[Debate] Did anyone debate Mary Robinson while in Durban last month?

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Fri Jan 20 03:41:58 GMT 2012

She had a packed house at the People's Space at UKZN, but there are some 
very valid concerns by CJNers that she continues to do damage promoting 
carbon markets. Some correspondence:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	Re: [climate justice now!] Mary Robinson Foundation for 
Climate Injustice
Date: 	Fri, 20 Jan 2012 05:34:58 +0200
From: 	Patrick Bond <pbond at mail.ngo.za>
To: 	Maria Theresa Lauron <tlauron at ibon.org>
CC: 	'helena' <h.paul at gn.apc.org>, 'Teresa Anderson' 
<teresa at gaianet.org>, 'simone lovera' <simonelovera at yahoo.com>, 'Daphne 
Wysham' <daphne.wysham at gmail.com>, "'CJN!'" <cjn at lists.riseup.net>

I'm hesitant to chime in because in the ol' days, when I was a wee lad 
in my native Belfast, in the late 1960s, my pa worked with Robinson on 
Irish social struggles and talked with awe about how she would cross the 
stupid border with contraceptives in a way that Zackie Achmat of 
Treatment Action Campaign did with Anti-Retroviral medicines against 
AIDS a decade ago, to shame the authorities who took them away. And she 
eventually won there, as well as taking an Irish presidency that had 
never been feminised. So more power to her history...

...but less power/visibility/credibility to her present work, sure. And 
we can't forget, here in Durban, a decade and a few months ago, the 
wicked role she played as UN Human Rights Commissioner and chair of the 
World Conference Against Racism: censoring a huge civ soc gathering 
which wanted to send a formal message to WCAR 1% elites that two topics 
not properly on the conference agenda - reparations for slavery, 
colonialism and apartheid, and Israeli Zionism - should be central 
concerns. We even had around 15,000 people marching to the ICC (same 
place as Conference of Polluters 17) on Aug 31, 2001, in support of 
those messages. But Robinson walked out of a big meeting, simply 
refusing to take the message with her, accompanied by the boos of the 
anti-racism movements (an incident captured beautifully on Ben Cashdan's 
video doccie of WCAR).

When last March, in her policy speech at the Libyan School of Economics 
in London, Robinson declared that carbon markets were part of the 
climate justice agenda, I thought it would be worth engaging her staff. 
I've had various chats and emails with Mary Robinson Foundation - 
Climate Justice personnel over the last eighteen months, and indeed her 
main climate assistant Tara Shine (formerly on the Irish COP 
delegations) talked to me for an hour when I was in Dublin last October. 
I guess I'm a bit fed up with her lack of genuine engagement with CJ 
principles now, so perhaps it's ok to release the fruitless 
correspondence in order to suggest that those of you who would like to 
write Robinson a letter will, I predict, become just as frustrated.

The bottom line, I'd say, is that Robinson endorses carbon markets and 
says they're working in Africa, something a report we're finishing today 
will disprove. She gazes upwards at power, not down at the realities or 
at potential grassroots allies. Her use of the two words climate justice 
are utterly incongruous. The more people who call her on it, the better.



My letters:

On 11/23/2011 9:05 AM, Patrick Bond wrote:
>  Warm greetings Tara,
>  I was just wondering if there was any chance to review the position on
>  carbon trading?
>  Ciao,
>  Patrick
>  On 10/26/2011 1:14 PM, Patrick Bond wrote:
>>  Hi Tara,
>>  It was great to chat. I had tried over prior months to get a sense of
>>  what CJ might mean from the MRFCJ perspective, but this discussion
>>  was the most valuable by far, so thanks for taking the time. I hope
>>  all goes well for strengthening capacity and keeping your mothering
>>  balanced in, too, in these very hectic times.
>>  Just to repeat, I really hope a strong, fully persuasive case will be
>>  made to Mary Robinson, to you and to your team that the traditions of
>>  CJ politics developed since the 1990s Accion Ecologica
>>  analysis/demands, the 2000 Corpwatch conference in Amsterdam, the
>>  2004 Durban Group for Climate Justice and the 2007 founding of
>>  Climate Justice Now! in Bali are reasonable. These are spelled out on
>>  several websites with plenty of good documentation, e.g.
>>  http://www.durbanclimatejustice.org/  and in a quick film I worked on:
>>  http://www.storyofcapandtrade.org
>>  I will send a few more things if you have time, but the most
>>  important are the ideas agreed upon in Cochabamba which boil down to
>>  9 core demands:
>>  Principles and demands articulated at Rights of Mother Earth
>>  Conference, Cochabamba, Bolivia, April 2010
>>  · 50 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2017
>>  · stabilising temperature rises to 1C and 300 Parts Per Million
>>  · acknowledging the climate debt owed by developed countries
>>  · full respect for Human Rights and the inherent rights of indigenous
>>  people
>>  · universal declaration of rights of Mother Earth to ensure harmony
>>  with nature
>>  · establishment of an International Court of Climate Justice
>>  · decommissioning of carbon markets and rejection of commodified
>>  nature and forests
>>  · change consumption patterns of wealthy countries
>>  · end intellectual property rights on technologies useful to mitigate
>>  climate change
>>  The worry about the LSE speech was its statement - without back-up
>>  references - that carbon trading is 'finally starting to reap
>>  dividends for Africa and least developed countries . . .' and that
>>  'the experience gained through the design and implementation of
>>  successful regional cap-and-trade programs is hugely valuable if
>>  shared with developing country regional groups.' (Mary Robinson,
>>  "Protecting the most vulnerable," Speech at the London School of
>>  Economics Centre for the Study of Human Rights, London, 10 March
>>  2011.
>>  http://www.mrfcj.org/news_centre/2011/mary_robinson_lecture_lse.html  )
>>  If your first research/policy paper is the Guyana national-scale REDD
>>  strategy and you think that reforms are possible, I'll be grateful to
>>  get that information. My sense is that those wanting to work within
>>  the REDD framework of the UN and World Bank, for example, have the
>>  following agenda:
>>  * REDD reforms for free, prior and informed consent
>>  * REDD reforms to disqualify monocultural alien-invasive timber
>>  plantations
>>  * REDD reforms to keep financing out of offset and carbon markets
>>  Please correct me if I'm wrong, but no substantial progress is being
>>  made on these fronts.
>>  So I hope the discussion can then move from the futility of the
>>  UNFCCC process given the terribly adverse balance of forces, to the
>>  genuine on-the-ground solutions being generated by CJ activists
>>  across the world. To that end, I'll attach the conclusion from my new
>>  book Politics of Climate Justice (available in a couple of weeks). I
>>  only regret I forgot to add the inspiring story of Rossport.
>>  Cheers,
>>  Patrick

Tara's two replies (though not to most recent re-enquiry):

On 10/12/2011 5:37 PM, Tara Shine wrote:

>  Dear Patrick,
>  Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.   We have been up to our eyes in proposals and meetings.
>  In response to your question on the carbon trading, MRFCJ is not an
  advocate for the carbon market.  But it exists and MRFCJ is committed
to working for equitable access to benefits arising from all responses
to climate change.  Rather than giving up on an imperfect instrument, we
  argue for there to be a more equitable and just approach, more gender
responsive and more effective in terms of social and environmental
outcomes.   In doing this, we are conscious that there have been
problems linked to the CDM and that, to date, the majority of developing
  countries have not interacted with or benefitted from the carbon
>  Perhaps you can let me know who the interested people are that you would like to share our perspectives with?
>  I would be happy to discuss this further before you come to Ireland or while you are here.  Whatever suits you best.
>  Warm regards,
>  Tara Shine
>  Dr Tara Shine
>  Head of Research and Development
>  Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice
>  Trinity College
>  6 Sth Leinster Street
>  Dublin 2
>  Ireland
>  Phone: +353 (1) 6618427
>  Mobile: + 353 (86) 1712130
>  Web:www.mrfcj.org

>  From: Patrick Bond [mailto:patricksouthafrica at gmail.com] On Behalf Of Patrick Bond
>  Sent: 11 October 2011 17:09
>  To:pbond at mail.ngo.za
>  Cc: Bride Rosney; Tara Shine
>  Subject: Re: Bride - queries on MRFCJ position
>  (Resent)
>  Hi Tara (and Bride),
>  I'm still getting my act together for 25-27 Oct and will let you
know the locales for climate justice talks in case we can hook up if you
  or your colleagues are in Dublin.
>  I just had that one nagging question again, my apologies... was
there ever any rethink of this stance (below in bold/italics), regarding
  carbon trading? We have a great deal of material that disputes the
merits of carbon trading from a climate justice perspective, so I was
wondering if there is any attempt to engage that literature (and
manifestos by virtually all the major CJ conferences). If so, do please
enlighten, so I can pass it along to many interested people.
>  Thanks!
>  Patrick
>  Robinson argued in a London School of Economics lecture that carbon
  trading is 'finally starting to reap dividends for Africa and least
developed countries.' She added, 'the experience gained through the
design and implementation of successful regional cap-and-trade programs
is hugely valuable if shared with developing country regional
>  [1]. Mary Robinson, "Protecting the most vulnerable," Speech at the
  London School of Economics Centre for the Study of Human Rights,
London, 10 March 2011.

On 10/26/2011 2:17 PM, Tara Shine wrote:

> Thanks for these papers Patrick.
> MRFCJ's perspective on climate justice is elaborated in the principles which guide our work - these are available on our websitehttp://www.mrfcj.org/about
> The document on lessons learned from pursing a REDD+ strategy in Guyana is available athttp://mrfcj.org/news_centre/2011/report_pursuing_redd_plus_as_viable_development_option.html
> Enjoy the rest of your stay.
> Tara

On 1/20/2012 4:29 AM, Maria Theresa Lauron wrote:
> Hi Teresa and Helena,
> I was also at the ARDD 2011 and Mary Robinson has become the 
> 'celebrity endorser' for climate smart agriculture and worst, under 
> the banner of climate justice.
> I understand the intent, and commend the organizations who would want 
> to engage with her. As CJN, I am not too sure how much time and energy 
> we should be spending on this given our organizational priorities. We 
> have to remember that she _is_ a politician, and continues to act like 
> one.
> Good luck to the brave souls and here's hoping you knock some sense 
> into her,
> Tetet J
> *From:*cjn-owner at lists.riseup.net [mailto:cjn-owner at lists.riseup.net] 
> *On Behalf Of *helena
> *Sent:* Friday, January 20, 2012 3:00 AM
> *To:* Teresa Anderson; simone lovera
> *Cc:* Daphne Wysham; CJN!
> *Subject:* Re: [climate justice now!] BBC: Alex Salmond in climate 
> justice call to world leaders
> I think this would be a good idea.  Let's make it an open letter. I 
> tried to speak to her at the ARDD day where she joined in the cheer 
> leading and promoting what basically later emerged in Durban as if it 
> was great. She doesn't like people disagreeing with her, that's clear. 
> She needs to be tackled especially on the issue of appropriating the 
> words climate justice for herself.
> Helena
> On 19/01/2012 13:50, "Teresa Anderson" <teresa at gaianet.org> wrote:
> Hi Simone and all,
> Just a quick response to the Mary Robinson point.  On the plane back 
> from Cancun I got talking to a couple in the Irish delegation I've 
> seen at COPs over the years, who are friends with Mary Robinson.  I 
> told them that the Climate Justice movement were appalled at her 
> ill-thought through positions and her mis-appropriating of the term 
> Climate Justice.  In particular I asked them to pass on the message 
> that she needed to be aware that the people that she's willing to 
> stand up next to and support  (such lovely characters as Meles Zenawi) 
> had made her a joke amongst the movement, and she's now seen as a 
> "Rent-a-Heart" for corporations.
> So I think there wouldn't be any harm in writing her a letter that 
> CJNers can sign on.  She probably values her own reputation as a saint 
> above all, so I suspect that would be a point on which we can press 
> her.  (That is, if we can be bothered and have time on time of 
> everything else we are doing!)
> T
> On 17 Jan 2012, at 14:21, Simone Lovera wrote:
> Dear Daphne and all,
> Admittedly I am more concerned by Mary Robinson's abuse of the term - 
> she is using it to promote carbon markets. Now that is something we 
> should really address as CJN! Maybe we should consider writing a 
> letter? Could the facilitation group take this up?
> Btw., I wondered whether there were any CJN! people who had made it to 
> this summit? It seems quite interesting, I only read the ENB report, 
> but I was struck that there seems to be less carbon market promotion 
> than expected from such a black tie (and almost men-only) summit. At 
> least, according to ENB. The term "bioenergy" could not be found in 
> ENB either, but of course the main problem we have is that 'renewable 
> energy' includes bioenergy - in many countries and regions like the EU 
> it still forms the main source of renewable energy.
> On the positive side, I read about several high level speakers who 
> asked for tough regulations in the energy sector (rather than 
> voluntary initiatives), and the call to shift subsidies away from 
> fossil fuels (but hopefully not in the direction of biofuels!) seems 
> supported by almost all. Although it is important we approach this 
> agenda with a climate justice perspective as well (as some of these 
> subsidies are very important for the daily livelihoods of some of the 
> poorest people on the planet, including in particular women).
> I do sometimes feel the climate justice movement is spending far too 
> much time on the failed UNFCCC process while we spend too little time 
> influencing these kinds of alternative fora, including in particular 
> INRENA, which might be open to a more critical stand on bioenergy. In 
> any case I would really welcome more information from people following 
> this and related processes.
> Best wishes,
> Simone
> On Jan 17, 2012, at 10:37 AM, Daphne Wysham wrote:
>         Yikes! Is this what "climate justice" means to us? "I believe 
> we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enshrine this important 
> principle - that economic development should be linked to human rights 
> - in global energy policy"
> --DW
> 16 January 2012 Last updated at 12:05 ET
> *Alex Salmond in climate justice call to world leaders
> *
>   Alex Salmond has called for "climate justice" while attending a 
> summit in Abu Dhabi
> Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has called for "climate 
> justice" to be central to decisions on energy and development.
> He made his plea to leaders attending Abu Dhabi's World Future Energy 
> Summit.
> Mr Salmond explained that those countries least able to cope with 
> extreme weather should not be further disadvantaged in global energy 
> policy.
> The SNP leader also called for binding greenhouse gas reduction 
> targets to help give certainty to businesses.
> During his visit, Mr Salmond met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon 
> and Premier Wen of China.
> He took part in a majilis - a public audience held by the ruler 
> Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
> The gathering has been discussing energy security, sustainability and 
> the transition to a low carbon future.
> Continue reading the main story 
> <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-16584424?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook#story_continues_1 
> <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-16584424?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook#story_continues_1>> 
> *"Start Quote*
> I believe we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enshrine this 
> important principle - that economic development should be linked to 
> human rights - in global energy policy"
> Alex Salmond First Minister
> Mr Salmond said: "Scotland's energy challenges and champions make us a 
> leader in the international sustainability debate. We are also world 
> leaders in the transition to a low carbon economy and in particular 
> the renewables revolution.
> "It is only fitting that we should be part of the foremost annual 
> meeting committed to finding solutions to the energy needs of the future."
> The first minister added: "It is vitally important that, as the world 
> moves towards economic recovery in 2012, we place climate justice at 
> the very heart of the decisions we make on energy policy and economic 
> and social development in the coming months.
> "I believe we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enshrine this 
> important principle - that economic development should be linked to 
> human rights - in global energy policy, ensuring that countries and 
> communities least able to cope with the extreme weather events climate 
> change brings are not further disadvantaged.
> "In the run up to the UN Rio+20 conference in Brazil in June and 
> beyond, I am calling for climate justice to be made central to 
> decisions taken by major countries on energy and development.
> "Given that one of the themes of this year's conference is linking the 
> green economy to sustainable development, an important part of 
> Scotland's contribution to Rio+20 will be to champion climate justice."
> Scotland has made a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 
> 80%, from 1990 levels, by 2050. It also has an interim target of 
> reducing emissions by 42% by 2020.
> The World Future Energy Summit, which promotes advancement of 
> renewable energy, is now in its fifth year. More than 26,000 people 
> attend, including 3,000 delegates.
> *More on This Story*
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