November 12th, 2021 Newsletter


Summit Hypocrisy

Julian Assange’s partner, Stella Moris, went to COP 26 in Glasgow to remind delegates, NGOs and activists that WikiLeaks revealed evidence of how corporations and states have undermined the goals of prior climate summits. Along with the revelations of US war crimes, it is for these very publications that the US wants to extradite Assange to the USA to potentially face 175 years in jail. Unless we rally behind Julian’s freedom we will also lose our right to know. Moris explains to Democracy Now;

“I’m here to rally support for Julian and also to raise awareness of the extraordinary wealth of information that WikiLeaks has published about the climate over the years. And the archive of WikiLeaks just becomes more and more relevant for every year that passes. There are thousands and thousands of emails and documents that document not only, for example, how the melting ice cap sparked a scramble for the Arctic, like the scramble for Africa, for Arctic oil and minerals, but also, for example, about how Shell had infiltrated the Nigerian government, and the Shell executive vice president boasted to the U.S. Embassy that they had seconded people into every relevant ministry of the Nigerian government and that the Nigerian government wasn’t aware that Shell knew exactly what was going on and which decisions were being taken and shaping how those decisions were being taken.

The WikiLeaks archive is quite an extraordinary tool for activists, for academics, for people working in this area, to be able to understand the relationship between the states and the fossil fuel companies, how those interests are intertwined, the fact that there is no bright line between many of these states and the fossil fuel industry, and that, in fact, there’s a revolving door and that the goals of the summit are frustrated by this reality.

Julian was actually in Copenhagen for the COP 2015, and WikiLeaks published the draft negotiation, the draft document, and it was revealed, through WikiLeaks cables, that the U.S. was spying on delegates, finding dirt on delegates and basically bribing countries into watering down their positions, which defeated the purpose of the climate talks. And really, in order to actually achieve meaningful change, you need buy-in from these governments, and these governments are often compromised. And so, WikiLeaks allows an understanding of how that compromise takes place and how these interests are defeating the purpose of these summits”.

Reality or wishful thinking?

Assange’s persecution in the hands of the British justice system has had a chilling effect on whistleblowers and journalists, lessening the chance that we will ever know if this degree of skulduggery continued in COP 26. We will never know what pressures will hinder the efforts of Lord Zac Goldsmith, former editor of The Ecologist, now the UK’s Minister for the Environment, to defeat the power of big money and end global deforestation as he described below;

Zac; The difference between this package that we have presented today and previous packages, besides being significantly bigger, is that there are 11 core components to it and each one of those components will reinforce the other. There is no point just having leaders telling us that we are going to stop deforestation by 2030 if you don’t have finance and there is no point having finance if you are not tackling the levers that are driving deforestation that means breaking the link between commodities and deforestation. There is no point in even having that package if you don’t also ensure that the financial institutions are in line with this aspiration, with this vision. We could raise all the public finance in the world but it will never compare with the amount of money that is flowing into the problem through financial institutions, through banks, through multilateral development banks, through misplaced subsidies by governments. So I think we have a package here which is complementary, mutually reinforcing on a scale beyond anything we have seen before’.

What chance that this golden boy’s integrity and charisma will succeed in persuading the rich and powerful to end deforestation? As the WikiLeaks revelations exposed, these promises have been brokered and failed before. From COP 26, Mother Jones reports;

“Agricultural commodity traders such as Cargill and Wilmar have lined up with governments to banish deforestation from their supply chains. But several of them—including Cargill and Wilmar—made the same promise at the UN in New York in 2014, and have allegedly since been complicit in rising deforestation rates in Brazil and elsewhere. Greenpeace UK’s head of forests, Ann Jones, said these companies have made “a litany of broken promises, while they continue to wreck forests and destroy the lives and livelihoods of Indigenous peoples.”

Elephant in the room

WikiLeaks exposed the lies that led to the wars that have devastated not only millions of lives, homes and livelihoods but also polluted the environment and compounded the climate crisis. Democracy Now reports that the U.S. military’s carbon emissions exceed that of 140 nations and have been ignored in every climate talk.

‘Climate activists protested outside the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow Monday spotlighting the role of the U.S. military in fueling the climate crisis. The Costs of War project estimates the military produced around 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon emissions between 2001 and 2017, with nearly a third coming from U.S. wars overseas. But military carbon emissions have largely been exempted from international climate treaties dating back to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol after lobbying from the United States.’

An army of corporate energy lobbyists

While the military industrial complex has successfully exempted itself from global commitments to reduce carbon emissions, Democracy Now reports on the army of lobbyists attending the COP representing the cabal of big business interests to undermine the obvious solution of keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

While widespread access challenges have prevented thousands from participating, over 500 oil, gas and coal lobbyists have been given the red carpet treatment. If they were a nation, according to a new Global Witness report, they would be the largest delegation at COP26.

“Those trying to burn down the table should not have a seat at it,” Pascoe Sabido, Researcher and Campaigner at Corporate Europe Observatory, said to the press. “This is the same industry that has spent the last 50 years denying, delaying and blocking climate action, so how on earth are they still allowed in? The only way we’re going to leave these talks with anywhere near the ambition needed is if we kick these big polluters out.”

Despite the presence of this army of fossil fuel lobbyists, some progress in the official proceedings is evident. A draft COP outcome document released on Tuesday included the word “coal” for the first time in 30 years, calling for nations “to accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.”

Nigerian environmental leader Nnimmo Bassey, responding to the draft text, said on the Democracy Now! news hour, “Saying they should phase out coal, then only phase out subsidies for fossil fuel, means that this COP believes that fossil fuel use…should continue.” He added, “the tendency is that a draft document may be further watered down, so that final document may actually come out to say don’t phase out anything or remove subsidies.”

Bassey was speaking on the 26th anniversary of the execution of renowned Nigerian environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was hanged with eight others on trumped up charges to silence their effective campaigning against Shell’s oil extraction in the Niger Delta. Another plague on the planet has been the murder of environmentalists, land and water defenders, and climate justice campaigners, with over 1,000 killed just since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Outside the fortified convention center, the civil society Anderson praises has been swarming as well, with a massive march of over 100,000 people and a four-day countersummit with hundreds of panels and events across Glasgow and online. The COP26 Coalition’s lead spokesperson, Asad Rehman, was actually invited to address the COP. He tore up his prepared remarks in frustration with the lack of progress, and said instead,

“The richest have ignored every moral and political call to do their fair share. Their broken promises across 26 COPs are no longer fooling anyone…We know it is ordinary people who change history, and we will change history.”

Drill Baby Drill

The truth behind the scepticism reported in Consortium News, is the fact that, as politicians speak fine words to, and wave at, the captured mainstream media, they continue to permit drilling for ever more fossil fuels.

‘This past week’s flurry of announcements over “ambitious action” by governments during the COP26 in Glasgow has been justly received with widespread skepticism. During this same period important revelations of the massive gap between necessary emission cuts and country’s plans emerged, as the broader rejection of greenwashing became pervasive.

The narrative of false solutions and green capitalism doesn’t work. The revelation on Monday that over 800 oil and gas wells are still being planned for drilling this year and in 2022, in the report “Drill, Baby, Drill“, makes it clear that the proceedings of COP26 are mostly propaganda, as the only real, mandatory and contractualized plan global capitalism has for the climate crisis is collapse’.

Real solutions are in the hands of real farmers

Thankfully delegates from the global landworker union La Via Campesina (LVC), – an alliance representing over 200 million subsistence and and small-scale farmers in more than 80 countries, attended COP26 to demand that agroecological farming and food sovereignty be recognised as a real solution to adapting to a changing climate, reversing biodiversity loss and soil depletion, and to have their voices represented in negotiations.

They called out the false solutions being put forward at this year’s COP by huge agribusinesses and the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM), which bypasses agro ecological methods of farming that cool the earth.

The European Coordination group of La Via Campesina, said:

“We are the ones who feed the world. We provide 70-80% of the food you eat yet our voices are missing from the negotiations at COP26. Only the industrial farmers are allowed to speak here. What we are witnessing is the corporate capture of UN systems. Private finance, not governments, are making the decisions.

Our voices should be centred. The farmers, the pastoralists, the peasants, black, indigenous, people of colour, people who are experiencing hunger, poverty, the landless, we are the ones who should be the centre of negotiations at COP26. We are the ones who hold the solutions.”

Organización Boricuá in Puerto Rico, also a member of La Via Campesina, said:

“I am here representing the Caribbean, but also the global south. We don’t have enough representation here and it is important that we do, as it is the south that is suffering most from the climate crisis. I farm on an agroecological land collective in Puerto Rico, and I know that we already have the solutions that agroindustries are not capable of offering.

Agro Businesses profits from disasters, such as the hurricanes in Puerto Rico in 2017, while we – who have real solutions to the climate crisis – become more vulnerable. Agroecology should be at the forefront of adapting to climate change, not disaster capitalists.”

Confédération Paysanne and Youth Articulation of European Coordination of La Via Campesina said:

“Food sovereignty centres local control, values local food producers and providers and democratises decision-making power in our food and farming systems. Food produced in this way has always fed the world, is feeding the world now and will continue to feed the world. It is food sovereignty that will lead rural areas towards climate justice.

Through food sovereignty we will reclaim control over the food systems, as stated in the United Déclaration on the Rights of Peasants, voted for by the UN General Assembly in 2018.”

Members of the Landworkers’ Alliance – who were responsible for organising and leading the Farmers Bloc at Saturday’s Global Day of Action march, also joined the action.

“It is crucial that funding for adaptation includes funding for small-scale farmers in the global south. But here at COP26, even the insufficient £200bn pledges by wealthy countries to those most vulnerable have not been delivered.

What we are calling for is funding made directly to small-scale agroecological farmers, who sequester carbon and protect biodiversity, to empower them to make the changes needed to secure our food supply and restore soil health.”

News round up

🏭 The campaign World Animal Protection says, ‘Say Yes to Less Factory Farming‘. You’ll be saying YES to LESS Cruelty, Suffering, Deforestation, Carbon Emissions, Risk of Pandemics and Factory Farming. You can choose for how long to take factory farming off your plate, a morning, a day, a week or a month.

🌾 The Sustainable Food Trust asks, if Agriculture is responsible for up to a quarter of global emissions, why has it been left off the agenda at COP 26? Regenerative mixed farming methods improve soil health and allow soil to absorb and store more carbon. High tariffs on low sustainability food imports would also encourage UK regenerative farming.

🚜 Patrick Holden, CEO of the Sustainable Food Trust, chairs a side meeting in Glasgow asking why Agriculture is missing in action at COP 26. Farmers cannot tackle climate change on their own, they must have financial support.

🐄 BBC The Food Program, 7 November hears from regenerative farmer Simon Fairlie, and from Jill Baron who has been feeding waste from a vegan kitchen to pigs for twenty years, and from Patrick Holden who says ‘Its not the cow, but the how’ and that methane from ruminant animals can and should be offset by grazing cattle on permanent pasture where the grassland acts as a carbon sink. In the same programme, Dan Saladino looks at how meat and dairy can play a positive role for the future of people and planet.

🌱 Éanna Diffley is implementing a modular system whereby everything is mobile on his 12 acre egg, sheep and pig farm. He uses regenerative farming methods whereby chickens follow the sheep in rotation across the holding.

🚫 The campaign Scrap Factory Farming is posting links to live planning applications for new factory farms and urges everyone to send objections.

🐝 A co-formulant found in commercial fungicides in the UK significantly affects the health of bumblebees, a new study has found. Bee safety studies mainly focus on active ingredients, with inadequate attention paid to the co-formulants (additives) in the pesticides and fungicides. Ed Straw, lead author on the paper said: “The results of our research demonstrates gaps in the pesticide regulatory systems in the UK and EU that are putting vital bee populations at risk.”

Please donate

Forgive me for pointing out that, while we receive some one-off donations, I am funding Farms Not Factories myself, and if we are to continue to fight the cruel, antibiotic-led factory farm system, we will need some regular donations from like-minded people. Please consider a monthly subscription of £2/month and help us support a network of smaller scale, humane and healthy UK pig farms, local abattoirs and butchers.

“Our message is simple, we want to help bring an end to this dangerous, inhumane system. Vote for real farming over factory farming.”
– Tracy Worcester, Director

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