Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mildura Solar Power Plant languishes while Coal CCS technology gets funding

Switch on Renewables

About 50 people attended a rally Saturday 23 January 2010 on the Victorian parliament house steps to Save Solar Systems and build the Mildura Solar Thermal Power Plant.

Adam Bandt from the Greens told the crowd that the Federal Government had allocated $400 million in the 2008/2009 budget to the unproven technology of carbon capture and storage, "while you have proven solar technology happening right here in Abottsford that doesn't get a cent, you've got carbon capture and storage getting $400 million of which $150 million has already gone to pilot projects in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland." he said in his speech (Photo and Transcript). Adam Bandt is the Greens candidate for the Federal seat of Melbourne held by Federal Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner.

Solar Systems pioneeed the solar technology of mirrored dishes that concentrate light on a central panel of high-quality photovoltaic material. Due to the pressure of the financial crisis the company went into voluntary administration in September 2009. The Federal and Victorian Government promised $125million in 2006 in total funding for the project, of which only $2million-$3million has been paid.

The Mildura 154Mwh solar power plant would have powered 45,000 homes (the entire Mildura region) and saved 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas per year. Presently power for the Mildura region comes from the Latrobe Valley with a 15% loss in transmission.

The company completed a 140-kilowatt demonstration plant on time in October last year. A new production line was near completion at the companies Abbottsford factory capable of producing hundreds of solar receivers per week. Over 100 Solar Systems workers have already been made redundant. They are owed $4 million in entitlements. The remaining 43 employees are on leave without pay.

Solar Systems has also built functioning power systems in three remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, which saves about 420,000 litres of diesel and 1550 tonnes of greenhouse emissions each year. The future of these plants is in doubt if Solar Systems is liquidated.

Latest news indicates US-based Matinee Energy is one of a small number of companies negotiating for the purchase of Solar Systems assets. Matinee Energy has an address in Las Vegas, Nevada (Chairman: Mike Pannos) with its website being "under construction" and the domain registered by AMIstudios.com registered through VegasDomains.net.

Don't live in Melbourne or Victoria? Then sign the e-petition to the Australian Government.

More Information:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Climate and Himalayan Glaciers

The climate deniers are gloating again. Glaciergate! Glaciergate! they proclaim. Their outrage is directed against a single sentence in the 1000 page second report IPCC Fourth Assessment of 2007 which states that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035. The claim is attributed to a 2005 WWF report - not a scientific research report. In mid December 2009 scientists were already questioning the inclusion of the statement.

The actual entry all the halabaloo is about states:

"Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world ... the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005)."

Glaciologists in this mid December media background statement lead by Jeffrey S. Kargel from the University of Arizona - Satellite-era glacier changes in High Asia - have labelled it as a bad error. "It was a really bad paragraph, and poses a legitimate question about how to improve IPCC's review process. It was not a conspiracy. The error does not compromise the IPCC Fourth Assessment, which for the most part was well reviewed and is highly accurate."

Glaciers in the Himalayan region are complex, with many showing signs of retreat, some stagnant and a few showing signs of advancing. The presentation says:

"Many glaciers are rapidly retreating and in eastern Himalaya many glaciers will be much diminished in the next few decades, regardless of carbon emissions, aerosol emissions, and global warming trajectory. These glaciers are already out of equilibrium with existing climate due to late 20thCentury emissions. Further emissions increase disequilibrium."
"Some glaciers may undergo periods of comparative stabilization of length or even growth in mass. Long-term overall trends across South Asia indicate glacier retreat. Some may simultaneously retreat at low elevation and thicken at high elevation as more precipitation falls due to (1) increased evaporation of the warming sea, (2) shifting convergence of Indian monsoon and Westerlies, and (3) the Elevated Heat Pump. The EHP might shrink some glaciers, but might grow others in special topographic circum-stances. Influences of deposited soot/dust also appear important in shrinking glaciers."

"Too few observations of recent fluctuations constrain models of such a complex system, but the past 100 years suggests that the next 100 years will involve mainly retreat."


So how did the error occur?

It all started with a report on Himalayan Glaciology by Indian glaciologist Syed Hasnain of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi in January 1999 that was to be presented in July 1999 to the International Commission on Snow and Ice (ICSI). Fred Pearce, a science reporter with New Scientist magazine wrote a story published 5 June 1999 titled Flooded Out. In the story he quotes Hasnain "All the glaciers in the middle Himalayas are retreating," and reports that "Hasnain's four-year study indicates that all the glaciers in the central and eastern Himalayas could disappear by 2035 at their present rate of decline."

According to Fred Pearce in New Scientist, 11 January, 2010 - Debate heats up over IPCC melting glaciers claim - Hasnain "has never repeated the prediction in a peer-reviewed journal. He now says the comment was 'speculative'."

WWF picked up the 1999 New Scientist report and included it in a 2005 report on Himalayan Glaciers.

So should this error in the 2007 IPCC report invalidate the whole report? On the contrary, the report was a conservative statement which in many areas - such as sea level rise and the dynamics of polar ice sheet collapse - has underestimated the changes ocurring.

For more information:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Climate Justice Activists confront New York Carbon Trade Summit

Climate Justice activists protest carbon trading summit in New York The Second Annual Carbon Trade Summit was held on January 12-13th in New York City, bringing together representatives of some of the most polluting industries, industry associations, carbon financiers, banks, government officials and corporate "big greens." Participants included executives from JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Duke Energy, and many more. (See website)

By coincidence the Investor Summit on Climate Risk, a meeting of 450 global investors at the United Nations was held a day after the Carbon Traders Summit. See article - Greenwash: Investors push Governments for Cap and Trade Action

Climate SOS (www.climatesos.org) and Climate Pledge of Resistance (CPR for the Planet) and others gathered to protest this event. NASA climate scientist James Hansen delivered a letter to the chairman of the summit in which he said:

I am writing to warn you that carbon trading (also called cap-and-trade) will fail to stop climate change, resulting in a world that is increasingly dangerous and problematic for our children and grandchildren, yours and mine. There are many reasons that carbon trading will fail. The important reasons I've outlined for you in the enclosed essay, "The People vs. Cap-and-Trade" (Original PDF), which I've written to coincide with this summit. I ask that you act now to encourage discussion at the 2nd Annual Carbon Trading Summit to focus on policies that will actually have the effect of reducing carbon emissions, rather than false solutions that only distract from the policies that work. I've discussed some of these effective policies in the enclosed essay, especially addressing a fee-and-dividend (also called "carbon fee"), a flat tax on carbon with the proceeds distributed 100 percent to the public. These funds will allow the public to phase in low carbon technologies and life styles, stimulating the economy, allowing us to move to a clean energy future.

If you want the world to be safe and livable for your children, grandchildren, and many
generations to come, I suggest that you act now to support a carbon fee rather than carbon trading.


Speakers at the rally included Dea Goblirsch, organizer with Climate Ground Zero in southern West Virginia, Reverend Billy of the Church of Life After Shopping, who delivered a critique with the fire and brimstone of a televangelist; Chaia Heller, Professor of Gender Studies at Mount Holyoke College, and Father Paul Mayer, co-founder of the Climate Crisis Coalition and religious community leader.

"The same Wall Street bankers who gave us the global climate crisis are trying to own the sky," stated Brian Tokar, director of the Institute for Social Ecology and an organizer of this week's protest events. "Carbon trading is unjust, it will not work, and it is a false solution. It is a dangerous distraction from the urgent measures needed to prevent an ever-worsening destabilization of the climate."

Watch the video of the protest: some great speeches from Father Paul Maher and Brian Tokar. Goes for 25:18.



Read futher reports:


Sources


Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Greenwash: Investors push Governments for Cap and Trade Action

Australian, European and U.S. investor groups representing $13 trillion in assets said in a statement issued at a meeting at the UN in New York on Thursday "we cannot wait for a global treaty," They called on the U.S. Congress and other global decision-makers "to take rapid action" on carbon emission limits, energy efficiency, renewable energy, financing mechanisms and other policies that will accelerate clean energy investment and job creation.

Why the strong push from the Investment sector for Government Climate Action? It could be just altruism. But, as always the devil is in the detail. In this case, the push is for carbon trading - Emissions Trading Schemes like Kevin Rudd's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), often referred to as Cap and Trade.

I can understand that these people want the Government to set the rules for climate action and reducing carbon use - this gives the market predictability and stability for basing investment decisions on. But these same people have a vested interest in another financial market - the carbon market. It's another way for them to make money. All well and good, except if it fails, so does the prospects for avoiding dangerous climate change.



The meeting was the Investor Summit on Climate Risk, a meeting of 450 global investors at the United Nations that included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, United States Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, billionaire investor George Soros, and former Vice President Al Gore.

Australia was represented at the meeting by the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) which represents investors of over $500bn across all sectors of the Australian economy, including many retail and industry superannuation funds.

The meeting called for a legally-binding climate agreement this year with comprehensive long-term measures for mitigation, forest protection, adaptation, finance, and technology transfer, including a global emission reduction target of 50-85% by 2050, consistent with estimates from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"Investors are poised and ready to scale up investments in building the low carbon economy, but without policies that create a stable investment environment our hands are tied," said Anne Stausboll, chief executive officer of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), one of larghe largest public pension funds in the USA with more than $205 billion in assets. "U.S. leadership is critical in this regard, including U.S. Senate action to limit and put a price on carbon emissions."

"What investors need most from national and state legislatures are transparency, longevity and certainty," said Kevin Parker, global head of Deutsche Asset Management and member of Deutsche Bank's Group Executive Committee. "Until the U.S. Congress passes climate regulation, America will be at a competitive disadvantage in the development of renewable energy and other climate change industries."

Al Gore, in his speech, drew upon a report that Investment Managers Still Lagging in Response to Climate Change Risks and Opportunities, pointed out that the vast majority of the world's largest investment managers are not factoring climate-related trends into their short- and long-term investment decision-making,

On emission reductions, the statement said "We call on developed countries to establish emission reduction targets of 80-95% by 2050, with interim targets of 25-40% by 2020. Developing countries should have clear action plans that deliver measurable and verifiable emission reductions compared to projected levels."

The statement called for "national regulators worldwide, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, to require companies to disclose to their investors material climate-related risks and the programs in place to manage those risks."

Excellent stuff! But keep in mind most of the people at this summit are part of the financial and investment establishment. They have a vested interest in market based policies to establish a carbon price - in the Cap and Trade Emissions Trading Systems in place in Europe and proposed for the USA and Australia.

Their statement calls for "governments to put in place market-based policies to establish a carbon price that will signal that investments in carbon-intensive projects may yield lower returns, that new and established zero- or low-carbon technologies can be deployed profitably, and that investment in clean energy infrastructure will yield sound returns."

They "call on governments to support robust, transparent, well-governed markets that include mechanisms for directing private financial flows to low-carbon development in developed and developing countries."

Yet an emissions trading system has great dangers of rorting and not sufficiently encouraging investment to low carbon or carbon neutral projects. Stopping government fossil fuel subsidies should be a major priority, and placing a tax on carbon where it is produced, with subsidies to low carbon alternatives and dividends to the population should be considered.



Friends of the Earth UK prepared a report on carbon trading in November 2009 - 'A Dangerous Obsession (PDF)' - in which they outline that carbon trading could be the next 'sub-prime' crisis.

'A Dangerous Obsession' focuses on the buying and selling of a new artificial commodity - the right to emit carbon dioxide - which the UK and other developed country governments want to see expanded into a massive worldwide market.

According to FoE UK the trade in carbon permits and credits, mainly based in Europe, was worth $126 billion in 2008 and is predicted to balloon to $3.1 trillion by 2020 if a global carbon market takes off.

Releasing the report in November Friends of the Earth's international climate campaigner and author of the report Sarah Jayne-Clifton said: "Pushing a world carbon market as part of a global agreement to tackle climate change risks a double whammy of financial and environmental disaster.

"Carbon trading is failing dismally at reducing emissions, yet allows speculators to grow rich from the climate crisis and hands politicians and industry a get-out clause for polluting business as usual.

"Science tells us rich countries must act first and fast to cut their emissions at home if we are to avert climate catastrophe - and support poorer countries with adequate public money to grow cleanly and adapt to the effects of climate change which they are already feeling.

"The credit crunch has taught us that Governments, not markets are best placed to safeguard our future - at this critical point in the fight against climate change Ministers must step in and lead the way with a new, direct approach to tackling carbon emissions to create a safe and green future for us all."

So what will Australia's CPRS do? Emissions won't begin to fall until 2033, according to Treasury modelling. And the reason they will fall then is the 'predicted' introduction of 'clean coal' technology and import carbon permits from developing countries. Sounds pretty shonky to me. Climate greenwash!





Background



Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Arctic Oscillation, the Northern Hemisphere big freeze and Climate Denial



While Australia sizzles, much of Europe, North America, China and Asia has been subjected to snowstorms and freezing weather disrupting trade and transport with climate deniers chortling that global cooling is here. But further north - Eastern Siberia, Alaska, Northern Canada and Greenland, average winter temperatures are actually warmer - caused by the climate pattern known as the Arctic Oscillation.

The Arctic Oscilliation is a winter climate pattern in the Northern Hemisphere defined by difference in air pressure between mid latitude air pressure and the air pressure over the Arctic. When low pressure predominates in the Arctic, the winds confine the extremely cold air and the Arctic Oscillation is called positive. When the pressure system weakens, allowing the cold air to slide south and warmer air to gather in the Arctic, the Arctic Oscillation is said to be negative.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center "Over most of the past century, the Arctic Oscillation alternated between its positive and negative phases. Starting in the 1970s, however, the oscillation has tended to stay in the positive phase, causing lower than normal arctic air pressure and higher than normal temperatures in much of the United States and northern Eurasia."

Climate sceptic meteorologist Anthony Watts has written about Global cooling headed our way for the next 30 years? based upon the Daily Mail article - The mini ice age starts here - that put forward 'a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years'. The article is based upon their mis-interpretation of the research of prominent IPCC researcher Professor Mojib Latif.

Latif's team published research in the Journal Nature in 2008 regarding natural fluctuations in ocean temperature that could have a bigger impact on global temperature than expected. That cooling in the oceans could on occasion offset global warming. The scientists stressed that the research did not challenge the predicted long-term warming trend.

However Mojib Latif, Professor for Climate Physics at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University in Germany, told the Guardian newspaper - Leading climate scientist challenges Mail on Sunday's use of his research - that: "It comes as a surprise to me that people would try to use my statements to try to dispute the nature of global warming. I believe in manmade global warming. I have said that if my name was not Mojib Latif it would be global warming."

"The natural variation occurs side by side with the manmade warming. Sometimes it has a cooling effect and can offset this warming and other times it can accelerate it." Mojib Latif said.



Mojib Latif made a key presentation at the World Climate Conference 3, held in Geneva in September 2009 where he conjectured that it "may well happen that you enter a decade or maybe even two, when the temperature cools relative to the present level" but that "the jury is still out about the relative contribution of this internal variability". You can read Key excerpts from Mojib Latif's WCC presentation on Deep Climate. His remarks were reported and misrepresented by science journalists and particularly climate sceptics that we would actually see a decade or two of global cooling.

In an email published by Deep Climate Mojib Latif clarified "what I said is that the cooling in the Atlantic and Pacific may offsset global warming for a decade so that there may be not much of an additional warming. I showed a prediction that was published last year in the science magazine 'nature'."

"I also pointed out that the British group issued a competing forecast for the next decade. They predict that global warming will continue at the rate of the last decades. Thus, and I made this very clear, there is quite some uncertainty about the short-term evolution. Yet we all agree that in the long run, say by 2050 and thereafter, the earth will considerably warm, if we do not considerably reduce global greenhouse gas emissions."

Latif projects a likely average warming of 0.18C in the next decade, and 0.35C in the following decade as part of the overall warming trend - not a trend for cooling.

Meanwhile, we are likely to see further weather records broken in the deep freeze or the sizzling heat, part of weather variability, changing climate patterns and a long term global warming trend that scientists attribute to human caused CO2 emissions. Regions will continue to be affected to varying degrees by regional varying climate patterns like the Arctic Oscillation.

Sources


Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Australia's Climate is sizzling

South east Australia has just sizzled through another heatwave. Of course it is just weather which has a natural variability. One weather event can't be pinned down as the result of climate change. Climate change is about trends and averages. And the trend is its getting warmer, we're sizzling.

In Melbourne on Monday night the thermometer stayed well into the low thirties, finally reaching a minimum of 30.6 degrees at 8.50am on Tuesday, the equal highest overnight minimum on record, last seen on February 1, 1902. Record equaled.

The Bureau of Meteorology reported that 2009 was the nation's second warmest year since high-quality records began in 1910, with the decade being the warmest on record. Annual mean temperature for 2009 was 0.90°C above the 1961-90 average. It was noted that the second half of the year, with Australia, Victoria, South Australia and NSW all recording their warmest July-December periods on record.



The heatwaves in January and February 2009 set a new Melbourne maximum temperature record of 46.4°C, new State maximum temperature records for Victoria (48.8°C at Hopetoun) and Tasmania (42.2°C at Scamander), and contributed to the Black Saturday bushfires. It was also the warmest August on record. A heatwave during November across central and southeast Australia, lead to a record 8 consecutive days of maximum temperatures above 35°C in Adelaide, and numerous maximum temperature records across southern and eastern Australia, especially in South Australia and New South Wales.

South Australia is Cooking

The temperature is really cooking in South Australia with 2009 the warmest year on record with the mean temperature of 1.3°C above average for South Australia as a whole, since average temperatures records started in 1910. 2009 was the 17th consecutive year that above average temperatures has occurred.

In many locations around South Australia record warmest nights were recorded in 2009 when averaged across the year as a whole. For Adelaide it was the equal warmest year, along with 2007, with mean annual temperatures 1.3°C above average. For many inland locations across the state it was the warmest year on record.

A record breaking heat wave across South Australia in the first half of November 2009 with Adelaide experiencing 8 consecutive days in excess of 35°C from Sunday 8 November to Sunday 15 November. New November heatwave records were also set for many regional towns in South Australia. The heatwave has dried out much of the grasslands and bush exacerbating the fire danger with the extreme temperature conditions, low humidity and strong wind conditions. Catastrophic Fire Danger warning was issued for two regions.

Sources


Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Climate tipping point: Global Atmospheric Methane on the rise



The concentration of methane in the atmosphere is rising, according to measurements made by the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) at its Baring Head Station near Wellington.

Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas whose affect on climate is 21 times as strong as Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and is the second most important contributor to global warming behind carbon dioxide. It is produced naturally mainly by biological breakdown of organic substances in oxygen-deficient conditions, such as the digestive system of ruminant animals and the decay of plant material in swamps or landfills. It is also prevalent in fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas (which is mainly methane).

Measurements released in December 2009 from its globally significant Baring Head station showed that southern hemisphere atmospheric methane increased by 0.7% over the two-year period 2007-08. The increase amounted to about 35 times more than all the methane produced by New Zealand livestock each year.

"The evidence we have shows that methane in the atmosphere is now more than double what it ever was during the 800,000 years before 1700AD" said NIWA Principal Scientist, Dr Keith Lassey. This analysis is based on examination of ancient air trapped in polar ice that has been extracted and dated.

The rise in methane follows a three-year period of no growth, and accounts for more than half of the growth observed over the ten years 1999-2008 (1.2%). The data is consistent with global trends with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reporting that global methane concentrations rose in both 2007 and 2008 after a ten-year lull.



Image Caption from NIWA: "The atmospheric methane measured at Baring Head near Wellington since August 1989. The graph shows the methane mixing ratio in parts per billion (molecules of methane for every billion molecules of dried air). Methane concentrations grew strongly in the 1990s then tailed off. There was even a hint of declining concentrations (negative growth) for 2003-06. Growth resumed in 2007 and appears to be persisting."

The increase has been attributed to unusually high temperatures in the Arctic and heavy rains in the tropical forests especially in the Amazon and Indonesia, after a decade of near-zero growth. Burning of forests contributed about 20 percent of the total methane released into the atmosphere in 2007.

The increased tropical rainfall was at least partly a result of a La Nina weather pattern of 2007 and 2008. Other factors are at work include global growth in commercial livestock farming, mining of fossil fuels, leaks from urban gas networks, and continued burn-offs of tropical rainforest.

As yet global warming has not triggered release of massive trapped carbon in permafrost or methane hydrates on the seafloor to methane according to the NOAA study that said their observations "are not consistent with sustained changes there yet."
"The most likely drivers of the CH4 anomalies observed during 2007 and 2008 are anomalously high temperatures in the Arctic and greater than average precipitation in the tropics. Near-zero CH4 growth in the Arctic during 2008 suggests we have not yet activated strong climate feedbacks from permafrost and CH4 hydrates." says the study published in the Geophysical Research Letters.

But research continuing in the north of Russia led by Professor Igor Semiletov from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks indicates methane seepage is increasing "Methane release from the East Siberian Shelf is underway and it looks stronger than it was supposed [to be]," said Igor Semiletov in a BBC news report "It is important now to understand how fast it is being released and how much is being released," he said.

Release of these methane reserves is a major climate tipping point, that could have a runaway affect on global temperatures and climate. Global warming may cause Siberia's subsea permafrost to thaw. Estimates of carbon trapped in shelf permafrost range up to 1,600 billion tonnes which is roughly twice as much carbon as in the atmosphere now.

Background:


Sources:


Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Something is rotten (but not just) in Denmark

photo from indigenist.blogspot.com Update Jan 5: Natasha Verco released but still facing charges | Listen or Read transcript of Natasha Verco being interviewed (ABC radio AM) (Jan 5, 2009)

Australian Greens Senator, Scott Ludlum, has written to the Danish Consul demanding the release of climate protester Natasha Verco. "The use of heavy handed and disproportionate tactics like preemptive arrest of peaceful demonstrators was a grim counterpoint to the total failure of Governments to come up with a just and effective response to climate change," said Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

See related post: We already gave the Danes a princess - give us back our protestor!

"Natasha Verco is an Australian whose record of work for climate justice speaks for itself. She was arrested, along with many others, for the crime of helping organise a peaceful demonstration in Copenhagen. She has been incarcerated ever since." said Senator Ludlam.

Natasha Verco is being held in Copenhagen's Vestre Faengsel jail, unable to contact her Australian family or friends. The Department of Foreign Affairs have confirmed they are aware of the case and are providing consular assistance. Senator Ludlum argues that the Federal Government should demand her immediate release.

"It is utterly perverse that people seeking to give voice to community demands for action on climate change should pay this kind of price. Mrs Verco and all those who remain behind bars with her should be released today," Scott Ludlum concluded.

According to ABC News 25 people gathered on January 4 outside the Danish consulate in Sydney to demand Verco's release. The group was hoping to hand a letter to the Consul General urging urging Australian born Princess Mary to intercede in the case for all charges to be dropped.

Friends of the Earth spokeswoman Holly Creenaune told the ABC "It's our information that Natasha has been charged with an incitement charge, basically an incitement to get people to come to a protest," she said.

See photos: Free climate prisoners! Sydney solidarity action

Natasha Verco is one of several climate activists still in prison. On January 1 they released the following statement, reproduced from the Climate Justice Action website.

What you can do: Send a letter to Danish and Australian authorities calling for the release of climate prisoners (FoE Sydney) See Greens Senator letter to Danish Consulate - (PDF)

Letter from our friends in prison


Copenhagen, January 1st 2010

Something is rotten (but not just) in Denmark. As a matter of fact, thousands of people have been considered, without any evidence, a threat to the society. Hundreds have been arrested and some are still under detention, waiting for judgement or under investigation. Among them, us, the undersigned.

We want to tell the story from the peculiar viewpoint of those that still see the sky from behind the bars.

A UN meeting of crucial importance has failed because of several contradictions and tensions that have shown up during the COP15. The primary concern of the powerful was the governance of the energy supply for neverending growth. This was the case whether they were from the overdeveloped world, like the EU countries or the US, or from the so-called developing countries, like China or Brazil.

At odds, hundreds of delegates and thousands of people in the streets have raised the issue that the rationale of life must be (and actually is) opposed to that of profit. we have strongly affirmed our will to stop anthropic pressure on the biosphere.

A crisis of the energy paradigm is coming soon. The mechanism of the global governance have proven to be overwhelmingly precarious. The powerful failed not only in reaching an agreement on their internal equilibria but also in keeping the formal control of the discussion.

Climate change is an extreme and ultimate expression of the violence of the capitalistic growth paradigm. People globally are increasingly showing the willingness of taking the power to rebel against that violence. we have seen that in Copenhagen, as well as we have seen that same violence. Hundreds of people have been arrested without any reason or clear evidence, or for participating in peaceful and legitimate demonstrations. Even mild examples of civil disobedience have been considered as a serious threat to the social order.

In response we ask - What order do we threaten and who ordered it? Is it that order in which we do not any more own our bodies? The order well beyond the terms of any reasonable "social contract" that we would ever sign, where our bodies can be taken, managed, constrained and imprisoned without any serious evidence of crime. Is it that order in which the decision are more and more shielded from any social conflicts? Where the governance less and less belongs to people, not even through the parliament? As a matter of fact, non-democratic organisms like the WTO, the NB, the G-whatever rule beyond any control.

We are forced to notice that the theatre of democracy is a broken one as soon as, one approaches the core of the power. That is why we reclaim the power to the people. We reclaim the power over our own lives. Above all, we reclaim the power to counter-pose the rationale of life and of the commons to the rationale of profit. It may have been declared illegal, but still we consider it fully legitimate.

Since no real space is left in the broken theatre, we reclaimed our collective power - Actually we expected it - to speak about the climate and energy issues. Issues that, for us, involve critical nodes of global justice, survival of man and energy independence. We did marching with our bodies.

We prefer to enter the space where the power is locked dancing and singing. We would have liked to do this at the Bella Center, to disrupt the session in accord with hundreds of delegates. But we were, as always, violently hampered by the police. They arrested our bodies in an attempt to arrest our ideas. we risked our bodies, trying to protect them just by staying close to each other. We value our bodies: We need them to make love, to stay together and to enjoy life. They hold our brains, with beautiful bright ideas and views. They hold our hearts filled with passion and joy. Nevertheless, we risked them. we risked our bodies getting locked in prisons.

In fact, what would be the worth of thinking and feeling if the bodies did not move?
Doing nothing, letting-it-happen, would be the worst form of complicity with the business that wanted to hack the UN meeting. At the COP15 we moved, and we will keep moving.

Exactly like love, civil disobedience can not just be told. We must make it, with our bodies. Otherwise, we would not really think about what we love, and we would not really love what we think about. It's as simple as that. It's a matter of love, justice and dignity.

How the COP15 has ended proves that we were right. Many of us are paying what is mandatory for an obsessive, pervasive and total repression: To find a guilty at the cost of inventing it (along with the crime perhaps).

We are detained with evidently absurd accusations about either violences that actually did not take place or conspiracies and organizing of law-breaking actions.

We do not feel guilty for having shown, together with thousands, the reclamation of the independence of our lives from profit's rule. If the laws oppose this, it was legitimate to peacefully - but still conflictually - break them.

We are just temporarily docked, ready to sail again with a wind stronger than ever. It's a matter of love, justice and dignity.


  • Luca Tornatore, Italian social centres network "see you in Copenhagen".

  • Natasha Verco, Climate Justice Action

  • Johannes Paul Schul Meyer

  • Arvip Peschel

  • Christian Becker

  • Kharlanchuck Dzmitry

  • Cristoph Lang

  • Anthony Arrabal




Update Jan 5: Natasha Verco released but still facing charges

Via ABC News - Copenhagen protester released from jail by ABC Europe correspondent Emma Alberici

An Australian held in a Danish prison for three weeks for organising a protest during the Copenhagen climate change conference has been released.Natasha Verco was arrested on December 15, a day before the biggest protest march during the United Nations talks in Copenhagen.

The chief prosecutor for the Copenhagen police, Dorit Borgaard, says Verco was released overnight along with American citizen Noah Weiss.

Their case has been adjourned until March 16 when they will face charges of attempted assault of a police officer and planning to disturb public order.

If convicted, they face up to six months in jail.

Verco insists she organised a peaceful event during the conference and denies accusations that she assaulted a police officer and planned to disturb public order.

"I participated in organising people to speak about climate change with youth delegates for the UN," she said.

"They say I organised riots and when we said that riots didn't happen, they said, 'No, you were charged with organising riots that were stopped by the good work of the police'.

"I wasn't at a protest. I wasn't on my way to a protest. I was riding along the side of the road.

"When I asked them what was going on (and) were they just picking up anybody who was wearing black clothes - I had a black jacket on and some black pants - they said, 'no we've been hunting you'."


Prisoner support and legal aid report there are still seven foreign persons detained in relation to the climate summit. It has not been possible to confirm this figure with the police.

Among those who remain behind bars, include the Italian Luca Tornatore, an astro-physicist and staff member at the University of Trieste, who was a spokesman for the Italian climate campaign group 'See You in Copenhagen'. There have been several demonstrations of solidarity in Italy, calling for his immediate release. Danish consulates in several Italian cities have been filled, a petition has been started, and his case was raised in parliament.

Sources:


Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.