5 Sep 2009

Add water to Copenhagen and read Fred Pearce

More extreme weather is the harsh reality with climate change - poor people around the world are already struggling to cope with it - infact for the 70% of the world's poor who depend on small-scale farming for food, changes in rain and weather mean the crops they rely on are being put at risk. The world will meet to discuss a new climate change deal in Copenhagen in 2009, but as we scramble to stop the causes of climate change, dealing with its effects must not take second place. It is vital we don't let our leaders forget water on the Copenhagen agenda.

See campaign website and how to email your MP: www.progressio.org.uk/progressio/internal/98125/just_add_water/

All this is crucial and has been brought home to me even harder after reading 'When the Rivers Run Dry' by Fred Pearce. I powerful book that looks at why our mighty rivers like the Colorado, Congo, Nile, Jordan and more are running dry, about Libya's crazy scheme to build a monster pipeline of water across the desert, about dew ponds and how they were used and much much more.

See an interview with him here and Fred Pearce on water scarity being 'the real food crisis' here.

Indeed Copenhagen is now less than 100 days away and many commentators are deeply concerned about how the pre-talks and plans have been going - Monbiot writes this week in The Guardian about the preparations: "Unless there is a radical change of plan between now and December, world leaders will not only be discussing the alignment of deckchairs on the Titanic, but disputing whose deckchairs they really are and who is responsible for moving them. Fascinating as this argument may be, it does nothing to alter the course of the liner."

Monbiot at least goes onto say: "But someone, at least, has a radical new plan...the team that made the film The Age of Stupid is launching the 10:10 campaign, which aims for a 10% cut in the UK's greenhouse gas emissions during 2010." More of that coming very soon to this blog as I've been talking to Green councillor Fi MacMillan who was at the launch representing Stroud District Council.
"The industrialised nations have an obligation to lead, and the developing countries have to join pretty soon, or we're going to be cooked."
President Barack Obama's science adviser, John Holdren
So where are we? Well the campaign 100 months this week said:

• 1.94 per cent - The rise in global CO2 emissions in 2008, totaling 31.5 billion metric tons. The tenth year in succession that emissions have risen, not declined.
• 15 to 21 per cent - Planned cuts from industrialized nations excluding the United States, by 2020. Well short of cuts of 40 per cent required to avoid the worst of global warming.
• 70 to 75 per cent - The majority of the American public who accept climate change is real, humans are largely responsible, and we need to do something about it. Phew.
• 80 per cent by 2050 - Agreed goal for CO2 reductions by G8 leaders in July this year. Good but not quite good enough.
• 82 per cent - The amount Ray Anderson and Interface have cut their emissions by.
• 2 degrees Celsius - The global warming limit backed by the G8, China and India.
• US$67 billion - The amount African leaders want each year to help mitigate the effects of global warming on their continent.
• US$170 billion - The amount invested globally into renewable energy in 2008.
• US$720 billion - The estimated amount required for clean energy each year for the world to reverse the runaway trend in CO2 emissions.
• 150 - The number of years ago the first commercial oil well in the US started pumping (thanks Stokely).
• 350 - OneHundredMonths endorser, Dr Rajendra K Pachauri confirms 350 is the bottom-line for the planet. See local Bee project re 350 here also more coming re 350 trees and Thistledown we hope! Why 350 is important here.
• 400+ - The number of cinemas involved in the US launch of The Age of Stupid. Here's the trailer.
• 452 metres - There is a prize for the winning guess.
• 7 billion - Number of people on the earth by 2011.
• 10:10 - Everyone's at it. Buying planes. And you're invited too. Lots more coming on this very soon.

Meanwhile the 2009 Camp for Climate Action has come to an end - Stroud Green party's Molly Scott Cato was among those there - see her report of the camp here. And here is a bit from SchNEWS:

After the famous scuffling of Kingsnorth camp last year (see SchNEWS 641) and the attacks on the Bishops gate gathering at the G20 (see SchNEWS 672), the 2009 Camp for Climate Action on Blackheath Common in South London was almost suspiciously cop-free, despite the best efforts of extremist pro-police factions within the camp to invite them on site.

On Wednesday 26th August, groups of campers converged on the common from different meet-up points in London to occupy the site, which was swiftly enclosed in security fencing and covered with tents and marquees. The complex consensus decision making process of organising the camp ran pretty smoothly - perhaps it's more suited to day-to-day camp business than to planning mass actions as in previous years. The camp was divided into neighbourhoods with their own kitchens and daily meetings that sent two 'spokes' to carry the neighbourhoods' decisions to a general site meeting.

The main contentious subject was people from the police liaison group wanting to invite the police on site, even after the police said they didn't need to and camp consensus had already been made against it (on the other hand wearing a black hoody and mumbling the words to Harry Roberts when yer too pissed to stand up doesn't a revolution make either). With the absence of mass action and police hassle, the atmosphere was more relaxed than in previous years, with the emphasis on the organisation of the site as an experimental autonomous community, workshops, a series of smaller actions, and planning for the 'Swoop' mass action in October, as well as preparation for the climate summit in Copenhagen coming up in December.

So was Climate Camp London 2009 a success? Many of the more direct action focused campaigners felt frustrated with the separation of action planning from workshops on education and training, and the postponing of mass action until October. Climate Camp seems to have gained a serious foothold in mainstream media culture, a huge turnaround from the victimisation and violence protesters have suffered in previous years. Is it the case that this is a positive development as more people learn about the issues and public becomes more radical, or does it represent a softening of Climate Camp's stance?

What remains to be seen is whether the newcomers this year will have been inspired enough by the process to pull their fingers out and move for direct action in the coming months.

The biggest danger Climate Camp now faces is that it will turn into a purely intellectual exercise, and anyone who has been involved with the more serious side of the campaign knows that climate chaos protests are not all about painting banners and making straw bale benches. Ultimately the point of direct action is that when intellectualism fails, (and it has up until now, think governments refusing to put policy in line with scientific recommendations), it's about getting in there and fighting back, to make life difficult for those at the top. We don't want to get too middle class now do we..?

See www.climatecamp.org.uk/
See much more from SchNEWS re some of the actions taken: www.schnews.org.uk/archive/news689.htm

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