Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Campaign against Climate Change-Strategy Meeting

So I`m just back from a Campaign against Climate Change strategy meeting in London. As always it was good to get together with so many similarly minded people and to talk about addressing a problem and how we go about doing that.

The main points to come out of the meeting where:
1. Future events in the UK are going to be bigger and better, due to the growing strength of CCC and to the involvement of Stop Climate Chaos is Annual marches to mark the meeting of the parties to Kyoto.
2. Our group will be the more realistic of the coallitio of groups in terms of highlighting the scale of the challenge ahead, this may have us labeled 'radical' but only because we have an enormous challenge which needs radical action!
3.We will stay strongly focused on encouraging a global cap on emissions through an international treaty, we will not explicitly support one such framework over another but will provide a platform for such issues to be highlighted in the public arena.
4. Local groups will have an important role in co-ordiatning action on climate change, focusing on diverse issues, and acting as 'nodes' to facilitate and encourage stronger climate change commitments from various steakholders.

Audio of the event is available here and a good summary of the meeting is provided below...Report Back from National Planning Meeting at Canterbury Hall, Cartwright Gardens, 11 February 2006, 12 noon to 5pm.
Present: about 40 activists, including Phil Thornhill, Jonathan Neale, Nick and Rosie on the platform.

First to speak was Phil Thornhill, the National Co-ordinator, who pointed out that this Thursday (16 February) was the anniversary of the Kyoto Treaty coming into force. He also pointed out that the main problem with Kyoto lay with the fact that the largest polluter, the United States, remained outside it. We all know that the Kyoto accord is inadequate etc., but it is the only game in town at the moment, and must be used as the basis for a widening and deepening agreement to cut emissions (I’m paraphrasing and writing partly from memory here, incidentally). The world’s most important obstacle to making progress on mitigating climate change is the American President, George W. Bush, who is backed by Exxon Mobil (Esso), who are the most aggressive corporate opponent of Kyoto.

Phil also pointed out that we made an impact on December 3rd with the Climate March, which was the largest environmental protest ever seen in this country. It was widely reported on television and in sections of the media, particularly the Independent newspaper, whether or not the climate has reached a ‘tipping point’, media and public opinion has. Since December the floodgates have opened for coverage of climate change. We have to build on that, and have a much bigger march next time, and there are indications we could have one an order of magnitude bigger, which will be explained better when I report what Jonathan said about his attendance at a Stop Climate Chaos meeting. The next Climate Summit is in Nairobi (we think) and will span Saturday 4 November, when we will have our demonstration.

This time CCC will be working alongside the umbrella group of NGOs Stop Climate Chaos, which includes many different organisations: FOE, Greenpeace, CAFOD, the RSPB and the WI among others (we’re part of it, too). Phil pointed out that there are two elements of complementarity between SCC as a whole, and the CCC separately. Firstly, SCC is more ‘conservative’ and ‘respectable’, while the CCC can be more ‘radical’ or ‘sharply critical’ of governments and individuals. We can say and do things that would risk alienating the more conservative supporters of the component organisation. Secondly, SCC is more ‘domestic’ in focus, concentrating on changing this government’s policy and behaviour, while CCC is capable, as we have demonstrated, of co-ordinating international protest.

The weakness of December was the lack of demonstrations in European capital cities. This can be addressed by making linkages at upcoming ESFs and we have laready made connections at WSFs at Caracas and in Africa.

Jonathan Neale spoke about his attendance at a SCC meeting, and of what the intentions of the umbrella organisation were. They are going to be mobilising in a big way for the November demo, and thus we have all their campaigning muscle and publicity machines behind it. They were exceedingly impressed with our ability to get 10,000 together on a shoestring budget, and they want us to do even better. Their vision of the campaign against climate change (small letters, not the organisation) is for it to become something like Make Poverty History, and intend the November march to be something like the Edinburgh demo in July, but not (as yet) quite so big. They envisage a 5-7 year battle, which will end in victory, which would comprise the writing into law of a 3% annual cut in emissions, which will result in a cut in emissions of 70% by 2050. This is like FOE’s Big Ask, which calls for such a law. The SCC have regular talks to Blair and Brown, and I suspect the other party leaders, although Jonathan didn’t actually say the latter.

There are strategic issues about the links between SCC and the CCC. They are concentrating on domestic law, while we focus on international agreements, but they bring a vast array of activists into our movement, and we should make sure they are mobilised. As we see Bush as the main villain (while keeping our eyes on Blair), we can make linkages with other movements. Two things wound Bush most: Iraq and Katrina.

In the discussion that followed many good points were made, and some suggestions put forward, only two or three I’ll mention. Firstly, that even 70 % cuts by 2050 weren’t good enough, George Monbiot had calculated that we needed 90% by 2030 to prevent the worst damage, so that SCC was being too conservative. Jonathan responded by saying that no other country had passed such a law, and if we got Britain to do it that would be a major breakthrough, even though we knew we had to go further later. There was a discussion about not just being against something, perhaps we should present a policy that was positive and Contraction and Convergence came up. It was pointed out that the CCC was comprised of people of many organisations and none, and that not all of them supported contraction and convergence, given some of its implications for standards of living, while recognising that global equity of emissions had to come about. Jonathan said he was against Contraction and Convergence, but for the contraction of emissions and global equity. Someone else, Suzanne Jeffreys, I think, said that if we nailed ourselves down to one policy we risked losing the support of some activists. We pretty much decided needed to concentrate on what we agreed on: binding international agreements, rather than argue in public about what divides us. Guy from Globalise Resistance agreed with that. He argued that we shouldn’t have a CCC position on nuclear power, for instance, even though most of us were against it. It would be good to campaign alongside people who thought it was the solution so we could argue with them about it. We can debate such matters in such meetings as this, however. Someone else pointed out that emissions aren’t the only issue, changes in land use can also upset the carbon cycle. If we cut down rainforest to grow biofuel, we destroy a major carbon sink and make global warming worse.

Climate Change Action

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At 6:29 PM, Blogger HL said...

What about this Independent Story. How does that change your discussion?

Global Warming Passing The 'Tipping Point'

Our Special Investigation Reveals That Critical Rise
In World Temperatures Is Now Unavoidable
by Michael McCarthy

At 11:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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