the following few hundred lines started life to be an intro to the translation of a "climate" interview made by the argentina reporter and indymedia collaborator also writer for Azkintuwe, the mapuche struggle magazine, Hernán Scandizzo to Yvonne Yañez, activist and campaigner with oilwatch. it was ment to be the "short abstract of the title"... not short tho nevertheless still fulfilling the part of the order "to give the readers a short introduction on what your article is about" which in a subjective way it does, tho damn abstract it is. the original indymedia argentina article is at http://argentina.indymedia.org/print.php?id=253606 and the interview is further bellow. we often hear what organisations, scientists and politicians, and others (!?) want to day about the climate issue. seldom about what people like yvonne, fighting on the ground and from the south, say. well worth reading.
Twelve years after the Rio Earth Summit, Ten since the first Convention, seven since they sushied the world in Japan ( cop7 ), Kyoto comes into "force". The Climate Change discussions continue, and so do our struggles. those of the millions of people that not only fight against "climate change" everyday, but the Country States and Companies that profit from it and who through Kyoto, are making sure to continue to benefit to the detriment of nature and the peoples. In the climate change discussion, in better, higher places, in the north's media and in climate expert land, but in the ministries of the white run capital cities of the south too, these beings have become invisible. noone speaks of oil spills and clear cutting, of the pollution of underwater systems by the extraction of oil- and that was needed by local people to survive, of rivers and villages killed by dams to generate "clean energy", of the devastation caused by tree monocultures planted for and subsidised by climate change and sold by the media as "solutions", of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons, of the militarization, torture and death that surrounds the exploitation of oil and natural resources, of state corruption, colonialism... in short forget about the 24/7 365, war between indigenous peoples, peasants, nature, life and justice versus POWER and its mafia web of free trade agreements, international finance institutions, markets, media, consumerism, fear and death. Nowhere can we more clearly see - or choose not to see - this struggle than in the world of oily climate "change".
the silence that screams from this earth, the scream that is climate chaos is a consequence that came so that we ignore no more the (root) causes and the death of cultures and life caused by our dear northern system of exploitation in which we all have a stake. A silence that exists, perhaps precisely because in the north we all have a stake. we have paused for a moment to listen because finally it rings too loud, but will we then really want stop it and loose our stake? there is a name for some of it. colonialism and racism. not neo, but same old.
In the home of two of the top 4 oil multinationals of the world, in the UK, prime minister tony blair chooses climate change for this year's G8 PR opportunity, pop stars squeal around him (1), ngos rush for the bucket and everyone has forgotten about that war for oil. blinded by fear some are even ready to forgive that for a commitment on climate "change"(2). what is the commitment of a lier worth?. (3)
Appealing to the fear mechanisms reserved for those that have something to protect, the north is afraid it will loose its garden, we, the decadent burgoise will loose our polar bears and our pretty ice capped mountain tops, and it will cost us some extra dosh to insure our capital investments from floodings, sea rise, etc. Crops might fail... "we" -might- go "hungry". So the full power of colonial mechanisms kicks into controlled panic mode and starts throwing double speak into our computer screens. sustainable development, ETS, clean development mechanisms, technology transfer, mitigation, adaptation... forget about the suffering of the people of the south, who dont have the means to protect themselves against the changes of the weather system, on which they depend for their food, forget about the root of it all, time to rent an environmental expert for the g8, and everyone "capitalise on the best possible outcome to climate change".
In the meantime Big Environmental NGO's have dug a big hole for themselves. after 12 years of being part and parcel of the Climate Change protocol, well done everyone for giving this horrible monster of a treaty a good name! pat in the logo marked collection bucket and hear it happily rattle, not all is lost... yesterday we collected for Kyoto and today we can collect against Kyoto.
the saddest thing as that it is us in the north that are at the same time the exploiters and the exploited. at least, fighters and the oppressed are united by their struggle. they might die everyday, but everyday is a victory. because they die with dignity. you are the cannon fodder of your rulers, again. we kill, pillage, rape and slaughter for a few pieces of gold and a mortgage in the promised land. for progress, votes, justice. But in reality, it is the little time in our lives that is stolen from us so that we keep the machine going. the time to spend in the full joy of live and loving, time that could be spent being creative and helping out building something good. we trade that for a couple of shinny mirrors that are stuck to our car to accompany us in the lonely world we live in. some fire water on saturday night. some plastic food for dinner or lunch, "sex" without love, reproduction without teaching, information without understanding... they steal from us the time required to find out what is true and what is not, so that we can find shit out and trust ourselves for we know who we are.
everyday we say no, is a victory, as the global system doesnt want independence. it makes no profit out of independence. the system struggles to destroy such ways of life, like they do with indigenous peoples, farmers and activists around the world. we must fight to cut our dependency of the system, starting with the energy it burns to survive and which fuels it, and showing solidarity with the repression that is used against those sisters and brothers that struggle. we can die fighting, and everyday we refuse to be part of that system, is a victory.
no. 8th of july 2005. scotland and the world. global day of action against climate change.
On the 10 and 11 of December there was a meeting in the Bauen Hotel ( translator note: a reclaimed hotel run by the workers, since the owners went bankrupt, sacked the staff and left the country after the collapse of the argentinian economy fueled by the IMF ) organized by the NGO groups Cono Sur sustentable, Coalicion Rios Vivos and the Heinrich Böel foundation, under the motto "Energy Policies and Social and environmenta Impacts in South America - Advancing in the construction of an Energy Platform for the People of America". The activity was carried out within the framework of the 10ª United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (unfccc COP10) and around that scope members of different South American social movements gave testimonies of their struggles and presented strategies of resistance.
Ivonne Yañez, member of Acción Ecológica (Ecuador) - Oilwatch, not only participated as a panelist but also took active part in the debates. As a member of Oilwatch - a network integrated by organizations in resistance to oil corporations in Africa, Asia and Latin America - she concentrated her criticisms in the hidrocarbon industry. In an interview made by those days one talked about the limitations of the Protocol of Kyoto to revert the climatic change, to the roll played by the multinationals in the global debate and the impacts that this new business will produce on our towns - for companies and States - of restraining the global heating.
- Which is the position of Oilwatch with respect to the Protocol of Kyoto?
IY: Oilwatch, as a network of resistance to the activities of the oil industry, maintain that the only solution to climatic change is to stop using and burning fossil fuels. After Russia's ratification and the consequent signing of the Kyoto Protocol next February, countries are not going to reach the necessary targets to avoid growing environmental damage caused by climatic chaos. Not only because the goals of the Protocol are very low but because in addition they are creating mechanisms that allow industrialized countries of the North to avoid reducing their emissions and to allow, that the beneficiaries of climate change, in this case the oil companies, continue profiting throughbusiness dealing in the carbon market (1).
- How do they benefit?
IY: to start with they benefit because they are the same companies who invest in projects framed within the clean development mechanisms (2), and on the other hand, they retain the possibility to continue to expande the oil frontier, because nobody is going to put presure on them to reduce their extraction quotas. In addition to this I believe that the oil companies are finding new mechanisms that are not necessarily in the public domain. On the one hand, the mechanisms of economic integration, that include so called international arbitrations. Through these new megaconstitutions, that are created at regional level, companies, somehow, can guarantee that their economic benefits are secured. For example, in a country like Ecuador, that has a company that is trying to drill new exploratory oilwells in the Amazonía, but there appears a community that resists it, the case of Sarayaku (*). The company can calmly take the Ecuadorian State to court as it is signatory to the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and therefore obtain ( thru compensation ) the supposed benefits or economic gains that it may had if it had invested in that oil field.
On the other hand, mechanisms to pressure National States are being created and existing ones are being fortifying. For example, through budgetary cuts they are being forced to privatize state companies and also through arguing that these companies are inefficient and corrupt.
Another kind of mechanism is created. In this world-wide market of supply and demand, of investment opportunities , of the famous 'competition', National States are offering fiscal mechanisms so that they are rated with a number of stars, like hotels. For example, Venezuela is a country with a powerful state - oil - company, that has ( as well, mechanisms of) power over companies and over investors to pay taxes, that is to say, there is control on the part of the State. So Venezuela has only one little competition star in the fiscal market of the world. Other countries like Peru, with almost 15 years of market economy, have for example, been given five stars, because companies do not pay taxes or pay very little and they always have the possibility of sending all their capital offshore.
What it is happening is that when the World Bank spots that a country does not have the sufficient amount of stars, it forces it, through 'recomendations', to make fiscal reforms. At the end of the day what is achieved is that the rights of investors, of the oil companies, are above all the rights of the citizens, the State, and human rights in general.
- In the scope of the COP10 the issue of the emission of carbon is seen in a fragmented way?
IY: Exactly, that is, it is not seen. The only thing that is discussed is ' targets up to 2012 '. What is going to happen after 2012? What is going to happen with Russia's ratification? What is going to happen with all this different kinds of mechanisms? ( meaning will they dissapear, like the carbon market?) The only thing that they are doing is throw earth over any possibility of agreement that could have been reached in 1992, when the Convention of the Climatic Change was spoken of.
That is to say, through the mechanisms created by the Kyoto Protocol the only thing that they pretend to achieve is that emissions aren't actually lowered and to put in the sights of Delegations States in the Southern the possibility of returning to their homes with financial projects so that the individual governments can get stronger holds on power. They don't do anything to confront the root of the problem that is the increase of fossil hydrocarbon fuel consumption in the world. That for me is what is being discussed here.
- How do the oil companies operate in these conventions?
IY: In many cases people within the official country delegations have ties to a company. They are not necessarily employees of the companies but take part in associations or compacts of industralists who practice strong lobbying. What it obviously means is that they exert pressure on the delegations, to distract the attention away from what is happening or are simply limiting themselves to technically, methodologically look at how they are going to implement the Prototype Carbon Fund(3), how they are going to give some little money to Southern States, while they allow them to exploit the oil and gas that they'd find in the subsoil.
And obviously they also have direct contacts through the delegations of these associations of industralists, who have a chair in the United Nations as part of "civil society".
- There are groups that since Russia is ratifying argue that other 'advances' could happen now, like that the US could review its position. Do you think that is realistic ?
IY: In the sense that it is 'possible' that the United States reviews its position, I believe that it will only be possible if it can move beyond the 'Bush Era'. Once Bush ends his term in government I think that there could be a 'possibility', if a democratic government took over. If. Aside from that, I believe that there wouldn't be any radical changes, they would be very slight changes in some States' positions, like for example, the European Union's. It is very possible that that happens but it is necessary to take into account that from here to 2012, until 2050, countries like India, Brazil and China are going to be very important players in 10 years or so from now.
I believe that the only solution is to stop speaking about this type of negotiations, stop talking about the carbon market and go on to implement moratoriums to any new petroleum and gas exploration projects. That is the only solution and there are already people that are making reductions a reality, those that are resisting oil activities. I believe that those peoples not only must be given recognition and visibility because they are contributing to the benefit of humanity but that in addition those States must also be given recognition from the economic point of view. That is to say, a country that declares itself oil-free, that has so much oil in its subsoil, not only has to be applauded but we must also calculate what amount of co2 emissions is saving. And then, if we are taking about how we can contribute to the development of a country in economic terms, then we are obliged to give recognition to such a country with these development funds that already exist and not to invent new projects, through the clean development mechanisms, that offer doubtful possibilities of CO2 reductions.
- Through these mechanisms which does it is to deepen the domination policies on the towns. IY: Of course, we can enter to debate much on the subject of the forest plantations (carbon drains), of the use of transgénicos trees and of an amount of projects that in fact are almost one it deceives. Not only one deceives in reduction terms but that in addition are a threat for the sovereignty of the towns. There are mortgaged earth, they lose sovereignty, they lose autonomy of the indigenous towns to handle to his forests... a series of connected problems of which nobody says nothing. Nobody except for conscious organizations that they are putting on warning of everything what can happen and of the negotiations that are not said. - Since the summits by the climatic change began, how much it was in the way? IY: There are first two things: on the one hand, the States of the North of no way want to diminish their levels of consumptions, their forms of production, etc., therefore always they watched minimum goals at which it interested to them to arrive. Secondly, you have to the oil companies, that from the beginning began to make a great lobbying to avoid that they are arrived at goals that can imply a diminution of their gains and the possibility of continuing having the power and the control on Earth hydrocarbons.
There was an optimism of the environmentalist organizations: "Finally the Convention of the Climatic Change". It is arrived at the Protocol from Kyoto, etc., etc., but at some moment that is betrayed. And it is betrayed indeed at the moment that signs the Protocol of Kyoto, not only because they are the lowest goals but because in addition these secondary mechanisms are created all. Then it is practically where the treason is forged. - the capital transforms a serious problem into a new business. IY: That is what it is happening. Of they are not going here to leave more than worse things, in fact the same Protocol recognizes the fact that transgénicos trees can be introduced, for me that can be a severe problem in the future. Nothing is spoken of the possibility of applying moratoriums in protected areas. They are not really solutions that are going to end the problem.
Notes: (1) Carbon Market: In order to reach the objectives fixed to the Protocol of Kyoto to reduce the gas discharges that cause the effect conservatory, the industrialized countries would have to implement measures of bottom like the conversion of their power matrix by other than it does not demand the fossil fuel consumption. This would demand investments that all the companies and States are not arranged to make. On the other hand, most of ` countries of economies of transición' () they could reach the objectives fixed to the Protocol with relative facility. This must to that the year of reference (1990) represented an elevated point of its industrial emissions and, since then, many of the heavy industries that generated that contamination have disappeared or they have been reduced (prescriptions of the IMF and BM by means of...). Consequently they could not only reach its objectives but that could do it with a quite ample margin as to be able to sell part of their rights from emission to the industrialized countries or to interchange them by projects of joint application as the mechanisms of clean development. The principles for the commerce of emission rights settled down in the Agreements of Marrakech (Morocco, 2001) in which determine the conditions, units that can deal and reserves that must maintain it Parts. (2) Mechanisms of Desarrollo Limpio (MDL): Conceived in 2001 within the framework of the Protocol of Kyoto like part of ` strategy of development sosteniblé that will allow to the industrialized countries ` invertir' in ` projects limpios' in countries developing, with the purpose of obtaining credits of emission right and continuing sending carbon to the atmosphere. These credits grant in form of ` reduction certified of emisiones' (RCE) that, like all the countable units of the Protocol of Kyoto, they settle down in ton of equivalent carbon dioxide. The country that makes the financing can use these units to compensate its own gas discharges that cause the effect conservatory (global heating) during a certain period, or to sell them to another country. It can accumulate them also to use them in a later period. (3) Bottom Carbon Prototype or PCF (by its abbreviations in English): created by the World Bank to finance projects so environmentally ` sustentables' as dams and plantations of monocultures - ` drains of turned into charcoal -. (Source: Convention Frame of the Nations United on the Climatic Change; "Convention Frame of the Nations United on the Climatic Change - the ten first years", Bonn (Germany), Secretariat of the Climatic Change, 2004.)