Climate: save Copenhagen

From the great people at Avaaz.
I’ve done it, I hope you will too, reader!:

Dear Friends,

With only five days left, the crucial Copenhagen climate summit is at a tipping point.

The US and China, the world’s biggest polluters, are blocking a deal. The rest of the world could cave in to their pressure for an empty agreement, or fight for a real deal. We urgently need a massive global outcry for the US and China to do the right thing, and for Europe, Brazil, South Africa and the rest of our leaders to draw a line in the sand and insist on a deal that saves the planet.

Click below to sign the petition for a real deal −− supported by hundreds of organizations it’s already at a staggering 10 million signatures − let’s make it the largest petition in history in the next 72 hours. Sign below and forward this email to everyone!  

The negotiations work through consensus, so if even just a few of our leaders stand absolutely strong, an empty agreement will be impossible. Avaaz has a large team meeting daily with negotiators at the summit who will organize a spectacular petition delivery as world leaders arrive. If the petition is massive enough, any country that stands up to the big polluters will feel massive public support −− the US will feel intense pressure to offer more money and stronger emissions cuts, and China will be pressed to agree to a binding treaty.

US President Obama and Chinese President Hu will join an unprecedented 60 hours of negotiation among world leaders in Copenhagen this week . Both leaders value their respect on the world stage, and will have a personal choice about whether to go far beyond what their negotiating teams have offered so far. Historic agreements are made when leaders decide to stake their legacy on something − Obama and Hu need to hear it from the people of the world, and the rest of world leaders, that this is the time for boldness and vision, not empty agreements that cave in to domestic oil and coal lobbies.

A global climate movement is finally here. Yesterday Avaaz members led thousands of events worldwide, and millions watched our vigil inside the summit on TV, where Archbishop Desmond Tutu told hundreds of delegates and assembled children:

“We marched in Berlin, and the wall fell.
“We marched for South Africa, and apartheid fell.
“We marched at Copenhagen −− and we WILL get a Real Deal.”

Copenhagen is seeking the biggest mandate in history to stop the greatest threat humanity has ever faced. History will be made in the next few days. How will our children remember this moment? Let’s tell them we did all we could.  

With hope,

Ricken, Alice, Ben, Paul, Luis, Iain, Veronique, Graziela, Pascal, Paula, Benjamin, Raj, Raluca, Taren, David, Josh and the whole Avaaz team.


Tuvalu or bust

The real danger is that Copenhagen will either come up with nothing, or something worse than nothing: See or What is actually needed is something along the lines that Tuvalu has proposed, and is now winning backing for: But Britain is at present among those standing directly in the way of this! OK, so here is how Ed Milliband could REALLY change the game at Copenhagen. Come out and say that Britain’s line is going to change radically: we are going to BACK the Tuvalu proposal. THAT would be news. THAT would be real progress. THAT would give us all hope that our future isn’t doomed. THAT would be courage…


Geo-engineering is Russian Rouletter. This is important stuff here:
Civil Society Alarmed at Climate Technology Quick Fixes in Copenhagen
[ETC Group Copenhagen Press Release]
Copenhagen, December 10, 2009 – Over 160 civil society groups, including
social movements and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), today released
a joint declaration on technology: “Let’s Look Before We Leap!”. The
declaration alerts governments to the absence of any precautionary
environmental and social assessment mechanisms in the draft Copenhagen
agreement on technology, and claims that the current approach poses grave
threats to human health, human rights, rural livelihoods, diverse
ecosystems and climate stability.

The negotiating texts in Copenhagen refer repeatedly to the need to rapidly
develop and deploy so-called “environmentally sound technologies”. However,
the text is silent on evaluating controversial new technologies which claim
to be climate-friendly but are in fact harmful. Civil society groups are
increasingly concerned that many technologies that will be fast-tracked
through this new system are risky and untested, potentially adding a new
wave of environmental and social problems that will compound the climate
crisis. The declaration released today points to technologies such as
geoengineering, genetic engineering, agrofuels (biofuels) and biochar as
examples of risky or hazardous technologies that may receive an unwarranted
boost through agreements made in Copenhagen.

“On top of being the victims of the climate crisis, we don´t want to become
guinea pigs for new unproven technologies or for old hazardous technologies
such as nuclear power, with the excuse that more technology is needed to
fix the climate,” said Ricardo Navarro from Friends of the Earth
International. “It is totally irresponsible that negotiators are discussing
the development and transfer of technologies without any mechanism to
filter which ones can be useful and which ones will create more problems
for people and the environment. We need the immediate inclusion and
application of the precautionary principle”, added Navarro.

Among the climate change techno-fixes that could be promoted under the
present text are proposals for large-scale climate manipulation, known as
geoengineering. Geoengineering proponents include industry-friendly climate
skeptics such as Bjorn Lomborg who claim that a large technical fix skirts
the need for action on emissions reductions. “Fighting climate change with
geoengineering is like fighting fire with gasoline,” explains Silvia
Ribeiro from ETC Group´s Mexico office. “Proposals such as dumping tonnes
of iron in our oceans or injecting sulphates in the stratosphere to reflect
sunlight are extremely dangerous. They could worsen existing problems, like
ozone depletion and drought in sub-Saharan Africa, and their impacts will
be felt in countries and by people who won’t even have a chance to say what
they think of these ideas. Geoengineering is geopiracy and this kind of
gambling with Gaia needs to be excluded from any consideration in climate

Paul Nicholson from La Via Campesina, the international peasant movement
representing small farmers in 69 countries, reminded delegates that new
technologies introduced over the past few decades, such as genetically
modified crops and tree monocultures, have had extensive negative impacts
on peasants and the environment. “We small-scale farmers and peasants of
the world already have a diversity of proven technologies that are cooling
the planet and feeding the majority of the people in the world. These need
to be affirmed, not threatened by the introduction of new dangerous
technologies that can displace or contaminate the diversity of crops and
cultures that are a real solution for both the climate and the food

“Whatever technology agreement comes out of this meeting must not just
become a funding mechanism for venture-capital-backed green-washing
exercises”, said Chee Yoke Ling from Third World Network. “In the context
of the carbon trade, “environmentally sound technologies’ are often more
hype than heft. We need an agreement that will facilitate access to truly
environmentally sound technologies and clean energy and that will not
result in the global expansion of bad ideas. Governments already recognize
the principle of prior assessment in the international Cartagena Protocol
on Biosafety. We need even stronger rules in an agreement on climate
technology”, she added.

“At a time when the geoengineering lobby is jockeying for money, influence
and power, a wide-open agreement facilitating the rapid expansion of
technological fixes is suicidal”, reminded Silvia Ribeiro from ETC Group.
“The geoengineers will argue that it is too late for mitigation, and that
humanity is on an inevitable march to manipulate the climate by applying
extreme technologies. The geopirates are standing in the wings, and
increasingly on stage, waiting for this COP to fail so they can step into
the breach with their own fast and cheap solution,” concluded Ribeiro.

The statement “Let’s Look Before We Leap” demands a clear and consistent
international approach for all new technologies on climate change: States
at COP 15 must ensure that strict precautionary mechanisms for technology
assessment are enacted and are made legally binding, so that the risks and
likely impacts, and appropriateness, of these new technologies, can be
properly and democratically evaluated before they are rolled out. Any new
body dealing with technology assessment and transfer must include equitable
representation of communities most affected by climate change, as well as
ensuring gender and regional balance, participation of peasants and
indigenous peoples so that their views will be taken into account.

The “Let’s Look Before We Leap” statement and the list of organizations
that have signed it to date can be downloaded in English, French, Spanish,
Italian and Chinese at

The CRU hack’s real name – my letter in today’s INDY.

Pleased that the INDY today published my letter on why it’s not ‘Climategate’:


I commend The Independent on being one of the few media outlets not using the term “Climategate” in news coverage. That is the term preferred by those who deny the existence of man-made climate change, to refer to the recent illegal hack into the email systems of the Climatic Research Unit [CRU] at the University of East Anglia.

I find it surprising that so much of the rest of the media has fallen for this term. For “Climategate” seems to suggest that there is some serious doubt raised about our knowledge of the world’s warming climate by the emails that have been made public: but our knowledge of the dangerous climate change that greenhouse gases are creating is of course largely consensual and uncontroversial.

Dr Rupert Read

Department of Philosophy

University of East Anglia


   …However, irritated that they cut what I thought was the best line in the whole letter:

“The use of the term ‘Climategate’ as promoted by manmade-climate-change-deniers to attack mainstream climate science is extremely ironic, in that it appears blatantly to ignore the real, central parallel between so-called ‘Climategate’ on the one hand and the Watergate scandal [after which the CRU hack has apparently been renamed] on the other: that both are scandals about criminal theft operations in which innocent people have been targetted and abused for political purposes – Nixon’s Democrat opponents, in Watergate, and leading environmental scientists, in so-called ‘Climategate’.”