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“High Level” Negotiations call for High Level Action

cc: Adopt a negotiator

Phew, what an amazing first week at Occupy COP17!  Hundreds of people took part in general assemblies and made decisions by consensus. Thousands took to the streets and marched for climate justice. There was singing and dancing, art and poetry, gardening and clowning. We heard from ambassadors from small island states that their homes are at risk of being sunk by rising sea levels. We heard from Nigeria that Africa is going to be cooked by rising temperatures. We heard from First Nations representatives from North America about extractive industries that are killing people and poisoning the land. We heard from representatives of dozens of countries that the World Bank’s involvement in climate finance is pushing market reforms that are catastrophic for people and the planet. And we heard from Bolivia that if there is to be any hope of averting these catastrophes then real and binding cuts in emissions must be made and that developed countries must pay their historical climate debt.

Now as COP17 moves into its second and final week and the bigwigs fly in for the “high level” segment of negotiations (that’s just what we need, bigger egos in the room), we will be stepping up our activities to make sure that the voices of the 99% are heard loud and clear in the ICC and beyond.

Every day we will have our usual general assembly at 1pm at Speakers Corner (junction of Walnut Rd and Bram Fischer). There will also be different themes and actions on each day.

Monday will be big business and climate change, as well as a group working on sorting out Speakers Corner to prepare for the week ahead.

Tuesday will focus on the processes we’ve been using, with teach-ins on consensus decision making and facilitation. We put a special call-out to the ambassadors and negotiators to the UN to come and learn some useful tools in reaching an equitable and fair consensus.

Wednesday we will focus on climate finance and will be releasing an exclusive video showing how and why market-based mechanisms such as carbon trading, offsetting, CMD and REDD are failing to halt emissions and are causing social and environmental chaos.

Thursday we will hear about and support local struggles in Durban and the surrounding area, with special reference to Occupy Durban and those who have been evicted from their dwellings

Friday is when the final negotiations will happen, when we get to hear what the Durban Mandate from COP17 will likely be. We want to have as many people as possible occupying Speakers Corner so that together we can reach and deliver our own conclusions. As well as our usual general assembly we will have a special assembly starting at 7pm and will be holding an all night candlelit vigil for climate justice.

We’ll see you under the trees!


Hundreds March for Climate Justice

Today ambassadors for small island states addressed the Occupy COP17 general assembly. We heard from Ronny Jumeau from Seychelles, Dessima Williams from Grenada and Marlene Moses from Nauru. These islands are among those most at risk from rising sea levels. A 2 degree rise in global temperature, which is almost certain if the current course of the talks is followed, would lead to their homes and traditional cultures being buried by the ocean. Their impassioned pleas were for people to mobilize and make sure that those within the COP17 got a clear message that delay is not an option, and that strong and decisive action to reduce emissions needs to happen now!

With song and dance, hundreds of people from the Rural Womens Assembly arrived at Speakers Corner for a rally. They were then joined by hundreds more from One Million Climate Jobs, and then everyone took to the streets, signing, dancing and chanting for climate justice.

This was a taster for what will happen here tomorrow, when the Global Day of Action march takes place in Durban and around the world. 20,000 people will make their voices heard, going right past the ICC where delegates will not be able to ignore the calls of the people.

We cannot and will not be silent in the face of the suicide pact being sanctioned by rich nations and imposed on the entire planet.

We demand an end to market based solutions to climate change, and instead call for just and equitable solutions that include immediate and binding emissions reductions and for developed nations to pay their historical climate debt.

Join us, starting at 9am at Botha’s Garden/Dingizulu .


Phanzi World Bank, Phanzi! Down with World Bank, Down!

This was the rallying cry that echoed around speakers corner today. Activists from across the globe demanded that the World Bank get out of climate finance. Speakers demanded climate justice. They demanded that developed nations pay their climate debt. They renamed the Green Climate Fund the Greedy Corporate Fund.

The World Bank Out of Climate Finance coalition issued the following press release:

 DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA, Dec. 1, 2011— Today 163 civil society organisations from 39 countries released a letter exposing an attempt  led by the US, the UK and Japan to turn the Green Climate Fund into a  “Greedy Corporate Fund” at UN climate talks in South Africa. [1]

The Green Climate Fund was created to support people in developing countries – people who are the most affected by the climate crisis but are the least responsible for it.

But at the climate negotiations this week, developed countries are trying to allow multinational corporations and financiers to directly access GCF financing.

This means companies could bypass developing country governments and their national climate strategies to get to public money.

“Turning the Green Climate Fund into a Greedy Corporate Fund would be shameful, yet this is what is being attempted at the Durban climate talks,” said Meena Raman from Third World Network.

“Led by the US and the UK on behalf of Wall Street and The City, this attempt to hijack developing countries’ funding is outrageous. Communities need this money to address climate change and to finance their own development – without repeating the same mistakes that the rich countries have made,” said Karen Orenstein from Friends of the Earth US.

“The role of private investment in financing climate activities must be decided at the national and sub-national levels in line with countries’ priorities, not corporate bottom lines. The move to allow the private sector to go directly to the Green Climate Fund for money undermines the possibility of a democratic, participatory process for meeting the needs of communities struggling to fight climate change,” said Lidy Nacpil of Jubilee South Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development.

Few adaptation measures in developing countries will be attractive to the private sector, as they will not generate revenue. Some key mitigation programs may also not be financially lucrative.

Groups also warned against closed door negotiations on the Green Climate Fund by South Africa, the US, and other developed countries.

“Whatever happens in Durban must be fully transparent. We are deeply concerned by reports that South Africa is informally consulting behind closed doors on the Green Climate Fund decision,” said Bobby Peek of groundwork / Friends of the Earth South Africa. “This will greatly undermine the legitimacy, and ultimately the effectiveness, of the Green Climate Fund.”

The concerns expressed in the letter come on top of the long-held rejection by many in civil society of any role for the World Bank in the Green Climate Fund.

Occupy COP17 support these calls and stand in solidarity with all those truly seeking climate justice.

The event was interrupted by the corporate clowns from Conference of Polluters who urged those gathered to “trust the markets”. Blowing vuvuzelas and bubbles, they promised that unlike all the other bubbles, the carbon bubble wouldn’t burst. And you know what they say, you can always trust a banker.

The next general assembly, on Friday 2 December, will take place as usual at 1pm at speakers corner, junction of Walnut Rd and Bram Fischer. We are very pleased to hear that Ambassador Williams from Grenada and Ambassador Moses from Nauru will be leaving the air conditioned ICC and coming out into the sunshine to join our general assembly. We hope other delegates will follow suit.

World Bank Out of Climate Finance

Today we will be joining with groups to get the World Bank out of climate finance. Meet at 1pm, Speakers Corner, junction of Walnut Rd and Bram Fischer.

Here is a video from a similar action at COP16 in Cancun.

A Day of Art @OccupyCOP17

Today at Occupy COP17 we were accompanied by an incredible live art piece by Durban based artist Ewok, reinterpreting Angie Vanessita’s beautiful image for Oilwatch.

The GA kicked off with two amazing mic-checked poems from Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of Friends of the Earth International. First up was We Thought it was Oil, but it was Blood. Which was followed by…

I will not dance to your beat

I will not dance to your beat
If you call plantations forests
I will not sing with you
If you privatise my water
I will confront you with my fists
If climate change means death to me but business to you
I will expose your evil greed
If you don’t leave crude oil in the soil
Coal in the hole and tar sands in the land
I will confront and denounce you
If you insist on carbon offsetting and other do-nothing false solutions
I will make you see red
If you keep talking of REDD and push forest communities away from their land
I will drag you to the Climate Tribunal
If you pile up ecological debt
& refuse to pay your climate debt
I will make you drink your own medicine
If you endorse genetically modified crops
And throw dust into the skies to mask the sun
I will not dance to your beat
Unless we walk the sustainable path
And accept real solutions & respect Mother Earth
Unless you do
I will not &
We will not dance to your beat

We were also joined by our sisters and brothers from the Indigenous Environment Network, who had been protesting outside a Shell refinery in Durban. Speakers from First Nations communities in North America spoke powerfully about the effects extractive industries, especially the tar sands, are having on them and the environment. Occupy COP17 stands in solidarity with IEN in opposing these industries and their financial and political backers. We echo their rallying call SHUT DOWN TAR SANDS. Apparently we all need to shout louder though, as the Canadian government looks like it will pull out of Kyoto.

An afternoon banner making workshop produced lots of huge banners that will be used in actions in the coming days.

And speaking of protests…

Tomorrow, Thursday 1 Dec,  Occupy COP17 will be joining in with World Bank Out of Climate activities and actions. Starting at 1pm in the usual place, Speakers Corner, junction of Walnut Rd and Bram Fischer. Please join us!

The next proper General Assembly will be on Friday, meeting as usual at speakers corner at 1pm, but we might then be heading out to an exciting new location, to engage with and involve many more people. Come and be part of the action!

Guerilla gardening at #occupycop17

Shortly after the second general assembly, some folks engaged in some guerilla gardening. Now there will be a beautiful heart-shaped garden at our next general assemblies.

OccupyCOP17 First General Assembly Notes

*~80-85% accurate
#occupycop17 General Assembly, November 28, 2011

Anna (facilitator):

•    Inside the UN are talking about the climate change. Many of us can’t get us, so we’re here to talk about climate justice and what we think each of us should do to solve climate change and make sure we live in a world Where every person is treated equally And gets an equal share of what we have

•    I’m going to begin by explaining the process
•    Many of you here will have been to a general assembly before, you all know what we’re doing. But not everybody has, so we’re going to explain it so we can all be involved
•    Why are shouting at each other?
•    This is called a human microphone. We’re repeating what I say and what each of you will say when you say so we can all hear it, so everyone can partake in the discussion

•    First, is there anyone that has a language issue?
•    Is anyone not following my English? Just put your hand up So I’m going to speak slowly, but if at any time you don’t understand what I’m saying put your hand in the air with an ‘L’ shape, I will try to make it so you can understand

•    Now on to hand signals
•    Anyone who has been to a GA will understand this [hands in the air, fingers moving]. You agree with what the person speaking is saying. Because we all want a chance to speak, we can tell them we heard we’ve heard enough [arms rolling]… there’s a hand signal we’ve heard enough
• If someone is saying something you don’t agree with [cross your arms in the air]
•    If you really disagree, and if the group carries on, and you will leave, you can put one fist in the air. This is really serious, and those in the group are taking your views into account and we need to stop
•    Remember we’re all here to come to some solutions, so remember lots of positive responses. Lets not do too much arm crossing
•    A “C” means “I need clarification on what’s going on”: “I don’t quite understand”
•    People who have been to occupations, have I missed anything?
•    Technical points, this is something outside our conversation [a ‘T’ with two hands]
•    Used for “the police are over there…”, or “an ambulance needs to get through”
•    [triangle with two hands] is a point of process. This means someone screwed up and we’re not doing it how we’re suppose to be doing it

•    Why are we here?
•    We’re here to talk about climate justice
•    So the first thing is to introduce a couple of people who are going to speak for two minutes about climate justice from their perspective
•    From there we will form little groups and we will all talk about climate justice for ten minutes
•    Then one person from each of your groups will present what we talked about
•    The first person is going to speak is Yvette

Yvette Abrahams:
•    Good morning
•    I’m am the South Africa commissioner for gender equality
•    I’m also first nations South African
•    So I’m very happy to welcome you to the land of my ancestors
•    As you know SA is the cradle of human kind
•    So you’re all our children
•    So welcome back home to your motherland
•    Of course this is your mother planet
•    Now what happened was two or three hundred years ago
•    Some european men decided to distinguish man and nature and of course they said to themselves men are suppose to rule over nature
•    For us as indigenous people this is very strange because we don’t understand how nature is over there and men are over here
•    Because men drink and look for women
•    So how do they get away from nature
•    […]
•    So come back home you belong here
•    There’s not another planet you can go to, the spaceship is only for the very rich and the very powerful, you’re not going to get on
•    Half the people in there [the ICC] are not even going to get on it
•    So how about you settle down with us and figure out ways
•    And figure out ways to get back to mother nature

•    Ok one more speaker before we all speak
•    Pablo will speak to us about climate justice for two minutes

Pablo Solon:
•    Good morning to all
•    I come from Bolivia
•    We always say “Haiyaya”
•    It means for life
•    “Haiyaya”
•    Because the main issue here being negotiated is the future of life
•    This is why we believe in Bolivia to promote the rights of mother earth
•    Because the only way to bring balance to is to have the rights of nature and the rights of human beings
•    I have been a negotiator for two and half years
•    We opposed the Cancun accord one year ago. Why?
•    Because it’s going to cook the world and it’s going to cook Africa
•    Rich countries are saying they are only going to reduce 13%-17% of their 1990 levels
•    That means the temperature by more than 4 degres celcius
•    That represents for Africa more than 8 degrees celcius
•    This is a huge impact on water, food and health
•    Three hundred and fifty thousands persons died last year because of nature disasters that have do with climate change
•    We cannot be part of this genocide and ecocide
•    The only way we can stop this is only if we organize in the whole world like we’re doing here
•    Negotiators are not going to change if there is not social pressure in all the capitals in all of the countries
•    The future of the world depends on the seed we’re beginning to plant here
•    Thank you

•    OK! It’s time for us all to talk and to figure out what we think and let them know
•    So I want you all to break up into groups of four or five and talk about climate justice for twenty minutes
•    Then we will report back to what we have talked about

•    Mic check
•    Members of the Press you can also participate in the conversation

First group:
•    Our group discussed a range of ideas about us beginning with the solution
•    people power over the corporate influence that is trying to promote false solutions and take control of those false solutions with intellectual property rights and many other forms of false solutions
•    We feel frustrated about what’s going on
•    We can create transformations and that transformation is what we need

Second group:
•    We spoke about the need for local level solutions
•    Including the ideas of integrating mother earth rights in local bylaws
•    We also spoke about the need for us to learn
•    To speak about climate change in the language that ordinary people can relate to and understand and therefore interact with
•    We also spoke about how integrated the struggle with the need for economic change, gender , and a variety of other factors and how they’re missing that in there [the ICC]
•    And thus what they come up with will not work in our world

Third group:
•    We discussed the lack of effective and transmission of information in South Africa about Climate Justice
•    The tools we identified as changed are the following:
•    Word of the mouth seems to be most effective way
•    Art and theatre as the tools of communication as they overcome the barriers around literacy
•    That’s it

Fourth group:
•    We talked about a number of things, we talked about education and how those who “know about climate change are often those who feel it the least”
•    They are none of the people who know climate change
•    We talked about this conference like a conference of lions talking about how to save a deer
•    We thought it was very important that we acknowledge climate change as a symptom of a larger structure that is causing this
•    The conversations should not be about mitigation and adaptation
•    But about fossil fuels, their use
•    We thought very important to talk about rights
•    What our rights are
•    Beyond the concept of energy
•    And we wanted think about how we can challenge this

Fifth group:
•    Our group spoke about what you all spoke about
•    but also about moving away from fossils to a green future
•    Equity between humans and nature
•    The need to expose the capture inside [the ICC] by large corporations
•    And the need to standby developing countries who are trying to push for climate justice
•    and connecting issues at the grassroots
•    Increasing electricity prices, water privatisation, not having money for food and climate justice equals broken capitalism and climate injustice

Last group:
•    We need to come with simple terms where everybody will understand
•    We need to include the khoi san who are living in South Africa and Kalahari desert
•    They know how to live with nature, the trees and the environment
•    We should not speak on their behalf
•    We need to include traditional leaders
•    Guiding the rural areas to grow friendly with nature
•    Now we have to talk about climate justice
•    We need to talk about what we’re going to do

•    Now we would like you all go back to your groups and discuss how you want to move forward as a group from this movement
•    I propose we switch up groups to hear different perspectives

Group one:
•    We talked about whether this should become occupation for the duration of the COP and if so, what the logistics would entail
•    we thought this might be a conversation for a later date
•    There was a proposal to set a time for a GA every day and we wanted to take a temperature check for a proposed time

•    We should hear from all the groups before we move forward

Group one:
•    We wondered how to take this occupy cop17 people’s conference forward after cop17
•    We wondered about the rest of working groups whether that should happen, we wondered even if people were not staying overnight that there should be a few people throughout who direct could people to the people’s space
•    We also talked about a program of events in this space, including teach-ins and music
•    That’s it

Group two:
•    We all agreed that capitalism is a huge issue
•    We asked how to take on capitalism and how do we approach topic of capitalism
•    We don’t know how to save the world
•    We really don’t know how to stop blind consumption
•    We do know that it starts right here
•    We spoke about different leveLs of change namely policy vs community and how they interlink and we also spoke about issues of representation inside cop17
•    Thank you

Group three:
•    We also propose to discuss here how we can communicate and connect with occupation movements around the world during these two weeks
•    The first thing we talked about was affirming that we need to continue the occupation on a regular basis and figure out the
logistics concerning thought
•    One thought was how to make permanent banners or info kiosks we were thinking about how to display the declaration that came from Cochabamba World people’s conference on climate change and the rights of mother of that was held in 2010
•    And potentially the statement that came from the WSF on climate justice
•    We also talked about organising inside and outside and how to build to solidarity and act in solidarity with the most vulnerable nations inside
•    The last thing that we talked about was inviting South Africans and people from Durban and members of communities in this area And especially communities that have been affected

Group four:
•    We discussed how to bring more participation from the public here
•    Rather than talk about too many issues about pollution, we should focus on simple things like water security and the cost of electricity
•    To try to bring more of the general public into the conversation
•    The reason being that many of the topics we are discussing are from the first world are not really coherent to what the general people understand
•    So if we tell people to just come here to complain about rising electricity costs, we just might get a large occupation

Group five:
•    One point is to discuss the importance of including traditional leaders and communities into this assembly the point was raised earlier the people here are not the worst affected
•    It is of vital importance to include people that are affected most
•    Thank you everyone

•    I think now, we should hear specific proposals of things people wanted to and we can get some general agreement and in the spirit of occupations around the world give people autonomy to go away from this general assembly to work on that and decide on when and if we should meet again

Various voices:
•    Proposal is that we have a General assembly everyday for the duration of the COP
•    so we have a lot of support for a general assembly everyday
•    Perhaps that might mean a group to work on that
•    Do we have anyone that is willing to do that?
•    If we set a time, we send a group away to work on tomorrow’s GA
•    How do people feel about staying at 11 am
•    Changing to 1pm to match UN lunch time
•    So tomorrow’s meeting will be at 1pm!
•    Next proposal:
•    If it does rain and continues to rain should we considering an alternative venue that will still allow us to achieve our objectives
•    I would propose that the working group work to make this space water proof with tarpaulins
•    Does it make sense to have a working group to coordinate with other communities
•    A working group to reach out to Durban and to other communities around the world
•    People to work on outreach to get more people here?
•    Outreach to occupy movements around the world?
•    People who are willing to reach out to other occupy groups around the world?

•    Lets finish the GA and get to work is that ok?

•    Thank you everyone for being here and respecting each other and making it happen, we can do this