed, beyond delivering relief, we also brought the warm solidarity we shared in the various vigils held across the world. But the real, desperate needs of Haiyan survivors are very apparent and in need of continuing support. What our social movements are reaching is just a fraction of the entirety devastated by Haiyan: as of November 27, the government’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that a total of 2.1 million families (or 9.9 million individuals) were affected and estimated damages of up to P24.5 billion across 44 provinces in the 9 affected regions. Power lines are still out, and water, food and communication are still severely limited in the majority of the affected areas. Most schools, hospitals and other public service institutions have virtually come to a standstill.
We personally witnessed tent and candle towns rising above the debris amidst persisting rainfall. Fisher folks lost all their boats and other implements to the storm surges, while farmers can only stare at the hectares upon hectares of uprooted coconut trees and flooded rice fields. This plight is expected to continue months or even years after Haiyan’s landfall, largely due to what the growing public opinion is calling the “criminal negligence” of the administration of President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III before, during and after Haiyan’s extreme climate episode.
In a position paper released last week, the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment succinctly captured the Philippines’ disaster and climate crisis in the following statement:
“This has been the story of BS Aquino's governance for the past three years: year in and out, hundreds of billions of pesos in damages to infrastructure and livelihood, thousands of lives are lost and millions are adversely affected as politicians from the local governments up to the President himself continue to coddle environmentally destructive projects, pilfer public coffers, and condemn their constituents to chronic poverty and its consequent vulnerability.”
The Filipino public is fast realizing the need to claim justice from the government’s lack of both immediate and long-term responses to the country’s disaster and climate crisis. In the National Capital Region, families, friends and supporters of Haiyan survivors have initiated the Tindog Network (‘Tindog’ is ‘Rise Up’ in the local Waray language in Eastern Visayas) to demand from the government for faster relief and rescue, decent burial for the dead, adequate supply of basic needs, livelihood assistance and financial assistance and just compensation for the survivors.
The people have begun to connect the dots between Typhoon Haiyan and the need for climate justice. We hope for everyone’s continued support as we plan to tie together the massive disaster response efforts and the growing climate justice movements through the coming Power Shift PH campaigns in the first quarter of 2014.
Engaging with Thai youth and hearing their reflections (through our translators) during Thailand Power Shift, made me realize how powerful the space we have created through Power Shift is. It provided an avenue for young people to build connections, discover their potential, learn from each other, and be inspired to take action back in their community.
Imagine a continuous wave of Power Shifts in different parts of the world holding the same powerful space of young people taking leadership and engaging in activism. How powerful could it become?
Envision a hundred more like Siripaporn Chuensri, who just like her have learned to conquer their fear of speaking up. She said, “…after this training I am able to tell my story and speak in front of you. I realize that my voice matters and it has the power to unite people and change the world.”
Or how about a thousand more community youth leaders building new connections and support like Arthit Pilaboot (Champ), who said: “I thought the youth in the cities does not care about issues we face in our rural communities. But after the 3 days of being together, I learned that we care the same. I hope this kind of connection continues beyond this training.”
In the Southeast Asia Region, Power Shift Vietnam had also just concluded. There, my colleague Hoang Hong boldly launched several actions engaging Vietnamese youth in creative climate actions. It recruited roughly 600 volunteers during their climate leadership workshop dubbed “I AM A CLIMATE CITIZEN!” and the climate concert “NONG” (which means “HOT”) – an activity that raised consciousness about coal and climate change.
In the next two weeks, Power Shift Malaysia will be bringing together 200 young and passionate climate leaders aged 18 to 30 from all over their state provinces under the theme “YOU’VE GOT THE POWER!”. According to Adrian Yeo, our ever-dynamic organizer and team leader in Malaysia, “…we aim to build a movement conscious and aware of the interconnected issues of climate, environment and social justice and that it be given the level of attention it deserves by government with the appropriate sense of urgency.”
This is where grassroots organizing and mobilization is building up strength and taking on the fight against the fossil fuel industry. We’re done with the 19 years of climate negotiations who cannot take a bold stand for our generation and the generations to come.
Our decentralized but organized climate mobilization in different parts of the world will define leadership – where real people fight for real action and real solutions to address the climate crisis. This is where the casualties of the deadly typhoon Haiyan will claim justice. Let us scale up our movement as we continue to raise consciousness, organize communities, and mobilize campaigns to shift power!
Map of Eastern Visayas
Meggie, one of the volunteers at 350 Pilipinas traveling in the areas impacted by Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda, follows up to the first report back with the following two updates.
We are still reeling from the devastation that we saw in Eastern Visayas and got caught up with the relief drive when we got back. We will be sending the first wave of relief goods tomorrow so everyone is busy taking care of the logistics but we are all set now. We drafted a short account of what we saw during our trip to the Yolanda-impacted areas.
There is little or no building left standing in the towns we came across leading up to Tacloban City, which is a virtual no man’s land. We saw an evacuation center made of concrete that wasn’t spared by the devastating gusts and storm surges. It collapsed and killed 13 people that sought refuge in it, including small children. Typhoon Haiyan uprooted or damaged all sources of subsistence and livelihood, and the debris and flood waters contaminated most sources of water. There were dead bodies that the government still hasn’t cleaned up yet, and heaps of debris and rubble are everywhere.
The survivors we have talked to confirmed that hardships continue to persist on the ground: government relief still has yet to arrive in these areas a full week after the disaster and survival has been the priority of the families, with a lot of them resorting to looting or scavenging. They are urgently in need of at least a week’s worth of food, water, and materials for temporary shelters. In the long term, the people will be needing help in reconstructing their homes and infrastructure, and rebuilding their livelihoods.
The assessment team identified 24 priority municipalities and cities – these are communities that are among the most affected, but have local people’s organizations that can help facilitate the efficient and secure delivery of relief. Our local partners will also serve as the main conduit for long-term climate change education and action, as we believe the best way to help the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan is through empower them towards struggling for climate justice.
I'm sharing with you the output of our trip to Leyte and Samar, the (partial) needs and damages assessment report. This is not as technical and complete as we would have liked but we were only able to scan the area and had limited time. The team needed to get back as soon as the logistics have been prepared and arrange for the actual relief operations which kicked off today. Leon [other 350 Pilipinas volunteer] joined the relief caravan and maybe he will have a more detailed report on what is happening on the ground.
NOTE: Brigada Kalikasan and Kalikasan PNE are coordinating with Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan or BALSA in shipping the relief goods to Eastern VIsayas, that is why we signed the report under BALSA.
We’re so grateful for the dedication of people like Meggie and Leon, who provide support around relief and rehabilitation, as well as connect the dots of extreme weather event impacts and climate justice. Let’s keep raising our money and our voices for them!
We just sent out this email to our friends around the world. Not on our email list yet? Sign up here to receive crucial updates from the climate movement.
For the past few weeks in the Philippines, we’ve gotten a devastating glimpse into what a climate changed future looks like.
In the past two days, we've gotten to see the other side of the storm — the networks of people, coming together to support each other in new and ever-stronger ways.
All across the world, people converged in their communities for vigils to reflect on the impacts of Typhoon Haiyan, and called on world leaders to take action for climate justice to honor the many lives lost to the storm.
Here are just a few pictures from these events:
photos from (top left to bottom right) Bellingham WA, Fiji, Burundi, Serbia, Sweden, Philippines, Leesberg VA, London, Huddersfield UK, and Bolivia
And here in Warsaw, Poland, hundreds of people walked out of the UN climate talks that had been taken over by corporate polluters and backsliding governments. Many of them were carrying red dots that said “We Stand With You” — a simple phrase that emerged as a global symbol of solidarity with the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.
To join this global outpouring of solidarity, take a couple minutes to make and share your own photo with a red dot here: westandwithyou.tumblr.com/submit
I know this show of support is making an impact, because here’s the note I got from Zeph, 350’s fearless coordinator in the Philippines:
"Rebuilding my country will take a long time, but the stories and pictures of people standing in solidarity around the world shows me that the world has not forgotten the climate victims, and that a movement is uniting to rise to this global challenge."
Sharing a solidarity photo is one way to show we’re standing together. Another is to support the very immediate needs of grassroots relief efforts. Our friends at 350 Pilipinas are helping to get food and supplies to people in need -- please donate to support this work here: brigadakalikasan.serverthepeople.com/
Until we rein in the use of fossil fuels, this is what will keep happening, at an ever faster rate. So we hold vigils to mourn, we share photos to show our solidarity, and we rise in the morning awake and ready to build a movement strong enough to create a new world.
That movement is growing everywhere -- including the Philippines, where activists continue their efforts to block the construction of new coal-fired power plants and build resiliency in their communities to adapt to the reality of climate change.
In the US, the movement to divest from fossil fuels is growing in size and courage. We're also preparing to step up our work to stop Keystone XL as the President nears his final decision, and finding new ways to fight fracking across the US.
The fossil fuel industry is everywhere, but so are we. And every time we get a glimpse of a our world being ravaged by climate change, it makes us sadder but also stronger -- because it reminds us at the most gut level just what the stakes really are.
Heavy as that may be, we will carry it in our hearts in the fights to come.
UPDATE: Here's the wrap-up video from Thailand Power Shift...
We are joining 60 climate leaders and activists across Thailand. Thailand Power Shift highlights the need for grassroots collective action while linking it to the global efforts to shift power beyond dirty and destructive energy sources like coal and mega-dams.
Last night, the room radiates with so much love and hope as we lit a candle remembering the survivors and victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Participants send out their hearts to the Philippines as they stood up for Climate Justice. Participants from frontline communities also shared their local stories and determination to take action.
It was an amazing day and now we are headed to Day 2. According to Supanuth Bell, 350 Thailand Team Leader, “…if we move people’s hearts, we can move the world!” And I couldn't agree with her more. We needed people whose hearts are ready and open to change the world.
Follow #ThailandPowerShift on Twitter and Facebook at Thailand Power Shift.
On Saturday, November 16, 350 PDX rapidly organized and hosted a fundraising event in order to help provide vital disaster relief assistance for the people of the Philippines and to create a space for community to get together in solidarity in the wake of this climate calamity. A couple hundred Portlanders came together over the course of the morning in order to open their hearts and checkbooks. The event took place at a church that graciously donated their space and a homemade brunch was lovingly prepared by fellow 350 PDX members and served to all by the chefs with the help of our youngest, 6- &12-year old, climate activists. Over a dozen local businesses donated items for the raffle portion of our fundraiser, which also included arts and crafts made by 350 PDX members and friends. All proceeds (several thousand dollars at last count) are being sent to Doctors Without Borders.
350 PDX invited leaders and members of the local Asian Pacific-American and Filipino-American communities to the event to share with us the personal impact Typhoon Haiyan has had on the lives of their friends and family, struggling to survive and rebuild their ravaged communities, with deeply touching tributes of hope and survival in the midst of the sheer devastation. Coming together in solidarity over this immense devastation has sown the seed for growing a relationship between members of our communities. The overarching message: Climate change is the biggest social justice issue of our time and we must listen to each other and learn from each other in order to build the type of powerful alliances we need to grow the movement.
We just sent this email blast out to our network in India, calling on to support the relief work underway in the state of Odisha affected by cyclone Phailin.
They say lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice but given the unusual times that we live in, we shouldn’t be surprised if it did. As I write this, another cyclonic storm Helen is hurtling towards the coast of Andhra Pradesh, just a month after cyclone Phailin devastated villages along Odisha’s coast. With rising global temperatures, climate change has increased the odds of extreme weather like cyclones and floods.
The citizens of Odisha are still rebuilding their livelihoods more than a month after cyclone Phailin, and will be for months to come. Help support rebuilding the livelihoods of thousands affected by cyclone Phailin.
The media might have shifted its attention away from Phailin but the hard realities on the ground need our attention now more than ever before. Fisherfolk and poor farmers who have lost their homes, crops, fishing nets, and therefore livelihoods need support in rehabilitating and rebuilding their lives. Last week Dr. Krishna Kumar, the collector of Ganjam district - one of the worst impacted by the cyclone - made an appeal to respond to the overwhelming need for resources in restoring shelter and livelihoods for the thousands affected.
350.org along with Council of Social Action, a local NGO partner in Odisha are urging you to support the relief and rehabilitation work across 1000 families in Ganjam district. Your donations will directly provide essential resources in the form of shelter, housing, medication, sanitation, clothing, stationery etc. More importantly, we want to lobby and work with the local administration to adopt strong climate adaptation practices whilst rehabilitating people.
Uttarakhand floods showed us how vulnerable we are; cyclone Phailin made international headlines; and typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines shattered all records. It’s all connected. Climate change has increased the odds of extreme weather events around the world, but its often those who are the poorest and contribute the least to the problem, who pay the biggest price.
This afternoon, Filipino negotiator Yeb Sano delivered the signatures of over 600,000 people from around the world who are joining him to call for action at the UN Climate Talks in Warsaw. Here's the transcript of the speech he gave at the event:
Civil society groups and young people joined Avaaz, 350.org and Filipino climate negotiator Yeb Saño at the UN Climate Talks this afternoon, to deliver well over 600,000 signatures from people around the world who are standing with the Philippines to demand progress here in Warsaw.
"We stand here knowing that hundreds of thousands maybe even millions around the world are standing with us in this difficult time for our country, but also in this difficult time for the planet, for the climate," said Saño.350.org's Hoda Baraka stands with Filipino negotiator Yeb Sano to deliver petition signatures from around the world. He continued: "We are deeply moved and deeply touched by this expression of solidarity from hundreds of thousands of people and we are here to deliver their voices into this process, into this national stadium here in Warsaw. We hope that they can create the kind of impact that people around the world -- billions and billions -- are desiring. This is a call, once and for all, to take ambitious steps to address climate change, which is now affecting lives and livelihoods. We are very glad and heartened to see this kind of solidarity being expressed by civil society, especially by many young people here. I cannot thank them enough for what they have done in supporting the call for action in the climate negotiations." Last week, in an unprecedented move for an official negotiator, Yeb Saño authored a petition on Avaaz calling for “major steps forward” here in Warsaw on the issues of carbon pollution reduction, finance, and “loss and damage,” a new system to help countries manage the risks and deal with the losses to climate disasters. "Typhoon Haiyan shows that climate change is happening now and is claiming lives,” said Iain Keith, Senior Campaigner at Avaaz.org “The urgent need to cut carbon emissions and help vulnerable countries prepare for climate chaos could not be clearer and today over half a million people have joined Yeb Sano's campaign demanding action. Their message is clear: we urgently need rich polluting countries to honour their promises, and outline a clear plan on climate finance in Warsaw.” Saño's call was supported by similar petitions from 350.org, MoveOn, Friends of the Earth, CREDO Action, Forecast the Facts, SustainUS, 18 Million Rising, and other organizations. In total, more than 600,000 people have signed on to these calls for immediate action. Many organizations, including those listed above, are also fundraising for immediate relief in the Philippines. “The climate-related disaster in the Philippines is an urgent call to action which has been echoed around the world,” said Hoda Baraka, Global Communications Manager for 350.org. “We stand with the Philippines to honor the victims of this tragedy--and all those impacted by climate change--and shine a light on the real culprits: the fossil fuel industry.” The Typhoon, Yeb Saño’s emotional appeal for action, and his commitment to fast throughout the talks, has inspired a widespread show of global solidarity. In Warsaw, a number of delegates at the talks are fasting in solidarity with Saño. This week, hundreds--perhaps thousands--of people are expected to join the voluntary fast for at least a day. On Thursday evening, candlelit vigils united by the message “#WeStandWithYou” are planned around the world. “The climate justice movement is gaining momentum every day,” said Silje Lundberg, from Young Friends of the Earth Norway. “Young people stood with the Philippines after Typhoon Bopha and we continue to do so, now by fasting in solidarity after another super typhoon. We refuse to accept inaction and will be doing everything we can to put pressure on our governments and the polluters that stand in the way of progress.” Despite the climate-related tragedy in the Philippines, the Warsaw climate talks have been plagued by a lack of ambition from rich countries. These nations have yet to offer serious financial commitments or up their levels of ambition to cut emissions. Instead, nations like Japan and Australia are backing away from previously made commitments. Super Typhoon Haiyan (called Yolanda by many in the Philippines) was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in world history. There are several ways in which climate change can affect typhoons like Haiyan, and will continue to do so in the future, including: increasing sea surface temperatures, adding more energy to storms; increasing the amount of precipitation associated with tropical cyclones, because warm air holds more water than cold; and, causing sea level rise which increases the destructive power of storm surges. After a year of storms, droughts, wildfires, and flooding around the world, Typhoon Haiyan has helped solidify the connection between extreme weather and climate change in the mainstream media and public consciousness. In a recent speech, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon connected the typhoon to climate change, calling it an “urgent warning." On Saturday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said, “evidence seems to me to be growing” that typhoons like Haiyan are connected to climate change and that scientists are “giving us a very certain message” about the threat of the climate crisis.
Over the weekend, a team of 350 Pilipinas / Power Shift Pilipinas volunteers settled safely in Tacloban, in the wake of senseless destruction.
East Visayas Tacloban Landscape Post Yolanda
Meggie, who has just returned from Tacloban, reports that there is a need for more relief donations, as several communities have not received anything since the typhoon hit. As she put it, they may have survived the storm but not from hunger.
Donations from Kalikasan Youth Makati
Leon, who is in Manila adds:
The Brigada Kalikasan (BK) disaster response campaign network was launched on November 12 a day after news reports have finally started airing from ground zero in the communities most-affected by Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda). The organizations that make up BK are 350 PH [350 Pilipinas] volunteers, and we soon got in contact with Zeph [350.org Southeast Asia Co-Coordinator] for initial ideas for a long-term response. After our talks days later, the Citizens' Disaster Response Center (CDRC) agreed to support the campaign particularly in the long-term rehabilitation and recovery efforts.
After under a week in our donation drive, we have initially received small amounts of canned goods, clothing, and water. We were able to send in 200 bottles of water to the first relief mission mounted together with BALSA to least-served communities in the Western Visayas region - which, alongside Samar and some parts of South Luzon region, has been under the media radar.
Water Donations from Friends Colleagues
On November 13, various groups mounted an International Day of Solidarity for Typhoon Haiyan survivors which the BK organizing groups also joined. It was a night when two of the biggest issues the country is facing, consecutive disasters and the pork barrel system of political patronage funds, brought to fore a local flavor of climate justice: people were indignantly calling for the rechanneling of billions of pesos in public funds were being stolen or used for political interests through the unaccountable lump-sum pork barrel funds towards immediate disaster response and long-term climate resiliency. Here is further explanation on how the pork barrel system is hurting our nation's climate vulnerability.
350 Pilipinas at International Solidarity Day
We sent fellow campaigner Meggie to join a multi-sectoral assessment team organized by the Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan or BALSA, a national relief drive network with which Brigada Kalikasan (BK) is cooperating with. They left last November 14 to conduct a damage and needs assessment in the Leyte and Samar provinces. We expect the assessment's coverage to be a bit limited, given that our local partner groups were all affected by the Super Typhoon. They will be reporting back tomorrow afternoon.
Aidalyn Arabe, from Dumaguete, reports from Malapascua Island in Northern Cebu:
We have seen the wrath of Supertyphoon Yolanda through television news and print but seeing the devastation with our own eyes brings so much pain and sorrow for the people who have completely lost their homes and properties. People were thankful that there were no casualties in their island. Many have lost their means of livelihood because a lot of boats of the fishermen were destroyed. Resorts were not also spared and many have been leveled to the ground if not partly damaged. Fishing and resort jobs are their primary means livelihood. They have acknowledged the fact that our weather condition is not anymore the weather we regularly encounter before. A lot has changed and they are afraid for there will be more to come.
350 PH volunteer
We keep standing in solidarity with and appreciate the precious work of Meggie, Leon, Aidalyn and others, raising our money and raising our voices for those heavily impacted by Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda, and all others facing the damaging consequence of climate change fueled extreme weather events.
A few of months ago, I posted a blog revealing the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key's desire to drill and dig up as much of New Zealand as he can for fossil fuels. This contrasts greatly with the usual perception people elsewhere in the world tend to have of New Zealand. It's usually thought of as a clean and green refuge.
Since posting that blog, the Prime Minister and his Government have been true to his word and have been busy doing the dirty work for the fossil fuel industry - except they have encountered a stumbling block: public opposition. That opposition is, as I write, in a stand-off on the high seas. As this picture shows, the sailing boat SV Vega - a representative of the "Oil Free Seas Flotilla" - has positioned itself in the area where the Anadarko's oil drilling ship, the Noble Bob Douglas is aiming to drill. It's a tense stand-off and a test of some dastardly new legislation the Government has recently passed to try and prevent such protest, and to fast track the oil drilling process.
The legislation changes include treating offshore oil drilling as "non-notified". That means the public have no input into deciding if such risky oil drilling projects are given the go ahead. They also passed legislation that treats any protest boats as criminal if they 'interfere' with a vessel by coming within 500 metres of it. This contravenes the freedom of navigation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Latest reports from the folks on SV Vega reveal that it is within 200 metres of the Noble Bob Douglas, which led its captain to issue a warning: "You are currently inside that 500-metre zone, so we are giving you guys 10 minutes to get outside that zone and then we will commence our operation." But Bunny McDiarmid, the Vega's skipper and executive director of Greenpeace NZ, responded: "This is the sailing vessel Vega. We will not be moving. We are here in defence of our oceans, future generations, our climate and our coastlines."
That is a courageous stand the crew are taking. To show you stand with the crew of the SV Vega like and share this blog, or any of the news associated with the stand-off, and you can follow the updates which Greenpeace are providing here.
It's a tense stand-off, which will continue to unfold, and as we wait we have to wonder, as the Green Party co-leader Russel Norman put it, "will John Key pull the Putin card and arrest everyone?"
This photo thanks to Greenpeace NZ.
Every time the UN meets to discuss solving the climate crisis - like it is this week - there's one excuse that invariably comes up...
"If China doesn't change, then it doesn't matter what [enter city/region/country name] does."
According to this argument, China is the main problem. It's doing the most harm, and if it doesn't change it's carbon-intensive ways, then we're all doomed, regardless of what else we do.
Not only is this argument ethically unsound - we all have a responsibility toward the climate, especially weathier, global north countries - but it turns out that China is beginning to act. Right now.
Recently, China accounced that it would no longer build coal-fired power plants in the regions surrounding Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. The air pollution has just gotten out of control with residents from all walks of life feeling the impacts.
Further, China has a goal of reducing its power generation from coal to below 65% by 2017, as well as getting wind and solar production up to 13% of the total energy pie. This is far from all that China can be doing to mitigate its climate impact, and we still need to encourage China to shift away from dangerous alternatives like Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG) and nuclear, but these are steps in the right direction.
Lastly, China is currently piloting carbon trading markets as a potential precursor to a carbon tax. You read right: China is considering a national carbon tax. This would be a significant step toward the world's largest emitter curbing its climate change pollution.
All this said, we know that China is not acting fast enough. That's a fact. It still accounts for half of global coal consumption. There's still work to be done to hold China accountable to its new air pollution plan, and solving the climate crisis will be much more difficult if China doesn't take serious action.
But the main point is this: China is not, and should never have been, an excuse for climate inaction by elected officials around the world. Here are a couple such examples:
"The Australian coal industry will only survive because the Chinese, without a carbon tax, will do what we are no longer supposed to do: namely burn coal."
-Tony Abbott, Australian Prime Minister
"If we got India, China, and other industrialized countries not working with us, all we're going to do is ship millions of American jobs overseas."
-John Boehner, Speaker of the USA House of Representatives
These comments are infuriating, but it's important for us to hold influencers and decision-makers accountable. So, if you're aware of any politician or pundit using the China Excuse (or the India Excuse, Brazil Excuse, etc), tell us about them in the comments below. Bonus points if you can provide news sources or links.
Let's quit the China Excuse once and for all, and push for collective climate action in the face of excuses and inaction.
This morning in Warsaw, climate activists staged a public action in front of the Polish Ministry of Economy – the venue for the greenwashing Coal and Climate Summit – to voice their outrage and reiterate a simple reality: there is no such thing as clean coal. Organizations involved in the action included Polish Youth Climate Network, CEE Bank Watch, Corporate Europe Observatory, Klima Allianz, 350.org, Tools For Action, and the #Cough4Coal Initiative.
The Polish government, a long-standing opponent of renewable energy and action on climate change, has teamed-up with the World Coal Association (WCA), representing the most polluting corporations in the world, to host the International Coal and Climate Summit taking place on the sidelines of the UN climate talks currently underway in Warsaw.
The conference is a desparate attempt by the coal industry to greenwash their industry--but thanks to the teamwork of activists from across Eastern Europe and around the world, coal is still a dirty word. Our movement's demand is clear: an immediate phase out of all coal technologies and a shift of investments towards energy technologies that respect peoples’ health, the climate and environment. Dirty fuel sources like coal have no place in a 21st century clean energy economy; this reality can no longer be ignored.
The government and the WCA described the event in vague terms as giving the coal industry "a rare chance" to "be a key part of the climate debate", a supposed contribution" to the UN climate talks. But the actual agenda of the coal conference is far less deceiving: promoting public subsidies to the dirty coal industry – and thus augment the $544 billion spent on subsidies to the fossil fuel industry in 2012 alone. This summit makes a mockery of the UN climate treaty and of everyone working to combat climate change.
But the summit also highlights how out of touch with reality the Polish government is as a growing anti-coal movement is quickly gaining momentum globally.
Just this year, for example:
- President Obama's Climate Action Plan: ends support for overseas coal plants
- Nordic countries announcing a coal ban of their own coal is on it's way out.
Here in Poland, 89% of citizens are in favor of increasing renewable energy production in Poland, according to a recent Greenpeace poll. As many as 73% want the Polish government to be active in preventing dangerous climate change while coal and lignite based energy received minimal support. You can see the full results of the poll here.
Greenpeace put their research into action this morning, dropping a banner off the venue for the coal summit:
All around the world, the climate justice movement is standing up to King Coal. From the fossil fuel divestment campaign to widespread coal protests in places like India and the Philippines, we're succeeding in beating back the coal industry. The industry is starting to falter in the face of this pressure--and the stark reality that coal has no place in a carbon constrained world.
Today, we're "Coughing for Coal," but we're also cheering for a clean energy future.
Thousands of people from around the world marched outside the UN Climate Talks in Warsaw, Poland today to demand climate justice. Our 350.org crew was there at the march, along with many of our amazing partner organizations, and thousands of our friends who are fighting fracking, stopping coal plants, building clean energy solutions, and pushing their institutions to divest from fossil fuels.
Marches like this always remind me of the creativity, excitement, and power of this emerging global climate movement. It's great fun to march with people from all across the planet -- and so essential that we're coming together to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and push for real climate action. On we go!
Click here to see more photos from today's march.
Below is an article shared to us by Rodne R. Galicha, Philippine District Manager of the Climate Reality Project and Executive Director of Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment, Inc.
Now we ask: Why are we the ones paying for the cost of carbon?
Typhoon Haiyan speaks of climate inaction, injustice, apathy and irresponsibility. Enough with all these suffering, enough with this madness. When will they listen - when there will be no people to listen to, when our voices are buried with the rubble left by storm surges and strong winds? As help from different parts of the globe arrives, we are thankful for the the sympathy - but we need most is empathy. After global assistance has been delivered, states emitting large amount of carbon dioxide may still remain business as usual. They must submit themselves to a legally binding commitment to reduce carbon emissions, or else we will expect more typhoons which are larger and more intense. This is the price of carbon, but we are confused - why are we the ones paying almost every year? We continue to seek climate justice, climate debt must be settled.
Our islands, in 2008, suffered the deluge brought by Typhoon Fengshen. In 2009, Typhoons Ketsana and Parma; followed by Megi in 2010; then, Nesat and Washi in 2011; Bopha in 2012, the costliest - and now Haiyan: we fear this would not be the last.
Haiyan shows the worst come but as it lashed our communities affecting millions of innocent people, we may run out of our unique Filipino resiliency. We thank the world for their kindness but we expect developed countries to take ambitious steps to prevent more Haiyans. We suffered enough.
For four years, since 2009, I have worked with the communities living in Manicani and Homonhon Islands off Guiuan town in Eastern Samar. I haven't heard about them since Haiyan hit the islands. I am worried and I cannot help but cry. One of my cousins who decided to live somewhere in Samar is still nowhere to be found, his father who is in New Jersey is in deep grief.
Although, not mainly covered by the news media, my province of Romblon where I decided to stay with the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council was also hardly hit by Haiyan especially the island of San Jose, the southern areas in Tablas Island and Sibuyan Island. From here, almost 6,000 households were partially damaged and around 750 families are without homes.
Our Climate Leaders here in the Philippines are doing all there best on how to help and assist. Bro. Jaazeal Jakosalem and Fr. Manny Bolilia will be going to Tacloban City tomorrow for a faith mission called 'Spiritual Marines'. They aim to bless the dead and spiritually uplift the survivors. With their religious congregation, they have established Heartanonymous campaign for relief efforts. Now a local public official, Miguel Magalang is suggesting a national initiative campaign to maximize the controversial pork barrel fund (PDAF), realign it to disaster fund. A lawyer by profession, Atty. Christina Barroga, is expounding how to raise the recent event to the International Criminal Court.
Yes, we see this as crime - climate crime, and we need climate justice.