Framing: “We’re going to solve it”‘

To continue recent IGHIH discussions on language and framing, as well as responding to a surprisingly long debate on ‘whether renewables can solve it’ in the comments of my last blog, I wanted to share this extract from ‘Beyond Yes We Can’ – a piece that I wrote this time last  year,  in a period of post-Poznan reflection.

Post-Copenhagen, much of what I wrote then still applies.

“The Language of Certainty”

The choice on whether or not to speak with certainty and faith about ‘winning’ and ‘success’ on climate change is similar to our choices of language around the effects of climate change. Consider, for example, the difference between the two sentences:
Continue reading ‘Framing: “We’re going to solve it”‘’

‘Yes We Can’ Obama says ‘No we can’t’ to renewable energy

Check out 0:18 and 0:56

Two questions:

1- Who is advising this man and where is their information coming from?

2- When JFK said the following, did they have the technology required to get to the moon?

“We will go to the moon not because it is easy but because it is hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

The End of COP15, and the end of the Fast. So how do we all feel?

Cross-posted from


Distress, confusion, hurt, anger? Hope, passion, energy?

Emotion! Let it all out, people!

Personally, I am feeling a very strange and beautiful feeling today, as we concluded the fast, after 43 days entirely without food, coinciding with the disappointing end of COP15. It is a mix of feelings – disappointment at politics mixed with hope for the future, met expectations (regarding the politicians’ lacklustre performances) mixed with passion and love, excitement and inspiration (for the peoples’ climate movement), and finally, a very strange sensation of taste in my mouth and nutrition in my belly once more.

For COP15, the tension and the expectations were high. A ‘fair, ambitious and binding’ deal was called for by 12 million people across the world. We got none of it. Instead we got a huge disappointment. COP15 will not go down in history as the moment when the world, humanity, people of all nations and creeds, came together and united for the common good of all future generations.

What a pity. It is actually pitiful. A complete shame.

So what the hell happened, and what do we do now?

Continue reading ‘The End of COP15, and the end of the Fast. So how do we all feel?’

Why I got “Climate Justice” tattooed on my neck.

Tattoo art by Sara Svensson (Swedish Climate Activist) and Studio Remi, Utrecht

Three reasons:

1. The principle
2. The permanence
3. I like tattoos.

From the least important to the most important, these three reasons explained…

Reason 3 – “I like tattoos”

Continue reading ‘Why I got “Climate Justice” tattooed on my neck.’

Hunger Strike: Climate Justice Fast!

Under certain circumstances, fasting is the one weapon God has given us for use in times of utter helplessness.

- Ghandi

Martin Luther King said that

A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.

Our grandparents went to battle as soldiers in the second world war ready to lay down their lives for the freedom of their nations. We have a comparable if not bigger threat in climate change.

Who am I to say that I’m not going to make that sort of sacrifice?
Even if there is damage to myself, it’s nothing compared to the global catastrophe that we are heading for if we fail to solve this crisis.

Check out Deepa Gupta’s earlier post here

L’Aquila – G8/MEF and false solutions

This afternoon in l’Aquila, I just had the displeasure of sitting in the front row of the press conference for US President ‘Oh-Bummer’, Australian Prime Minister ‘Krudd’ and Climate-Sceptic Italian PM Berlusconi.

Coverage of the conference is, predictibly, fairly positive:

Continue reading ‘L’Aquila – G8/MEF and false solutions’

Youth INTERVENE at Bonn UN Climate Talks

I think it’s fair to say that the youth speech (known as an ‘intervention’  in UN-jargon) just rocked the LCA (Long-term Cooperative Action) plenary at the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

The text of the speech is below. A video of the speech and the chair’s response will be uploaded here as soon as possible.

However, let’s be really clear about what this is and what it is not.

It is clear that by 2050 we need to totally decarbonise our society and our economy – and that will take a lot more than speeches in the stifling environment of the UN.  To actually achieve the reduction, we need vibrant, energetic, distributed, local, grassroots action.

The UN process is currently not on track to achieve the ambitious agreement that we are calling for below. I won’t speculate on the likelihood of success – I imagine that there will be lots of comments on this topic, as it’s a huge debate within social movements currently. However, we need to be prepared, if they refuse to lead, to shut down the fossil fuel system ourselves.

This will ultimately be a people-driven transition to sustainability. But in the long run we will have to bring governments along with us too – resistant governments will hamper our ability to bring about solutions. This will be a people-led sustainability revolution, but needs to also be government-supported.

We are working hard here at COP to demonstrate the power of the youth movement, encouraging them to be supportive.

In the US in particular, the youth movement must push hard on their representatives in every congressional district. Yes, that Waxman bill came out yesterday, but as we say below, it’s not enough. Keep pushing for more – the next few months are crucial. If the US government locks in legislation with inadequate targets, it will be very difficult to shift them later.

2009 is the time for action. With this in mind, I would formally like to offer the following idea – that EVERY SINGLE YOUTH CLIMATE ACTIVIST either defers their university studies for six months or goes part-time, to dedicate their precious hours to activism and organising instead.

With our best efforts, I believe that we will win this one.                Continue reading ‘Youth INTERVENE at Bonn UN Climate Talks’

UN negotations, Bonn: Policy download

Monday 30th March:  The state of negotiations in Bonn.

This is a blog-post for the policy addicts who sadly can’t be in Bonn. If you’re not a policy-wonk, be warned – this post contains too many acronyms to be healthy.

The update here has been provided by the wonderful Thomas Spencer, a 22 year-old Australian expat living in Germany – a specialist in REDD issues and Russia.

Read on in this post for what happened today on:

  • Reduction targets for Annex 1 (ie, the rich countries)
  • Cash – SIDS (Small Island Developing States), LDCs, and India called for specific adapatation funding commitments
  • REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in developing countries) – and Australia’s backwards stance
  • SIDS and LDCs – crying out for progressive mitigation targets

And while all this was going on, Saudi Arabia took every opportunity to whining about the need to have a ‘low emissions’ future not a ‘low carbon’ one, and the need for them to be paid ‘adapatation’ funding so they can ‘adapt’ their fossil-fuel industries into something else. No specific mention of what they’d be transitioning to

From Thomas Spencer:

Continue reading ‘UN negotations, Bonn: Policy download’

UN climate talks, Bonn: USA is back – but still not good enough

Well, that was refreshing.

A few hours ago, the new US administration made their first public input into the UNFCCC process! It was yet another pleasurable reminder that G.W. Bush is gone, and that his legacy is slowly dying.

Todd Stern, the new, much-celebrated, US Special Envoy on Climate Change, opened his speech with a message that he transmitted ‘direct from President Obama’:

We’re very glad we’re back. We want to make up for lost time, and we are seized with the urgency of the task before us.”

This was received with a rapturous, enthusiastic round of applause – the sound of hope ringing in the room.

You will not here anyone on this very skilled US team cast doubt upon the science of global climate change,” said Stern, again demonstrating how substantive a shift occurred on November 4. Every climate campaigner in the room, when reflecting back to the dark days of climate scepticism in the US administration, seemed to breathe a sigh of relief at that moment.

Stern even said that ‘the US acknowledges their responsibility as the largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases’. Another big step forward. Another sign of hope. With all this hope, it would have been so easy to get carried away.

Thankfully though, Tuvalu, an AOSIS member, brought the room back town to earth after America spoke, warning us to take the words of the US with a grain of salt:

“It is beholden on me as a representative of the most vulnerable country in the world to speak out. We welcome the United States remarks… but we hope the rhetoric is matched by reality.”

With this in mind, I’d like to offer some advice to US activists – don’t pause your campaigning to celebrate the government’s rhetoric. Let’s not be stupid about this. Don’t ‘give them time’ without criticism, naively hoping that they’ll do the right thing, translating good words into real action. If you don’t push them, hard, then you won’t be rewarded. We learned this the hard way in Australia, after the election of Kevin Rudd, November 24 2007. Let me tell a story to illustrate…

Continue reading ‘UN climate talks, Bonn: USA is back – but still not good enough’

Covering the UN climate talks, in Bonn: AOSIS rocks it on mitigation targets

For the next two weeks, there will be daily blogs on from the Bonn meetings of the UN.

For more Bonn coverage on IGHIH, click these links :

1. The pre-sessionals (Friday 27th)

2. AOSIS rocks it on mitigation targets (Saturday 28th)

Yesterday evening’s pre-sessional, ‘Workshop on issues relating to the scale of emission reductions to be achieved by Annex I Parties’ saw about 10 presentations from different nations, followed by some scientific/technical/economic presentations, all discussing mitigation potentials are necessary, possible according to the research, and ‘at what cost’.

Japan, Australia, the EU, New Zealand, China, South Africa and Iceland all made presentations, but the final presentation, from AOSIS – the Alliance Of Small Island States, the most climate-vulnerable nations in the world – really kicked serious butt.

Continue reading ‘Covering the UN climate talks, in Bonn: AOSIS rocks it on mitigation targets’


Anna C Keenan is a climate activist, thinker and organiser working to create the paradigm-shift that we all so desperately need. She is currently working as an independent volunteer activist and is a key organiser behind Climate Justice Fast , a long-term hunger-strike in the lead-up to the Copenhagen Climate summit. Originally from Australia, Anna attended the COP13 in Bali in 2007 with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and in 2008, together with four other young Australians, travelled overland - without flying - from Singapore to Poland for the COP14, taking one month to do so. She has remained in Europe since, coordinating the 'AVAAZ Action Factory' in Europe during the summer, and working extensively with the international youth community who engages with the UNFCCC process. Her diverse activist experiences span non-violent direct action at Climate Camp in Australia to NGO campaigns with trade unions, and she has been a presenter as part of Al Gore's Climate Project since 2006. Anna is characterised by her firm resolve, strong commitment to her principles, and endlessly bouncy hyperactivity.

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