Climate Justice Activists confront Carbon Trade Summit with demonstration, direct action

click image for confrontation photos by Andy Stern!

Wednesday – 1/14/2010

New York, NY – In the wake of a controversial outcome at the Copenhagen climate talks, a diverse crowd of scientists, Faith congregations, activists, students, and concerned citizens converged in confrontation and protest at the 2nd Annual IGlobalForum Carbon Trading Summit today. The summit is the largest annual meeting place of corporations, banks, and lobby groups to further the agenda of a carbon trading scheme to address climate change. Activists rallied to oppose market-based trading of greenhouse gas emissions credits and call for real solutions to the climate crisis. Dr. Maggie Zhou of Secure Green Future Massachusetts was among the demonstrators who engaged in in nonviolent direct action and risked arrest in attempt to blockade a portion of the venue’s revolving doors to display a banner decrying carbon trading as a false solution.

Outraged environmentalists and faith-community activists entered the hotel and disrupted the luncheon of Summit attendees challenging them to consider the future of the planet above their own short-term financial interests and denouncing them as climate profiteers. The private gathering, separated from the central hotel atrium by a tall curtain, was suddenly exposed to activists and other members of the general public when the curtain was torn down.

“The same Wall Street bankers who gave us the global climate crisis are trying to own the sky,” stated Brian Tokar, director of the Institute for Social Ecology and an organizer of this week’s protest events. “Carbon trading is unjust, it will not work, and it is a false solution. It is a dangerous distraction from the urgent measures needed to prevent an ever-worsening destabilization of the climate.”

Speakers at the rally included Dea Goblirsch, organizer with Climate Ground Zero in southern West Virginia, Reverend Billy of the Church of Life After Shopping, who delivered a critique with the fire and brimstone of a televangelist; Chaia Heller, Professor of Gender Studies at Mount Holyoke College and Father Paul Mayer, co-founder of the Climate Crisis Coalition and religious community leader.

Participants inside the Carbon Trading Summit will include executives from JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Duke Energy and polluter-friendly “environmental” organizations like Environmental Defense Fund and World Wildlife Fund and other.

“I don’t trust these people to make decisions about the future of humanity,” said one young participant, who wished not to give her name because she will be risking arrest today. “If we follow through with market-based solutions like carbon trading, everyone will regret it. We need to stop believing the corporations’ false solutions and put all our collective energy into getting this conversation onto a track that’s useful.”

Dr. James Hansen, renowned climate scientist, was present outside the Carbon Trading Summit yesterday to voice his opposition to carbon trading schemes.

“Cap-and-trade is not a smart approach,” wrote Hansen his book Storms of My Grandchildren. Hansen has stated that current US climate legislation is “worse than nothing” because it relies on risky and ineffective cap-and-trade. He also declared that the failure to reach an agreement in Copenhagen was a better outcome than adopting the carbon-trade-based approach that was being negotiated.

“Carbon trade, which includes cap and trade and offsets are a dangerous distraction, economically risky, and prone to gaming and speculation,” stated Dr. Maggie Zhou, from Secure Green Future and Climate SOS stated. “Offsets allow polluters to simply pay someone else somewhere else to reduce their emissions on your behalf, which in the end does nothing to actually reduce emissions. The climate crisis simply can’t wait!

“Carbon trade is an insidious threat to human rights,” stated Dr. Rachel Smolker from Biofuelwatch and Climate SOS. “It turns rights to pollute the atmosphere, as well as forests, soils and agriculture practices that store carbon into commodities to be bought and sold as excuses for polluters. This is the greatest corporate grab on the “global commons” ever! It is disastrous for most of humanity.

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Climate SOS, Rising Tide North America, Beyond Talk (Climate Pledge of Resistance), Institute for Social Ecology, The Change You Want to See Gallery and others are gathering allies to protest the Carbon Trading Summit. To join this effort and take a stand for climate justice, for real solutions, and for the future of our planet, please contact, or visit us on Facebook.

9 Responses to “Climate Justice Activists confront Carbon Trade Summit with demonstration, direct action”

  1. 1 scott Jan 14th, 2010 at 7:00 am


  2. 2 marie s. Jan 14th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    This was an excellent action. I noticed there were more people outside than attending the Carbon Trading Summit! But Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth weren’t anywhere to be found. WTF!

    Why didn’t GP/RAN etc. rally their peeps to help make it happen? Too nervous about rallying their members to challenge carbon trading and existing false solutions? This is the time for these well-funded groups to take a clear public stand. Instead it took hundreds of New Yorkers and people from out of town – the real grassroots – to organize this.

    It was awesome. People got inside and disrupted the lunch of Environmental Defense Fund and Chase Bank and other fat cats. About five activists just walked into a curtained off area of the hotel and told them what we think of their profiteering and betrayal of the future of the planet.


  3. 3 Frances Jan 14th, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Marie, I learned of this action through the Rainforest Action Network.

  4. 4 Rev. Billy Talen Jan 14th, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    It was an disturbing setting. Our action was in one of those anonymous Wall Street canyons, but we were speechifying and singing and chanting and stilt-walking and trying to stay warm next to a section of Irish meadow, completely realistic, constructed as homage to the Irish potato famine. Thematically we had the obvious comparison of the imperial theft of food from Ireland during the famine and the theft of clean air by this current empire. We had, too, the poignant juxtaposition of the earth (the Irish meadow is about a half-acre) and the utterly glassy and impersonal slab of modernism before us, in which sat the elite conspirators.

    I thank the activists who came to town and took us to this spot, to this holy struggle for life.

    Rev Billy

  5. 5 Jen Jan 15th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    was a success, arrests were evaded, yet actions still occurred. No mainstream enviro groups were there, except EDF and NRDC who were inside trying to help this cap and trade along…. RAN was absent, unfortunately… but I will look for their next email, with a request for funding

  6. 6 Duff Badgley Jan 15th, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    I’m so pleased these activists confronted the carbon traders, trying to touch off mass resistance to all false solutions. Will we let them inspire us?


  7. 7 Cari Jan 16th, 2010 at 10:20 am

    I did not see rAN or GP or them like that, to the commenter who heard it from ran, could you share the email or the link? That would do a lot to offset growing criticism of them there.

  1. 1 Media and Messaging: The Multiplier Effect » Climate Justice Activists confront Carbon Trade Summit with demonstration, direct action « dea g. on coal river Trackback on Jan 15th, 2010 at 1:24 am
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