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Joshua Kahn Russell's Posts

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Indigenous voices challenge Royal Bank tar sands policies, supported by hundreds at shareholder meet

Today more than 170 people rallied outside of the Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC’s) Annual General Shareholder meeting (AGM) in Toronto after a series of creative non-violent actions all morning.

Inside, First Nations Chiefs and community representatives from four different Nations demanded RBC phase out of its Tar Sands financing and to recognize the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent for Indigenous communities. Afterward, Indigenous leaders lead the crowd in a march to rally outside both RBC Headquarters buildings.

Other cities across Canada supported the First Nations voices inside the AGM as well with solidarity actions from (click on a city for pictures) London, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, Victoria and more. Check out photos from those and our events in Toronto.

And see some preliminary media coverage from the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, the Edmonton Journal, and the Dominion.

Since 2007 RBC has backed more than $16.7 billion (USD) in loans to companies operating in the tar sands—more than any other bank. Called, ‘the most destructive project on Earth,’ Alberta’s tar sands projects will eventually transform a Boreal forest the size of England into an industrial sacrifice zone complete with lakes full of toxic waste and man-made volcanoes spewing out clouds of global warming emissions.

Outside the shareholder meeting school children, bank customers of every age, First Nations community representatives joined Rainforest Action Network, Indigenous Environmental Network, No One Is Illegal, and Council of Canadians made their outrage at RBC’s investments heard – to the thumping beats of street Samba band, the crowd shouted “Cultural Genocide: who do we thank? Dirty investments from Royal Bank!

 Inside the shareholder meeting, Chief Al Lameman of Beaver Lake First Nation, Alberta,Vice Chief Terry Teegee of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council of BC, Hereditary Chief Warner Naziel of the Wet'suwe'ten First Nation of BC, and Gitz Crazyboy of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation addressed RBC CEO Gordon Nixon directly about the way tar sands extraction projects have jeopardized their health and their rights.

Downstream communities have experienced polluted water, water reductions in rivers and aquifers, declines in wildlife populations such as moose and muskrat, and significant declines in fish populations. Tar sands has all but destroyed the traditional livelihood of First Nations in the northern Athabasca watershed.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Philadelphia activists rally & risk arrest to tell the EPA no more MTR

Philly EPA Considering 16 New Mining Permits This morning activists in Philadelphia descended upon their Regional EPA branch to put an end to Mountaintop Removal mining (MTR). Decisions made here in Philly have devastating consequences for Appalachian communities and our country as a whole. Activists prepared to enter the building and risk arrest by sitting-in until they were granted a meeting with officials inside, and after a successful engagement and demands met, the rally of 40 people exited. In recent months, the EPA has wavered in their position on mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR); in particular with the recent approval …

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Click It and Stick It to King Coal’s Dirty Bankers

Today, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is joining with thousands of friends and allies on the internet to send a message to JP Morgan Chase to stop financing mountaintop removal coal mining!  This Thursday morning at 9am EST, DirtyMoney.org revealed a list of simple actions people can take online, letting Chase know that America is aware of the bank’s involvement in destroying Appalachia. Participants will have a choice of actions to take on a variety of social networks, including Twitter, Facebook and Flickr.       JP Morgan Chase is the biggest U.S. financier of mountaintop removal coal mining, the highly …

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storm center

Youth and Indigenous activists rally for vulnerable nations at climate talks

COPENHAGEN -- Echoing the words of Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed (We will not die quietly!) and the African negotiator Ambassador Lumumba, (No to climate colonialism!) hundreds of youth created a loud and energetic "climate storm" today inside the Copenhagen climate talks at the Bella Center. It was the largest demonstration at COP15 yet -- and was just a taste of the storm to come. Youth from every continent clapped, snapped, and pounded their feet to make the sounds of a rainstorm in a representation of the typhoons and hurricanes that have ravaged communities around the world this year. "Negotiators are …

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COP15 controversy gives "green room" a whole new meaning

Copenhagen day 1: Scandal! Bullying!

Grist's coverage of Copenhagen climate talks

What better way to open the Copenhagen climate talks -- the meeting of the UNFCCC that is supposedly going to decide the fate of the entire world -- than with broad civil society outrage at the egregious lack of democracy in the process.

Here's the inside scoop: the Danish presidency is desperate for a positive spin on any outcome of the climate negotiations here. That means forcing an outcome by bringing together the rich and powerful nations to broker a deal in private and then to announce it to the rest of the world. There is widespread concern of U.S.-friendly text being “parachuted” into the negotiating documents, at the expense of G77 countries (everyone else).

We all know that international agreements involve quite a lot of back-room deals and often intimidation. We just usually don't expect it to come from the facilitators. Obviously this is both antithetical to the U.N. process but also to the duties of the Danish Government in playing a neutral convening role at the Conference of Parties. It’s not just an attack on democracy, but it amounts to an attack on the rest of the world on behalf of a few powerful interests. It’s the sort of "green room" behavior one would expect from the World Trade Organization, not the United Nations, which has a consensus process designed to make global decisions.

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The logic is this -- the U.S. needs to be on board to get any deal, so therefore let's force a watering-down of the process to get the U.S. to sign. Déjà vu? It’s errily like we’re replaying the Kyoto meeting in 1997. Remember how the world watered down the treaty (giving birth to the concept of offsets and the Clean Development Mechanism) so that the U.S. would sign? …and the U.S. never even signed anyway.

Will COP15 be a race to the bottom, hijacked to pander to the United States? Today Raman Mehta from Action Aid India said, “The global community trusted the Danish government to host a fair and transparent process but they have betrayed that trust. Most importantly, they are betraying those who are disproportionately impacted by climate change and whose voices are not being heard. This unfair behavior strikes a blow to all efforts to achieve justice and equity in the climate change negotiations process.”

Civil Society has brought foreward a number of specific concerns:

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Prelude to COP15: Climate justice actions sweep the U.S. before Copenhagen talks

Tuesday in the U.S., climate justice activists turned up the street heat to corporations in the financial and energy sectors most responsible for the climate crisis. Initiated by the Mobilization for Climate Justice and the Climate Pledge of Resistance, the day of action came a week before social movements converge in Copenhagen at the U.N. climate talks on Dec. 7 and on the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Organization (WTO) protests in Seattle in 1999. Major demonstrations, teach-ins, civil disobedience actions anchored the day of action in nine U.S. cities, supplemented by other smaller actions blooming around the country. …

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Geoengineering: Plan B for when Copenhagen fails? eek!

Some scary prospects of where people are turning - geoengineering, the false solution that once seemed like science fiction, is actually being taken seriously. Seriously? Diana Bronson, ETC Group We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. - Albert Einstein As global climate negotiations in Barcelona enter into the last week of talks before December’s Copenhagen summit, there continues to be more aggravation than agreement amongst negotiators. Despite the litany of warnings about the devastation a failure in Copenhagen will cause – mass migrations, floods, worsening hunger and elimination of entire small island …

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common but differentiated despondencies

Rich countries halt Barcelona climate talks with inaction; Africa walks out

African negotiators at the U.N. climate talks in Barcelona refused to continue formal discussions about all other issues until wealthy countries live up to their legal and moral responsibility to commit to deep emissions reductions. Rich countries (also called “Annex 1 countries”) have ground negotiations to a halt by failing to agree to their new targets under the Kyoto Protocol, driving developing countries to put their feet down. This walkout is significant and opens up political space -- it means many of the countries in Africa just stopped one half of the U.N. climate negotiation process until rich countries say how much they will reduce their carbon.

We’re down to the wire: just four negotiating days left before the big agreement in Copenhagen is supposed to go down. We've now seen a taste of the breakdowns to come. While rich countries continue to undermine commitments for the Kyoto Protocol (one of two negotiating tracks for Copenhagen, it's supposed to be renewed for a second commitment period of Annex 1 targets), the spin has already taken hold: they’re blaming Africa for their own delay-mongering. Oy vey.

Barcelona protestsIn response, movement and civil-society organizations held a demonstration at the U.N. building in support of African delegates' insistence that developed countries commit to new, strong, binding targets. Delegates and observers were invited to join a human shield against the killing of Kyoto targets (complete with an Annex 1 grim reaper) and urged to promote at least 40 percent emission reductions with no offsets by 2020.

Kamese Geoffrey of NAPE/Friends of the Earth Uganda warned, "Rich countries are attempting to dodge their legal and moral responsibilities to reduce emissions. Developing countries and communities have historically had practically no fault in the creation of climate change, yet they will be the first to face the devastating impacts of climate change."

Many of us have longstanding criticisms of the Kyoto Protocol, particularly its market mechanisms. But here’s why Kyoto is important:

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Bangkok: rich countries try to kill Kyoto, youth declare

Today marked one of the final days of the Bangkok U.N. Climate Negotiations. With the end of this intersessional in sight, the International Youth Delegation (IYD) has officially declared “No Confidence” in the road to Copenhagen. With youth delegates from over 30 countries engaging in the Bangkok process, the IYD cited pathetically weak targets from the North, alarm that a second commitment period in the Kyoto Protocol will not be secured, and a lack of guarantees for protection of indigenous peoples’ rights and interests in its declaration. The current text of the draft climate deal is so weak and so …

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Think Climate Finance is boring? Think again.

Reparations for Climate Chaos

Remember when the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and International Monetary Fund were constantly making global headlines for their fierce opposition from people's movements around the world? Well, international Finance Institutions (including the World Bank) are rearing their ugly heads again -- this time with the U.N. as their vehicle. Today, more than 50 social movements, trade unions, environmental groups, and NGOs from 17 countries issued a statement at the United Nations in Bangkok, where UNFCCC climate negotiations move into their fifth day. The groups, which include several large international networks, said that rich countries should acknowledge their historical …