Report On The United Nations Climate Meeting: Capitalism Can’t Solve The Climate Crisis
The United Nations Conference of Parties, COP25, climate meetings to continue working on the Paris Climate Agreement ended recently. They took place in Madrid Spain rather than Chile because of popular uprisings against neoliberalism in Chile. We speak with Anne Petermann of the Global Justice Ecology Project. Petermann has been attending the COP meetings since the early 2000s. Her organization chose to stay in Chile. We speak with her about what is going on there and about the COP meetings – whether they are effective or not – and what people need to be doing to deal with the climate crisis effectively. Petermann explains why many of the ‘solutions’ being put forward are false and harmful paths. We also provide current news and analysis.
Scroll down to read the transcript.
Anne Petermann is the Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and Coordinator of the Campaign to STOP GE Trees. She became involved in environmental issues while in college, where she studied wildlife biology and fine art. On Columbus Day in 1992, Petermann was arrested for the first time at an action commemorating 500 years of genocide in the Americas.
She co-founded the Eastern North American Resource Center of the Native Forest Network in June 1993, acting as its Coordinator until 2003. In the summer of 1993 she participated in an expedition to James Bay, Quebec to document the Cree resistance to the plans of Hydro-Quebec to dam a series of rivers in Cree territory. (NFN played a key role in a Vermont campaign on the issue, including organizing an international day of action against Hydro-Quebec on their 50th anniversary in April 1994. These efforts contributed to Hydro-Quebec abandoning its plans to build new dams in Cree territory.)
Petermann also co-organized the First North American Temperate Forest Conference in November of 1993. This conference included over 500 forest activists from across North America as well as indigenous representatives from six nations. The conference was organized to build bridges between these communities of activists and encourage greater collaboration. Dr. David Suzuki and Winona LaDuke were the keynote speakers.
From 1994 to 1999, Petermann organized NFN’s annual Forest Activist Training Weeks in Vermont where dozens of activists were trained in skills ranging from working with the media to fundraising to orienteering.
In 1996-1997 Petermann coordinated NFN’s involvement in a statewide campaign to stop timber corporations Champion International and Boise Cascade from spraying toxic herbicides on their Vermont forest holdings. NFN’s participation in organizing direct actions and protests on the issue was instrumental in the state of Vermont passing a moratorium on the herbicide spraying in early 1997. Subsequent to this decision, Champion International and Boise Cascade both left the state and the moratorium became permanent.
In October 1999 Petermann co-organized actions at the ministerial meeting of the Free Trade Area of the Americas in Toronto, where she hung a 600 square foot banner against the FTAA on the Toronto Convention Center where the Ministers were meeting.
In January of 2000, Petermann was arrested at the NH Democratic Campaign headquarters of Al Gore during an action in support of the U’Wa people of Colombia whose land was under threat from Occidental Petroleum. The U’Wa had threatened mass suicide if Occidental drilled on their land. Al Gore’s father had served on the Board of Occidental Petroleum and Gore himself held large quantities of stock. This action was covered nationally and triggered other such actions across the country. Occidental did not drill on the U’Wa lands.
From May 2000 to May 2001 Anne won a scholarship from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund to take part in a year-long fundraising course called The Complete Fundraiser, held by the Institute for Conservation Leadership.
In June of 2000 Petermann helped launch the first campaign against genetically engineered trees with a press conference in Boston during protests countering the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s annual conference. The press conference was covered on the front page of the Washington Post.
In July 2001 Petermann co-organized the first ever protest against GE trees at an International Union of Forest Research Organizations “Tree Biotechnology” conference in Oregon. That same month she edited and co-wrote a major groundbreaking report on GE trees entitled, “From Native Forest to Franken-Trees, the Global Threat of Genetically Engineered Trees,” which was distributed to thousands of people.
In September of 2001 Petermann co-founded a new organization, Action for Social & Ecological Justice, which took over the role previously played by Native Forest Network Eastern North America, and which was founded in response to the broadening focus of the resource center to include more Latin American and social justice issues. She served as the organization’s Development Director, fundraising for the organization and producing its publications.
In September 2003, Petermann co-founded Global Justice Ecology Project. In November 2003, she participated in and documented the mobilization against the Free Trade Area of the Americas in Miami, which was brutally attacked by police. In 2004 she participated in and documented the protests at the Democratic National Convention in Boston and the Republican National Convention in New York City, as well as anti-war marches in Washington, DC. Her photo from a massive women’s march in DC was used for the cover of Z Magazine.
In January of 2004 Petermann co-founded the STOP GE Trees Campaign, helping pull together a meeting with numerous groups from across the country to take unified action to stop the commercialization of genetically engineered trees.
In April 2004 Petermann spoke on the dangers of GE trees at the UN Forum on Forests in Geneva, Switzerland. She has since spoken on GE trees at UN events including the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Cartege�a Protocol on Biosafety and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at locations around the world. In 2006 she helped organize an effort at the UN CBD Conference of the Parties in Curitiba, Brazil that won an historic decision on GE trees from the UN CBD that warned countries of the dangers of GE trees and urged them to use a precautionary approach. In 2008 at the CBD Conference in Bonn, that decision was strengthened after Petermann co-led a campaign that won support from every NGO and Indigenous Peoples’ Organization, plus the entire African delegation for a suspension of all plantings of genetically engineered trees.
In October 2004 Petermann traveled to Durban, South Africa where she co-founded The Durban Group for Climate Justice which denounces carbon trading as a false solution to global warming.
In 2004 Langelle and Petermann formed a partnership with the indigenous Mapuche group Konapewman in Temuco, Chile, to work jointly to stop the commercial development of GE trees in Chile.
Anne’s writing has been featured in Z Magazine, Earth Island Journal and Seedling, among numerous others. She has been interviewed for print, radio and television from the Le Monde, to The Washington Post to NPR stations in Maine, North Carolina and Georgia as well as hundreds of other media outlets.
She has also presented the dangers of GE trees at dozens of meetings, conferences and events across the US, including two industry conferences, the Landscapes, Genomics and Transgenic Conifers Conference at Duke University in November 2004 and the Sustainable Forest Management with Fast Growing Plantations conference which was sponsored by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations, the US Forest Service and ArborGen in Charleston, SC in October 2006. She has also presented at meetings in Brazil organized by Brazilian networks including the MST (Landless Workers’ Movement) and Via Campesina.
In 2013 Petermann helped relaunch the Campaign to STOP GE Trees with a new steering committee consisting of leaders in the global forest protection, bioenergy, Indigenous rights and radical activism communities.
In 2000, Anne received the national Wild Nature award for environmental activist of the year.
In 2002, the Burlington, VT resource center was awarded the highest honor of the Green Mountain Fund for Popular Struggle.
Anne also sits on the Board of the Will Miller Social Justice Lecture Series.
Margaret Flowers (MF): You’re listening to Clearing the FOG, speaking truth to expose the forces of greed with Margaret Flowers
Kevin Zeese (KZ): and Kevin Zeese.
MF: Clearing the FOG is a project of Popular Resistance dot o– r– g. You can subscribe to us on iTunes, SoundCloud, Mixcloud, Stitcher and Google Play. You can also find us at Popular Resistance dot o– r– g– and while you’re there check out our store where you can find Clearing the FOG gear like t-shirts, bumper stickers, water bottles and tote bags. So today we interviewed Anne Petermann from the Global Justice Ecology Project.
KZ: We talked to her about the recent COP meeting and why we can’t really count on foreign UN meetings to solve this problem. It’s been a failure ever since it’s begun.
MF: She talks about the failures of this current climate conference of parties meeting in Madrid Spain as well as what the climate movement needs to be doing now in order to take real effective action to confront the climate crisis. One thing that we didn’t get to talk about in the interview, we touched on it at the end, was Anne’s work in GE trees or genetically engineered trees. And she reminded us that right now the US Department of Agriculture is considering releasing these American chestnut, genetically engineered trees into the wild and they haven’t been tested to determine what kinds of impacts they’re going to have on the soil, water or on other trees. So she’s is urging people to go to the stop GE trees dot org website and sign their petition there to tell the USDA it’s not a good idea to release these until you know what the impact is going to be. Alright, so before we get to that interview, why don’t we talk about a few things that are in the news. Of course, recently everybody has been talking a lot about impeachment. And of course, the vote was last week in the House to impeach Donald Trump. We wrote about that in our newsletter this week at Popular Resistance dot-org.
KZ: That’s right. The impeachment has passed the House. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, has decided not to send it to the Senate yet. She may change her mind when she gets back from their Christmas vacation, but she’s demanding that the Senate put together a real trial, not a kind of preordained acquittal conclusion that Mitch McConnell, the majority leader of the Senate, has said he’s going to do. But we find the impeachment really to be a disaster for both political parties and really fruitless waste of our time.
MF: I think that’s the biggest thing. I mean it’s a big distraction. It’s basically, you know the Democrats picked an issue that nobody cares about. I mean President Trump has done all kinds of awful things: racism, bigotry, targeting Muslims, dropping bombs and imposing unilateral coercive measures on other countries.
KZ: Climate denial.
MF: Yeah, there’s so many things that the Democrats could have gone after and they picked this kind of weird, well, it’s weird in some ways because one they pick something that nobody really cares about, I mean whether Ukraine investigated Joe Biden or not, whether you know the Trump Administration withheld military aid to the Ukraine when you know, most people don’t really want us to keep providing military aid and stoking conflict.
KZ: Well, that military aid is also for a conflict with Russia. So it’s basically Ukraine is serving as a proxy for the United States in a military conflict with Russia and Trump held up that funding and weaponry.
MF: I would have actually supported that.
KZ: Exactly. I think a lot of people would say, okay good decision, let’s not fund another war. But then, of course, this whole research into Joe Biden and the appointment of his son Hunter who had no expertise in oil and gas to be on the board of the largest private gas company and make millions of dollars in income from that appointment.
MF: That’s the weird thing about it. Why would the Democrats actually pick a topic that could shine a spotlight on them and the fact that under the Obama Biden presidency the United States orchestrated a coup, a very blatant coup in Ukraine that actually brought to power these right-wing Nazi fascists? There’s been incredible violence in Ukraine because of the US interference there.
KZ: And you’re right, it was a blatant coup. I mean it’s the most blatant coup in US history until the attempted coup in Venezuela by President Trump, and it was blatant and we really put our people in charge. In fact, the president, “OU,” our Ukraine Insider, they called him OU, had been an informant for the CIA for six years. Yats, who was the Prime Minister, was mentioned on a telephone call between two State Department officials as the person who should be prime minister. The finance minister is a former State Department employee. And then, of course, the gas company got Biden’s son appointed, a John Kerry aid appointed, a CIA official appointed to help to run that company. And then Monsanto got control of their agriculture, which is the most precious sector of the economy for Ukraine. So it really was a blatant and aggressive coup that brought corruption to Ukraine, an already corrupt country. The US added to it. Should Trump investigate that corruption? In fact, there’s a law that, a treaty between the Ukraine and the United States, that requires investigation of corruption because the US is funding Ukraine and so that is part of the law. But now I’m not defending Trump here. Trump is a despicable character and going to Ukraine to seek information on Joe Biden, who right now is leading the Democratic primary, is a pretty despicable act. It’s an inappropriate use of a foreign power for electoral campaign in the United States. So, which side are we on? Are we on the side of the Trump going after Biden and using pressure to get dirt on a political competitor or are we on the side of the Democrats trying to hide Biden’s corruption? I’m not on either side.
MF: Right. I mean you didn’t mention the fact that Joe Biden intervened in getting a prosecutor fired in Ukraine because that prosecutor was investigating his son’s involvement on the board of the gas…
KZ: And bragged about it.
MF: Right. So there’s corruption on both sides. I would say the Democrats and the Republicans have committed crimes there. This is not unusual. But what we talked about in the newsletter, we kind of go through, is during this impeachment process there was all of these other issues going on where the Democrats basically showed they’re in lockstep with Trump. One was in the House voting to pass the renegotiated NAFTA, which is really just as we talked about last week, it’s pretty much similar to the old NAFTA.
KZ: That’s right, the USMCA, they call it now, the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, and it is built on NAFTA. Trump campaigned against NAFTA. This was really an opportunity for the Democrats to say he campaigned against NAFTA and now he’s continuing NAFTA under a different name. Actually they could have pointed out his falsehood. The problem is these Democrats favor corporate trade. They favor putting corporate profits ahead of people and planet and that’s what NAFTA does and that’s what this USMCA will continue to do.
MF: Another was the military budget that was passed through the National Defense Authorization Act. All but I think 28 or 48 members of Congress voted for it and this basically gave a record budget to the military, 738 billion dollars.
KZ: There were a hundred eighty-eight Democrats who voted for that military budget in the House, 37 in the Senate. They could not have passed it without the Democrat’s support. And so this massive military budget that not only continues the Yemen War, which is despicable, it also created this new space force, which is going to become the most expensive arm of the military. It’s going to create a space arms race that will make the past arms races between the US and China and Russia and other countries look like nothing. It’s gonna be the most expensive arms race in the history of the planet. And then they also continued the nuclear proliferation, which began under Obama, a trillion-dollar 10-year upgrade of nuclear weapons, continued under Trump, it continues now, So we have an ongoing massive military budget, the largest since World War 2, and we have arms races both in space and nuclear. It’s just a despicable budget. And they did that at the same time they cut back food stamps for up to 700,000 people.
MF: I know. And of course NATO went on, Trump was terrible at NATO.
KZ: He was embarrassing to the country.
MF: He was mocked and this is something that you know, we agree that NATO, it’s a relic, it’s old-fashioned. It shouldn’t exist anymore. It’s actually a problem because it’s like a military coalition in search of a war.
KZ: That’s right.
MF: And then all the regime change operations continuing to go on. The United States is continuing to try to get Juan Guaido in power in Venezuela and failing, Maduro is still the president of Venezuela. And now the US, you know is, it was discovered that there was an effort to maybe attack a military barracks, you know by Guaido’s people as well as they’re trying to push the National Assembly in Venezuela to allow Guaido to continue to be the president of National Assembly in violation of their law.
KZ: And of course, Bolivia happened is still going on during this time period of this impeachment process. So this is, all these regime change efforts are on autopilot. Of course, these are bipartisan positions. It’s a bipartisan military budget. It’s a bipartisan corporate trade agreement. It’s bipartisan regime change and we also had the COP meeting, the climate meeting happening during this and it’s a bipartisan destruction of the COP meetings. Every president from Clinton-Gore up through Trump have been a negative influence on solving the climate problem internationally. They’ve been, the US has been holding back efforts to actually put in place limits on greenhouse gases.
MF: Right and we’ll get into that in more detail in our interview with Anne Peterman.
KZ: And that’s why we call this impeachment indicting both parties because it showed the complicity of the Democrats with all these terrible policies, policies that actually helped get Trump elected. You know, he ran against NAFTA, ran against the regime change, ran against military intervention, all these issues he used in his campaign, the Democrats did nothing. They were silent. Instead, they focused on impeachment, on Ukraine, on escalating the war in Ukraine. It was it’s an absurd decision. That’s why you see impeachment getting less popular, Donald Trump getting more popular and now Donald Trump winning in a head-to-head race with every leading Democrat running for the nomination.
MF: Another thing that actually Chris Hedges brought up in an article that he wrote last September is that the impeachment is backfiring as he predicted that it would because basically Trump now looks like those Democratic elites have gone after him and he’s the victim. And he can use this to really stir up his base and Hedges predicts, you know, because Trump’s base, some of them are very strong gun advocates, they’re armed. We’re seeing you know counties now developing these Second Amendment Sanctuary areas and creating militias. He has a real fear that because members of Congress on both sides are failing to address the real crises that people are facing in their lives, economic insecurity, lack of access to healthcare, low wages, that this is going to create some sort of a backlash, a right-wing backlash that Trump will stoke through his rhetoric.
KZ: Well, the good news on that is that the Senate is not going to convict Trump. So that the right-wing armed militias won’t have anything to fight about because the Senate will protect Trump and we’ll go on to the election and we’ll see how this plays out in the election. Right now, it’s hurting the Democrats not helping them.
MF: I still think that Trump will use it as an issue to stir up his base even if it doesn’t go through. Let’s talk about a report by the Coalition for a Prosperous America. There was recently a jobs report out saying that unemployment had reached its lowest level in 50 years, but what the Coalition for a Prosperous America found is that although the number of jobs may have increased, the quality of jobs has greatly decreased and wage growth has declined.
KZ: I think this is a really interesting way to look at the employment sector rather than just the level of unemployment, which we’ve discussed in other shows, those statistics have been doctored by multiple presidents and really are hard to get much meaning out of anymore but looking at the quality of work what you’ve seen in the last 20 years really since the passage of NAFTA is movement toward lower quality work, lower wages, part-time work, service economy, not manufacturing, not industry and the people are not making as much money. They’re not happy with their jobs. More people are just opting out of employment. And so they’re looking at the quality of employment not just the number of jobs. And the number of jobs is very deceptive because someone has a part-time job or someone is working outside of their profession in a service job or a menial job. That’s counted as still employed.
MF: Right or even somebody who’s been looking for a job for you know, a long amount of time and finally gave up on looking now, they’re not counted.
KZ: They’re not counted as unemployed even though they are unemployed. And so those unemployment figures are really doctored. And so we need to find better measures of employment in this country and really right now people’s jobs are of lower quality, lower pay and income has really not been rising since the 70s.
MF: Right, and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy did another study looking at the Fortune 500 companies and how much they paid in taxes last year. So that was the first year that Trump’s tax cut went into effect. They found that the corporate tax rate from the tax cut went from 35 percent to 21 percent. But then when they looked at what those companies were actually paying, they pulled out 379 companies that made a profit so that they should be paying a tax. They found that those who paid a tax, the average was 11% not 21 percent as the law said and that ninety-one of those 379 paid zero taxes. Another 56 companies paid less than five percent in taxes. The ones that paid zero taxes are companies like Amazon, you know, Jeff Bezos, the richest person in like the world, IBM.
KZ: Well, this was a study of Fortune 500 companies. That’s the 500 largest corporations in the United States and they’re all even with low corporate tax rates they’re into corporate tax avoidance. And if you combine this study with earlier studies that looked at the tax rates for the wealthy, which are now lower than tax rates for the working class, you see that this Trump tax deform, and I use that word deform intentionally, has produced the worst tax structure really in US history. We’ve never had a tax record this unfair to workers and this favorable to the already wealthy. It’s become a real oligarchic tax system that favors the biggest companies in the world as well as the wealthiest top 10% of the country.
MF: It seems like we should have a tax strike until these corporations and wealthy pay their fair share. Another interesting article that we posted on Popular Resistance talks about how fracking companies in the United States and we’ve known for a long time that because of the drop in prices that they were really moving towards stranded assets, well now those companies that are in debt are going into bankruptcy and in that bankruptcy, they’re actually allowed to continue operating but they’re not having the money that they need on hand to clean up what they’re doing and so once again, you know these companies are shifting that clean up onto the public.
KZ: And fracking is a very environmentally damaging approach to getting gas and oil that we shouldn’t be getting. In this era of climate change, we need to be stopping all fracking. And you know, one of the big problems with fracking is wastewater and how to deal with this polluted wastewater. We were in West Virginia, we saw them using this wastewater on the streets when it was snowing as a way to burn off the snow and but that’s not a very wise move.
MF: Well, there was a study recently that showed that surprise surprise when you put wastewater on the roads it actually has a negative impact on the environment. But I wanted to mention that the other ways they’re dealing with the wastewater is injecting it back into the well sites, that’s actually been correlated with earthquakes and then the really scary part, they’re talking about in four states the EPA allowing them to dump that frack water into the regular waterways. And so the states that are being considered are Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.
KZ: Yeah, that’s where these companies are lobbying most aggressively and so, you know, you have some states like New York and our state Maryland that have banned fracking but they still use fracked gas. They still have fracked gas infrastructure. And so while they’re not fracking themselves, they are part of the problem because they are encouraging fracking to continue. This is not an economically sensible approach to getting energy. It’s not an environmentally sensible approach for energy. We need to really shift, every penny wasted on fracking is wasting money that should be going into building clean sustainable energy systems. I’m talking about batteries, solar, wind, thermal, ocean wave technology. We got to be moving aggressively in that direction and stop any fossil fuel infrastructure or production.
MF: Right. And of course, we need to be decreasing our consumption and making things more energy-efficient and we’ll get into that with Anne as well, but this past week, it was a learned that the United States military, more military have deployed from Iraq into the oil fields of Syria. The Pentagon reported that there’s no foreseeable end to US troops being in Syria, that they’re there to make sure that there’s no more rise of ISIS and that this is actually an ideology that they’re fighting, sounds like the war on terror, something that can be in ongoing indefinitely. Also the Pentagon officials, Mark Esper said that they are also trying to draw down some of the forces to be able to deploy them if needed for a great power conflict. I think that’s scary too.
KZ: And what you can see going into Syria are convoys of weapons and even tanks. Trump talked about withdrawing but was stopped from doing that by both the Democrats and the Pentagon and the warhawks on the Republican side. Now, we’re still in Syria. He’s moved the troops from one part of Syria where they were working with the Kurds to another part where the oil fields are and he was pretty open. He wants to put Mobil and Chevron in charge of those oil fields to so-called protect them. I almost had to laugh when I say that and now we’re seeing troops going into that area, we’re talking about tanks going into that area. You know, some commentators said the reason there are tanks there is because they foresee real battles with the Syrian government or even with the Russian government.
MF: The Russian government said that the US going there is tantamount to stealing oil and the Pentagon officials said we have no knowledge of any stealing of oil. But they’re basically, the United States is preventing Syria from having access to that oil, something that Syria desperately needs in order to get revenue to rebuild after the devastation of the US war on Syria.
KZ: Yeah, it’s one of those things: We don’t know anyone stealing oil. They just use a different word. It’s not stealing, we’re just taking it and profiting from it. We’re not stealing it.
MF: So another interesting area right now is Korea. China and Russia are putting pressure on the United Nations to relieve the sanctions on North Korea. North Korea gave the United States until the end of this year to come up with some sorts of concessions as those talks stalled. Nothing has happened on that front, but what’s also interesting is that at the same time that it’s happening in North Korea, the United States and South Korea failed to reach an agreement on how much South Korea would pay the United States for having US troops there. They call this the protection service fee. The United States is asking South Korea to pay five billion dollars a year. Their entire military budget is forty-three billion and they offered last year to pay just under 1 billion.
KZ: And this protection racket of the United States is one that happens all over the world. The Trump Administration is increasing the cost of US bases on foreign soil to the countries where they are based everywhere and it’s interesting to see South Korea standing up to this. North Korea seems really tired of these photo ops that accomplished nothing with Trump. There’s been no review of economic sanctions. Both Russia and China have been urging the United States to relieve some of these economic sanctions against North Korea. So far the United States is refusing, but these talks, which started out with some potential hope, seem now to be stalled and maybe an escalation in the wrong direction with North Korea doing more tests and with the United States doing more of its military exercises. So we’re back to where we were before their first meeting and unless someone makes a move, and it’s going to require the United States to make a move to actually reduce the pressure, reduce the economic sanctions as Russia and China and the world are hoping.
MF: Right and North Korea has said that if the United States doesn’t come through with something, they’re going to be forced to find a different path. We don’t know what that path will be. Some good news out of the International Criminal Court this week, the lead prosecutor Fatou Bensouda completed the preliminary investigation on Palestine, found that all the criteria under the Rome Statute were met for opening an investigation of war crimes in Palestine. Those criteria were that yes war crimes are being committed in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, that there are potential cases as a result of these crimes that would be admissible to the court and that an investigation would actually serve the interest of justice or under the Rome Statute, they use negative language. It would not not serve the interest of justice. And so right now she said that she’s going to the preliminary board to ask for the scope, not to ask them for permission, that she believes that the criteria have been met for an investigation, but she wants before that begins for the scope to be clarified.
KZ: And what she’s looking for is to make sure they have jurisdiction over the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, the Palestinian areas of so-called Israel. And so she’s being cautious because the United States has been threatening, John Bolton threatened to impose sanctions against the International Criminal Court if they proceed with investigations of Israel or the United States, and so she’s being cautious and making sure she has jurisdiction and the support of the ICC to go forward. I thought this was actually pretty good news this decision. We filed with, on behalf of the Green Party United States with a group of people, in The Hague a letter laying out our concerns about Israel’s attacks on Palestinians, their violation of human rights, their land theft, their ethnic cleansing and so we’re very pleased to see that the preliminary investigation resulted in the need to go forward with a full investigation. We hope the jurisdiction becomes clear so it can go forward and Israel can be held accountable.
MF: Well, the United States has already gone after Fatou Bensouda limiting her travel to the United States and threatening sanctions against actual individuals in the International Criminal Court. Let’s talk about some of the strikes that have been going on. The strikes in France are continuing. They are causing real mayhem with the Christmas holidays, travel is disrupted, people are unable to get to their destinations for the holidays and so what did Macron do, the what is he a millionaire, billionaire? He’s a pretty wealthy banker. Basically he said well, I’m going to make a real sacrifice. I’m going to give up my pension after I leave the presidency. That doesn’t do anything for the workers who are losing their pensions.
KZ: The millionaire banker. He also asked for a Christmas break on the strikes. I hope the answer to that is fat chance. I mean, this is the time you have to strike is when you have the power, when people really need to get around, you need to disrupt business as usual at a critical time for this kind of strike to be effective.
MF: Speaking of the holidays. We should remember that Chelsea Manning is still in jail. She’s been in jail this time since May for refusing to testify before the secret grand jury to basically phish for more information to be used against Julian Assange. She’s potentially looking at 18 months and more than $500,000 in fines. She’s being charged a thousand dollars a day in fines to try to coerce her to testify.
KZ: And that 18 months does not mean only 18 months because that’s the length of the grand jury. If they reconstitute the grand jury, they can call her back. She can refuse to testify again and be put back in jail. So she is being incredibly brave. We have on Popular Resistance articles about Chelsea Manning including how you can write to her. It’d be great for people to send her a letter, applaud her actions. Let her know that people are concerned and care about what she’s facing.
MF: Right and go look at that article because there are specific instructions of what you can and cannot send, how it has to be, you know, has to be on a plain piece of paper and things like that. So make sure you get that information before you write to her. But she did say that the letters that she’s receiving make a really big difference. Let’s also talk about Assange. Last week he had two hearings. On Thursday, he had a preliminary hearing for his extradition hearing which will occur at the end of February.
KZ: And that was done by a video link. That extradition hearing in February they say that could be what 3 weeks long and there’s many reasons for Assange not to be extradited beyond the fact that he shouldn’t be being prosecuted. But there are many reasons that have come up during this process for him not to be extradited as well.
MF: Well, his lawyer was arguing that there is actually a treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom that says that there cannot be extraditions for political offenses. And so the lawyer was arguing that this is actually a political case. I mean, this is really absurd. This is the United States basically charging someone who is from another country doing journalism in another country, you know outside of the United States, like the whole world is just our jurisdiction. We can go after anybody anywhere?
KZ: Yeah and you know, it’s a real shame that Boris Johnson won the election because his conservative government will be very likely to support the extradition. Although in the past, even Margaret Thatcher opposed some extraditions. So it’s possible that could change. There are very good reasons for this and no matter what happens at the lower court level, there will be reviews to higher courts and many extraditions can take, these processes can take many years and they can result in reversals of the initial decision to allow extradition.
MF: But if Assange is required to stay in jail for a very long time, that’s also risky. His health is seriously declining. Doctors wrote a letter to the prison urging that he be moved urgently to a university facility where he can receive appropriate treatment. Last week another letter from over a hundred doctors, this time saying he needs to be moved to a university hospital in Australia where he can get proper treatment and another letter was sent to the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison telling him that this you know Assange is an Australian citizen and he really needs to intervene and these kinds of I don’t know what you would call it these cases outside of you know, this is an Australian citizen being tried in the UK. He didn’t commit a crime there.
KZ: And that letter came from scores of academics, writers, journalists, lawyers, activists. In fact, both you and I signed that letter. And it was definitely an effort to try to get Australia to act on behalf of its citizen, Julian Assange. So it does seem to be that there is more momentum growing for people calling for Assange to be released.
MF: Right, but a big disappointment was that the Committee to Protect Journalists did not include Julian Assange this year. This is a group that’s based in New York City and they perpetuated two myths about Assange. One, they said well, we can’t consider him a journalist because he is sometimes the source.
KZ: What does that mean? That is so absurd. I mean if a journalist is interviewed they can no longer be protected. How many journalists are interviewed? That’s like an absurd position and how you cannot say he’s a journalist. He’s not only a journalist, he’s a publisher. He’s an editor who has published some of the most important news stories of this century. He may be the most important journalist of this century.
MF: And he’s received all kinds of journalism awards as well as being a member of journalistic associations. I think that they were trying to insinuate that he actually did the hacking himself to get the information, which is one of the things that he’s being charged with, which has not been proven.
KZ: Well, if they think that then they are sadly mistaken. That’s not his role in this. What I really think it is is that this Society represents mainstream media outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post, which used Wikileaks material, but they represent them and Wikileaks was a challenge to those commercial media outlets because Wikileaks democratized the media. It made everybody potential media. It allowed anyone who works for a transnational corporation or for a government agency to become a source, an anonymous source, and gave them an avenue in which to get their news out. And that is something that threatens the corporate media and I think that’s really what this is about. Assange and Wikileaks are a threat to the corporate media and the corporate media, we know, which we report on all the time, does not do a very job good job of reporting independent from the government.
MF: Well, the corporate media feels like they have this control over information and Assange basically allowed people to have access to information without going through the gatekeeper of the corporate media, but the other myth that they are perpetuating is that they’re saying that he just dumped material out there in an irresponsible way. That’s also false. The material was verified. It was vetted. It was controlled in how it was released.
KZ: And it was edited. He did not release everything he got right because he did protect people who could be injured if material was released. So it’s just everything they’ve said was false. We put on on the article about this on Popular Resistance how you can contact them. I urge you to contact this committee so they can hear from people how angry we are at them not recognizing Assange.
MF: Right. So this is called the Committee to Protect Journalists and their email is info @ CP J dot o– r– g. Now there was a second hearing on Friday. Assange almost missed that hearing. In fact, he missed the first time, they didn’t get him there in time to the place where he has the telecommunications meeting. But this time he was meeting with a Spanish judge over a Spanish corporation that was spying on him when he was inside the Ecuadorian Embassy and providing that information to the CIA.
KZ: Yes. This was a prosecution against David Morales who’s in charge of UC Global. He’s a former Spanish military person. He actually flew to the United States twice a month with a hard disk to give to the United States government of the monitoring of Julian Assange and they put in very high-tech, very detailed sound and video equipment so they could monitor every move of Assange. Assange actually started to have his meetings in the women’s bathroom as a way to try to avoid being monitored. But the reason this is such a big issue and initially by the way, the UK government refused to cooperate with Spain. They were forced to change their minds. And the reason they were initially opposing is because this could actually help Julian Assange not be extradited. The fact that his human rights were being violated indicates, is one more indication that he will not get a fair trial in the United States. The US was part of this aggressive and abusive surveillance. And so this trial of David Morales could make a big difference in the extradition of Julian Assange.
MF: Well, that’s all the news for now. Let’s get to our interview with Anne Peterman. We will take a short musical break and then we’ll be right back.
Margaret Flowers (MF): You’re listening to Clearing the FOG, speaking truth to expose the forces of greed with Margaret Flowers
KZ: and Kevin Zeese.
MF: And now we turn to our guest Anne Peterman. She’s the executive director of the Global Justice Ecology Project and the coordinator of the campaign to stop GE or genetically engineered trees. Thank you for taking time to join us, Anne.
Anne Petermann (AP): Thank you so much for having me on.
KZ: So we’re going to focus on the recent COP meeting on the climate. But before we get to that I wanted to talk about Chile since you were just in Chile and you know that the original plan was to hold the COP meeting in Chile. Can you tell us what’s going on in Chile and why the meeting was moved?
AP: Sure. Yeah, we had originally planned to go down to Chile. We had a team from Global Justice Ecology Project and Biofuel Watch that had planned to go down to Chile when the UN climate COP was still planned to be held there and had been making plans since September and August to do that. And then all of a sudden in October there was this huge, you know, popular uprising throughout Chile, which started because they tried to raise the Metro fares and the students weren’t having it. And they you know shut down a bunch of the Metros and rose up all over the country. And then were joined by people who were just tired of being squeezed by the neoliberal model that you know was imposed upon Chile under the Pinochet dictatorship. And it grew and grew and finally, you know, Sebastian Piñera, who is the President of Chile was still planning on having the climate COP there until a month beforehand and finally had to stop and say sorry, you know, we can’t host COP here anymore because there’s just too much. The protests were going on all over the place. It was chaos. So you couldn’t get around in the traffic. The Metros were shut and in addition to that the country was coming under significant international heat because of the human rights abuses against the protesters, which included the main one that was being complained about in addition to you know, tortures and rapes, the main one that was being complained about was that the police were using these shotgun style weapons to shoot what they called rubber bullets, but were in fact rubber coated metal pellets into protesters faces and as a result as of last count it was over 300 people had either lost an eye or being blinded by this, you know, really cruel ways that the police were addressing the protesters. So because of the human rights abuses and because of the total chaos in the country Piñera said, you know we can’t do this here anymore. But fortunately for them their former colonial power Spain said, oh, well, that’s alright we’ll do it here and as a bonus, we’ll let you continue to be the president of the COP. So that’s what happened. But we decided to continue to go to Chile because of what was happening there and we felt that being there was much more important even from a climate perspective than being in Madrid where it was moved to.
MF: Right, and can you comment on what the reaction was from the people in Chile about moving the COP? Is climate a big issue in these protests as well?
AP: Climate is an issue sometimes in these protests. It’s more though about the underlying causes of climate change. The underlying causes of people’s misery, the underlying causes of the racism against the Mapuche and the theft of their land. People are really bringing these issues together, all of these different issues and looking at their root causes, which in Chile is this grand neoliberal experiment, which as I said was orchestrated by the United States through the overthrow of Salvador Allende on September 11th 1973. So that’s really what people were protesting about. It was more of the root causes, not the specific causes. Although there were protests that had particular themes. There was a climate change themed protest that was a part of the global climate day of action. There have been several that were against violence against women because of the abuse of women by the police and the military. So there are themes but most of them are about the bigger picture.
KZ: Chile is so interesting because it had been seen as this like stable capitalist Latin American country where there were no protests and everything was going smoothly it seemed and then this explosion. S we could talk a long time about Chile, but I think we should probably move on to the climate issue. You’ve been involved in the COP meetings for many years. In fact, I think you were banned from some of them for some of your previous protests. Tell us about the COP process generally first and then we’ll get into this specific meeting and the failures that occurred there.
AP: Yeah, we started going to the climate COPs as Global Justice Ecology Project in 2004. And then we quit after the climate COP in 2011 in Durban and as you mentioned I was banned from that COP for doing an unpermitted protest and in fact banned from all future COPs unless I apologize. Well, let’s just say I haven’t done that and I don’t plan to. So it was a good excuse to stop going to them because they’re nothing but a corporate trade show and they don’t listen to the civil society voices. They don’t listen to the indigenous peoples’ voices. They’re there just to do the bidding of industry. This has been true since day one since you know, Al Gore came in with the Kyoto Protocol and introduced the carbon market so that businesses would have a scapegoat, a way out from actually integrating climate action into their business models. And now we have REDD introduced in Bali in 2007 and on and on and on, all of these fake solutions. And this year in Madrid, they were supposed to formalize what’s called article 6 from the Paris agreement, which is really about grabbing all of those market-based false solutions and offsets, carbon offsets and biodiversity offsets, and really framing them into the future of carbon action quote unquote in a way that would make real action almost impossible so it wasn’t passed, it didn’t go through and that’s what many people are saying is a huge victory. Although the fact that they even, people even consider these climate COPs something legitimate, I think is quite a tragedy.
MF: Let’s go back to something you mentioned, which is REDD, because I think a lot of our listeners may not be familiar with what the REDD program is. On its surface, it probably sounds appealing to people. Can you explain what that is?
AP: Sure, REDD was formally introduced into the UN climate process or let’s say announced to the world in Bali in 2007 and what it stands for is reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, which as you said sounds well, of course, we want to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, but what it really means is let’s figure out a way to use the forests as offsets so that industries that are polluting, especially big fossil fuel companies, don’t have to stop polluting. So what ended up being the model is that a company, we like to use Chevron in California as an example because they’re actually doing this, can make a deal with Chiapas Mexico and say we will buy the rights to your Lacandon Jungle and to what carbon is being stored there by the trees and use that to offset quote-unquote the emissions from our smokestacks. And that does injustice on so many levels. It’s hard to say them all but I’ll just name the top ones. For one, it means that their company in Richmond California keeps polluting. It means the community that’s surrounded by this refinery continues to pollute that community. They continue to suffer the impacts of this. It also means on the other side that the indigenous communities in the Lacandon Jungle are forced to leave because of this deal, because you know, God forbid they should use a tree in the forest, it would alter how much carbon is stored in that forest. And so, you know, they have to go. So it’s a crazy scheme that is all about business as usual, has nothing to do with saving forests and has everything to do with more and more profit making from climate change.
KZ: And earlier you described how the UN COP meetings are putting forward and considering all these false solutions and many like REDD sound good from their label and that’s also preventing consideration of real solutions. Can you talk about that a little bit more?
AP: Sure. Yeah, it’s getting to the point where what our organization, what Global Justice Ecology Project’s position is that we actually, we have to change the system. We have to change the economic system. We have to change the political system because until we do that, there cannot be any real solution. And an example of that is the idea that we can electrify our energy and our transportation and that that will solve climate change. And again, it sounds great, you know, we can have solar powered lighting and we can have electric cars and all of that. The problem is and this is coming from Chile We saw this in many cases firsthand, if not secondhand from folks who had just been there. It means gigantic mines, it means huge copper mines. It means lithium mines in the Atacama Desert. It means Cobalt mines. It means all of these mines that are causing massive destruction, displacing people from their lands. Also that we can build more windmills and have more solar panels. There’s no way that we can replace the amount of fossil fuels we’re using now with electrical alternatives, be they windmills or solar panels, because of the amount of rare earth minerals that are required, because of the amount of copper that is required. Each wind turbine requires tons of copper that has to get mined from somewhere and it’s almost all being mined in the global South. So it’s really just transferring the kind of ecological destruction that powers this economy from one resource to a different resource, all of it being extracted from the global South.
MF: That’s a critical point and I want to get into that more. But before we do that, let’s talk just a little bit more about this current COP. One of the other major issues that was being raised there and has been raised at many of the COP meetings is the issue of countries who are not the big polluters and are poorer countries, but are really suffering the impacts on a bigger level of the climate crisis continuing to push for a funding mechanism so that they can mitigate the climate crisis and adapt to what’s happening to them in their communities. But you know, once again, it sounds like the wealthy countries intervened and prevented that from happening. Can you comment on that?
AP: Sure, I mean, yeah that happens, that’s been happening for years and years, countries demanding some kind of reparations for the climate debt that have caused, well, you know all the resources being sucked out of their countries and then in return they’re getting the worst impacts of climate change and they’re the least prepared for it because you know, they haven’t had all of these this access to technologies and monies that developed countries have. And so demanding some kind of balance there, some kind of payments so that they can be prepared, so that they can have a way to address these catastrophes when they come on their doorstep. But you know again we live in an economically unjust world. We live in a world under neoliberalism, under corporate globalization. And that’s, you’re never going to get economic justice under neoliberalism. You’re just not going to get it so first we have to change the system and that is why I’m so excited about what’s happening in Chile. People are not talking about reforms. They’re not talking about let’s just tweak the way things have been done. They’re talking about we want a whole new constitution. We want a whole new system. We want total transformation. We do not want any more reforms or any more business as usual and I think that is an example to the world globally of what we need. My heart goes out to, every time there’s a terrible storm in a country that’s not prepared to deal with it. You know, it’s crushing to watch it happen, but they’re not going to get the money from the United States and Europe. It’s just not going to happen. There are going to just slam the door on that every year at every single COP where it’s brought up.
KZ: Climate justice, which is really the issue we’re talking about as far as rich countries paying for the damage they’re doing to poor countries. Climate justice is so tied to economic justice. You say that in Chile and other countries challenging the neoliberal capitalist model is what you are hopeful about. We are too. And you also say that you can’t solve the climate crisis in the current economic and political system. What kind of economic and political system do we need to see in order to really confront the climate crisis?
AP: Well, I think one that’s completely decentralized. I mean that seems to be what appears to me anyway to be the most potentially effective is one where people control their own destiny in their own bioregions with solutions that make ecological sense for them. And I think that’s what La Via Campesina, the global peasants’ movement, has talked about that there’s thousands of solutions out there and those thousands of solutions are found in small autonomous or semi-autonomous communities that actually have some control over how they live. And you know, the most intact ecosystems remaining on the planet are on those lands of people, indigenous people and other people who depend on those ecosystems and have been left alone enough to be able to keep them intact. And so I think that’s a huge lesson that people can have a sustainable way of living on this planet when they understand that their future existence and their livelihoods and their well-being are dependent on that planet and that planet being livable to put it crudely.
MF: So for people who are living in the Western World, the more richer countries, what would your recommendations be to those people in terms of where they should be focusing their activities right now?
AP: Well, I think it would be the bottom-up organizing. You know, it’s not going to be quick. I don’t know how it can be fast but it has to be relatively, we have to be pretty speedy about it. We need to do it thoughtfully but as quickly as possible, but not rush it. Let’s say it that way. We can’t just dwell on hoping that the powers that be will do this for us. We can’t hope that the next presidential candidate will have a plan to do this for us. That’s not going to work. You know, in the system that we live under the powers that are the corporations and the power elite, they’re going to be deciding things from their lofty chambers and they’re going to decide how things are done unless people get organized from the bottom up. And once we can get organized from the bottom up, once we make business as usual impossible, then we can start to see change happen. We can start to see people getting together and figuring out okay, we can’t have single-person cars. So what’s going to be the alternative to that? We can’t have everybody having this. We can’t have everybody having that. So, how are we going to do this differently? How are we going to cut our consumption levels by 90% What does that look like? How do we make that happen? How do we grow our food locally? How do we turn you know rooftops into gardens? How do we you know, it’s, every bioregion is going to have to do it differently. Every community is going to have to figure it out for themselves. But the key is that it’s got to come from the bottom and we can’t keep looking to politicians to solve the problem for us because they’re just not going to do it.
MF: And what are your thoughts in terms of the United States dropping out of the Paris agreement? This is the last year that the US is going to participate apparently in the COP process. Unless something changes before the next meeting, the US will be formally, you know, withdrawn by then. Do you think that will have any impact on what’s going on in terms of that process given it’s a faulty process to begin with but will that have an impact?
AP: You know that’s a hard question. I don’t believe in the process at all. I think the entire thing is illegitimate and is distracting our attention away from things that really need to be done. I think the time suck and you know a magician’s wand that is not allowing us to think in different ways. I see so many civil society groups and other groups go there and you know beg for crumbs from this body that you know, rarely dispenses anything but more of the same and so the idea that the US wouldn’t be there. I mean, yes, the US has been a gigantic obstructionist throughout these climate COPs starting with Al Gore and Obama was just as bad and it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a Democrat or a Republican. So if the US walks away, will that make a difference? It’ll make the difference to those who believe in the process, to those who are involved in the process. Will it make a difference for the climate? I really don’t think so. I think nothing’s going to make a difference for the climate until people get away from the UN process and start thinking about this for themselves.
KZ: Yeah. Really the US is almost representative of transnational corporations that have offices and headquarters all over the world, particularly in Western countries. And so if the US leaves, there’ll be still the national corporations there representing their financial interests and you know, it may mean that the US isn’t the boogeyman but the transnational corporations will remain.
MF: Or Australia or Saudi Arabia or Brazil…
KZ: Or even China. I mean China has its challenges too with energy for sure. And so these, the COP process I’m not sure it’s savable. But let’s turn to another topic. The one that you really have a lot of focus on which is the issue of forests and trees a lot of people look to that as a positive solution. Well first off, stop the negative destroying forests but then the positive solution of planting trees and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. Tell us about your forest work.
AP: Sure. Yeah, this was a major theme at this year’s COP and has been a theme in the year leading up to this year’s COP of how we can protect forests and plant trees to deal with the climate change problem and start to draw carbon out of the atmosphere even. It really depends on your definitions. Of course, saving the intact forests that still remain is critical whether they’re primary forest or second-growth forest, if they’re native forest whether they’re degraded or they’re very strong, they need to be protected. And if they’re degraded, they need to be restored and you know, that’s something that local people who understand the forest can take responsibility for and can take control of and I think that would be really great. But you have to also look at the issue of so-called reforestation and afforestation and sustainable forestry management, which are these terms that are thrown around that actually can be very destructive. The UN food and agriculture organization, which has the official definition of forest, has a very bad official definition. A forest is basically a piece of land that has 10% tree cover regardless of what those trees are if they’re native or exotic or invasive. They don’t care as long as it’s a span of land that has 10% tree cover then it’s a forest. So what that does is opens the door when you say reforestation or stainable forest management, it opens the door for industrial tree plantations and these industrial tree plantations in the world are almost always made of exotic species. So in Brazil, for example, it’s exotic Pine and Eucalyptus, in Chile it’s exotic Pine and Eucalyptus. In many countries, they have oil palm. It’s just a really dangerous thing because these tree plantations, while it doesn’t sound like they would be a big deal, can be a very big deal for the people who lived on the land where the tree plantations are grown. Under Pinochet, for example, getting back to the Chile theme, when Pinochet came into power, first he nationalized all of the land and then he gave it away to timber companies. So the Mapuche people lost enormous areas of their ancestral lands under Pinochet and they’re still trying to get them back and much of this land was put into exotic Pine and Eucalyptus plantations, which has meant that these communities that live in quite green lush areas have limited access to water anymore because the plantations drink up so much water that these communities that are surrounded by them literally have to truck in water to have water throughout the year. And that’s insane. They used to have access to water year-round. Now, they don’t because of the tree plantations. They’re all so inundated with toxic chemicals and in 2017 in Chile these eucalyptus and pine plantations caught fire and resulted in the worst wildfires in Chile’s history and they caught other natural forests on fire. They burned down communities. I mean, they’re really horrible these tree plantations. So we have to be very careful when we hear these claims that you know, we can plant billions or trillions of trees and start pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and reversing climate change. It’s just you know, it’s really, it’s a dangerous proposal, if we’re not clear in what we’re talking about with these trees, what kind of trees, where they’re going to be going. And in addition, we have to be very careful with how much land is that going to take. Who lives on that land now? Where are those people going to be forced to move? There was a report that came out and I can’t remember the name of the report. We call it the trillion tree proposal. It came out over the summer that was saying that you know, all we have to do is plant a trillion trees on something like 1.6 billion hectares of land to start drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and reversing climate change. Besides the fact that the science isn’t there and the numbers don’t make any sense, this promotion of these tree plantations all over the planet was really disconcerting and we wrote a report about that, which we have on our stop GE trees dot org site, which is called trees to solve the world’s problems. If people want more details, they can read that report about why planting trees is not a great way to deal with the climate problem.
MF: Right. It really distracts the real work. It makes people believe that oh, we can just go out and plant some trees or we can donate to these groups that are planting trees and then we don’t have to do anything else, problem solved. I agree it’s a big detriment. Now you were part of a big convergence that took place earlier this year and it was a forest convergence in the United States. Can you talk about what that was and what came out of it?
AP: Sure. Yeah, we, Global Justice Ecology Project, and Shawnee Forest Defense and Indigenous Environmental Network came together. We actually thought of the idea a couple of years ago and it took some time to get it rolling. You know, we’re all very busy organizations, but we did finally make it happen over Columbus Day, quote unquote Columbus Day weekend, Indigenous Peoples Day weekend in October and it was really excellent. So people who come to, especially forest activists in the United States, who came to it said it was one of the best ones they’ve been to, one of the best convergence/conferences that they’ve been to and there was a couple of reasons for that. One, we were very intentional in making it as diverse as possible. So we didn’t want it to just be a bunch of forest activists talking, we didn’t want it to just be climate activists talking. We wanted a broad diversity of organizations representing different issues. So there were a lot of Indigenous people represented there. We had Mike Africa from the MOVE family represented there, pipeline activists, climate change activists, forest protection activists of all stripes, small farmers. We just tried to make it really diverse and that paid off. People appreciated that. The other thing that we did that made it different was we made sure it wasn’t just talking heads. It wasn’t just people up there blah blah blah, you know you sit for a few days and listen to workshops and then you go home. These were intentionally designed as strategic action sessions. So we had a couple of panels just to kind of warm people up to the ideas and then people went off, broke off into groups to talk deeply about the issues that they were interested in. So there was one on false solutions to climate change and how to address them. That was one that I was part of. There was one about direct action. There was one about infrastructure projects including mega-dams, and then there was one about basically dealing with public lands, forests and public lands. So people in those different groups got to talk over the course of three days about how to strategically organize themselves to have better coalitions, better networking, better communications and more common goals, common objectives in their work and people were just, they were so happy to have that opportunity to get together nationally, which happens very very infrequently and talk strategy for that long, which almost never happens. You know strategy is one of those things that gets pushed off to the very end and maybe gets a couple of hours if you’re lucky and instead we framed this whole event around building strategies. So that was the idea was we would build, people would build new strategies, cutting-edge strategies, diverse strategies that would help us move past the point where we’ve been stuck in the United States for so long.
KZ: That sounds like a great event. You know, one other issue I just want to raise in our last point here about US progress is this Green New Deal issue. I mean, this is something the global greens started talking about in 2006. Howie Hawkins ran on it in 2010 for Governor of New York. Jill Stein ran on it twice. Finally, AOC picks it up and it becomes an issue that the Democratic party is talking about. We see the corporatists in the Democratic Party pushing back on it and trying to stop it. What do you think is the potential of actually a Green New Deal and of this political discussion?
AP: I think the idea was really good and that, you know, the idea of transforming things and coming up with a new way of addressing the problems that we’re facing and new ways of earning livings and so on was a really good one, but I think it’s completely been co-opted at this point. The UN was talking about a Green New Deal over in Madrid. Certainly, they weren’t talking about anything that you know Howie Hawkins and the Greens were talking about. So unfortunately too here in the US what was put forward politically was so unformed that I think it’s kind of… It’s hard to really get behind without knowing the details and I know a lot of people have been trying to get those details sorted out because you know saying that we need to have green jobs can mean a million different things if you don’t have the details nailed down. So, you know, it would be great if it was part of this systemic transformation thing. If it’s just going to stay in the world of Congress, you know, I’m not that hopeful because it’ll get watered down and bought out and you know sold down the river as we’ve seen so many good initiatives do but yeah, I mean I’m glad that people came up with the idea. I hope that there’s some way that people can salvage it from being totally stolen away from them, which is where I see it headed right now.
MF: Yeah, I agree. It’s going to be really critical that we define clearly what we mean by the Green New Deal. Well, thank you so much for taking time to talk with us today, Anne. Where can our listeners follow your work and support what you’re doing?
AP: Sure. Yeah, we have a website which is Global Justice Ecology dot-org. So yeah Global Justice and the word Ecology dot org, and otherwise if they’re just interested in the GE trees issue, they can go to stop GE trees dot-org.
KZ: Fantastic. Thanks a lot for taking the time today. We really appreciate it and hope to talk to you again soon.
AP: Thank you so much for the opportunity. I’m really really happy to have talked to you again.