Archive for the 'Australia' Category

UN Agrees Moratorium on Geoengineering Experiments!

Moratorium in Nagoya!
Nagoya, Japan: News Release | 29 October 2010 |

Geoengineering Moratorium at UN Ministerial in Japan

Risky Climate Techno-fixes Blocked

NAGOYA, Japan – In a landmark consensus decision, the 193-member UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will close its tenth biennial meeting with a de facto moratorium on geoengineering projects and experiments.   “Any private or public experimentation or adventurism intended to manipulate the planetary thermostat will be in violation of this carefully crafted UN consensus,” stated Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director of ETC Group.

The agreement, reached during the ministerial portion of the two-week meeting which included 110 environment ministers, asks governments to ensure  that no geoengineering activities take place until risks to the environmental and biodiversity and associated social, cultural and economic impacts risks have been appropriately considered as well as the socio-economic impacts. The CBD secretariat was also instructed to report back on various geoengineering proposals and potential intergovernmental regulatory measures. Continue reading ‘UN Agrees Moratorium on Geoengineering Experiments!’

Don’t Undermine our Farms: Coal and Gas Protest in Queensland, Australia

Photo: Timothy Jay

By Shani Tager, Robert Price and Daniel Sharp

The banner read, ‘don’t undermine our farms’ as an unlikely scene unfolded in Australia at Queensland’s State Parliament on August 4 with ten kids on pedal tractors, two people hanging a banner off the roof of parliament house, a platypus staring down the police, “the frackman”, ten members of parliament, a federal senator and a senate candidate, an American gas activist, author and filmmaker and a large crowd that included a few busloads of farmers who made the three to four hour trip into the city.

Farmers and environmentalists, concerned citizens and rural landholders, children and grandparents rallied together at Queensland parliament house to demand protection of farmland from coal and gas mining.  The groups; Six Degrees, Friends of the Earth , Save our Darling Downs, Community Climate Network Queensland, Friends of Felton, the Basin Sustainability Alliance, Western Downs Alliance, Wandoan Clean Foods Alliance, the Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group and the Queensland Conservation Council are all concerned about the threats posed to valuable cropping land, rural communities, the Great Artesian Basin and our climate. Together they brought three simple demands to the Queensland parliament –

  1. Ban coal and coal seam gas mining on good quality agricultural land
  2. Institute a moratorium on coal seam gas until the environmental and social     impacts are assessed.
  3. Support renewable energy and sustainable agriculture.

The Frackman. Photos: Western Downs Alliance

In light of the plan to put about 40,000 gas wells across the fertile Darling Downs, one of Australia’s most agriculturally productive areas, American filmmaker and author Tara Meixsell warned the crowd that America’s recent unhappy experience with gas mining could be Queensland’s near future.

The expansion of Queensland’s coal and gas mining industries is rampant. The Queensland government is committed to doubling our coal exports. Open cut coal mines, underground coal gasification, and coal seam gas projects are being planned and developed at a frightening pace and it seems nothing is sacred. The Great Artesian Basin, an enormous underground aquifer which supports agriculture, communities and ecosystems across vast swathes of the Australian continent is under threat of contamination.

Continue reading ‘Don’t Undermine our Farms: Coal and Gas Protest in Queensland, Australia’

The Climate Elephant in the Room

This election, there’s been a horrifying lack of action on climate change. But the Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s Elephant in the room is keeping climate change alive as an election issue and showing Tony and Julia that young people (and elephants) demand stronger policies to cut carbon pollution. Check out these hilarious videos below (make sure you watch the Sky news one until the end).

You can see more photos, video and news coverage of the Climate Elephant in the room here.

Australia Campaigners to Make Climate a Key Issue in Last Days of Election

Guest post By Leigh Ewbank. Leigh is a Melbourne native and a 2009 summer fellow at the California-based progressive think tank, the Breakthrough Institute. Leigh consults on framing and messaging and is Director of Online Communications for Beyond Zero Emissions.

Dissatisfied with the policies of both major political parties, the Australian climate movement are attempting to make climate change a key issue in the final days of the 2010 federal election. A coalition of leading progressive and environmental organisations will hold Walk Against Warming demonstrations in the nation’s capital cities at the weekend. ‘By coming together one week before the election,’ says event organiser Victoria McKenzie-McHarg, ‘the community has a real opportunity to put climate change back on the election agenda, and push our leaders to put policies on the table that will actually cut emissions.’

The Australian Youth Climate Coalition is running its own initiatives to get climate change on the agenda. The youth-run organisation will hold the final of three Power Shift conferences this weekend. In an effort to influence the election, each of the conferences were located in areas that ‘represent crucial senate races and marginal seats in the Federal Election,’ according to AYCC spokesperson Lucy Manne. ‘Young people will make up 20 per cent of the voting population this election,’ Manne explains, ‘and the Power Shift conferences will ensure that the issues they care about will be heard.’ Continue reading ‘Australia Campaigners to Make Climate a Key Issue in Last Days of Election’

Climate Election Down Under

Elections in Australia don’t have a predictable two year marathon time-line.  Instead, the sitting prime minister calls an election and then everyone has 5 weeks to campaign, because on the 5th weekend the voting happens (which is mandatory, but more on that in a bit)

A few weeks ago, when Julia Gillard called an election, it couldn’t have come at a better or worse time for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.  I worked as the Interim Online Director for the AYCC from March-May and during that time we were plagued by uncertainty.  When should we hold regional powershifts? What was our election campaign?  How could we plan something creative and hard-hitting without being way too early or late?  Well, you act on what you know, fake the rest, and charge full steam ahead.

As it turns out, the election was called the weekend after the last Powershift conference.  Perfect.  It also meant that the organization was at 110% capacity to put on three conferences, and then had to implement a many-part election campaign on top of that. Not so perfect.

What did they do? What any good organization should: they set their sights even higher, raised more money, brought on more staff and volunteers, and set about making it happen.  The AYCC has rolled out a full-blown election campaign with stunts, calls to politicians and a TV ad encouraging people to vote.  I know a lot of them haven’t slept in weeks, but it’s amazing:

Continue reading ‘Climate Election Down Under’

Update From Bonn: The Crazy Killing of the Kyoto Protocol

The only internationally legally binding agreement on carbon emission reductions is being abandoned by its former champion – the European Union.

International negotiations are truly crazy places. In between the ten page daily agenda which ranges from “Item 3 – a shared vision for long-term cooperative action” to “Conference and film festival: toward a new justice tryptch” (you can actually check that – that was the first and last item on the UN climate talks daily programme for 3 June) there are all sorts of personalities and zany ideas at play. For example, outgoing Executive-Secretary of the talks, Yvo De Boer, sparked controversy this week with a leaked memo calling the Copenhagen talks a ‘muffin’ instead of a ‘cake’ for their complete failure to address the climate crisis.

In a discussion about the role of NGOs in the negotiations yesterday, Yvo, as he’s universally known, recounted that he’d always appreciated the ‘fossil of the day’ award, which NGOs give out to highlight the most backward action in international climate policy each day. He particularly appreciated receiving it once when he was just a delegate for the Netherlands and he had the temerity to suggest that ‘the United States would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.’

That the US would not ratify Kyoto, the only international agreement on legally binding carbon emission reduction targets, is not such a zany idea – the US has a terrible history of agreeing to international standards on anything from the rights of women to the ‘oh so now’ law of the sea. That the US is now undermining the Kyoto Protocol, even though it is not a member, is not crazy but is very disappointing. What’s truly crazy is that in civilised Bonn, in the heart of the European Union, the EU, formerly the champion of both international law and environmental integrity would vacate the field on both fronts.

The two fronts (environmental integrity and legal integrity) converge in the contest between what type of international instrument should be used to reduce carbon emissions – that is to say, how countries will work together, or not, to fight this global problem. One option is a system where countries collectively set a total target that is science based and fair, then negotiate their specific reductions and under a system that makes e sure everybody lives up to their promises. The second option, rather less effectively, allows countries to merely announce on the international stage what they have already decided to do domestically, even if the total effort is woefully inadequate. . Option 1 is represented by the Kyoto Protocol and Bali Action Plan system and option 2 is the ‘Copenhagen Accord’ system.  The latter isn’t global cooperation; it’s a take it or leave it game of chicken that leaves the planet in peril and millions in danger.

On the environmental integrity front the Copenhagen Accord system has just taken a serious beating. The prestigious, peer-reviewed and respected scientific journal, Nature, published an article on the 22 April 2010, which used the very scientific term ‘paltry’ to describe the emission reduction pledges in the Copenhagen Accord. The article concludes those paltry pledges would give a greater than 50% chance that warming will exceed 3 degrees by 2100. 3 degrees is devastating, catastrophic, climate change. It’s the climate change that most people, plants and animals won’t survive. A greater than 50% chance. Would you get on a plane, with your daughter, your brother, your friend, your pet dog and your favourite plant if there was a greater than 50% chance of crashing? Didn’t think so.

But the EU is thinking about it. In negotiations here in Bonn, the EU refused to say whether it would commit to a second round of Kyoto Protocol emission reduction targets. This is despite the Group of 77, (deceptively a bloc of over 130 of the world’s poorest countries) telling the meeting that:

‘The continuity of the Kyoto Protocol is an essential element for the future of the climate regime…failure sends a negative signal [by rich countries] regarding their ambition and contribution to a strong climate regime’

The EU used to be characterised by its ‘ambition and contribution’ to a strong international climate regime, but here in Bonn they are showing a distinct lack of courage, and as the German’s say, when you lose your courage you lose everything (real German saying). Similarly, Australia, whose Prime Minister was elected just 3 years ago on the promise of ratifying Kyoto because it is such an important treaty, was even more direct than the EU in negotiations in indicating that Australia (for a group of developed countries) didn’t think science-based and legally enforceable targets were very important. That in effect, Australia would be complicit in killing Kyoto.

This division over direction in international climate policy is resting on a knife-edge. Just months ago the outgoing Labour Government in the UK announced it could support a second round of Kyoto. Mexico, the host of December’s UN Climate Conference, where the second round of Kyoto targets is supposed to be agreed made clear that despite imperfections, ‘the Kyoto Protocol is the only legally binding agreement that we have.’ And Norway clearly indicated that it would sign on for a second round. If the EU were to take leadership again perhaps the world could get back on track to a sensible, science based climate policy instead of the crazy-talk coming from countries in Bonn right now.

For more detailed accounts of negotiations see The Third World Network’s daily reports.

You can follow Alex Rafalowicz at Bonn negotiations on twitter @climatedebtorg

Battle Until Dawn for Humanity’s Survival

It is 6:13 am and in the Bella Conference Center I am listening to the chair of the AOSIS (Association of Small Island States) trying to fight off uncontrollable tears. I am almost certain that the Group of 77 (a behemoth of 130 plus developing country states) is coming to an end. Countries are divided and I am witnessing accusations fly across the plenary. Why has it taken us so long to arrive at this point? We sit here with the “Copenhangen Accord” staring at our faces. It is a document full of hot air and is not what billions of people across the planet had been promised to deliver atmospheric restitution. Once again the developed nations have managed to gain somewhat of an upper hand in the wake of greater sacrifices of the larger developing countries.

That aside, negotiators had feared from day one of the talks that the documents and the process of negotiating would not mature to the point required in order to allow negotiations to move into the high level segment where over 100 Heads of States would come to sign a just climate deal. Their fears were realized. The process has been deeply flawed and the voices of nations regarding lack of transparency, conspiracy to kill off the Kyoto protocol has been true. I often found myself being witness to the injustice within the UNFCCC process (where had I not gone to certain meetings, I would have missed out on joint drafting sessions which I assumed were only scheduled G-77 coordination meetings). Text messages were sent, rooms were changed, information was not available to all.

Continue reading ‘Battle Until Dawn for Humanity’s Survival’

Awesome COP15 Video by Australian Youth!

This is a great update on the first day of COP15, brought to you by the folks who masterminded the Australia Powershift 09 Flashdance Video (also shown below):

This piece of art is perhaps one of the best videos of our movement:

Mass Civil Disobedience in Australia and Canada

Two large, well organized, but apparently unrelated actions today on either side of the globe underscore the rising intensity of the fight for climate justice.

In Australia, about 150 activists were arrested in the capitol as they demanded a strong, legally binding treaty in Copenhagen.  Newcastle Rising Tide takes credit for the action, and you can find more photos here.  The AFP reports on the story here, with this:

“The demonstrators have converged on the front entrance to parliament house, blocking public access to the building,” a police spokesman told AFP.

The citizens were called to action by frustrations with the Prime Minister who they feel has gone back on his campaign promises and not done enough to keep big polluters out of crafting climate policy.

“This has been a true expression of the deep sense of betrayal many Australians feel about Kevin Rudd’s lack of effective action on climate change,” said Georgina Woods, spokesperson for the demonstration. “We voted for this government so they would stand up to the big polluters, and lead the world on dealing with the impending climate crisis.” Read more about it at

Across the world, in Calgary, Alberta, citizens were taking direct action, apparently organized by Canada Climate Justice.  From their blog:

The first of a series of citizen-organized peaceful sit-ins targeting elected officials, tar sands financiers, and the coal and tar sands industries began today at Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice’s Calgary constituency office. Six people – five of whom are constituents of Minister Prentice – entered the office just after 10:00 AM refusing to leave, demanding that the Harper government and all parties act to combat the climate crisis and stop the millions of deaths and displacements that will result from more inaction on global warming pollution.

The most recent update, as of 3pm, was that the protesters were still there and prepared to stay until the police forced them out at the close of business.   You can see more pictures from the day here.

If you have more information on either of these actions, please post it here, as we’ll be watching for updates.

Mid-week campaign update: Youth Decide ’09

Check out this amazing mid week campaign update video, halfway through Youth Decide voting week! We’re up to over 26,000 votes and almost 5,000 people came to the concert last night in Melbourne’s Federation Square. Thanks to Ellen Sandell’s amazing video skillz.