System Change Not CLimate Change: OUR TWO DEMANDS- (a)Beyond Kyoto- 90% reduction in greenhouse gas (b)Frequent and fare free public transport now. PLEASE HELP US AND DONATE TO CLIMACTION- KIWIBANK a/c number 389005 094861900. Contact us at 021 186 1450

Saturday, April 28, 2007

End of the line for coal: Protestors blockade coal trains

End of the line for coal: Protestors blockade coal trains

Press release: Save happy Valley Christchurch
Sunday 29th April 2007

Save Happy Valley members have locked onto the train tracks near Christchurch to call for an end to new coal mines in New Zealand. Other members have hung a twenty-two metre banner – 'Solid Energy: Govt Sponsored Climate Chaos – along two of the coal wagons. They are on Kirk Road, Templeton.

"Catastrophic climatic events are already occurring; climate change is happening now," said Graham Jury, Save Happy Valley Christchurch spokesperson. "Earlier this year New Zealand finally reached the end of the line for coal fired power stations. It must also be the end of the line for coal mining."

Two activists are locked onto the tracks, while a further twenty are on the tracks by the train. Save Happy Valley works for the protection of Happy Valley, proposed site of Solid Energy's next opencast mine on the West Coast of the South Island. The group also campaigns for a just and swift transition away from coal mining.

"Solid Energy is ever increasing its production, leaving decimated ecosystems and waterways in its wake. Already, they are responsible for annual carbon dioxide emissions approximately equivalent to New Zealand's entire transport fleet. Saying "no" to new coal mines would be an easy first step in actually addressing climate change," said Simon Riddel, one of the activists locked to the tracks.

"The world's climate is becoming increasingly unpredictable and human-induced greenhouse gas emissions are evidently responsible. The fossil fuel industry is a preventable cause," said Gregory Curline, the second activist 'on the line.'

"Half of the coal extracted is sent off shore, generating emissions outside of our Kyoto Protocol obligations. However, New Zealand is responsible for the coal it exports. The Government must pull its state owned enterprise back under control," said Mr Jury.


Media Contact
Graham Jury, Save Happy Valley Christchurch spokesperson, 0273070448

In March 2007, Mighty River Power, another SOE, announced that it had discarded its plans to turn Marsden B into an operational coal fired power station.



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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Free public transport systems already exist internationally!

There are a large number of free bus services. Some of these are funded by private businesses (such as the merchants in a shopping mall) in the hope that doing so will increase sales or other revenue from increased foot traffic or ease of travel. Some, such as airport connectors, are funded by government agencies to ease bottlenecks or fill short gaps in the transport network, or as part of the services offered by a public facility. Employers often operate free shuttles as a benefit to their employees, or as part of a congestion mitigation agreement with a local government.

Some activists promote the idea that all the public transportation in a given city or community should be free. They claim that this would make the system more accessible and fair for low-income residents, and provide benefits such as decreased congestion, decreased air pollution from cars and related improvements in public health, fewer traffic accidents, easier parking, savings from reduced wear and tear on roads, and savings from not having to pay for fare collection equipment and personnel.

Examples of City Wide Free Transport
Examples of Limited Free Transport
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan — free bus services between University of Michigan campuses and student housing. UofM students are now also able to ride all routes of the AATA buses for free by showing their student card. While not "free for all" it is included in the package for students. Also, AATA runs a service called "the Link" which runs around the downtown and campus area and is currently free (for everyone) to ride.
  • Auckland, New Zealand — a free CBD loop service links the ferry terminus, railway station, universities, theatres, casino, galleries and shopping districts using hybrid electric buses.
  • Austin, Texas - free bus service (under citywide bus system Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority) is provided between the University of Texas campus and student housing, downtown trolley buses are free as well. Regular bus routes are free during "Ozone Action Days" to encourage more car owners to ride the bus and combat high levels of ozone pollution on a given day.
  • Brisbane, Australia has free bus trips around "The Loop" in the CBD on two routes mirroring each other, varying only because of Brisbane's one-way street grid.
  • Calgary, Canada - Free light rail transit within the downtown core.
  • Denver, Colorado — Free 16th Street Mall shuttle bus downtown; free transit for many public school students
  • Dordrecht — bus and ferry, some Saturdays at the end of each year
  • Gent — free night bus services (weekends only)
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia - free bus route around the downtown area
  • Huddersfield, England - Free Townbus daytime bus services in town centre
  • Leeds, England - Free Citybus daytime bus services in city centre
  • London, England - buses and trams are free for people under 16, and students aged 16 and 17. People 60 or over and eligible disabled folks ride the entire system for free.
  • Manchester, England — Free "Metroshuttle" daytime bus services in city centre
  • Melbourne in Australia has a free tram around the city center, and a free bus to popular tourist attractions. Both of these connect to other public transport. Free public transport is sometimes offered on major holidays such as Christmas and New Years Eve.
  • Noordwijk/OegstgeestLeiden Transferium — The Hague, express bus, running on weekdays during daytime, free of charge as a test during 2004; it was intended for commuters working in The Hague and living in Leiden or beyond who would otherwise travel by car to the Hague, to promote parking at the Transferium and continuing the journey by bus; the aim was to reduce road traffic congestion between Leiden and The Hague. The test was paid by the province of South Holland. It was discontinued in 2005.
  • Perth, Australia has free bus and train trips around the city centre (the "Free Transit Zone"), including three high-frequency Central Area Transit (CAT) bus routes. This is also in Fremantle and recently added in Joondalup.
  • Pittsburgh, PA Free "T" light rail service within downtown. Also, students at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh receive free rides with a school ID.
  • Portland, Oregon (the "Fareless Square"), Seattle, Washington (the "Ride Free Area") and Calgary, Alberta (the "7th Avenue Free Fare Zone") offer free public transit within their downtowns.
  • Renesse (mun. Schouwen-Duiveland), Netherlands — free bus services in the area (in summer only)
  • Seattle, Washington — Metro Transit buses are free from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in Downtown Seattle.[4]
  • Sydney in Australia also offers occasional free public transport travel to and from events at particular times, notably New Years Eve celebrations in Sydney CBD, or to ANZAC War Memorial Services for veterans. The rationale is a mix of traffic reduction and cultural recognition.
  • Tarbes in France offers a year-long free shuttle bus around the city, linking the main spots.
  • Vienna in Austria - students under 19 can travel free on sundays and school holidays
  • Wakefield, England - Free Citybus daytime bus services in city centre
  • Washington, D.C.Congressional Subway — small free metro system
  • Zagreb, Croatia - buses and trams are free for university students
  • Community bicycle programs, providing free bicycle for short-term public use.
  • some ferries, such as the Staten Island Ferry, the Woolwich Ferry and the IJ ferries in Amsterdam, which are used as an alternative to bridges, which would have been very high in the port. These are free, just as a bridge would have been.
  • short-distance 'public transport' such as elevator, escalator, moving sidewalk (horizontal and inclined); these are often part of a larger public transport system or business (e.g. shop), of which the products and services are not free.

  • the ski/tourist resort town of Templin, Germany which has free public transport for all,
    *Invercargill, NZ which has free buses during off peak hours
    *Brussels, Belgium, which offers free public transport passes to students and senior citizens.
    *Los Angeles offers free public transport on 'Ozone Action Days" to reduce high smog/pollution levels.
    *Melbourne, Australia ran all their public transport fare-free for all Commonwealth Games ticket holders throughout the Games period last year, which had a great impact on reducing traffic congestion... The 'Melbourne Age' daily newspaper was so impressed that the have been promoting a campaign for fare-free public transport for all in Melbourne


Monday, April 16, 2007

Klimax Sweden occupy Airport runway- Stop Domestic Flights

On 14 April, activists broke into Bromma Airport in Stockholm to occupy the runway for half an hour. The scheduled flight to Gothenburg – a very short distance indeed – was delayed, and some planes had to divert their landing. The ten activists, linked by chains and carrying a huge banner which read “Stop domestic flights”, managed to enter the airport and runway without being detected. After some five minutes, police arrived to the scene, but refrained from violent intervention. When the blockade had been carried to its planned end, the activists were arrested and informed of the formal charge of aggravated trespass. The most likely punishment is some heavy fines, but prison terms are possible.

The action was carried out by Climax, a group in Stockholm formed two weeks ago. It is the seed of a direct action-movement against the root causes of climate change in a country which has just recently woken up to the facts of ongoing global warming. Climax is inspired by Plane Stupid and Rising Tide. The action of 14 April, coinciding with the enormous National Day of Climate Action in the U.S., was the first of its kind to occur in Sweden. More is bound to follow soon.

Global action against global warming!

Klimax Stockholm

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

There is climate change censorship - and it's the deniers who dish it out

Global warming scientists are under intense pressure to water down findings, and are then accused of silencing their critics

George Monbiot
Tuesday April 10, 2007
The Guardian

The drafting of reports by the world's pre-eminent group of climate scientists is an odd process. For months scientists contributing to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change tussle over the evidence. Nothing gets published unless it achieves consensus. This means that the panel's reports are conservative - even timid. It also means that they are as trustworthy as a scientific document can be.

Then, when all is settled among the scientists, the politicians sweep in and seek to excise from the summaries anything that threatens their interests.

The scientists fight back, but they always have to make concessions. The report released on Friday, for example, was shorn of the warning that "North America is expected to experience locally severe economic damage, plus substantial ecosystem, social and cultural disruption from climate change related events".

This is the opposite of the story endlessly repeated in the rightwing press: that the IPCC, in collusion with governments, is conspiring to exaggerate the science. No one explains why governments should seek to amplify their own failures. In the wacky world of the climate conspiracists no explanations are required. The world's most conservative scientific body has somehow been transformed into a conspiracy of screaming demagogues.

This is just one aspect of a story that is endlessly told the wrong way round. In the Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Mail, in columns by Dominic Lawson, Tom Utley and Janet Daley, the allegation is repeated that climate scientists and environmentalists are trying to "shut down debate". Those who say that man-made global warming is not taking place, they claim, are being censored.

Something is missing from their accusations: a single valid example. The closest any of them have been able to get is two letters sent - by the Royal Society and by the US senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe - to that delicate flower ExxonMobil, asking that it cease funding lobbyists who deliberately distort climate science. These correspondents had no power to enforce their wishes. They were merely urging Exxon to change its practices. If everyone who urges is a censor, then the comment pages of the newspapers must be closed in the name of free speech.

In a recent interview, Martin Durkin, who made Channel 4's film The Great Global Warming Swindle, claimed he was subject to "invisible censorship". He seems to have forgotten that he had 90 minutes of prime-time television to expound his theory that climate change is a green conspiracy. What did this censorship amount to? Complaints about one of his programmes had been upheld by the Independent Television Commission. It found that "the views of the four complainants, as made clear to the interviewer, had been distorted by selective editing" and that they had been "misled as to the content and purpose of the programmes when they agreed to take part". This, apparently, makes him a martyr.

If you want to know what real censorship looks like, let me show you what has been happening on the other side of the fence. Scientists whose research demonstrates that climate change is taking place have been repeatedly threatened and silenced and their findings edited or suppressed.

The Union of Concerned Scientists found that 58% of the 279 climate scientists working at federal agencies in the US who responded to its survey reported that they had experienced one of the following constraints: 1. Pressure to eliminate the words "climate change", "global warming", or other similar terms from their communications; 2. Editing of scientific reports by their superiors that "changed the meaning of scientific findings"; 3. Statements by officials at their agencies that misrepresented their findings; 4. The disappearance or unusual delay of websites, reports, or other science-based materials relating to climate; 5. New or unusual administrative requirements that impair climate-related work; 6. Situations in which scientists have actively objected to, resigned from, or removed themselves from a project because of pressure to change scientific findings. They reported 435 incidents of political interference over the past five years.

In 2003, the White House gutted the climate-change section of a report by the Environmental Protection Agency. It deleted references to studies showing that global warming is caused by manmade emissions. It added a reference to a study, partly funded by the American Petroleum Institute, that suggested that temperatures are not rising. Eventually the agency decided to drop the section altogether.

After Thomas Knutson at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a paper in 2004 linking rising emissions with more intense tropical cyclones, he was blocked by his superiors from speaking to the media. He agreed to one request to appear on MSNBC, but a public affairs officer at NOAA rang the station and said that Knutson was "too tired" to conduct the interview. The official explained to him that the "White House said no". All media inquiries were to be routed instead to a scientist who believed there was no connection between global warming and hurricanes.

Last year Nasa's top climate scientist, James Hansen, reported that his bosses were trying to censor his lectures, papers and web postings. He was told by Nasa's PR officials that there would be "dire consequences" if he continued to call for rapid reductions in greenhouse gases.

Last month, the Alaskan branch of the US fish and wildlife service told its scientists that anyone travelling to the Arctic must understand "the administration's position on climate change, polar bears, and sea ice and will not be speaking on or responding to these issues".

At hearings in the US Congress three weeks ago, Philip Cooney, a former White House aide who had previously worked at the American Petroleum Institute, admitted he had made hundreds of changes to government reports about climate change on behalf of the Bush administration. Though not a scientist, he had struck out evidence that glaciers were retreating and inserted phrases suggesting that there was serious scientific doubt about global warming.

The guardians of free speech in Britain aren't above attempting a little suppression, either. The Guardian and I have now received several letters from the climate sceptic Viscount Monckton threatening us with libel proceedings after I challenged his claims about climate science. On two of these occasions he has demanded that articles are removed from the internet. Monckton is the man who wrote to Senators Rockefeller and Snowe, claiming that their letter to ExxonMobil offends the corporation's "right of free speech".

After Martin Durkin's film was broadcast, one of the scientists it featured, Professor Carl Wunsch, complained that his views on climate change had been misrepresented. He says he has received a legal letter from Durkin's production company, Wag TV, threatening to sue him for defamation unless he agrees to make a public statement that he was neither misrepresented nor misled.

Would it be terribly impolite to suggest that when such people complain of censorship, a certain amount of projection is taking place?

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Brilliant Scottish Socialist TV Broadcast for Free Public Transport

Described by Proclaimer Charlie Reid as a "Brilliant broadcast, modern day Marxism meets Trumpton", the first of two Scottish Socialist Party election broadcasts for the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections 2007. This one is on the SSP's free public transport policy

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

IPCC identifies climate change impacts & vulnerability for New Zealand

IPCC identifies climate change impacts & vulnerability for New Zealand

Water security, natural ecosystems, and coastal communities are the three
sectors most vulnerable to climate change in New Zealand, according to an
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report finalised in
Brussels last Friday.

Changes already observed since 1950 include:

- A warming in mean temperature for New Zealand of 0.4 °C;

- A decrease in cold nights and frosts by 10–20 days per year;

- Sea level rise of about 70 mm;

- Loss of at least a quarter of alpine ice mass;

- Increased seed production in beech forest.

Referring to New Zealand, the report’s findings include:

- As a result of reduced precipitation and increased evaporation, water
security problems are projected to intensify by 2030 in Northland and some
eastern regions.

- Sites at risk of loss of biodiversity include the alpine areas and sub
Antarctic Islands.

- Ongoing coastal development and population growth in areas such as
Northland to Bay of Plenty are projected to exacerbate risks from
sea-level rise and increases in the severity and frequency of storms and
coastal flooding by 2050.

- Production from agriculture and forestry is projected to decline by 2030
over parts of eastern New Zealand due to increased drought and fire.
However, initial benefits to agriculture and forestry are projected in
western and southern areas and close to major rivers due to a longer
growing season, less frost, and increased rainfall. A southward shift in
agricultural pests and diseases is likely with New Zealand becoming more
susceptible to the establishment of new horticultural pests.

Dr Jim Salinger of NIWA, who was a lead author of the chapter in the
report referring to Australia and New Zealand, says: “This chapter is the
product of a comprehensive survey of the science since 2001. It’s based on
over 550 research studies of what’s happening in Australia and New
Zealand. In addition, over 50 independent experts reviewed the chapter.”

“The potential impacts of climate change for New Zealand are likely to be
substantial without further adaptation. The most vulnerable sectors are
natural systems, water security and coastal communities.”

“Apart from natural systems, New Zealand has substantial adaptive capacity
to cope with small amounts of climate change. This is due to our
well-developed economy and strong scientific and technical capabilities.
But there are considerable constraints to implementation and there will be
major challenges from changes in extreme events and larger amounts of
changes in climate,” Dr Salinger says.


CTU Releases Statement On Climate Change

CTU Releases Statement On Climate Change

The Council of Trade Unions today released its statement on climate change.

“The CTU submission states clearly that unions accept the overwhelming evidence that greenhouse gas emissions are having a harmful effect on the environment and on workers and their families,” CTU president Ross Wilson said.

“Unions accept that there may be a case for emissions trading but we put more emphasis on a regulatory approach alongside direct action to reduce emissions.”

The CTU statement highlights some particular labour market issues that must be considered in any climate change policy. The statement recommends the Labour Department monitor the impact of climate change policies on employment and calls for a 'just transition' for any workers affected. Unions also say that workers and unions must be included in any negotiations on emission reduction agreements, Ross Wilson said.

The statement also says that investment must be made to develop the skills for sustainability such as those needed, for example, to retrofit buildings and implement renewable energy programmes.

“Unions are a valuable partner in any emissions reduction and energy conservation programme, and we suggest a new project to educate and involve union delegates so they can have a direct role. The 350,000 members of unions affiliated to the CTU can be in the vanguard of any programme to address climate change,” Ross Wilson said.

The CTU statement is available here:


Towards a Globalised New Orleans, or the End of Capitalism

Towards a Globalised New Orleans, or the End of Capitalism

Climate change is everywhere. Ramor Ryan gatecrashes the ineffectual UN Conference on Climate Change in Nairobi and comes back blaming Capitalism.
1. The Quiet Apocalypse of Rising Tides

A momentous report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) confirms that climate change is 'man-made and unstoppable'. The
21-page report, described as conservative by the IPCC itself, says
human-made emissions of greenhouse gases are to blame for heat waves,
floods and heavy rains, droughts and stronger storms, melting ice-caps
and rising sea-levels.

The IPCC is comprised of over 2000 climate experts and scientists. It
was set up in 1988 by the UN and the World Meteorological organisation
to guide policy makers on the impact of climate change. Despite
strenuous attempts by oil companies and big business to undermine the
final report, it remains quietly apocalyptic in its assessment.

Its mind-boggling conclusion predicts serious water shortage for
between 1.1 and 3.2 billion people, food shortages for 200 to 600
million people. Coastal flooding will hit seven million people within
70 years. The list of potential catastrophe goes on and on.

Yet critics say the report underplays the size of the calamity. James
McCarthy, a climate expert at Harvard and former IPCC panel member
says the report underestimated the true level of rising sea levels,
possibly making the findings of the panel 'foolishly cautious and
maybe even irrelevant' on the issue.

Climate change is everywhere.

Even penetrating the fears of the righteously paranoid psyche of the
scientists and nuclear physicists of the pre-eminent Bulletin of the
Atomic Scientists. Their 'Doomsday Clock' has been ticking away to
midnight - the figurative end of civilisation - for 61 years of
nuclear holocaust watching. In an unprecedented move they have moved
the clock two minutes closer to midnight - now standing at a perilous
five minutes to midnight - not only because of the increase in
likelihood of nuclear war with the recent events around North Korea
and Iran. They also cite 'the potential for catastrophic damage from
human-made technologies'. In what represents a decisive paradigm shift
for the Atomic Scientists, Kennette Benedict, director of the bulletin
said, 'The dangers posed by climate change are nearly as dire as those
posed by nuclear weapons.'

Climate change was a top priority at the conference of world business
leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, as well as the
conference of NGO operatives at the World Social Forum in Nairobi.
Meanwhile, the European Commission urged its members to adopt an
unprecedented common energy policy, aimed at cutting greenhouse gases
by 20% by 2020. It calls for a 'post-industrial revolution' based on a
dramatic shift to an internally produced low-carbon energy economy.

Climate Change has finally arrived at the White House. President
George W. Bush's State of the Union address, January 27, marked a
milestone for his administration by actually recognising that we may
indeed have a human-made problem after all. He acknowledged climate
change as 'a serious challenge' and the need for reduction in fossil
fuel consumption. Rather than announcing a mandatory cap on emissions
along the lines of the globally accepted Kyoto Protocol, Bush instead
meekly recommended an added emphasis on renewable or non-carbon energy
sources - ethanol, wind, solar and nuclear power. As the world's
leading producer of greenhouse gases, these are hardly the momentous
steps needed by the USA to put a break on runaway global warming.

What is to be done in the face of the looming catastrophe? The
predominant global platform to deal with fundamental issues that
affect all of humanity is the United Nations. The new UN boss Ban
Ki-moon has been asked to convene an emergency international summit.
'Climate change,' responded Ban, 'is one of the most important and
urgent agendas that the international community has to address before
2012.' An emergency global conference organised by the UN seems
imminently urgent and Nairobi has been suggested as a host.

But wasn't there an emergency climate change in Nairobi just last
year? Wasn't the much heralded 12th UN Conference on Climate Change
and 2nd Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol held there
November 6-17, 2006? Of course it was, and its abysmal failure to
produce agreements between nations and to begin to build capacity for
dealing with climate-induced problems has been brushed under the

To understand how limited the UN structure is in dealing with the
urgency of the matter and how these grand global meetings are
manipulated and side-tracked by powerful business and economic
interests, it's worth returning to Nairobi in November to have a
closer look at the workings of the UN.

2. Journey into the Heart of UN Darkness

Nairobi, Kenya, November 2006.

Climate Change is everywhere, especially in Third World metropolises
like Nairobi. Stuck in a massive traffic jam from the airport to the
city centre, I ask the taxi driver if people here know much about
climate change and global warming. He nearly ploughs into a passing
family of four on a bicycle he was laughing so mirthfully.

'Droughts, floods, famines, the rains comes heavy or don't come at
all,' he says. 'Yes, of course we know all about global warning!'

He goes on to explain how the British colonisers had chosen the site
of Nairobi as the Capital because it was cool and mosquito free.

'This is no longer the fact,' explains the taxi man. 'Now Nairobi is
warm and we are plagued by mosquitoes.'

This bustling city is like a blueprint for all major population
centres in the not too distant future - a place overburdened by
massive migration from the countryside, chronic insecurity and an
infrastructure woefully inadequate to deal with basic matters of
water, drainage, transport, and communication. Nairobi hosts one of
the worlds largest slums - Kuresoi; population over one million living
in dire poverty. This very week in the nearby Mathare slum rival gangs
battled each other, causing ten deaths, dozens of burnt shacks and
thousands of slum-dwellers fleeing the violence. The near post
apocalyptic landscape of the enormous Mathare slum and its almost
unbearable living conditions contrasts obscenely with the lush,
enclosed UN enclosure occupying most of the posh district of Gigiri.
The wealthy enclave host numerous embassies, government minister
residencies, NGO headquarters and a massive shopping mall, all heavily
patrolled by armed guards and state of the art security features. The
walled oasis of the privileged elites exists uneasily amidst a desert
of the multitudes depravity, like a global Baghdad Green zone.

It's here at the extensive UN compound that over 70 ministers of
state, and 6000 of their bureaucratic UN and NGO lackeys gather under
the auspices of the UN's Climate Change Conference to hammer out a
strategy to tackle the calamitous situation.

'The world is keenly awaiting the outcome of the deliberations going
on there,' says Mr. Gilbert M. Kari somewhat anxiously, a local pest
controller who has witnessed first hand the chaos climate change is
wreaking on national coffee production. His is an almost universally
heard concern. He and the rest of the world are in for a big

This 12th session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) conference of parties also serves as the second meeting of
the parties to the Kyoto Protocol. The 1997 Protocol is a legally
binding set of targets for cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for
developed nations to an average of 95% of individual countries' 1990
levels. Baby steps perhaps, but still too great a leap for the USA.
186 countries have signed the Kyoto Protocol but still the US balks.
The US produces a quarter of global greenhouse gases but has only 4%
of the world's population. The whole of Africa, in contrast, emits
just 3.5%.

The keystone document for this particular Conference is the Stern
Report. Where once global warming was seen as an ecological and
environmental issue, the report focuses on the economics of climate
change. The study led by World Bank Economist Sir Nicholas Stern, with
its dizzying array of figures and calculations, leads inexorably to
the conclusion that the battle against climate change makes good
economic sense. The financial cost of action, it warns sternly, will
be much less than the cost of inaction.

Mingling somewhat uncomfortably amongst the throng of expensively
coiffured UN delegates sporting the ubiquitous top range lap-tops and
talking incessantly on cell-phones, I stumble down corridors flanked
by a trade-fair collection of stands hawking a variety of alternative
energy plans or carbon-free initiatives. Technical companies
advertising their genetically modified bio-fuel producing crops
compete for the carbon free market alongside representatives of the
nuclear industry: climate change for some is becoming big business.

With all the verve of Michael Moore, I door-step one of the official
US delegates rushing along the corridor. He is an immaculately
presented young man with the appearance of a Navy Seal and the
arrogant attitude of a cantankerous frat boy.

As the largest single contributor to the greenhouse effect and global
warming, I ask him, is there any sign of change in the US position on
restricting carbon emissions or signing up to the Kyoto Protocol, with
the other 186 nations?

'There are no signs of change in that policy soon,' the delegate
answers somewhat mechanically; definitely disinterested. 'The US won't
sign the Kyoto Protocol.'

'Even in light of the Stern Report, which suggests the world economy
will shrink by 20%, isn't there a clear economic imperative to tackle
the problem,' I insist somewhat earnestly, 'and ...'

He stops me in my tracks, looking me up and down for my credentials to
ascertain who I was or what organisation I belonged. Unaccredited, a
gatecrasher of sorts, I lack my badge.

'Who the heck are you?' he quips somewhat amusingly, 'some kind of Irish Borat?'

Over at Plenary Room 2, the conference is in full swing before a great
assembly of dignitaries and functionaries fanned out in a great swathe
of seated rows. The speaker's voice booms over the PA and their image
is projected on two huge video screens on the flanking walls like a U2
concert. The delegates glance at their lap-tops, whisper on their
cell-phones, sip bottled water and occasionally listen in on the
simultaneous translation earphones. Sure enough, the gripping words of
His Eminence Nurlan A. Iskakov, Minister of Environment Protection of
Kazakhstan go unappreciated. When the senior US representative, Paula
Dobriansky, Under-secretary of Democracy and Global Affairs takes the
stage, a hush finally descends, cell-phones are downed and the whole
auditorium pays rapt attention.

'The most effective strategies on climate change,' says
Under-secretary Dobriansky, a hard-core Bush-ite and neo-con, 'are
those that are integrated with economic growth, with energy security,
and reducing air pollution.' In her oblique obfuscation, she is
spelling out US refusal to agree on mandatory emissions limits,
thereby wrecking any concerted global attempt to move forward at this
conference. Dubriansky's supercilious presentation talks up US Aid to
Africa and, by omission, reiterates the Bush administration's mantra
that unfettered US-led capitalist globalization hand-in-hand with war
in the Middle East to secure oil supplies are the priorities. Global
warming, or 'air pollution' as the unctuous Under-secretary refers to
it, is a side-show to the main event - capitalist expansion. Business
as usual then on the United Nations world stage: US economic interests
come first and the UN is held hostage to the world's sole superpower.

Taking lead from US intransigence, other heavyweight capitalist
globalizers (and emerging major contributors to the greenhouse effect)
China and India steadfastly refuse to cap their emissions citing their
own economic interests. Joining the refusnik fest, Russia also begins
to drag its feet.

'There is a scandalous lack of urgency!' says Mr. Tearfund Andy
Atkins, summing up the conference mood and, it could be said, the NGO
position in general.

The rest of the conference seemed to fade after the US
Under-secretary's pronouncements, as if the participants knew little
could be achieved without the nod or blessing from the US. The much
lauded UN conference retreats into incoherent and incessantly
procedural issues that revolve mostly about recording itself, and its
own bureaucratic inanity. I attend one torturous two-hour meeting,
seating myself in the vacant Irish delegate's place and availing of
their bottled water and ear-phones. Casting a glance around at the
disinterested attendees who seemed as bored as I, it is clear that
they are more preoccupied with their personal email than the plodding,
inchoate official proceedings. The minutes released the following day
are delivered with the usual fastidious fanfare. Methodological
issues: protocol: HCFC-23: SBSTA adopted short conclusions.
(FCSTA/2006/L.23). Noting that the issue had not been resolved. I
would imagine little gets resolved at conferences like this ever, with
their inordinate bureaucracy and general obsequiousness - like a
secular Tridentine mass for 21st Century globalization zealots. There
is no place for dissent.

'The Nairobi Conference may not be remembered as one of the critical
milestones when a major breakthrough occurred,' records the official
UN summary benignly. Although perhaps, the report continues, it
prepares the way for what some hope will be another 'momentous
meeting' within the next four years.

'The conference has let Africa and the rest of the developing world
down,' say Oxfam,

Maybe the conference has let down Oxfam and the other NGOs speaking on
behalf of Africans, but some with a more critical understanding of
what the conference can actually achieve are getting on with some
practical direct action.

'We should not wait until Mombassa is under water,' says Kenyan Nobel
Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, at a conference side event. 'We
know the problems. The problem that we have is what to do. What will
make the difference is not the negotiations, but what we do when we go

Known locally as 'the tree lady' due to her propensity to encourage
Africans to plant trees, she is part of a movement whose aim is to
plant our way out of the crisis. Trees perform as carbon sinks,
inhaling CO2 and hence offsetting CO2 emissions: to re-forest Africa
with a billion trees appropriate to regional diversity is the target
of the Green Belt Movement.

3. Towards a Globalised New Orleans, or the End of Capitalism.

Many in the global north speculate upon the wisdom of having (more)
children considering the nefarious world they may well inherit. People
in the south - in places like drought-ridden northern Kenya - have the
more pressing issue of wondering how they will feed their living

It seems a hopeless situation. Two thousand of the world's eminent
scientists confirm that climate variability is a product of human
activity, that we might have a short window of opportunity - say 15
years - to do something about it, but there isn't the political will
to act amongst the powers that be. Not just the USA, China and Russia,
but even European 'champions' of the cause refuse to set an example.
While his government will say in the strongest terms it is 'an
imperative' to take action to prevent further climate damage, British
Prime Minister Tony Blair will still balk at personal sacrifices. 'I
think these things are a bit impractical actually to expect people to
do that,' said Blair in response to the suggestion that cutting back
on flights might be a positive step. For him, science will save the
planet. 'All the evidence is that if you use the science and the
technology constructively, your economy can grow, people can have a
good time but do so more responsibly.'

A conclusion shared by President Bush. 'Leaving behind the debate
whether global warming is caused by natural or man-made causes,' said
Bush chillingly to the New York Times (25/05/2006), 'we are going to
focus solely in the technologies which can resolve the problem.' So
Bush is saying that we don't so much as have a problem (that doesn't
matter) but we don't have a solution. So what's on offer in terms of
technological or scientific solutions to wean us off fossil fuels (and
Muslim oil)?

The front runner is ethanol. But replacing fossil fuels - an intensely
compact source of fuel - with crop derived bio-ethanol requires
felling vast tracks of forest to make way for plantations, thereby
creating even more ecological damage.

Meanwhile, entering into the twilight zone of capitalist solutions to
capitalist problems, we find the resurrection of the old technological
bogeyman: nuclear energy, or the new bio-technical Frankenstein:
genetically modified bio-fuel crops. Both these solutions are
low-carbon, but the potential ecological cost of the energy succeeds
in merely pushing the climate change problem upriver a while.

Another solution involves juggling carbon around. With capitalism's
love of the market we now have complicated emissions trading schemes
for 'cost-effective' reductions in carbon emissions (selling them on)
and more bizarrely, carbon drops - including the notions of storing
emissions under the sea bed or down disused mine shafts.

Capitalism's last technological card and one that is proving a current
growth business is geo-engineering - the intentional manipulation of
the climate. Taking inspiration from the CIA's (unsuccessful) attempts
to provoke intense rains over Vietnam to wash out the rebel crops, to
the Chinese Olympic committee's promise to secure sunny days for the
2008 Olympics via technical measures, the geo-engineering industry is
having a field day in the era of climate variability. From attempts to
fertilise the ocean to lower the water temperature to filling the sky
with sulphate nano-particles to intercept sun-rays, geo-engineering
scientists are busy interfering with and intervening upon the climate,
undeterred by potential disequilibrium disasters or mass

Beyond technological meddling, dealing with the problem of climate
change - ecologically, politically, economically and socially - needs
a lot more than the Kyoto Protocol, developing alternative energies or
holding another emergency Climate Change Conference.

It is necessary to consider the root of the problem. A global economy
based on the colossal demand for highly concentrated and rapidly
depleting fossil fuel deposits is ecologically unsustainable. Do we
need to change fuel or change the structure of consumption? But under
the present model - global capitalism - is change possible, or even

'Capitalism has always relied on infinite expansionism in a finite
planet,' explains Alex Troochi of the Green Apple Collective,
'something has to give and at the moment, it's the planet that's
giving as Capitalism plunders ahead.'

Capitalism relies on ever-expanding markets and inputs to continue to
make profits based on the extraction of natural resources and
transforming them into dead capital. This ceaseless addiction to
growth-for-growth sake leads inexorably to ecotastrophe. Capitalism is
now being forced to consider other strategies. But the magic
technological or scientific bullet to save the day remains illusive.

Hope lies beyond the pale; it requires a fundamental shift in
thinking, a revolutionary paradigm shift away from the cloistered
confines of the imagination of the United States government, the
European Union or the United Nations assembly. In the long term, the
human world will have to evolve some kind of post-capitalist society
to survive.

The doomsday clock ticks away at a perilous five minutes to twelve.
Meanwhile its still early morning on the revolutionary clock. Despite
the alarm ringing, the revolutionary protagonist, although stirring,
has yet to awake. The writing is on the wall once more - be realistic,
demand the impossible.

(Ramor Ryan is the author of Clandestines : The Pirate Journals of an Irish Pirate, AK Press, 2006)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Beyond rail Electrification- Free Transport for all

About ten activists from Climaction went to the Auckland Green Party meeting on Rail Electification on Monday 2nd Apirl. Our leaflet for Free and Frequent Public transport went down a storm, with many of the audience complimenting us on our work so far. There were about 400 people there, two thirds were older, with quite a lot of core Auckland City Green supporters. But a big meeting by any standards.

The first speaker was Cameron Pitches from the Campaign for Better Transport. He spoke about the success that campaign had in opening the Onehunga rail line, after an excellent video presentation comparing Perth's electric rail system to Auckland's transoprt chaos. Good, witty speaker, to the point, and received a huge round of applause.

Joel Cayford, Mike Lee and Jeanette Fitzsimmons also spoke. Their speeches were slighlty longer in duration!!! Mike Lee made a point about how radical ideas are first ignored, then ridiculed, then violently opposed, before they are then accepted as common sense. Hold that thought...

After the speeches, there came the time for questions. Daph Lawless was first off the block, eloquently explaining Climaction's support for rail electrification and more rail lines nationally, but saying that this needed to be complimented by frequent busses on the roads too, and that ALL public transport should be nationalised and fare free. Before she was rudely clipped off, she put the question to the panel. How many of them would support free and frequent public transport, and the renationalisation of public transport in Auckland. This got the cat amongst the pigeons straight off.

Mike Lee, Chairman of Auckland Regional Council, brought out the heavy artillery. Ignoring Climaction's existence, he made a veiled attack on the Residents Action Movement. Ridiculing demands for free public transport by saying that it would have to be funded by HUGE RATES INCREASES, which he would presumably (violently?) oppose.

Roger Fowler for RAM corrected some Mike Lee's distortions later on, and put the question again to Jeanette Fitzsimmons, who was the first signatory of the Free and Frequent Public Transport petition when it was launched at the Al Gore call out. Jeanette was more concillatory than Mike Lee, saying that although she supported free public transport in principle, she thought that we needed to work on the frequency and reliabilty first.

One of the major problems that went un answered was just how many people will benifit from the exisiting rail lines in Auckland. It is obvious that they serve only a very limited corridor at present. The shooting down of both Climaction and RAM's proposals on free and frequent busses means that large areas of Auckland would not be served in any sustainable way.

Mike Lee looks set to fight the proposal, by saying that it can only be funded by HUGE RATES increases. As such, part of Climaction's arguments must now move onto the big question- WHERE WILL THE MONEY COME FROM?

It should come from taxes on the multinationals and big business, as well as
the transfer of Central government funding from the Motorway lobby, as anindication of a serious commitment to make New Zealand Carbon Neutral in reality rather than rhetoric. (Central government funding was available for the Stadium when the political will was there.) Climaction definetly does not support rates increases for the ordinary working people of Auckland.

As the meeting broke up, we got Climaction leaflets into the hands of everyone we had missed coming in earlier. We had a good, solid intervention in the debate along with RAM, and did our profile good. We were seen to be a little more radical than what the Greens were proposing, whcih is no bad thing. A lot of people came up to the stall to thank us for the work we were doing, and we got some good new contacts.


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