Westside Action

a motley crew of anarchists and activists from Bristol, Bath and South Wales

Archive for COP15

Letter From COP15 Accused, 19th March

Dear All,

First of all, Noah and I wanted to say a massive thank you for all the solidarity, the actions, articles, petitions and messages of care that have been organized in solidarity with our trial. Although we know that political repression of this sort targets all activists, it does feel very isolating being the people picked out and charged.  Every single action of solidarity has made this process easier for us and reminded us that we are not alone. So thank you!

We have had several victories, some beautiful court moments, and a very stressful week in court. Our case was extended for three more days- which will not happen until August. Noah and I are both sad that the trial is not over but relieved to have not been judged yesterday. I have included english versions of some of the danish press coverage on the case below to give you a better idea of what has been going on in our trial.

We were originally given two days in court for our trial (the tuesday and friday just passed). We had been charged with organizing violence against the police, gross public disorder, systematic destruction of property and gross disturbance of public infrastructure. Two of these are charges associated with danish terror laws. The police said that we did this from the period of october to december 2009 but that these things were mostly to be carried out in copenhagen during the period of the 11th to the 18th of December. They said that the alleged actions we are accused of mostly failed because the police managed to stop them- in part by arresting Noah on the 11th and me on the 13th of December and keeping us in prison for the rest of the COP (and three more weeks- just to be sure!).

On the morning of the first day in court our lawyers argued for the case to be dropped. They explained that charges in Denmark usually have to include some description of what people are accused of doing, including things like how they were doing it, where, when…anything really. They successfully removed one of the terror charges (gross disturbance of public infrastructure) and got the police prosecutor to admit that none of the things we were accused of had any relation to what happened on the streets in Copenhagen during the COP 15. So now we are just accused of attempting actions, not actually carrying anything out!

It was at this point that the police prosecutor introduced the crystal ball defense. No more details than “something bad was supposed to happen at some point somewhere in Copenhagen” could be supplied by the police because they couldn’t look into their crystal ball when they charged us! In a spectacular display of confidence in the charges she then asked the court to note that she had not actually written them herself!

The court decided to continue with the rest of the charges regardless, but after two days in court I am wondering if they regret that decision. The ‘evidence’ for the non-specific things we are accused of organizing is spurious at best and in the worst cases produced bursts of laughter from both judges and spectators in court. They have trucked out tiny bits of conversations from tapped phones between other people and asked us to interpret them,  radically reinterpreted what we and others have said on the phone (from over three months of our private conversations that they recorded) to the point where even the judge objected. They used notes from brainstorms, scribbled notes from media report backs, and outlandish conjecture to try to demonize us.

My personal favorite is a note i made about big bolt cutters. Instead of asking to interview her during her three weeks in prison (although they said one of the reasons i was kept was for further investigation), they chose to leave until court to ask what was meant by this note in my confiscated personal note book. I explained that it was prop for a demonstration that was a huge two meter tall paper mache bolt cutter. It was to be used on the day of the climate no-borders day of action as both a humorous and serious way to say it is illegitimate to cage human beings. The prosecutor tried to throw doubt on the honesty of my reply until two of the audience in court went to pick them up from a local social center and brought them in for the court to see. Everyone but the prosecutor laughed.

The state of the evidence would really be hilarious if the case didn’t carry such serious consequences both for us personally and for Democracy in Denmark. We are the first of a series of cases against people accused of organizing. It seems that the Danish state is using us as a test case for new anti-activist laws they have passed, the extension of terror legislation to cover any form of political protest and to establish the ability to try people for things that never actually occurred.

Noah and I were both picked up and arrested on the side of the road while riding our bikes by ourselves, threatened, isolated and kept in prison for over three weeks of ‘preventative detention’. The personal impacts of this have been huge. Even scarier though is the potential effect this has on everyone’s ability to speak up about things they care about in Denmark. If they manage to criminalize protest to the extent that going to meetings, organizing speakers for a demonstration, or being a media spokes person can land you in jail, then what sort of world will we be living in? If they manage to say intense surveillance and monitoring of activists and their lovers and friends is legitimate, and arrests should be made on crystal ball suspicions of potential actions- then we have moved from even the sham of liberal democracy to a society more reminiscent of 1984 than any of us would like to admit.

It is clear also that this is not just happening in Denmark. Since our arrests we have heard of countless political prisoners facing the hard end of political repression. After our experience of injustice and repression in Denmark we feel very personally that it is so important that all of us speak out and not let this repression continue.

Free all political prisoners, drop the charges for the Cop 15 defendants and all people arrested during the COP15, and end political repression NOW!!!

Love, solidarity and actions for a better world
tash and noah xo

Statement From COP15 Prisoners- and how to support them

Further below is an edited version of the statement collectively released by the 11 remaining Cop15 Prisoners. Meanwhile, a website has just appeared solely concerned with repression in Copenhagen:

This Includes:
* How to support people in jail: http://www.cop-enhagen.net/index.php/Main/Support
* Map and list of past anti-repression actions (a lot already happened!): http://www.cop-enhagen.net/index.php/Main/ProtestMap
* List of ‘what you can do’ (existing petitions, future protests, etc.): http://www.cop-enhagen.net/index.php/Main/Protest
* Contact points in your country if you want to get involved with anti-repression work: http://www.cop-enhagen.net/index.php/Main/Network (write to me if you want to become a contact point in a country where there’s none).

If youd like to write a letter to any of these prisoners (or any others for that matter) maybe you good pop along to the next letter writing session at your local Anarchist Black Cross group: ABC Bristol regular monthly letter writing and discussion meeting.2nd Wednesday of every month7 to 9pm, at Kebele Social centre, 14 Robertson Rd, Bristol BS5 6JY.

http://bristolabc.wordpress.com/
http://www.kebelecoop.org
Bring snacks to share, hot drinks available.

Statement from those still Imprisoned:

“Something is rotten  (but not just) in the State of Denmark. As a matter of fact, thousands of people have been considered, without any evidence, a threat to  society. Hundreds have been arrested and some are still under detention, waiting for judgement or under investigation. Among them, us, the undersigned…We want to tell the story from the peculiar viewpoint of those that still see the sky from behind the bars.”


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

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

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

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

How the COP15 has ended proves that we were right. Many of us are paying what is mandatory for an obsessive, pervasive and total repression…We are detained with evidently absurd accusations about either violence that actually did not take place or conspiracies and organizing of law-breaking actions.

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

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

Luca Tornatore – from the Italien social centres network “see you in Copenhagen”.
Natasha Verco – Climate Justice Action
Stine Gry Jonassen – Climate Justice Action
Tannie Nyboe – Climate Justice Action
Johannes Paul Schul Meyer
Arvip Peschel
Christian Becker
Kharlanchuck Dzmitry
Cristoph Lang
Anthony Arrabal

In addition there are 4 Greenpeace Campaigners who are not signatories to the above statement but could still do with your support: Juan Lopez de Uralde from Spain, Joris Thijssen from the Netherlands, Nora Christensen from Norway, and Christian Schmutz from Switzerland.

Danish police raid Copenhagen climate campaigners’ rooms

Danish police raid Copenhagen climate campaigners’ rooms

Police detain 200 activists at their Copenhagen accommodation and seize items they claim could be used for acts of civil disobedience

(Guardian Article)

COP15 : items that were confiscated by Danish police from a pre-dawn police raid in CopenhagenCopenhagen police seized items including paint bombs and shields which they claimed could be used for acts of civil disobedience. Photograph: Dresling Jens/AP

Danish police last night raided a climate campaigners’ accommodation centre in Copenhagen, detaining 200 activists and seizing items including paint bombs and shields which they claimed could be used for acts of civil disobedience.

About 200 police arrived at the shelter on Ragnhild Street, in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen, at 2.30am. They locked activists into the building for two hours, and searched some of the nearby properties. Campaigners say they took away various items including a power drill, an angle grinder, and some wooden props. No arrests were made.

Police confirmed the raid took place and issued a statement saying among the items they had found were “58 fluorescent tubes containing a mixture of paint and oil, closed in both ends with candle wax, 193 riot shields, nine metal cages measuring 4x2m, which are capable of rolling and constructed inside with milk cartons, which could be used for staircases.”

A spokeswoman for Climate Justice Action (CJA), one of the activist groups, said: “People were enormously frightened and alarmed. We really don’t know why the police handled it like this: the Danish government has provided this accommodation for activists and now the police are acting unnecessarily. We’ll be asking for the items they confiscated back.”

The centre on Ragnhild Street is one of a handful of sleeping spaces provided by the government for the protesters who are expected during the course of the summit. Activists estimate that between 30,000-40,000 protesters may arrive over the next couple of weeks. Hundreds of small-scale actions are planned, and three large-scale peaceful protests are also due to take place on Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday.

Police have said that although they will facilitate peaceful protest, they fear that an international extremist network may come to Copenhagen to join the peaceful protests then break away to commit acts of violence.

The head of the Police Intelligence Service (PET), Jakob Scharf, has said that “violent extremists will try to abuse and get a free ride on the peaceful activist involvement in the climate debate.”

Scharf said he feared that peaceful protesters may end up in a battle zone between extremists and police.

Some activists have privately conceded that there may well be trouble at some of the upcoming demonstrations. But most strongly refute the idea that troublemakers are descending on Copenhagen. “We’ve found that to be a myth put about by people who are seeking to undermine the genuine reasons people are protesting,” said Mel Evans of CJA. “We’ve issued a call out for people to take peaceful action on climate change and that’s why they’re coming here.”

Copenhagen Day 3

Protests Inside Bella Centre: Some African Delegates Threaten to Walk Out/Border Crossing Point Info for Activists

Lumumba Di-Aping of Sudan, the head of the 135-nation bloc of developing countries, said the $10 billion a year that has been proposed to help poor nations fight climate change paled in comparison to the more than $1 trillion already spent to rescue financial institutions.

“If this is the greatest risk that humanity faces, then how do you explain $10 billion?” he said. “Ten billion will not buy developing countries’ citizens enough coffins.”

Stuck at The Border? Important Numbers to Note before you Leave

While it seems that police is strengthening border control, we have updated the relevant section in the practical info on the website.

Constant updates about borders can be found here borderwatchcop15.blogsport.de

Flensburg (German/Danish border): Phone 0049 (0)15153610132.

Rostock (German/Danish border): Phone 0049 (0)15224551075
grenzsolicop15-rostock@riseup.net
download public key

Malmoe (Swedish/Danish border): 0046 760188650

Read more about border control here http://www.climate-justice-action.org/practical-info/copenhagen-info/#Border%20control

Why we should go to COP15 – Interview with Bolvian Indigenous Activist

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2898963&dest=-1]

On 13th November Bristol Indymedia and Trapese collective filmed an interview with Crisitian Dominguez on his views of the COP15 summit and what his country Bolivia was hoping to achieve at the coinference. As well talking about this he also discussed his support for the people going to Copenhagen to support their demands coming from the global south. Find out what he had to say on the Bliptv Bristol Indymedia channel link below.

copenhagen_thumb.png

More information:

Cristian Domínguez is the Bolivian Secretary of Environment and Resources and United Confederation of Bolivian Campesino Workers and member of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change, participating in the UN climate talks, presents his country’s position on the negotiations. As part of the 100 Days and C-Words exhibition at Arnolfini,[1, 2] Domínguez joined local activists planning to go to Copenhagen to call for an urgent people’s mobilisation to Copenhagen and an end to green capitalist solutions for the benefit of all life on earth.

Cristian Domínguez has previously said, “It’s not the decision of one country, but all of the countries of the world. It’s not about the interests of states or political parties, but the interests of the citizens of the world.” [3]

Evo Morales, Bolivian president, will be a major player at Copenhagen. He has demanded a court for climate justice and indigenous rights. Latin American and Caribbean countries have joined forces to call for climate justice and the defence of the rights of the Earth ahead of climate change talks in Copenhagen. ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas) has called on developed countries to recognise the “climate debt” caused by their historical carbon emissions. The network, consisting of nine counties representing 73 million people, also demanded that rich nations “adopt significant commitments to reduce greenhouse gas discharge and approve mechanisms to help countries to preserve, protect and conserve their forests”. [3]

Naomi Klein, in a statement published on 13.11.09 for The Guardian, called for civil disobedience to support the Global South’s demands for Climate Justice in Copenhagen, “Unlike at previous summits where alternatives seemed like an afterthought, in Copenhagen the alternatives will take centre stage.” [4]

Alice Cutler, from Bristol said, “I will be going to Copenhagen next month to support the alliances of countries of the Global South to demand climate justice and real people’s solutions rather than neoliberal illusions. My message is, it’s not too late to book your ticket, come and make sure that the pressure from civil society on the outside gets progress inside. It could be the most important thing you ever do.” [5]

[1] Arnolfini 100 Days season (29 Aug – 6 Dec 2009)

Marking the Countdown to the Climate Change Conference, Arnolfini presents 100 Days – a major programme of exhibitions, films, performances and events around issues of climate change, social justice, art and activism. http://www.100days.org.uk

[2] C Words

Carbon, Climate, Capital, Culture is a major exhibition and season of 50 events in the run-up to COP 15, at leading contemporary arts centre Arnolfini, Bristol from 3.10.09 – 29.11.09.

http://blog.platformlondon.org/cwords?page=1

[3] Bolivia Summit report

http://www.cafod.org.uk/news/bolivia-summit-2009-10-20

[4] Naomi Klein

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009…hagen

[5] Alice Cutler has been participating in the C-Words season and is part of Trapese Popular Education Collective http://www.trapese.org/ trapese at riseup.net

Related Link: http://blip.tv/file/2879169

Climate Rage!

Climate Rage

By Naomi Klein – November 11th, 2009

One last chance to save the world—for months, that’s how the United Nations summit on climate change in Copenhagen, which starts in early December, was being hyped. Officials from 192 countries were finally going to make a deal to keep global temperatures below catastrophic levels. The summit called for “that old comic-book sensibility of uniting in the face of a common danger threatening the Earth,” said Todd Stern, President Obama’s chief envoy on climate issues. “It’s not a meteor or a space invader, but the damage to our planet, to our community, to our children and their children will be just as great.”

That was back in March. Since then, the endless battle over health care reform has robbed much of the president’s momentum on climate change. With Copenhagen now likely to begin before Congress has passed even a weak-ass climate bill co-authored by the coal lobby, U.S. politicians have dropped the superhero metaphors and are scrambling to lower expectations for achieving a serious deal at the climate summit. It’s just one meeting, says U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, not “the be-all and end-all.”

As faith in government action dwindles, however, climate activists are treating Copenhagen as an opportunity of a different kind. On track to be the largest environmental gathering in history, the summit represents a chance to seize the political terrain back from business-friendly half-measures, such as carbon offsets and emissions trading, and introduce some effective, common-sense proposals— ideas that have less to do with creating complex new markets for pollution and more to do with keeping coal and oil in the ground.

Among the smartest and most promising—not to mention controversial—proposals is “climate debt,” the idea that rich countries should pay reparations to poor countries for the climate crisis. In the world of climate-change activism, this marks a dramatic shift in both tone and content. American environmentalism tends to treat global warming as a force that transcends difference: We all share this fragile blue planet, so we all need to work together to save it. But the coalition of Latin American and African governments making the case for climate debt actually stresses difference, zeroing in on the cruel contrast between those who caused the climate crisis (the developed world) and those who are suffering its worst effects (the developing world). Justin Lin, chief economist at the World Bank, puts the equation bluntly: “About 75 to 80 percent” of the damages caused by global warming “will be suffered by developing countries, although they only contribute about one-third of greenhouse gases.”

Climate debt is about who will pick up the bill. The grass-roots movement behind the proposal argues that all the costs associated with adapting to a more hostile ecology—everything from building stronger sea walls to switching to cleaner, more expensive technologies—are the responsibility of the countries that created the crisis. “What we need is not something we should be begging for but something that is owed to us, because we are dealing with a crisis not of our making,” says Lidy Nacpil, one of the coordinators of Jubilee South, an international organization that has staged demonstrations to promote climate reparations. “Climate debt is not a matter of charity.”

Sharon Looremeta, an advocate for Maasai tribespeople in Kenya who have lost at least 5 million cattle to drought in recent years, puts it in even sharper terms. “The Maasai community does not drive 4x4s or fly off on holidays in airplanes,” she says. “We have not caused climate change, yet we are the ones suffering. This is an injustice and should be stopped right now.”

The case for climate debt begins like most discussions of climate change: with the science. Before the Industrial Revolution, the density of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere—the key cause of global warming—was about 280 parts per million. Today, it has reached 387 ppm—far above safe limits—and it’s still rising. Developed countries, which represent less than 20 percent of the world’s population, have emitted almost 75 percent of all greenhouse-gas pollution that is now destabilizing the climate. (The U.S. alone, which comprises barely five percent of the global population, contributes 25 percent of all carbon emissions.) And while developing countries like China and India have also begun to spew large amounts of carbon dioxide, the reasoning goes, they are not equally responsible for the cost of the cleanup, because they have contributed only a small fraction of the 200 years of cumulative pollution that has caused the crisis.

In Latin America, left-wing economists have long argued that Western powers owe a vaguely defined “ecological debt” to the continent for centuries of colonial land-grabs and resource extraction. But the emerging argument for climate debt is far more concrete, thanks to a relatively new body of research putting precise figures on who emitted what and when. “What is exciting,” says Antonio Hill, senior climate adviser at Oxfam, “is you can really put numbers on it. We can measure it in tons of CO2 and come up with a cost.”

Equally important, the idea is supported by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—ratified by 192 countries, including the United States. The framework not only asserts that “the largest share of historical and current global emissions of greenhouse gases has originated in developed countries,” it clearly states that actions taken to fix the problem should be made “on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities.”

The reparations movement has brought together a diverse coalition of big international organizations, from Friends of the Earth to the World Council of Churches, that have joined up with climate scientists and political economists, many of them linked to the influential Third World Network, which has been leading the call. Until recently, however, there was no government pushing for climate debt to be included in the Copenhagen agreement. That changed in June, when Angelica Navarro, the chief climate negotiator for Bolivia, took the podium at a U.N. climate negotiation in Bonn, Germany. Only 36 and dressed casually in a black sweater, Navarro looked more like the hippies outside than the bureaucrats and civil servants inside the session. Mixing the latest emissions science with accounts of how melting glaciers were threatening the water supply in two major Bolivian cities, Navarro made the case for why developing countries are owed massive compensation for the climate crisis.

“Millions of people—in small islands, least-developed countries, landlocked countries as well as vulnerable communities in Brazil, India and China, and all around the world—are suffering from the effects of a problem to which they did not contribute,” Navarro told the packed room. In addition to facing an increasingly hostile climate, she added, countries like Bolivia cannot fuel economic growth with cheap and dirty energy, as the rich countries did, since that would only add to the climate crisis—yet they cannot afford the heavy upfront costs of switching to renewable energies like wind and solar.

The solution, Navarro argued, is three-fold. Rich countries need to pay the costs associated with adapting to a changing climate, make deep cuts to their own emission levels “to make atmospheric space available” for the developing world, and pay Third World countries to leapfrog over fossil fuels and go straight to cleaner alternatives. “We cannot and will not give up our rightful claim to a fair share of atmospheric space on the promise that, at some future stage, technology will be provided to us,” she said.

The speech galvanized activists across the world. In recent months, the governments of Sri Lanka, Venezuela, Paraguay and Malaysia have endorsed the concept of climate debt. More than 240 environmental and development organizations have signed a statement calling for wealthy nations to pay their climate debt, and 49 of the world’s least-developed countries will take the demand to Copenhagen as a negotiating bloc.

“If we are to curb emissions in the next decade, we need a massive mobilization larger than any in history,” Navarro declared at the end of her talk. “We need a Marshall Plan for the Earth. This plan must mobilize financing and technology transfer on scales never seen before. It must get technology onto the ground in every country to ensure we reduce emissions while raising people’s quality of life. We have only a decade.”

A very expensive decade. The World Bank puts the cost that developing countries face from climate change—everything from crops destroyed by drought and floods to malaria spread by mosquito-infested waters—as high as $100 billion a year. And shifting to renewable energy, according to a team of United Nations researchers, will raise the cost far more: to as much as $600 billion a year over the next decade.

Unlike the recent bank bailouts, however, which simply transferred public wealth to the world’s richest financial institutions, the money spent on climate debt would fuel a global environmental transformation essential to saving the entire planet. The most exciting example of what could be accomplished is the ongoing effort to protect Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park. This extraordinary swath of Amazonian rainforest, which is home to several indigenous tribes and a surreal number of rare and exotic animals, contains nearly as many species of trees in 2.5 acres as exist in all of North America. The catch is that underneath that riot of life sits an estimated 850 million barrels of crude oil, worth about $7 billion. Burning that oil—and logging the rainforest to get it— would add another 547 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Two years ago, Ecuador’s center-left president, Rafael Correa, said something very rare for the leader of an oil-exporting nation: He wanted to leave the oil in the ground. But, he argued, wealthy countries should pay Ecuador—where half the population lives in poverty—not to release that carbon into the atmosphere, as “compensation for the damages caused by the out-of-proportion amount of historical and current emissions of greenhouse gases.” He didn’t ask for the entire amount; just half. And he committed to spending much of the money to move Ecuador to alternative energy sources like solar and geothermal.

Largely because of the beauty of the Yasuní, the plan has generated widespread international support. Germany has already offered $70 million a year for 13 years, and several other European governments have expressed interest in participating. If Yasuní is saved, it will demonstrate that climate debt isn’t just a disguised ploy for more aid—it’s a far more credible solution to the climate crisis than the ones we have now. “This initiative needs to succeed,” says Atossa Soltani, executive director of Amazon Watch. “I think we can set a model for other countries.”

Activists point to a huge range of other green initiatives that would become possible if wealthy countries paid their climate debts. In India, mini power plants that run on biomass and solar power could bring low-carbon electricity to many of the 400 million Indians currently living without a light bulb. In cities from Cairo to Manila, financial support could be given to the armies of impoverished “trash pickers” who save as much as 80 percent of municipal waste in some areas from winding up in garbage dumps and trash incinerators that release planet-warming pollution. And on a much larger scale, coal-fired power plants across the developing world could be converted into more efficient facilities using existing technology, cutting their emissions by more than a third.

But to ensure that climate reparations are real, advocates insist, they must be independent of the current system of international aid. Climate money cannot simply be diverted from existing aid programs, such as primary education or HIV prevention. What’s more, the funds must be provided as grants, not loans, since the last thing developing countries need is more debt. Furthermore, the money should not be administered by the usual suspects like the World Bank and USAID, which too often push pet projects based on Western agendas, but must be controlled by the United Nations climate convention, where developing countries would have a direct say in how the money is spent.

Without such guarantees, reparations will be meaningless—and without reparations, the climate talks in Copenhagen will likely collapse. As it stands, the U.S. and other Western nations are engaged in a lose-lose game of chicken with developing nations like India and China: We refuse to lower our emissions unless they cut theirs and submit to international monitoring, and they refuse to budge unless wealthy nations cut first and cough up serious funding to help them adapt to climate change and switch to clean energy. “No money, no deal,” is how one of South Africa’s top environmental officials put it. “If need be,” says Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, speaking on behalf of the African Union, “we are prepared to walk out.”

In the past, President Obama has recognized the principle on which climate debt rests. “Yes, the developed nations that caused much of the damage to our climate over the last century still have a responsibility to lead,” he acknowledged in his September speech at the United Nations. “We have a responsibility to provide the financial and technical assistance needed to help these [developing] nations adapt to the impacts of climate change and pursue low-carbon development.”

Yet as Copenhagen draws near, the U.S. negotiating position appears to be to pretend that 200 years of over-emissions never happened. Todd Stern, the chief U.S. climate negotiator, has scoffed at a Chinese and African proposal that developed countries pay as much as $400 billion a year in climate financing as “wildly unrealistic” and “untethered to reality.” Yet he put no alternative number on the table—unlike the European Union, which has offered to kick in up to $22 billion. U.S. negotiators have even suggested that countries could fund climate debt by holding periodic “pledge parties,” making it clear that they see covering the costs of climate change as a matter of whimsy, not duty.

But shunning the high price of climate change carries a cost of its own. U.S. military and intelligence agencies now consider global warming a leading threat to national security. As sea levels rise and droughts spread, competition for food and water will only increase in many of the world’s poorest nations. These regions will become “breeding grounds for instability, for insurgencies, for warlords,” according to a 2007 study for the Center for Naval Analyses led by Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former Centcom commander. To keep out millions of climate refugees fleeing hunger and conflict, a report commissioned by the Pentagon in 2003 predicted that the U.S. and other rich nations would likely decide to “build defensive fortresses around their countries.”

Setting aside the morality of building high-tech fortresses to protect ourselves from a crisis we inflicted on the world, those enclaves and resource wars won’t come cheap. And unless we pay our climate debt, and quickly, we may well find ourselves living in a world of climate rage. “Privately, we already hear the simmering resentment of diplomats whose countries bear the costs of our emissions,” Sen. John Kerry observed recently. “I can tell you from my own experience: It is real, and it is prevalent. It’s not hard to see how this could crystallize into a virulent, dangerous, public anti-Americanism. That’s a threat too. Remember: The very places least responsible for climate change—and least equipped to deal with its impacts—will be among the very worst affected.”

That, in a nutshell, is the argument for climate debt. The developing world has always had plenty of reasons to be pissed off with their northern neighbors, with our tendency to overthrow their governments, invade their countries and pillage their natural resources. But never before has there been an issue so politically inflammatory as the refusal of people living in the rich world to make even small sacrifices to avert a potential climate catastrophe. In Bangladesh, the Maldives, Bolivia, the Arctic, our climate pollution is directly responsible for destroying entire ways of life—yet we keep doing it.

From outside our borders, the climate crisis doesn’t look anything like the meteors or space invaders that Todd Stern imagined hurtling toward Earth. It looks, instead, like a long and silent war waged by the rich against the poor. And for that, regardless of what happens in Copenhagen, the poor will continue to demand their rightful reparations. “This is about the rich world taking responsibility for the damage done,” says Ilana Solomon, policy analyst for ActionAid USA, one of the groups recently converted to the cause. “This money belongs to poor communities affected by climate change. It is their compensation.”

Canadian 1st Nations Speak Out About Tar Sands – Tonight !

Hear three women activists speak out on the impact on their lives and culture of “the most destructive project on earth”

13 NOV 2009, 7pm, Arnolfini auditorium, FREE
On the first leg of their UK campaign tour, as part of the C Words season, powerful speakers Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Heather Milton-Lightening and Melina Laboucan-Massimo of the Athabascan Chipewyan, Lubicon Cree and other indigenous communities tell it how it is. Also specifically, what we in Britain can do about this ongoing monstrous abuse of human rights and the environment.

The activists will give first-hand accounts of the devastating impacts of the massive oil extraction projects on indigenous communities. They will show how we as UK citizens are involved in these projects through companies such as Shell and BP, and the British financial system. Also how we can act to halt the Tar Sands and their impact on First Nations, the global climate and the forests and rivers of Canada.