#OccupyCOP17, Durban climate talks: African and Indigenous voices for real climate justice, not false solutions
About 50 protesters held a pre-COP17 action on November 25, chanting "Phansi [down with] CDMs, phansi!" In the background is the World Cup white elephant, the Moses Mabhida Stadium, a few kilometres north of the extremely well-guarded International Convention Centre.
November 24, 2011 -- Governments of the world are, for the 17th time, assembling to
discuss how we react on an international scale to a changing
climate. During these last 16 years a sane response to an
unsustainable global culture has not been found.
Inside their assembly and inside their declarations the needs of
the 99% are not being heard. Private corporations are occupying
our seats in the UN climate talks and governments corrupted by
corporate influence are claiming to represent our needs.They are
abusing and pillaging the consensus process, once put in place to
ensure even the smallest and most vulnerable had a say.
We, as a planet, have been shown we can no longer rely on the
same structures that have allowed for famines, floods, hurricanes
and massacres to escalate relentlessly. There is a historic
responsibility, and a global necessity for action.
Here in Durban, where Nelson Mandela cast his first vote and
Gandhi held his first public meeting, we’re putting out an
invitation to anyone who wishes to have their voice heard: to join
a dialogue of how we must react to ensure the present culture of
1% of the worlds population does no injustice to the future of the
On Monday, November 28 at 11am, as
representative from 192 nation-states begin their talks, we will
This a humble invitation for all to come and engage in an open
and peaceful general assembly around the theme of climate justice.
In the spirit of general assemblies from around the world we will
talk, we will listen, we will learn and we will respect each
other through our process.
November 22, 2011 -- The Civil Society Committee for COP17 (C17) is calling on the global
community to unite against climate change by participating in this
year’s Global Day of Climate Action (GDA).
The GDA is a traditional and important event during the United Nations
climate change negotiations and takes place at the Conference of the
Parties (COP) each year. The primary action – a mass march of
international and national community, labour, women, youth, academic,
religious and environmental organisations and activists – demonstrates
civil society’s common determination to tackle climate change.
This year’s peaceful protest, which will take place on December 3,
halfway through the two-week Durban conference (COP17), provides an
opportunity for participants to demonstrate their concern for the global
climate crisis and call on world leaders to find a just solution to
The march will demonstrate that addressing climate change is as urgent
for the people of Africa as for those of the North. Behind a common lead
banner, it will combine the diversity of formations and opinions within
civil society to call for decision-makers to be accountable for the
decisions they make on behalf of those they represent.
Participants will gather at Curries Fountain, a site of anti-apartheid
struggle significance, for a 9 am rally. Beginning at 10 am, the
march will be joined en route by the faith communities group, a special
needs group and youth. Participants will proceed to the International
Convention Centre (ICC) to hand over a memorandum to world leaders.
The march will conclude with a separately organised, free concert on the beach at 3 pm.
The Civil Society Committee for COP17 (C17) includes representatives
of various organisations including social movements, labour,
environmental justice organisations, international environmental NGOs
and faith-based organisations. It is a facilitatory body established to
coordinate the participation of international and national movements and
organisations of civil society in the common process but will not seek
to represent them or to enter into negotiations with, or lobbying of,
governments on their behalf.
Rather, the C17 seeks to create
opportunities for civil society engagement in the 2011 climate change
negotiations during 2011, civil society engagement with the South
African government around climate change negotiations and positions, a
platform for the expression of diversity in civil society and
environmental movement building in South Africa and the region.
In addition to coordinating the GDA, C17 is also hosting an
alternative civil society space from November 28 to December 9, 2011, at
the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College Campus. Public events
will consider issues of climate change, social justice, water, renewable
energy and food sovereignty, among others. Entrance is free.
For more information, or to receive communiqués on civil society activities at COP17, go to www.c17.org.za, and follow us on Facebook (C17 South Africa) and Twitter (@C17SA).
Via Campesina at COP17 in Durban: Industrial agriculture heats up the planet; farmers are cooling it down!
Maputo, Mozambique, November 21, 2011 -- Via Campesina -- The international peasant's movement
La Via Campesina will be at the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17), the UN
summit on climate change, that will take place in Durban, South Africa,
from November 28 to the December 9, 2011. More than 200 peasants, women and men, from Africa, Europe, Latin America and the
Caribbean will represent millions of small-scale producers from around the
world, practicing agroecology to cool down the Earth.
In Durban, members of La Via Campesina will denounce the industrial
agriculture model as one of the main drivers of climate change. We will
also expose agribusiness' aggressive land grabbing tactics globally,
causing mass displacement of people for monoculture production.
Peasants globally oppose false solutions to climate change, such as
monoculture plantations, REDD mechanisms, soil carbon markets, and the
so called “climate smart agriculture”, which instead of solving the
climate crisis, are heating up the planet.
In Durban, La Via Campesina will participate on the global day of action on December 3, to demand social and climate justice. On December 5, all African peasants movements will celebrate the Agroecology
and Food Sovereignty Day to Cool Down the Earth, a symbolic
manifestation to demand respect for the cause of peasants globally.
Developed nations must pay for pollution: COSATU
November 19, 2011 -- South African Press Association -- Developed nations have to
pay for damage to the environment as part of a just transition
to low carbon economies, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) said today.
“While we accept that developing countries, including South
Africa, have to play their part in reducing emissions, developed
countries must carry a larger part of the burden”, spokesperson Patrick Craven said.
He said “just transition” meant changes that did not
disadvantage the working class worldwide and developing
countries, and where the industrialised countries paid for the
damage their development had done to the Earth’s atmosphere.
Developed countries, who had less than 20% of the world’s
population and had emitted almost three quarters of all historic
greenhouse gas emissions, must pay for their climate debt. Craven said one of the constraints on South Africa and other
developing countries was a deficit of technology and skills to
both reduce emissions and to adapt to a new climate change
“We must make sure that technology and skills transfers are
effected without being fettered by the obligation to pay for
intellectual property rights”, he said. “A just transition addresses both the unemployment crisis and
the ecological crisis. The evidence suggests that the transition
to a low-carbon economy will potentially create more jobs than
it will lose.
The union federation said that it recognised that the fundamental cause of
the climate crisis was the “expansionist logic of the capitalist
system”, which created massive waste. It would therefore reject any form of capital accumulation “even
if those forms of capitalist accumulation are green”, said
SAMWU strategy for COP17 and dealing with climate change
November 25, 2011 -- The
South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) will participate fully in
the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17). SAMWU has already adopted a
strategy towards the COP17 conference. Our strategy towards thisc onference will be based on the 15 principles adopted by the COSATU central executive committee.
The principles adopted by COSATU and SAMWU:
accumulation has been the underlying cause of excessive greenhouse gas
emissions, and therefore global warming and climate change.
2. A new low carbon development path is needed which addresses the need for decent jobs and the elimination of unemployment.
3. Food insecurity must be urgently addressed.
4. All South Africans have the right to clean, safe and affordable energy.
5. All South Africans have the right to clean water.
6. We need a massive ramping up of public transport in South Africa.
impacts of climate change on health must be understood and dealt with
in the context of the demand for universal access to health.
8. A just transition to a low-carbon and climate resilient economy is required.
9. We need a carbon budget for South Africa.
10. African solidarity is imperative.
ambitious legally binding international agreement designed to limit
temperature increases to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius is essential as an
outcome of the UNFCCC process.
12. We reject market mechanisms to reduce carbon emissions.
13. Developed countries must pay for their climate debt and the Green Climate Fund must be accountable.
need investment in technology, and technology transfers to developing
countries must not be fettered by intellectual property rights.
15. The South African government’s position in the UNFCCC processes must properly represent the interests of the people.
from the above, SAMWU also agreed to engage with its membership
countrywide and the community, to bring about greater understanding of
the climate change challenges we currently face. Together with this we
committed ourselves to working with civil society organisations and
NGOs that have specialised knowledge on the climate change issue, to
develop our understanding on climate change challenges and develop
their understanding of the problems facing workers.
in its national executive committee meeting held this month also
decided to throw its weight behind the important Climate Change Jobs
Campaign, to promote job creation in dealing with climate change
We commit ourselves to
create the pressure needed on our political and economic systems, to
reduce climate threats and move towards a sustainable society.
Tahir Sema. South African Municipal Workers' Union of COSATU National media and publicity officer email@example.com Office: 011-331 0333.
Declaration by members of the Indigenous People's Biocultural Climate Change Assessment (IPPCCA)
participants of the workshop on
REDD and Biocultural Protocols organised by the Indigenous
Climate Change Assessment (IPCCA), from Ecuador, Panama, India,
and Samoa met on November 24 and 25, 2011 in Durban, South Africa,
emergent findings and analyse how REDD is affecting our
territories in order to
respond through our assessments. We discussed strategies for
the Indigenous peoples denounce
the serious situation we are facing; the harmonious relationship
and Mother Earth has been broken. The life of people and
Pachamama has become a
business. Life, for Indigenous peoples, is sacred, and we
REDD+ and the carbon market a hypocrisy which will not impact
warming. For us,
everything is life, and
life cannot be negotiated or sold on a stock market, this is a
huge risk and
will not resolve the environmental crisis.
our discussions and dialogue
we identified the following inherent risks and negative impacts
of REDD+, which
we alert the world to:
a neoliberal, market-driven approach that leads to the
life and undermines holistic community values and governance. It
neoliberal approach driven by economic processes such as trade
and privatisation and by actors like the World Bank whom have
for the destruction of forests and livelihoods of Indigenous peoples all over
the world. The concept of “green economy” is a vehicle for
promoting trends of
commodification of nature. It is a vehicle to impose neoliberal
strategies on developing countries, which undermines traditional
tenure systems. Indigenous peoples have well-performing and
economies, but these economies are ignored. Indigenous peoples
have used their
wisdom for thousands of years to manage forests in a way that
quantified and is priceless. Meanwhile, Northern countries and
policies have destroyed the climate and planet and, therefore,
significant ecological debt to pay.
and projects are directly targeting Indigenous peoples and their
territories, as this is where the remaining forests are found.
conservation organisations and powerful state agencies will
benefits by grabbing forest land and reaching unfair and
with forest-dwelling Indigenous peoples. REDD+ is triggering
corruption, evictions and other human rights violations.
Calculating how much
carbon is stored in forests (monitoring, reporting and
verification) is a very
complicated and expensive process, and Indigenous knowledge is
within it. As a result, the overwhelming majority of REDD+
funding will end up
in the hands of consultants, NGOs and carbon brokers like the
3. Indigenous peoples
and local communities use their own governance systems, which
laws, rules, institutions and practices, to manage their forests
territories, many of which are implicit and part of oral or
traditions. REDD+ policies and projects are undermining and
violating Indigenous governance systems. Through developing REDD+
national governments are creating new institutions, which will
concentrate control over forests into the hands of state
violate the rights and autonomy of Indigenous peoples. These new
however, fail to address the drivers of forest loss.
up forests, blocking access and customary use of Indigenous peoples and
local communities to their forests. This impacts negatively on
forest-related knowledge, food sovereignty and food security,
health-care systems, which are lost as communities are
manipulated or forced to
sell their rights to access and use of their forests.
of forest loss and forest land grabbing will not be addressed by
Governments that are elaborating REDD+ policies are also
sectors such as cattle ranching, bio-energy, mining, oil
agro-industrial monocultures that, ironically, are the main
drivers of forest
loss. In countries like Ecuador, governments are promoting
exploration schemes in forest-protected areas.
on carbon in REDD+ policies promotes the establishment of
tree plantations, including genetically modified trees, and
ignores the social
and cultural values of forests. Institutions like the Forest
Council legitimise this trend by certifying plantation
establishment as "sustainable forest management". Corporations take over lands
shifting cultivation systems, are fallow, and destroy them
plantation establishment. In a country like India, REDD+ is
becoming a tree
plantation expansion program that triggers land grabbing on a
undermining the Forest Rights Act.
and carbon-offset schemes, especially in large countries like
India and Brazil are a vehicle for implementing REDD+. Large
corporations, such as mining and dam companies, are allowed to
environmental damage they cause by planting trees. Indigenous peoples and local
communities suffer twofold;
they suffer from the
environmental damage caused by their pollution, as well as from
impacts of projects that compensate them. Furthermore,
organisations profit from such compensation projects, and will
thus be tempted
to turn a blind eye on the negative impacts of such industries.
problems with reference levels, leakage, permanence, monitoring,
and verification, problems which policy makers are not inclined
and unable to
solve, REDD+ is undermining the climate regime. REDD+ violates
the principle of
common but differentiated responsibility. It creates major
grants the right to pollute to developed countries and their
Climate change is today one of the biggest threats to the lives
of Indigenous peoples, and for that reason, false solutions such
as REDD+ form a direct threat to the survival of
threatens the survival of
Indigenous peoples. We emphasise that the inherent risks and
cannot be addressed through safeguards or other remedial
measures. We insist
that all actors involved in REDD+ fully respect the rights of
in particular, the right to free, prior and informed consent
caution, however, that adherence to the principle of FPIC is not
a means to
solve these negative impacts and this principle should not be
used to justify
REDD+. The right of self-determination of Indigenous peoples
should not be used
to justify the destruction of our territories. Indigenous
peoples should not
commit themselves to a process that does not respect them.
hypocrisy of REDD+ and the many false financial promises that
have been made.
REDD+ is a market-based approach through which outside actors
try to commodify
what is sacred to Indigenous peoples: the heritage of our
ancestors and the
guarantee of life for future generations, not just Indigenous peoples, but for
all of humanity. Many Indigenous peoples and communities are not
aware of the
threats and impacts of REDD+, which is a political trap, and
will lead to
enhancing climate change. We call upon these communities to
integrity in this respect.
call upon all people committed to
climate justice to support life, and we implore the global
community to take
responsibility for reducing emission of greenhouse gases at the
source and to
reject REDD+ as a false solution that breeds a new form of
Gloria Ishigua, president, Ashiñwaka – Association of Sápara Women, Ecuador
Marlon Santi, Sarayaku Runa, Ecuador
Jesus Smith, president, Fundacion para la Promocion del
Conocimiento Indigena, Panama
Jadder Mendoza, Universidad de las Regiones Autonomas
de la Costa Caribe de Nicaragua, Nicaragua
Fiu Mataese Elisara, O’le Siosiomaga Society Inc., S’amoa
Climate Change and global warming are perpetrated by the capitalists to oppress the poor to make profit
By Reverend Mavuso of the Rural Network (South Africa)
November 25, 2011 -- We are told that our world is at risk from global warming caused by the pollution of the capitalists over many years. These same capitalists have become rich by making the rest of us poor. We were forced off our land, forced to work in their mines, factories and homes and now we are told that there are no more jobs for us. We are left to rot. For us the world has been in crisis for a very long time.
We cannot be expected to pay the price for global warming. Many of us don’t even have electricity in our homes. The price for fixing global warming must be paid by those that have become rich while disrespecting and damaging this world that God created for all of us.
As the Rural Network we are very concerned that game farming and the tourism industry are being presented to the world as "eco-tourism" when international guests are being encouraged to come to South Africa. In fact we are being evicted for "eco-tourism". This exercise is used to rob people of their land and to evict poor people and replace them with animals. Empty promises of new job opportunities are made to the poor. But these job opportunities are for domestic workers and security guards. The bed & breakfasts belong to the rich and the poor do not benefit out of it beyond some few people getting badly paid jobs as domestic workers or securities.
This whole business of eco-tourism is just a new stage in the long war against us. Now we find that when people want to harvest the blessings of God’s world there is a huge cry of poaching. People need their land back. Any environmentalism that doesn’t start and end with people will just become another excuse for the rich to oppress us.
If there are extreme temperatures or floods the landless and homeless will suffer the most. Industry must be heavily taxed for its pollution – past and present. That money must go towards creating ways of working and creating energy that will not damage the Earth. But it must also go towards making sure that everyone has a decent house or enough land.
Farmers are producing food for export which is a threat to food sovereignty. When their product is not good enough for the export market they throw it away where it could not be reached or consumed by the poor. Milk, sugar and bread are so expensive in such a way that they are not affordable to the poor. It is as if they are imported but in fact they are locally produced.
The planting of sugarcane is a practice of monoculture. The commercial farmers are not crop rotating and so they deplete and destroy our soil. The burning of sugarcane is also causing global warming and is polluting the environment. Sugarcane and timber plantations consume a lot of water and cause drought. Ploughing with tractors also emits carbon so the government must give us nguni cattle so that we can use them for farming. These cattle must not to be taken by government officials for their own private herds as it is happening with the KZN government.
Land reform must not be about creating black farmers who can farm like the big commercial white farmers. Land reform must be about creating a livelihood for people that have been dispossessed and have no work. It must be about local production for local needs. It must be about food sovereignty.
Transport must be safe, viable and reliable. The [mini-bus] taxis are said to be public transport but they are privately owned. The government must negotiate with the taxis owners so that we can do what they call clubbing. That means sharing the transport to reduce the amount of cars in the roads. Public transport must be cheap and safe and run for the people and not for profit. The politicians must stop using big cars and the must reduce their fleets of cars and stop travelling in big convoys with blue lights. They threaten our safety and they pollute the environment through emissions of carbon. When travelling short distance they must use bicycles together with their VIP protection.
Climate change and global warming must not be used as a mechanism to deny the poor to access basic services and enjoyment of basic human rights. Food production should be aimed for local feeding not for export. Natural resources must not be privatised and sold, because they are a gift from God. Water must be channelled to all people, especially the poor. The Umngeni River has never dried up. There are the Uthukela, Umhlathuze and Jozini dams but the poor have no water. So this notion of saving water must not be misused as a way of denying the poor access to water.
Industries must rest at night to allow the Earth to use its natural cooling system. The government must make sure that one day is the resting day where all industries are forced to rest. God made the night on purpose for all human kind to rest. There must be a way of controlling these industries. They should only work to meet the needs of the people -- not to produce for 24 hours just to make some few people rich.
Climate change must not be used to deny us access to jobs. [South Africa's president] Jacob Zuma promised half a million jobs but every day there is less and less work. We should change the work week to three days so that everyone can get work and there can be more time for families, learning and community work.
Renewable energy must not be a way of denying the poor access to electricity. Whenever [South Africa's state electricity utility] Eskom is in trouble they blame the poor for self-organised electricity connections and the police are sent out to shoot us and disconnect us. We all have a right to electricity. It is not the poor that are using too much.
COP17 ... will be a meeting of perpetrators of global warming. They are not serious about climate change mitigation and adaptation. They only care about profit making. They will converge in Durban with airplanes, buses and cars which are going to pollute even more our environment.
They will not be meeting in a democratic city. As the repression of Abahlali baseMjondolo [shackdwellers' movement] has shown to the world this is a city where there is no freedom for the poor. This is a city where if you are a poor person and you want to be part of discussions about your future you will be met with violence from the party and the police. Here the poor are not allowed to represent themselves. They must be represented by civil society organisations.
It has been said that God made this world as a common treasury for all. That is how we need to treat this world – as a common treasury for all – not as something to be bought and sold and exploited by the rich.
By Sipho Hlongwane, Daily Maverick, 28 November 2011
COP17 starts on 28 November. Cosatu has had words about the entire process. It basically has no faith in it because the big boys and gals aren’t coming to the table. But also, Cosatu claims it is a talk shop for heads of government, with civil society getting little chance to contribute to the proceedings.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find anybody that has faith that the COP17 (the full name is The 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - you’ll excuse us for sticking to COP17) negotiations will yield meaningful results. By meaningful, we mean all the biggest polluters in the world agree to cut carbon emissions, and agree offenders should be punished. The parties managed to pass a lukewarm accord on the Kyoto Protocol in Copenhagen 2009, but when they met in Cancun last year, they mostly agreed to only pass a binding resolution in Durban this year.
One of the stronger, even if local, voices of objection is that of Cosatu.
After the meeting of the Cosatu central executive committee meeting on 24 November, the secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi called COP17 a “damage-control exercise with low ambition, but a certain level of efficiency, focused on the very technical aspects of the negotiation and with little space to advance political aspects such as emission reductions, source of funding or even ‘Just Transition’ dimensions”.
What Cosatu wants of COP17 is a legally binding agreement for emission reductions that places the onus almost squarely at the feet of developed countries, a resolution to protect workers as economies change and become greener (the so-called “just transition”), low-carbon economies, the removal of the World Bank from the process of climate finance, the protection of biodiversity and, of course, the inclusion of trade unions in the negotiations at COP17.
While Cosatu can bet its every red T-shirt it won’t be allowed in as an equal negotiator as sovereign nation states, it will also not likely see a massive ground-shaking agreement. The main reason why Copenhagen stalled was because vital countries such as China and the US wouldn’t commit to a massive binding agreement. In Cancun, the focus was on smaller, piece-meal and very specific agreements, and it seems likely the trend will continue in Durban.
Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said there was no indication the major players had undergone a fundamental change of attitude, and so a major deal was unlikely.
He said the trade union federation cared about issues of the environment and climate change because these are human issues. “It is ultimately about workers’ lives, not workers’ rights,” he said. “The environment is people, and it is very much a ‘people’ issue. Workers live much closer to the polluting factories than others do, for example. We’ve been complaining about the pollution in Vanderbijlpark for years now.”
Craven said if COP17 should fail to reach a big agreement, it wouldn’t be the fault of the incoming COP17 president and South Africa’s international relations and cooperation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabana, but that of major powers refusing to budge.
Dirco spokesman Clayson Monyela said labour would be represented at COP17.
According to the BBC’s environment correspondent Richard Black, one of the biggest debates at COP17 (and certainly the most exciting) is going to be on the issue of funding for developing nations so they will be able to meet their climate-change goals as agreed at Copenhagen.
Black says developed nations will say they are largely on track in their obligations to meet the $30 billion commitment to developing countries. However, the recipients will likely be irked by the channelling of money through the World Bank and other international institutions. It means everything takes longer, and well, the World Bank gets to have a say.
“There's also the fact much of the money - more than half, in the case of the EU - is being given in the form of loans, subsidies and equities, rather than as straight financial contributions, as you might have inferred from the language in use at Copenhagen,” Black writes.
Then there’s the biggest problem of all. At Copenhagen, $30 billion was promised from 2010 till 2012. Richer countries have promised it will have given $100 billion a year by 2020. Even if they manage to give away $10 billion every year for the next nine years, where’s the rest suddenly going to come from?