Archive for June, 2007

No time to rest!

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007 by

After the G8 it is clear that, although what was (or rather wasn’t agreed) in Germany is disheartening, some small steps have been taken. What we need now is to keep the pressure on and show the government that they need to act and that they need to act now.

That is why the campaigns team have been busy preparing for a summer of action with a whole host of events planned to gather more support for the Stop Climate Injustice Campaign.

It started well last weekend with Leamington Spa Peace Festival. It must be admitted that the rain on the previous days had led to a little apprehension, but, with just a few little bursts we were just about able to remain dry!!

The focus of the stall was informing people of the injustice of climate change and getting them to add their voices to our campaign. It also included demonstrations of our climate change work – a highlight being the willow donkey which attracted both young and adults alike. The floating garden was also a big hit with many people wanting to know how it worked.

I was lucky enough to be allowed to address the crowds on the bandstand late on the second afternoon. This was a great opportunity to make people aware of the injustice of climate change and draw attention to our campaign stall. Although there had been other climate change talks previously the uniqueness of our message and the experience of Practical Action as an organisation meant that we received a great response.

So now we are off to Glastonbury – it doesn’t get much bigger! With there being such an emphasis on climate change at this years festival it promises to be a great opportunity to bring climate injustice to the fore. Look out for us on the TV – when everything floods we will be the ones floating on a garden!

The result?

Friday, June 8th, 2007 by

Climate change was programmed for Thursday afternoon. So in the morning I went to a couple of alternative summit workshops. One, on food security by Bread for the World, ran clearly through the arguments Practical Action is familiar with, but it is always useful to find other European NGOs thinking similarly.I then went to the closing plenary, which covered all manner of issues around globalisation. It was Vandana Shiva, the well-known Indian scientist-activist who addressed climate change, and the key issue of conserving agricultural biodiversity and in particular saying no to GM, who for me was the most inspiring – she is a strong ally of Practical Action’s work, and a friend of my colleague Patrick Mulvany.


Well, as far as climate change is concerned, the G8 has dealt with it. Angela Merkel issued a statement at 8pm.

It’s amazing how one’s expectations can just get lowered and lowered until you find yourself actually being pleased at an outcome that really is the absolute minimum. When you read the draft G8 declaration, which was firm about taking measures to keep within 2 degrees, and really strong cuts from developed countries (between 80-90% by 2050) and then compare with the agreed text….

Still, what we have is the ‘bottom line’:

  • That negotiations for strong cuts and a post 2012 framwork will begin in Bali
  • They must end in 2009

While there may be initiatives to discuss climate change, such as Bush’s with the biggest 15 emitters, all outcomes and all future negotiations will be under the UN climate framework.

By 2050, there must be cuts of 50% globally in emissions (but no baseline was given, and no milestones along the way).

Bush has not won, Merkel has managed to bring him into the camp, and we must be pleased about that.

News from the other Rachel …

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007 by
Rachel (centre) speaking at the Stopping Climate Injustice workshop
Tinashe makes his presentation

Having arrived yesterday and got my bearings in Rostock, I spent the day at the Alternative G-8, at climate change -related events. The Alternative Summit is a rabbit warren of meetings in churches, community buildings and other venues tucked away all over Rostock. But the events where the largest audiences are expected happen in the Nikolai Kirche a vast church, very light and simple inside, with terrible acoustics. However, that didn’t prevent the impressive array of speakers on Climate Justice getting across their different, but passionately-presented messages. When you go to quite a few conferences, and also speak at them too, there is often not much new to hear from NGO colleagues. But today I found the presentations inspiring. The atmosphere around the G8 is pretty dispiriting – there seems little likelihood of the agreement Mrs Merkel wants actually being obtained. So one needs a dose of hope and energy to keep one going, and this is what I got: clear indications of what is possible in reducing emissions, from FOE; how India will be desperately affected as glaciers melt, taking away a source of drinking water for 40% of its people, from Sunita Nuraini, Director of the Centre for Science and Environment. How without climate justice, no agreement is possible, and how we all must keep fighting for it by pressuring our leaders.

A short break, then Tinashe and I were presenting at a workshop called: Stopping Climate Injustice – southern solutions, northern responsibilities’. Our venue was a rather poky room in Friends of the Earth offices – but they managed to squeeze in 50 chairs, and all were taken! Besides Practical Action, WDM spoke, and Klaus Milke, Chair of our partner Germanwatch, who is also chair of KlimaAllianz, Germany’s equivalent to Stop Climate Chaos. The discussion and questions took us right to our 2 hour limit! And a reporter for the BBC interviewed both Tinashe and me, and seemed really interested in our work on adaptation and energy for the poor.

Immediately following was a rather woolly session on the Global Campaign for Climate Change – how to get more people on the streets on 8th December, throughout the world. Still, maybe I had had enough inspiration and challenge for the day!

Later, I caught up with other NGO colleagues working on climate change. Tomorrow afternoon is when the G8 leaders discuss climate change. We shall try to catch news of what is said, and prepare a response.

We enjoyed a late and well-deserved supper at a delightful harbour side restaurant in Warnemunde, the coastal town next to Rostock where our hotel is.

Media frenzy!

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007 by

Well it is day three in Germany – what have we been up to?

Yesterday we attended the press conference and got a general feel of how things work. Having never attended an event like this before, and certainly never been working at one, it is fascinating to see what goes on behind the scenes. With some journalists clamouring for interviews, others running around waving papers in the air and some who are permanently attached to their mobile phone, it is hard to leave without being infected by the buzz and excitement of the place.

Later in the afternoon Tinashe did an interview with an Italian journalist who he spoke to about the work of Practical Action and also the role of the World Bank and the funding of fossil fuel projects.

Today is the launch of the alternative summit. Organised by a large coalition of NGOs the summit aims to provide a forum in which ideas about alternative solutions to problems facing the world can be discussed. There is a whole host of workshops planned on a wide range of topics, three of which Tinashe will be speaking at tomorrow.

The launch event for the summit will be this evening and includes speeches by a number of high profile guests, such as Jean Ziegler, who is the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. It promises to be an evening of lively debate and one which we hope will include the issue of climate change.

But for now it is back to work!!

And so it begins…..

Monday, June 4th, 2007 by

Friday night as I was packing to leave for Germany my housemate asked me if I wanted a lift to the airport. I replied that I was getting the train to which is response was “So you are flying from Birmingham”. Again I said that I was getting the train and again his presumption was that I was flying, “Oh, your getting the train to Heathrow”. When he finally seemed to grasp that I meant that I was getting the train all the way to Germany a look of horror crossed his face! “Why?” seemed to be the only response that he could muster.

Despite the fact that living with me means having to deal with me following him around turning off all the lights, changing all his light bulbs and giving disapproving looks when he drives to Sainsburys this just appeared to be just one step too far. He just couldn’t grasp why I would choose to get the train rather than fly. To me this was just a timely reminder of how far we still have to go in tackling climate change. It is one think talking, but distinctly another acting.

Rachel leading the workshop at the World Can't Wait event in London on June 2nd

And it was with all these thoughts in my head that I left Leamington very early on Saturday morning with Emily and Tinashe to head to Germany for the G8 meeting, via London where we gave a short workshop at the World Can’t Wait rally that was being held at Archbishops Park. It was a great opportunity to bring the Climate justice message to a more development oriented crowd. Many were interested in the issues and keen to support the campaign.

Unfortunately we were unable to stay long at the rally as we headed straight to Waterloo to jump on the Eurostar to Brussels. After a couple of hours in Brussels it was back on the train to Cologne and then on to the overnight train to Rostock, arriving around 8:00am.

Having been woken up on the train at 4:00am by a text message from my sister telling me of the violence the previous evening it was no surprise to find a huge police presence waiting for us. However, after a quick glance at the papers it was straight to the hotel to drop off bags and then back into town to start work! Presentation number one for Tinashe was speaking on on the panel at the Climate Forum organised by Campaign Against Climate Change and BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany).

The event, attended by around 60 people, included speakers from the Green and Left Parties in Germany and also a Professor from a local University. Tinashe did great speaking passionately about the impact that climate change is already having in Southern Africa and the need for urgent action. After the panel it was straight on to an interview with Indymedia which allowed Tinashe to stress again why he was in Germany and the need for action to tackle both climate change and poverty.

Back at the hotel we were able to check in and have a well deserved and distinctly blissful rest – but not for long! With press work lined up for Tinashe this week we managed to squeeze in an hour of preparation before heading out for something to eat – in itself a challenge as between us we have little German. However, with a bit of guess work we managed to order and took great pleasure in getting back to the hotel in time for a reasonably early night.

In terms of policy there is little to report so far. Much of the media is dominated by the events of Saturday evening. However there are lots of peaceful protests and events planned for the rest of the week as different groups try to bring their messages to the fore – hopefully we will be one of them.

We will let you know how we get on!


Tinashe (second from right) on the panel at the Climate Forum

G8 – Germany, 2007

Friday, June 1st, 2007 by

Leaders of the G8 nations are meeting this week at the German seaside resort of Heiligendamm. Practical Action will be in Germany from 3rd to 9th June to send clear messages to the G8 that they must take urgent action on Climate Justice. Practical Action at the G8

Practical Action can demonstrate that climate change and poverty reduction can be tackled together through sustainable energy solutions. We believe that the G8 governments and the UK in particular, have a vital role to play in promoting this sustainable energy. For more information see Energy to reduce poverty: the urgency for G8 action on climate justice.

The Practical Action team in Germany will be reporting daily as we get closer to the final negotiations between the G8 leaders.