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Rio+20: The next battleground

It’s been 20 years since the UN’s infamous Earth Summit in Rio. Now for round two, Rio+20, in which 120 world “leaders” and delegates from around 190 countries will convene in Brazil for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

During COP17, many of the activists and civil society groups were already gearing up for Rio. Many of those who took part in Occupy Cop17 will be taking part in various ways in organising around Rio+20, either on the ground or remotely.

Much of what’s on the table at Rio is market-based, aimed at creating a “green economy” with “natural capital” measured, a price tag placed on nature and the world bought, sold and traded as parcelled-up commodities. Institutions like the World Bank will be seeking to consolidate their power and influence, and key corporate stakeholders will be whispering in the ears of delegates to make sure that nothing that’s decided impinges on their ability to trade and make profit at all costs.

As with the COPs there seems little chance that the pathways to a truly just, equitable and sustainable future will come from the conference itself, but there is a continuing convergence of forces working in solidarity with each other who will be using the conference to come together and fight the vested corporate and entrenched interests of the elite few, who are increasingly monopolising the process.

Occupy Rio+20 have forged a statement through Occupy groups around the world and put together a People’s Petition, which you can sign onto here (and read in it’s entirety below).

There is a People’s Summit to which many groups have already made contributions.

There are several big asks from NGOs. 350 have launched an initiative to end fossil fuel subsidies. Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth International are trying to end corporate influence and lobbying in UN process.

The Global Justice Ecology project can always be relied on to provide excellent coverage through their Climate Connections blog.

For some light relief, check out the Twitter channel @rioplus2O

Stay tuned, we’ll be posting updates throughout Rio+20 on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Occupy Rio+20 People’s Petition

We, members of the Occupy movement and civil society, highlight the critical window of opportunity at the Earth Summit to vastly scale up political, financial & public response to the environmental, social & economic crisis of our time, & to raise ambition to the level that science demands. We are exceeding 3 of 9 planetary boundaries (climate change; biodiversity loss; changes to the nitrogen cycle) and our economy has outgrown the ecosystems we depend on. We denounce debt-created money and demand urgent regulation for a steady-state economy. We vow to respect and protect the beauty and diversity of life on Earth, realising our interconnectedness with nature. Governments, corporations and financial institutions must wake up and dramatically prioritise people & the planet over abusive exploitation for short-term profit & “growth” .

In defence of our rights, freedoms & future, we call for:

1. A direct participatory democratic UN: inclusive rights-based global decision-making; open-source communications. Prioritise youth, women, marginalised voices & civil society formally in negotiations.

2. Ending corporate capture of the UN: end compromising partnerships & transfer of officials. Exclude business lobbyists from talks. Expose & prohibit the bullying & bribing’ of poor nations by rich nations.

3. Realisation of new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by increased cooperation, commitment, funding & resources, strengthening the Millennium Goals (MDGs) & cancelling unjust poor country debt.

4. Peace & demilitarization, democratising the UN Security Council, a binding global arms treaty, SDG on peace & conflict, nuclear disarmament by 2030 & transfer funds to local sustainable development.

5. A Financial Transaction Tax, abolition of tax havens & a Global Carbon Fee on extraction of fuels, to transparently & equitably fund life-saving adaptation solutions, prioritising resilience & climate justice.

6. Ending fossil fuel subsidies now & extraction by 2020. Invest in non-nuclear Renewable Energy for All: global wind/solar/small-hydro/geo-energy; efficient stoves; zero carbon global electricity by 2030.

7. Outlawing Ecocide as the 5th International Crime Against Peace: prosecute destruction of ecosystems e.g. tar sands, oil spills, mountaintop removal, fracking. Protect the commons & Rights of Mother Earth.

8. Zero deforestation of Amazon rainforest by 2015 & globally by 2020. Rejection of pricing & trading nature, including forests, water & the atmosphere; and rejection of offsetting damage/destruction.

9. Food & water sovereignty & security. Ban land grabs. Protect Indigenous peoples’ land rights. Switch support for biofuels & industrial, chemical & GM agriculture to small organic farming & permaculture.

10. Indicators beyond GDP: measure wellbeing, participation, environmental health, socio-economic equity, gender equality, employment, provision for needs/services, protection of rights, & peace.

This is what democracy looks like. This is Harmony with Nature. This is the Future We Need for a just, resilient, thriving world. Join Global Days of Action on June 5th & 20th to raise our voice to challenge & bring hope to Rio+20.


Occupy COP17 Supports CJN Statement at the Conclusion of COP17

Spanish and Zulu translations below

COP17 succumbs to Climate Apartheid

Antidote is Cochabamba Peoples’ Agreement

Durban, S. Africa, 11 December, 2011 – Decisions resulting from the UN COP17 climate summit in Durban constitute a crime against humanity, according to Climate Justice Now! a broad coalition of social movements and civil society. Here in South Africa, where the world was inspired by the liberation struggle of the country’s black majority, the richest nations have cynically created a new regime of climate apartheid.

“Delaying real action until 2020 is a crime of global proportions,” said Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International. “An increase in global temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius, permitted under this plan, is a death sentence for Africa, Small Island States, and the poor and vulnerable worldwide. This summit has amplified climate apartheid, whereby the richest 1% of the world have decided that it is acceptable to sacrifice the 99%.”

According to Pablo Solón, former lead negotiator for the Plurinational State of Bolivia, “It is false to say that a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol has been adopted in Durban. The actual decision has merely been postponed to the next COP, with no commitments for emission reductions from rich countries. This means that the Kyoto Protocol will be on life support until it is replaced by a new agreement that will be even weaker.”

The world’s polluters have blocked real action and have once again chosen to bail out investors and banks by expanding the now-crashing carbon markets – which like all financial market activities these days, appear to mainly enrich a select few.

“What some see as inaction is in fact a demonstration of the palpable failure of our current economic system to address economic, social or environmental crises,” said Janet Redman, of the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies. “Banks that caused the financial crisis are now making bonanza profits speculating on our planet’s future. The financial sector, driven into a corner, is seeking a way out by developing ever newer commodities to prop up a failing system.”

Despite talk of a “roadmap” offered up by the EU, the failure in Durban shows that this is a cul-de-sac,  a road to nowhere. Spokespeople for Climate Justice Now! call on the world community to remember that a real climate program, based on planetary needs identified by scientists as well as by a mandate of popular movements, emerged at the World People’s Summit on Climate Change and Mother Earth in Bolivia in 2010. The Cochabamba People’s Agreement, brought before the UN but erased from the negotiating text, offers a just and effective way forward that is desperately needed.


On technology

“The technology discussions have been hijacked by industrialized countries speaking on behalf of their transnational corporations,” said Silvia Ribeiro from the international organization ETC Group.

Critique of monopoly patents on technologies, and the environmental, social and cultural evaluation of technologies have been taken out of the Durban outcome. Without addressing these fundamental concerns, the new technology mechanism will merely be a global marketing arm to increase the profit of transnational corporations by selling dangerous technologies to countries of the South, such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology or geoengineering technologies.

On agriculture

“The only way forward for agriculture is to support agro-ecological solutions, and to keep agriculture out of the carbon market,” said Alberto Gomez, North American Coordinator for La Via Campesina, the world’s largest movement of peasant farmers.

“Corporate Agribusiness, through its social, economic, and cultural model of production, is one of the principal causes of climate change and increased hunger. We therefore reject Free Trade Agreements, Association Agreements, and all forms of the application of Intellectual Property Rights to life, current technological packages (agrochemicals, genetic modification) and those that offer false solutions (biofuels, nanotechnology, and climate smart agriculture) that only exacerbate the current crisis.”

On REDD + and forest carbon projects
“REDD+ threatens the survival of Indigenous Peoples and forest-dependent communities. Mounting evidence shows that Indigenous Peoples are being subjected to violations of their rights as a result of the implementation of REDD+-type programs and policies,” declared The Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities against REDD and for Life.

Their statement, released during the first week of COP17, declares that “REDD+ and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) promote the privatization and commodification of forests, trees and air through carbon markets and offsets from forests, soils, agriculture and could even include the oceans. We denounce carbon markets as a hypocrisy that will not stop global warming.”

On the World Bank and the Global Climate Fund

“The World Bank is a villain of the failed neoliberal economy,” says Teresa Almaguer of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance in the U.S.

“We need a climate fund managed by participatory governance, not by an anti-democratic institution that is responsible for much of the climate disruption and poverty in the world.” “The Green Climate Fund has been turned into the Greedy Corporate Fund,” said Lidy Nacpil, of Jubilee South. “The fund has been hijacked by the rich countries, on their terms, and set up to provide more profits to the private sector”

On the Green Economy

“We need a climate fund that provides finance for peoples of developing countries that is fully independent from undemocratic institutions like the World Bank. The Bank has a long track record of financing projects that exacerbate climate disruption and poverty” said Lidy Nacpil, of Jubilee South. “The fund is being hijacked by the rich countries, setting up the World Bank as interim trustee and providing direct access to money meant for developing countries to the private sector.  It should be called the Greedy Corporate Fund!”

Climate policy is making a radical shift towards the so-called “green economy,” dangerously reducing ethical commitments and historical responsibility to an economic calculation on cost-effectiveness, trade and investment opportunities. Mitigation and adaption should not be treated as a business nor have its financing conditioned by private sector and profit-oriented logic. Life is not for sale.

On climate debt

“Industrialized northern countries are morally and legally obligated to repay their climate debt,” said Janet Redman, Co-director of the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network at the Institute for Policy Studies. “Developed countries grew rich at the expense of the planet and the future all people by exploiting cheap coal and oil. They must pay for the resulting loss and damages, dramatically reduce emissions now, and financially support developing countries to shift to clean energy pathways.”

Developed countries, in assuming their historical responsibility, must honor their climate debt in all its dimensions as the basis for a just, effective, and scientific solution. The focus must not be only on financial compensation, but also on restorative justice, understood as the restitution of integrity to our Mother Earth and all its beings. We call on developed countries to commit themselves to action. Only this could perhaps rebuild the trust that has been broken and enable the process to move forward.

On real solutions

“The only real solution to climate change is to leave the oil in the soil, coal in the hole and tar sands in the land.” Ivonne Yanez, Acción Ecologica, Ecuador



La COP17 sucumbe ante el apartheid climático.

Su antídoto es el Acuerdo de los Pueblos de Cochabamba

Durban, Sudáfrica – Las decisiones resultantes de la  COP17 de Naciones Unidas sobre Cambio Climático constituyen un crimen con la humanidad, de acuerdo a la coalición de movimientos y organizaciones de la sociedad civil, Justicia  Climática Ahora! (CJN!).

En Sudáfrica, que inspiró  al mundo por la lucha liberadora de la mayoría negra del país, las naciones ricas cínicamente han creado un nuevo régimen de apartheid climático.

“Posponer una  acción real hasta el 2020 es un crimen de proporciones globales”, dijo Nnimmo Bassey, Presidente de Amigos de la Tierra Internacional. “Un aumento de las temperaturas  globales en 4 grados Celsios, permitido con este plan, será una sentencia de muerte para África, los Pequeños Estados Insulares, y los más  pobres y vulnerables del mundo. Esta  Cumbre ha amplificado el apartheid climático, en el cual  el 1% más rico ha  decidido el sacrificio del 99% restante.

De acuerdo a Pablo Solón, anterior líder negociador del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia, “es falso decir que un segundo periodo de  compromiso de Kioto haya sido adoptado en Durban. La  actual decisión ha sido meramente pospuesta para la siguiente COP, sin compromisos  de reducciones de emisiones de los países ricos. Esto significa que el Protocolo de Kioto estará vigente hasta que sea reemplazado por un nuevo acuerdo que será inclusive más débil”.

Los  contaminadores del mundo han bloqueado acciones reales y nuevamente han escogido sacar de apuros a los inversores y bancos, expandiendo los ya quebrados mercados de carbono, como ocurre con todas las actividades de los mercados financieros  actuales, que principalmente enriquecen a unos  pocos.

“Lo que se ve como una inacción, en realidad es una demostración de la falla palpable del actual sistema, que conlleva crisis económicas, sociales y ambientales”, dijo Janet Redman  del Institute for Policy Studies de Washington. “Los  bancos que causaron la  crisis financiera ahora están haciendo bonanza, especulando y lucrando con el futuro del planeta. El sector financiero  está buscando una manera de salir de  la crisis desarrollando nuevas mercancías  para tratar de apuntalar este sistema fallido”

A pesar de hablar de un “mapa de ruta”, ofrecido por la Unión Europea, el fracaso de Durban muestra que éste fue un callejón sin salida. Voceros de Climate Justice Now!llaman a la comunidad  internacional a recordar que un programa real para enfrentar el cambio climático, debe basarse en las recomendaciones de los científicos, así como en  mandato de  los  movimientos populares emergido en la Cumbre de los Pueblos sobre Cambio Climático y la Madre Tierra de Bolivia en 2010.  El Acuerdo de Cochabamba fue presentado para su discusión en la UNFCCC en pero borrado del  texto que se iba a negociar.



“Las discusiones sobre tecnología han sido secuestradas por los países industrializados que hablan de parte de sus corporaciones transnacionales” dijo Silvia Ribeiro del la organización internacional ETG Group.

“La crítica al monopolio de patentes, o la evaluación ambiental, social y cultural de las tecnologías, no está entre los resultados de Durban  Sin enfrentar estas preocupaciones fundamentales, los nuevos mecanismos tecnológicos serán meramente un brazo del mercado global para el beneficio de las corporaciones transnacionales que venden tecnologías peligrosas a los países del Sur, como son la nanotecnología, la biología sintética o la geoingeniería.


“La única manera de avanzar en materia  de agricultura es apoyar las soluciones agro-ecológicas, y mantener a  la agricultura  fuera del  merado de  carbono” dijo  Alberto Gómez, coordinador de la Via Campesina para Norteamérica, el mas  grande movimiento campesino del mundo.

“Los negocios agroindustriales, a través de su modelo social, económico  o cultural de producción, es una de las principales causas del cambio climático e incrementa el hambre en el mundo. Por eso rechazamos los Tratados de Libre Comercio, los Acuerdos de Asociación y toda forma de aplicación de derechos de propiedad intelectual sobre la  vida; los actuales paquetes tecnológicos (agroquímicos, modificación genética) y aquellos otros  que ofrecen falsas soluciones (agrocombustibles, nanotecnología o agricultura climática “inteligente”) solo exacerban la crisis actual”.

“REDD+ amenaza la  supervivencia de los pueblos indígenas y de las comunidades que dependen de los bosques. Numerosas y crecientes  evidencias muestran que los pueblos indígenas están siendo sujetos a violaciones a sus derechos como resultado de la aplicación de políticas  y programas tipo  REDD” declaró la Alianza  Global de Pueblos  Indígenas y Comunidades Locales contra REDD y por la Vida.

En su comunicado, lanzado durante la primera semana de la COP17, declaran que “REDD+ y el Mecanismo de Desarrollo Limpio (MDL) promueven la privatización y mercantilización  de los bosques, los árboles y el aire a través del comercio y compensación de carbono de los bosques, suelos, agricultura, y podría incluir hasta los océanos…Denunciamos que los mercados de carbono son una hipocresía que no detendrán el calentamiento global”.


“El Banco Mundial es un villano en la fracasada economía  neoliberal”, señaló Teresa Almaguer de la Grassroots Global Justice Alliance de Estados Unidos.

“Necesitamos un fondo climático manejado con una gobernancia participativa, no por un institución antidemocrática que es en gran parte responsable de los trastornos climáticos y de la pobreza en el mundo”. El fondo Climático Mundial se ha convertido en el Fondo Codicioso Climático”, dijo Lidy Nacpil, de Jubileo Sur. “El Fondo ha  sido secuestrado por los países ricos, bajos su términos, y establecido para dar mas ganancias  al sector privado”.


Las políticas climáticas están dando un giro hacia la llamada “economía verde”; peligrosamente reducen sus compromisos éticos y responsabilidades históricas hacia una economía de calculo  de eficiencia, de costo-beneficio, comercio y oportunidades de inversión. La mitigación y adaptación no deben ser tratadas como un negocio, ni tienen que estar condicionadas  a la intervención del sector privado, ni menos orientados a una  lógica de lucro. La vida  no se vende ! 


“Los países industrializados del Norte están moralmente y legalmente obligados a reparar la deuda climática”, dijo Janet Redman, Co-directora de SEEN en el Institute for Policy Studies. “Los países desarrollados se hicieron ricos a expensas  del planeta y del  futuro de los pueblos, explotando carbón, o petróleo baratos. Ellos deben pagar por las pérdidas y daños resultantes, reduciendo drásticamente sus emisiones ahora, y apoyando financieramente a los países del Sur hacia un camino de energías limpias.

Los  países desarrollados, asumiendo su responsabilidad histórica, deben honrar su deuda climática en todas sus dimensiones como base de una solución científica, justa y efectiva, lo que no  debe ser solo compensación económica, sino justicia reparadora, entendida como una restitución integral a la Madre Tierra y a todos sus seres vivos. Llamamos a los países desarrollados a comprometerse a tomar acciones en este sentido.  Solo esto puede, quizás reconstruir la confianza que se ha roto y avanzar por una camino mejor.


“La única solución real al cambio  climático es dejar el petróleo,  el carbón y las arenas bituminosas en subsuelo“, Ivonne Yanez, Acción Ecológica, Ecuador


ICOP17 inqotshwe uBandlululo Lwesimo Sezulu

Ikhambi Kuzoba Isivumelwano Sabantu eCochabamba

 eThekwini, eNingizimu Afrika – Izinqumo ezingumphumela eziqhamuka kwingqungquthela yesimo sezulu iUN COP17 eThekwini iyicala kuluntu, njengokusho kweClimate Justice Now! Inhlanganyela yezinhlangano zenhlalakahle kanye nezemiphakathi. Lapha eNingizimu Afrika, lapho umhlaba wawugqugquzelwa umzabalazo wenkululeko ngabamnyama abaningi bakulelizwe, amazwe acebe kakhulu ngenkulu indelelo-le asedale ukubusa kabusha ngobandlululo lwesimo sezulu.

“Ukudembesela okufanele kwenzeke ngempela kuz kube ngu2020 kuyicala emhlabeni wonke,’ kusho uNnimmo Bassey, uSihlalo weFriends of the Earth International. “Ukunyuka kwamazinga okushisa emhlabeni ngo4 degrees Celsius, okuvunyelwe kulelicebo, kungukufa kweAfrika, Amazwe Ayiziqhingi Ezincane (Small Isaland States), abahlwempu kanye nabangakwazi ukuzikela umhlaba wonke. Lengqungquthela ilubeke lwacaca ubandlululo lwesimo sezulu, lapho abacebe kakhulu abangayiphesenti engu-1 emhlabeni benqume ukuthi kwamukelekile ukudayisa ngezimpilo zabangamaphesenti angu-99.”

NgokukaPablo Solon, owayengomunye owayehola izingxoxo ngaphambili ngezwe lakubo iBolivia, “Kungamampunge ukuthi ukuzibophezela kwesikhathi kwesibili kwiKyoto Protocol kwenziwe eThekwini. Isinqumo sangempela siyekelelwe iCOP elandelayo, kube kungekho ukuzibophezela okuqhamuka  ukwehlisa ukukhiqiza izisisi ezingcolisa umoya. Lokhu kusho ukuthi Ikyoto Protocol izobe isengcupheni kuze kufikwe esivunyalweni esisha naso futhi esiyobe sibuthakathaka kakhulu..”

Abangcolisi bomoya bomhlaba bavimbe izisombululo zangempela futhi sebebuye baphinda ukukhetha ukusiza abatshali bezimali kanye namabhange ngokwandisa izimakethe zecarbon nazo eziwayo – njengoba kufana nazozonke izimo zezimali kulezizinsuku, kubonakala sengathi kuhlomula abambalwa abakhethiweyo

Abanye abakubona sengathi ukungabi namnyakazo empeleni izinkomba zokwahluleka kwendlela yomnotho wamanje ukubhekana nezingqinamba zomnotho, zezenhlalakahle kanye nezemvelo,” kusho uJanet Redman, weInstitute for Policy Studies ezinze eWashington. “Amabhange adale izinkinga zezimali manje asenza inzuzo enkulu ngokuqagela ukuthi kuzokwenzekalani ngekusasa lomhlaba. Abazezimali, bacindezeleke ekhoneni, bafuna indlela yokuphuma ngokuthuthukusisa okusha okudayiswayo ukulungisa lesisimo esingaphumeleli.”

Ngaphandle kwezinkulumo “zenkomba ndlela” elethwa iEU, ukungaphumeleli eThekwini kukhombisa ukuthi sisendleleni engayi ndawo. Okhulumela iClimate Justice Now! uthi umphakathi womhlaba awukhumbule ukuthi uhlelo lwangempela lwesimo sezulu oluzimelele kwizidingo zomhlaba ezikhonjiswe ngososayensi kanye nangokuthunyelwa izinqumo zezinhlangano zemiphakathi ezinedumela, kwaqhamuka Kwingqungquthela Yabantu Bomhlaba Ngokuguquka Kwezulu kanye noMother Earth eBolivia ngo2010. Isivumelwano Sabantu eCochabamba, esalethwe ngaphambi kweUN kodwa sacishwa emibhalweni yezingxoxo, siletha indlela onobulungiswa futhi esebenzayo enenqubekela phambili edingeka ngokushesha.


OccupyCop17 supports International Day of Action for Human Rights.

#OccupyCop17 letter of support for Madrid’s callout:
International Day of Action for Human Rights

A Statement on Intergenerational Rights

Let us not forget that the victories that will define 2011 in the pages of history began in Africa. That story of 2011 should end here. 2011 took us from Tunisia to Durban, South Africa – where Mandela cast his first vote and Gandhi held his first public meeting. Draw a line on the map from Tunis to Durban and think of all the languages you have crossed, all the diversity, all the wisdom, all the gods. There is a continent bridging those two cities – dreaming.
We are all in that dream.

2011 started with the demand for freedom, and ends with the demand for justice.

As our planet rampantly burns its insides and warms, history will view these years as a window closing. We have a chance to escape the catastrophe we are creating for our children. But there is no freedom without justice, and no justice without rights.

For our rights thrive, we must be guardians of their principles. Freedom is bigger than us – it is the architecture our dreams inhabit. It does not belong to us anymore than a house built of stone belongs to its inhabitant. Rights belong to the generations that will come after us. Justice grows like a garden, we water it with our wills. As each day passes, a window is closing and with it the justice that we will pass on to the future inhabitants of this world. Justice loses its meaning if it is stolen from the future.

Here in Africa, the well of hope is drying. People are being forced away from the land of their ancestors and have been sent wandering with nothing, into a darkening world.

Our planet is changing, and with it the story of human rights. Here in Africa, the river beds are already drying and the seedlings that we watered for the future, are wilting. We do not rob water from the cups of others, we divert the streams. Climate change is the tyranny of the present over the rights of the future. In Africa, the future is already here.

Human rights are universal, they exist not only to everyone who is alive – but to everyone who will ever live. No one is free until everyone is free.




An Open Letter to the Delegates at COP17

(to be read on human microphone)


Can you hear me? /

Are you listening? /

These words / are not my own. / They are the voice / of the voiceless. / I speak to you, / not as a nation –/ but as the unheard majority of this planet – / the youth who are inheriting a system / we will not accept. / And I speak to you, / with the authority of every child / yet to be born. / The future belongs to them / not you.

We speak to you now / not as delegates of nations / but as people / as fellow humans – / so that your own hearts may speak truth. / For if you let a single word escape your lips / that does harm to your own conscience/ and to the rights / of all future generations –/ then you have no authority,/ for you know no justice./ And may the weight of the floods, / of the droughts,/ of the storms / and of the deaths –/ be upon your shoulders, / and upon your conscience/ from this day forth / For you held back the tides of change.

For 16 years / you have not heard us -/ so we are no longer asking. / The future of the 99% / will not be written by your documents,/ but by our actions. / You cannot stop an idea whose time has come / you cannot stop an idea whose time has come. / So speak your heart / for there is no choice now / but change.


An Open Letter to Delegates at COP17

(to be read on human microphone)

Can you hear me? /
Are you listening? /
These words / are not my own. / They are the voice / of the voiceless. / I speak to you, / not as a nation –/ but as the unheard majority of this planet – / the youth who are inheriting a system / we will not accept. / And I speak to you, / with the authority of every child / yet to be born. / The future belongs to them / not you.

We speak to you now / not as delegates of nations / but as people / as fellow humans – / so that your own hearts may speak truth. / For if you let a single word escape your lips / that does harm to your own conscience/ and to the rights / of all future generations –/ then you have no authority,/ for you know no justice./ And may the weight of the floods, / of the droughts,/ of the storms / and of the deaths –/ be upon your shoulders, / and upon your conscience/ from this day forth / For you held back the tides of change.

For 16 years / you have not heard us -/ so we are no longer asking. / The future of the 99% will not be written by your documents,/ but by our actions. / You cannot stop an idea who’s time has come / you cannot stop an idea who’s time has come. / So speak your heart / for there is no choice now / but change. / Welcome to 2012.

Day of local action

Today at Speakers Corner we will be joining with and supporting local actions.

12:00 we will join with the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) who are fighting against the South African Protection of Information Bill, also know as the Secrecy Bill.

The Bill will threaten hard-won constitutional rights including access to information and freedom of expression.

 R2K believes a responsive and accountable democracy able to meet the basic needs of our people is built on transparency and the free flow of information. The R2K campaign statement – “Let the truth be told. Stop the Secrecy Bill!” – demands that the Bill be drastically rewritten to bring it in line with constitutional values, or thrown out.

R2K have been campaigning around COP17 and have an impressive set of demands:

  • Make the UN COP17 negotiations transparent: stop closed ‘green room’ negotiations that exclude the media and civil society.
  • Release the full text of the contracts Eskom has signed with major smelters such as BHP Billiton, Mozal & Anglo (Skorpion). These three smelters use almost as much electricity as 4 million households! Eskom are selling these smelters cheap electricity, and ordinary South Africans are subsidising the cost!
  • Release the full text of the loan agreement signed between the SA Government and the World Bank to fund the building of two of world’s largest coal-fired power stations in the world – including the full cost of the loan (including interest calculations).
  • Publish details of donations to all political parties from mining and energy companies, which profit massively from South Africa’s carbon intensive energy plans.
  • Publish the energy consumption projections given to government by SA’s Energy Intensive Users Group (a handful of large corporations that use over 40 percent of SA’s energy). These secret projections were used to develop the IRP 2010 Demand Forecast Revision – the basis of South Africa’s carbon heavy energy plan
  • Publish the research that government used to include a forecast of 4.5 percent annual GDP growth rate in the IRP (Integrated Resource Plan). This projected economic growth would require SA to generate 10 Terawatt Hours of energy a year to meet South Africa’s needs. In the period of economic growth from 1994 to 2005 real demand did not exceed 5 Terawatt Hours a year. What information is the government using to plan on a 100 percent growth in energy use in 20 years
  • The petro-chemical industry is withholding information from communities and even from government with regard to “risk assessment” (i.e. the health and safety of the surrounding communities). All “risk assessments” must be made public! In particular Shell, BP, and Engen refineries must release health and environmental information denied to the communities of Durban
  • Release Eskom’s evacuation plan for the Koeberg nuclear plant in Cape Town.

13:00 we will have a general assembly and continue to work on plans for an all-night vigil at speakers corner on Friday night. All are welcome, we are united, one struggle, one fight!

14:00 A bus will be going to KwaMashu to learn about and support the struggle of those fighting against eviction from their dwellings and where the latest evictions were to clear people away ahead of COP17.

Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shack Dwellers) Movement have been fighting against these evictions and have recently started Occupy KwaMashu, Hilary and Pinetown.

Occupy Hillary

Four weeks ago 77 people were evicted from the Valley View flats in Hillary. These flats are owned by SOHCO which is a social housing company. Social housing was set up to cover those who don’t qualify for RDP houses but are too poor to qualify for bonds. It is called a ‘public private partnership’. But the private side of this arrangement has taken over the public side. Tenants are being exploited by paying rentals that will, over their lives, be worth much more than the value of the flats and those that are falling behind are being evicted. They remain unable to get RDP houses and unable to get housing through the market and are therefore being excluded from access to housing. Social housing is therefore failing and it will continue to fail until the alliance between the government and private investors looking to make private profit is abandoned and replaced with an alliance between the government and co-operatives of people needing housing.

Last night 50 of the evicted people returned to the flats to occupy them. The police succeeded in forcing them out again. Tonight they have returned to reoccupy the flats. If they are evicted again they will return tomorrow night.

Contact Details for the Hillary Occupation:

S’fiso: 079 818 1987
Nomfundo: 082 541 0855

Occupy KwaMashu

The KwaMashu comrades were first evicted from eBhandeni, which was in Siyanda in KwaMashu in 2009. They were evicted by Nandi Mandela as a road was being built. It was said that the road was important for the 2010 World Cup and that the poor people would have to make way. They were never given alternative accommodation as demanded by the law and were just left homeless.

They have tried several times to engage with the councilor, Mr Lucky Mdlalose who has neglected them. After a long time of failing to get any help from the councilor they decided to occupy the vacant land which is next to the school called Thobile Primary School. On Wednesday last week the shacks that they had built on the land were demolished by people from the Municipality. The cars that there were driving had these number plates: NDM 6902, NDM 6903 and NDM 6999. The comrades were brave and they rebuilt their shacks the next day.

On Friday the municipality came with cars that had these number plates: NDM 6963 and NDM 6903. They demolished the shacks again and this time they also stole the people’s building material. The community went to the police station to open a case of theft. The police refused to open a case but one police officer did call the councilor who responded by saying that as there is COP 17 coming the councilors have been given a mandate to make sure that no one is dirtying the community and that they must take care of the animals and nature. Later there was a debate on Vibe FM between the councilor and Bandile Mdlalose, the AbM Secretary General. During that debate the councilor said that he would make arrangements for alternative accommodation but he has not contacted them. Around thirty people have now decided that on Monday morning they are going to occupy the KwaMashu community hall with their children as there were all made homeless by Nandi Mandela and then again by the Municipality and the Councilor is doing nothing to protect them. The occupation will start at around 7 a.m. Tomorrow.

Contact details for the KwaMashu Occupation:

Jabulile : 074 542 5939
Mama Mdlalose 073 501 4200

Occupy Pinetown

The eMmaus land occupation, in Pinetown, was founded in September 2010. These people had previously been evicted by the Mahogany Ridge 2 Property Owners’ Association and before that by the Roman Catholic Church after it sold its land to industry. They had been left homeless after these evictions and needed a place to stay. Since then they have suffered more demolition and theft of their building material. The Mahogany Ridge 2 Property Owners’ Association has also put an electric fence around the occupation which is very dangerous for children. The land owners are currently trying to get the people evicted through the courts. AbM is fighting the case in the courts and on the 19th of October 2011 the movement organised a mass march on the landlords in defense of the land occupation.

Contact details for the Pinetown Occupation:

Khanyi Dlamuka, eMmaus AbM Coordinator: 071 218 3007

It is clear that to many people in government, and to many rich people, the poor remain dirt, something to swept out of the cities. If housing is to be given to us it is housing that is unfit for human beings and that will hide us away in rural human dumping grounds. In Durban our attempts to organise and struggle for land and housing have been met with serious and violent repression from the state and the ruling party. Neither the economic system nor the political system are working for the poor and therefore we will continue to struggle for justice. We invite all the comrades who are in Durban for the COP 17 meeting to come and show their solidarity for the occupations in Hillary, KwaMashu and eMmaus and for our struggle for the right to organise for land and housing and to be able to engage the state meaningfully.

For further comment contact Abahlali baseMjondolo at: 031 304 6420.


Scoop! New exposé of carbon markets

Carbon Markets: Trading with our Future from Occupy Cop17 on Vimeo.

As COP17 draws to a close the only game in town is the market-based mechanisms that are false solutions to climate change. The same institutions, corporations and governments who have led the world into economic chaos are leading us towards climate chaos.

However, the cracks in the façade are starting to show. Carbon trading and offsetting, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) have failed to cut carbon emissions, which reached record high levels in 2010, whilst further impoverishing the worlds poorest people, facilitating the largest land grab in history, destroying biodiversity and trampling the rights of indigenous communities.

In a new video released today, critics of the markets and even the architects and gatekeepers of climate finance admit to its failure.

Martin Hession, Chairman of the CDM Executive Board says:

We have had allegations in respect of a project in Honduras, people have been killed by people associated with the CDM project…. I don’t think the CDM can take on the job of being a human rights commission, I don’t think the CDM can take on the job of resolving every social problem in every country.

The failure to look at climate change in the wider context of climate and social justice is leading to gross human rights violations as well as environmental degradation. Those responsible are economists and financiers who are solely concerned with the numbers and tweaking them to create a positive balance in their books, both in terms of profits and “fictitious” emissions reductions.

As Prof Michael Grubb, Senior Research Associate, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge says:

Having created a market-based mechanism to cut carbon a lot of people seem to expect it to behave in a non-market way and deliver poverty alleviation, deliver sustainable development co-benefits, but fundamentally; you create a market, it’s behaving the way markets do, it chases where are the most cost effective things, where can they make the most profits and I think that anyone who didn’t expect a market instrument to behave in that way didn’t understand what they were doing.

So why are these carbon market mechanism now dominating the Un climate negotiations? Larry Lohmann, Co-founder of the Durban Group for Climate Justice explains:

The biggest buyer of carbon pollution rights, these offsets bought in from countries in the Global South today, the biggest buyers are not actually polluting firms in Europe, they’re not actually the steel mills, they’re not actually the electricity generators, although of course they also do buy pollution rights, the biggest buyers are Wall St and the City of London, they’re financial actors. Why are they buying these pollutions rights? Obviously they’re not buying them because they need to offset the huge amounts of smoke coming out of their smoke stacks in the City of London, they’re buying them to speculate with, they’re buying them because profits are to be made in the trading of them. Carbon markets are not a way of solving the climate problem, the impetus for them is not coming from people who are suffering from climate change, the impetus for them is not coming from environmentalists even, the impetus is largely coming from people like Fortis Bank.

As with all markets, the carbon market is subject to fluctuations and crashes. The price of carbon is already at an all time low, which has lead the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) to oppose the European Energy Efficiency Directive because they claim it will have a negative effect on the price of carbon.

We now find ourselves in the insane situation where we have schemes designed to cut emissions being blocked by those whose ability to profit from climate change is predicated on emissions continuing and climate change getting worse.

There is no doubt that money is needed to tackle climate change and to help developing countries adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. But the volatility and single-minded nature of the markets is clearly not the way to do it. Developed nations must pay their historical climate debt, and this payment should not be in the form of loans, but rather in reparations. They may claim that there is no money available, but this is patently nonsense when trillions of dollars miraculously materialise when their own economies are in peril, only to vanish into the never-ending coffers of their financial institutions.

We support the People’s Agreement on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, agreed by more than 30,000 people from over 100 countries who took part in the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

We consider inadmissible that current negotiations propose the creation of new mechanisms that extend and promote the carbon market, for existing mechanisms have not resolved the problem of climate change nor led to real and direct actions to reduce greenhouse gases.

For more information please see:

You can view and download the Carbon Markets, Trading Our Future film at: