Copenhagen 2009

Climate "deal" reached in Copenhagen; see great pics, dramatic video of the final hours here

rm-iwest-mug-150x150Well, the delegates to the international climate talks in Copenhagen for the most part are headed for the airport or already winging their way home. Presumably you've seen the coverage; we won't try to duplicate that here, although I'll be back Monday with some reflections. We have some great photos that have been rotating through InvestigateWest's billboard slideshow that I'm going to feature below, plus Blair Kelly's video of the last major protest, which includes dramatic scenes of police beating demonstrators -- some with their hands in the air -- with batons. Activists (perhaps ironically, considering they were shut down by the Copenhagen cops) dubbed that protest "Reclaim the Power."

If you're interested in a few tidbits you may have missed in the way of denouement on the negotiations, check out:

  • The notes covering the final United Nations plenary in Copenhagen, courtesy of Andrew Revkin's Dot.Earth blog at the NYT (we'll miss him -- he's taking a buyout, but I hear he may keep doing the blog), and 
  • Bill McKibben's critique of an NYT story on the Group of 77, defending them of course. I have to say that the most remarkable aspect of the talks for me was the way the poor nations made it known they are not going to be pushed around any more.
Daniel Lathrop's picture

Press Release: InvestigateWest photog detained, again

Contacts:
Daniel Lathrop 206-718-0349

InvestigateWest photographer detained in Copenhagen

SEATTLE -- A  journalist on assignment for InvestigateWest to cover
protests outside the United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen
was arrested Tuesday -- the second time he has been arrested while
photographing demonstrators. This time, demonstrators were attempting
to enter Copenhagen’s Bella Center, the site of the international
climate talks.

Christopher Crow of Bellingham was taken into custody by police, who
are empowered under a new law to hold demonstrators for up to 12 hours
without filing charges. He was arrested at about Noon local time and
remained in custody as of 6 PM local time.

Crow was previously arrested Sunday and released after 3 ½ hours
without any charges being filed.

In both cases, the officers took Crow away despite the fact that he is
a credentialed journalist carrying out his duty as to document the
unrest in the streets and not a participant in the demonstrations.
Demonstrators are angry about an emerging United Nations treaty that
would allow some companies to profit from fighting climate change.

After his first arrest, InvestigateWest executive director and editor
Rita Hibbard had issued the following statement:

"This is an outrageous affront to the freedom of the press. Reporters
are obligated to cover civil disturbances like the protests in
Copenhagen, and police who arrest journalists are violating their
human rights. Christopher and InvestigateWest are owed an apology by the
Danish authorities and we will be filing a formal protest."

Members of the InvestigateWest team in Copenhagen available for
interviews via Skype.

Daniel Lathrop's picture

Press Release: InvestigateWest journalist detained in Copenhagen

SEATTLE -- A  journalist on assignment for InvestigateWest to cover protests outside the United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen was arrested today as he photographed demonstrators trying to shut down Copenhagen’s harbor.

Christopher Crow of Bellingham was taken into custody by police, who also arrested about 275 demonstrators. He was taken away in a police van along with protesters. Copenhagen police are empowered under a new law to hold demonstrators for up to 12 hours without filing charges. Crow was released after 3 ½ hours without any charges being filed.

"This is an outrageous affront to the freedom of the press. Reporters are obligated to cover civil disturbances like the prostests in Copenhagen, and police who arrest journalists are violating their human rights," said Rita Hibbard, InvestigateWest editor and executive director. "Christopher and InvestigateWest are owed an apology by the Danish authorities and we will be filing a formal protest."

The officers took Crow away despite his colleagues’ protest that he was only carrying out his duty as a journalist to document the unrest in the streets. Demonstrators are angry about an emerging United Nations treaty that would allow some companies to profit from fighting climate change.

InvestigateWest correspondent Alexander Kelly covered the arrest for the Seattle-based news organization’s website at http://bit.ly/8FK2qd.

Kelly, InvestigateWest photographer Mark Malijan and InvestigateWest videographer Blair Kelly also were covering the protest, but were able to get away before police moved in wielding batons and police dogs to make arrests.

Crow, Kelly and other members of the InvestigateWest team in Copenhagen available for interviews via Skype.  Chief environmental correspondent Robert McClure, who is editing the Copenhagen coverage, is available for phone or in-person interviews.

InvestigateWest is a non-profit investigative journalism  organization based in Seattle.

Rita Hibbard's picture

Seattle meets greenhouse gas goals two years ahead of schedule

The population of Seattle rose 16 percent since 1990, but the city's overall energy consumption climbed only slightly. Amazingly, greenhouse gas production is down 7 percent.

rita_hibbardwebThat’s a goal the city is meeting two years earlier than it had hoped, admittedly aided by a declining economy that took vehicles off the street and pushed down energy consumption, but also a sign of steps the city has taken, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels says. Read the city's report here.

Reporting on the Nickel’s determined drive to push the city meet the international Kyoto Protocol capping carbon dioxide and other gases after the Bush administration backed off, Seattle Times reporter Craig Welch writes of challenges to come. The biggest issue remaining will be driving, with emissions from road vehicles rising 5.5 percent in the past three years. Most of the growth in emissions came from commercial truck traffic. Still, the city sees reasons for optimism.

"The encouraging news is that on a per-capita basis it [transportation] is going in the other direction," said Jill Simmons, senior climate-policy adviser for the city. City officials also said recent efforts to boost transit, build walkable neighborhoods, make parking more expensive and add bike lanes will help get more people out of their cars in coming years.

The city is measuring its greenhouse gas emissions every three years in three categories -- homes, commercial buildings and heavy industry.

InvestigateWest will be covering climate talks in Copenhagen; WTO-style street protests expected

 By Alexander Kelly

Ten years after Seattle witnessed the largest anti-corporate globalization action the United States has seen, protesters will take to the streets of Copenhagen in a week to oppose the global capitalization of the struggle against climate change.

The delegates attending the upcoming high-stakes negotiations are expected to entertain mostly market-based solutions to climate change, which critics say improperly treat carbon as a commodity to be traded among the world’s largest polluters.

Plenty of activists aren’t buying it, and like their predecessors at the WTO rallies in ‘99, they’re ready to let world leaders know.

Nor are they buying the rhetoric spouted at Singapore’s recent international economic summit, where the official goal of the Copenhagen meetings was reduced from the development of a “legally binding treaty” to a “political” one. The announcement has activist groups like Bill McKibben’s 350.org and members of the Climate Justice Action network in an uproar, with street-side frustrations on the rise as the will to tackle climate change seemingly takes a political nosedive.

As tens of thousands of protesters from the world over converge on December’s climate talks, so will InvestigateWest.

Alberta tar sands energy firm pleads not guilty in birds' deaths

Syncrude, an Alberta oil sands giant, pleaded not guilty Monday in the deaths of approximately 1,600 ducks in one of its tailings ponds in April 2008, reports Sarah O'Donnell in the Edmonton Journal. The migrating ducks landed in a pond near Fort McMurray, were coated in oil residue, and sank to the bottom. Only eight survived, five of which went to Edmonton's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. The remaining three were released. The deaths in what's also known as the Alberta tar sands region violate the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. Syncrude says it is doing all it can to make avoid a repeat case. Syncrude lawyer Robert White had this to say:

Syncrude is not above the law. However, the law has recognized for a long time that when people do their best to avoid something, that isn't a matter for charges. That is a matter of fix-up... And it is not possible for anybody to do more than Syncrude has done to ensure it never happens again.

The company is still fighting the charges.

North of Fort McMurray, Greenpeace activists have seized a giant dump truck and shovel from Shell's Albian Sands open-pit-mine, reports Richard Warnica in the Edmonton Journal. More than 25 people chained together pickup trucks to block off the dump truck, then climbed to the top and chained themselves down. Spokesman Mike Hudema says the group is prepared to stay until people listen to the message proclaimed on its banner: "Tar Sands: Climate Crime." The protest comes one day before Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's meeting with U.S.