350 Updates

The fossil fuel companies are digging deep.

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Dear Friends,

Today I am writing not as an author or journalist but as a board member of one the most remarkable organizations in the world: 350.org.

I know your inbox is filled with fundraising appeals right now; mine is too. 

But here's the thing: the fossil fuel companies are digging deep. Deep under our oceans. Deep under the melting Arctic ice. Deep into the bedrock of our continents. Deep into our most beautiful mountain ranges.

And the science couldn't be clearer: if we want a solid chance of preventing catastrophic climate change, we need to stop them. We need to keep that oil, gas and coal in the ground and shift with tremendous speed to an economy based on renewables.

But to do that, we are going to have to do some deep digging of our own -- so I'm asking you to join me by donating to 350.org.

At 350.org, we firmly believe that digging deep means joining the global climate movement in every possible way. Whether by coming out to demonstrations, or pushing for fossil fuel divestment, or participating in civil disobedience to prevent climate-disrupting projects on the ground.

But for those of us fortunate enough to have some money to spare, digging deep also means providing financial support to groups like 350.org that are dedicated to building a serious, global, grassroots counter-power to the fossil fuel companies.

It's been almost three years since I joined 350.org's Board of Directors. It has been thrilling to be part of such a dynamic organization and I am so proud of what 350.org has already accomplished -- on Keystone XL, on fossil fuel divestment, on Global Power Shift, and the list goes on.

Have a look here if you need a refresher on what we’ve been up to this year.

And the plans for 2014 are even more ambitious. Trust me: this is going to be a big year, which is why we need to start it with as healthy a war chest as we can.

There is so much that I respect about 350.org. The fact that it is all about building street-level power, not making insider power deals. That it is driven by a desire to win real victories with as many partners as possible, not by protecting its turf or guarding its brand.

I have also been bowled over by what I can only describe as the staff's sacred sense of responsibility to avoid wasteful spending. Which is why I feel absolutely confident in telling you that if you donate to 350.org, your money will go towards building the climate movement we so desperately need -- and nothing else.

What I love most about 350.org is that it is all about following the science to where it leads. Today, the science is leading us to some pretty radical places. That's scary, but it's a lot less scary if we go there together, taking care of each other, and watching each other's backs.

So please, dig deep. And let's make this a year for the history books!

Click here to donate — and if you can make it a monthly donation, you’ll be supporting 350.org’s work through the whole year: www.350.org/donate

With love and gratitude,

Naomi Klein

 

Udaan- India Power Shift

It started with a reminder of the powerul Salt March of 1930 that Mahatma Gandhi lead in India, taking hordes of people with him on a march to the small town of Dandi on the Arabian sea coast to break an unjust law and sow the seeds of a civil disobedient independence movement in India. That freedom was hard fought with innumerable sacrifices along the way, and today, for the 100 odd youth listening to this story, it was clear that the road ahead for them demanded a deep reflection of that chapter in our history. 

Udaan, or India power shift brought 100 organisers and activists from across 20 states of India with the purpose of training them on new tools of campaigning and building a strong community of individuals who can continue to work together in strengthening the environmental movement in India. The need to conserve natural resources and stave off the worst impacts of climate change requires dramatic changes in India’s political and policy response. The need for a stronger movement is therefore stronger than ever before given the country’s undeterred and blind desire for greater economic growth that only benefits a few and leaves the masses disadvantaged. 

The conference brought young organisers from urban areas to interact and learn from the various grassroots struggles in India that are taking on dirty energy projects head on. From the coal belts of Chattisgargh, coal mines of Chandrapur and Maharashtra and Andhra’s vulnerable coast lines, movement leaders shared their stories and invaluable lessons of struggle and social change that invoked a strong sense of empathy in the participants. 

Skills on digital campaigning, non violent direct action and creative activism and ways to use legal tools like RTI & PIL were disseminated to the participants. The 4 days gathering was held at the beautiful fireflies ashram in the city of Bengaluru. Deprived of intrusive gadgets that we surround ourselves with and our proximity to nature definitely added value and helped the participants stay engaged throughout the conference. 

The conference yielded a strong desire in participants to stay engaged and work on building solidarity for grassroots struggles across the country. Imagine young people standing up for the rights of those who are negatively impacted by dirty energy projects and who’s voice often gets stubbed in the mainstream media. Solidarity groups in key political capitals of the country will therefore be a strong feature of our campaigns in 2014 and beyond. College campuses will also play an active role with efforts to promote decentralised renewable energy as a strong and effective solution to climate change. 

The gathering left a positive impact on the organisers and participants and as we like to say, this is just the beginning of a long journey in our efforts to change the way India understands and acts on energy and environment. For more, contact us on southasia@350.org.

 

Local Relief Report of Typhoon Haiyan from Brigada Kalikasan

From Manila to Mindoro: a report on Brigada Kalikasan updates

The disaster response campaign of the Brigada Kalikasan for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (int’l name Haiyan) continues a month after the strongest typhoon to make landfall in world history caused massive damages and casualties particularly in the Visayas and Southern Luzon regions. We earlier reported our participation in the national relief caravan of BALSA and contributed to other relief efforts during the first two weeks. Here’s what we have done since then:

We co-organized last December 6 the ‘Tindog Katawhan!’ (Rise Up People!), an ecumenical liturgical solidarity gathering for the victim survivors of Yolanda, alongside Dambana, a church-based disaster response drive, the Yolanda survivors’ movement Tindog, and the national office of Karapatan. This is a very important intervention for Yolanda victims who migrated from the Eastern Visayas to the capital region, hoping for opportunities in Metro Manila to rebuild their lives but ending up in urban poor communities still with no food, livelihood and support.

We heard testimonies from the survivors. Irma Balaba, a pastor and representative of the relief drive Tabang Eastern Visayas, recounted seeing bodies of people and animals just strewn everywhere. She pointed out how her region was one of the poorest even before the disaster, which has further compounded to their woes. Pastor Balaba challenged government to not allow it to reach the point where people survived Yolanda but will die anyway because of hunger and disease.

We heard from Myrna Ripalda, a student from the University of the Philippines-Tacloban campus and now a member of Tindog, who was forced to cross-register in the UP-Diliman campus to continue her studies alongside more than 170 other displaced UP students in Leyte. She was driven to tears in recounting how she lost 7 of her kin to Yolanda’s wrath, and how she had to beg from her friends and families to support her migration to the capital.

Lastly, we heard from Arlene Legazpi-Luz, a mother who was in the town of Palo in Leyte province, shared how they evacuated to the Central School of Palo with her two children and in-law’s family. But the storm surges overwhelmed the school. They survived by holding onto furniture and debris amid the powerful waves that pounded through the building, but they were trapped by the school debris.

With no access to water, Arlene had to squeeze the moisture out of the wet pillow they had with them to be able to prepare some milk for her baby. When they were eventually rescued, she finally got the news: her husband, who wasn’t with them when the storm hit, died from the storm surges.

The ‘Tindog Katawhan!’ gathering was a chance for citizens from the Metro Manila region to hear out the problems and that Yolanda survivors face everyday. The event also served as a soup kitchen and donation drive for the 50 survivor families who are now part of Tindog, and the abovementioned students who formed the UP Diliman chapter of Tindog.

It breaks our heart to hear the travails our people have gone through. But it also motivates us not only to sustain our response to Yolanda-affected areas, but to join their struggle to demand climate justice from the Aquino government, and the polluter countries and corporations that have worsened the climate crisis over the past century.

Thank you to all who have donated to Brigada Kalikasan for making our efforts possible. Material donations can still be coursed through BK’s headquarters address. You can also course through your donations here.

As our way of bringing tidings of hope and solidarity in the coming holidays, we will come out with Brigada Kalikasan’s full Haiyan disaster response report by Christmas day. Again, our heartfelt gratitude for everyone’s support and solidarity! 

 

Why we acted up at Maules Creek

On Monday120 people converged on the Leard State Forest in North-West New South Wales to block construction work on the proposed Maules Creek Coal Mine. Stationing ourselves at the main entrances of the forest, we - local farmers, traditional owners and other community members,  environmental campaigners, and those concerned about global warming - stopped work on the mine for the day. Five people were arrested,including 75 year old Raymond McLaren, who had never done anything like this in his life. Yesterday, the protest continued, as two activists locked themselves to a gravel truck, halting construction of the rail spur for the new mine. 

Responding to the calls of local community members, this weekend was a gathering of people from all around the country to stop this mine. From young to old and coming from cities as far as Adelaide and Brisbane, we came together to protect our environment, our community, and our climate. 

If you want to look at one of the dirtiest, and dodgiest projects around, Whitehaven’s Maules Creek Coal Mine would have to be at the top of the list. 

Maules Creek is the biggest new coal mine under construction in Australia. The mine would emit the same amount of carbon pollution annually as the entirety of New Zealand. In the aftermath of the extraordinarily early start to the bushfire season in New South Wales, directly linked to global warming, and the horrible typhoon in the Philippines, which has a death toll in the thousands, projects that continue to pollute at a rate such as this should never be allowed to get off the ground. 

But it’s worse than that. The Maules Creek project also sits of the Leard State Forest - a public forest that is highly endangered. The Leard State Forest is a Box-Gum Woodland, a critically endangered ecological community, which is home to 34 endangered species. Visiting the forest you can see the diversity of the community, from the thousands of bats that fly through the night, the snakes and lizards, and the koalas who live in the trees. The mine will destroy the homes of these precious animals, decimating one of the last remnants of these forests that we have left. 

And there’s more. The mine will also hugely impact the local community. It will drain up to seven metres from the water table in the area - water farmers in the Liverpool Plains need to sustain their crops. When completed it will also spray 18 thousand tonnes of coal dust into the area, landing onto farmland, local towns and the community.  

Yet, with each attempt to discuss these values and to reason with the industry and the Government about the problems with this proposal, the community has been ignored. The mine has been approved with construction allowed to go ahead despite accusations that Whitehaven, the proponents of the mine, have failed to respect the cultural heritage of the Gomeroi traditional owners of the land. Construction is going ahead even after claims that Whitehaven used misleading information to get approval for the mine. In fact, the Government is so determined for this mine to proceed they have recently introduced retroactive legislation aimed at blocking any successful court case against its approval. 

The Government, and the coal industry, have laid down their cards. Despite the clouds hanging over the mine, the community opposition, and the destruction it will cause, they will push ahead at all costs. All around the country it is the same picture. Successive Governments have shown their hands -  bending over backwards to get coal mining to push through coal mining at all costs. Whether it is in Maules Creek, the Galilee Basin, or many of the other fossil fuel projects in the pipeline, Governments and industry are doing everything they can to push ahead with these projects.

And so the time came. The time to do the difficult things. The time to stand up and say no. The time to stand up and say ‘enough is enough’. 

It is unfortunate that it has to come to this, but we have no choice. When the Government fails, as it has so drastically with this mine and with so many other coal and gas mines around the country, it is up for the community to take a stand.

This weekend was a tough one, but an inspirational one too. Together over a hundred people came together in support a community fighting for what is important - our climate, our water, our land and our future. We came together to do what our Governments should have been doing - protecting these values in the face of a mine that shouldn’t go ahead. And whilst we don’t want to be doing this, unless something changes, we will have no choice but to do it again and again.

The Maules Creek Coal Mine cannot, and should not, go ahead. We are determined to make sure it doesn’t. Join us! 

 

Our hearts are with Ukrainian people

As anti-governmental demonstrators in Kyiv, Ukraine, keep standing through the countless nights of police brutality and freezing temperatures, we send a message of solidarity to the people of Ukraine in their peaceful fight for justice.

Here’s a photo by a Twitter user ‏@NiBeroeva which captures the intense and faithful resistance of Ukrainian people being attacked by riot police last night:

We celebrate people’s awakening and self-organization to build their future in a democratic way. Repetitive violence against the unarmed protesters at #Euromaidan – many of whom were children, elderly and women – has proved that concerns regarding corruption in the highest echelons of Ukrainian authorities were genuine.

In these days our international team sends a message of support to all the people on the streets of Ukraine and those who support them in the field kitchens and back-up volunteer groups or from behind their computer monitors. We want to especially acknowledge dozens of young climate activists who we know are also amongst the many at #Euromaidans all over Ukraine. The fight for climate justice is the fight for reclaiming our power from and through systems of governance that are now serving the interests of a select few – reclaiming them just in the same way as protestors all over Ukraine are doing in these days.

Stay strong, stay peaceful and win.

The eyes of international community are on you.

Yours,

Nicolò, Emma and Tim -- 350.org Europe

P.S. If you want to support #Euromaidan this page provides a lot of options. You can choose English language in the menu on the right.

 

Banking on Coal - Only in Rare and Exceptional cases

Yesterday the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) published details of its new energy strategy and a positive development did find its way into a paragraph of the new text. In actuality the change was simply adding the phrase “only in rare and exceptional cases” to the section on financing coal.

It is yet to be seen what ‘rare and exceptional’ means with regard to financing new coal projects, and it feels somewhat strange to be celebrating the inclusion of a few words in a long and complicated document. But we should give credit where credit is due and acknowledge that these victories have to be fought for and from these small steps that we will build the strength to challenge such institutions at increasingly significant levels.

This year, along with partners (CEE Bankwatch, Oil Change International and others), working in countries where EBRD money is invested into fossil fuel projects left, right and centre, we made our voices heard. We handed over a petition signed by almost 17,000 people demanding that coal be removed from the new strategy. We made ourselves heard, and they had to show that they heard.

One thing that is particularly clear however, regardless of the now “rare and exceptional” coal financing that the EBRD will continue to pursue, it is most definitely still not taking the threat of climate change seriously. It may say that it is, but its actions suggest otherwise. The billions it continues to pour into fossil fuel projects suggest otherwise.

A few weeks back in a sleek attempt at deflecting growing criticism the EBRD published a handy little info-graphic. It shows how much they are investing into various energy projects, and includes a breakdown of renewable and fossil fuels. To a quick glance it makes them look progressive and good, but at closer inspection it shows that they are still investing billions into projects that will lock us into fossil fuel use in the future. Examples of this are a mega pipeline, the Euro-Caspian pipeline that would surely have to carry a worrying (for the climate and those that depend on it) amount gas to Europe in order to be commercially profitable, and oil drilling in Egypt both of which will commit us to billions of tonnes of CO2 emissions in the future while diverting important money and  resources away from the renewable energy projects that we should really be funding.

So let this small, yet significant win be motivation not only to celebrate, but to organise; to challenge the other projects that the EBRD have in the pipeline (excuse the pun). To demand that public institutions focus on spending public money on building the solutions that we need, not funding the projects that will further exacerbate the problem.

 

Pachamama Foundation needs your solidarity

Last week, the Quito-based headquarters of the Pachamama Foundation was raided and closed down by police agents. The Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment has signed a resolution to dissolve the organization.

The government's action directly follows a series of indigenous protests last week denouncing Ecuador's plans to open up some 2.6 million hectares of rainforest to new oil drilling. The government resolution falsely accuses the Pachamama Foundation of inciting violence during a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Hydrocarbons; however, no members of the organization were involved.

For 16 years, the work of Pachamama Foundation has been instrumental in defending indigenous rights. They played a fundamental role establishing the Rights of Nature in Ecuador's constitution. The Foundation also works to build an alternative and sustainable vision for Ecuador’s development both in the Amazon and throughout the country.  

Today, on International Human Rights Day, along with over 100 organizations, we have pledged our support by signing a letter of solidarity. We need an outcry of international support from people around the world calling for the immediate reversal of what we consider an illegal act to repress civil liberties. Please take a moment to sign this petiton, let’s show our solidarity with Pachamama Foundation.

In solidarity,

Juan

PS. You can also show solidarity with Pachamama Foundation on Facebook! And find more ways to support here.

 

Commissioner Yeb Sano Joins the Fight to Stop Coal in Palawan!