Friends of the Earth News from Chain Reaction #137, December 2019.
Global Climate Strike
The week of 20-27 September saw the biggest global mobilisation in history to highlight the climate emergency with over 7 million people participating in global climate strikes and actions! Friends of the Earth groups around the world were part of this movement – supporting youth and calling for climate justice for those on the front lines of climate change, dirty energy and false solutions.
In the Asia-Pacific, FoE groups joined the strikes in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Australia, Timor-Leste, South Korea, Philippines, Bangladesh, Japan and Indonesia.
Europe saw some of the biggest climate mobilisations ever ‒ 1.4 million people in Germany alone! FoE and Young FoE Europe groups joined in protests in England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Cyprus, Belgium, Spain, Denmark, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Russia, Austria, Macedonia, Sweden, Croatia, Bosnia.
Africa saw actions across the continent with FoE groups participating in Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania and Togo. FoE Togo organised an inspiring football match action with local children. Young activists from Mozambique took part in the strikes in the UK and spoke powerfully on climate justice.
FoE Africa also participated in the UN Secretary General Climate Action Summit in New York. On September 20, over 300,000 people mobilised ahead of this Summit. Philip Jakpor from Environmental Rights Action / FoE Nigeria and Sostine Namanya from NAPE / FoE Uganda were in New York and took part in the mobilisation. They also took part in a Southern Voices side event, an action against the Oil and Gas industry with allies and secured some fantastic media coverage.
The US also witnessed huge marches across many cities that FoE US joined. And FoE US helped organise a shutdown of Washington DC to demand action on the climate crisis.
In Latin America and Caribbean there were actions in many cities – and FoE Paraguay, Colombia and El Salvador were out on the streets.
FoE International's next big climate action will be in Chile for the COP (UN climate conference) in December.
People Power Now!
No Nukes Asia Forum, Taiwan
Mara Bonacci, SA nuclear-free campaigner with Friends of the Earth, writes:
The No Nukes Asia Forum (NNAF) has been running for 30 years. It's a bit like the Asian equivalent of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA), bringing together people affected by or working to stop the nuclear industry in the region. NNAF was started in Japan and is hosted by a different country each year. This year's meeting was held in Taipei and was hosted by the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU).
Approximately 100 people attended, with delegates from Taiwan, Japan, China, Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, India, Turkey, Kashmir, the Philippines, USA and Australia.
The first day was filled with presentations from each country represented. It soon became clear that anti-nuclear struggles are very similar everywhere. This reinforced the need for solidarity, collaboration and highlighted the importance of a forum such as this.
The second day had a Taiwanese focus. Taiwan has four nuclear power plants, one of which was constructed but has never operated. These plants provide about 10% of Taiwan's electricity. There is a significant campaign for a "Nuclear Free Homeland" by 2025. This would involve decommissioning of the nuclear plants and replacing them with other energy sources such as solar and geothermal.
On the third day, with the formal proceedings concluded, the forum participants met with the Vice President of Taiwan at Parliament House. With a federal election on the horizon, the current government is keen for the support of Taiwan's anti-nuclear movement and declared their commitment to a transition to renewable energy.
That afternoon and the following day, delegates were taken to all four nuclear plants and several renewable energy projects. One of these was a floating solar panel farm. Another project was an energy and agriculture site. Taiwan is prone to typhoons, which in the past have damaged crops. Netted typhoon-proof steel structures have been built, with crops growing within and solar panels on top. This ingenious project provides food security and clean energy and was inspirational to see. We learned from community members about the terrible impacts of nuclear reactors on communities and coastal ecosystems and marine life. Nuclear power may be low carbon, but its costs are high.
One forum delegate had been involved in the design of the diesel generators at Fukushima and had been involved with the nuclear industry for many years. He is now an opponent of nuclear power.
Most, if not all, of the countries represented are struggling with the problem of what to do with their radioactive waste. Many delegates were shocked to learn that Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima.
Without doubt, it is vital that we minimise the creation of radioactive waste, especially given the global problem of its management and disposal. The best way to do this is to leave the uranium in the ground.
If the nuclear-free movement in Taiwan has anything to do with it, their country will be nuclear-free by 2025, this will prove inspirational and the hope is that other countries will follow suit. As they say in Taiwan: No Nuke ‒ We Can!
- Joint Statement of the 2019 No Nukes Asia Forum: https://www.wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitor/879/nuclear-monitor-879-4-november-2019
- A video on the 25-year history of the No Nukes Asia Forum: www.youtube.com/watch?v=89BE9kbJpP0
- Videos from NNAF 2019: www.youtube.com/user/toach2000/videos
- Tony Boys, Oct 2019, 'Can Taiwan Phase out Nuclear Power? – Report on the NNAF 2019 Field Trip to Taiwan's NPPs', http://www.cnic.jp/english/?p=4592
- Yesil Gazete, 25 Oct 2019, '10 countries gathered for 'Nuclear Free Asia'', https://yesilgazete.org/blog/2019/10/25/10-countries-gathered-for-nuclear-free-asia/
ACE Anti-Nuclear Activist Archive
Sam Gibbard writes:
The ACE Nuclear Free Collective is the longest running campaign at Friends of the Earth, and has worked for over 40 years researching, educating and actively campaigning on nuclear issues. Their aim is to protect people and the environment from damage by the nuclear industry and promote safe, clean and sustainable energy solutions.
ACE Nuclear Free Collective hosts events and workshops to promote a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons, to amplify the voices of Indigenous communities directly impacted by the nuclear industry and to educate people about nuclear and peace issues. Every second year, they coordinate the Radioactive Exposure tour of nuclear sites, taking a large group of supporters out on country to see the reality of uranium mining, the legacy of nuclear weapons testing and the threat of proposed nuclear waste dumps. They also sponsor The Radioactive Show on 3CR community radio to share stories and cover news on the nuclear free movement from Australia and around the world.
Remarkably, the collective kept and maintained this significant archive related to the groups' activities from almost the beginning. Over the past three years, a volunteer archiving project has been quietly running in the background, cataloguing this massive 40-year history of the collective.
The collection comprises 110+ boxes of pamphlets, periodicals/newsletters, minute books, correspondence and other unique manuscript material, as well as a large amount of audio-visual material (photographs, film, and sound). Basic box, folder and item level description has been entered into a text searchable document that will serve as a usable catalogue to access the material. The project is very nearly finished, and the catalogue is well over 300 pages.
Significant subjects and campaigns covered in this archive include: Roxby Downs Blockade, Maralinga, Jabiluka, as well as continual efforts to fight against the establishment of nuclear power stations and national/international waste dumps.
Throughout the course of this project, The ACE Collective were able to offer volunteer opportunities for RMIT library students to gain valuable work experience. We would like to acknowledge the hard work of AC Hunter, Matthew Hall, Laura Bligh, Sam Stolke, Alice Barry, Sheeneez Mutheeu, Keren Moskal, Caitlyn Grant and Judy Chandley.
The long-term plan is that this material will be moved to the State Library of Victoria or similar institution once cataloguing is complete. An exhibition about the collection will also be held in the coming months to celebrate the completion of the archiving project, as well as exhibit some of the rare and unique items within it.
If you are interested to know more about this project, or to access it for research purposes, or if you have any items which you may want to donate to the archive, please contact [email protected]
(And thanks from all of us at FoE to Sam for leading this work!)
GM-free shopping list
From FoE Australia affiliate GM Free Australia Alliance:
The GM-Free movement in our country is growing stronger every year. Particularly right now when the world's eye has been turned to the true toxicity of Roundup. This exposure and the broader implications of Roundup sprayed on GMO crops is now imminent. We are winning!
The GM-Free Australia Alliance and True Food Network aim to educate and create social change by celebrating & promoting the foods and products that give consumers GM-Free choices. We work hard on keeping Australia's existing GM-Free Moratoriums in place, opposing deregulation of GM animals and supporting Chemical Free weed management Australia wide.
We are now commencing our campaign to publish a bigger and better than ever GM-Free Shopping List 2020, a free resource that celebrates and promotes Australian GM-Free foods and products. If you want to volunteer or help and have favourite GM-Free foods we can add to our Shopping List, please take clear photos of the labels and email us at [email protected].
The 2017 GM-Free Shopping List is posted at www.gmfreeaustralia.org.au/resources
Walk This Way 2019
Jemila Rushton from Friends of the Earth Melbourne writes:
On Saturday November 9, 100 community members braved the unusually cold November weather for a 15 kilometre walk along Melbourne's Merri Creek Trail in Narrm/Birrarung-ga to raise funds for FoE campaigns.
Earlier in 2019, FoE Melbourne released a report 'Transforming Victoria', and this year's Walk This Way adopted that same theme, and celebrated some of Melbourne's transformative communities with talks and presentations along the Merri Creek.
The walk started at CERES Community Environment Park in East Brunswick. Once an industrial wasteland, we heard from former CERES board members Sarah Houseman about the origin story of CERES, which has grown into a social enterprise hub for sustainable community initiatives.
Further along the creek we heard from Nick Williams and Pascale Pitot from Friends of Merri Creek about their legacy of rejuvenation along the Merri Creek, to rehabilitate it from industrial drain to thriving urban wetland. Nick and Pascale showed us the beneficial native bush foods along the creek and also instructed us on the edible weeds we could remove as we walked along the creek.
Rachel Deans from FoE affiliate Market Forces came along to share the impact that everyday people can make as active shareholders in their superannuation funds. We heard how people putting power in their money and put pressure on companies to stop investing in projects like the Adani coal mine, it works!
Melbourne Act on Climate campaigners Anna Langford and Aaron Brooks spoke to the walkers about the corporations blocking climate action and the climate impacts on our doorstep here in Victoria. Energy Australia has been at the forefront of the Act on Climate campaign to expose Victoria's 'climate blockers' due to their continued lobby effort to hold back ambitious emissions reductions targets at the state level. Act on Climate will soon be launching the Victorian Climate Impacts Map to highlight communities already feeling the impacts of climate change (see p.26).
Over a delicious lunch provided by the FoE Food Coop and Cafe, the Walk This Way group heard from Godfrey Moase from Cooperative Power ‒ a new community-led energy cooperative which is taking the power back from the big energy corporations (see below).
FoE Melbourne recently joined the Cooperative Power network, which grants FoE Melbourne members with access to affordable renewable energy which supports community owned renewable energy projects. More information at www.melbournefoe.org.au/cooperative_power
Thank you to everyone who came along, donated and supported our third Walk This Way event! Together, we raised over $20,000 for Friends of the Earth's grassroots campaigns for social and environmental justice.
The stories from Walk This Way 2019 will be broadcast on our Dirt Radio show on 3CR Radio as part of our Summer Series. You can visit www.3cr.org.au/dirtradio to listen in to all the latest news and find the talks as they are broadcast!
FoE Melbourne joins the Cooperative Power Revolution
Friends of the Earth Melbourne recently joined forces with Cooperative Power ‒ a newly formed cooperative for Australia's energy sector. This new model takes the power back from huge energy corporations, for the benefit of people and our planet. It's a new way for people to buy energy and have a say in how it's created and how much it costs.
This mean's FoE Melbourne members can now sign up to be part of the Cooperative Power revolution too!
How does it work? Your power supply works like any other energy provider except that instead of supporting big business, the profits from this offer will be directed towards building up a fund to help union and partner members and their communities to take the power back through the development of new, worker and community-owned renewable energy generation.
Where does the energy come from? The Cooperative Power initiative is only just getting started but their retail product partner Energy Locals (energylocals.com.au) is in the top three of the Green Electricity Guide for supporting renewable energy.
Through Cooperative Power we can invest in community renewable energy; such as solar plants, wind energy, battery storage and home energy efficiency. Together we can drive change rather than relying on a slow moving, private energy sector that is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels.
Who can sign up? Joining Cooperative Power is open to people who are members of the unions and organisations who make up the Cooperative Power network. You can invite your friends and networks to sign up as a Friends of the Earth members at http://melbourne.foe.org.au/member
Australia Beyond Coal alliance
Friends of the Earth Australia is one of the founding organisations of the Australia Beyond Coal alliance along with Environment Victoria, Greenpeace Australia-Pacific, the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, The Sunrise Project, Climate Action Network Australia, and Queensland Conservation Council.
The aim of the campaign alliance is:
- To provide information about the risks of coal power stations, explain their significance in Australia's current domestic emissions, and their contribution to climate change.
- Show the vision of the future that we could have with greater investment in renewable energy, and a well-managed transition for affected communities.
- To provide information about individual power stations, the owners of the stations, and their health risks. Hopefully the data hub will be a great resource for anyone looking to do work in this area in years to come.
The government is targeting Friends of the Earth
The government is targeting the Friends of the Earth network in a concerted effort to shut down our effective strategies for achieving environmental and social justice. Prime Minister Scott Morrison vowed to "outlaw" forms of climate activism in a speech to the mining industry.
Friends of the Earth Australia and our affiliate Market Forces are in the firing line. Attorney General Christian Porter singled out Market Forces when it announced a crackdown on so-called 'radical action.'
Why, you ask? Because it is working!
Market Forces compiled the Adani List detailing 61 major companies have ruled out being involved in the climate-wrecking Adani Carmichael coal mine. We are encouraging Australians who oppose the mine to demand companies commit to ending their association with the controversial project. Isn't that what democracy looks like? Not according to Scott Morrison and company.
Please donate to Friends of the Earth at www.foe.org.au/dd to help us stave of these attacks whilst continuing to
- Support grassroots community action on the big environmental issues of our time, including stopping the disastrous Adani coal mine.
- Educate communities about the impacts of climate change, fossil fuels, and other extractive industries and solutions.
- Work with people from all walks of life to secure positive solutions.
Justice for Golfrid
In early October, Golfrid Siregar, lawyer at Friends of the Earth Indonesia / WALHI, was found fatally injured under very suspicious circumstances. While local authorities are trying to treat his death as a traffic accident, a substantial amount of evidence points to foul play ‒ possibly murder.
Golfrid was a lawyer and had been heavily involved in fights to protect Sumatra's rainforests and communities threatened by palm oil plantations and large hydropower. In doing so, he bravely challenged corporations and government authorities. Indonesia has a long and sordid history of criminalising and intimidating human rights and environmental defenders, including a legacy of torture and murder. In recent months there has been a dramatic rise in the attacks against human rights defenders.
On October 31, Friends of the Earth Australia together with groups and citizens representing more than 240 organisations from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, North America and South America delivered letters of solidarity to Indonesian embassies across the globe calling for justice.
Please share your solidarity on social media using #justiceforGolfrid
More information: www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2019/10/unafraid-indonesia-activist-sudden-death-questioned-191014055808320.html
Friends of the Earth Australia LGBTQIA+ Position Statement
Friends of the Earth Australia endorsed the following statement at our national meeting this year.
Friends of the Earth Australia (FoE) stands in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ people - both in struggle and in celebration.
FoE believes that all people have the right to live in safety and without fear, regardless of their gender or sexuality.
FoE consciously and intentionally encourages LGBTQIA+ people in our spaces, and provides active support to emergent leaders. We remain committed to providing a safe and welcoming space to all members of our community. We make a commitment to further support, include and encourage involvement with our work. We welcome LGBTQIA+ groups and individuals who would like a friendly space to organise from. Our doors are always open and you will be treated with respect and dignity whether you're involved with FoE on the ground or online.
We strongly believe environmental and social justice are thoroughly interconnected and cannot be separated. FoE is committed to expanding our campaign work into areas where justice for LGBTQIA+ people and environmental justice intersect.
FoE acknowledges that the dominant discourses of ecology have roots in heterosexist and binary notions. Biological and reproductive 'naturalness' is a queerphobic ecological discourse, as is the notion that positions humans and nature as binary opposites. FoE will continue to learn from the philosophy of queer ecology to sublimate the dominant discourse through our intersectional work towards environmental and social justice.
We recognise that members of the LGBTQIA+ community face multiple oppressions and we commit to supporting our LGBTQIA+ campaigners and allies. We also recognise the compounding oppressions faced by LGBTQIA+ first nations peoples, people of colour, refugees, climate displaced peoples, homeless, and others who already experience marginalisation within our society. We further acknowledge and stand by our trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming comrades in their particular struggles for visibility in our community.
FoE recognises that members of our national network may not previously have had the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of LGBTQIA+ experiences. We commit to ongoing education within our organisation to ensure all our members, groups, campaigners and volunteers are supported to deepen our understanding of LGBTQIA+ experiences, and are able to support members of the LGBTQIA+ community in our work.
We are committed to ending discrimination on the basis of gender and sexuality, and to continuing to grow the understanding of all members of our community to strengthen our culture of dismantling oppressive structures.
FoE will always be an ally to LGBTQIA+ groups and organisers, and encourages them to call on us for solidarity or assistance.
Published in Chain Reaction #137, December 2019. National magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia. www.foe.org.au/chain_reaction