The Big Downturn? Nanogeopolitics, ETC Group’s new 68-page report on global governance of nanoscale technologies, is an update of our 2005 Nanogeopolitics survey. In the intervening five years, policymakers – some kicking and screaming – have begun to acknowledge that fast-tracking nanotech has come at a price and that some sort of regulation is needed to deal with at least some of the risks nanoscale technologies pose.
The New Biomassters - Synthetic Biology and the Next Assault on Biodiversity and Livelihoods is a critique of what OECD countries are calling 'the new bioeconomy.' Concerted attempts are already underway to shift industrial production feedstocks from fossil fuels to the 230 billion tones of 'biomass' (living stuff) that the Earth produces every year -not just for liquid fuels but also for production of power, chemicals, plastics and more.
Sold as an ecological switch from a ‘black carbon’ (ie fossil) economy to a ‘green carbon’ (plant-based) economy, this emerging bioeconomy is in fact a red-hot resource grab of the lands, livelihoods, knowledge and resources of peoples in the global South, where most of that biomass is located.
Enabling the next stage of this new grab is the adoption of synthetic biology techniques (extreme genetic engineering) by a wave of high-tech companies partnering with the world’s largest energy, chemical, forestry and agribusiness corporations.
“The rush to grow ‘biomass’ for fuels and industry will be worth $1/2 trillion – but won’t feed people, or stop climate change.”
Earth Grab. Farm leaders on the impacts of the corporate biomass-grab.
Friday, November 26, 2010, 7:00pm - 9:30pm
Jean Lesage Auditorium, Room B-2285
Jean-Brillant Building, 3200 Jean-Brillant Street
University of Montreal
In a landmark consensus decision, the 193-member UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) closed its tenth biennial meeting with a de facto moratorium on geoengineering projects and experiments. “Any private or public experimentation or adventurism intended to manipulate the planetary thermostat will be in violation of this carefully crafted UN consensus,” stated Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director of ETC Group.
This report exposes the new climate 'Plan B' for what it is: a political strategy aimed at letting industrialized countries off the hook for their climate debt. From adjusting the global thermostat to changing the chemistry of our oceans, these technofixes are a threat to people and the planet. The report contains an overview of the history, the science, the interests behind their rapid development and the international governance issues at stake.
Realpolitik, we are advised, recognizes that the multilateral system can’t produce an equitable or effective agreement that will mitigate climate chaos: Recognizing this, concerned governments and scientists have no reasonable choice but to investigate technological strategies that could reduce or delay climate change, at least until social forces make a practical agreement possible. Also according to Realpolitik, there is no more hope of achieving a multilateral consensus on re-jigging the thermostat than there is of adopting effective targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Therefore, the issue is to create a narrative and construct a governance model that will allow a courageous, far-sighted, science- based “coalition of the willing” to justify their unilateral manipulation of the Earth’s systems. They call it geoengineering – we call it geopiracy.
Last week the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth drew to a raucous conclusion in the Cochabamba football stadium as more than 35,000 people from 140+ countries cheered the adoption of their own strategic plan to address climate change around the world. Bolivia's Cochabamba gathering was neither Social Forum nor an inter-governmental meeting but a marvelous mix of the two - bringing together official government delegations from 42 countries with social movements and civil society organizations from 100 more.
Today was "Reclaim Power" day, a collaborative adventure with activists from Climate Justice Now and Climate Justice Action that had been many months (years?) in the making. There were demonstrators from the outside -- the thousands of activists who have no accreditation to get into the Bella Centre where the talks are being held, and those who had been working the process inside -- lobbying, analyzing, holding press conferences and such. The point was to hold a people's assembly on climate change when talks failed to deliver. And they are failing to deliver big time.
I am still in the Bella Centre, still tracking technology negotiations. That means I have a magical "secondary pass" unlike thousands of other NGOs who cannot get into the building today. Technology is supposed to be the "easy issue", on which there will possibly be an agreement, evoked by both the Danish Presidency and the UNFCCC head, Yvo de Boer, as the most rapidly progressing item.
So much has happened in the past three days it is has been impossible to blog. We have been trying to lobby for precaution and assessment on technology, trying to talk to the press about our issues, attending side events, organizing our own workshops, meeting old and new friends and allies and basically working from early morning until late at night, like virtually everyone else here.
It is the mad dash for Copenhagen.
I am leaving Montreal for the international summit tomorrow although the conference actually got underway today. In between urgent emails over the weekend I found the time to take my ten year old daughter and two of her friends to see A Christmas Carol, a Geordie Theatre production of the Dickens classic. The play was great but it was hard to keep my mind off what was going on in Copenhagen -- plus Scrooge kept reminding me of Stephen Harper.