Montag, 17. Dezember 2007

Back home ...

Air travel makes one go from A to B without noticing all the Cs, Ds, Es and Ys in the middle. Within hours, one can jump continents - and cultural divides. The cultures and geographies of the 'in between' places are, if one is lucky, just a pretty view from a window seat.
So, after an exhausting two weeks in Bali (more on that here and auf Deutsch hier), I am home. Which feels remarkably normal, instantly. Here I am, trying to adjust to a temperature difference of some 30 degrees centrigrade. Here I am, trying to get into a christmas mood. Here I am, trying to get used to not working some 18 hours a day. Here I am trying to allow my body to just relax. - That christmas is coming up, I tried to keep in mind in Bali through taking along the "Advent calender" my mum sends me every year. You can see it having some cross-cultural fun in Bali on the picture. Air travel allows for that picture having been taken just some 24 hours ago. In a different world!

Sonntag, 9. Dezember 2007

Greenwash bikes

There has been a lot of talk about the carbon footprint of the Bali climate talks. Questioning the carbon footprint of big events like this is justified. And clearly not everybody who is on Bali needs to be here. Take the stuck in the rut climate sceptics, for example! But let's also keep in mind, that this conference emits only as much CO2 as running the planned new coal power plant at Neurath for a mere 20 hours or so. Neurath was one of the places where the global day of action took place yesterday. (To all of you who took part a big thank you!) IF governments get their act together and agree a credible action plan here, it will have been carbon well spent - unlike at Neurath! - The hosts have also done what they can to reduce the transport emissions locally. Free bikes are available everywhere. And though it seems to be getting more and more humid by the minute, lots of people can be seen rushing around on bikes. I once got lost with one, cycling around in circles for half an hour (the closest I have gotten to exercise this week. But also to swimming - I was that wet ...!). So the bikes are a good thing as well as a fast and convenient - if sweaty - alternative to taxis. That said, some of them are also a form of greenwash. Medco energi are sponsoring the free bikes that have "Stop global warming" written all over them (see picture). Sadly, stopping global warming is not Medco energi's core business, to put it mildly. Rather, they produce oil - and are also the company behind a planned nuclear power plant in Jepara, Central Java. Those nuclear power plans are not popular. The local muslim council has declared a very reasonable fatwa against the project. And last week, some 1200 people joined us for a protest on the proposed site of the nuclear power facility. I have to think of those communities every time I dash off - carbon-free - to another meeting on a Medco energi-sponsored bike.

Mittwoch, 5. Dezember 2007

Courageous, impressive - look at this Indonesian coal action

When police boats drove over Greenpeace boats at this year's G8 summit protest (see the video here) some people - including some friends - told me that they thought the action was "too dangerous". We should have known that the police would react strongly. We should not have done something so risky. My emotional response to this was incomprehension. For this was a principled and peaceful action. The police response was, shall we say, unhelpful. And in any case, it was nothing compared to the dangers my friends and comrades face in many places all over the world - every day. In recent weeks, angry loggers forced colleagues in the Amazon to take refuge in a local government office. And last Saturday, my friends from Greenpeace Southeast Asia faced heated opposition when they 'attacked' a coal plant. Have a look at the video - and bow at their courage! This one is for you, Yaya and Shai!

Dienstag, 4. Dezember 2007

Fröhliche Weihnacht?

Nusa Dua ist eine Enklave der Globalisierung. Westliche Marken bestimmen die Landschaft. Und doch war ich nicht darauf vorbereitet, ausgerechnet auf der Hindu-dominierten, multikulturellen Insel Bali einem klassischen Santa-Claus zu begegnen (siehe Bild). Schon 2005 beim WTO-Gipfel in Hong Kong fand ich die Komination von warmem Wetter, chinesischem Essen und britischen ‘jingle-bells’ bizarr. Aber Bali toppt das bei weitem (und war keine britische Kolonie!). Weihnachten ist sicher nicht gut fürs Klima. Gerade Elektronikschrott wird auch dieses Jahr sicher in Massen unter Weihnachtsbäumen liegen. Selbst ich lüste im Geheimen ein wenig nach einem iPhone. Und doch ist Weihnachten – trotz allem Kommerz – doch immer auch eine Zeit der Besinnung. Zumindest in meinem Freundeskreis. Es werden Plätzchen gebacken, Tee getrunken, geklönt und manchmal auch Glühwein getrunken. Ich mag diesen Teil der Adventszeit (auch wenn das einige sicher spiessig finden). Ich mag diese Kommerz-freie Zone wo Zeit ist - genommen wird - für persönliche Gespräche. Ich vermisse genau dies hier in der Hitze und Hektik von Bali. Wie sehr wurde mir erst klar als ich 'Santa' traf. Mitten in Bali. Auf dem Weg zu Verhandlungen darüber, ob über Technologietransfer hier ernsthaft verhandelt werden soll – oder eben nicht. In Gedanken bei den ärgerlichen Dingen, die Japan heute verbreitet hat – frei nach dem Motto: “wir wollen nach 2012 keine verbindlichen Reduktionsziele für unsere klimaschädlichen Emissionen akzeptieren”. Am liebsten hätte ich Ihnen Knecht Ruprecht auf den Hals geschickt ...

Montag, 3. Dezember 2007

Welcome to Paradise?

The hotel complex that the international climate negotiation are taking place in was built in the 1980s. It replaced local fishing villages but funders such as the World Bank insisted that it at least looks nice. So this is no high-rise concrete jungle. It is a lush tropical array of high level hotels - which seem to compete on how many pools they have... - One of the most difficult things about my life is that when I say that I do not like all the travel I do, nobody believes me (except for those who suffer the same life). When you say that you are going to Bali - this is, of course, especially true. And I do not blame them. There is a big industry out there that sells the kind of environment that is Nusa Dua, Bali as the place to be. If I didn't have to work from 7am to late at night, I would certainly enjoy the beaches - and even more the massages that seem to be on offer everywhere. But like all such places, this hotel paradise is built on exclusion. Exclusion of fisher communities to start with. But I am sure not just. With all the water being used for the pools here, I wonder how much water is available for the communities outside, for example. I should find out really. - Still, I had to smile when I passed this "Welcome to Paradise" sign today. I was running between two meetings (and running when it is 35 degrees celsius and over 80% humidity is not such a good idea, really). But I had to stop and take a photograph. If this is paradise, let it at least be the paradise that is remembered for preventing climate hell!

Sonntag, 2. Dezember 2007

Bali - again

It's hot, it's humid, I have a headache. I hate this kind of weather. My partner says that the temperature is just right when you step out of the shower and do not feel a drop in temperature. Well, when I step out of the shower here, I feel no drop in humidity. I stay just as wet. I sweat like hell - and I do not like it. - This is meant to be rainy season in Bali. The humidy is indeed hard to beat. But so far, it has not rained. The same happened last December apparently. It may be climate change. Which would be fitting as over 10,000 people, like me, are heading to Bali just now to attend the global climate negotiations. - The security is already here. Military boats are cruising along the beach (see picture). I do not remember it being like that 5 years ago, when the World Summit on Sustainable Development was prepared on Bali. But that was before the Bali bombs. I dread to think what the security will be like next week - when important people (not just me) arrive.... - I am here to help persuade governments to agree a Bali Mandate. Not sure how much time I will have to blog on this site. I am, however, blogging at the Greenpeace site - so have a look. P.S. December 3rd update: This had to happen, of course. Climate change and weather are two different things. I know that. But I was reminded today, as it has started to rain. A real downpour, I am told. I missed it, though, watching the opening of the official conference.