Sunday, September 9, 2007

APEC: The Sydney Declaration a Climate Distraction

While thousands of people protested in the streets of Sydney about the war in Iraq, climate change, and civil liberties, the 21 APEC leaders made a fashion statement on the steps of the Opera House, before meeting inside and signing the Sydney Declaration - a statement on climate change, that is being widely criticised by environmentalists and climate activists.

According to details from a draft of the declaration being widely circulated by the media, the APEC wide regional aspirational goal is to reduce energy intensity by at least 25 percent by 2030 from the 2005 level, and set an APEC-wide regional goal of increasing forest cover in the region by 20 million hectares by 2020.

About the Sydney declaration Australian Prime Minister Howard said "Firstly the need for a long-term aspirational global emissions reduction goal, and that is enshrined in the Sydney Declaration," he said. "Secondly the need for all nations, no matter what their stage of development, to contribute according to their own capacities and their own circumstances to reducing greenhouse gases."

Prime Minister John Howard and US President George Bush will play up the Sydney Declaration as a win for combatting climate change but Howard has already been effectively contradicted by his own foreign minister Alexander Downer. In April 2007, Alexander Downer told an APEC lecture in Melbourne that aspirational targets are a "political stunt" and "not a real target at all".

"I think you have to face up to the fact that, within the APEC group, there are Economies… that believe in setting CO2 emission targets, by particular dates. Some of them, of course, are just aspirational targets: which is code for “a political stunt”. An aspirational target is not a real target at all.” said Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer at the Monash APEC lecture.

Greenpeace spokeperson Catherine Fitzpatrick said "If this statement is the platform we build future climate change action on, the world is in trouble," she said. "Because this is a statement with no recognition of binding targets, it has no targets for the future. Without binding targets for developed countries, it's little more than a political stunt by the prime minister."

Executive Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Don Henry, told the Herald Sun "Today's declaration does not advance global discussions on climate change. History shows vague aspirational goals do not lead to reductions in greenhouse emissions. The Kyoto Protocol was established precisely because the aspirational targets of the early 90s failed to stop the spiralling rise in global emissions."

Australia and the USA are the only two developed nations who have not signed the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement on reducing emissions to the year 2012.

The Chinese President, Mr Hu in a speech on September 7 called on countries to uphold the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, calling them "the core mechanism and main avenue of co-operation" for tackling climate change.

Developing nations were determined not to sign up to a specific goal on emissions, especially when Australia and the USA, the two biggest greenhouse gas polluters on a per capita basis, had not signed up for the Kyoto targets.

The Governments of the USA and Australia do not want to work within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) framework after Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, and are actively undermining any such agreement that follows on using this framework. The next meeting of the United Nations Climate Change Conference is in Bali, 3 - 14 December 2007.

Source:

* Alexander Downer, 19 April 2007, Monash APEC lecture (PDF)
* Greenpeace Sept 6, 2007, Downer admits aspirational goals “political stunt”
* Melbourne Herald Sun, Sept 8, 2007, Greenpeace slams APEC climate pact
* ABC Online Sept 8, 2007, Leaders wear Driza-Bones for APEC photo

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Online Petition sites join to Demand Climate Targets from APEC

Online social justice petition sites Get up! and Avaaz have launched a joint campaign demanding Real climate targets from leaders attending the APEC 2007 forum in Sydney this week. The sites have set a task of 100,000 online signatures on a petition to be presented to APEC leaders.

They have also encouraged site visitors to download a climate target logo: draw it, paint it, or print it, or "get creative--paint it on the side of your house, carve it into a snowbank or a beach, or get friends together and make a human target in a park" then photograph it and upload the photo to the GetUp! or Avaaz sites. The first wave of photos will be shown at a press conference in Sydney this Wednesday 5th September.

Prime Minister John Howard is intent on subsidising his mates in the coal industry through massive investment in clean coal technologies and geo-sequestration of CO2 (both still under research and development) while expanding the mining, use and export of coal. The Howard Government is also intent on pushing nuclear power as a method of reducing climate impacts despite the heavy capitalisation cost in starting such an industry and the dangers in processing, operation and waste management in the nuclear industry. Meanwhile research, development and installation of renewable energy systems has been starved of Government capital investment for at least 30 years.

Climate change and its effects and unfriendly nuclear proliferation are now at the top of opinion polls, according to a Lowy Institute poll reported on in the Australian.

So if you can't make the protests in Sydney this week, spend a few minutes and join this online campaign to demand firm climate targets from the leaders meeting at APEC in Sydney.
Email to Avaaz subscribers

This weekend, leaders of 21 nations--responsible for half the world's greenhouse gases--will meet at the APEC summit in Australia. Climate change tops their agenda. But according to leaks, a growing number around US President Bush and Australia's John Howard want to ditch the binding global targets needed to avert catastrophic climate change, and replace them with empty rhetoric about "aspirational goals" and voluntary action.



The global climate movement has built up tremendous energy this year--we mustn't let the cynics hijack our campaign and turn it into hot air. We need to make sure the Asia-Pacific leaders, and the 1100 journalists covering the summit, can't ignore the world's call for binding targets. To grab their attention, let's create a spectacular photo petition of "target" images all over the world--we already have "target ceremonies" planned at the Great Barrier Reef, Patagonia, Palau, and many more! Submitting your own target photo is easy and fun--click here to learn how:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/apec/b.php

* To contribute, you can just draw a target--a dot with circles around it--on the palm of your hand, and snap a photo with your cell phone,
* You could print the special target logo from our website, and take a picture of yourself holding it up as a sign,
* Or get creative--paint it on the side of your house, carve it into a snowbank or a beach, or get friends together and make a human target in a park.

Once you have your picture, click through to our website at this link to send it to Avaaz-- it will pop up in our global photo map right away. We'll also show the first wave of photos at a big press conference in Sydney this Wednesday 5th September, so there's no time to spare!

We'll also deliver the biggest global petition for binding climate targets--we can use the "targets" spectacle to amplify our efforts. Avaaz has worked with Australian allies at GetUp to plan a stunning series of target ceremonies--including a 144 square-metre target banner that swimmers will float over the Great Barrier Reef. (If climate change is not reined in, the Reef will be extinct by 2030. Its caretakers are excited to help keep it alive!) These powerful images will join the photos contributed by the rest of us around the world, to send an unmistakable, global call to action.

We want to make sure the leaders gathering in Australia see targets on the news as they go to sleep, and in the newspapers when they wake up. So click here to see all the targets that have been sent in so far, and to send in your own:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/apec/b.php

Last week, after international campaigners revealed prime minister Howard's plans to junk real targets at APEC (the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit), Australia's main opposition party took up the rallying cry. Howard is set to call an election shortly after the summit. By focusing public attention on this issue, we can multiply the pressure on him and other leaders in the "Axis of Global Warming"--and strengthen the hands of those leaders who support the right policies, from New Zealand to Chile and the Philippines. Most of all, we can try to pin down those wavering leaders in the middle, unsure which way to decide. Every leader must answer: do they support global, binding targets? Or are they full of hot air and voluntary "aspirations"?

The APEC summit is the first of a string of critical meetings this fall, leading up to a major conference in Bali, Indonesia where work will begin on the next Kyoto Protocol. What happens in Australia will shape everything that comes after. And because of the worldwide movement that hundreds of thousands of Avaaz members have driven forward--from the G8 to Live Earth--we now have a real chance to shape what happens in Sydney.

The world needs binding global targets to stop climate catastrophe. Let's join together, demand action, and aim high -

With hope,
Ben, Ricken, Iain, Graziela, Galit, Paul, and the Avaaz team

Monday, September 3, 2007

APEC Climate Change protest shuts down Victorian Coal Power Station


Activists have shut down power generation at the Loy Yang power station in Gippsland's Latrobe Valley on Monday morning for five hours, as a protest against inaction on climate change by the Australian Government of John Howard, and policies that maintain the coal power industry and its contribution to climate change.

At least four activists from Real Action on Climate Change entered the power station at 5am and locked themselves on to a coal conveyor and an overburden conveyor belt, forcing the shutdown of the 600 megawatt generator, halving production from Victoria's biggest coal fired power station that supplies 30% of the states power, the dirtiest power supply in the developed world. (Watch Video)

Another power unit at Loy Yang is out for maintenance and today's forced shutdown has dropped power output to half. The electricity price in Victoria has risen to $63 because of the action and is expected to cost the operators thousands of dollars in lost production.

Spokeperson Michaela Stubbs said the action was intended to send a message to APEC leaders meeting in Sydney this week.

"We're already seeing the effects of climate change and it's our generation and future generations that are going to be dealing with the long term consequences of climate change," she said in an ABC new report. "We need to see real action now, through the Kyoto process."

The Group say they are making a stand for all Australians to protect our community against the dangers of climate change. The group says the APEC meeting is being used to further the lies and deciet being spread by Prime Minister Howard in regards to the Climate Change issue and his continuing efforts to undermine the Kyoto Protocol. A group spokesperson said that Climate Change ends with leaving coal in the ground.

"It is people of our age, our generation who will be dealing with the long-term consequences of climate change. We need real action on climate change to stop our reliance on polluting forms of energy such as coal and move towards a renewable energy future." said spokesperson Michaela Stubbs. "Real action on climate change is about people power not coal power" said Michaela Stubbs.

Police Search and Rescue squad were forced to cut the activists free from the conveyor belts, and they have been taken to Traralgon police station.

Sources:

* Beyond Zero Emissions Media Release Sept 3, 207 - Protesters block coal supply to Loy Yang Power station
* Scoop Sept 3, 2007 - Real Action: People Power, Not Coal Power
* ABC online, Sept 3, 2007 - Climate protest shuts down power station
* ABC online, Sept 3, 2007 - Michaela Stubbs on ABC Radio 774 (MP3)
* Blog, Sept 3, 2007 - Real Action on Climate Change for account of action and photos
* Climate IMC, 3 Sept 2007 This is real action on climate change
* Engagemedia.org Sept 5, 2007 APEC Climate Action at Loy Yang Power Station (Video)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Australia: Greenpeace activists arrested at APEC coal protest

Twelve Greenpeace activists have been arrested at the world's biggest coal port at Newcastle, 160km north of Sydney, after painting the message "Australia Pushing Export Coal" on the side of a coal ship, The Endeavour, and unfurling a large banner in Chinese calling on China to be cautious of John Howard and George Bush’s attempts to sabotage Kyoto. The protest comes at the start of the 2007 APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) forum meeting being hosted by Australian Prime Minister John Howard in Sydney 2-9 September 2007, and being attended by USA President George Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Hu Jintao and other Pacific rim leaders.



Photo: Newcastle, Sunday 2nd September 2007. Greenpeace activists enter the world's biggest coal port at Newcastle and paint the message "Australia Pushing Export Coal" on the side of a coal ship.The message was part of a peaceful protest to expose the Howard Government's real APEC agenda: to protect Australia's coal export industry by undermining the Kyoto Protocol. (c) Greenpeace/Morris.

The protest was enacted at dawn on Sunday September 2 to highlight the Australian Government's real APEC agenda: to protect Australia's coal export industry by undermining the Kyoto Protocol. The message was painted in two metre high letters to highlight to the world that Australia's addiction to coal is behind its spoiler role in international negotiations on climate change. According to Greenpeace, the message exposes the Howard Government’s real APEC agenda: to protect Australia’s coal export industry by undermining the Kyoto Protocol.

"Australia’s climate policy is to ‘Push Export Coal’ and to hell with the consequences for the planet," said Ben Pearson, Greenpeace energy campaigner.

"Real action on climate change means moving away from coal and shifting to clean, renewable energy – and we don’t have the luxury of time for expensive talkfests that have no concrete outcomes. Like any dealer protecting its patch, Australia’s government under John Howard is blatantly ignoring global efforts to extend and strengthen Kyoto, the only internationally binding agreement to deal with climate change – and pushing instead a hopelessly vague distraction through APEC.”

More than four million tonnes of coal will be exported from Newcastle during APEC, resulting in over 11 million tonnes of CO2 emissions – equivalent to the annual emissions from 800,000 average Australian households, according to Greenpeace. Factoring in the costs of climate change impacts, as detailed in the Stern Review, Australia’s coal exports will result in more than $1.2 billion of damage during the APEC week alone, and $64 billion annually, Greenpeace calculated.

Newcastle, already the world's largest coal port, is set for a major expansion to double its capacity for exporting coal.

"At a time when we need to see deep reductions in greenhouse gases, Australia is not only refusing to act, but is also increasing the greenhouse pollution it exports to the rest of the world. Australia’s climate policy is to protect coal exports at the expense of the climate rather than make the switch to renewable energy and improved energy efficiency measures we know we need to make." explained Ben Pearson, Greenpeace Australia energy campaigner.

Under a new police powers Act protesters arrested durng the summit week will have a presumption against bail. Police from Sydney travelled to Newcastle to discuss charges against the Greenpeace activists, but no action was taken under the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Act 2007. Eleven activists were charged with malicious damage and a twelfth with dangerous navigation: all were released on bail later in the day.

The APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Act 2007 came into force on August 30 and remain valid to September 12, 2007. It includes a list of people the police can exclude from the city centre, plus expanded powers of stop, search and detention, and confiscation of items from people. APEC signals the rise of military urbanism in Australia.

NSW Police Minister David Campbell has said that antiwar demonstrators and anyone else considered "suspicious" will be arrested and detained without bail for the duration of the September 6-9 summit. People on the 'excluded list' will be denied access to restricted zones, without any recourse or avenue of appeal. The Daily Telegraph has already published a list of 29 people with their photos allegedly on this list. The measures in this Act amount to a new form of detention without trial, and constitute a direct attack on freedom of political expression and movement, aimed at outlawing dissent and stifling opposition to the APEC meeting.

Much of the northern CBD of Sydney will be contained by a nine foot high concrete and wire security fence, dubbed unofficially the Great Wall of APEC.

The coal ship, The Endeavour, sailed out of Newcastle at 11.30am Sunday local time, with the painted message already removed.

Sources:

* Greenpeace Australia Media Release Sept 2, 2007 - Howard’s real APEC agenda spelled out in coal protest
* Daily Telegraph Sept 2, 2007 - APEC arrests begin with Greenpeace protest
* Sydney Morning Herald August 30, 2007 - Police get special APEC powers
* WSWS.org May 21, 2007 - Australia: Police-state measures for APEC summit in Sydney