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Updated: 12 min 27 sec ago

Ende Gelände: Safe and Sound

Fri, 2015-08-28 17:18

It’s been two weeks since Ende Gelände.  Two weeks on and I’m still hearing stories come in, reflections shared, and seen the bruises turn different shades of purple to yellow.

I’ve heard about the nerves people felt ahead of the action; the hard conversations, frustrations and stress from organising and new decision-making processes; the solidarity and safety people felt from their buddy and affinity groups; the trust people had in the organising; the fear and courage people felt when approaching police lines; the triumph from reaching the Garzweiler coal mine; the sorrow when seeing it’s size and destruction; the discomfort and pain people felt from police brutality; the exhaustion from late night planning and from running; the fun and games played and the boredom from waiting; the anxiety and concern for friends – new and old; the creativity that blossomed in the most unusual circumstances; the yearning people felt to attend the action who couldn’t; the appreciation for base camp support; euphoria and pride at collective action success and loneliness when heading home.

All of these feelings are normal and legitimate.  And there will be many more feelings that have been felt that I haven’t described.

While evaluating the political impact of an action is important, creating a space for sharing emotions is equally as important for the well-being, health and learnings for individuals and a movement. After such an intense experience – for whatever role you played – it is good to process what happened.  People do this in different ways, but in case you are feeling at a bit of loss here are a few tips that might be useful to help you do this:

  • Keep in touch with your affinity group/other people who took part in the action and share how you are doing and listen to how others are.  Support one another.
  • Share your story.  Telling someone who has had a similar experience can be useful to have empathy and understanding, while telling people who weren’t there can be a way of painting your story.  Or tell someone independent – for example you can still contact Out of Action at ooa@riseup.net, who were at the climate camp and know about the action.
  • Exercise.  After the action you are likely to have had a big adrenaline drop, so to avoid such a trough, get active to re-balance yourself.
  • Check out the advice and resources from our friends at Plan to Thrive.

Ende Gelände will be a story – or part of a story – many will hold perhaps forever.  No matter the shade of your experience, it’s one that needs to be held healthily and put into your backpack to carry you on to your next chapter with strength, power and wisdom.  Good luck on your journeys and if you have more tips we should share, please email emma@350.org directly.  Thank you.

P.S. Note of caution: While it is important to talk about your experience within your affinity group, be aware that sharing information on the action, specific roles or activities could in turn reveal details we prefer not to share with the outside and these infos could be misread by the police or any other security agency.

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Playing fair and safe for the climate

Thu, 2015-08-27 18:51

 

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Today at 10 am the ministry for inner affairs of the federal state North-Rhine Westfalia held a public session discussing police activities in Garzweiler, at the Ende Gelände action on 15 August 2015. After an official complaint the authorities have had to discuss RWE’s role at the protests. The police have been massively criticized by organizations and media for cooperating with RWE workers and using their vehicles to stop the protesters from reaching the biggest land machines in the world – the coal digger 288. Now, there’ll be an assessment if this close cooperation between the biggest carbon polluter of Europe and the German police force in order to defend corporate interests was at all legal.

Also, head editor of the TAZ has filed a formal complaint to the ministry since the work of journalists was massively impeded. Journalists like activists had to face police pepper spray attacks and violence. They were even detained for several hours. The authorities will have to answer to this unbelievable violation of freedom of press.

Even mainstream media heavily criticized the police violence Ende Gelände activists had to face. Activists remained peaceful, adhering to the action agreement at all times and no violence against people or any destruction of infrastructure took place. Despite the calm, considerate, and determined approach of all activist the police reacted with heavy use of pepper spray, batons and tightly bound painful handcuffs.

In the face of violence people remained calm, cared for one another in affinity groups as part of larger groups (called “fingers”), looked out for the wounded and hurt and at no time acted upon any provocation or violence directed at them. This determination to remain peaceful was one of the most powerful decisions taken collectively. This allowed (mainstream) media to actually report about the action and its goals, climate change and the possibility of a coal phase out rather than – as has happened so many times around other actions – to write about the violent protesters throwing stones or property damage. Ende Gelände was able to gain mainstream public support by not acting upon violence by the police or RWE’s security personnel.

RWE and the police however have acted disproportionately against people protesting against Europe’s biggest source of carbon emission while no single property damage occurred. Meanwhile RWE has destroyed landscapes, forests, and communities for decades, has greased politicians, and used all their lobby power to prohibit a just transition to renewable energies. They have never played fair or peaceful. Nor has the police. They did everything to prevent protesters from reaching the mine and its diggers with a disproportionate and excessive amount of violence. They were prepared but they were not enough to stop people power in the face of climate destruction. The batons they used left quite a few bruises, which are still healing. But this violence is nothing compared to the wonderful solidarity, the amazing courage, and the love for people and planet of the 1500 fellow activists who took action on August 15th. I want to thank them, want to thank you all for being such bold, inspiring, dedicated and passionate individuals.  A strong and safe community was built, preparing people to do go into the mine together.

This will not be the last time people stand up and the community will continue to grow in new ways, meeting and crossing paths at joint actions again in the future. The solidarity with those most impacted by fossil extraction and the severe consequences of climate change – which we are already facing today – will deepen. Solidarity is love. And love is not a feeling – it’s an action.

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The Stunning Courage of the City of Newcastle

Thu, 2015-08-27 18:41

It really is the most stunning of announcements. The city with the most coal going through it day in, day out, in the world just did something that on the surface seems completely contradictory. That city – the City of Newcastle, Australia – earlier this week voted to divest its $270 million investment portfolio from fossil fuels, including coal*.

Read more here

How a Cardboard Sign and a Sharpie forced Climate Change onto the Campaign Trail

Wed, 2015-08-26 20:15

Yesterday, local activists disrupted Stephen Harper’s campaign stop in Montreal to remind him that you can’t do this election campaign without addressing the issue of climate and tar sands expansion.

Local residents, organizers from communities opposed to the Energy East and Line 9b pipelines, members of the union CSN and students from Divest McGill, showed up. In a packed room of supporters in the suburban riding of Pointe-Claire, a climate activist raising a sign interrupted the Prime Minister’s speech mid-sentence, and people rallied outside with creativity.

Here’s how the creativity, resolve and dedication of folks who pulled this off makes this movement move forward and forces these issues onto the campaign trail:

1. They got in the way of the livestream and let Twitter do the rest

Watch the disruption caught on all major networks cameras when one local activist inside the event stood up with a sign and interrupted Harper mid-sentence.

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 1.48.35 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 1.48.50 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 1.48.43 PM 2. It will earn you commentary from other party leaders

As the action was happening, Green Party leader made this cheeky reference in the Twittosphere:

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3. Remember that it’s the economy, stupid

As Harper focused his speech on his party’s economic achievements inside, union members were outside to remind him that economic justice and tackling climate change go hand in hand. Members from the CSN, one of Quebec’s major union, joined in with local residents concerned about tar sands pipelines in their communities to highlight that no party leaders have a plan for an energy transition.

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4. Add some molasses to the mix

Showing some real determination, youth from Divest McGill were outside calling out Harper on his abysmal record on climate and calling on people to vote for political change, not climate change. All that with a staged molasses spill.

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 5. The cherry on the pie: a journalist GIF-ed the action!

Seriously, watch this:

Harper event in Quebec is interrupted by climate change protester. Watch how quickly he is removed by security pic.twitter.com/D2MSinv8gv

— Patrick Morrell (@PatMorrell_CBC) August 25, 2015

With a decade of Harper’s abysmal policies,

The Kechimov case – protecting ancestral lands from oil giants

Wed, 2015-08-26 13:29

On August 17,  a 5-minute hearing  was  held in a provincial court of Surgut District (Siberia). The defendant, Sergey Kechimov, a reindeer herder from Yugra and one of the few Khanty indigenous people left, is accused of threatening to kill two workers of Surgutneftegaz – one of the largest Russian oil companies. Being sentenced may cost him up to 2 years in prison, under the Russian criminal code.

During the hearing, lawyers reminded the judge, Mrs. Asharina, that Sergey was not provided with translators throughout the investigation. Despite admitting Sergey’s rights had been violated, Judge Asharina decided to proceed with the case. The next hearings will take place on September 12. But this is a case that goes far beyond the accusations being levied.

What brought Sergey Kechimov before the Court?

The Kechimov case could be conveniently framed as involving a petty crime and deemed unworthy of the public’s attention. According to the case, the conflict rose when Sergey had to shoot a dog owned by the oil-company workers that had killed a reindeer in his herd and attacked him as well. Oil-company workers claimed Sergey also ordered them out of his ancestral lands and demanded compensation payment while waving his shotgun at them.

Sergey is one of the last Khanty people living near the Imlor lake. For centuries, Khantys have deified and praised nature, believing that no person can take more gifts from her than those she is ready to share.   

The Imlor Lake - courtesy raipon-b.nichost.ru

The Imlor Lake – courtesy raipon-b.nichost.ru

When the oil companies arrived, the sacred Imlor lake became an expendable source of hydrocarbons, spoiled by oil and mutilated by ugly constructions. Animals around the lake are now hunted and fish caught mercilessly by oil-company workers – at any rate, this oil deposit will be  over in a couple of decades, and the industry will move on leaving only barren fields with rusty pipes behind.

Unsurprisingly, most of the Khanty people decided not to live side by side with the newcomers, leaving their ancestral lands behind for the oil workers to take over. Those like Sergey and the others who dared to stay have become a constant nuisance for the oil companies. Government measures to protect the ancestral peoples’ rights are providing effective motivation for oil companies to swiftly get rid of such peoples.

For the locals, the presence of oil companies resembles the days of military occupation – with block-posts, humiliating document checkings and personal searches by private security guards.

Sergey Kechimov shows the traces the oil companies left on Khanty land - courtesy Denis Sinyakov, Greenpeace

Sergey Kechimov shows the traces the oil companies left on Khanty land – courtesy Denis Sinyakov, Greenpeace

So the “Kechimov case” is not just a conflict between individuals, it’s an expression of two incompatible approaches to the relation between people and nature colliding. A conflict now left for Judge Asharina, at the 2nd sub-district of the Surgut Court District, to resolve.  

It’s time to end this threat!  

Statistically, 99.6% of the court verdicts on criminal cases in Russia result in guilty convictions, and Sergey is likely to get up to 2 years of prison. Public attention and a powerful call from around the world is, perhaps, his only chance to change this prospect.

In order to save the Khanty, the unique Imlor lake and their traditional taiga landscape, any industrial activities within their lands must be completely banned.  

Neither “restrictions” nor “obligations” would help at this point; the forces are too incompatible. Even in large Russian cities, enforcing the most basic environmental regulations becomes challenging when they rule against the interests of big businesses – remember the Khimki Forest story, or the unceasing battle for Moscow parks.The scientists have warned us: humankind must leave most of the existing fossil fuel reserves underground to avoid a climate catastrophe of geological scale. A good start would be to keep the oil under ancestral peoples’ lands in the ground  

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Sign a petition to support Sergey Kechimov

Sign to demand world governments to keep fossil fuels in the ground

 

Bird-dogging the Campaign trail in Canada: Week 3 in review

Tue, 2015-08-25 18:53

 

 

WEEK 3: Asking leaders about climate coast to coast

Last week’s election campaign was marked by all leaders being called out on the tar sands, coast to coast, and across party lines.

It started once again with a welcoming committee for Stephen Harper, this time in Fredericton. On Monday August 17th, local residents, the Council of Canadians and members of the Elsipogtog and St Mary’s First Nations brought creative reminders that Harper’s single-minded expansion of the oil industry needs to be a thing of the past.

IMAGE - Stephen Harper visit to Fredericton Legion (August 17, 2015) IMAGE - Stephen Harper visit to Fredericton Legion - Harper's bus

 

This video – which hit over 5,000 views in its first hours on the Internet – shows the resolve of Elsipogtog First Nation’s Debbie Cyr and St. Mary’s First Nation Angee Acquin who drummed outside the venue, sending the clear message that protecting the land and the climate is about treaty rights.

This happened a few days before New Brunswick residents also confronted their Premier Brian Gallant — whose outspoken support for the Energy East pipeline earned him the visit — and just days before an expert report raised the alarm on how the pipeline would hurt whales as well as jobs from tourism and fisheries in the Bay of Fundy.

Then, marking the end of the week, both Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair answered questions.

 

Right in the middle of the week, the CBC released this great video that explains why Alberta’s tar sands will likely stay in ground — showing the path of what makes economic and scientific sense. One thing’s for certain, the conversation about the tar sands is keeping up!

Click here to get involved in a wave of mobilization by the climate movement this fall, and download the bird-dogging toolkit to organize similar actions targeting party leaders across party lines during the elections campaign!

Here and No Further

Tue, 2015-08-25 09:45

This is a guest post from Gary Evans, an organiser with Divest Aachen who took part in Ende Gelände last week.

“What are the dust masks for?” I asked.
“Oh they’re to protect your lungs against the dust in the pit,” came the response.

I’d arrived at the Climate Camp near to the vast brown coal pits in North Rhine Westfalia, where we planned to shut down operations the next day. The camp was buzzing with activity as people from all over Europe came together to make a clear statement: Stop burning killer coal.

Our organisation, Divest Aachen was one of many Fossil Free groups involved in this action. And there were many of us in the camp. With about 1500 activists, this was the largest mass act of civil disobedience against coal ever seen in Germany.

As a seasoned campaigner I recognised many faces, but what struck me was the amount of young people at the camp. I waited at the entrance as a large Fossil Free group arrived from the UK. I’d already bumped into the Swedes, another big group of young Fossil Free activists who were all involved in their first act of civil disobedience. Other familiar faces appeared. Friends I’d got to know at a Fossil Free workshop in Eindhoven a few weeks ago. Journalists and bloggers from 350.org were already on site and busily organising themselves in the press tent. Other journalists from the German and international press were busy broadcasting this monumental event.

As I was eating dinner in the camp I met Heather, an first nation Canadian, who was here to hold a speech about the tar sands carbon bomb in solidarity with our cause. I realised that we were witnessing a coming together of positive energies with real force to make change happen.

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Photo: Gary Evans. Creative Commons.

I went to my tent feeling excited and nervous. I couldn’t sleep. At 4am a police helicopter began circling overhead. I got up, grabbed my camera and captured the dark clouds of steam rising into the skies above Garzweiler power station. Police sat in vans across the road from me. Tension hung in the air like a storm cloud.

I joined up with a team from Fossil Free Switzerland among the ‘Pink Finger’, one of four groups of about 300 activists and we started marching toward the pit, most of us carrying straw sacks. “What are they for?” I asked. “They’re to protect you from police batons” came the cheery reply. I grabbed one and we headed towards Immerath, an abandoned village on the edge of the pit and on the verge of destruction.

 Gary Evans. Creative Commons.

The abandoned village of Immerath. Photo: Gary Evans. Creative Commons.

Thoughts of all the refugees in desperate need of a roof over their heads and the insanity of digging a huge hole ran through my mind. Why are we digging holes instead of building bridges to a better future?

We arrived at the first bridge of five which spanned the motorway – the biggest obstacle to entering the pit. Riot police were waiting with armoured vehicles, pepper spray and batons (link to video clip). They immediately attacked our front line, incapacitating most of them. We regrouped and quickly moved on the next bridge where we were met with the same violent response. No police were stationed at the third bridge in the distance though, so we ran toward it.

Police began arriving on the bridge as we ran. They started to aim pepper spray in everyone’s eyes. I ran straight toward a policeman in full riot gear who took aim and fired. I was lucky that it hit the side of my face and not my eyes. Others were lying around on the road, obviously in distress. I ran on and slid down a verge toward the pit, a mere 200 metres away.

By this time I was hot, out of breath and sweating. The pepper spray started to burn my skin. It felt like chili on top of sunburn. Others, who could no longer see, or were injured from batons rounds were being helped along. Finally we got into the pit with piles of riot police running up behind us. They also looked hot and bothered. Would they attack us from behind in the heat of the moment? We ran on.

In front of me scenes from Mordor appeared as a police helicopter swooped down on us, endangering the lives of both activists and the police. Coal dust rose like a curse. I stopped running in exhaustion as the police convoy overtook us. Others around me looked how I felt and so we regrouped and took stock of the situation.

We started to head back to camp as the way ahead was blocked by police. Others had reached the huge machines in the mine and were unfurling banners. We had achieved our immediate aim of shutting down the mine.

Just as we were heading back out, a police unit arrived and surrounded us. Luckily a journalist from WDR jumped into the fray. His interview with us went on air straight afterwards. The world now knew about our success and the futile nature of the police and RWE in trying to stop peaceful protest with violence.

We now look forward to the Path Through Paris in December. Many new activists have been empowered to take action, thanks to our solidarity in the face of oppression. Gandhi would have approved.

Join us in the divestment movement, or get involved in any of the many groups preparing to stand up and speak the truth to power. Politicians have failed us here in Germany and elsewhere, so it’s time to take action to save us all from disastrous climate change.

Together we are the change we need to see.

Gary Evans
@DivestAachen

Exploring Climate Connections: First in a Series

Mon, 2015-08-24 17:04

This is the first in an ongoing series of blogs I’ll be doing about how climate change, and the work of 350.org, connect to other major movements and global issues that are surging. This kind of work isn’t new for us, and in fact, we often speak out and demonstrate solidarity, but not in a regular fashion. We see ourselves as a movement organization, and as a result, we are constantly observing connections between the work we do and how it connects with the work of partners. 

As my friend Miya Yoshitani likes to say, climate change is a force multiplier. By creating harsher and harsher living conditions, a changing climate creates more uncertainty, more inequality, and more stress. Look at global conflict areas, from Western Africa to Syria to the migrant and refugee crisis almost everywhere, and there is always a link to resource scarcity driving people away from the places and people they love and the land they’ve depended on for decades.

We also believe, and it is our organizational theory of change, that we won’t see the necessary, ambitious action taken by governments, if there is not popular pressure from many corners. And if climate change is understood by global leaders as a fringe concern, unconnected to others, it will remain unaddressed, or addressed feebly. 

It couldn’t be less of a fringe concern, because of this multiplier effect. So these blogs are an effort to really probe what these connections are, using concrete examples of important topics on the tip of the public’s tongue. We campaign in such a way so as to effect that narrative, and so we take many cues from what topics are live in the media. These aren’t the only important topics, but the public narrative is a crucial resource to make climate change a topic of relevance to everyone.

So for today’s topic, I wanted to probe the climate connection to the Iran nuclear deal. Not long ago, there was a very real threat of military action by the US government against Iran, and it was all I could think about. I was very afraid the US would agree to a sustained military commitment in Iran that could continue the cycle of violence in the region. So the fact that dogged and longstanding diplomatic efforts reached a strong outcome is a source for celebration, because it is a very crucial tool to avoiding military action. And the deal might not be successful.

Here’s an exploration of the connection to climate change as I see it.

First, from the perspective of the impacts of climate change, Iran is very vulnerable. The Iranian Department of Environment has already warned about the effect of rising temperature and decreased rainfall on agriculture and land use. The water shortages that result from drought create harsher living conditions for many people.  As more and more people struggle to meet basic needs, climate change makes it harder to rely on the land and on historically reliable water resources. 

The violence of war eclipses the hope for peace, and as the impacts of climate change worsen around the world, the potential for conflict gets much higher. Violent conflict is not inevitable, and avoiding it requires real work. The work to bring about this deal is an example of what is required to prevent conflict.

On a political level, effective diplomacy anywhere is a boon to the legitimacy of multilateral negotiations on climate change, the pinnacle of which will take place in Paris at the end of this year (our plan for Paris is outlined here). Coming to agreement, without violence, about transitioning our entire economy off of fossil fuels and towards renewables, is something we’ve worked towards since we began.

The Iran deal represents the result of significant diplomatic effort, and such efforts build on one another. They restore trust among countries in resolving conflict through cooperation, and these are the skills we need to build as the world rapidly changes around us.

That is how I understand the connections. I am sure there are even more! 

Many thanks to the peace movement, and political powerhouses like Moveon.org, who are working hard to expose the risks of not agreeing to this deal. We refer you to them for further information and for means to take action! To learn more about 350.org’s work in the Arab World, check out this photo essay.

Fossils belong in museums.

Fri, 2015-08-21 20:58

Friends,

Today, we’re announcing an exciting new divestment campaign: In partnership with The Natural History Museum, a new mobile museum that champions bold climate action, we’re launching a brand new push in the divestment movement calling on museums to stand up as leaders in the face of climate catastrophe.

The iron is red hot. In December, hundreds of world governments are meeting in Paris to try to strike a global climate agreement. But their commitments are falling short, and we need way more ambition.

Divestment is a powerful signal to our world leaders that the time for strong climate agreements is now — but it’s up to us to keep the divestment dominoes falling.

Click here to join us in asking 5 of the United States’ top museums of science and natural history to divest from fossil fuels.

Every time a university, church, pension fund, or other institution divests from fossil fuels, it sends a strong message: The age of fossil fuels is over. We need a transition that’s both rapid and just — and we need it now. Now we’re asking museums to join the divestment call.

Earlier this year, our friends at The Natural History Museum launched a campaign with dozens of the world’s top scientists calling on museums to cut all ties to the fossil fuel industry. Inspired by their call, we’re now teaming up to ask some of our biggest, most iconic museums to ditch their investments in the fossil fuel industry — the same industry that’s driving the climate crisis and causing the communities who have contributed the least to the problem to be hit the hardest.

This moment calls for leaders that are ready to do more than observe and curate history — it calls for leaders who are ready to help make it. We believe museums can be those leaders. If a few of our big, iconic museums were to divest, it would set a powerful precedent for a whole new sector of institutions around the world to step up and divest too — just in time for the Paris summit.

Click here to sign the petition telling the American Museum of Natural History, The Field Museum, California Academy of Sciences, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, & the Natural History Museum of Utah: Fossils belong in museums, not in investment funds. Please divest.

The world is evolving beyond fossil fuels. Let’s not leave our museums behind.

Thank you,

Jenny for the 350.org team & Beka for The Natural History Museum team

——

More info:

Fossils belong in museums.

Fri, 2015-08-21 20:48

Friends,

Today, we’re announcing an exciting new divestment campaign: In partnership with The Natural History Museum, a new mobile museum that champions bold climate action, we’re launching a brand new push in the divestment movement calling on museums to stand up as leaders in the face of climate catastrophe.

The iron is red hot. In December, hundreds of world governments are meeting in Paris to try to strike a global climate agreement. But their commitments are falling short, and we need way more ambition.

Divestment is a powerful signal to our world leaders that the time for strong climate agreements is now — but it’s up to us to keep the divestment dominoes falling.

Click here to join us in asking 5 of the United States’ top museums of science and natural history to divest from fossil fuels.

Every time a university, church, pension fund, or other institution divests from fossil fuels, it sends a strong message: The age of fossil fuels is over. We need a transition that’s both rapid and just — and we need it now. Now we’re asking museums to join the divestment call.

Earlier this year, our friends at The Natural History Museum launched a campaign with dozens of the world’s top scientists calling on museums to cut all ties to the fossil fuel industry. Inspired by their call, we’re now teaming up to ask some of our biggest, most iconic museums to ditch their investments in the fossil fuel industry — the same industry that’s driving the climate crisis and causing the communities who have contributed the least to the problem to be hit the hardest.

This moment calls for leaders that are ready to do more than observe and curate history — it calls for leaders who are ready to help make it. We believe museums can be those leaders. If a few of our big, iconic museums were to divest, it would set a powerful precedent for a whole new sector of institutions around the world to step up and divest too — just in time for the Paris summit.

Click here to sign the petition telling the American Museum of Natural History, The Field Museum, California Academy of Sciences, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, & the Natural History Museum of Utah: Fossils belong in museums, not in investment funds. Please divest.

The world is evolving beyond fossil fuels. Let’s not leave our museums behind.

Thank you,

Jenny for the 350.org team & Beka for The Natural History Museum team

——

More info:

Civic activism in Russia: an unexpected triumph of democracy

Wed, 2015-08-19 12:33

Civic engagement in Russia: on the wane or changing format?
It has become commonplace to complain about the decrease in civic activity in today’s Russia. There are indeed fewer thousand-strong marches and rallies in downtown Moscow now than a few years ago. The reasons for this have been much written about; but it seems more interesting to us to note a completely opposite trend: people are taking part in ‘local’ action demanding the preservation and improvement of the urban milieu around them. One need but recall the fight for Torfyanka and Druzhba parks in Moscow, for Malinovka in St Petersburg, the heroic defense of the Volga by Tatar activists.

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About a thousand people rallied to protect Torfyanka park. Photo courtesy of Kommersant.ru

The tension of the ‘local’ conflicts is so high that sometimes it sadly leads to violent clashes, even to shootings, as recently happened in the suburban Moscow village of Zeleny, where the local authorities had given a forest up for construction. In spite of the crackdown and outright crime – we shall remember at least the story of Mikhail Beketov and Evgeny Vitishko, the trial of a Khoper defenders, the beatings and even killings of activists – civic activism is alive and growing, such that the destruction of even a tiny green belt becomes a catalyst for protest, as happened in Khimki recently.

Most of the people who consider themselves to be part of ‘big politics’ often look down on the local protests; for them, it is like, “you know, people are still unprepared for the real stuff, that is why they cannot see beyond their yard or the park out the window.” The protesters respond to the politicians with silent mistrust, keep protecting their parks and green areas, establish ties with each other little by little, and learn to pose common demands. For example, the envirnonmental coalition of St Petersburg and its region has just recently come into being. Citizens in the Moscow region outraged by the massive destruction of the green belts and the construction work in the agricultural lands are gathering this Saturday to a rally “Against the construction mafia,” and the next day Moscow activists will convene in Druzhba park to discuss the possibility of a referendum over the ban on the construction work in parks.

So what do the activists actually want?

Of course, the perspective of big business and the caste of officials that have merged with it is that these people are the enemies of progress, ‘boors’ (Yuriy Mikhaylovich Luzhkov would say so, as Moscow’s mayor). Like-minded individuals from abroad have expressed themselves more elegantly, calling their opponents NIMBYs: “Not in My Back Yard.” “It’s like, you know, except in my back yard, you can build your skyscrapers, highways and parkng lots anywhere.” At the same time, the very relevance of all these 1970s props of ‘progress’ appear kind of out of the question. But is this how it really is?

What are the demands of the urban activists? The most common demand is to make city more livable, without dismal bedroom towns cut down from the world, without depressive and enormous industrial areas. Green belts, cafes and shops are located close to home in their dream cities. They are easily accessible by foot or bike, and if you have to go farther, you will be served by modern electric transport. This city is not dominated by the chimneys of gigantic heat and power plants; most of its energy comes from the renewables. The very need for energy has decreased: trees and bushes shelter from the summer heat and winter’s chilling winds. The dream city doesn’t need any monstrous storage terminals with parking capacities for thousands of trucks, because the major stream of produce comes from the nearby fields and farms that have not been concreted and striped with lines of towers for living.

A fantasy? An impossible dream? This is how the majority of Russia’s decision-makers see it. But not the experts who are supposed to look forward. An UN expert group has recently published IPCC‘s fifth report. It warns not just of the looming global disaster caused by climate change; it advises on how it can be avoided. And it turns out the principal recommendation for modern city planners is to make cities ‘green.’ According to the UN data, 75 percent of climate change-inducing greenhouse gas emissions originate in cities. Cities are expected to host 66 percent of the global population by 2050, and if the greenhouse emissions rise proportionately, the climate scientists’ worst nightmares will become a reality.

As it turns out, the ‘green’ city has a very specific meaning. A city is green when it leaves no dirty footprint in the environment while existing and developing successfully. This is what they call ‘sustainable development,’ as opposed to plain ‘development’ at everyone’s expense, consuming all the more fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources with sad consequences for the environment and the citizens. Medical research has shown that the greener the city is, the lower its mortality rates, and vice versa. The need to move from unsustainable to sustainable development is perhaps humankind’s principal challenge in the 21st century, when the population of our planet is supposed to top 10 bn, and the continued ‘unsustainable’ development scenario will entail an imminent disaster within a few decades.

Freiburg, the green city of the 21st century. Photo courtesy of naturalflow, flickr.com

Freiburg, the green city of the 21st century. Photo courtesy of naturalflow, flickr.com

The triumph of democracy

So, the urban activists have spontaneously reached the same conclusions ‘from the bottom up’ as the world’s best experts have: now, that’s a true triumph of democratic ideas! And it is not just about the conclusions, but also about the inner strength to defend their truth in spite of the last century’s agenda that is now being agressively imposed on the Russians.

Do the politicians have enough wisdom to realize that the activists are correct? Today’s Russia faces a vital necessity to transfer to sustainable development: if the opposite happens, the country will remain a hostage to the falling fossil fuel prices, concentrating nearly all of its active population in several mega cities unable to feed themselves and leaving all of its remaining territory under the authority of devastation and resource-extracting companies. Here is, by the way, ‘the unified agenda’ that should gather not only political activists but most average people: of course, if we want a normal life for ourselves and our children.

Occupy Vanuatu Climate Protest

Tue, 2015-08-18 12:04
350 Vanuatu Coordinator, Isso Nihm

350 Vanuatu Coordinator, Isso Nihm

Today in Port Vila over 200 people, including youth and secondary school students, occupied the central vegetable market in protest against new coal mines and their climate impacts on Vanuatu’s people. Vanuatu’s vegetable market had been closed for months after severe category 5 Cyclone Pam devastated the country in March 2015.

Led by 350 Vanuatu, the youth activists made calls for a global moratorium on the development of new coal mining operations. This call is in support of the letter of appeal sent earlier by the President of Kiribati Anote Tong to all global leaders. Mr. Emil Samuel, co-coordinator of 350 Vanuatu captured the frustration of ni-Vanuatu women at the market, “they come to the market week after week to earn a few dollars to rebuild their agricultural livelihoods that were destroyed in the cyclone and now ravaged by the current El Nino drought. Enough is enough with climate change.”

To support the youth-led climate action, Dr. Kumi Naidoo, International Executive Director of Greenpeace, was on-hand to encourage Vanuatu “never to give up fighting for climate justice.” He reminded market vendors and the youth alike that the struggle for climate change is a matter of life and death for countries in the Pacific like Vanuatu. Dr. Naidoo called on all leaders to publicly endorse Kiribati’s call for moratoriums on new coal.

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Kumi Naidoo in Vanuatu

During the protest, Dr. Naidoo met with students from Malapoa College, Central School and Tebakor College. He urged them to remember that “this planet’s future belongs to you.” The students, a part of the wider 350 global movement have been campaigning for years against the rise of global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2014, 350 Vanuatu members traveled to Australia to block the Newcastle port for coal ships. 350 Vanuatu members are now gearing up for a historic visit to the Vatican to lobby the Catholic Church to remove its investments in fossil fuels.

Student Sam Jake summed it all up, “we in Vanuatu are fighting for our lives, the world has to listen to us in the Pacific. Our lives matter! Even though we are poor, even though we are far away from powerful countries, even though we are small, and even though our skin is dark. Climate change is killing our people and our culture.”

This Occupy Vanuatu youth climate action was organised by 350 Vanuatu, the Vanuatu Climate Action Network -VCAN, and the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network PICAN.

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RWE legal action against demonstrators “disproportionate and absurd”

Tue, 2015-08-18 09:39

RWE’s decision to file proceedings against demonstrators for trespassing is ridiculous, says Jürgen Döschner. This is, after all, a corporation which has for years disturbed the peace of entire regions. The protests, which were legitimate if not legal, will not be stopped by police batons.

By Jürgen Döschner, Energy expert for WDR and ARD

Kudos! The climate change activists in the Rhineland lignite coal-mining district have earned our highest respect! Seizing the initiative in their courageous and symbolic protests on the weekend, the activists brought the gigantic machinery of lignite coal mining to a standstill for several hours at a number of locations. Their actions put the spotlight on the greatest environmental hazard of our time: the threat to the world climate by CO2 emissions and the impact of lignite-fuelled power generation in this context.

The protests were acts of civil disobedience: peaceful and non-violent – and nonetheless a refusal to obey the law. By breaching the perimeter of RWE’s open-pit coal mine and placing themselves in the path of the bucket excavators, the activists’ actions do presumably constitute a legal offence. But the corporation’s decision to defend its perimeter in a massive police operation that saw the use of batons and pepper spray, and the attempt to criminalize some 800 activists and journalists by filing proceedings – is both disproportionate and utterly absurd

It is ironic that RWE, a corporation whose coal excavators have for decades disturbed the peace of not only individual households, but entire villages and regions – even going so far as to destroy houses – should criticize the actions of the several hundred demonstrators, who hiked across a landscape devastated by the corporation’s machinery.

A ruthless response

RWE’s ruthless response to the protests rests not only on matters of law, but on the corporation’s economic and political power. Officials in federal, state and local government bodies defend coal-based power generation; many towns and cities hold stocks in RWE. The images of police officers in corporate SUVs chasing down protesters together with members of RWE’s own security service speak for themselves.

They have not only outraged the protesters, but will also strengthen their resolve and determination. And rightly so, I believe. The protests in Rhineland’s lignite mining district were perhaps not always legal, but they are entirely legitimate in the face of the threat that we face and the ignorant response of the powerful and the wealthy.

The bulk of our coal reserves will have to remain in the ground if we are to prevent climate change. Even the G7 and US-President Barack Obama have come around to this conclusion. The alternatives to coal are there, the transition to sustainable energy is a reality. RWE still believes that it can halt this transformation with batons and pepper spray. But as it has on the stock markets, the energy giant will sooner or later fall flat on its face with its lignite mines. The fate of nuclear power should give RWE food for thought.

 

This post is a translated version of the “Unangemessen und absurd” commentary by Jürgen Döschner

The time for feeling powerless in the face of climate change is over.

Mon, 2015-08-17 20:22

Friends,

2015 is on track to be the hottest year in recorded history, and this December hundreds of world governments will meet in Paris to try to strike a global climate agreement. It will be the biggest gathering of its kind since 2009, and it’s potentially a big deal for our global movement.

In Paris our governments are supposed to agree on a shared target for climate action, based on the national plans governments have been putting together all year — but the numbers just aren’t adding up. Everything being discussed will allow too many communities that have polluted the least to be devastated by floods, rising sea levels and other disasters.

This has the makings of a global failure of ambition — and at a moment when renewable energy is becoming a revolutionary economic force that could power a just transition away from fossil fuels. Click here to join us in telling world leaders to keep fossil fuels underground and finance a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Our movement has grown tremendously — and it shows every time a new leader stands up to declare we must keep fossil fuels under ground, or a university, church or pension fund divests from fossil fuels. The problem is the power of the fossil fuel industry.

The Paris negotiations could potentially send a signal that world governments are serious about keeping fossil fuels in the ground. If they fail, it will embolden the fossil fuel industry and expose more communities to toxic extraction and climate disasters.

The solutions are obvious: we need to stop digging up and burning fossil fuels, start building renewable energy everywhere we can, and make sure communities on the front lines of climate change have the resources they need to respond to the crisis.

This could be a turning point — if we push for it. Click here to join our global call for action to world governments, telling them to commit to keeping at least 80% of fossil fuels underground, and financing a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

The time for feeling powerless in the face of climate chaos is over. No matter what happens in the negotiating halls, we must build power to hold them accountable to the principles of justice and science.

After many months of consultation with our global network, here is the plan for what I call “The Road Through Paris”: the plan to grow our movement and hold world leaders accountable to the action we need.

First, in September we will launch a global framework to grow the movement before and after the Paris talks. On September 10th, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein and others will be joined by global movement leaders in New York City to lay out our vision for the road ahead. Then on September 26th communities across the globe will hold workshops to plan for the coming months of action. After that, I think we’ll see several months of escalating activity as communities drive the message home that we can’t wait for action.

The talks in Paris start on November 30th, and run for 2 weeks. But before the talks start, the world will stand together in a weekend of global action, paired with an enormous march in the streets of Paris. During the talks, 350’s team on the ground will do their best to help keep you in the loop on the most important developments. And when the talks wrap up, we’re planning a big action in Paris on December 12th to make sure the people — not the politicians — have the last word.

But most importantly, we won’t stop there. I want you to mark your calendars for the month of April in 2016. That’s when we will mobilize in a global wave of action unlike any we’ve seen before. Not one big march in one city, not a scattering of local actions — but rather a wave of historic national and continent-wide mobilizations targeting the fossil fuel projects that must be kept in the ground, and backing the energy solutions that will take their place.

In the 6 years 350.org has been around, this is the most ambitious plan we’ve ever proposed. But ambition is what is called for, along with courage, faith in each other and the readiness to respond when disaster strikes, plans change, or politicians fail to lead.

We are nearer than ever to the changes we’ve been fighting to see. I hope to stand with you in the coming months to see them through.

May Boeve
Executive Director

How 1,500 people shut down Europe’s biggest source of CO2

Mon, 2015-08-17 19:59

On Saturday, around 1,500 people set off from the climate camp in Germany’s Rhineland early in the morning to try and enter the open-pit lignite mine of Garzweiler  and block the massive excavators.

 Ruben Neugebauer

Photographer: Ruben Neugebauer

 

Utility company RWE’s lignite mines and power plants in the Rhineland are the biggest source of CO2 emissions in Europe. Three of the five most polluting power plants in Europe are located there.

The German government recently scrapped plans to put a levy on CO2 from the most polluting lignite plants. Instead it adopted a ‘capacity reserve’ proposed by the big lignite operators RWE and Vattenfall, which makes consumers and taxpayers pay polluters to put some plants on standby and falls short of the emission cuts needed.

People are no longer prepared to watch politicians side with the polluters and fail to take action on climate change. That is why people from all over Europe travelled to the Rhineland to join an act of mass civil disobedience saying ‘here and no further’ or ‘Ende Gelände’.

The activists split into groups approaching the mine from different sides. To get to the mine, they had to get past a motorway and various police lines. There were 1,000 police on site, in addition to RWE’s private security service.

 Paul Wagner

Photographer: Paul Wagner

 Paul Wagner

Photographer: Paul Wagner

 

In places, the police response to the activists committed to non-violence was disproportionate with immediate massive use of pepper spray and batons. The activists remained peaceful and sought to de-escalate.

 Tim Wagner

Photographer: Tim Wagner

 

Two climbers suspended from a bridge across the motorway to temporarily block it, which allowed the final group that had not yet managed to get past to cross it safely.

 Ende Gelände

Photo: Ende Gelände

 Paul Wagner

Photographer: Paul Wagner

 

Around 1,000 people were able to enter the mine forcing RWE to stop the diggers. The Bagger 228 diggers  are 220 metres long and the world’s biggest land vehicles.

 Ruben Neugebauer

Photographer: Ruben Neugebauer

 Ruben Neugebauer

Photographer: Ruben Neugebauer

 Paul Wagner

Photographer: Paul Wagner

 

One group managed to climb onto one of the diggers, other groups were surrounded by police where they remained for hours with the diggers around them out of action. Operations in the mine came to a complete halt with the conveyor belts stopped.  Journalists were removed from the site.

 Tim Wagner

Photographer: Tim Wagner

 Paul Wagner

Photographer: Paul Wagner

 Ruben Neugebauer

Photographer: Ruben Neugebauer

 

Of all fossil fuels, lignite has the worst impact on the climate. Local resistance against water and air pollution from the coal fields, the forced displacement of entire communities and environmental destruction is strong. Over the last three years, grassroots activists have repeatedly occupied the Hambach forest to stop it being cut down for the expansion of the mines.

 Ruben Neugebauer

Photographer: Ruben Neugebauer

 

It took the police a long time to remove the activists. They collaborated with RWE’s private security service and used RWE’s vehicles that can enter the mine. In the afternoon, 800 people joined a solidarity protest outside the mine.

By the evening, all activists had left or had been removed from the mine and 240 were taken to local police stations. Everyone who took part in the action was released that night. RWE announced it is considering to file 797 charges for trespassing.

 Paul Wagner

Photographer: Paul Wagner

 Paul Wagner

Photographer: Paul Wagner

 

People returned to the camp in good spirits, even though several were injured by pepper spray and batons. Many of those that joined have taken part in an act of civil disobedience for the first time. One participant came back from the action saying that for the first time in his life, he felt truly powerful.

 Ruben Neugebauer

Photographer: Ruben Neugebauer

 

Saipan: Grassroots organising in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Soudelor

Mon, 2015-08-17 06:44

We delivered drinking water today as we have every day since the day after the typhoon. Today, our group alone delivered nearly 5000 gallons out to the villagers, 5 gallons at a time. The best part of the day was when, in a village called Tanapag, three elderly women rolled a big laundry basket down the street with empty bottles to be filled at our truck. I put the full bottles back in the basket for them and they collectively pushed it back up the road to their apartment building. Behind them, and headed in the opposite direction was a 6 year old boy and his sister, rolling their water bottles down the road to what was left of their house. Is water collection, the most important task of all, the duty of the young and the elderly?

               – Margaret Rose, resident of Saipan

On August 2nd, the most powerful storm of 2015 wreaked havoc upon Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands of the Western Pacific. It then continued on its path across Taiwan and China, making thousands homeless, claiming dozens of victims and setting a long path to recovery. You can see the wreckage in Saipan in the video below here.

A week after the event, I reached out to 350.org supporters in Saipan to see how they are responding and coping. As people have responded to my email, it has become evident that the response of people on the ground in Saipan is a lesson in self-led community organising. People are stepping up to meet urgent needs and working together to make sure everyone is taken care of.

Here’s how they are organising – thanks to a reply from Rebecca Skeele:

A group of citizens have formed a group that has grown into a grassroots volunteer group providing access to water and other essential necessities for people affected by the storm. We are driving into the back roads of villages and getting these necessities to families who have lost everything and so far have not been able to access relief from either the government or other larger NGOs.

Our group is called United 4 Saipan. Our volunteers are posting stories of the people they have encountered and the challenges they are facing during the recovery process. As part of this group, photographer Lauren Benson has set up a Facebook page called Humans of Saipan: Typhoon Soudelor in which she shares photos of families in our community who have been most affected, in particular those families who have taken refuge at the shelters around the island. Thank you for thinking of us and our tiny island.

Baby and mother in shelter, Saipan

Daelina and Shota have lived on island their entire life. Daelina graduated high school in 2013 and 2 weeks ago gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. During the typhoon, these two young parents retreated to Kagman High School where they have been sleeping on cots with their family. They are facing shortage of diapers as well as sanitation supplies. Photo thanks to Humans of Saipan: Typhoon Soudelor.

 

I recently took on a new role within 350.org to develop the programme for how we respond to climate change impacts. This work is high stakes: we are at the intersection of a century increasingly defined by a rapidly warming world, and that’s colliding with the sheer number of people populating it. There’s more people more vulnerable to the dramatic and dangerous changes that come with a warming world. This is a dangerous century. So it’s important that we get the response right, and to get it right, it has to be led from the grassroots alongside governments and big relief agencies – like it has been in Saipan, and like it was in Vanuatu following Cyclone Pam earlier this year.  We can learn a lot from these experiences, as well as carry great hope, because it shows the strength of our capacity to care for each other in times of need.

You can support the recovery efforts in Saipan by donating to the crowdfunder here.

Typhoon/Cyclone/Hurricane intensity and climate change

Climate change is making typhoons more intense. The science of typhoons is complex, but this is how Carbonbrief explained the contribution climate change made to Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu:

Vanuatu frequently experiences cyclones. The cyclone season runs from December to April when the weather in the region is hot and wet. Tropical storms derive energy from the warmth of the ocean and convert it into wind strength.

While strong storms aren’t unusual for the region, Cyclone Pam was exceptional. Prof Kevin Trenberth, expert in climate change and extreme weather at the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research, tells Carbon Brief:

“In the large area around Vanuatu the sea surface temperatures were one to two degrees Celsius above normal … So the atmosphere all around there has some 10 to 20% more moisture in it than a comparable storm in the 1970s would have had.”

Some, but not all, of the extra warming can be pinned on human activity, Trenberth adds. Much of it is a result of a weak El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean. He says:

“[A]bout 0.6 degrees Celsius can be blamed on human-induced global warming and that means over one degree is “natural” and associated with a weak El Niño.”

To the people of Saipan, and those in Taiwan and China also affected by Typhoon Soudelor, our thoughts are with you!

Bird-dogging the campaign trail in Canada: Week 1 & 2 in Review

Mon, 2015-08-17 00:10
WEEK 1: The federal election gets called early and the pressure begins.

When Stephen Harper called the elections on August 2nd, effectively making this year’s electoral period the  longest of the last decades, people all across the country concerned about climate change geared into action to make sure the climate movement would have a voice throughout the 11-week campaign.

And what’s better than hitting up the campaign trail events where politicians and to-be-prime ministers gather crowds and media in communities all over the country?

To kick things off on August 2nd, Harper was greeted by a diverse crowd in Montreal who rallied outside at his elections launch event to call him out on his abysmal record and on his climate-wrecking policy.

IMG_5441 IMG_5443

A few days later on August 6th, the first national leaders debate took place and tar sands pipelines were a central debated issue. But still, no leader across party lines provided an ambitious plan to tackle the climate crisis and to catalyze the transition to a renewable and just economy.

So the next morning, on August 7th, members of Toronto350 showed up at an NDP campaign event with signs, to remind Mulcair of what he had said the day before about the Energy East tar sands pipeline.

TO350 bird dog action

Then, the same day, Linda McQuaig, the NDP’s high profile candidate in Toronto, caused a stir when she stated the obvious and said on TV that “a lot of the oil sands oil may have to stay in the ground if we are going to meet our climate change targets.”

McQuaig’s comments before the weekend — that some dubbed “controversial” — set the stage for a whole lot more action on Week 2 of the campaign as the bird-dogging actions intensified and media coverage of these issues exploded. Scroll down to keep reading!

There is something bubbling up – and we are still the middle of summer while tons of people are on vacations. Click here to organize actions like these and get involved in mobilizations this summer and fall.

WEEK 2: Mulcair gets asked about the Energy East pipeline, and then the whole country sends the week talking about the tar sands.

We had our share of headlines about the tar sands this week in Canada. It started with a bang last Monday on August 10th when Thomas Mulcair was interrupted by members of Toronto350 who stood up to ask him about Energy East, again, at the book launch of his autobiography. When asked if he would commit to rejecting the pipeline, Mulcair said he would if it was found to be incompatible with action on climate change, noting that he supports an overhaul of Canada’s regulatory process to introduce a climate review of tar sands infrastructure.

The action was widely covered in the media, giving momentum to a week of conversations about the tar sands.

Giving him no rest, concerned citizens were also present at the Montreal book launch event that same evening. While they were unable to ask Mulcair questions, they talked to the press and engaged discussions with attendees who were eager to talk about the subject.

Then, on Thursday August 13th, Mulcair had to deliver his speech in front a crowd of 300 outside the chateau Frontenac in Quebec City with a clear visual reminder that people in Quebec want him to reject the Energy East pipeline. Responding to the action, Mulcair said he would “start the process again from the beginning” for Energy East.

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Photo credit: Simon Clark. Members of Stop Oléoduc were at the rally with a banner that said: “Mr Mulcair, there is no future in pipelines. Say no to TransCanada.”

This action, making headlines again, gave even more impetus for the media to keep asking the NDP and other federal leaders about their position on pipelines and tar sands expansion.

As the week continued, the whirlwind of commentary and conversations on the topic kept growing. Scientists weighted in to remind everyone that keeping tar sands in the ground in order to meet climate targets was only “a matter of fact,” and columnist chimed in — even the ones you wouldn’t expect to say such things — explaining that “there is no way we can cut greenhouse gas emissions while also building more pipelines and exporting more oil.”

As the second week of the federal elections campaign drew to a close, social media was still bustling with conversations about the expansion of the tar sands.  Despite all this, the NDP and the other federal leaders keep a position that says you can expand the tar sands in Canada and tackle climate change — a position that is still not in line with the science and borders climate change denial.

All the more reason to keep going, and it bodes well for Week 3!

Click here to get involved in a wave of mobilization by the climate movement this fall, and download the bird-dogging toolkit to organize similar actions targeting party leaders across party lines during the elections campaign.

Breaking: 1000+ people attempt to shut down Europe’s biggest polluter

Sat, 2015-08-15 08:36

Moments ago I sent this email to our European supporters:

Today is no ordinary morning, because this morning thousands of people woke up before the sun and got ready to shut down Europe’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, the Rhineland coal fields. They have travelled from 45 different countries and speak many different languages. But they all know how urgent the need for climate action is and today they are going to put their bodies on the line in the fight for climate justice. Many of them are taking this kind of action for the first time.

As I write this email they are on their way towards the mine. We don’t know what’s going to happen when they attempt to enter the mine, or even if they will make it there. But regardless of the outcome, the bravery and determination of regular people who are willing to take powerful action for the future of the planet is something to be celebrated. With well over 1000 people taking part this is already the biggest action of its kind in Germany.

I’m won’t be joining the action today, instead I will be working from the camp near the coal mine to bring you updates about the action. You will be able to follow all of the action today on our live-blog which I will be updating throughout the day. But while I’m doing this I also wanted to organise a surprise for all of the people who put their bodies on the line today. I have borrowed a solar powered projector and I want to use it to show everyone just how many people around the world are standing in solidarity. Can you help me out by sending a short message of support to the people who are taking a stand against one of the world’s biggest sources of carbon emissions? You can fill out the form or post your message on social media using the hashtag #endcoal.

Click here to follow the action and to send your message of support to the people who have taken a brave stand for a clean and renewable future.

Everyone who is taking part in the action today is a hero to me, but I am particularly in awe of the people who are stepping up for the first time today. I think we’ve all seen stories of activists who achieved amazing things in the news, but it’s easy to forget that they are just regular people who made a brave decision to take a stand. Sitting in the camp and watching people preparing to take that step for the first time has just reminded me how vital the extraordinary actions of ordinary people are to the future of the planet.

And that’s why I want to use the power of the 350 community to show them some love today. The walk down to the mine is difficult and dangerous and we are sure that there will be an intimidating presence of police and security at the mine. Out in the vast expanses of the open-cut coal mine I can imagine it is easy for these activists to feel very isolated and alone. But we know they are not, they are part of a global movement of people who are standing up for a clean energy future free of climate destroying fossil fuels.

Send a message of support and and solidarity to the brave people who are putting their bodies on the line to demand a renewable future that is fossil free.

Moving Beyond Protests and Counter Protests; the transition to a renewable economy requires the climate movement and unions to work in solidarity together.

Sat, 2015-08-15 00:02

By Guest Blogger: Catherine Nadel

In the lead up to the Ende Gelände action, that will see a mine shut down in the Rhineland this weekend, there have been rumours of a counter protest organised by the union for RWE employees. This possibility is disappointing for a number of reasons. The climate movement’s mission is not only to respond to the climate crisis by dismantling our reliance on fossil fuels, but to a build a movement that is capable of achieving this in a way that is just and fair. Central to this strategy are workers. It is understandable that the actions of climate activists, such as Ende Gelände can seem threatening to those who rely on the fossil fuel industries for their jobs and livelihoods. It is our hope that the communities that currently depend on these jobs, understand that there is no greater threat to them than the threat of climate change. This is a threat that will fundamentally change the way we live. If we do not work together to confront this challenge and transition to a cleaner, fairer future, we risk not only jobs and livelihoods, but everything.

Research into the fossil fuel industry reveals that the interests of unions and the climate movement are fundamentally aligned. The two groups share many common values; financial stability, job security and strong communities are among the clearest of them. We also share a common challenge, responding to an industry that values profit margins over the safety and security of both their employers and the climate.

RWE is not only the single biggest emitter of CO2 in Europe, it is also one of the continent’s most negligent companies. According to research commissioned by Greenpeace in 2012, RWE’s coal power stations cause over 900 deaths a year in Germany. RWE’s failure to adapt its business model at a time when the rest of Germany is transitioning to a low-carbon economy has caused its share price to drop by 70% since 2007. Predictably, these losses have not fallen on the executives of the company, but on the workers. In 2014 alone RWE slashed over 5000 jobs.

RWE’s business model is founded on disregard for both social and environmental consequences. When Ende Gelände activists walk into the mine tomorrow, their aim will be to disrupt this destructive model. They do this in the knowledge that when the action disrupts RWE’s business tomorrow, it will also be disrupting an ordinary workday for many people. This can justifiably be perceived as inconvenient and inconsiderate to the employees of the mine. This is regrettable, however climate change is disruptive and inconsiderate. It poses a threat to every one of us, a threat that we must respond to together.

It is for this reason that when Ende Gelände calls on RWE to change its ways, it also calls on the German government to invest in a transition to an economy based on renewable energy and sustainable long-term jobs. To us, this means investing time and money in the re-skilling and employment of workers, to rapidly deploy decentralised renewable energy solutions, that support whole communities rather than profits for a few and climate disruption for the rest. We want to extend an invitation to the workers and communities of the Rhineland, to join us in this fight.

The fight for a clean future involves transition for all of us. This includes transition for the workers of fossil fuel industries; this transition must not only be just and fair, it must be lead by workers. This is why the idea of a worker counter protest is so deeply saddening. As a climate movement we know we can do better to put the rights of working people at the centre of our work, but we know that to change everything, it will take everyone. Climate change is not just a siloable environmental issue, it is a people issue; and it is a threat to communities everywhere. That is why it is so important that we move beyond protests and counter protests and work together to build a fossil free future that is centred on fairness and justice for all.

Ready, set, here and no further

Fri, 2015-08-14 23:58

Final preparations are underway as hundreds of activists converge on the Rhineland. The dinner queue has never been longer than this evening after the final buses and bike loads of participants have rolled in and dropped their sleeping bags on the grass. They’re hungry from their long days of stuffing hay sacks, painting banners and traveling across multiple borders.

Now, just before everyone is going to bed, lunches are packed, day packs are ready and affinity groups are having their final check ins. Many are nervous because tomorrow will be their first experience of direct action. The more experienced among us are swapping war stories and commiserating the early closure of the bar.

We don’t know exactly what tomorrow will hold but the fact that so many have come together here to take part in such an important event, speaks volumes for the movement. Here are some highlights from the day:

 Paul Wagner

Photographer: Paul Wagner

 

 Paul Wagner

Photographer: Paul Wagner

 Paul Wagner

Photographer: Paul Wagner

 Paul Wagner

Photographer: Paul Wagner

 Paul Wagner

Photographer: Paul Wagner

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