Monday, May 3, 2010
Elements to consider:
1) T&T has no Energy Security Plan. We needed one 10 years ago when we embarked on heavy gas based industrialization and LBG exports. Today the national gas tank is much less than half empty. We are over committed. Yet China is building a smelter here and India was pursuing a Steel plant (Essar). As you know T&T was the largest supplier of LNG to the USA for 10 years! We have been binging on gas. The USA did not have to touch their gas (T&T was USA’s energy security policy!). We need to re-examine the cost-benefits of continuing this as the remaining gas becomes more expensive as it depletes.
We also need to revisit the ‘heavy gas based industrial’ model. These industries export wealth and pay a pittance in rent. This is Lloyd Best’s “Plantation Economy”. We need to develop an Energy Security policy which includes a transition timetable to renewable energy (solar). I would suggest 20% of existing commercial and domestic demand met by renewable energy within 10 years.
Furthermore, Trinidad (La Brea) should become a Regional centre for assembly of renewable energy technology, starting with solar. The fate of the Caribbean tourism market lies in its ability to compete and transition into ‘low carbon small island economies’. Our Regional policy should be to facilitate this transition. This will provide security and reduce immigration pressures.
2) The Alutrint smelter is the helm of the PNM’s Vison 2020. The flawed Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) process was used to approve ALutrint while concealing the economic costs as well as health risks. This is why RAG challenged the decision in court.
We need to amend the CEC process to make it (i) democratic, that is, public opinion should count in determining types of development and (ii) the ‘Sustainability’ of the proposed project must be determined based not only on ‘environmental’ and ‘social’ criteria but also ‘economic’. Presently the EMA does not consider, nor does the public have the right to know, if a project is economically feasible or not! Only the government and the foreign investor are aware of this. Evidence of this for the Rapid Rail project lies in the EMA files – the National Infrastructure Development Company (responsible for engaging the French consortia to build, own and operate TriniTrain) gained ‘permission’ from the EMA to keep the economic costs’ “Confidential”. RAG pointed this out to the Cunupia Farmers Association. This is astounding.
Any manifesto must revisit this CEC decision making process as it is presently anti-sustainable.
3) With regards Food Security, I am sure the NFFA will address this. As with Energy, we also need ‘Security Plans’ for Food and Water. This is an imperative in this era of climate change and breakdown. Also, we need to reduce use of industrial chemicals and increase infrastructure for small farmers. We should be promoting organic farming for export and local consumption. This is the fastest growing food sector in the ‘developed world’. A Food Security Plan would set a time table for ‘food sovereignty’ as well as targets for achieving organic crop outputs.
4) With regards to water, the PNM waged a war against our Northern Range watersheds by deregulating the quarrying sector. As you know 80% of our drinking water originates in the Northern Range. Lenny Saith championed the deregulation. New quarries (under 150 acres I have to cynically remind myself) were removed from the EMA’s list of ‘Designated Activities’, requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment and no longer subject to the Certificate of Environmental Clearance process (flawed as it may be). Penelope Beckles championed the first deregulation – she passed the bill through parliament, by ‘negative resolution’. No one opposed it (July 2007).
We went to see the Minister of Energy over this matter, along with residents of Acono Village, Maracas Valley, as we were all opposed to a new quarry coming in. The reason why this deregulation was so damaging to our water resources is because the EMA, back in 2004, in their annual report, recommended that “no new quarries be approved for the Northern Range”. This was because of the extreme problem that exists for contaminating our surface waters, particularly those feeding WASA’s water treatment plants that are located at the foothills of the Northern Range (like Guanapo). Moreover, the Ministry of Energy, responsible for issuing quarry licences recognized in 2005 a “deluge of environmental problems” cause by quarrying.
Yet the PMN went even further in its war against water – they further deregulated the quarrying sector in 2008, through a second step, removing “clearing, grading, excavating and backfilling on slopes greater than 1:4” form the list of ‘Designated Activities’ (Elanor Dick-Forde Gaynor championed this bill, again passed by ‘negative resolution’).
What is disturbing about the PNM policy is that while they were intentionally destroying our naturally occurring water they were entering into new contracts to build desalination plants. These plants are energy intensive and the most expensive way to produce water. More importantly they are not necessary, unless of course if you mash all naturally occurring water. The other point about these plants is that they are privately owned. In 2004 WASA was paying DESALCOTT TT15M/month for water mostly supplied to Point Lisas. While there may have been logic in supplying the industrial sector (foreign investors) with desalinated water for a high price, what is now being proposed is that private water owners will supply domestic consumers.
Right now Blue Waters own one of the richest groundwater aquifers in the country and pays a pittance to WASA for it and sells water at a premium. Can this be correct? Is water a right that comes with responsibility from consumers? Is water for profit?
This issue has to be addressed in the Manifesto. I have many ideas on this issue. Essentially, we need to explore and optimize use of natural water resources, protect our most valuable and water bearing watersheds, by designating them ‘Specially Protected Areas’ and focus desalination on industrial usage. Water is a Right that comes with Responsibility” Trinidad by the way is a water “rich” country. We just do not have any respect for it.
5) Finally, the Manifesto needs to address East Port-of-Spain. A few years ago I was involved in a Urban Planning ‘demonstration’ project for insitu regularization of the Sogren Trace area in East POS. I proposed a novel mechanism for rebuilding the infrastructure, through multiple micro-contracts issued by the resident community group. We provided technical and administrative capacity building while the Land Settlement Agency provided the funds. We developed the relationship between small local contractors and community organizations and at the same time built their capacities to interact and function. This model can be used to regenerate the social fabric and physical infrastructure of East POS.
6) T&T is a ‘throw away’ society. We need to find an alternative to the Beetham dump. There are no studies on the air quality in this area but people are suffering from air pollution. We need to set a date to close Beetham. We should establish a national recycling centre for glass, plastics and metals. We should be recycling organic material as compost. We need a hazardous waste treatment and containment facility. Recycling targets should be set (e.g. 40% by 2015)
The work being undertaking by Alutrint is illegal. Photos have been taken of these illegal works.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
In a move that, at best, shows seriously poor public administration, the Environment Commission of Trinidad and Tobago has been effectively shut down, so there is no environment court at this time.
Justice is shut down until the Environment Commissioners (EC) are reappointed, or new Commissioners are appointed.
Although all of the terms of appointments for all of the EC expired on Thursday December 31st 2009, no new appointments have yet been announced and as of January 1st 2010, there has been no functioning environmental court in our country, while taxpayers continue to pay the budgeted 7.877 Million TTD per annum, $30,000.00 per working day.
One of the matters scheduled to be heard in the environment court on Wednesday January 6th 2010 involves the Head of the Quarry Association of Trinidad and Tobago vs. the EMA and FFOS. The quarry operator illegally engaged in major works on the once paved Cumaca Road and dumped millions of tons of debris into the Turere River, thus destroying one of the main suppliers of the North Oropuche Watershed Basin, a once protected and major feed station for the supply of safe drinking water for Arima/ Sangre Grande and environs.
Quarrying is seriously environmentally destructive and there used to be some mitigation measures required, such as that all top-soil was to be saved and re-spread on the denuded area after quarrying stopped at that site, thereby allowing some vegetation re-growth and in some small measure, reducing flooding.
That silt traps are built etc. The mitigation measures used to cost only a fraction of what the quarry operators earn from the quarry. Today there are no enforced regulations.
The largest quarry owners are also the largest road paving companies in this country. They receive billions worth of road paving contracts annually, and are alleged to be major contributors of campaign funding on all sides of the political spectrum. This PNM removed quarries from the Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) Designated Activities Order in January 2009, so that quarries are now free to operate without EMA regulation.
Road works however, still need a CEC.
But now, the Environmental Commission, like the Integrity Commission, is in-operable. Better must be done considering the importance of the Judicial process in a democracy. Of course the President is the man who takes some of the blame, since the EM Act states at Sect 82 (2) that the chairman and deputy chairman of the Commission "shall be appointed by the President." But who appoints the other Commissioners? Where is the Minister of the Environment?
As an arm of the Judiciary, and with all of the incumbent remedies of the High Court, these appointments should be influenced by the Chief Justice, but are not. Is it not a conflict of interest that the appointment of the Environment Commission comes under the jurisdiction of the President and Minister of the Environment and not the Chief Justice?
Is it influenced, accidental or deliberate that the Environment Commission and its court has been left to languish by the failure to appoint the Environment Commissioners?
It is evident that our Prime Minister and Cabinet have no apparent interest in preserving our natural and sustainable water sheds so that billions can instead be made by privately owned energy guzzling and polluting desalination facilities while the environment is left neglected and our water tables are destroyed for all time?
What is to happen to the matters now before the environmental court? Such chaotic delay, where is the President, busy selecting his Carnival costume?
FFOS call on the President and Prime Minister to publicly discuss and find remedies to this crisis without further delay.
Why the silence? Have the positions been advertised? Have the appointments been reviewed or vetoed?
Have all candidates refused the post? Is the quarry lobby influencing this delay?
After all, a politically appointed Environment Court is still better than no Court at all.
One must wonder about 2020 vision if public office is serving private interests.
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea, FFOS.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , Hugo Chávez:
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, Excellencies, friends, I promise that I will not talk more than most have spoken this afternoon. Allow me an initial comment which I would have liked to make as part of the previous point which was expressed by the delegations of Brazil , China , India , and Bolivia . We were there asking to speak but it was not possible. Bolivia 's representative said, my salute of course to Comrade President Evo Morales, who is there, President of the Republic of Bolivia .
She said among other things the following, I noted it here, she said the text presented is not democratic, it is not inclusive.
I had hardly arrived and we were just sitting down when we heard the president of the previous session, the minister, saying that a document came about, but nobody knows, I've asked for the document, but we still don’t have it, I think nobody knows of that top secret document.
Now certainly, as the Bolivian comrade said, that is not democratic, it is not inclusive. Now, ladies and gentlemen, isn’t that just the reality of the world?
Are we in a democratic world? Is the global system inclusive? Can we hope for something democratic, inclusive from the current global system?
What we are experiencing on this planet is an imperial dictatorship, and from here we continue denouncing it. Down with imperial dictatorship! And long live the people and democracy and equality on this planet!
And what we see here is a reflection of this: Exclusion.
There is a group of countries that consider themselves superior to us in the South, to us in the Third World, to us, the underdeveloped countries, or as a great friend Eduardo Galeano says, we, the crushed countries, as if a train ran over us in history.
In light of this, it’s no surprise that there is no democracy in the world and here we are again faced with powerful evidence of global imperial dictatorship. Then two youths got up here, fortunately the enforcement officials were decent, some push around, and they collaborated right? There are many people outside, you know? Of course, they do not fit in this room, they are too many people. I've read in the news that there were some arrests, some intense protests, there in the streets of Copenhagen , and I salute all those people out there, most of them youth.
Of course young people are concerned, I think rightly much more than we are, for the future of the world. We have - most of us here - the sun on our backs, and they have to face the sun and are very worried.
One could say, Mr. President, that a spectre is haunting Copenhagen, to paraphrase Karl Marx, the great Karl Marx, a spectre is haunting the streets of Copenhagen, and I think that spectre walks silently through this room, walking around among us, through the halls, out below, it rises, this spectre is a terrible spectre almost nobody wants to mention it: Capitalism is the spectre, almost nobody wants to mention it.
It’s capitalism, the people roar, out there, hear them.
I have been reading some of the slogans painted on the streets, and I think those slogans of these youngsters, some of which I heard when I was young, and of the young woman there, two of which I noted. You can hear among others, two powerful slogans. One: Don’t change the climate, change the system.
And I take it onboard for us. Let’s not change the climate, let’s change the system! And consequently we will begin to save the planet. Capitalism is a destructive development model that is putting an end to life; it threatens to put a definitive end to the human species.
And another slogan calls for reflection. It is very in tune with the banking crisis that swept the world and still affects it, and of how the rich northern countries gave aid to bankers and the big banks. The U.S. alone gave, well, I lost the figure, but it is astronomical, to save the banks. They say in the streets the following: If the climate were a bank it would have been saved already.
And I think that's true. If the climate were one of the biggest capitalist banks, the rich governments would have saved it.
I think Obama has not arrived. He received the Nobel Peace Prize almost the same day that he sent 30 thousand soldiers to kill more innocents in Afghanistan , and now he comes to stand here with the Nobel Peace Prize, the president of the United States .
But the United States has the machinery to make money, to make dollars, and has saved, well, they believe they have saved the banks and the capitalist system.
Well, this is a side comment that I wanted to make previously. We were raising our hand to accompany Brazil , India , Bolivia , China , in their interesting position that Venezuela and the countries of the Bolivarian Alliance firmly share. But hey, they didn’t let us speak, so do not count these minutes please, Mr. President.
Look, over there I met, I had the pleasure of meeting this French author Hervé Kempf. Recommending this book, I recommend it, it is available in Spanish – there is Hervé - its also in French, and surely in English, How the Rich are Destroying the Planet. Hervé Kempf: How the Rich are Destroying the Planet. This is what Christ said: it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. This is what our lord Christ said.
The rich are destroying the planet. Do they think the can go to another when they destroy this one? Do they have plans to go to another planet? So far there is none on the horizon of the galaxy.
This book has just reached me, Ignacio Ramonet gave it to me, and he is also around somewhere in this room. Finishing the prologue or the preamble this phrase is very important, Kempf says the following, I’ll read it:
“We can not reduce global material consumption if we don’t make the powerful go down several levels, and if we don’t combat inequality. It is necessary that to the ecological principle that is so useful at the time of becoming conscious, ‘think globally and act locally,’ we add the principle that the situation imposes: ‘Consume less and share better.’”
I think it is good advice that this French author Hervé Kempf gives us.
Well then, Mr. President, climate change is undoubtedly the most devastating environmental problem of this century. Floods, droughts, severe storms, hurricanes, melting ice caps, rise in mean sea levels, ocean acidification and heat waves, all of that sharpens the impact of global crisis besetting us.
Current human activity exceeds the threshold of sustainability, endangering life on the planet, but also in this we are profoundly unequal.
I want to recall: the 500 million richest people, 500 million, this is seven percent, seven percent, seven percent of the world’s population. This seven percent is responsible, these 500 million richest people are responsible for 50 percent of emissions, while the poorest 50 percent accounts for only seven percent of emissions.
So it strikes me as a bit strange to put the United States and China at the same level. The United States has just, well; it will soon reach 300 million people. China has nearly five times the U.S. population. The United Status consumes more than 20 million barrels of oil a day, China only reaches 5-6 million barrels a day, you can’t ask the same of the United States and China .
There are issues to discuss, hopefully we the heads of states and governments can sit down and discuss the truth, the truth about these issues.
So, Mr. President, 60 percent of the planet’s ecosystems are damaged, 20 percent of the earth's crust is degraded, we have been impassive witnesses to deforestation, land conversion, desertification, deterioration of fresh water systems, overexploitation of marine resources, pollution and loss of biodiversity.
The overuse of the land exceeds by 30 percent the capacity to regenerate it. The planet is losing what the technicians call the ability to regulate itself; the planet is losing this. Every day more waste than can be processed is released. The survival of our species hammers in the consciousness of humanity. Despite the urgency, it has taken two years of negotiations for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, and we attend this event without any real and meaningful agreement.
And indeed, on the text that comes from out of the blue, as some have called it, Venezuela says, and the ALBA countries, the Bolivarian Alliance say that we will not accept, since then we’ve said it, any other texts that do not come from working groups under the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention. They are the legitimate texts that we have been discussing so intensely over the years.
And in these last few hours, I believe you have not slept, plus you have not eaten, you have not slept. It does not seem logical to me to come out now with a document from scratch, as you say.
The scientifically substantiated objective of reducing the emission of polluting gases and achieving an agreement on long-term cooperation clearly, today at this time, has apparently failed, for now.
What is the reason? We have no doubt.
The reason is the irresponsible attitude and lack of political will from the most powerful nations on the planet. No one should feel offended, I recall the great José Gervasio Artigas when he said: “With the truth, I neither offend nor fear.” But it is actually an irresponsible attitude of positions, of reversals, of exclusions, of elitist management of a problem that belongs to everyone and that we can only solve together.
The political conservatism and selfishness of the largest consumers, of the richest countries shows high insensitivity and lack of solidarity with the poor, the hungry, and the most vulnerable to disease, to natural disasters. Mr. President, a new and single agreement is essential, applicable to absolutely unequal parties, according to the magnitude of their contributions and economic, financial and technological capabilities and based on unconditional respect for the principles contained in the Convention.
Developed countries should set binding, clear and concrete commitments for the substantial reduction of their emissions and assume obligations of financial and technological assistance to poor countries to cope with the destructive dangers of climate change. In this respect, the uniqueness of island states and least developed countries should be fully recognized.
Mr. President, climate change is not the only problem facing humanity today. Other scourges and injustices beset us, the gap between rich and poor countries has continued to grow, despite all the millennium goals, the Monterrey financing summit, at all these summits as the President of Senegal said here, revealing a great truth, there are promises and unfulfilled promises and the world continues its destructive march.
The total income of the 500 richest individuals in the world is greater than the income of the 416 million poorest people. The 2.8 billion people living in poverty on less than $2 per day, representing 40 per percent of the global population, receive only 5 percent of world income.
Today each year about 9.2 million children die before reaching their fifth year and 99.9 percent of these deaths occur in poorer countries.
Infant mortality is 47 deaths per thousand live births, but is only 5 per thousand in rich countries. Life expectancy on the planet is 67 years, in rich countries it is 79, while in some poor nations is only 40 years.
Additionally, there are 1.1 billion people without access to drinking water, 2.6 billion without sanitation services, over 800 million illiterate and 1.02 billion hungry people, that’s the global scenario.
Now the cause, what is the cause?
Let’s talk about the cause, let’s not evade responsibilities, and let’s not evade the depth of this problem. The cause, undoubtedly, I return to the theme of this whole disastrous panorama, is the destructive metabolic system of capital and its embodied model: Capitalism.
Here’s a quote that I want to read briefly, from that great liberation theologian Leonardo Boff, as we know a Brazilian, our American. Leonardo Boff says on this subject as follows:
“What is the cause? Ah, the cause is the dream of seeking happiness through material accumulation and of endless progress, using for this science and technology with which they can exploit without limits all the resources of the earth.”
And he cites here Charles Darwin and his “natural selection”, the survival of the fittest, but we know that the strongest survive over the ashes of the weakest.
Jean Jacques Rousseau, we must always remember, said that between the strong and the weak, freedom is oppressed. That’s why the Empire speaks of freedom; it’s the freedom to oppress, to invade, to kill, to annihilate, and to exploit. That is their freedom, and Rousseau adds this saving phrase: “Only the law liberates.”
There are countries that are hoping that no document comes out of here precisely because they do not want a law, do not want a standard, because the absence of these norms allows them to play at their exploitative freedom, their crushing freedom.
We must make an effort and pressure here and in the streets, so that a commitment comes out of here, a document that commits the most powerful countries on earth.
Well, Mr. President, Leonardo Boff asks... Have you met Boff? I do not know whether Leonardo might come, I met him recently in Paraguay , we’ve always read him.
Can a finite earth support an infinite project? The thesis of capitalism, infinite development, is a destructive pattern, let’s face it.
Then Boff asks us, what might we expect from Copenhagen ? At least this simple confession: We can not continue like this. And a simple proposition: Let’s change course. Let's do it, but without cynicism, without lies, without double agendas, no documents out of the blue, with the truth out in the open.
How long, we ask from Venezuela , Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, how long are we going to allow such injustices and inequalities? How long are we going to tolerate the current international economic order and prevailing market mechanisms? How long are we going to allow huge epidemics like HIV/AIDS to ravage entire populations? How long are we going to allow the hungry to not eat or to be able to feed their own children? How long are we going to allow millions of children to die from curable diseases? How long will we allow armed conflicts to massacre millions of innocent human beings in order for the powerful to seize the resources of other peoples?
Cease the aggressions and the wars! We the peoples of the world ask of the empires, to those who try to continue dominating the world and exploiting us.
No more imperial military bases or military coups! Let’s build a more just and equitable economic and social order, let’s eradicate poverty, let’s immediately stop the high emission levels, let’s stop environmental degradation and avoid the great catastrophe of climate change, let’s integrate ourselves into the noble goal of everyone being more free and united.
Mr. President, almost two centuries ago, a universal Venezuelan, a liberator of nations and precursor of consciences left to posterity a full-willed maxim: “If nature opposes us, let’s fight against it and make it obey us.” That was Simón Bolívar, the Liberator.
From Bolivarian Venezuela, where a day like today some ten years ago, ten years exactly, we experienced the biggest climate tragedy in our history (the Vargas tragedy it is called), from this Venezuela whose revolution tries to win justice for all people, we say it is only possible through the path of socialism!
Socialism, the other spectre Karl Marx spoke about, which walks here too, rather it is like a counter-spectre. Socialism, this is the direction, this is the path to save the planet, I don’t have the least doubt. Capitalism is the road to hell, to the destruction of the world. We say this from Venezuela , which because of socialism faces threats from the U.S. Empire.
From the countries that comprise ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance, we call, and I want to, with respect, but from my soul, call in the name of many on this planet, we say to governments and peoples of the Earth, to paraphrase Simón Bolívar, the Liberator: If the destructive nature of capitalism opposes us, let’s fight against it and make it obey us, let’s not wait idly by for the death of humanity.
History calls on us to unite and to fight.
If capitalism resists, we are obliged to take up a battle against capitalism and open the way for the salvation of the human species. It’s up to us, raising the banners of Christ, Mohammed, equality, love, justice, humanity, the true and most profound humanism. If we don’t do it, the most wonderful creation of the universe, the human being, will disappear, it will disappear.
This planet is billions of years old, and this planet existed for billions of years without us, the human species, i.e. it doesn’t need us to exist. Now, without the Earth we will not exist, and we are destroying Pachamama as Evo says, as our indigenous brothers from South America say.
Finally, Mr. President, and to finish, let’s listen to Fidel Castro when he said: “One species is in danger of extinction: Humanity.”
Let’s listen to Rosa Luxemburg when she said: “Socialism or Barbarism.”
Let us listen to Christ the Redeemer when he said: “Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, we are capable of not making this Earth the tomb of humanity. Let us make this earth a heaven, a heaven of life, of peace, peace and brotherhood for all humanity, for the human species.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much and enjoy your meal.
Translated by Kiraz Janicke for Venezuelanalysis.com
Friday, December 18, 2009
The truth is out. The true terrorist on the planet is not Osama bin Laden, waging the war of his life to protect Islamic space. It is not Fidel Castro, who has fought to protect his people, the planet, from capitalist consumerism and consumption, who tore down the United Fruit Co., to plant forests. It is not Hugo Chavez who stopped destructive trawling in the Gulf of Paria and gave hundreds of boat engines to the pueblos. It is not nuclear unarmed Iran, struggling against the snarls of Western Europe and the US who own tens of thousands of nuclear warheads.
The true terrorists of the planet are at the global climate talks in Copenhagen. And when Lumumba Di-Aping the head of the G77 plus China, representing the interests of 136 developing nations, realised who were the true historical terrorists of the planet, he walked out. It is these denizens of global terror-the ones who seized the space of the New World peoples, for example, killing millions, destroying their ideologies and practices of sustainability- with their military and industrial camps across the planet, sworn to consumption and consumerism, who have seized the throat of the climate talks.
And the top notch guy of this agenda of terror is Obama. In one week he accepted a Nobel Prize which he agreed he didn’t deserve; threatened a war with Iran after having spread a dirty war to Pakistan; enriched America consumerism with 30,000 troops in Afghanistan; promised less than eight per cent cuts in carbon emissions while the planet wants to promise between 25 per cent and 40 per cent.
The 60,000 activists on the streets of Copenhagen have a historical duty. As Obama and his posse arrive in Copenhagen, these anti-terrorists must Drummit to the Summit. As for our Prime Minister? We know what side he is on.Wayne Kublalsingh
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
"If Seattle was the coming out party, this should be the coming of age party", Klein told the Klimaforum09 last night
The Copenhagen deal may turn into the worst kind of disaster capitalism, Naomi Klein said last night. In her speech to Klimaforum 09 the "people's summit" she told the thousand or so campaigners and activists that this was a chance to carry on building the new convergence, the movement of movements that began "all those years ago in Seattle, fighting against the privatisation of life itself". Here was an opportunity to "continue the conversation that was so rudely interrupted by 9/11".
Speaking at Klimaforum09's opening ceremony in Copenhagen Naomi Klein told the audience: 'Let's not restrict ourselves to polite marches and formulaic panel discussions.' (Photograph: Mark Knudsen/Klimaforum09)
"Down the road at the Bella Centre [where delegates are meeting] there is the worst case of disaster capitalism that we have ever witnessed. We know that what is being proposed in the Bella Centre doesn't even come close to the deal that is needed. We know the paltr emissions cuts that Obama has proposed; they're insulting. We're the ones who created this crisis... on the basic historical principle of polluters pays, we should pay."
Around the city, opening events were kicking off a fortnight of negotiations, debate and protest. In the morning Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the IPCC, and Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the prime minister of Denmark, opened the conference with a plea for action.
Later, in the centre of town special UN envoy Gro Harlem Brundtland and climate change UN chief Yvo de Boer declared the heavily branded Hopenhagen open, as a globe bearing a large Siemens logos was illuminated. The popular Danish band Nephew kicked off (to bigger cheers than Brundtland or de Boer).
And in the evening Klein joined with Henry Saragih, the general convenor of the Via Campesina movement, and international Friends of the Earth chair Nnimmo Bassey, to declare Klimaforum09 the "real event in Copenhagen".
Saragih called for food sovereignty - greater power for small farmers - and said that changes to agricultural practices could reduce carbon emissions by up to 50%.
Bassey said that crude oil only appeared cheap because we do not pay the true price, and told the audience; "Leave the oil in the soil, leave the coal in the hole, leave the tarsand in the land". And Klein finished up:
We have to be the lie detectors here. Let's not restrict ourselves to polite marches and formulaic panel discussions. If Seattle was the coming out party, this should be the coming of age party. And, as a friend of mine called John Jordan says, I hope that we have grown up to be even more disobedient. Why are thousands of us burning fossil fuels to get here? Because we have to build a global mass movement that will not allow leaders to get away with what they are trying to get away with. Think of it as the mother of all carbon offsets.
Reproduced from Guardian News and Media Limited