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Avaaz & 350.org Join Yeb Sano to Deliver #WeStandWithYou Petition at UN Climate Talks

Civil society groups and young people joined Avaaz, 350.org and Filipino climate negotiator Yeb Saño at the UN Climate Talks this afternoon, to deliver well over 600,000 signatures from people around the world who are standing with the Philippines to demand progress here in Warsaw. 

"We stand here knowing that hundreds of thousands maybe even millions around the world are standing with us in this difficult time for our country, but also in this difficult time for the planet, for the climate," said Saño.

350.org's Hoda Baraka stands with Filipino negotiator Yeb Sano to deliver petition signatures from around the world. 
 
He continued: 
 
"We are deeply moved and deeply touched by this expression of solidarity from hundreds of thousands of people and we are here to deliver their voices into this process, into this national stadium here in Warsaw. We hope that they can create the kind of impact that people around the world -- billions and billions -- are desiring. 
 
This is a call, once and for all, to take ambitious steps to address climate change, which is now affecting lives and livelihoods. We are very glad and heartened to see this kind of solidarity being expressed by civil society, especially by many young people here. I cannot thank them enough for what they have done in supporting the call for action in the climate negotiations." 
 
Last week, in an unprecedented move for an official negotiator, Yeb Saño authored a petition on Avaaz calling for “major steps forward” here in Warsaw on the issues of carbon pollution reduction, finance, and “loss and damage,” a new system to help countries manage the risks and deal with the losses to climate disasters. 
 
"Typhoon Haiyan shows that climate change is happening now and is claiming lives,” said Iain Keith, Senior Campaigner at Avaaz.org “The urgent need to cut carbon emissions and help vulnerable countries prepare for climate chaos could not be clearer and today over half a million people have joined Yeb Sano's campaign demanding action. Their message is clear: we urgently need rich polluting countries to honour their promises, and outline a clear plan on climate finance in Warsaw.”
 
Saño's call was supported by similar petitions from 350.org, MoveOn, Friends of the Earth, CREDO Action, Forecast the Facts, SustainUS, 18 Million Rising, and other organizations. In total, more than 600,000 people have signed on to these calls for immediate action. Many organizations, including those listed above, are also fundraising for immediate relief in the Philippines. 
 
“The climate-related disaster in the Philippines is an urgent call to action which has been echoed around the world,” said Hoda Baraka, Global Communications Manager for 350.org. “We stand with the Philippines to honor the victims of this tragedy--and all those impacted by climate change--and shine a light on the real culprits: the fossil fuel industry.” 
 
The Typhoon, Yeb Saño’s emotional appeal for action, and his commitment to fast throughout the talks, has inspired a widespread show of global solidarity. In Warsaw, a number of delegates at the talks are fasting in solidarity with Saño. This week, hundreds--perhaps thousands--of people are expected to join the voluntary fast for at least a day. On Thursday evening, candlelit vigils united by the message “#WeStandWithYou” are planned around the world. 
“The climate justice movement is gaining momentum every day,” said Silje Lundberg, from Young Friends of the Earth Norway. “Young people stood with the Philippines after Typhoon Bopha and we continue to do so, now by fasting in solidarity after another super typhoon. We refuse to accept inaction and will be doing everything we can to put pressure on our governments and the polluters that stand in the way of progress.” 
 
Despite the climate-related tragedy in the Philippines, the Warsaw climate talks have been plagued by a lack of ambition from rich countries. These nations have yet to offer serious financial commitments or up their levels of ambition to cut emissions. Instead, nations like Japan and Australia are backing away from previously made commitments. 
 
Super Typhoon Haiyan (called Yolanda by many in the Philippines) was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in world history. There are several ways in which climate change can affect typhoons like Haiyan, and will continue to do so in the future, including: increasing sea surface temperatures, adding more energy to storms; increasing the amount of precipitation associated with tropical cyclones, because warm air holds more water than cold; and, causing sea level rise which increases the destructive power of storm surges. 
 
After a year of storms, droughts, wildfires, and flooding around the world, Typhoon Haiyan has helped solidify the connection between extreme weather and climate change in the mainstream media and public consciousness. In a recent speech, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon connected the typhoon to climate change, calling it an “urgent warning." On Saturday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said, “evidence seems to me to be growing” that typhoons like Haiyan are connected to climate change and that scientists are “giving us a very certain message” about the threat of the climate crisis. 
 

350 Pilipinas reports back from Haiyan impacted areas

Over the weekend, a team of 350 Pilipinas / Power Shift Pilipinas volunteers settled safely in Tacloban, in the wake of senseless destruction.



East Visayas Tacloban Landscape Post Yolanda


Meggie, who has just returned from Tacloban, reports that there is a need for more relief donations, as several communities have not received anything since the typhoon hit. As she put it, they may have survived the storm but not from hunger.



Donations from Kalikasan Youth Makati


Leon, who is in Manila adds:

The Brigada Kalikasan (BK) disaster response campaign network was launched on November 12 a day after news reports have finally started airing from ground zero in the communities most-affected by Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda). The organizations that make up BK are 350 PH [350 Pilipinas] volunteers, and we soon got in contact with Zeph [350.org Southeast Asia Co-Coordinator] for initial ideas for a long-term response. After our talks days later, the Citizens' Disaster Response Center (CDRC) agreed to support the campaign particularly in the long-term rehabilitation and recovery efforts.

After under a week in our donation drive, we have initially received small amounts of canned goods, clothing, and water. We were able to send in 200 bottles of water to the first relief mission mounted together with BALSA to least-served communities in the Western Visayas region - which, alongside Samar and some parts of South Luzon region, has been under the media radar.



Water Donations from Friends Colleagues

On November 13, various groups mounted an International Day of Solidarity for Typhoon Haiyan survivors which the BK organizing groups also joined. It was a night when two of the biggest issues the country is facing, consecutive disasters and the pork barrel system of political patronage funds, brought to fore a local flavor of climate justice: people were indignantly calling for the rechanneling of billions of pesos in public funds were being stolen or used for political interests through the unaccountable lump-sum pork barrel funds towards immediate disaster response and long-term climate resiliency. Here is further explanation on how the pork barrel system is hurting our nation's climate vulnerability.



350 Pilipinas at International Solidarity Day

We sent fellow campaigner Meggie to join a multi-sectoral assessment team organized by the Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan or BALSA, a national relief drive network with which Brigada Kalikasan (BK) is cooperating with. They left last November 14 to conduct a damage and needs assessment in the Leyte and Samar provinces. We expect the assessment's coverage to be a bit limited, given that our local partner groups were all affected by the Super Typhoon. They will be reporting back tomorrow afternoon.




Malapascua, Cebu

Aidalyn Arabe, from Dumaguete, reports from Malapascua Island in Northern Cebu:

We have seen the wrath of Supertyphoon Yolanda through television news and print but seeing the devastation with our own eyes brings so much pain and sorrow for the people who have completely lost their homes and properties. People were thankful that there were no casualties in their island.  Many have lost their means of livelihood because a lot of boats of the fishermen were destroyed.  Resorts were not also spared and many have been leveled to the ground if not partly damaged. Fishing and resort jobs are their primary means livelihood. They have acknowledged the fact that our weather condition is not anymore the weather we regularly encounter before. A lot has changed and they are afraid for there will be more to come.



350 PH volunteer


We keep standing in solidarity with and appreciate the precious work of Meggie, Leon, Aidalyn and others, raising our money and raising our voices for those heavily impacted by Typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda, and all others facing the damaging consequence of climate change fueled extreme weather events.

 

"Will John Key pull the Putin card and arrest everyone?"

A few of months ago, I posted a blog revealing the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key's desire to drill and dig up as much of New Zealand as he can for fossil fuels. This contrasts greatly with the usual perception people elsewhere in the world tend to have of New Zealand. It's usually thought of as a clean and green refuge.

Since posting that blog, the Prime Minister and his Government have been true to his word and have been busy doing the dirty work for the fossil fuel industry - except they have encountered a stumbling block: public opposition. That opposition is, as I write, in a stand-off on the high seas. As this picture shows, the sailing boat SV Vega - a representative of the "Oil Free Seas Flotilla" - has positioned itself in the area where the Anadarko's oil drilling ship, the Noble Bob Douglas is aiming to drill. It's a tense stand-off and a test of some dastardly new legislation the Government has recently passed to try and prevent such protest, and to fast track the oil drilling process.

The legislation changes include treating offshore oil drilling as "non-notified". That means the public have no input into deciding if such risky oil drilling projects are given the go ahead. They also passed legislation that treats any protest boats as criminal if they 'interfere' with a vessel by coming within 500 metres of it. This contravenes the freedom of navigation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Latest reports from the folks on SV Vega reveal that it is within 200 metres of the Noble Bob Douglas, which led its captain to issue a warning: "You are currently inside that 500-metre zone, so we are giving you guys 10 minutes to get outside that zone and then we will commence our operation." But Bunny McDiarmid, the Vega's skipper and executive director of Greenpeace NZ, responded: "This is the sailing vessel Vega. We will not be moving. We are here in defence of our oceans, future generations, our climate and our coastlines."

That is a courageous stand the crew are taking. To show you stand with the crew of the SV Vega like and share this blog, or any of the news associated with the stand-off, and you can follow the updates which Greenpeace are providing here.

It's a tense stand-off, which will continue to unfold, and as we wait we have to wonder, as the Green Party co-leader Russel Norman put it, "will John Key pull the Putin card and arrest everyone?"

This photo thanks to Greenpeace NZ.

 

The China Excuse

Every time the UN meets to discuss solving the climate crisis - like it is this week - there's one excuse that invariably comes up... 

"If China doesn't change, then it doesn't matter what [enter city/region/country name] does."

According to this argument, China is the main problem. It's doing the most harm, and if it doesn't change it's carbon-intensive ways, then we're all doomed, regardless of what else we do.

Not only is this argument ethically unsound - we all have a responsibility toward the climate, especially weathier, global north countries - but it turns out that China is beginning to act. Right now.

Recently, China accounced that it would no longer build coal-fired power plants in the regions surrounding Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. The air pollution has just gotten out of control with residents from all walks of life feeling the impacts.

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Further, China has a goal of reducing its power generation from coal to below 65% by 2017, as well as getting wind and solar production up to 13% of the total energy pie. This is far from all that China can be doing to mitigate its climate impact, and we still need to encourage China to shift away from dangerous alternatives like Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG) and nuclear, but these are steps in the right direction.

Lastly, China is currently piloting carbon trading markets as a potential precursor to a carbon tax. You read right: China is considering a national carbon tax. This would be a significant step toward the world's largest emitter curbing its climate change pollution.

All this said, we know that China is not acting fast enough. That's a fact. It still accounts for half of global coal consumption. There's still work to be done to hold China accountable to its new air pollution plan, and solving the climate crisis will be much more difficult if China doesn't take serious action.

But the main point is this: China is not, and should never have been, an excuse for climate inaction by elected officials around the world. Here are a couple such examples:

"The Australian coal industry will only survive because the Chinese, without a carbon tax, will do what we are no longer supposed to do: namely burn coal."

                                                                     -Tony Abbott, Australian Prime Minister

"If we got India, China, and other industrialized countries not working with us, all we're going to do is ship millions of American jobs overseas."

                                                  -John Boehner, Speaker of the USA House of Representatives

These comments are infuriating, but it's important for us to hold influencers and decision-makers accountable. So, if you're aware of any politician or pundit using the China Excuse (or the India Excuse, Brazil Excuse, etc), tell us about them in the comments below. Bonus points if you can provide news sources or links.

Let's quit the China Excuse once and for all, and push for collective climate action in the face of excuses and inaction.

 

"Coughing for Coal" outside the coal industry summit at UN Climate Talks

This morning in Warsaw, climate activists staged a public action in front of the Polish Ministry of Economy – the venue for the greenwashing Coal and Climate Summit – to voice their outrage and reiterate a simple reality: there is no such thing as clean coal. Organizations involved in the action included Polish Youth Climate Network, CEE Bank Watch, Corporate Europe Observatory, Klima Allianz, 350.org, Tools For Action, and the #Cough4Coal Initiative.

The Polish government, a long-standing opponent of renewable energy and action on climate change, has teamed-up with the World Coal Association (WCA), representing the most polluting corporations in the world, to host the International Coal and Climate Summit taking place on the sidelines of the UN climate talks currently underway in Warsaw.

The conference is a desparate attempt by the coal industry to greenwash their industry--but thanks to the teamwork of activists from across Eastern Europe and around the world, coal is still a dirty word. Our movement's demand is clear: an immediate phase out of all coal technologies and a shift of investments towards energy technologies that respect peoples’ health, the climate and environment. Dirty fuel sources like coal have no place in a 21st century clean energy economy; this reality can no longer be ignored.

The government and the WCA described the event in vague terms as giving the coal industry "a rare chance" to "be a key part of the climate debate", a supposed contribution" to the UN climate talks. But the actual agenda of the coal conference is far less deceiving: promoting public subsidies to the dirty coal industry – and thus augment the $544 billion spent on subsidies to the fossil fuel industry in 2012 alone. This summit makes a mockery of the UN climate treaty and of everyone working to combat climate change.

But the summit also highlights how out of touch with reality the Polish government is as a growing anti-coal movement is quickly gaining momentum globally.

Just this year, for example: 

- President Obama's Climate Action Plan: ends support for overseas coal plants

World Bank and European Investment Bank announcing de-facto coal bans

Nordic countries announcing a coal ban of their own coal is on it's way out.

Here in Poland, 89% of citizens are in favor of increasing renewable energy production in Poland, according to a recent Greenpeace poll. As many as 73% want the Polish government to be active in preventing dangerous climate change while coal and lignite based energy received minimal support. You can see the full results of the poll here.

Greenpeace put their research into action this morning, dropping a banner off the venue for the coal summit: 

All around the world, the climate justice movement is standing up to King Coal. From the fossil fuel divestment campaign to widespread coal protests in places like India and the Philippines, we're succeeding in beating back the coal industry. The industry is starting to falter in the face of this pressure--and the stark reality that coal has no place in a carbon constrained world. 

Today, we're "Coughing for Coal," but we're also cheering for a clean energy future. 

 

Thousands March Outside the UN Climate Talks in Warsaw, Poland

Thousands of people from around the world marched outside the UN Climate Talks in Warsaw, Poland today to demand climate justice. Our 350.org crew was there at the march, along with many of our amazing partner organizations, and thousands of our friends who are fighting fracking, stopping coal plants, building clean energy solutions, and pushing their institutions to divest from fossil fuels.

Marches like this always remind me of the creativity, excitement, and power of this emerging global climate movement. It's great fun to march with people from all across the planet -- and so essential that we're coming together to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and push for real climate action. On we go! 

 

Click here to see more photos from today's march. 

 

PH: Paying the Cost of Carbon

Below is an article shared to us by Rodne R. Galicha, Philippine District Manager of the Climate Reality Project and Executive Director of Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment, Inc.



Now we ask: Why are we the ones paying for the cost of carbon?

Typhoon Haiyan speaks of climate inaction, injustice, apathy and irresponsibility. Enough with all these suffering, enough with this madness. When will they listen - when there will be no people to listen to, when our voices are buried with the rubble left by storm surges and strong winds? As help from different parts of the globe arrives, we are thankful for the the sympathy - but we need most is empathy. After global assistance has been delivered, states emitting large amount of carbon dioxide may still remain business as usual. They must submit themselves to a legally binding commitment to reduce carbon emissions, or else we will expect more typhoons which are larger and more intense. This is the price of carbon, but we are confused - why are we the ones paying almost every year? We continue to seek climate justice, climate debt must be settled.

 

We hope, dream, and believe

As Yeb Sano took his first fasted day, the communities hit by Typhoon Haiyan unfortunately have had little food or water for five days. Last night, the President declared the country at a state of national calamity. Amidst foreign donations pouring in to the government, there has been little response yet for a full-force relief mobilization in affected areas.

Last year’s UN Climate Talk was also the height of Super Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines. Commissioner Yeb Sano was brought to tears in his appeal “...no more delays please…no more excuses…!” We cried and dreamed with him as we deeply hoped the tragedy brought by Typhoon Bopha could help change our course away from climate catastrophe.

But back home, just four months ago during the State of the Nation Address, we were shocked to hear our President endorsing more coal-fired power plant projects. In his last 3 years alone, he has approved 4500MW of coal capacity. This kind of madness must also stop!

We couldn’t agree more with our Negotiator’s bold stand at COP19. But as we continue to bear the wrath of climate change, may this boldness be translated into concrete actions back home.

We have had enough already! But we are challenged to raise hell and look at the eye of the storm without fear. Vulnerable as we are, we still hope, dream, and believe.