Climate Change, the Coal Business and Civil Disobedience

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Where do you stand on civil disobedience? That hoary question may be taking on new relevance as environmental groups take illegal, but non-violent, measures to highlight what they call the climate crisis.

The latest incident occurred over the weekend in the Netherlands, where Dutch police arrested dozens of Greenpeace activists for trying to stop construction of a new coal plant by the German electricity giant E.ON in Rotterdam.

Many of the arrests at the Maasvlakte station were on trespassing charges, according to news reports. Others in the group attached themselves to equipment and buildings and had to be freed by the police, the reports said.


Evo Morales on climate change: Save the Planet from Capitalism

This was originally posted by Brenda Norell at

Evo Morales on climate change: Save the Planet from Capitalism

Tom Goldtooth, director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, said the following letter was forwarded to IEN during the COP14 UNFCCC meeting in Poznan, Poland. This statement indicates a growing global resistance to carbon markets as solutions towards addressing climate change/globalwarming (i.e. RED/Ds, forest carbon offsets, carbon trading, etc.) IEN has a delegation at this United Nations meeting on climate.

Save the Planet from Capitalism
By Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia

AP photo
Sisters and brothers:

Today, our Mother Earth is ill. From the beginning of the 21st century we have lived the hottest years of the last thousand years. Global warming is generating abrupt changes in the weather: the retreat of glaciers and the decrease of the polar ice caps; the increase of the sea level and the flooding of coastal areas, where approximately 60% of the world population live; the increase in the processes of desertification and the decrease of fresh water sources; a higher frequency in natural disasters that the communities of the earth suffer[1]; the extinction of animal and vegetal species; and the spread of diseases in areas that before were free from those diseases.

One of the most tragic consequences of the climate change is that some nations and territories are the condemned to disappear by the increase of the sea level.

Everything began with the industrial revolution in 1750, which gave birth to the capitalist system. In two and a half centuries, the so called “developed” countries have consumed a large part of the fossil fuels created over five million centuries.

Competition and the thirst for profit without limits of the capitalist system are destroying the planet. Under Capitalism we are not human beings but consumers. Under Capitalism mother earth does not exist, instead there are raw materials. Capitalism is the source of the asymmetries and imbalances in the world. It generates luxury, ostentation and waste for a few, while millions in the world die from hunger in the world. In the hands of Capitalism everything becomes a commodity: the water, the soil, the human genome, the ancestral cultures, justice, ethics, death … and life itself. Everything, absolutely everything, can be bought and sold and under Capitalism. And even “climate change” itself has become a business.“Climate change” has placed all humankind before great choice: to continue in the ways of capitalism and death, or to start down the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.

In the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the developed countries and economies in transition committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5% below the 1990 levels, through the implementation of different mechanisms among which market mechanisms predominate.

Until 2006, greenhouse effect gases, far from being reduced, have increased by 9.1% in relation to the 1990 levels, demonstrating also in this way the breach of commitments by the developed countries.

The market mechanisms applied in the developing countries[2] have not accomplished a significant reduction of greenhouse effect gas emissions.

Just as well as the market is incapable of regulating global financial and productive system, the market is unable to regulate greenhouse effect gas emissions and will only generate a big business for financial agents and major corporations.

The earth is much more important than stock exchanges of Wall Street and the world.While the United States and the European Union allocate 4,100 billion dollars to save the bankers from a financial crisis that they themselves have caused, programs on climate change get 313 times less, that is to say, only 13 billion dollars.

The resources for climate change are unfairly distributed. More resources are directed to reduce emissions (mitigation) and less to reduce the effects of climate change that all the countries suffer (adaptation)[3]. The vast majority of resources flow to those countries that have contaminated the most, and not to the countries where we have preserved the environment most. Around 80% of the Clean Development Mechanism projects are concentrated in four emerging countries.

Capitalist logic promotes a paradox in which the sectors that have contributed the most to deterioration of the environment are those that benefit the most from climate change programs.

At the same time, technology transfer and the financing for clean and sustainable development of the countries of the South have remained just speeches.

The next summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen must allow us to make a leap forward if we want to save Mother Earth and humanity. For that purpose the following proposals for the process from Poznan to Copenhagen:

Attack the structural causes of climate change
1) Debate the structural causes of climate change. As long as we do not change the capitalist system for a system based in complementarity, solidarity and harmony between the people and nature, the measures that we adopt will be palliatives that will limited and precarious in character. For us, what has failed is the model of “living better”, of unlimited development, industrialisation without frontiers, of modernity that deprecates history, of increasing accumulation of goods at the expense of others and nature. For that reason we promote the idea of Living Well, in harmony with other human beings and with our Mother Earth.
2) Developed countries need to control their patterns of consumption – of luxury and waste – especially the excessive consumption of fossil fuels. Subsidies of fossil fuel, that reach 150-250 billions of dollars[4], must be progressively eliminated. It is fundamental to develop alternative forms of power, such as solar, geothermal, wind and hydroelectric both at small and medium scales.
3) Agrofuels are not an alternative, because they put the production of foodstuffs for transport before the production of food for human beings. Agrofuels expand the agricultural frontier destroying forests and biodiversity, generate monocropping, promote land concentration, deteriorate soils, exhaust water sources, contribute to rises in food prices and, in many cases, result in more consumption of more energy than is produced.
Substantial commitments to emissions reduction that are met
4) Strict fulfilment by 2012 of the commitments[5] of the developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least by 5% below the 1990 levels. It is unacceptable that the countries that polluted the planet throughout the course of history make statements about larger reductions in the future while not complying with their present commitments.
5) Establish new minimum commitments for the developed countries of greenhouse gas emission reduction of 40% by 2020 and 90% by for 2050, taking as a starting point 1990 emission levels. These minimum commitments must be met internally in developed countries and not through flexible market mechanisms that allow for the purchase of certified emissions reduction certificates to continue polluting in their own country. Likewise, monitoring mechanisms must be established for the measuring, reporting and verifying that are transparent and accessible to the public, to guarantee the compliance of commitments.
6) Developing countries not responsible for the historical pollution must preserve the necessary space to implement an alternative and sustainable form of development that does not repeat the mistakes of savage industrialisation that has brought us to the current situation. To ensure this process, developing countries need, as a prerequisite, finance and technology transfer.
An Integral Financial Mechanism to address ecological debt
7) Acknowledging the historical ecological debt that they owe to the planet, developed countries must create an Integral Financial Mechanism to support developing countries in: implementation of their plans and programmes for adaptation to and mitigation of climate change; the innovation, development and transfer of technology; in the preservation and improvement of the sinks and reservoirs; response actions to the serious natural disasters caused by climate change; and the carrying out of sustainable and eco-friendly development plans.
8) This Integral Financial Mechanism, in order to be effective, must count on a contribution of at least 1% of the GDP in developed countries[6] and other contributions from taxes on oil and gas, financial transactions, sea and air transport, and the profits of transnational companies.
9) Contributions from developed countries must be additional to Official Development Assistance (ODA), bilateral aid or aid channelled through organisms not part of the United Nations. Any finance outside the UNFCCC cannot be considered as the fulfilment of developed country’s commitments under the Convention.
10) Finance has to be directed to the plans or national programmes of the different States and not to projects that follow market logic.
11) Financing must not be concentrated just in some developed countries but has to give priority to the countries that have contributed less to greenhouse gas emissions, those that preserve nature and are suffering the impact of climate change.
12) The Integral Financial Mechanism must be under the coverage of the United Nations, not under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other intermediaries such as the World Bank and regional development banks; its management must be collective, transparent and non-bureaucratic. Its decisions must be made by all member countries, especially by developing countries, and not by the donors or bureaucratic administrators.
Technology Transfer to developing countries
13) Innovation and technology related to climate changes must be within the public domain, not under any private monopolistic patent regime that obstructs and makes technology transfer more expensive to developing countries.
14) Products that are the fruit of public financing for technology innovation and development of have to be placed within the public domain and not under a private regime of patents[7], so that they can be freely accessed by developing countries.
15) Encourage and improve the system of voluntary and compulsory licenses so that all countries can access products already patented quickly and free of cost. Developed countries cannot treat patents and intellectual property rights as something “sacred” that has to be preserved at any cost. The regime of flexibilities available for the intellectual property rights in the cases of serious problems for public health has to be adapted and substantially enlarged to heal Mother Earth.
16) Recover and promote indigenous peoples practices in harmony with nature which have proven to be sustainable through centuries.
Adaptation and mitigation with the participation of all the people

17) Promote mitigation actions, programs and plans with the participation of local communities and indigenous people in the framework of full respect for and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The best mechanism to confront the challenge of climate change are not market mechanisms, but conscious, motivated, and well organized human beings endowed with an identity of their own.
18) The reduction of the emissions from deforestation and forest degradation must be based on a mechanism of direct compensation from developed to developing countries, through a sovereign implementation that ensures broad participation of local communities, and a mechanism for monitoring, reporting and verifying that is transparent and public.
A UN for the Environment and Climate Change
19) We need a World Environment and Climate Change Organization to which multilateral trade and financial organizations are subordinated, so as to promote a different model of development that environmentally friendly and resolves the profound problems of impoverishment. This organization must have effective follow-up, verification and sanctioning mechanisms to ensure that the present and future agreements are complied with.
20) It is fundamental to structurally transform the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the international economic system as a whole, in order to guarantee fair and complementary trade, as well as financing without conditions for sustainable development that avoids the waste of natural resources and fossil fuels in the production processes, trade and product transport.In this negotiation process towards Copenhagen, it is fundamental to guarantee the participation of our people as active stakeholders at a national, regional and worldwide level, especially taking into account those sectors most affected, such as indigenous peoples who have always promoted the defense of Mother Earth.

Humankind is capable of saving the earth if we recover the principles of solidarity, complementarity, and harmony with nature in contraposition to the reign of competition, profits and rampant consumption of natural resources.
November 28, 2008

Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia


CLIMATE CHANGE: Talks Could Learn From Indigenous Groups

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UNITED NATIONS, Nov 21 (IPS) – As the United Nations readies for a key climate change meeting in Poland next month, a London-based human rights group warns that any new deal on global warming would be seriously compromised if the most vulnerable groups, specifically indigenous peoples, are shut out of the negotiations.

“The entire U.N. process will be flawed if communities that have firsthand experience of dealing with climate change are not allowed to participate,” says Minority Rights Group (MRG).

Mark Lattimer, MRG’s executive director, says “because we naturally think of climate change as affecting us all — the whole planet — there is a tendency to resist considering the effect on particular groups.

Greenland and Antarctic Glacier Retreat Linked

Greenland and Antarctic Glacier Retreat Linked

Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 11:58:17 AM PST


He goes on to discuss two mechanisms that might account for the breakup of ice sheets or outlet glaciers leading to a speedup of the upstream ice sheet. To better understand what we are discussing lets consider the images below:

Petermann Glacier breakup

In the three images we can observe the breakup of a large piece of the ice shelf flowing out of the Petermann glacier. One can clearly see the ice shelf arm which is floating in the ocean and which is connected to the glacier proper behind, which is anchored to the land. Over a relatively short time a large part of the ice sheet breaks up as can be seen in the photos. The result of this breakup, as it turns out is, in most instances, to cause the ice sheet behind the ice shelf to move more rapidly. This has a consequence for sea-level rise, because the ice sheet is on land whereas the ice shelf, as you will remember was floating although anchored in places to the sea bed.

Continue reading

New Global Energy Strategy Tackles Climate Change and Saves $18 Trillion in Fuel Costs

New Global Energy Strategy Tackles Climate Change and Saves $18 Trillion in Fuel Costs

WASHINGTON – October 27 – At a time when polluting corporations are trying to use the economic slowdown as an excuse to delay action on global warming, a new Greenpeace report shows that aggressive investment in renewable power and energy efficiency can create a $360 billion a year industry, provide half of the world’s electricity, and slash $18 trillion in future fuel expenditures while protecting the climate.

Copies of the report can be downloaded at: and For other regional reports please go to

“Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook,” drafted by the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) and Greenpeace International, provides a practical blueprint for rapidly cutting energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to help ensure that emissions of the heat-trapping gases peak and then fall by 2015, the time frame scientists say is critical to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global warming. This can be achieved while ensuring economies in China, India, and other developing nations have access to the energy needed to lift people out of poverty.

“Unlike other energy scenarios that promote energy futures at the cost of the climate, our energy revolution scenario shows how to save money and maintain global economic development without fuelling catastrophic climate change. All we need to kick start this plan is bold energy policy from world leaders,” said Sven Teske, Greenpeace International’s Senior Energy Expert and co-author of the report.

“Strict efficiency standards make sound economic sense and dramatically slow down rising global energy demand. The energy saved in industrialized countries will make space for increased energy use in developing economies. With renewable energy growing four-fold not only in the electricity sector, but also in the heating and transport sectors, we can still cut the average carbon emissions per person from today’s four tons to around one ton by 2050,” he added.

In the context of today’s economic uncertainty, investing in renewable energy technologies offers a win-win-win scenario: a win for the economy, a win for the climate, and a win for energy security.  The report estimates that the cost of continued reliance on coal, from today through 2030, is as high as $15.9 trillion, more than required to pay for the renewable solutions proposed in the plan. These clean energy sources will produce electricity without any additional fuel costs after 2030, while creating millions of jobs and stimulating the global economy.

Oliver Schäfer, EREC Policy Director said, “The global market for renewable energy can grow at a double digit rates until 2050, and overtake the size of today’s fossil fuel industry. Currently, the renewable energy market is worth $70 billion and doubling in size every three years.”

“Because of economies of scale, renewable energies such as wind power at good sites are already competitive with conventional power. From around 2015 onwards, we are confident that renewable sources across all sectors will be the most cost effective. The renewable industry is ready and able to deliver the needed capacity to make the energy revolution a reality. There is no technical impediment but a political barrier to rebuild the global energy sector,” he added.

“Countries like China and India are well placed to take the enormous investment opportunity presented by the energy revolution,” said John Passacantando, Greenpeace U.S.A. Executive Director. “It would be short-sighted for them to focus on fossil fuels to power their rapid economic growth.  The energy revolution is key to them climate proofing their development.”

The report also highlights the short time window for making the key decisions in energy infrastructure. In order to achieve a greenhouse gas emission peak by 2015 and a fast reduction afterwards, governments, investment institutions and companies must act swiftly, and agree to a strengthened UN climate deal.

The Coal Hard Facts , abec ,accce,americas power , clean coal,climate change,coal,coal industry, environment , global warming Top Ten Reasons Coal is Dirty

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The Coal Hard Facts

Top Ten Reasons Coal is Dirty

#1: Coal Increases Rates of Disease

The United States burns more than a billion tons of coal each year – that’s 20 pounds of coal for every person in the country, every day.

According to the American Lung Association, 24,000 people a year die prematurely because of pollution from coal-fired power plants. And every year 38,000 heart attacks, 12,000 hospital admissions and an additional 550,000 asthma attacks result from power plant pollution.

#2: Coal Kills Jobs

Despite coal industry claims that coal mining creates lots of jobs, the truth is that coal mining employment has been declining for decades, due to increased use of machinery instead of manpower.

In West Virginia alone, coal mining employment has plummeted from 126,000 miners in 1948 (who produced 168 million tons of coal), to just 15,000 miners employed in 2005 (who, with the help of machinery, produced 128 million tons of coal).

#3: Burning Coal Emits Mercury

Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of human-generated mercury pollution in the U.S. Mercury emissions from electrical generation continues to rise.

Mercury in mothers’ blood and breast milk can interfere with the development of babies’ brains and neurological systems and can lead to learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, problems with coordination, lowered IQ and even mental retardation.

#4: Burning Coal is Fuel for Global Warming

The U.S. produces about 25 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Burning coal contributes 40 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions. Coal is the most carbon intensive fossil fuel. According to the United Nations Environment Program, coal emits around 1.7 times as much carbon per unit of energy when burned as does natural gas and 1.25 times as much as oil.

#5: Coal Kills Miners

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 12,000 coal miners died from black lung disease between 1992 and 2002.

#6: Coal Wastes Huge Quantities of Water

Coal mining requires an estimated 70 to 260 million gallons of water every day.

#7: Coal Pollutes Seafood and Freshwater Fish

49 U.S. states have issued fish consumption advisories due to high mercury concentrations in freshwater bodies throughout the country.

Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of human-generated mercury pollution in the U.S.

#8: Coal Destroys Mountains

Instead of traditional mining, many coal companies now use mountaintop removal to extract coal.

Coal companies are increasingly using this method because it allows for almost complete recovery of coal seams while reducing the number of workers required to a fraction of what conventional methods require.

Mountaintop removal involves clear cutting native hardwood forests, using dynamite to blast away as much as 800-1000 feet of mountaintop, and then dumping the waste into nearby valleys, often burying streams.

#9: Coal Kills Freshwater Streams

More than 1,200 miles of Appalachian streams have been buried or damaged by mountaintop removal mining. At least 724 miles of streams were completely buried by valley fills from Appalachian mountaintop removal between 1985 and 2001.

400,000 acres of rich and diverse temperate forests have been destroyed during the same time period as a result of mountaintop mining in Appalachia.

#10: Coal Costs Billions in Taxpayer Subsidies

The U.S. government continues to aggressively fund coal-related projects despite all that is known about coal’s impacts on health, climate and the economy.

The Department of Energy is currently seeking $648 million for “clean coal” projects in its 2009 budget request, “representing the largest budget request for coal RD&D in over 25 years.”

Want to do more?

Check out our section on how you can fight “clean coal” in your community and online.

If not coal, then what?

Check out “There is a Better Way” on how renewable energy technology can power America.