EMISSIONS TRADING CONFERENCE DISRUPTED BY GROUP CALLING FOR 'CLIMATE JUSTICE'
5th MARCH 2002
Activists from a group calling itself 'Pie in the Sky' part of the Rising Tide UK network (www.risingtide.org.uk *) today strolled into and disrupted a top-level conference on the new market in trading carbon dioxide emissions. The conference, titled 'Emissions Trading Schemes Objectives, Implementation and Future Opportunities', was being held at London's Kensington Palace Hotel.
Those present, including representatives from Shell, the International Emissions Trading Association, the UN, CO2e.com, DEFRA, KPMG and the EU, witnessed the unscheduled presentation a little after elevenses, as the Shell rep was waxing lyrical on the new profit opportunities presented by this new market in emissions. At that point, several smartly dressed men and women entered the room, armed with a flip chart, a banner reading 'Emissions trading? Pie in the sky!' and leaflets.
Then, amidst the uproar, a calm voice of reason rang out - that of 'Pie in the Sky''s Rochelle Jackson, who explained that emissions trading was · little more than a profit-making opportunity for the companies that were responsible for current huge levels of CO2 emissions; · an insult to the people of the global south, whose lives and livelihoods are under threat (if not already underwater), and whose needs have consistently been ignored by those wanting to be seen to be addressing the problem of climate change; · deeply flawed as an attempt to achieve even the meagre 5.2% reductions in CO2 emissions currently set by the Kyoto Protocol.
'The new market in the trading of carbon emissions is pie in the sky,' said Ms. Jackson. 'It pretends to be a solution to the oncoming climate change crisis, but is in fact the privatisation of the atmosphere, the same atmosphere that protects the earth and all its people. We need 60% cuts in carbon emissions now, and hand-in-hand with that, we need climate justice, which could start with an admission that it is the rich in the west who are causing the problem and who are now attempting to profit from it, and the poorest people of the south who are bearing the brunt of the crisis.'
She went on to say that 'Cutting gigantic arms budgets and diverting the funds into climate mitigation activities might be a good place to start, as would the acknowledgement that not only is the west not owed any Third World Debt, but in fact we owe a huge ecological debt to the global south.'
The presentation was greeted with polite consternation by the £300+ a head delegates, and the UN representative told the friendly leafleter to 'Piss off!', though remained silent when asked if he could be quoted. The 'Pie in the Sky'ers left the hotel when requested by security staff, leaving an email address on their leaflets in case anyone had further questions. It is not known to what extent the rest of the day's proceedings were eclipsed by the morning's unexpected events.
'Pie in the Sky', as part of Rising Tide both in the UK and internationally (2), promised that this was just the start of a grassroots campaign for climate justice, and that this would include a widespread campaign of information and direct action against emissions trading. This could be a serious concern to the Labour government, which is launching its 'flagship' UK emissions trading platform on April Fuel's Day (April 1st 2002), a platform which it listed in its 2002 election manifesto as one of its 25 greatest achievements.
Notes to editors:
1. Rising Tide UK is a network of groups taking grassroots action for climate justice. Formed in November 2000 to take action at the Hague UN climate summit, it now many local groups. The international network is made up of groups from over 10 countries, all of whom have no faith in the Kyoto Protocol to solve the climate crisis, but are committed instead to 'bottom-up' solutions.
2. An Amsterdam conference with similar intent was disrupted in February 2002. For a report, go to www.risingtide.nl