Sunday, 20 December 2009

Reflections on Copenhagen

We are being consistent -- and barking mad. As represented by our leaders and lobbies, we repeatedly choose our comfort over the lives of our grandchildren. At Rio. At Johannesburg. At Copenhagen.
...Like the economists whose "cost-benefit" discounts a life in 2020 as less than a life in 2010, and prices a 3rd world life at 1/15 one in rich countries.
"The American lifestyle is not negotiable!" said Bush Sr at the 1992 Earth Summit. Let them eat cake, and après moi le déluge, to quote two former rulers (who later lost their heads).
photo: Casper Christoffersen of EPA
23 Nov 09 Glenn Beck of Fox News launches the denial industry's Climategate campaign: If your gut said, "Wait a minute, this global warming thing sounds like a scam," you're seeing it now. [details and rebuttals here - Ed.]

8 Dec 09 Danielle Smith of the fast-rising rightwing Alberta party Wildrose Alliance, quoting denier Lawrence Solomon: climate change is 'unproven'. I oppose signing a Copenhagen treaty. I'm worried about us embarking on costly schemes to try to reduce our overall emissions rather than doing the obvious things that will come easier.

17 Dec 09 voices at Oxfam's First International Climate Hearing:

Bishop Tutu: I too, stand before you as a witness. I have seen with my own eyes the changes in my homeland, South Africa. The Southern Cape is currently experiencing the worst drought anyone can remember. There is not enough food. There is too little water. The situation is becoming increasingly desperate.

Cuyetano Huanca, an indigenous farmer from Peru: Our glaciers are melting. Our water is diminishing. Our crops do not grow. The food for our children diminishes. We indigenous people shall not pay the consequences. Are we guilty? ...We will keep speaking until we see real change. Our voice is the voice of the earth.

Shorbanu Khatans, a cyclone Aila survivor from Bangladesh: We were all starving. My husband went to forage for food; he was eaten by a tiger.

18 dec 09 Todd Brilliant on Obama's speech: Barack Obama’s honeymoon with both the environmental community and greater Europe has come to a end. At Øksnehallen hall in Copenhagen, loud boos fill the room. Hundreds of NGO representatives and media members have responded to a live telecast of the President’s utterly disappointing speech with loudly derisive grunts moans and hisses.

We’ll meet our aggressive reduction goals of 17% by 2020. Boos.

The United States is serious about addressing climate change. Hisses.

Obama’s delivery was flat, uninspired. Given the chance to ignite the world at what is arguably the most significant moment in history, the man mailed it in.

Amy Goodman's Democracy Now blog includes transcripts of Obama's and podcast interviews with various 3rd world participants.

Colin Mayes, Conservative MP from Vernon BC: We should not overreact because a few scientists say CO2 causes global warming. Is it really a trend? We must be careful with taxpayers' money. (He refused to answer followup questions)

Rick George CEO of Suncor, and David Collyer of Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers are calling for "trade-exposed" subsidies so tarsands will be "competitive" [in case US cap-and-trade puts penalties on dirty oil]. Though "unofficial", this proposal is being studied in Cabinet, along with reduced energy efficiency targets. [Over and above the Liberal "flow-through" rebates of 2000 that give back half of oil & mine investors' money as a tax credit. Guess who is paying for this?]

17 Dec 09 Kate Dooley of An agreement has been reached to prepare the final draft of the Copenhagen Accord, which will then be circulated to countries for consideration (the first time it will be ‘officially’ released and circulated today). Countries, regional groups and negotiating blocs are meeting now to prepare their positions for the final plenary.

On all other issues except this Accord, nothing will be agreed in Copenhagen. While some work was done in bilateral and very small working groups on different issues, no new texts have been released, and all work of the KP and LCA will continue for another year until COP 16 in Mexico (Germany pushing for this to be held in July, but seems strong consensus that this will not be until December.)

This means that REDD will not be agreed here, and work will continue on this, as for LULUCF and many other issues.

These issues will go forward to the ongoing LCA and KP deliberations, probably in a new draft decision form. The changes in REDD include that the brackets have been removed from safeguards but the language weakened, and the brackets removed from sub-national, but am not sure of the changes made to allow this. Also, the finance section was made 'stand alone'. This is because it previously cross-referenced to other parts of the LCA work that have not been pulled off in this accord.

The COP Plenary has just opened to present the draft Accord and give countries 1 hour to consider this and return to plenary, and Tuvalu, Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba are making very strong statements that they do not agree to being given one hour to consider this document which a small group of countries put together, and are commenting on Obama’s arrogance and disrespect for Democracy and the UN process to make a press statement that there was a deal before half the world had seen it.

If (and hopefully) this Accord is rejected, there is hope that it will precipitate some kind of change in the way negotiations process on the same issues in the same tracks where very little progress has been made for the past 6 months.


18 Dec 09 A Filipina at Copenhagen summarizes negotiations:

Chinese US blame game: The issue of transparency is a smokescreen. The reality is that the US did not come to Copenhagen with anything to offer on the table. Yet, China has done more than the US has.

The United States failed to show leadership by coming to Copenhagen with empty pockets. Now it is scapegoating China on the issue of transparency.

Lack of ambition: Developed countries did not come to Copenhagen to solve the problem. Their offers were inconsistent with what science and equity demands.

The current low levels of ambition by developed countries ensure a temperature increase of at least 3 C, meaning death to millions of the world's most poor and vulnerable.

Flawed process: The Danish Prime Minister has betrayed Denmark's long tradition of being fair and balanced in international affairs. Instead of providing for the equal participation of a all countries, the Danes wrote secret texts in back rooms with a select group of group of countries.

The lack of transparency paralyzed the negotiating process and undermined the good faith efforts of many countries to reach agreement.


Reactions to the "Copenhagen Accord"

6.30 pm 18 Dec 09 comment by a CJN leader, on draft Accord (sections reported in Times of London)

Looking at the latest draft - which is the one Greenpeace must have been reacting to, and it does indeed read a bit like a G8 communique. Let's gut it a bit and try to see who's come out on top from the various tussles over the past fortnight. Remember it's only a draft.

Firstly the name: Copenhagen Accord. That is stronger than the Copenhagen Declaration or some such, so it is an international agreement, which makes it binding in at least a moral sense.

Winners: the Danes, unless this treaty is trashed in which case they might ask for its name to be changed.

There's no explicit binding target on temperature - just a recognition of the "scientific view" that limiting temperature rise to 2C would "enhance our long-term cooperative action to combat climate change".

Winners: Oil producers. Losers: Small island states, LDCs, the planet as a whole

A new clause further down the document says later reviews of the Copenhagen Accord would look at a target of 1.5C.

Winners: Tuvalu and the low-lying islands (if that review ever takes place)

The parties agree that that deep carbon emission cuts are required, according to the science, and "with a view to reduce global emissions by 50 per cent in 2050 below 1990 levels, taking into account the right to equitable access to atmospheric space".

Winners: the emerging economies including Brazil will be pleased by that last clause.

No specific target on "global peaking" (the point at which emissions peak - a crucial target for scientists) which the UK had wanted to be set at 2020. Instead the text says: "We should co-operate in achieving the peaking of global and national emissions as soon as possible, recognising that the time frame for peaking will be longer in develoing countires and bearing in mind that social and economic development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of developing countries..."

Winners: Again, China, Brazil and other emerging economies such as India. There's no target on their peaking.

Developed countries commit to reducing their emissions individually or jointly by at least 80 per cent by 2050. Individual 2020 targets to be listed in an appendix (which is still blank). Verification to be rigorous, robust and transparent. The EU was offering the 80 per cent target.

Winners: In the longer term, the planet.

But there is no overall target on emission limits or "mitigation actions" by major emerging economies, such as China, India and Brazil. An earlier draft today set a 15-30 per cent target. Instead individual country targets will be listed in an appendix to the accord. Countries will be asked to report on their progress every two years via national communications - but there's no comeback if they're lying.

If countries want international support for their mitigation actions - China and Brazil have made clear that they don't - then they face international measurement.

Winners: China and Brazil. Losers: US and EU

Caveat: there is a square bracket [Consideration to be inserted by US and China], which suggests that this battle is not yet over.

Funding: developed countries are promised "scaled up, new and additional, predictable and adequate funding" to help them avert and cope with climate change. They will get $30 billion in "fast start" financing over the next three years and the developed countries also "support the goal of mobilising jointly $100 billion a year by 2020. This funding will be a mixture of public, private , bilateral and multilateral and "alternative" - ie market-based - finance. The multilateral funding will be channeled through trust funds on which developed and developing countries have equal representation.

Winners: developing countries, especially the Africans and small island states. Developed world will be happy to have flexibility in funding

There will be a review of this accord and its implementation by 2016, including the 1.5C target. But there is no commitment to making it a legally binding international treaty and no mention of the next COP meeting in Mexico City next year, which an earlier draft had suggested should be held within six months.

Winners: China and G77 countries, which wanted to avoid new international treaty - but, interestingly, the only mention of the Kyoto Protocol, which they want to keep, is in the preamble, which endorses the decision that the KP working group should continue its work on a new round of commitments by developed countries under that pact. That omission could be read both ways.

Overall winners: You do the math.

Lumumba Di-Aping of Sudan: It's the worst treaty in history.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma: I am satisfied...although the deal is not perfect, it is the best we could achieve... SABC News adds: The controversial compromise agreement was brokered by the US together with major emerging economies such as India, South Africa, Brazil and China.

[An independent South African observer says: the African Union was twisted and U-turned to support the capitulation by Zuma and Ethiopia PM Zenawi on the last day]

Guillermo Kerber of the World Council of Churches: the agreement reached this past week... without consensus but rather in secret among the powerful nations of the world... [was] a strike against multilateralism and the democratic principles in the UN system.

Britain's PM Gordon Brown and climate minister Ed Miliband accuse China, Sudan, B0livia and other leftwing Latin American countries, of trying to "hold the world to ransom". They want to change UNFCCC rules in future. No consensus. The big boys will decide for everyone. [see Major Economies Forum]

Jeffrey Sachs, Earth Institute, Columbia U: Obama's decision to declare a phony negotiating victory undermines the UN process by signalling that rich countries will do what they want and must no longer listen to the “pesky” concerns of many smaller and poorer countries. [G&M 21 Dec 09]

Mark Lynas, author of Six Degrees: China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful "deal" so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame. How do I know this? Because I was in the room. [details in Guardian 22 Dec 09]

Nicolai Brandt, 21 year old Danish student: we have lost a historic opportunity.

Reactions of environmental leaders (These may seem to contradict each other, but you will understand their positions better if you look at the 6 groupings in Environmental Networks )

group 6: ecojustice

Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth International Chair: First the US came to Copenhagen with nothing new to offer, and now it's trying to package the weak, flawed, unjust 'Copenhagen Accord' as a replacement for the UN process -- and armtwist poor countries into signing on. The US is so desperate to claim a Copenhagen success that it is now attempting to destroy the existing climate process and sideline 20 years of real multilateral negotiation.

The Copenhagen Accord announced on December 18 by U.S. President Barack Obama was not adopted by delegates to the United Nations climate conference here. Instead, delegates merely 'noted' the agreement's existence, giving it no force whatsoever.

Kate Horner, Friends of the Earth: This is the United Nations and the nations here are not united on this secret backroom declaration. The US has lied to the world when they called it a deal and they lied to over a hundred countries when they said would listen to their needs. This toothless declaration, being spun by the US as an historic success, reflects contempt for the multilateral process and we expect more from our Nobel prize winning President.

Bill McKibben in Post-Carbon Institute: Politics-As-Usual May Mean the End of Civilization

Steven Guilbeault of tcktcktck: The climate negotiations have ended and we do not have the fair, ambitious and legally binding treaty that millions of people worldwide have demanded. But it is impossible to be without hope as we have come so far in this short space of time. World leaders still have a chance to get this right, but time is ticking. They are not done yet, and neither are we.

Nelson Muffuh of Christian Aid: The poor in the developing world will pay with their lives for the strong arm tactics and intransigence of rich countries which today led to a seriously flawed outcome from the crucial UN climate change summit in Copenhagen.

The statements that emerged today from President Obama after he attended the summit amounted to a shadow of what could and should have been achieved.

Already 300,000 people die each year because of the impact of climate change, most of them in the developing world. The lack of ambition shown by rich countries in Copenhagen means that number will grow.

Rich countries resorted to strong arm tactics and intransigence to shirk their responsibilities. A statement of inadequate political intent is not the fair, ambitious and legally binding deal that is required. It represents a set back in the fight for climate justice, but the battle goes on.

Christian Aid had hoped President Obama would come bearing gifts for the world, but all we got were empty words.

He said the US, EU and other developed countries faced a moral imperative to restart the talks as soon as possible with a view to agreeing:

- At least 40 per cent cuts in carbon emissions by rich countries by 2020 from 1990 levels

- At least $150billion in public finance from rich countries every year to help poor countries counter global warming. The money must be additional to aid.

Rich countries at Copenhagen put far too little on the table. An opportunity to provide poor countries with real hope was largely squandered.

The historic responsibility for the vast majority of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming lies with industrialised countries - but it is poorer countries that suffer worst from the impact of the droughts, floods, typhoons and the higher incidence of disease that are a result of climate change.

He added that there has been an alarming lack of transparency about the way the summit has been run. Poorer countries have complained throughout that their concerns have not been listened to or taken into account.

The summit, he added, has been characterised by mistrust between rich and poor countries, and between rich countries and major emerging economies. It was important that in the coming months developed countries undertook a series of trust building measures, including delivering rapidly on short term finance for the developing world and taking domestic political decisions to step up mitigation actions. Only in that way would negotiations move forward. It's been a tough ending to an amazing week. In all-night negotiations, leaders have reached a weak agreement in Copenhagen that fails to set the emissions targets needed to prevent catastrophic global warming. The agreement was stronger on funding, but it was not binding, and set no urgent deadline to sign a real climate treaty. Big polluters like China and the US wanted a weak deal, and potential champions like Europe, Brazil and South Africa didn't fight hard enough to stop them.

Asher Miller of Post Carbon Institute:

Despite dire warnings from his own nation's leading scientists, and over the cries of millions of voices in hundreds of countries across the globe, US President Barack Obama has chosen political expediency over truth and justice.

The so-called Copenhagen Accord is merely the repackaging of old and toothless promises, which holds no one accountable and utterly fails to reflect the urgency of the moment at hand.

Less than one year ago, President Obama took the oath of office on a cold winter day in our nation's capital, calling upon each of us to summon a new spirit of patriotism, of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other.

Now, on another cold winter day, our President appears to be more concerned about saving face and avoiding sacrifice than honoring his own lofty words.

It is now time for the American people to lead, to demand action, and to show the way, as Obama himself said "block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand."

PCI Fellows: Erika Allen - Social Justice, Bill McKibben – Climate & Ecology, Majora Carter – Social Justice & Communities, Richard Heinberg – Senior Fellow in Residence, Rob Hopkins – Community Organizing, Richard Douthwaite – Economics & Money, Joshua Farley – Ecological Economics, Stephanie Mills – Biodiversity & Bioregionalism, David Orr – Climate & Education, Zenobia Barlow – Ecological Literacy, Michael Bomford – Organic Farming, Hilary Brown – Buildings & Design, Gloria Flora – Public Lands, David Fridley – Renewable Energy & Biofuels, David Hughes – Fossil Fuels, Wes Jackson – Sustainable Agriculture, John Kaufmann – Government & Oil, Warren Karlenzig – Urban Sustainability, Chris Martenson – Finance & Preparedness, Cindy Parker – Health & Climate, Anthony Perl – Transportation, Sandra Postel – Water, William Rees – Ecology & Resilience, William Ryerson – Population, Brian Schwartz – Health & Oil, Bill Sheehan – Products & Waste, Michael Shuman – Local Economies, Tom Whipple – Peak Oil

group 5: science-based

Bill McKibben of This is a declaration that small and poor countries don't matter, that international civil society doesn't matter, and that serious limits on carbon don't matter. The president has wrecked the UN and he's wrecked the possibility of a tough plan to control global warming. It may get Obama a reputation as a tough American leader, but it's at the expense of everything progressives have held dear. 189 countries have been left powerless, and the foxes now guard the carbon henhouse without any oversight.

Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club: “The world’s nations have come together and concluded a historic —if incomplete— agreement to begin tackling global warming.”

Keith Schneider of USCAN says the accord was "noted" by COP-15 but not signed. Argues it is "operational".

Graham Saul, CAN Canada: negotiators should return to the table between now and June and work out an agreement.

group 4: UNFCCC

19 dec 09 press conference by Gen.Sec. Yvo de Boer: the accord has "significant elements" and is “politically important” but not legally binding. "The challenge now is to turn what is agreed into something that is legally binding in Mexico one year from now." [contrast group 5's call for a fair, ambitious and binding treaty -- and see the leaked UN draft that caved in on all these points - Ed.]

group 3: conservationists (NGOs who depend on corporate donations for nature preserves)

Frances Beinecke, President of NRDC: The whole UNFCCC process was headed for a breakdown, averted at the last moment by the direct intervention of President Obama.... Environmental activists around the world had hoped for more, much more, to avert the most damaging impacts of climate change around the world. The Accord will not avert the melting of the arctic, sea level rise or serious consequences to the world' s poor and vulnerable. But it will take us to the next step, where the US, China, India and the major emitters have agreed to set carbon mitigation targets, put real money into preserving forests and helping the world's most vulnerable people cope with climate change and to put in place a transparent process to ensure commitments are met. And most importantly for the United States, it sets the stage for action in the Senate, where one of the major barriers has been lack of transparency for commitments by China. Now we have that, it can not be an excuse for our Senators not to act.

David Doniger, NDRC Climate Center: It's a big step forward... a mutual action pact. Point-by-point rebuttal of criticisms by other environmentalists.

IUCN: a first and useful step... a global, legally-binding climate change treaty must be the next step.

Mark Tercek of The Nature Conservancy: "a great deal of work still to be done". He calls for Senate action, 2010 emissions targets, REDD, mitigation and carbon funds.

Jonathan Lash of World Resources Institute: Much more is needed, but today marks a foundation for a global effort to fight climate change....Victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat. As a small group of countries threatened to block the deal, the vast majority of countries elected to go ahead without them.

group 2: green capitalists

Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund: Tonight’s announcement is but a first step and much work remains to be done in the days and months ahead in order to seal a final international climate deal that is fair, binding, and ambitious. It is imperative that negotiations resume as soon as possible. Today’s agreement takes the first important steps toward true transparency and accountability in an international climate agreement.

World Business Council on Sustainable Development (f. by Maurice Strong 1992): the WBCSD's 3°C, 550 ppm target coincides with the leaked UN draft.

group 1: Business-As-Usual

Senator Inhofe: The United States is not going to pass a cap and trade. The chances are "zero" and will remain so if the bill is financially harmful to Americans in any way.

British denier Lord Monckton 9 Dec 09: the new world government outlined in [various Copenhagen proposals] will tax the American economy to the extent of 2 percent GDP, impose a further tax of 2 percent on every financial transaction….close down effectively the economies of the west, and transfer your jobs to third world countries.

Stephen Harper, Canada's Prime Minister: very meets our objectives and respects our interests. [Michel David in Le Devoir 20 Dec 09 comments: Canada is just protecting its economic interests in the tarsands -- like the countries that shut their eyes to growing opium.]


Thoughts on mobilizing from a spiritual base:

Mark Barrett of Climate Justice Now! responding to irate developing-country NGOs:

What we need for a paradigm shift is to organise ourselves under one banner, in which all are welcome, and across ALL the local communities in the world. How many times does it need to be said, before we make the simple call out for ALL local groups to converge on the local arms of the state at the same time, and then build our networks from there, and to do it again and again and again, to build local groupings across all th ideological divides, and thereby at last to carve out the visible, independent spaces, in every locality, where a new sovereignty - based on stewardship - can be realised, so then finally everyone can chose which side of the barricade they are on, and so the world can no longer misrepresent, or ignore what we really stand for?

In answer to others' queries:

> who decides where the barricades are set?

A: Do you believe in radical localism (or 'local sovereignty') via inclusive, consensus decision-making as a key means to work our way out of the environmental crisis? I think that for the huge number that do, and - tantalisingly - for the very many others who (though not environmentalists) nevertheless also believe the better, freer, enlilghtened society begins with the same realisation, for us ( ie us vs. everyone who does not believe in that ideal) doesn't the barricade sets itself accordingly? People either believe that a vital solution to globalisation rests in ordinary people responsibly taking control of their immediate resources together, with collective stewardship and everyone equally included in decision-making, and with federating support for other similar groupings across the communities who wish to do the same, or they do not, or they are not even aware of the possibility. The clear setting out of those barricades, on our terms not theirs as is the case with Copenhagen and all the other jamborees would give them the opportunity to decide whose side they are on. No?

>how do we set these without enough information being given to the "grass roots"?

A: The barricades would get set by a call out being framed in the terms above, so question could turn on "do you believe in an alternative society? Another world, built by the grassroots? If so, let's show what democracy really looks like.. if so, let's all get ourselves, and our groups down to our local town hall, for a global picnic / dance / festival / occupation / on such and such day at such and such time in response to such and such event. We could use this idea to create the space for more autonomy and network building in our local areas, while also putting the idea of a new global to local sovereignty, the free society in the making into the minds of the mainstream, boosting and building and joining up with all the other local areas in solidarity. For the environment, for the politics, for the economics, for the human rights, for all the socially controlled, downtrodden and oppressed. The message is a new start, for a new people a new covenant. Maybe a blank placard could be our symbol..?

>Who decides what this information should be. this is a lot more complicated than a simple call.

A: But it's not THAT difficult, is it? As we know, everything, whether local or in an anti- conference setting needs to be done with groundrules, so why should a call for decentralised joined up organising be any different. Democratic inclusion, equality, consensus, independence, accountability, transparency etc are a given, right? Surely we are by now mostly agreed on what constitutes good, democratic practice, aren't we? If not now, after all this time, when? Isn't that enough info?

>Who decides whether the call is for 2 degrees or 1.5 degrees or 0.8 degrees which is already bad enough if you are one of the communities who are dying of drought or flood.

A: I'm not saying this is not important, it really is, and we need to keep the pressure on. But also I really don't think we can hope for a real democratization of the global process (and therefore a new urgency and openness to the needs of all in the embryonic global governance / regulatory process) until we ourselves get our act together as a people (we are the 'global justice people' right?).

And what this means, for me is putting ourselves on the map as a people rooted in our communities and not just as a traveling circus of resistance, important though that may be. We've won most of the arguments about globalisation now, the only thing that's missing is the political will and we need to push for that, yes of course. But we are much more than this travelling conscience. Much much more. Not only are we 'everywhere'; but we always have been; so we are everytime too. As a people questing for universal justice we transcend space and time.

"Take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’.. ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’"

What is new is the force of global technology that allows us to communicate, mobilise and thereby publicly constitute ourselves across the planet. And that is totally unprecedented. But until we start using the amazing technological tools at our disposal to create a genuinely democratic, visible 'Other' to the capitalist / interstate mode of globalisation I really do not think we can expect people power to come to its fruition as a force for real change in the world. As activists, we are in a ghetto. Maybe the biggest ghetto in human history, but a ghetto nevertheless. We need to break out by calling upon the highest, and best plan ever, and mobilising according to the principles of the society we want to see born. A decentralised, joined up movement for the best dream of all, rooted in local communities and thereby able to speak to everyone in the context of local conditions, would be very difficult to hold back, because people would begin to get what we are about. And, eventually this localism, pursued properly will reduce emissions as so much of what we burn is in transport. And we will become what we are destined to be the force for real change at the national, international and global level that transforms the world for the good of all. Of course it needs to happen quickly to save people, as you suggest, which is why I am writing with urgency.

>Who has this right to decide that its Ok if some of us die? who decides who dies? sorry I dont think anyone is qualified to make that call. how can all be welcome when some of us think its OK to shift carbon from one accounting head to another for money : no matter how much money.

A: Sorry I didn't mean to say that everyone is welcome in a simplistic sense, although I do think everyone is capable of hearing the truth about how we should live and act, and that no-one is damned until the final moment of truth either devours or save them. There are those who will fight us, as they always have done, and they will of course lose. But those who hear the truth of what we say, that the world's salvation lies in the making of a new society, built in every local community but joined up across the world, not state not market but independent civil society; they will come. And they may well come from unexpected places - just as the nay sayers will. And the nay sayers are the culprits for the deaths you speak of, those who put their store in the state and the market place to fix things, or who just don't care. And the longer those people drag their feet, the longer the process will take, and the more people will unnecessarily die, and it is their responsibility, and theirs alone, as it always has been.

From the same passage: "All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left...Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ "

I know it's unfashionable to say it. But if we are believers we should pray for divine assistance to take us out of our ghetto. And if we are not, we should call upon whatever force we do believe in to come to our collective aid, and then, from there we should start trusting that history is on our side, and start mobilising for a new society, with completely different values, and new cultural engine at heart, and beginning in every community, because there are people dying, in all sorts of ways, everywhere.

That's our calling, isn't it?

A Salaam Aleykum

Midnight Oil "Beds Are Burning" video (lyrics here) for - other videos and Copenhagen interviews at See also Anne Petermann's "What really happened in Copenhagen?" Z magazine 1 Feb 2010, and Vanessa Baird, "New hope..." on the conference in Cochabamba , Bolivia in April from New Internationalist 1 Mar 2010. In a BBC interview 16 Mar 2010, Nicolas Stern blamed the failure of COP-15 on the "arrogance" of rich countries, and their refusal to take seriously poor countries' concerns.

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