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Alongside the UN climate talks that took place earlier this month, Durban’s KZN university hosted a ‘people’s space’: an alternative space where people could come together to talk about the struggle for climate justice. Bringing together activists from across the world, the space saw some fascinating exchanges, where people shared what climate justice means in the context of their own lives, and the complicated web of systemic issues that need to be tackled on the pathway for climate justice.

Whilst the mantra for many concerned citizens in the UK is to reduce energy consumption, a key demand for activists is for their right to energy access to
be met. This was one of the key issues under discussion at the people's space.

In South Africa, and across the continent, energy access is a
vital part of the struggle for climate justice. The statistics remain shocking: in Durban, nearly three-quarters of the population have no access to energy. In rural Africa, that figure is a phenomenal ninety-four percent of people who have no access to the energy they need to drill for water, power hospitals, and cook food. Yet, in a twisted misfortune of geography, Africa is warming faster than the rest of the planet, and its people are already experiencing more crop...

The World Development Movement has slammed the outcome of the UN climate talks in Durban as a ‘spectacular failure’ that will condemn the world’s poorest people to hunger, poverty and ultimately, death.

Murray Worthy, World Development Movement policy officer, said: “Developed countries have behaved shamefully, blocking meaningful progress on tackling climate change. They have refused to acknowledge their historical responsibility for the crisis, either by agreeing to reduce their emissions or by providing finance to help developing countries deal with climate change. 

“These talks have been held hostage by the EU. It seems EU countries came to Durban to impose a deal, not negotiate one. The spectacular failure to achieve an outcome on the most urgent issues puts the world on course for devastating climate change, condemning those least responsible to greater hunger, poverty and ultimately, death.

“The Kyoto Protocol is now only a shadow of what it was and the second commitment period will be its last. There is nothing more than hope in a new deal to replace it, a deal that could well be based on the weak ineffective voluntary approach first put forward at Copenhagen, and that would come into force too late to have any chance of avoiding the most...

At 3pm today, on the final day of the UN climate talks, I joined hundreds of people to occupy the conference centre where the final plenary talks were taking place.

Here are some videos telling the story of what happened.

People sang together as they moved towards the entrance of the plenary:

...


Kirsty Wright, Climate justice campaigner writes from Durban

Alongside the UN climate talks, over the past two weeks, Durban’ KZN university has hosted a ‘people’s space’, an alternative space where people could come together to talk about the struggle for climate justice. Bringing together activists from across the world, the space has seen some fascinating exchanges, where people have shared what climate justice means in the context of their own lives, and to take on the complicated web of systemic issues that need to be tackled on the pathway for climate justice.

Whilst the mantra for many concerned citizens in the UK is to reduce energy consumption, a key demand for activists is for their right to energy access to be met. Here in South Africa, and across the continent, energy access is a vital part of struggle for climate justice. The statistics remain shocking: in urban Africa nearly three-quarters of the population have no access to energy. In rural Africa, that figure is a phenomenal ninety-four percent of people who have no access to the energy they need to drill for water, power hospitals, and cook food. Yet, in a twisted misfortune of geography, Africa is warming faster than the rest of the planet, and its people are already experiencing...

Durban, 16:45, 9 December 2011

As negotiations on the final outcome of the UN climate talks look set to continue late into the night, negotiators remain focused on the EU’s proposed roadmap to replace the Kyoto Protocol with a package that makes the same demands of poor developing countries as it does of rich industrialised countries. The talks have paid almost no attention to the two most urgent issues for developing countries: emissions reductions by developed countries, and finance to help people in poor countries cope with climate change.

On the last day of the talks, Murray Worthy, policy officer at the World Development Movement said:

“The UK and EU’s talk of a new global deal is little more than a distraction from their inaction. The EU is failing to take responsibility for its part in causing climate change.  It should be taking the lead through meaningful action. Instead, the EU ‘roadmap’ has been a smokescreen for developed countries’ failure to do what is needed. It is the world’s poorest people, those least responsible for this crisis, who will end up paying the highest price.”

The talks look set to result in a new Green Climate Fund to deliver finance to developing countries. But the World Development Movement...

Today at 3pm, on the final day of the UN climate talks and as the main plenary was taking place, people including activists from 'Occupy COP17' occupied the conference centre where the talks are being held.

WDM campaigner Kirsty Wright who is at the talks was quoted on the Guardian blog about the occupation saying that "the protesters were accusing the UK and other rich countries of trying to escape their responsibilities for addressing global warming. They were also opposed to the current proposals for a new treaty, corporate power in the talks and the role of the World Bank in delivering finance to help poorer countries cope with climate change."

You can watch the 'live stream' of the occupation here.

Update: Here are some videos that Kirsty recorded earlier in the day

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On, the penultimate day of the Durban climate talks, I joined other climate justice allies at what became one of COP17’s most theatrical press conferences yet. Organised by the Climate Justice Now coalition, allies from across the world took this opportunity to give their analysis of the conference so far, making it clear they felt ignored by the governments who are supposed to represent them. Des D’Sa from the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance gave a damning description of how the talks have failed the people of the world: “There have been discussions taking place in closed doors by those in power, who have colleagues in the corporate world and the decisions are not in the interests of mankind.”

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Talk of a long-term climate deal to cut carbon emissions is allowing industrialised countries to delay taking action, says World Development Movement policy officer Murray Worthy, writing from Durban.

The main story coming out of the UN climate talks in Durban so far has been whether or not the summit can agree to start negotiations on a new long term deal. The EU doesn’t want to talk about much else, and many media reports are focusing on whether developing countries like China and India will come on board. However, lurking behind the positive spin of a new ‘comprehensive deal’ lies the truth – developed countries are ignoring their responsibility and failing to act, and the clock is ticking. Talk of a ‘Durban mandate’ is little more than a smokescreen.

Unless you’re Lord Monckton or Lawson, the science is clear. No one at this summit disputes that humans are causing climate change. At the climate talks in Cancun, countries pledged to keep temperature rises below 2C, thought to be a key...

Guest post by Murray Worthy, used to be the policy officer.

With three days to go at the UN Climate Talks new negotiating texts have emerged for the establishment of the Green Climate Fund, and for decisions on issues including emissions reductions for developed countries outside of the Kyoto Protocol, emissions reductions for developing countries and for long term finance to help developing countries deal with climate change.

The current texts show little sign of progress or agreement on key issues, and during negotiations earlier today many developing countries spoke out against developed countries’ lack of progress in increasing their emission reductions. The Marshall Islands said that the conference cannot ‘kick decisions down the road’ on emission reductions and Bolivia reminded negotiators that the world is currently on track for 4C of warming, that would “leave most of the world uninhabitable”.

In response to the lack of progress in the negotiations, Murray Worthy, policy officer at the World Development Movement said:

On the talks:
“Unless developed countries take serious action over the next three days to reduce their emissions and provide finance to developing countries, Durban risks disaster for the climate and for the world’s...

A year on from the World Bank out of climate finance campaign launch at the Cancun talks, last week members of the global coalition reunited outside COP17. Last year’s talks concluded with an agreement to design a new Green Climate Fund within the UNFCCC. While many welcomed this, others remained cautious because of the World Bank’s role as ‘trustee’. As the fund had not been designed, over the last year there has been much still to play for in terms of how the fund would be shaped, and to whose benefit.

Since then, rich industrialised governments, spearheaded by the UK, have continued the perpetual shift towards financialisation and corporatisation of seemingly everything proposed within the climate talks. By the time the Durban talks began, the inclusion of a ‘private sector facility’, which would inevitably preference the financial sector and corporations over the people impacted by climate change, meant the fund was already looking more like a Greedy Corporate Fund. Read the letter from 163 civil society organisations concerned about the design of the fund, which was presented to governments attending the...

A new climate change finance package, announced today by Chris Huhne, will push up developing countries’ debt, say campaigners from the World Development Movement.

At least £235 million of the money announced today by UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne will be in the form of loans rather than grants, going through World Bank climate lending programmes that have already pushed some of the world’s poorest countries deeper into debt. 

£150 million, the largest part of today’s announcement, will go to the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund. UK money previously given to this fund helped finance private sector projects including a wind farm in Mexico which violates the rights of indigenous people and does not increase energy access, instead selling all of its electricity at a discounted rate to US multinational Walmart.

But campaigners welcomed the announcement that £10 million would be given to the UN Adaptation Fund, to directly help people in developing countries cope with the effects of climate change. The UK has until now given no money to the UN fund, which is threatened with closure if contributions from developed countries do not increase...

As campaigners focusing on climate justice, we tend to think wind energy is a good thing. And so it can be – but not when it robs indigenous people of their land. 

Last year, the World Development Movement’s climate campaigner Kirsty Wright went to the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, and met indigenous activist Bettina Cruz Velazquez. Bettina told Kirsty how wind farms run by multinational corporations are being built without the consent of the indigenous people who own the land.

In October, Bettina and others were attacked and received death threats during a protest against one of the wind farms. Amnesty is concerned that the death of a man in unclear circumstances during the protest is being used to ‘unfairly prosecute protestors and to deter future protests,’ and it is asking people to write to the Mexican authorities expressing their concern.

Incredibly, one of the other wind farms in the area, also being opposed by local people, is being part financed from the UK’s overseas aid budget. It produces enough electricity to power 160,000 homes. So at the very least, it must be providing energy for the people of Oaxaca, seven...

A report launched today by the World Development Movement reveals that UK climate aid is being used to produce cheap electricity for the US multinational Walmart, through a project that violates the rights of indigenous people in Mexico.

The report, ‘Power to the people?’, details how money taken from the UK aid budget has been used by the World Bank to finance wind farms in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, built without the consent of the indigenous people who own the land. The project produces enough electricity to power 160,000 homes, but is instead being sold at a discounted rate to Walmart. The project is 99 per cent controlled by French electricity giant EDF.

The La Mata and La Ventosa wind park is part funded the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund, which receives 14 per cent of its money - or £385 million – from the UK overseas aid budget. The fund’s objectives include poverty reduction, but the wind park has done nothing to increase energy access among the seven per cent of Oaxaca’s population who have no electricity.

Local indigenous woman Bettina Cruz Velazquez told the World Development Movement:

With the pretext of advancing renewable energy, big corporations are occupying our...

Guest post by Murray Worthy, used to be policy officer writes from Durban

One of the key issues being debated here at the UN climate talks in Durban is the establishment of a new 'Green Climate Fund'. It is hoped that the fund could replace the role the World Bank is playing in managing climate finance at the moment, and be the main fund for managing global climate finance. At the UN talks Developing countries and international civil society groups have spoken out against proposals for a dedicated private sector arm of the proposed new fund.

Today, 163 organisations including the World Development Movement, from 39 countries released a letter exposing efforts by the UK and US to turn the Green Climate Fund into a 'Greedy Corporate Fund' at the UN talks. The proposals for a dedicated arm to directly finance the private sector would lead to public finance, often taken from overseas aid budgets, being used to subsidise multinational companies from the global north. Relying heavily on the private sector would also skew what finance is used for, with finance diverted to already profitable energy projects - rather projects aiming to reduce the...

Guest post by Murray Worthy, used to be policy officer.

If you have been following the news recently you could be fooled into thinking the politics of the UN negotiations have been turned on their head. It might no longer seems to be a case of developed vs. developing countries, but of new alliances forming between them and the UK committing to the future of Kyoto and a new ambitious global deal.But in actual fact the reality of what we are seeing is the same old politics, but with a clever spin and a lot of muddying of the waters.

So, what are the UK & EU really saying? Though they sound like they’re using the same language as some developing countries, they are in fact aiming for something completely different. In reality, their goal is to scrap anything in the UN talks based on the differences between developed and developing countries and the principles of historical responsibility for causing climate change (that industrialised countries in the global north have grown rich...

A report launched by the World Development Movement reveals shocking bullying and bribery tactics employed by countries including the UK and the US to try to kill the Kyoto Protocol, as negotiators from the world’s governments gather today in Durban, South Africa, for the start of the 2011 UN climate talks.

Through exclusive new interviews with negotiators from developing countries, the report exposes the ‘unfair, undemocratic and deceitful’ tactics used by developed countries to skew the climate change negotiations in their favour and backtrack on their legal commitments.

The report features previously unpublished testimonies from insiders at the Copenhagen and Cancun climate summits in 2009 and 2010. They reveal how key agreements such as the Copenhagen Accord were developed, including though secret meetings and the sidelining of developing country negotiators, followed by agreements being presented to developing countries on a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ basis.

The Copenhagen Accord marked a unprecedented shift in the UN climate negotiations, away from the...

It is the eve of the UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa. Two years on from the catastrophic talks that took place in Copenhagen; there has been little progress on a global deal on climate change. In fact, as the science demands ever stronger action, with people’s lives becoming increasingly impacted by extreme weather events, disease, failing crops and reduced water supplies as a result of climate change, the same rich industrialised countries that grew wealthy by causing the crisis have only lowered ambition.
 
Inside the talks, the picture looks bleak. Rich industrialised countries are doing their best to destroy the only legally binding framework on emissions reductions that exists, aiming instead to replace it with a voluntary ‘pledge and review’ system which current figures suggest would lead to disastrous global temperature rises of over five degrees above pre-industrial temperatures. Furthermore, there is a strong push to do away with any notion of historical responsibility for the big polluters, now reluctant to either reduce their emissions or pay compensation, as they agreed when the signed up to the UN convention on climate change....



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