COP-17 Actions and Security

8 December 2011 --- Security was both more convenient and more controlled in Durban than in Cancun -- more convenient because everything was in the same large, barricaded complex (ICC)in the center of the city a block from my hotel. Actions inside the ICC were much more controlled. There was an imposed limit of no more that 18 persons and some activites were not allowed. It was not allowed to put up a banner. The location where these were allowed was appropriate as it was a high traffic area between the area with the official meetings and the exhibition area.

I recognize some individual police in blue uniforms as the same ones from the U.S. who were in Cancun. They are quite distinguishable from the Mexican or South African police. They are wearing those same blue uniforms here in South Africa that they wore in Mexico. I especially remember individuals because of an incident in Cancun where they were holding the door to keep people out of the meeting room. I've seen those same men in South Africa. I had a conversation on a bus with a Mexican woman working with the logistics and she verified that there were police from the U.S. involved in the security. My guess is that they are part of the U.N.'s New York security force.

There were some members of the Climate Justice Now group were asked to sign pledges that they would not participate in any demonstrations because they had done so in Cancun. They didn't know how the powers that be knew that as they were not aware last year. I joined lots of actions last year, but I didn't get such a letter.

Then there was the opening day of the High Level segment and NGO delegates were turned away from one of the two entrances, the one a short walk from my hotel. We were asked to walk around to where people got off the buses, which took me 20 minutes. Everyone else was allowed in except the NGO delegations. This entrance was near the VIP entrance, so I guess they consider the NGO delegates very dangerous people who might attack the VIPs. It was only that day of the opening ceremony of the high level segment. After that I was allowed in that entrance again.

Turn Your Back on Canada

There were two demonstrations during the Country Reports. When Peter Kent, the Canadian Minister of Environment got up to speak, six of the Candian youth stood up right behind me with their backs to him with T-shirts saying "Turn your back on Canada." They were led out by police and kicked out of the Conference.

CanadianYouthCanadian Youth led out by Police

Protest Against the U.S.

When Todd Stern, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, got up to give the U.S. Country Report, a woman stood and shouted a speech. She was on the other side of the room, so I couldn't hear what she was saying. She was also led out of the room by police.

Robin Hood Tax

An example of an allowed action was on the Robin Hood Tax, the official name of which is the Financial Transactions Tax. I don't know which group this was, but they had a target, gave participants a hat and asked them to shoot the target to fill the fund, as well as a flyer that explained that the proposed tax on financial transactions is an innovative way of funding the Green Climate Fund directly from the wealthy corporate elite who are historically responsible for the emissions that caused this climate crisis.

Robin Hood TaxAlberto GomezTomoko Kashiwakazaki

Climate Justice Now Press Conference

Another allowed action happened in the context of the Climate Justice Now (CJN) Press Conference. The moderator Tetet Lauron introduced the five speakers and each spoke for three minutes: Alberto Gomez, La Via Campesina; Tomoko Kashiwakazaki, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development; Ivan Torafingo, an Indigenous Youth from the Philippines; Tasha Peters of the Canadian Youth Cimate Coalition; and Blessing Karumbidza of Timberwatch Coalition.

Tasha PetersIvan TorafingoBlessing Karumbidza

In introducingthe Press Conference, Tetet said, "All over the world we see challenges faced by the 1% corporate elite who exercise dominance over the 99% of the world's poor. Now these same tensions are very much around and at play here at the UNFCCC COP-17, which we feel has been taken over by corporate interests. The UNFCCC is betraying the people who deliver meaningful outcomes that will drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move the world toward finding general solutions to the climate crisis. Instead what we are witnessing is the cooptation of this process and providing corporations with even more opportunities to profit morefrom climate change. We have a panel of speakers from different countries and sectors who are being affected by climate change, but sadly their voices are not being heard in the inside negotiations."

CJN PartyCJN Party

With quite alot of media there, at the end of the official press conference the CJN had a party to celebrate the death of the carbon market with balloons, hats, and noisemakers. They broke balloons symbolizing the carbon market falling apart.


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