Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quebec on the verge of catastrophic climate change, expert says

By William Marsden
The Gazette
December 29, 2011

Richelieu River Flooding

Record floods, melting permafrost, shoreline erosion and intense winds caused havoc for thousands of Quebecers as 2011 proved to be yet another year of higher than normal temperatures.

These higher temperatures add to the credibility of climate models that have predicted the march of global warming will accelerate the more greenhouse gases we pump into the atmosphere, scientists say.

“It is striking that over the last 10 to 15 years we didn’t have a single season colder than normal,” said Alain Bourque, director of climate change impacts and adaptation at Quebec’s climate change research institute Ouranos. “That is a clear indication that Canada’s climate is heating up beyond any reasonable doubt.”

The true colors of green economy

By Silvia Ribeiro
América Latina en Movimiento
December 19, 2011

Twenty years after the UN Conference on Environment and Development (World Summit or Eco ‘92) a new world conference will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012. Rio+20, as it is known, will be set in the midst of the greatest global crises in the century: environmental devastation, biodiversity erosion, climate crisis, economic and financial crisis, food crisis, and health crisis.

Although Rio+20 was supposed to review the commitments made, the state of the real problems and the strategies to resolve them, the issues on the agenda are green economy and new forms of global environmental governance. If the term “sustainable development” was ambiguous and was profusely manipulated, the substitution for green economy points to an even more restrictive approach, which privileges those who dominate the markets.

Can Bolivia become a green energy superpower?

Bolivia has vast reserves of lithium, one of the largest reserves of clean energy future, and wants to exploit it alone. But lithium is enclosed under a salt of about 10,000 square kilometers

The Guardian
December 29, 2011
Google translation

Bolivia's  lithium  lies beneath its vast salt flats
Bolivia has more lithium than any other country in the world but its battery power potential "lithium ion" for electric cars is in danger of not materialize.

The vast reserves of lithium are dissolved in a saltwater lagoon below the layer of the highest salt lake in the world, which has led to all kinds of superlative comparisons, one of the most memorable is that the landlocked country to become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium."

There is a comparison that pleases the Socialist government of President Evo Morales. The first indigenous leader of the nation has promised that Bolivia exploit lithium reserves alone, in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all Bolivians.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Corporations, climate and the United Nations: How big business has seized control of global climate negotiations

Polaris Institute
December 2011

In time for COP 17 in Durban, South Africa, the Polaris Institute  prepared a report outlining how multinational corporations and their lobbyists have infiltrated the United Nations and are influencing the outcomes of climate negotiations. The report uncovers and describes where corporations influence the United Nations in the build up to and during climate change negotiations and how this corporate interest is the driving force behind the preferred market based initiatives that are emerging from the UNFCCC process.

Examples of corporate infiltration of the UNFCCC process are presented in order to highlight how multilateral and national level climate change policies carry the fingerprints of corporate interests. The corporate control of agendas inside the UN is not new and the report is framed within the historical roots of the access business and industry enjoy inside the United Nations.

This report exposes and critiques the corporate powers that influence the UNFCCC and use the United Nations to mask damaging operations. In conclusion, the report calls on activists to bring these corporate powers to account along with a UN system that has spent far too long working in partnership with destructive corporations instead of regulating their troublesome behaviour.

For the full report, go to

Friday, December 23, 2011

Joel Kovel at Occupy Wall Street: Ecosocialism and OWS

mfoxus's channel

Part One

Part two

An assessment of the failure of the Durban summit on the climate: no more "green capitalism"

By Josep María Antentas, Esther Vivas
International Viewpoint
December 2011

We will save the markets, not the climate. That is how we can summarize the outcome of the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) which took place in Durban, South Africa between 28 November and 10 December 2011. There is a striking contrast between the rapid response by governments and international institutions at the onset of the economic and financial crisis of 2007-08 in bailing out private banks with public money and the complete immobility they demonstrate in response to climate change. Yet this should not surprise us, because in both cases it is the markets and their accomplices in government who come out as winners.

There were two central themes at the Durban summit; first, the future of the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012 and the ability to put in place mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and, secondly, the launch of the Green Climate Fund approved at the previous summit in Cancun (Mexico) with the theoretical aim of supporting the poorest countries to face the consequences of climate change through projects of mitigation and adaptation.

An ecosocialist proposal to the global crisis

By Fernando de la Cuadra
EcoPortal.Net (google translation)

A set of environmental indicators show that if mankind does not change his style of development, less than a century will put at serious risk the survival of the planet and mankind. Mészáros reminds us, each new phase of forced postponement, the contradictions of the capitalist system can only worsen, bringing with it a greater danger to our own survival.

Contemporary Ecosocialism arises precisely as a response to this self-destructive dimension of capitalism and is seen as a rational and feasible alternative to the social and environmental crisis facing civilization and humanity.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Border Security Deal's Ugly Twin Carries Major Energy and Environmental Implications for Canada

By Nelle Maxey 
The Common Sense Canadian 
December 19, 2011 

Harper's government officially announced in recent weeks a new Border Security deal with the US. However, little press space was given to the ugly twin of this deal - the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) and their "Joint Action Plan". The RCC was set up to "streamline" regulations in four economic sectors engaged in cross-border trade. These sectors are Food &Agriculture, Transportation, Energy and Environment and Personal Care Products.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the press release for the RCC's Joint Action Plan. The word "Energy" was dropped from the Energy and Environment sector. That's right. Never mind that energy, including oil, natural gas and hydroelectricity, is arguably the most important sector of Canada-US trade in today's constrained energy supply world.

Monday, December 19, 2011

World’s poor pay for Harper's policies

By Linda McQuaig
Dec 19 2011

In a review last week of the year’s best and worst, Rex Murphy offered up his choice for the most overrated politician of the year: Stephen Harper.

Speaking on the “At Issue” panel on CBC-TV’s The National, Murphy mused that the Prime Minister is not nearly as menacing a character as his enemies make him out to be: “He doesn’t have the power that they think he has. He doesn’t have the depth of animus against all the rest of the world that he’s painted as.”

Murphy, for all his posturing as an independent-minded contrarian, was delivering a message the governing Conservatives would dearly love to plant in the minds of Canadians: that Harper is not an extremist.

Rather, Murphy suggested, it’s Harper’s “enemies” — those who are “radically against him” — who are the extremists.

Is climate change the real ticking time bomb in North Korea?

By John Parnell
19 December 2011

Propaganda from North Korea is frequently mocked in the West. But in between stories about on “the warmongers” and “fascist crackdown”, the state-run news agency KCNA, has also run several pieces on the threat of climate change.

In 2002, KCNA said that: “The repeated natural disasters that hit the DPRK (North Korea) are attributable to the abnormal weather caused by global warming. The speed of warming in Korea at present is three times the average speed of global warming.” They didn’t clarify that last claim but did call for concerted action from all to combat the threat. It even ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2005.

News of the death of Kim Jong-il was met with predictable televised hysteria on KCNA and equally inevitable media speculation on regional instability in the West. Attention will turn to guesses on how his successor, Kim Jong-un might lead the country through its numerous challenges, including that alarming rate of climate change.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Socialism and Ecology

Socialist Resistance
August 1, 2011

If you don’t like the message, shoot the messenger. That is the response of international capitalism to the threat of runaway global warming. For decades, the green movement, to its credit, has been warning about the threat to the world environment from polluting industries and consumerism. The destruction of the ozone layer due to the use of Chloro- Fluoro-Carbons in aerosol sprays and fridge coolants was identified almost too late for them to be banned. Years later, the effects of this pollutant are still felt in a big way over the north and south poles.

A far greater danger is that of uncontrollable global warming leading to abrupt climate change, all caused by the massive burning of fossil fuels. The likely results of this have been detailed elsewhere and are predicted to be far worse than the destruction of the ozone layer; drought, desertification, floods, melting of the ice caps and the Asian tundra, rising sea levels, inundation, famine, massive population migration and so on. Unless the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be reduced from 387 to 350 parts per million in a limited number of years, it may be too late to do anything about it. Even Prince Charles said (a year or two ago) that we had only four years to save the planet.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How To Save Our Great Lakes

By Maude Barlow
December 14, 2011

There are huge and growing problems in the Great Lakes.

Water use is growing at a rate double that of the population, and we now know that by 2030, global demand will outstrip supply by 40 per cent. Lack of access to clean water is the greatest killer of children by far.

So we who live around the Great Lakes of North America have a very special responsibility to preserve and care for them in the light of the global reality now so clear.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hope in Resistance Conference

The Council of Canadians and a number of Québec and First Nations peoples, student and labour groups came together for a major conference in Montréal October 21-22.

The conference explored how we can work together as civil society movements in Canada, Québec, and the First Nations to create positive alternatives to a system that makes profits more important than people and the planet.

People joined in a united Call to Action at the conclusion of the conference. The draft statement, in part, reads,  

"We stand with each other, with the Indignez movements in Europe, and with the occupiers of Wall Street, Bay Street, Montreal, Vancouver and the thousands of others worldwide. We stand with our trade union sisters and brothers who are fighting to maintain worker rights won many years ago. We are inspired by the Arab Spring to demand real democracy from our leaders. We commit to working with Indigenous peoples to bring about a new society designed to serve our common goals and aspirations. We will strive to live better, to de-globalize, to think strategically and sustainably. We will stand and resist and hope. We will act for justice. We are already building a better world, which we see is possible. We invite you to join us."

Click HERE to read the full draft Call to Action statement.

Our heartfelt thanks to are extended to Alternatives, Eau Secours!, Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA), and Médecins Quebecois pour la regime publique (MQRP) who joined us in organizing and hosting this event, as well as to CUPE•SCFP and CEP•SCEP for their generous sponsorship.

Civil Society, NGOs, and the Public Sphere

By Emir Sader
December 15, 2011

The great turning point in Marx's work is his discovery that class relations traverse the whole capitalist society. After working with categories he inherited from liberalism, such as the state and civil society, he made what he called an "anatomy of civil society" and therein encountered classes and class struggle.

In the last several decades, as democratic struggle gained weight again -- after being underestimated, generally speaking, by the Left -- the category of civil society reappeared. By its very nature, it is opposed to the state and displaces class relations. It is a return to classical liberalism, in parallel to the turn to liberalism on the economic front under the name of neoliberalism.

Green capitalism: the god that failed

By Richard Smith
Real World Economics Review #56

In rejecting the antigrowth approach of the first wave of environmentalists in the 1970s, pro-growth “green capitalism” theorists of the 1980s-90s like Paul Hawken, Lester Brown, and Francis Cairncross argued that green technology, green taxes, eco-conscious shopping and the like could “align” profit-seeking with environmental goals, even “invert many fundamentals” of business practice such that “restoring the environment and making money become one and the same process.”

This strategy has clearly failed. I claim first, that the project of sustainable capitalism was misconceived and doomed from the start because maximizing profit and saving the planet are inherently in conflict and cannot be systematically aligned even if, here and there, they might coincide for a moment. That’s because under capitalism, CEOs and corporate boards are not responsible to society, they’re responsible to private shareholders. CEOs can embrace environmentalism so long as this increases profits.

Amandla! For Eco-Socialism

By Ashley Dawson 
Social Text Journal
December 1, 2011

Today the Democratic Left Front, a new formation in South African politics, organized a conference on Ecosocialism.

The conference began with a youth delegation arriving on the wings of rousing anti-apartheid choral singing:

There was some difficulty getting the conference going because the singers kept their kinetic chants wheeling round. Makes sense. To sit down and listen is to give up a kind of agency, often to speakers who are older, wealthier, and whiter than they. Sitting here at the beginning of this program, I wonder to what extent the organizers have erred in not including more space for these young people in the conference. But perhaps there will be opportunity for dialogue of some kind during Q&A.

Michelle Maynard of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance began the day by talking about the links between human beings and all of the natural systems on the planet. She went on to contrast this with the reified view of the Earth promoted by the Enlightenment and the scientific revolution. Maynard then continued to talk about how this worldview underlies current attitudes towards the commodification of the planet.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Indigenous People: A Key to Environmental Rescue

An interview with Clayton Thomas-Muller
Michael Welsh: Clayton Thomas-Muller, you’re on staff with the Indigenous Environment Network and a founder of Defenders of the Land. What distinguishes them from other Indigenous organizations?

Clayton Thomas-Muller: Defenders of the Land is a new initiative. It was created to provide a forum for the most radical landbased First Nations struggles here in this country. For the last three years we’ve been convening an annual gathering, hosting monthly conference calls, setting up a governance structure comprised of members of frontline First Nations communities that have been engaged directly with the state over land disputes, over asserting treaty rights, Aboriginal rights, over asserting land claims. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why Harper’s Kyoto Pullout Is a Death Sentence for Many of World’s Most Vulnerable

By Mike Hudema 
Green Peace Canada
December 13, 2011

For a vulnerable country like Tuvalu, its an act of sabotage on our future.
—Ian Fry, Tuvalu lead negotiator

Yesterday I commented that the Harper government pulling out of Kyoto is essentially a death sentence on vulnerable populations all over the world. Many people online and in press comments said that such a comment is "sensationalist" and "over the top". I wanted to write a short post to show why it's not and why, unfortunately, it's far too accurate.

In order to do this, I will use a simple analogy so all can understand why the Harper government pulling out of Kyoto is not just another political decision, but one with devastating and deadly consequences.

Canada condemned at home and abroad for pulling out of Kyoto treaty

China calls Canada's decision 'preposterous', while Greenpeace says the country is protecting polluters instead of people

Damian Carrington and Adam Vaughan
13 December 2011

Canada has been condemned at home and abroad as "irresponsible" and "reckless" for pulling out of the Kyoto climate treaty, just a day after committing to a future legally binding deal at a major UN climate summit.

"I regret Canada's withdrawal and am surprised over its timing," said the UN climate chief Christiana Figueres. "Canada has a moral obligation to itself and future generations to lead in the global effort." China, which agreed for the first time to legal limits on its emissions at the summit in Durban, denounced Canada's decision as "preposterous" in its state media and called it "an excuse to shirk responsibility" in tackling global warming.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Capitalism and the Accumulation of Catastrophe

By John Bellamy Foster
Monthly Review
December 2011

Over the next few decades we are facing the possibility, indeed the probability, of global catastrophe on a level unprecedented in human history. The message of science is clear. As James Hansen, the foremost climate scientist in the United States, has warned, this may be “our last chance to save humanity.” In order to understand the full nature of this threat and how it needs to be addressed, it is essential to get a historical perspective on how we got where we are, and how this is related to the current socioeconomic system, namely capitalism.

Fundamental to the ecological critique of capitalism, I believe, is what world-historian William McNeill called the law of “the conservation of catastrophe.” For McNeill, who applied his “law” to environmental crisis in particular, “catastrophe is the underside of the human condition—a price we pay for being able to alter natural balances and to transform the face of the earth through collective effort and the use of tools.” The better we become at altering and supposedly controlling nature, he wrote, the more vulnerable human society becomes to catastrophes that “recur perpetually on an ever-increasing scale as our skills and knowledge grow.” The potential for catastrophe is thus not only conserved, but it can be said to be cumulative, and reappears in an evermore colossal form in response to our growing transformation of the world around us.

In the age of climate change and other global planetary threats McNeill’s thesis on the conservation of catastrophe deserves close consideration. Rather than treating it as a universal aspect of the human condition, however, this dynamic needs to be understood in historically specific terms, focusing on the tendency toward the conservation of catastrophe under historical capitalism. The issue then becomes one of understanding how the exploitation of nature under the regime of capital has led over time to the accumulation of catastrophe. As Marx explained, it is necessary, in any critique of capitalism, to understand not only the enormous productive force generated by capital, but also “the negative, i.e. destructive side” of its interaction with the environment, “from the point of view of natural science.”

Read more HERE.

A discussion on the term "ecosocialism"

Alliance Voices
December 2011

In the online newsletter of the Socialist Alliance in Australia, Adam Baker raised an issue of the concept and ideology of "ecosocialism", a term the Alliance has been adopting. Ian Angus from Canada defended the use of "ecosocialism" as it has been developed in the Belem Ecosocialist Declaration. These two articles are linked below as a contribution to the ongoing discussion on ecosocialism. - NYC

Socialism or Ecosocialism?

By Adam Baker, Brisbane branch, Socialist Alliance

If one happens to look up the Socialist Alliance on Wikipedia, one will find several entries under the tag of ideology. According to Wikipedia, the ideology of the Socialist Alliance includes "socialism", "anti-captialism", "far left", "ecosocialism" and "environmentalism". I certainly have no objection to the the first three, and the last one. But ecosocialism? How did ecosocialism come to form a part of our ideology?
Read more HERE.

Ian Angus on the term  "ecosocialism
Thank you for calling my attention to Adam Baker’s recent article in Alliance Voices. I’ve written the following notes to correct some of his misunderstandings. You have my permission to share them with Socialist Alliance members.
Read more HERE

‘Eco’socialism: it’s like ‘democratic’ socialism

By Zane Alcorn, Newcastle

There is an interesting thread in the Alliance Voices blog leading into the 2012 conference regarding ecosocialism.

Comrades Sam Bullock and Adam Baker have advanced an argument for the Socialist Alliance to amend some of our public documents or whatever to say that we are an ecosocialist organisation would amount to some sort of watering down or weakening of our politics.I don’t agree with Sam and Adam - and will proceed to outline why - but I think it is good that they have made their views on this question known.
Read more HERE.

Playing With Fire

Obama’s Risky Oil Threat to China

By Michael T. Klare
December 6, 2011

When it comes to China policy, is the Obama administration leaping from the frying pan directly into the fire? In an attempt to turn the page on two disastrous wars in the Greater Middle East, it may have just launched a new Cold War in Asia -- once again, viewing oil as the key to global supremacy.

The new policy was signaled by President Obama himself on November 17th in an address to the Australian Parliament in which he laid out an audacious -- and extremely dangerous -- geopolitical vision. Instead of focusing on the Greater Middle East, as has been the case for the last decade, the United States will now concentrate its power in Asia and the Pacific. “My guidance is clear,” he declared in Canberra. “As we plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.” While administration officials insist that this new policy is not aimed specifically at China, the implication is clear enough: from now on, the primary focus of American military strategy will not be counterterrorism, but the containment of that economically booming land -- at whatever risk or cost.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Trade Unions, Crisis and Climate Change

By George Mavrikos
Gen. Sec., WFTU 
December 4, 2011
Durban, S. A.

Dear comrades of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA):

It is a great honor and joy for WFTU being here today with our comrades from South Africa and representatives of the international trade union scene. Our joy is even greater because we participate in an initiative of NUMSA which is a historic, militant, class-oriented organization.

We salute the struggles of NUMSA, which are important not only for the workers of the metalworking sector in your country but also from the wider region.

NUMSA is one of the three organizations that are members of WFTU in South Africa. This year, WFTU celebrated 66 years of class struggle for the interests of the working class worldwide. Another historic event that took place in Athens, Greece this year was the 16th World Trade Union Congress in which more than 828 trade unionists from 101 countries of the world participated.

Canadian churches, climate change and Durban

By Dennis Gruending
Pulpit and Politics
December 11, 2011

I have at times been critical of Canadian faith communities for failing to make the environment a moral priority. But a good number of religious leaders in Canada and elsewhere, weighed in for the climate talks in Durban, South Africa. I will get to Canadians in a moment but will start with the fireworks that arose from an advertisement in the Globe and Mail newspaper on November 30.

Life and death issue

The ad was signed by a group of people, including Desmond Tutu, the 80-year-old Anglican Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Laureate. The ad praised Canada for having imposed sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa in the 1980s, but then it called into question this country’s current stance on preventing climate change, referred to as “a life and death issue” for Africans.

The Future Will Be Ecosocialist – Because Without Ecosocialism There Will Be No Future

By Joel Kovel
Ecosocialist Horizons
November 27th, 2011

Socialism was originally seen as victory in a struggle for justice. The proletarians, concluded the Communist Manifesto, “have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. WORKING MEN[sic] OF ALL COUNTRIES UNITE!”

All this remains true. Working women and men continue to suffer exploitation, in the workplace and throughout a society ruled by capitalism’s money-power. Structural unemployment, along with increasing divisions of wealth and poverty, the curse of indebtedness and the militarism of the capitalist state–all this, and more, continues to afflict the people. Now as in 1848, workers need a revolutionary socialist transformation. They need to unite, and to again quote the Manifesto, achieve “an association in which the free development of each is the condition of the free development of all.”

But the world we have to win is profoundly changed from the world of 1848. It is a world not simply to be won, but also to be saved from a terrible affliction. A day of reckoning has arrived far beyond anything humanity has ever experienced, though it has been building for centuries, indeed, from the beginnings of humanity’s time on earth. For we are the animal who became human by producing. Production is about the transforming of nature—the real physical world that is our legacy and matrix—into the objects we use for our lives. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Climate Action Network Canada responds to outcome of UN climate talks in Durban

Climate Action Network Canada
December 11, 2011

(Durban, South Africa) Following an extra day of negotiations, the UN climate change talks in Durban, South Africa have finished. Hannah McKinnon, Campaigns Director of Climate Action Network Canada has responded as follows:

“The most important thing to understand out of Durban is that countries have not yet succeeded in moving the world away from a dangerous trajectory towards well above two degrees of global warming. These UN climate talks are only as strong as the political will that drives them – or drags them. In Durban countries have kept the political space alive, but without a serious ramping up of ambition and action from developed countries, the deal we need will remain elusive and the climate will continue to move from crises to catastrophe.

The Kyoto Protocol has survived in large part because of the positive momentum created by an alliance of the European Union, small island states and the least developed countries. Countries have also agreed on the Green Climate Fund, but critical work still must be done to ensure it is not an empty shell.

The Canadian Government has been the poster child of inaction at these talks, and although they no longer have the global credibility to have a meaningful impact here, they have been constantly singled out as a laggard and even a pariah in these negotiations.

Now more than ever we must create a coalition of the willing in Canada between people, cities and provinces that understand the urgent need for action. The moral imperative for action will not wait for political leaders to finally show leadership – and so we must fill that space with inspiring and meaningful action from the ground up.”

COP17 Update

3:25am GMT update from Jeffrey Allen

World Development Movement wins the race to declare a verdict. Here are a few choice quotes from the press release that just landed:

"The World Development Movement has slammed the outcome of the UN climate talks in Durban as a ‘spectacular failure’ that will condemn the world’s poorest people to hunger, poverty and ultimately, death.

The world is now on course for devastating temperature rises as a result of the failure of developed countries to act. Instead of coming to Durban to take action, developed countries have stonewalled on the real issues and kicked decisions down the road.

Developed countries have failed to commit to action to curb their emissions, leaving the world to run headfirst towards catastrophic climate change.

The UK and the EU have failed to put their money where their mouths are, and have not committed the money needed to help developing countries cope with climate change. Only agreeing to produce yet another report on financing with no guarantees that anything will come of it, after years of reports, promises and negotiations...

This roadmap is set to undermine the principles of the UN climate talks - that developed countries bear responsibility for causing climate change and must act first. Treating rich industrialised countries and poor developing countries as if they were the same is not a just solution to climate change."

3:00am GMT update from Jeffrey Allen
One Climate
December 11, 2011

"Been downstairs during the break taking the initial pulse of civil society. Let's just say, they're not very happy with what's shaping up here, as the sun begins to rise over Durban.

If you're watching the proceedings, you're seeing high drama, people are patting themselves on the back, and the story of a "historic" agreement seems to be shaping up. But climate activists are talking about a hollow agreement.

Two of the main problems we're hearing are that:
  • there's no reason to believe emission-cut targets will be increased at all;
  • there's no reason to believe any significant funds will be committed to help poor countries cope with the impacts of climate change
According to prolific tweeter Murray Worthy of World Development Movement,

We're replacing the Kyoto Protocol with... hope

The bottom line: nothing has been agreed here that moves us off a 4-degree pathway, and as we all know, 4 degrees of warming is catastrophic for the world's vulnerable people and will result in irreversible consequences of climate change."

COP17 Live

Canada, the Grave Digger of Kyoto

Martin Lukacs
December 11, 2011

Few issues have united delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa. But if you walked the halls of the International Convention Centre and mentioned the name of "Canada," the response would be unanimous -- a collective groan and lament. The only time the country elicited anything else was during a silent protest on Wednesday by young Canadian activists, who stood and turned their backs to their environment minister as he addressed the assembled countries in plenary. They were hustled out by security, stripped of their accreditation and booted from the building. But the rousing applause they received well eclipsed the muted claps for the minister.

Canada's global reputation is in tatters, and the reasons why are plain to see. A country with a deep multilateral tradition has become a climate unilateralist like no other. It was the Canadian government that fired the opening salvo of the talks when news broke that they planned to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol -- the world's only legally binding climate treaty -- before Christmas. They promised to "play hardball" with impoverished, developing countries, and dismissed the demand for industrialized nations to take responsibility for two centuries of emissions as a "historical guilty card." "It poisoned the negotiations," says prominent Nigerian environmental activist Nnemmo Bassey. In a setting in which decisions are made by consensus of all countries, such moves were decisively damaging. 

The Climate Change Revolution Will Not Be Funded

By Jared Sacks
The Indypendent
December 9, 2011

This past week, world leaders, technocrats, and NGOs descended upon Durban for the 17th Conference of Parties (dubbed Conference of Polluters by its critics). After 17 years of meetings to address climate change, the lack of action from world leaders clearly shows that the biggest polluting nations not only lack the political will to address the issue, but also seem to be actively carrying out the anti-environmental agenda of the largest corporations on this planet.

The sizeable NGOs who have made their name fighting climate change are surely correct when they link the Obama and Harper governments, and indeed the entire COP process, to the likes of Royal Dutch Shell, Eskom and Koch Industries. Some great slogans have come out of this opposition to the conference. Earthlife Africa’s catchphrase on their t-shirts tells us to “never trust a COP” playing off of the duplicity and corruption of both the police and the COP process.

Videos: "Marx and Engels on Nature" and "Ecosocialism" (in French)

Global Justice School
December 2011

View all the videos HERE.

Marx (and Engels) on nature: Part one from IIRE2 on Vimeo.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Nunavut youth accepts Canada’s “Colossal Fossil” award in Durban

"The embarrassing part was me being Canadian"

By Frank Tester
Special to Nunatsiaq News
December 9, 2011

Jordan Konek of the Nanisiniq Arviat history project accepts the "Colossal Fossil" award on behalf of Canada on Dec. 9 at the United Nations climate conference in Durban, South Africa. (PHOTO BY FRANK TESTER)

DURBAN, South Africa — Canada picked up an award Dec. 9 at the United Nations climate change conference in Durban: the “Colossal Fossil” award for its poor performance during the past two weeks.

Sponsored by the Climate Action Network, a global coalition of over 700 non-governmental organizations dealing with climate change, a “First Place Fossil” award went to New Zealand for its mixed messages on climate change action.

But the top award went to Canada, which had already picked up six “fossil of the day” awards in Durban.

Climate Change: Kyoto Protocol converted into a Zombie

A few moments ago we found out the decisions that they have been cooking behind the scenes. In Durban they won’t approve a second period of commitments of the Kyoto Protocol. This will happen at the end of next year: in COP18.

In Durban they will only take note of the draft amendments and the “intention” of rich countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Kyoto Protocol will lose its heart. The promises of reductions by rich countries will be incredibly low until 2020 and will lead to a temperature increase of more than 4 degrees C. The Kyoto Protocol will turn into a Zombie without a global figure for reduction of emissions by industrialised countries, and will carry on walking until 2020 just so that carbon markets don’t disappear.

In 2020 “a new legal framework appliable to all” will enter into effect. “To all”,  means diluting the difference between developed and developing countries, between countries responsible for climate change and those who are victims. The US managed to eliminate any mention of a “binding” agreement. That means the “new legal framework” will be an empty gesture without any effect. The European Unions is permitting that the Kyoto Protocol is converted to a Zombie. This will become known as the lost decade of the fight against climate change. Genocide and ecocide will reach proportions that we have not yet seen. The Great Escape by the Rich has turned into the Great Swindle.

Pablo Solon is an international analyst and social activist. He was chief negotiator for climate change and United Nations Ambassador of the Plurinational State of Bolivia (2009-June 2011).

If the Corporate-Political Nexus Cannot Deal with Climate Change, the People Will

By Glenn Ashton
December 6, 2011

There is deep scepticism as to whether the COP 17 meeting in Durban will achieve much at all. Why is it that such an urgent matter has taken so long to achieve so little at such great cost? Despite constant refrains from the global public, backed by scientific experts, there appears neither inclination nor momentum to solve this problem.

The biggest reason that resolution of this essentially straightforward problem is stalled is because the economic forces of private capital have usurped and over-ridden democratic political structures and power. In short, politics has been trumped by the capital markets.

This has been exacerbated by the polarised dynamic at play between the developed and developing world, which are gradually becoming better defined. On the one side, the developed world is broadly represented by political and business interests within the US and other western, industrialised nations; on the other are Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) and the G77 developing nations. The North/ South, developed/developing polarisation has made it extremely difficult to reach consensus around climate change.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Climate Change: Turning Our Backs on Canada

Bill McKibben, David Suzuki and others sign letter in support of the actions taken by the Canadian youth in Durban.

On Nov. 28, international climate-change negotiations began in Durban, South Africa, as the 17th annual Conference of Parties (COP17) got underway. This is the third in a series of blog posts from Amara Possian, who is the co-ordinator of the Canadian Youth Delegation to this conference. Today, Amara shares a letter signed in support of the actions taken by Canadian youth while Environment Minister Peter Kent addressed the United Nations conference on Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, six young Canadians stood up during Environment Minister Peter Kent’s plenary address to the United Nations climate negotiations. The six Canadian youth stood silently and turned their back on Kent for several minutes, wearing shirts that read “People before Polluters” and “Turn your back on Canada,” before being escorted out by UN security.

We, the undersigned from across Canada and the world, support these youth for their bold refusal to let the Canadian government negotiate away their future.

On this issue, Canada is becoming a global pariah, standing alone as the only country to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and then refuse to honour it.

However, the Canadian government has not just been inactive. It has relentlessly pursued short-term profits from the production of the dirtiest oil on the planet: the tar sands. It now protects the interests of corporations over the health and livelihoods of people. In the past year alone, the government lobbied for the Keystone XL pipeline and sought to weaken fuel standards in Europe. The expansion of the tar sands spells “game over for the climate,”, but the Canadian government has publicly stated that its priority was coming to the negotiations to defend the tar sands. Not only that, but the government has been accused of threatening to withdraw aid money to coerce poor countries into arguing against a second Kyoto period.

For these reasons and more, we stand with these youth and their walkout of Canada's address to the High-level Plenary of the United Nations climate negotiations. We support their actions and so too demand that the Canadian government start putting the interests of people before polluters. For too long our leaders have lobbied on behalf of the fossil fuel industry rather than protecting the future of its people.


Bill McKibben, author and founder of

Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians

Dr. David Suzuki, Co-founder, David Suzuki Foundation

Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International

Judy Rebick, founder of

Tony Clark, Polaris Institute

Jamie Henn & May Boeve,

Tzeporah Berman, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace International

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Indigenous Environmental Network

Roger Rashi, Alternatives International

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Green Climate Fund: For People or Polluters?

Climate Justice Now!
Dec 8, 2011

The GREEN CLIMATE FUND should serve the needs of the peoples of developing countries. But Parties of developed countries are doing their utmost to ensure that the Fund operate based solely on their terms.

“Paying the Polluters” is one of the principles that they want the Green Climate Fund to be based on. Their efforts to ensure that the private sector be able to access funds directly from the GCF succeeded with the Transitional Committee’s proposed design that includes a private sector facility. Attempts from developing countries during the TC process and now in the COP17 process to ensure that the role of the private sector is subject to country-defined policies and priorities are being met with intense opposition.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why we need an 'ecosocialist' movement

By Jim McIlroy
December 5, 2011

In the Brisbane [Australia] Socialist Alliance Branch pre-conference discussion recently, there was some discussion over the usefulness of the concept of "ecosocialism" as a vehicle for building the socialist movement today. I would like to defend the assertion that the term "ecosocialism" is now a vital instrument for reconstructing a mass socialist movement in the current world political situation.

The main problem faced by the socialist/Marxist movement right now is not whether or not Marx and Engels sufficiently analysed, or emphasised, ecological questions in their theoretical analysis of class society and history, but the fact that socialism/Marxism is now a tiny current in the international political scene. Historical questions, such as the fact that Stalinism, not Marxism, is responsible for the degeneration and collapse of the Soviet Union, are important, but not the key issue facing us at present.

Outing The Oligarchy: Billionaires Who Benefit From Today’s Climate Crisis

Climate Justice Now!
Dec 7, 2011

The International Forum on Globalization (IFG) release a special report today, “Outing the Oligarchy: Billionaires Who Benefit from Today’s Climate Crisis", which identifies the world’s wealthiest 50 individuals whose investments benefit from climate change and whose influence networks block efforts to phase out pollution from fossil fuels.

IFG’s report comes as global debates intensify on how best to protect the climate and how best to counter the corrupting power of extreme wealth over politics. The report draws the links between the two debates and identifies the emerging, ultra-rich tycoons who are deepening the world’s climate crisis.

The world’s richest corporations and capitalists have been branded by the Occupy Wall Street movement as the “one percent,” yet there has been scant attention to the individuals within the “one percent” who have greatest responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions. Little information has been publicly available about the identities of the industrialists, investors and ideologues who are most responsible for the decisions over carbon-intensive activities that drive greenhouse gas emissions far past danger levels.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Environmentalists call for climate justice as COP 17 appears doomed to failure

December 6, 2011 

MANILA – Leleng Zarsuela, 73, shook with rage when she spoke of the urban poor Filipinos’ indignation at the injustices buried within the issue of climate change. “We, the urban poor, are always blamed for flooding,” she said as an example, “when the real group to blame comes from those few rich whose factories keep churning out wastes and whose vehicles belch dangerous emissions.” Through its massive greenhouse gas emissions, these factories and vehicles have been the biggest contributors to global warming which, in turn, results in extreme weather conditions or what is generally called as ‘climate change.’ Globally the advanced capitalist countries contributed the most.

The poor are in fact the hardest hit by this climate change, said Nanay Leleng as she called other protesters who marched Saturday to the US Embassy in Manila but were barred at Kalaw Ave. by the police. Nanay Leleng is also the national president of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay).

Video: Activists Challenge COP17 Climate Talks

Environmentalists chant "Down With Canada" as expectations are low for COP17 climate talks 

The Real News

More at The Real News

Monday, December 5, 2011

Denmark: New Red/Green gov't aims for 100% renewables

By Simon Leufstedt
5 December, 2011

The new red and green government in Denmark wants to end the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. In a proposal presented to the parliament last week the Danish government laid out their new and bold energy plan. By 2050 Denmark should get 100% of their energy from renewable energy sources.

The proposed energy plan would have four central deadlines. Under the new plan the government wants to see Denmark generate 52% of its energy from renewable sources, such as wind power, as early as 2020. This target alone would cut Denmark’s greenhouse gas emissions with 35% based on 1990 levels. By 2030 all coal-fired power plants in Denmark will be phased out and replaced by biomass and other renewable energy sources. And in 2035 the Danish government expects that all of the country’s power and heat will come from renewable energy sources. And if their plan is followed, the country’s entire energy supply could come from renewables in 2050.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

COP17’s fossil awards: Week One, Canada in the lead

Money Web
December 4, 2011

And the worst offenders are…

DURBAN – After six days of deliberations at the United Nations COP17 climate change conference in Durban, Canada has the dubious honour of being awarded the “fossil of the day” award twice in a row. It has also notched up a second and third place, making it the most “capped” of the some 196 countries attending the forum.

For those of you new to “all things climate”, the fossil of the day awards originated at climate change talks in Bonn, Germany in 1999. While the dictionary version of fossil means relic or remnant, the reference in this instance is to fossil fuel – a swearword at any gathering of environmentalists and lobbyists for a reduction in greenhouse gases.

Scenes from the Durban Ecosocialist Conference

Ecosocialist Horizons

Conference on Ecosocialism from Ecosocialist Horizons on Vimeo.

Joel Kovel from Ecosocialist Horizons on Vimeo.

Developed Countries and the Climate Change Convention: a long history of broken promises

By Nele Marien
December 4, 2011

The history of climate change negotiations is a long history of failed promises, and mandates that were not followed. It will probably not be possible to keep track of all the failed promises, but here a brief recount of the most important ones:

Convention promises

The mitigation promise: Developed countries committed themselves to take the lead in mitigation, and return by the end of the decade of the 90’s to earlier levels of GHG emissions. (cf art 4.2(a) of the Convention)

The reality: up till today, most of the developed countries that are not economies in transition not only didn’t reduce their emissions, but they actually increased them substantially.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Secret U.S.-Canada Border Deal Hides GMO Takeover

Canada-U.S. Regulatory Co-operation Council under border deal coverage would put Canada under draconian Food Safety Modernization Act, fast track GMO approval.

By Aaron Dykes
December 3, 2011

Our report sounding the alarm that Obama and Harper’s secretive border deal, due to be signed next week, would be used to fast track GMO acceptance has been confirmed. The details have been kept under wraps, but recent reports revealed that the ‘Beyond Borders’ security and law enforcement deal would also seek to ‘harmonize’ U.S. and Canadian regulatory standards for food, auto and other trade sectors.

The Globe and Mail confirms that the North American Union security perimeter initiative, sold to the public as new security measures at the border, has a second major component– the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Co-operation Council.
Mr. Harper… said there are two issues on the joint security and economic agenda of the two countries. One, he said, is the border and perimeter initiative, and the other is Canada-U.S. Regulatory Co-operation Council.
“We are seeking ways of ensuring security in North America while at the same time making sure that we continue strong Canadian access to the American market,” Mr. Harper told reporters.

China Digs Deeper Into Canadian Tar Sands During Durban Talks

By Brad Johnson
Think Progress
December 3, 2011

Although China boasts of its green progress, the booming nation is also making major bets on North and South American tar sands, one of the most carbon-intensive fuels on the planet. This play for civilization-threatening energy comes even as the world’s nations jockey over the fragile international climate accords in Durban, South Africa:
On Monday, China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) closed its acquisition of bankrupt Canadian tar sands producer OPTI Canada Inc. CNOOC gets OPTI’s 35 percent working interest in Long Lake and three other project areas located in the Athabasca region of northeastern Alberta, split with Canadian operator Nexen Inc. The deal cost $34 million for OPTI stock and $2 billion in debt. [Reuters]
On Wednesday, CNOOC and Nexen formed a joint venture, giving CNOOC a 20 percent working interest in the Kakuna, Angel Fire, and Cypress deepwater exploration wells in the Gulf of Mexico. [BusinessWeek]

‘Forests are not for carbon stocks’

By Yusuf Omar
The Mercury
December 2 2011

Bolivia came out swinging at its first press conference of the climate change conference yesterday, criticising the Green Climate Fund – which is meant to help developing countries adapt to climate change – and opposing the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation scheme (Redd).

“Bolivia is showing strongly against the mechanism of Redd. The role of the forest is not for carbon stocks,” said the head of the Bolivian delegation, Rene Orellana.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Native leaders vow to block Northern Gateway pipeline

By Wendy Stueck
Globe and Mail
Dec. 02, 2011

Describing their opposition to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project as an unbreakable wall, native leaders say they will physically block the project if regulators allow it to proceed.

Ta' Kaiya Blaney, 10, speaks Thursday during a signing ceremony with other first nations members in Vancouver after an announcement on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

“I am going to stand in front of bulldozers to stop this project, and I expect my neighbours to join me,” Jackie Thomas, chief of the Saik’uz First Nation, part of the Yinka Dene Alliance, said on Thursday when asked what will happen if regulators approve the proposed pipeline.