Posts tagged "copenhagen"


The Danes took our Princess so give us our protestor back!

Rally to free the climate prisoners

Today I participated in a post-Copenhagen rally to support an Australian, Natasha Verco, who has been detained in Denmark since 13 December on bogus charges. A group of twenty people from all around Sydney met outside the Danish Embassy in Sydney with a letter from Friends of the Earth Australia to give the Danish Ambassador.

Here is the ABC report and here is the Sydney Morning Herald.

My sign says ‘Lock-up the polluters not the people’

The story behind Tash’s arrests and the arrests of many climate protesters is very concerning. Know of the dangers of climate change to the planet and seeing the failure of the current global system to address climate issues, it is not hard to feel for the protesters. These people are passionate about climate justice and are facilitating others to speak loudly and clearly. Without these people organising the chaos, it is much more likely that groups of people angry about inaction will get violent.

Tash Verco was arrested preemptively and has been held for three weeks without bail charged with ‘incitement’. She has not been allowed to phone her mother. Tash Verco has a strong history in the Sydney environment movement having co-founded Friends of the Earth Sydney and has been involved with supporting Indigenous rights campaigns amongst other things. I met Tash through the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN) where we participated in a rally in support of Indigenous rights.

Tash was helping organise the ‘Reclaim Power’ action in Copenhagen which was supposed to bring together people from inside the Bella Centre and from the outside in a peaceful statement that the people of the world can work this out. Instead, three days before the protest, she was arrested. Along with the arrests of other activists, this left a vacuum in the organisation of the protests and meant that there was more likely to be violence. We were told today that she could be in prison for a full year.

Tash is not alone. There were almost two thousand people arrested in Copenhagen and many are still in prison. Many people demonstrating for real climate solutions have had their hands tied. It is not fair that the lobbyists for coal and carbon polluting industries could easily access the negotiators and the people were locked-out or locked-up. The criminals are the ones selling our planet’s future for coal and oil.



NEW UPDATE Latest news from ABC is that Tash has been released = )




Copenhagen is over and this blog has only a few more stories in it at a stretch. This first one is my reflections on how I participated in the Copenhagen experience.

Personal financial reflections. The reason I could travel half way around the world for a climate conference was because I was supported financially. Money is a major limiting factor for young people participating in the United Nations. In fact, there was only one young person from Bangladesh at the Conference and this really signifies how unrepresentative money can make the playing field.

Macquarie University has given me a $1,500 scholarship which paid for accommodation ($850) and some of the flight over ($2,200). Other sponsors were Kuring-gai Council ($250) and Dr. Brendan Nelson ($150). Otherwise, the money that I spent while working in Copenhagen came from my own pocket. As far as I can gather, it amounted to $1,500.

When I tell people about Copenhagen and being an Australian Youth Delegate, there is an assumption that I was paid to go over. If the youth delegates from Australia counted the number of hours worked the cost of volunteering would certainly add up. However, this is a luxury we cannot afford. The AYCC is a non-profit volunteer organisation that is desperately short of money. If you want to go to the website here, it is easy enough to donate. Your money will be spent wisely for a safe climate.

I have recently been made aware of the millions of dollars that go into corporate lobbying on the part of the businesses that will be effected when the Australian government responds to climate change. Six figure salaries for hundreds of staff are the opposition to a bunch of young volunteers who pay their own way. Sometimes the truth is all you need. Not in this case.

What we have achieved in Copenhagen can also not be assessed in figures. When people think of Archbishop Desmond Tutu calling on the negotiators to “seal the fair, ambitious and binding deal” there is no way of measuring the volunteer hours that went into organising the event for him to speak. The media work done by AYCC with videos, radio, television, newspaper and online articles and interviews has shaped opinion in our own country, an outcome impossible to assess financially.

As we count our dollars and follow GDP with expectant eyes, it is important to remember how little these numbers mean. If money cannot provide a safe climate and clean skies in our  backyard, then what is it good for?



This is the last video from the AYCC team (Mike Clay, Rohan Porteous and Sam Millar). They did a phenomenal job through the weeks in Copenhagen. I know for a fact that Rohan did not sleep for forty-eight hours before making this video and Mike and Sam were both sick. But good on them.

This is a very inspiring video and one that represents the real message of Copenhagen: A coming together of youth from around the world saying that we have to act now.




Copenhagen Accord

Copenhagen Accord

Late last night, there was a change in the UN negotiations. There was a proposal called the Copenhagen Accord. It is a draft text of an agreement reached between China, US, India and South Africa. Here are perspectives from the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian UK and BBC News.

Of note:

1. It commits Annex 1 or Developed countries to 80% reductions on 1990 levels by 2050 and 50% reductions overall. It says nothing about 2020 reductions.

2. Pledges to keep temperature rise at 2 degrees with the potential to revise down to 1.5 by 2016. It says nothing about how this will be achieved.

3. It is a non-legally binding treaty. In fact, the draft drops a previous 2010 deadline for achieving a legally binding treaty.

4. Developed countries to support the mobilization of $100 bil per year by 2020 for developing countries. Calls were for $200 bil by African Union, Avaaz and were not heard. 

5. Copenhagen Climate Fund of $30 bil will be made available for 2010-2012 with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation. This amount of money will not be enough for the developing nations.

Australia is supporting the Copenhagen Accord as will many of the UN blocs such as the Umbrella Group and G77. I think it is fair to assume it will pass (with some minor changes) with the majority of nations and the majority of population.

Will it provide the rapid response the world needs for a safe climate?

After decades of negotiations and following the framework of Kyoto, the world has been expecting a ramping-up of the response to climate change. However, what we have today is a weak, non-binding accord that is endorsed by a minority of nations. Two weeks of intense negotiations have passed and what we have is a bare-bones document.

For me personally, I feel like this was the likely outcome. AYCC, youth of the world, people from AOSIS and other nations have done everyhing we thought strategic to get a stronger treaty. We continue to push and we have made our base stronger through this experience. The battle for a safe climate will not end here because we are not done yet.

What do you think?





Climate Vigil: reflections on survival

Dear Reader,

Today I write from a room with hundreds of climate activists working in a big hall, the NGO convergence space that has been setup in the last twelve hours. If there is one thing i have learned from COP15, it is that inspired and creative people can make something from nothing in next to no time. In fact, responding properly to global negotiations on something as complex as climate change requires a lot of flexibility and passion.

So here we are. People from all around the world typing and chatting, planning and conspiring. Conspiring, by the way, i learned tonight means ‘to breathe.’ I learned this from a person represent a climate organisation who spoke at the Vigil for Survival tonight.

You may have participated, or not, in the hunger for survival - a globally coordinated twenty-four hour fast in solidarity with the people who have fasted for forty-two days as part of Climate Justice Fast. It is amazing to be here with Anna Keenan who has amazing vitality considering her situation. We decided that the fast would go ahead not at all long ago. The vigil itself was organised by a team of ten people who began at 1:30pm. Still, we did a good job getting three-hundred people here and everyone had a great experience.

The Vigil was a deeply heart-warming hour with Bill McKibbon ( and speakers from the Pacific Islands, Indigenous Americans and hosted by Deepa Gupta from Indian Youth Climate Network. We had candles, listened to talks and participated in the evening by contemplating the process so far and what we want from the future.

For me, this is so important. So many activists, the vast majority, do not take the time to reflect or contemplate the situation they are working on. I appreciate the time and space to reflect because I feel that without this reflection we cannot continue to learn and grow.

When we hear “we need to be at 350ppm and we are at 380ppm” people get worried. We feel stress and anxiety and want to fix it now. When we are activists and we spend all our time working towards this target, it can be tortuous when it does not happen, especially when this extends over time.

Bill McKibbon personifies the model climate activist. He is fundamentally realistic about the world, he works extremely hard and is committed to the science. However, he takes the time for spiritual side of the movement and does work till he passes out.

As Copenhagen begins to wrap-up, i feel sad about leaving my delegation, my team of committed, hard-working friends. However, i don’t feel like this is the end. It is the beginning. Climate activism is a hard slog, and sometimes lonely. This Copenhagen experience has deepened my appreciation for a phenomenal movement of fantastic people.



This is an inspiring collection of global actions from and Avaaz that just happened on Saturday. I find it hard to believe that I was standing right near Archbishop Tutu when he said these words. To be there was electrifying.

Now, to make the real deal happen. Latest news is that Hilary Clinton will be coming to Copenhagen. Also, Obama, Sarkozy, Merkel and Brown are having a e-conference at the moment. Pretty soon AYCC will be sending out an email calling on young people in Australia to sign a petition that we will give to Rudd when we meet him in twelve hours.

So you’ll hear from me again soon = )



Really good update from CAN. It summarises the global issues around todays negotions.



Copenhagen: Snow on the Black Diamond

Dearest reader,

As I write to you, I sit in the Black Diamond library in Copenhagen which is being gently dusted with snowflakes. This image is in complete contradiction to the turbulance outside. The negotiations, the protests and the feelings of anger, confusion and doubt. The Australian Youth Delegation is getting through this with magnificant poise. Intense media work, freezing weather and intense police pressure has not divided our team and I am proud of this as an accomplishment.

Today, we have had only a small number of our delegation able to access the Bella Centre where the COP15 is meeting. We were given a small number of passes. This is just one of our limits to the negotiations. Our internet has gone down, our phones are running out of credit and the streets are freezing. We are using the time to contact media back home and strategise about our next action, which is likely to be a solidarity fast.

In this blog, I have mentioned Climate Justice Fast many times. Today, I met with Anna Keenan who is on her day forty-one of taking only water. Her bones are prominant and her body in a state close to collapse. However, her mood is high with anticipation for the coming days. Youth of the world will be fasting in solidarity with the message that the time is now for action. We cannot postpone this treaty any longer. I am calling on you in Australia to fast alongside us this Thursday.

Anna spoke alongside Naomi Klein this morning at a small gathering of youth this morning. It was very powerful in bonding us in a common purpose. This purpose is to hit home with the moral message to acting on climate change. Not acting now, globally, is not an option.

Today, there were people protesting near our hostel. Thosands walking along the canal calling for a fair treaty, surrounded by police. The police are not always so generous. Overnight, we have heard reports of many “pre-emptive arrests”, meaning people who havn’t done anything are charged and locked away. One of these people is an Australian woman who has been charged with three weeks with likely deportation. As far as I am aware, she had not actually engaged in any action and was coordinating the peaceful side of the protest that is expected tomorrow.

I do not want to see a violent protest in Copenhagen. I do not feel that this will change the treaty being agreed upon inside. However, as one experience protester told me today, “if the coordinators are locked away the protests are going to be chaos.” The message people are getting at the moment is that the negotiations are stalled because developed countries are not making significant commitments. Understandably, people here feel angry and disenfranchised. How this plays out is anyone’s guess.

Inside the negotiations there is much confusion. On a broad scale, I am expecting a sad outcome. This will be one where the one hundred and thirty heads of state who are coming agree upon a meaningless ‘political’ treaty that enforces nothing and postpones the important discussions but appears to be a step foward.

The time to put pressure on our Members of Parliament is now. We should also be writing letters of support to the island nations, such as Fiji and Vanuatu, who play an important role over the next days in calling for scientifically based treaty. Our neighbours in the Pacific will be hit first and hit hardest but climate change. Let us not forget them at their time of need.



Climate conspiracist Lord Monckton gets pwned

In case the news from COP15 is getting you down, or if you’ve switched off it entirely, here is something to cheer you up.

This is Mike and Rowan’s mash-up of the footage they got from our interaction with one of the world’s most famous climate conspiracists last week, Viscount Christopher Monckton. If you are wondering about what I am saying it is “this guy is batty”.

Humour aside, there have been some important developments over the past days. AYCC now have clear targets which are the Land-use accounting rules and also Carbon-capture and storage (CCS) rules. It has hit the media in a big way in the last twenty-four hours and you should expect it to get bigger after mad monkey abbott got in on the action recently. I will do a longer post about these issues soon.

Today, I am helping prepare a number of actions in solidarity with the youth of the Pacific “Voices of the Pacific” and also in solidarity with the nations of the U.N. who are aiming for a fair, ambitious and binding treaty.

Wish me goodluck!


Dear Reader,

I was at this 350 event last night helping by keeping too many press from the speakers. It was wonderful to be in the front row with Mary Robinson, Bill McKibbon and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

I have never heard Tutu speak before, have you? He is very entertaining and extremely energising. They marched in Berlin and the wall fell. They marched in Capetown and Aparteid fell.

They marched in Copenhagen and we are going to get a real deal.





What is the world saying about Australia at COP15?

Dear Reader,

As the sun comes up on day five in cloudy, cold Copenhagen i’d like to turn your mind to Australia. Yes, we have the wonderful beaches and forests. Gorgeous creatures that live wild and free. Open plains and valleys and modern, cultured cities. This is how international people see us, right? Maybe not.

When it comes to climate change, the world is saying some crappy things about Australia, along the lines of us being the Cletus of COP15.

Here is The Guardian’s analysis of Australia:


Influence rating ★★★

The easy ride it has so far enjoyed over carbon emissions makes a tricycle with stabilisers look difficult to master. Australia has one of the highest per capita emissions levels in the world, yet its deal at Kyoto allowed it to increase total levels by 8%.

Friends and foes Quick to welcome Obama’s emissions pledge last week, and invited to be a “friend of the chair” by hosts Denmark. The creeps.

What they’re offering A fence-sitting 5%-25% cuts (that upper-end target comes with lots of strings attached).

What they most want PM Kevin Rudd wants Australia to break with the past and be seen as a climate leader.

Least likely to say "Mate, did you know we chuck out more carbon per person than the US?"

With all our environmental credentials, how can international analysis be so rough? Last night, I met with a Phd student from Yale who is a non-paid party of the Ecuador delegation. He has told me that the Australian delegation is always vocal and always fights for what we want. Great.

However, at this point, what we want is not aligned with the rest of the world or the science. I met with Louise Hand, Australia’s Chief Ambassador, on Wednesday. Just one example was Louise stating that Australia is aiming for 450ppm with the caveat that it is 450 or less. The UN Chief Scientist is calling for 350ppm, and more than seventy nations have already adopted this target.

The other ways that we are behind the eightball include financing for adaptation and mitigation in developing nations. Globally, there have been calls for large sums of money to be invested in developing nations so that they can manage the worst of the immediate effects of climate change whilst preventing increases in emissions. I have heard the figure being as large as $160b US per annum needed from Climate Action Network Australia, George Woods. The Commonwealth came out recently with a statement that $10bUS would be provided and Australia has said we will be part of this.

This is outrageous. Per capita, we are one of the largest emitters in the world. As part of the Commonwealth, we are part of the group of nations that have been polluting since late 1700’s. There is no one nation with a greater responsibility in the world than Australia, and we are not proposing anything substantial.

These are just two examples. There are many more such as emission reduction targets or exemptions to forestry measurements that have lead to increased logging of old growth forests and other special deals that mean Australia can increase emissions while everyone else reduces theirs.

What is underlying this disgraceful negotiating stance?

In Australia, we have a sense that we are the best country in the world. Environmentally, we do our bit. Our emissions are negligible and we are a responsible global citizen, we think.

However, climate change is no longer just an environmental issue. Climate issues are effecting the lives of people all over the world causing displacement, sickness, starvation and death. As a developed nation we have a responsibility to act early because of our historical use of coal and fossil fuels. We are not acting early. In fact, we are not acting and we are not acting late.

Our reliance on coal and, i hate to be blunt but, our apathy and laziness means that we cling to conspiratorial or denialist ideas over making simple changes like investing in renewable energy. Our political leadership is batty (see Mad Monkey video previous blog) or manipulating Australians to feel like we are achieving something without any pain.

The reality is, we are late. We are late to act and there will be pain. If we continue our line, we will be relegated to the backshed of the international community with the Saudi Arabians (who want compensation for money that will not be spent on oil purchases!?) and we will face the consequences. Consequences of trade issues, falling further off the map and even being the holiday destination where no-one goes anymore because “they are a bit backward down their.”

The time to put more pressure on your representatives is now. Survival for the barrier reef, for the people of the island nations and for people all over our world is not negotiable.




Dearest reader,

If you are into entertainment news ‘or infotainment’ (i know i am), here is an excellent summary of COP15 in rap by Juice Media.

Raises more questions than answers, but that is what art is supposed to do, no?



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