Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman and the Rainbow Warrior skipper toss a wreath in memory of Fernando Pereira into the sea at the spot where the original bombed RW was scuttled in 1986 to create a living reef. Video: David Robie/Cafe Pacific
Greenpeace’s flagship Rainbow Warrior3 was welcomed in Matauri Bay at the start of a month-long tour of New Zealand yesterday to celebrate a victory in the fight against fossil fuels and to launch filming on a documentary drawing on the links between the nuclear-free and climate change struggles.
The tour began following the laying of a wreath at sea to honour the memory of Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira who was killed by French secret service saboteurs who bombed the original Rainbow Warrior in Auckland on 10 July 1985.
Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman gave an emotive speech about Pereira’s legacy being the ultimate success of the antinuclear struggle with the end of French nuclear testing in the Pacific in 1996 and the ongoing climate change campaign.
Rainbow Warrior crew, Greenpeace stalwarts and local hapu members were treated to a seafood lunch at Matauri marae.
The Nuclear Dissent interactive documentary.
Also launched yesterday was a new interactive documentary, Nuclear Dissent, a cautionary tale about haunting nuclear destruction, told through the lens of some of the world’s bravest activists and experts – the successful leaders of disarmament efforts from French Polynesia and New Zealand to Canada, the United States, and Greenpeace, who influenced outcomes and fought for change.
In five short video chapters available on desktop, mobile and webVR, the true story of the battle to end French nuclear weapons testing between 1966 and 1996 is told through dynamic 360º panoramas on land, afloat in the fallout zone, amid riots, and underwater, Greenpeace says in a statement.
The story is capped off with a raw assessment of where the world is today – the greatest global nuclear threats, risks and effects unpacked.
Extreme health and environmental damage to French Polynesia was caused by test nuclear explosions in the South Pacific, spreading cancerous plutonium across continents and into the food chain.
Activist persistence Due to the persistence of activists braving the fallout zone and widespread protests and a growing nuclear free movement, the French government eventually shut down its testing programme.
More than a decade later, those affected have yet to receive justice for the intergenerational trauma inflicted on their land, their health and their resources by the French government, the Greenpeace statement said.
With historical accounts from protesters Anna Horne and Greenpeace’s David McTaggart who sailed into the test zone, expert opinions from nuclear policy analyst and Harvard professor Matthew Bunn, Dr Ira Hefland and climatologist Alan Robcock, viewers are guided through an eye-opening journey.
Alongside each chapter’s video content, 360 x-ray environments and journals filled with evidence and artifacts bring otherwise invisible details and deadly damages to light.
An interactive fallout map enabled with address entry visualises what the scope of destruction, death and injury would look like in any city, from a selection of current nuclear weapons that exist in the arsenals of the world’s most dangerous superpowers.
‘Making oil history’ Anna Horne joined Rainbow Warrior 3 yesterday as the ship prepared to sail from Matauri Bay to Auckland where Greenpeace will launch its “Making Oil History” tour of New Zealand”.
Earlier, the Rainbow Warrior had been joined by David Robie, author of Eyes of Fire about the Rongelap voyage and the bombing of the original Rainbow Warrior, and currently director of the Pacific Media Centre.
In 2015, Professor Robie and a group of student journalists combined with Little Island Press and Greenpeace to create a microsite dedicated to Rainbow Warrior and environmental activist stories and videos, Eyes of Fire: 30 Years On, as a public good resource.
Both Horne and Dr Robie are among at least 10 activists, writers and changemakers being interviewed for the new Greenpeace documentary being directed by journalist Phil Vine.
The wreath laying ceremony in memory of Fernando Pereira on board the Rainbow Warrior yesterday. Image: David Robie/Cafe Pacific
Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: The Green Party goes greener
Those who want the Green Party to focus primarily on the environment should be very happy with the direction the party is heading in. Over the last ten months in government – and especially during the weekend – it has become clear that the party is more about the environment than ever before and much less focused on economic and social issues.
The conference in the weekend presented the party at its most green ever. All of the main issues that the leadership and membership focused on were environmental. Unlike last year’s conference where Metiria Turei unveiled an incredibly leftwing welfare policy – and dramatically confessed to welfare fraud – at this conference the talk was all about climate change, conservation, landfill waste issues, and water bottling.
For the best account of how the party has returned to an environmental focus, see Henry Cooke’s Bruised Green Party go back to basics at annual conference. He points to the two major announcements on water and waste, saying these “catered entirely to the more environmentally-focused wing of the party”.
Cooke suggests the focus is strategic: “With the party facing a raft of criticism from the commentariat that it was forgetting the ‘Green’ in the party’s name, launching some solid environmental policies made sense. The water testing stuff, clearly aimed at big foreign water bottlers, was some of the most populist policy the Greens have had in years, and will be well-received across the country.”
Of course, the Greens have always been a complex coalition of many different factions and philosophies. This was expressed colourfully on Friday in Matthew Hooton’s column, in which he detailed the historic divisions in the party, and how they appear to be resurfacing – see: Cracks in the Green revolution.
Hooton argues that the party has traditionally done very well to keep the various factions working coherently together, but multiple fault-lines in the party are becoming harder to paper over. He suggests the current co-leadership duo are less able to work together in the yin-and-yang fashion that Russel Norman and Metiria Turei achieved. Furthermore, he believes Marama Davidson’s more radical supporters are in the ascendancy.
It seems, however, that the opposite is the case – that the environmentalists are now firmly in control – and, indeed, there’s a much more moderate atmosphere in the party. This has led some to warn the party about losing its radical edge, or even some of its voters. Former MP Catherine Delahunty emphasised how important it is that the Greens don’t become perceived as just being “‘Labour Lite” – see Lucy Bennett’s Uncomfortable discussions to be had at Green Party AGM.
Sue Bradford, also a former Green MP, commented during the weekend that the party was becoming “less and less the party of choice for people on the ecological and social justice side of the Greens”.
So, is the party vulnerable to losing its more leftwing members and voters? Henry Cooke reports that “A new movement called Organise Aotearoa, to the left of the Greens, has sprung up to soak up some of those who might be less comfortable with the compromises.”
Walls says this imbalance isn’t currently a problem: “there is nowhere for New Zealand’s more socially progressive voters to go apart from the Green Party”. However, “if a socially progressive party were to rise, it could plausibly siphon votes away from disenfranchised former Greens supporters and ultimately lead to the Party’s demise.”
This is also a position held by leftwing political commentator Gordon Campbell: “Before 2020, the Greens will need major gains that set them apart from Labour. Especially on the social justice front, where it risks looking entirely redundant” – see: On National’s obsolescence and the Greens’ dilemma.
Campbell is uneasy with the Greens’ continued endorsement of Labour’s conservative fiscal policies: “The Greens did not have to sign up last year to the Budget Responsibility Rules that continue to restrict the government’s ability to meet social needs. They chose to do so back then, and they’re choosing right now not to revisit that decision.”
A damage-control conference
The Green leadership will be very pleased with how the conference went at the weekend, because in the end there was very little infighting or pushback from the membership’s leftwing. Instead, the MPs were able to convince assembled activists that the progress made and concessions won within government far outweighed the compromises and shortcomings.
Davidson and Shaw were able to point to a list of environmental wins, including the current process of crafting climate change legislation, establishing the Interim Climate Change Committee, the ban on plastic bags, setting up a Green Investment Fund with $100m, more funding for public transport, and most of all, the ban on new permits for oil and gas exploration.
This doesn’t mean there weren’t challenges for the MPs and leadership, who had to answer some questions about selling out its ideology and principles – especially on their support for the so-called Waka-Jumping Bill.
A number of commentators have pointed to the Greens getting fewer policy wins than the New Zealand First party, and the fact that they haven’t been able to make more of the environmental wins they have achieved. For Guyon Espiner it’s a case of the MPs simply needing to use the “weapon the Green Party appear reluctant to use: Its voice” – see: The Green Party needs to speak up.
Many are pointing to the need for Davidson, in particular, to speak up more. And although Espiner agrees, he says others should too: “As a backbencher Ms Davidson is completely free to speak her mind. Even the Green ministers are largely free of the constraints of collective responsibility, in that it only applies to their portfolios.”
Similarly, Sam Sachdeva has said the Greens need louder voice in government. He argues that “The party may need to fight its corner more often if it is to survive and thrive”. In particular, “A dead rat or two may be palatable, but the Greens must show they can choose their own cuisine when they want to.”
According to Gordon Campbell, a return to a more principled-focus is necessary because “much of the Greens appeal has been based on the notion that its core values are not up for bargaining. That’s one reason why the deal on the waka jumping law has been so harmful.” He says that “the Greens are going to need to display a backbone. If it is to survive, the self-declared party of principles will have to demonstrate a greater willingness to fight for them.”
Finally, recently the Green MPs have become more aggressive and dissatisfied with how the media is covering the party. For example, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage retorted to one journalist asking hard questions: “If you want to sit in this seat, then perhaps you should stand for election.” And for the latest push back against the media, see RadioLive’s Reporting on Marama’s speech ‘disgraceful’ – James Shaw.
Headline: Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: A bolder and greener government
Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: A bolder and greener government
The Labour-led government is looking bolder, smarter, and greener than it did a week ago. Its announcement of the ban on new gas and oil exploration in the seas around New Zealand has been viewed as a defining moment for the new government. But critics insist the policy is either intrinsically flawed, or doesn’t do enough.
Richard Harman has an excellent analysis of the new policy, saying “It may turn out to be a defining moment for Ardern’s Government; a bold rebranding that turns Labour a greener shade of red” – see: Defining moment for Ardern. As Jacinda Ardern put it to Harman, “We are bold… That will be a defining feature for us… We will be willing to take bold action, to take action, to take risks on the big stuff.”
Harman compares the policy to when Labour was last in government. At that time Ardern was working for Associate Minister of Energy, Harry Dynhoven, who “presided over an aggressive Government policy which saw it chase big international players, dangling tax incentives and reduced royalties in an attempt to kick-start interest in areas like the Great South Basin.”
Labour is now very much targeting the youth vote, which takes climate change very seriously. Harman says the latest announcement “was a relatively cheap policy to implement as it cemented in its youth vote base and paid its dues to the Greens.” And he points out that the exploration ban comes on the heels of the “Government Policy Statement on transport and ending of large-scale irrigation subsidies”.
The exploration ban is applauded by conservative commentator Martin van Beynen, who says “it demonstrates this Government is prepared to make uncomfortable changes we all know need to happen” – see: Government’s oil move atones for our environmental sins. He argues that such boldness, based on principle, will be respected by the public even if it is painful, because “the electorate can be surprisingly forgiving on points of principle”.
According to van Beynen, if this policy is successful it might well push the Government to go even bolder: “The stance also has the benefit of not appearing as a major cost item on Grant Robertson’s coming budget. With an important environmental notch on its belt, the Government might feel emboldened to deal more bravely with income inequality and poverty next. This will involve some real pain and might force the Government to throw off the shackles of the budgetary rules regarding spending as proportion of GDP.”
This article by van Beynen, like many others, emphasises Ardern’s claim that climate change is her generation’s nuclear free moment. Nadine Higgins says the decision is a “line in the sand” that will be challenging to many people, because this is a rare case of real “leadership” rather than the usual “reflectorship” that Labour and other parties typically practice, whereby they do what is popular rather than what is right – see: Jacinda’s ‘nuclear-free moment’ puts Government one step ahead of the public.
Higgins says, “There have been many reforms that went against the tide of public opinion at the time but were later lauded as a seminal moment in history that happened not a minute too soon… In the decades to come, I envisage us looking back on this week’s decision about oil and gas through a similar lens.”
Similarly, an editorial in the Wanganui Chronicle says that, although there is plenty of criticism of the new policy, “it may be that we look back on this ban the way we look back at our nuclear free stance, or being first to give women the vote, or the 1981 Springbok tour protests. Divisive at the time but we ripped the scab off and they’re now a source of pride” – see: Ripping the scab off oil exploration.
Is the policy really such a big deal?
Although the articles by Richard Harman and Martin van Beynen emphasise the boldness of the new oil and gas ban, they also make some very good points about its shortcomings. Harman suggests the Government might have simply made a virtue out of reality, as offshore exploration applications appear to have dried up anyhow: “the offshore petroleum exploration industry in New Zealand has been in the doldrums now for the past two years and that it may well have turned out that even if the Government had offered up blocks of ocean for exploration, there may have been no takers.”
He quotes a recent industry report: “Interest in New Zealand’s annual oil and gas block offers remains at an all-time low, declining from a peak of 15 new exploration permits awarded in 2014, to just one in each of the past two rounds.”
And van Beynen points out how slowly the change will occur, and that under the Government’s policy there might yet be a boom in offshore oil extraction: “The oil change was a bit like the last National Government announcing it was raising the age of superannuation to 67 in a year so far away that it was academic for most people. Radical change to the oil industry, it is not. About 30 existing exploration permits will continue until at least 2030 and viable oil and gas finds made under those permits could mean production for years after that. We could still have a massive oil industry off the coast of Canterbury and Southland and more onshore wells in Taranaki.”
Will the policy have any real impact?
The oil and gas extraction industry claims the change will do nothing for climate change, saying the problem can only be tackled at the “demand side” rather than the “supply side”. If New Zealand stops producing oil and gas, this will not necessarily reduce its use – but instead just lead to importing more energy.
This is also a point made by Hamish Rutherford: “This will feel good for environmental activists, but unless there are more significant moves to dampen demand, all this will do will be to grant more geopolitical power to countries in the Middle East and of the likes of Venezuela, holder of the world’s largest oil reserves” – see: A knock for the regions, but exploration end won’t curb NZ oil demand.
Rutherford says the ban will have “little or no impact on motorists or fliers. Until the Government takes steps to tax users of fossil fuels, the impact on the climate will be limited.” He argues that the policy “seems moderate”.
It is for this reason the National Party has been using the term “virtue signaling” about the ban, which is defined by an editorial in The Press as used to “refer to pious but empty gestures by the Left” – see: The virtues and vices of oil. The newspaper also criticises National for opposing the policy, even though The Press agrees the ban may have little impact: “a position must sometimes be taken because it is the right one. A moral example can be set. In this case, it is an example that has left the Opposition confused about whether to call it an empty gesture or wholesale destruction of a regional economy. It cannot be both.”
National has also argued the ban could be counter-productive, with Judith Collins alleging that it will actually lead to more coal being burnt, which is worse for the environment. For a discussion of this, see Dan Satherley’s Ending oil and gas extraction – what scientists think.
Another criticism that is gaining more resonance is about what the Government failed to do in announcing the new policy. According to Jo Moir, “It’s understood some in the Government executive are frustrated the announcement wasn’t made in the region most affected and that there was no clear strategy for explaining what comes next” – see: Shane Jones looked a little green, and it wasn’t with envy.
Having no transition plan for either the regions or for energy use seems unforgivable to Moir: “if you decide to mess around with one, you sure as hell need a good plan for the other. And that’s where the Government got it wrong this week – the messaging about why New Zealand needs to do its bit domestically by moving away from oil and gas exploration was fine, but the explanation of what it was being replaced with was non-existent.”
Moir adds: “Wanting to lead the way on the next big technology is one thing, but having a plan is another… a situation not too dissimilar to being told we’re moving you out of your house but we don’t have another one for you to move into.”
Nonetheless, Armstrong says “Ardern deserves credit for sticking to her principles and delivering something of real substance in the struggle to cut greenhouse gas emissions. She also deserves praise for managing to forge an agreement with Labour’s partners in government which produced compromise on all sides and a meaningful end result.”
Headline: Rainbow Warrior takes on fresh eco mission to Papua, Indonesia
By Astari Pinasthika Sarosa in Jakarta
The Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior is sailing throughout Indonesia – including West Papua – as a vehicle for environmental campaigns.
Rainbow Warrior has often sailed to remote areas to directly see the environmental issues in the region and immediately act against its destruction.
Recently in the Philippines, this is the first visit to Indonesia since 2013. The Rainbow Warrior will be sailing in the archipelago from this week until next month.
The visit themed Jelajah Harmoni Nusantara will be the longest tour of the Rainbow Warrior.
Its first destination is Papua to witness the natural beauty of Papuan rainforest. The ship’s crew will also see the underwater life of Raja Ampat.
After leaving Papua, the Rainbow Warrior will head to Bali, sampling a rich culture which holds local wisdom, and its beliefs that the best source of energy comes from nature.
The last destination is Jakarta. As the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta has many issues including pollution and waste.
‘Eco-friendly’ city goal The Rainbow Warrior aims to help Jakarta to be a more comfortable and eco-friendly city.
“The main point of this tour is to create harmony in protecting the Indonesian environment,” Greenpeace said in a press release.
The name Rainbow Warrior was based on the prophecy of a native American tribe Cree in saying, “When the earth becomes sick and dying, there will come a day when people from all over the world will rise up as the Rainbow Warrior.”
The Rainbow Warrior is the third-generation version of the campaign ship.
The first generation vessel was destroyed by limpet mines. On 10 July 1985, French secret agents planted two bombs and sank the Rainbow Warrior, killing photojournalist Fernando Pereira.
After the bombing, the original Rainbow Warrior ship was towed to Matauri Bay, in New Zealand’s Cavalli Islands, and was submerged as an “alive reef” attracted marine life and recreational divers.
The second Rainbow Warrior sailed for 22 years until 2011 when she was replaced with the third generation Rainbow Warrior.
Like its predecessor, this ship carries out green and peaceful campaigns for the future of the planet.
Headline: Tiny Timbulsloko fights back in face of Indonesia’s ‘ecological disaster’
Drone views of the village of Timbulsloko showing the scale of coastal erosion and sinking flatlands in an area that once used to to be rice fields on the edge of the Central Java city of Semarang. Mangroves are being rapidly re-established. Drone footage source: CoREM. Video: David Robie’s Café Pacific
By David Robie in Semarang, Indonesia
A vast coastal area of the Indonesian city of Semarang, billed nine months ago by a national newspaper as “on the brink of ecological disaster”, is fighting back with a valiant survival strategy.
Thanks to a Dutch mangrove restoration programme and flexible bamboo-and-timber “eco” seawalls, some 70,000 people at risk in the city of nearly two million have some slim hope for the future.
An area that was mostly rice fields and villages on the edge of the old city barely two decades ago has now become “aquatic” zones as flooding high tides encroach on homes.
Onetime farmers have been forced to become fishermen.
Villagers living in Bedono, Sriwulan, Surodadi and Timbulsloko in Demak regency and urban communities in low-lying parts of the city are most at risk.
Residents have been forced to raise their houses or build protective seawalls or be forced to abandon their homes when their floors become awash.
The lowland subsidence area in north Semarang leading to the volcanic Mt Urganan and Mt Muria/Medak. Source: CoRem (UNDIP), 2017.
Environmental changes in Semarang have been blamed by scientists on anthropogenic and “natural” factors such as tidal and river flooding – known locally as rob, mangroves destruction since the 1990s, fast urban growth and extensive groundwater extraction.
Climate change This has been compounded by climate change with frequent and extreme storms.
It has been a pattern familiar in many other low-lying coastal areas in Indonesia, such as the capital Jakarta and second-largest city Surabaya.
The Jakarta Post headline on 2 February 2017. Image: PMC
In February, The Jakarta Post reported that both Jakarta and Semarang faced environmental crises.
Citing Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) researcher Henny Warsilah, a graduate of Paris I-Sorbonne University in France, who measured the resilience of three coastal cities – Jakarta, Semarang and Surabaya – the Post noted only Surabaya had built sufficient environmental and social resilience to face natural disasters.
Jakarta and Semarang, Warsilah said, “were not doing very well”. Although Surabaya was faring much better with its urban policies.
The National Geographic Indonesia banner headline in October 2017. Image: PMC
City planners might see the only option as the residents being forced to leave for higher ground, but there appear to be no plans in place for this. In any case, local people defiantly say they want to stay and will adapt to the sinking conditions.
An unnamed local shopkeeper who has three generations of her family living in her Timbulsloko home and she doesn’t want to leave in spite of the sea encroaching in her house. Image: David Robie/PMC
One woman, a local shopkeeper, who has a three-generations household in the village with water encroaching into her home at most high tides, says she won’t leave with a broad smile.
I talked to her through an interpreter as she sat with her mother and youngest daughter on a roadside bamboo shelter.
“I have lived here for a long time, and I am very happy with the situation. My husband has his work here as a fisherman,” she said.
A local storekeeper with her mother and youngest daughter – three generations live in her Timbulsloko village home. Video: David Robie’s Café Pacific.
‘We don’t want to leave’ “We live with the flooding and we don’t want to leave.”
A raised house at low tide in Timbulsloko. Image: David Robie/PMC
She also said there was no clear viable alternative for the people of the village – there was no plan by the local authorities for relocation.
Later, she showed me inside her house and how far the water flooded across the floors. Electrical items, such as a television, had to be placed on raised furniture. The children slept on high beds, and the adults clambered onto cupboards to get some rest.
The village has a school, community centre, a mosque and a church – most of these with a sufficiently high foundation to be above the seawater.
However, the salination means that crops and vegetables cannot grow.
The community cemetery is also awash at high tide and there have been reports of eroded graves and sometimes floating bodies to the distress of families.
We were warned “don’t touch anything with your hands” as the flooding also causes a health hazard.
Research projects The situation has attracted a number of research projects in an effort to find solutions to some of the problems, the latest being part of the 2017 World Class Professor (WCP) programme funded by the Indonesian government.
WCP programme professors Dr David Menier (centre) and Dr Magaly Koch (right) talk to CoREM director Dr Muhammad Helmi on the Timbulsloko village wharf, near Semarang. Image: David Robie/PMC
They are geologists Dr Magaly Koch, from the Centre for Remote Sensing at Boston University, US, and Dr David Menier, associate professor HDR at Université de Bretage-Sud, France, who are partnered with Dr Muhammad Helmi, also a geologist and director of CoREM, and Dr Manoj Mathew. Both Dr Mathew and Dr Menier are of LGO Laboratoire Géosciences Océan.
“At the regional scale, the rate of subsidence is related to the geological and geomorphological context. North Java is a coastal plain that is very flat, silty to muddy, influenced by offshore controlling factors (e.g., wave, longshore drifts, tidal currents, etc.) and monsoons, and surrounded by volcanoes,” explains Dr Menier.
Controlling factors along the Semarang coastline. Source: CoRem, (UNDIP)
“Locally, anthropogenic factors can play a serious role as well.”
He says that coastal plains are dynamic. However, human activities are fixed – “the first contradiction”.
“Humans want to control and continue their livelihood, and are reluctant to accept changes related to their own activities or natural factors.”
Dr Menier says the subsidence is due to many factors, but some key issues have never been studied.
On a long term scale, the active faults of the area need to be examined in a geodynamic context and also volcanic activity with Mt Urganan and Mt Muria/Medak.
“We need to have a better understanding of the age of the coastal plain in order to reconstruct the past, explain the present-day and predict the future,” he says.
“Colonisation in the 17th century-Dutch period probably led to destruction of ecosystems (mangrove) and fine sediment usually trapped by plants has been stopped.”
Dr Koch adds: “Subsidence rates and their spatial distribution along the coastal plain need to be studied in detail using InSAR techniques. Groundwater abstraction (using deep wells) is probably happening in the city of Semarang but not necessarily in Demak.”
Expanding mangroves protection at Timbulsloko, Demak regency. Image: David Robie/PMC
Mangrove restoration Mangrove restoration and mitigation has been used successfully to restore coastal resilience and ecosystems in Timbulsloko.
While noting that “high failure rates are typical” due to wrong special being planted and other factors, Dr Dolfi Debrot, of a Dutch project consortium, argues “given the right conditions, mangrove recovery actually works best without planting at all.”
The consortium involves Witteveen+Bos, Deltares, EcoShape, Wetlands International, Wageningen University and IMARES.
Headline: Activists from Puerto Rico to Pacific demand climate compo, no fossil fuels
Democracy Now!’s video on the Bonn protests demanding an end to fossil fuel extraction.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets in the German capital Bonn for a rally and march to demand an end to fossil fuel extraction. These are some of their voices.
CARLOTTA GROHMANN: Hi. My name is Carlotta Grohmann. I am from the Bonn Youth Movement. And we are here today because we think that climate change, that environmental pollution, is not just one cause. It’s not just the carbon emissions. It’s not just coal. It’s everything. It’s nuclear power. It’s the way that we are putting war all over the planet and destroying it. It’s the way that our economic system is working for the profit of few.
KATIA AVILÉS-VÁZQUEZ: My name is Katia Avilés-Vázquez. I came from Puerto Rico to be here in Bonn. Part of the reason I’m here is we, the Caribbean, just got hit with two major-force hurricanes, and we had unusually high activity of hurricanes, particularly part of the effects of increased temperature due to climate change. And while we’re living and struggling through the effects of climate change, the decisions that are causing it are being made here.
And I’m hoping, by being here, we can kind of highlight the struggles that we’re going through, what climate change is doing in the now. This is not something to prepare for in the future. We’re living it, we’re suffering, we’re dying at this moment. We have lost power. We lost communications. We lost potable drinking water. And our economy is collapsing due to that.
So we need just—we need climate reparations. One of the things that we’re demanding, ending the Jones Act, ending the colonial rule and PROMESA. We want to be able to work, trade and heal with our Caribbean sister islands, like they have offered to help, but the US has told them no. And we want to make sure that we transition into renewables, not just rebuilding the Puerto Rico of old that replicates the oppression that led us to being in such vulnerable positions.
AMY GOODMAN: Just as we flew here from the United States, we saw whatever power was restored to San Juan. When we were in San Juan, there was some pockets of electricity, that, once again, San Juan has been plunged into darkness. That’s just in San Juan, which is the most—
KATIA AVILÉS-VÁZQUEZ: Electrifying.
AMY GOODMAN: —successful in returning electricity.
Correcting past oppression KATIA AVILÉS-VÁZQUEZ: Correct. That’s actually been one of the most painful things about being here, is seeing that whatever little progress was made, we set up, a couple steps back. And it’s important to highlight that that was the one line that Whitefish fixed and that Whitefish got that contract because their owner or someone has stocks, that’s a Trump donor. So, again, it highlights the need to—for whatever transition we demand needs to be just, and it needs to correct past oppressions, and it needs to be towards renewable, not just fixing an old and decaying infrastructure.
The other thing that happened while we were here—just today it came out—that FEMA is going to relocate at least 3000 Puerto Ricans out of Puerto Rico, when we have so much housing that’s available and that’s apt to have humans. They’re moving our people out systematically. And now it’s—the gentrification that was already happening due to Law 2022 is now being officialised by the US government, and that’s just completely unacceptable.
MONICA ATKINS: My name is Monica Atkins, and I am here representing Cooperation Jackson in Mississippi, as well as the Climate Justice Alliance. And I’m here to stand in solidarity with the communities of color, indigenous people, whose land are being polluted, whose waters are being polluted and whose land is being taken over. So we’re just here standing in solidarity and showing support.
CHIEF NINAWA HUNI KUI: [translated] My name is Chief Ninawa. I am from Acre, Brazil, with the Huni Kui people. I came to bring a message from the forest to this climate conference. This message is of life, love, peace and hope. We believe that nature should not be commercialized for big capital. We came here to demand respect for human beings, for the water, for the forest and everything that depends on the forest.
MIRIAN CISNEROS: [translated] My name is Mirian Cisneros. I’m the president of Sarayaku and Kichwa people in the Ecuadorean Amazon. I’m here because the indigenous people around the world are affected by climate change. And we came with a proposal, the Living Forest proposal, to advance this call for the living forest, but also to join forces and gain solidarity from other people, other movements, so that we can unite and be in this fight together.
DARIO KOPPENBERGER: I’m Dario Koppenberger, and I’m from Wiesbaden in Germany. [translated] It’s become evident, from what we’ve seen at the world climate conference that is in progress here, that the climate targets that they had established are not sufficient. At the same time, it is clear that they are not truly willing to carry them out anyway. I believe that there is enough wealth in the world to be able to accommodate both our concerns for the environment as well as job security for workers. In other words, there need not be starvation or unemployment, because there is enough work in the world, and it is more a question of how to spread it around among all. We need the environment. We cannot exist without it. Therefore, the question is simple for me. It is that capitalism lies at the basis of our problems and that we critically need groundbreaking alternatives to it.
AMY GOODMAN: Voices from the streets of Bonn, Germany, here on Saturday.
Synopsis: There has been a series of decisions made at the Environmental Protection Agency that appear to make life hard for opponents of seabed mining. There are also claims from those opposed to seabed mining that the Chair of Decision Making Committee tearing into the submitters.
Raglan Community Radio spoke to June from Kiwis Against Seabed Mining who has been observing the EPA hearings in New Plymouth who speaks of her concerns.
Australia’s Patrick Suckling … criticised over his support for the Adani Carmichael coal mine. Image: DPS Srinagar
The climate change advocacy group 350.org Pacific today called on Patrick Suckling, the Australian government’s Ambassador for the Environment, to immediately remove his support for the Adani Carmichael coal mine.
If the Carmichael mine goes ahead, it would be the biggest coal mine in Australia and one of the biggest in the world, the group said in a statement.
The annual emissions from burning the coal it produces would be similar to those of the whole of Malaysia or Austria, and more than New York City, 350.org Pacific said.
“With Fiji playing an important role in the process of implementing the Paris Agreement, the support by Australia for the continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry is a slap in the face of the vulnerable Pacific Islands.
“If the Australian government has seriously recognised the plight of the Pacific in dealing with climate change and rising sea levels, they must look at its complicity in the problem the Pacific is facing,” 350.org Pacific coordinator Koreti Tiumalu said.
“The most effective move the Australian government could take is to immediately say no to the Carmichael coal mine and urgently take the necessary actions required to move away from fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy.
“As the world’s largest coal producer and one of the biggest per capita climate polluters, Australia has a responsibility to act swiftly on climate.
Call for genuine action “If Australia wants to be good regional neighbors they must demonstrate genuine action and tackle the causes of climate change, by neither allowing new coal mines nor pushing for the construction of new coal power stations.”
In the lead up to COP23, 350 Pacific and the Pacific Climate Warriors will continue to highlight Australia’s “inaction” on climate change and urge Pacific leaders to rally together and call on Australia to end its fossil fuel expansion.
“Our Pacific leaders must remain vigilant for the future of our Islands – they know what is at stake and have in fact called for a global moratorium on coal mines.
“Fiji’s presidency at COP 23 this year will be a chance for the Pacific to emphasise how Australia’s inaction on climate change speaks louder than words,” Tiumalu said.