By Helena Wright and Marco Cadena
16 June 2011
Young Friends of the Earth Europe, along with other Youth organisations from all across Europe are running the Push Europe campaign to push Europe for greater greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
The campaign is urging the EU to increase their domestic greenhouse gas emission reduction target immediately to at least 30% by 2020, which would be a stepping stone on the way to the 40% reduction target by 2020 that would give a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change. With such a decision, the EU would show willingness and commitment to lead the currently slow and miserable international climate talks.
last Wednesday 15th June at the negotiations in Bonn, youth from the Push Europe campaign took action outside the Bonn UN climate talks to pressure negotiators directly.
“With CVs in our hands and forming a long, disappointed crowd in front of an EU official’s desk, we aimed to show how the EU is blocking the future of young people by not raising its emission reduction target.
The symbolic image is also calling for youth around Europe to join the campaign and to put pressure on our politicians together, as their decision is about the future of all of us.” – said Thessa Meijlis from Young Friends of the Earth Netherlands
Why Push Europe?
The EU needs to show it cares about the future of the planet and its citizens. The campaign is calling for more jobs and opportunities for young people in a low carbon economy, at a time when youth unemployment has reached record levels.
A recent report from the Potsdam Institute has found that an increased EU target for carbon emission reductions would create 6 million jobs across Europe. This would be essentially the start of a shift towards a healthier and cleaner world.
The EU claims to be a global leader on climate action but is avoiding real ambition. It is still sticking to the unilateral offer of only 20% reduction by 2020, despite having already reached 17,3% emission cuts in 2009. So less than 3% cuts in the next 9 years? The EU needs to be way more ambitious than that!
Don’t sweep your emissions under the carpet
The current rules allow the EU to use carbon offsets to cover most of the emissions reductions which makes the current EU target not just pathetically weak but untrue. Carbon markets are false solutions. They are unstable and unpredictable, they just provide opportunity to continue business as usual by ‘sweeping’ emissions under the carpet.
Instead of gambling with carbon markets, the EU needs to commit to real emissions cuts, of which there are many other reliable and equitable solutions.
An the Bonn climate talks, the EU is hiding away by not stepping in to announce strong reduction targets, which would convince more hesitating countries to do the same. The EU has great historical responsibility for causing climate change and should be the champion in solving the problem with real solutions. This would refresh trust in its international voice and leadership, and would provide the possibility to create an equitable society living in harmony with nature.
Push Europe in the UN negotitaions
A panel of youth from Young FoEE, BUNDjugend and the UKYCC showed videos and pictures of young people from around Europe asking their leaders to take real commitment to tackle climate change, to delegates from the UN climate talks joining the youth side event.
We were also joined by Meena Raman, from Friends of the Earth Malaysia, who encouraged youth to form alliances and to empower each other towards the COP17 in Durban, where crucial decisions can be made about the future of the planet.
In her speech, Meena also reminded everyone that without the EU’s leadership for real commitments, the negotiations might end up having a weak and not legally binding outcome, based on the ‘pledge and review’ system. This voluntary system of global emission reductions is unacceptable, as it could lead the world to a 5C warming with catastrophic consequences.
Pushing Europe in the coming months
Throughout the summer the Push Europe will rollout its 1-Cent campaign, uniting youth across Europe and pushing environment ministers to realise their capability in influencing the outcomes of the climate talks in Durban. The main activity is the mass bank transfer, where youth will send 1 cent to their decision makers en masse. This symbolic action will draw attention to all the need for investment in green technologies in order to achieve the ambitious emission reduction target.
Building the movement
The growing youth support shows that young people are willing to be part of forming their own future and they want the EU to give young people the opportunity to make that happen.
It is time for youth to take up their own demands as we are the ones who will need to deal with the consequences climate change will bring.
Join Push Europe
During the climate talks, Susi and Marco from YFoEE gave an interview for the Real World Radio.
April 1980: Friends of the Earth protest outside the headquarters of the Department of the Environment over the proposed dismantling of the British allotments system
June 2011: Action by participants in the Push Europe campaign, asking the EU to commit immediately to 30% carbon emission reduction on the way to 40% by 2020.
From Real World Radio:
The World Bank is hitting new records in terms of its funding to highly polluting projects in several parts of the world, and is increasing its support to coal. Nevertheless, the Bank claims to be leading the struggle against climate change at international level.
This seems to be a joke, but it is true. It would be funny, if it wasn’t dangerous. On Saturday, at the UN climate talks, Policy Analist of Friends of the Earth US, Kate Horner, presented a new publication written by Friends of the Earth International about the actions of the World Bank.
The report, called “World Bank: Catalysing catastrophic climate change”, denounces the role of the World Bank in funding polluting industries in several countries, and its attempts to control climate finance at world level.
Real World Radio interviewed Horner to know more about these issues. The activist also made reference to another key issue at the climate talks in Bonn: the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) mechanism. Finally, she made reference to the role of the US in these international negotiations.
Helena Wright, Young Friends of the Earth
Monday 13 June 2011
Lead with ambition, not conditions
The UN negotiations on climate change have continued in Bonn this week with slow progress on the key issues, such as emissions reductions for rich countries and agreeing on long-term funding.
This week, Young Friends of the Earth Europe also launch the Push Europe campaign to encourage the European Union to dramatically raise their level of ambition on climate change.
The European Union, which has claimed to be a global leader on climate action, is avoiding showing any real ambition. The current target of 20% below 1990 emission levels by 2020 is a totally weak target when we consider that recent data shows current emission levels are already at -16% below 1990 levels.
Moreover the European Union’s current rules allow carbon offsets to be used to cover most of the emissions reductions, meaning that the current EU target is pathetically weak.
The campaign highlights that the European Union’s opportunity to lead the world towards a safe climate is also a great opportunity to create green jobs for young people.
The Urgent Need for Ambition, Not Conditions
The IEA’s latest projections show that global emissions have now hit a dangerously high level and so the need for action is more urgent than ever.
The planet is at a critical juncture. If the EU continues to follow the United States, Canada and Russia down the path of weak ambition, there is little hope of avoiding catastrophic climate consequences. It is not just the young people of Europe who would suffer from this but young people all around the world, and future generations.
Yet, the EU continues to impose conditions on moving to a higher target. This is not only immoral but ineffective. The European Union has the potential, the responsibility and the obligation to lead the world in moving to a higher target.
Real leadership and action from the EU can also demonstrate to other countries that reducing emissions provides great opportunities, to create green jobs and renewable energy sources. Despite the lagging countries, the EU urgently needs to up its targets!
We are working together with Friends of the Earth International, its Climate Justice allies and youth groups under the UN climate change conference.
We planned to circulate short updates as things go along. This week was more about planning meetings than visible actions, so we decided to have a slightly longer summary update.
But next week there will be many interesting actions happening, so watch out for short updates and images!
On Wednesday 20th January 2010, members of the UK Youth Climate Coalition and Young Friends of the Earth met up with Ed Miliband, the Energy Minister, for a follow-up meeting after Copenhagen. Mr Miliband apologised that he had not had time to meet with us young people at Copenhagen as he was so busy.
Ed Miliband told us he felt frustrated by the international situation, since “it’s a big task”. We talked about a range of issues including green jobs. We explained that as young people there was high unemployment among our friends, so we encouraged the government to support more green jobs in sustainable sectors.
We also encouraged the EU to raise its target to a 40% target for emission cuts in line with science and climate justice. Mr Miliband told us it was “hard enough” getting to the 30% target and told us that the EU target was influenced by international targets, such as the targets in Canada and Australia.
On the issue of China’s involvement at Copenhagen, we discussed how China is asking for higher targets than 80% from developed countries, such as a 95% target by 2050, in order to raise their own level of ambition.
We told Ed Miliband that government needs to provide more support for schools to install renewable energy – since there are often funding and planning permission barriers. Mr Miliband said that the government was trying to help with these practical issues, but it was often down to the local Council.
We all felt that the government needs to make it easier for young people to do something positive, to take action, and not to lose hope in the situation and the future of our planet.
Somebody asked the question about whether there would be a shift of climate politics to other forums such as the G20, following the failure at Copenhagen. Mr. Miliband told us that the government are still committed to the UN process, since the G20 does not include the most vulnerable countries. Their aim is still to get a legally binding treaty by the COP16 in Mexico 2010.
Ed Miliband was trying to be positive and it was an interesting meeting, but as young people we found it hard to hide our total disappointment with the failure at Copenhagen. For now, international politics is NOT protecting the future of our planet or future generations, but we must not lose hope.
Copenhagen update: FoEI expelled, 770ppm, Yvo intransigent, Connie given the boot, Saudi oil money speaks, police violence
So much, and yet so little, has happened since the end of last week at Copenhagen. The rifts between developed and developing countries are still festering. 100,000 people marched in Copenhagen alone on Saturday to demand a deal, but many inside the conference centre remarked how little attention or concern was paid to them. Analysis by Climate Interactive suggests that current pledges by developed countries would put the world on a path towards 770 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – almost double current levels and an increase on today’s levels over six times larger than what the EU is proposing. Such a level would lead to catastrophic climatic changes – much more frequent and severe droughts, famines, floods and storms and significant sea-level rises – according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others including the British Met Office’s Hadley Centre. At the same time, research by Friends of the Earth suggests that loopholes in the Kyoto Protocol, such as ‘hot air’ or unused emissions rights, maritime and aviation emissions, forestry and offsets, some of which are counted twice, could render the current emissions targets of developed countries useless from the atmosphere’s point of view, and could effectively more than halve a target of 40%, the minimum advocated by most environmental organisations for 2020.
As this political impasse is provoking high levels of protest and tension, as the ministers and heads of government arrive in Copenhagen, so the UN bureaucracy is progressively excluding civil society from the conference. Organisations had been told that yesterday and today, only a small proportion of their registered participants would be permitted to enter, which has already caused protest. Today, however, Friends of the Earth International and other organisations including Avaaz have been completely blocked. Negotiations this morning between the Chair of Friends of the Earth International, Nnimmo Bassey, and Yvo de Boer, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, were fruitless. In any event, the UNFCCC’s Secretariat plans only to admit much-reduced numbers of NGO delegates tomorrow and just 90 on Friday, the final day of the conference, leaving themselves vulnerable to accusations of exclusivity and opaqueness just when key states like the US say that Copenhagen will deliver a ‘transparent’ and ‘credible’ outcome.
None of this must distract attention from the political dealings. The lack of trust between developed and developing countries was highlighted yesterday when the Swedish Environment Minister said that developing countries could be ‘turned’ to the will of the developed world if just five key people were influenced by Saudi oil money, and again when African delegates and key developed countries caused negotiations on the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol to be suspended because neither side would agree to talk about the other’s pet subjects. Needless to say, Japan, the US and Sweden were refusing to discuss binding Kyoto targets since their aim is to create a watered-down Copenhagen protocol including the USA and the key developing countries of China, India and Brazil.
Of course, developed countries will attempt to label whatever outcome is stitched together at the last minute as a ‘success’. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Let us not judge the book by its cover.
When I came here I had trust that a strong, fair and just climate deal was possible.
Politicians and businessmen might not be the fastest or most progressive, but I figured that they are human beings also and surely would see the necessity to act now on climate change and pay the Global South restitution. One week later my ideas have changed, let me tell you my experience in Kopenhagen so far.
The ‘Bella’ Centre
Imagine hallways connecting other hallways great and small, islands full of laptops, hot-dog stands and hundreds of charcoal suited officials with blackberry’s, fat men eating chicken and the occasional screaming of young people and Africans. I welcome you to the place where the world is going to be saved! O wait.. but laptops, hot-dogs and white men in suits is usually not a good thing for the planet, isn’t it? Well naïvely idealistic sucker, you are wrong! You see we are going to solve the mistakes we made by making a totally new market of carbon credits. We will start with so many credits that they are pretty cheap, and give them away to companies, o hail to the great companies. Furthermore we are suggesting some full on subsidies on plantations in the global South. Because we know we need to reduce C02-lonialism- emissions, just not in our own countries. You see that is impossible because the God of economic progress says so. Furthermore we suggest that you keep on shopping using our very environmentally friendly bags made from recycled plastic!
If you do that, then we will have some more delegate meetings, networking parties and business conferences on your money. The late great Einstein once said that you can’t solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it, and my gosh.. he might be right on that one!
The peoples summit
While our leaders discuss in the Bella Centre, we come to the Klimaforum. A place where people gather for lectures, workshops, movies, meetings and the occasional party.
The criticism of the process in the Bella Centre is growing day by day here and on the streetmarches. ‘System change not climate change’ is a much heard creed. Concerned citizens and outlaws join here to share their concern on the way PachaMama is being treated and formulate fundamental ways of change. Lets join up in the streets and in the rooms of the Klimaforum, combine our forces with the people of the world and make this world better so that we all can live free from pollution and downpression. If we do not take the opportunity to make this world, I’m afraid that the people in the Bella Centre will break it before they have realized it.
There is no planet B,
See you on the streets!
A friend of the Earth.