We use cookies for site personalization, analytics and advertising. You can opt out of third party cookies. More info in our privacy policy.   Got it

Be Carbon Positive!

carbon positive

Keeping the oil in the ground

In 1999 the Costa Rican government signed an oil development contract with US President George W Bush’s former company Harken Energy. When a ship arrived at the port of Limón that year to set off 20,000 seismic blasts on the sea floor during the height of the annual lobster migration, local people were outraged. Thanks to strong public pressure the Government declared a moratorium on oil, gas and mining activities in the country in 2002 and set in motion efforts to repeal the controversial Hydrocarbons Law – a piece of legislation brought in as part of a World Bank loan restructuring arrangement which carved up the country into 27 land and marine exploration blocks. The moratorium is the first of its kind in the world, and was presented to the UN climate talks in Montreal in 2005, as Costa Rica’s ‘contribution to solving climate change’. Where Costa Rica leads, others can follow. Groups like Oilwatch International and campaigns such as against BP’s Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (see [NI 361, October 2003](http://www.newint.org/issue361/)) are playing a vital role in keeping the oil in the ground. Some campaign groups fighting against the expansion of the oil industry: *Oilwatch International* *Oil Change International* *Baku-Ceyhan Campaign* *Plan B*

Ending climate spam

After years of campaigning on climate change in local, national and international fora, many groups began to see that the burgeoning carbon market was undermining their efforts. As a result the Durban Network for Climate Justice was formed to highlight the problems of the carbon market, support communities affected by offset projects and promote positive alternatives. *Durban Network for Climate Justice Weblog*: Some Durban Network members include: *Carbon Trade Watch/The Transnational Institute* *The Corner House* *Sustainable Energy and Economy Network* *Rising Tide* *World Rainforest Movement* *Global Justice Ecology Network* *Indigenous Environment Network* *Sinkswatch/FERN* *Friends of the Earth International* For more comprehensive coverage of climate solutions, see [NI 357, June 2003](http://www.newint.org/issue357/)

Challenging the CO2 culture

The fossil-fuel economy is something that the industry constantly needs to protect and promote. Feelgood vibes via the arts and culture are but one means to that end. Prompted in part by BP’s sponsorship of the British National Portrait Gallery and Shell’s funding of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award, artist-activists have launched their own exhibitions highlighting the destructive role played by the oil industry as well as the alternatives. Artists from all over the world are welcome to submit their work to initiatives like Art Not Oil – ‘First prize is justice, second is survival. Now that’s got to be better than climate chaos.’ *Art Not Oil* *National Petroleum Gallery* *Museum of the Corporation* *Remember Ken Saro-Wiwa*

Recommended reading:

Ben Pearson, *_Market Failure: Why the Clean Development Mechanism won’t promote clean development_*, CDM Watch, November 2004. Brian Tokar, *_‘Climate Talks in Montreal: Can we save the planet?’*_, _Z Magazine_, Volume 19, Number 2, February 2006. Carbon Trade Watch/TNI, *_The Sky is Not the Limit: The emerging market in greenhouse gases*_, TNI, 2003. Carbon Trade Watch/TNI, *_Hoodwinked in the Hothouse: The G8, climate change and free-market environmentalism*_, TNI, 2005. Daphne Wysham, *_‘A Planet for Some Carbon?’*_, _Fort Worth Star-Telegram_, 12 December 2005. Durban Group for Climate Justice, *_Climate Justice Now! The Durban Declaration on Carbon Trading.*_ Durban Group for Climate Justice, *_To Keep the Oil Flowing: A Conversation on Carbon Credits (DRAFT)*_, Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, 2006. FASE-ES/Carbon Trade Watch/TNI, *_Where the Trees are a Desert: Stories from the ground*_, TNI, 2003. Friends of the Earth International/World Rainforest Movement/FERN, *_Tree Trouble: A Compilation of Testimonies on the Negative Impact of Large-scale Monoculture Tree Plantations.*_ Heidi Bachram, *_‘Climate Fraud and Carbon Colonialism: The New Trade in Greenhouse Gases’*_, _Capitalism, Nature, Socialism_, Volume 15, Number 14, December 2004. Larry Lohmann,*_‘Climate Politics After Montreal: Time for a Change’*_, _Foreign Policy in Focus_, 10 January 2006. Larry Lohmann, *_Democracy or Carbocracy? Intellectual corruption and the future of the climate debate*_, The Corner House, October 2001. Larry Lohmann, *_The Dyson Effect: Carbon ‘Offset’ Forestry and The Privatization of the Atmosphere*_, The Corner House, July 1999.

Patrick Bond and Rehana Dada (editors), *_Trouble in the Air: Global warming and the privatised atmosphere*_, Centre for Civil Society/TNI, 2005. CCS energyseries 1005 Platform Research/Friends of the Earth/London Rising Tide, *_Beyond Oil: The oil curse and solutions for an oil-free future*_, October 2004. Graham Erion, *_‘Low Hanging Fruit Always Rots First: Observations from South Africa’s Crony Carbon Market’*_, Carbon Trade Watch/TNI, October 2005. Anne Petermann & Orin Langelle, *_‘UN Global Warming Convention Meets US Resistance While Activists Criticize Carbon Trading As “Privatization of the Atmosphere"’*_, _Z Magazine_, February 2005. Sinkswatch/FERN, *_Carbon ‘offset’ - no magic solution to ‘neutralise’ fossil fuel emissions*_, FERN Briefing Note, FERN, June 2005. Sinkswatch/FERN, *_Forest Fraud: Say ‘no’ to fake carbon credits_*, FERN, December 2003.

Recommended Viewing:

*Raised Voices* Film and audio testimonies from people in the Majority World on various issues including climate change, carbon trading and oil. *Green Gold* Documentary about the World Bank’s promotion of a carbon offset project in South Africa. *Where the Trees are a Desert*, photo essay

Recommended Events, Action and Initiatives

*The Camp for Climate Action (UK)* 26 August - 4 September ‘The camp will be a place for this movement to get together. It will be a place for new people, people who have never been “political” before but who want to move beyond concern into action. It will be a place for experienced activists: old and young, cynical and hopeful. We all need courage, the guts to step beyond the comfort of our concern or the borders of our group. Climate change casts a long shadow over the future. But we believe this time can be an opportunity, a moment when people come together and say “enough”.’ *The Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (US)* A diverse, consensus-based group of US environmental justice, religious, policy, and advocacy networks working together to promote just and meaningful climate policy. Offers many training and educational opportunities. *Friends of the Earth Climate Justice Campaign (Australia)* A national campaign incorporating a climate justice roadshow and many action possibilities and educational opportunities. *Energy Action (Canada/US)* A Canadian and US student and youth coalition working to build a clean energy movement in North America. Currently running a very successful Campus Climate Challenge among other initiatives.

‘I felt then that excruciating pain which knowledge confers on those who can discern the gulf that divides what is and what could be.’

Ken Saro-Wiwa (1941-1995), writing in Home, Sweet Home

New Internationalist issue 391 magazine cover This article is from the July 2006 issue of New Internationalist.
You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription. Subscribe today »

Help us keep this site free for all

Editor Portrait New Internationalist is a lifeline for activists, campaigners and readers who value independent journalism. Please support us with a small recurring donation so we can keep it free to read online.

Support us » payment methods

Subscribe   Ethical Shop