Archive for the 'Europe' Category

One Year to Earth Summit 2012: A New Generation Goes to Rio

This post was written by Michael Davidson.

12-year old Severn Suzuki Delivers Youth Plea at 1992 Rio Earth SummitOne year from this week, government leaders, civil society members and representatives of the business community will meet in Rio de Janeiro to discuss the future of the planet. The Earth Summit (also called Rio+20 after the first such global event in 1992) can help lead to a more prosperous world that utilizes natural resources more efficiently and responds to the needs of the most impacted communities of environmental degradation. But only if youth help write the story, and here’s why.

Rio 1992 was a watershed moment for the global environmental conscience. Treaties were signed, commissions created, and action plans drafted. Yet one of the most memorable speeches from the two-week conference was by a 12-year old girl (here’s what she’s doing now).

Now, a generation later, my generation is faced with two seemingly insurmountable challenges: the world is changing at a rate never before seen, and the current governance structures are insufficient to meet even the environmental problems of the 1970s.

Continue reading ‘One Year to Earth Summit 2012: A New Generation Goes to Rio’

Message from the UK to Power Shift 2011

Leaders of the UK Youth Climate Coalition are pretty inspired by what they’ve seen, and they sent a message of solidarity and hope.  Watch to hear about their plans for building a movement across Europe this summer.

Hey everyone!

Power Shift US looks like it has been going amazingly well!  – Great work to you all!

We were so inspired by what you were getting up to, that we thought we would send Power Shift US a message from Power Shift UK and Europe… :)


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!’

Largest 10:10 Aerial Photograph Ever (so far)

UPDATE: Check out the video from Ellard Vasen

This past Saturday, in the little town of Vlaardingen near Rotterdam, an estimated 1500 Scouts gathered to create this aerial image of 10:10. The event was organized by JMA (Jongeren Milieu Actief) in Amsterdam. This is arguably the largest 10:10 image ever recorded. It reminds us of the goal to reduce emissions by 10% in 2010 and how important it is that we to get to work during and after the Global Work Party on October 10, 2010.

What are you planning for 10:10? Check out or to find a work party near you or start your own.

10:10 Aerial photograph in the Netherlands
Credit: Robert van Waarden

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

Decision Time – UK Election & Climate Change

This is a guest article written by Shivani Kanodia of the UK Youth Climate Coalition.

The UK General Election will be held on May 6th, less than two weeks away. In the running are the incumbent Labour Party, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats – the party that gains the most seats, will shape Britain’s role in the global effort to solve the climate crisis. Commentators have termed the election outcome as ‘The Last Parliament’, as this group of elected representatives will take the country through to 2015, by when carbon emissions must have peaked.

Young people and activists around the country are working to focus candidates on clean energy, green jobs and climate change. Local hustings are putting parliamentary hopefuls on the spot, as the public ‘Ask the Climate Question‘. It is clear that the leadership in the three main parties understand the issues around sustainability and climate change, but real concerns remain as some local candidates reveal an extraordinary lack of scientific knowledge. A recent internet poll of prominent Conservative bloggers also brought into question the ability of the Tories to explain the benefits of climate action to their own supporters.

Gordon Brown (Labour), David Cameron (Conservative), Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat)

Continue reading ‘Decision Time – UK Election & Climate Change’

One Young World – 25 today, leading the world tomorrow

By Xixi Sun

Well, I am not yet 25 and definitely not yet leader of the world, but I am amongst the 700 international youth right here in London attending the inaugural One Young World summit. We were all born after 1984 and we represent youth from all 192 countries on this planet. Early this year I was lucky enough to be sponsored to attend. We are here to discuss the challenges faced by our generation and topics include climate change, interfaith dialogue, global business, media, global health and developing leadership for a positive future.

Here I want to tell you what Day 1 of this summit makes me think.

Having heard speeches made by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sir Bob Geldof and Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson yesterday at the opening ceremony, we started our day with the welcome session by hosts David Jones and Kate Robertson. The first plenary session is on Environment and its protection. Having attended COP15 last December with the China Youth COP15 team, I am glad to see that youth today have not lost hope. They have different views on why Copenhagen has failed, but they all agreed that actions need to be taken now and we cannot wait for the decision-makers to make decisions. In the video from Senator John Kerry he mentioned the youth campaign “How old will you be in 2050?” That T-shirt is still in my Beijing home and reminds me of the campaigning events we had in the Bella Centre. As many have said, it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning. And this OYW summit is not just a nice trip to London. There’s work, hard work to be done. This summit will be producing a youth resolution, where each part will be voted to pass by the 700 participants. Continue reading ‘One Young World – 25 today, leading the world tomorrow’

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’

Photography of the Climate March in Copenhagen

Over 100,000 people converged in Copenhagen on Dec. 12, 2009 to march towards the Bella Center and demand a fair, ambitious, and binding treaty at the end of the Conference of Parties. This gallery is a selection of some of my best images from the day.

Tar Sands An Important Issue? Two Tar Sands Actions In First Week Of COP

The first week of negotiations in Copenhagen ended with a second tar sands focussed action. Indigenous and non-indigenous people from Canada and the US come together to remind everyone that the tar sands is not just a Canadian issue—it affects everyone and there is no room for the tar sands in a just climate deal.

Photo Credit: Ben Powless

The group proceeded peacefully through the COP15 conference centre holding up placards that said “We don’t want your dirty oil” and “But we are blocking progress just for you.” The placards set up a dialogue between the Canadian and US government leaders, showing that both governments are blocking progress together. This procession was an unprecedented action of solidarity between Indigenous peoples, Canadian youth, and US youth condemning the tar sands together.

Three women led the procession through the conference centre: Eriel Deranger, a Dene woman from Fort Chipewyan; Kandi Mossett, a Mandas, Kidatsa and Arikara woman from a community in North Dakota where they are constructing a tar sands oil refinery; and Kimia Ghomeshi, a climate justice organizer in Canada. All three delivered powerful speeches before they proceeded through the halls silently. Continue reading ‘Tar Sands An Important Issue? Two Tar Sands Actions In First Week Of COP’