(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.

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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.

 

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: cop17carbonmarkets.com

You can view and download the Carbon Markets, Trading Our Future film at: vimeo.com/cop17/carbonmarkets

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!

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 .

CLIMATE JUSTICE NOW!

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.

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.