Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Kyoto Round-Up

Athena is the face of Greenpeace's climate and energy campaign in Asia. She has just returned from Kyoto, where she led a team pressuring the Asian Development Bank to put their money where their mouths are and invest in Clean Energy. Here's her round up.
2 weeks ago I welcomed myself back to the city of Kyoto with high expectations: for the Asian Development Bank to honour the spirit of one of the most important environmental agreements in history – the Kyoto Protocol.
I finally got to see Kyoto on the last day of my visit to this historic city. A visit to the Kiyomizu-dera Temple and a walk along Gion made me appreciate its beauty – something I missed10 years ago during my first visit. The people of Kyoto should be proud of their home. The ADB could have made them even prouder, but they were a few steps short…

Following a gruelling week of no sleep, limited food, stress and countless meetings and writing sessions – we surprised ourselves at the impact we had on this giant institution. A team of 18 people from 10 countries, Asian led I must add, managed to rock the institution and send nervous ripples running through it.
From the starting act of the love shirts, to the kimono girls to the sumo-wrestling match, to high-level debates on coal and clean energy, our team was formidable and relentless. We countered each ADB statement, welcomed their initiatives and called for more. More importantly, we blocked a major attempt at putting nuclear on the agenda; stopped ADB expanding the Mae Moh coal plant in Thailand and applied the pressure that resulted in the ADB announcing an impressive array of clean energy initiatives. However, the one thing that keeps cropping up is coal and we will continue to push the Bank hard to phase-out coal from its portfolio.
Yes, the Bank is moving and its response to mounting public pressure has been significant. But I can’t stop wondering whether these commitments are real or not. Half way through the ADB meeting, I finally escaped from the Conference Centre to join the Peoples Forum activities at Doshisha University. Once again I listened to Maliwan, the Mae Moh community representative and to the Cambodian woman whose community was destroyed by an ADB funded highway project. They carried direct testimonies from people whose lives had been devastated by large-scale ADB projects. I was thankful for this opportunity, I had to keep reminding myself that despite the Bank’s improved language on clean energy – this campaign has a long way to go…This bank is losing its grip...the private sector has taken over the energy and infrastructure field and it has nowhere else to go but to find its niche elsewhere. Our pressure can push the Bank to pioneer initiatives for the future - Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. The ADB can and should make Clean Energy their business. If they get this right, they will show leadership, if not, they will slip into irrelevance and disappear and a golden opportunity to catalyse the energy revolution will disappear with them.
Up until now, we have always been told that money is the problem and this is why renewables are unable to compete. However, during the ADM meeting, Japan announced a US$100m clean energy facility, commitments to the Carbon fund reached US$80m and the clean energy financing partnership reached US$250m. The question is “If there had been no public pressure to re-channel these funds, where would’ve they gone otherwise?” This is the value of persistent global campaigning. It will be business as usual unless we agitate and mobilise, it will be coal and fossil fuels unless we increase the risks of investing in coal. Our campaign makes it difficult for coal proponents and banks to pursue coal - lets keep it this way.
This year is critical. All 3 IPCC reports are now out confirming the urgent need to address climate change. Now we head towards Bali in December for the next Kyoto Protocol meeting, a critical negotiating session for governments where big solutions are required to match the scale of the problem. The ADB could make a difference. We challenge the Bank to come up with actual good projects across the board that demonstrate its commitment to the many clean energy initiatives. We will continue to push, but not for further policy language, we want real action. We want wind farms, geothermal projects, Renewable Energy Bills, and RE based Development Plans by the Bank’s donor member countries. There’s still a long way to go but considering where we were on this campaign 2 years ago…not bad.
We thank you for the petitions and we thank our colleagues in Europe for exerting pressure on donor members. Let’s stay vigilant - one or two large-scale coal plants may still pop up in the ADB’s portfolio – we need to make sure the ADB doesn’t dip its hands into these projects.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ringside at Kyoto!

May 6th

We thought we lost them all in the taxi that brought us back to the conference hall from the kimono shop the previous night, but thanks to the very considerate taxi driver who drove all the way back, we didn't have to make them all over again...

At 9 o'clock the next morning Solargeneration distributed the cherry blossom bookmarks along with artificial cherry blossoms to the delegates as they arrived for the Opening Session for the Board of Governors. We stood at the doorway and stopped them as they hurried in and handed over our little symbols to remind them of their duty towards the welfare of the future generations. Most of the delegates accepted them and some even wanted to choose the ones they liked best. This activity went our way as well...

At 2 o'clock the same day Greenpeace had organised a 'Love T-shirt' activity for which some of the Solargeneration members took part as well... each T-shirt with a message to the ADB was worn by two members as they stood outside the hall where the governors from the ADB member countries were meeting.But this activity was cut short as some of the japanese delegates were annoyed. After this activity we weren't allowed even close to that hall and security was tightened as though we were terrorists of some sort!!! We even had our own personal security guards!! The same activity was carried out the previous day as well but as security wasn't so tight it went on pretty well...

As we were done early and it was the last day that all of us were going to be together, we treated ourselves at a beautiful Japanese restaurant. The food was really good though some of us had a tough time with the chopsticks...

may 7th

After a lazy morning, the Solargeneration team made preparations for the next attack... this time as the world famous Japanese Sumo wrestlers... a few sessions of practice and we were good to go...

At the conference center, we handed out invitations to our 'Energy Sumo Wrestling Championships' to delegates from the countries that had the best statements with regard to the Solargeneration objectives. These were statements that were made at the first and second Business Sessions of the Governors the previous morning. Studying the statements the night before, our final judgemnet was easy because most of the countries had no regard for climate change at all. Their country's development was the only concern even if it comes at the cost of their environment and people.Tthe only few countries that put mitigation and adaptation to climate change and the need for change form dirty energy to clean and renewable energy as the most urgent of all requirements were the UK, Switzerland and Norway. And the worst country statement was from Japan who are seriously considering Nukes as the best way to combat climate change!!

We coulnd't invite the Japanese delegates for obvious reasons, though we wanted to present them with the award for the "Worst Country for Future Generations". We did invite the other award winners for the "Best Country for Future Generations". The Swiss delegates were the only ones who confirmed their presence since the other countries had prior commitments. The thrill and the excitement shown by the Swiss delegates took us by surprise. This is what one of the delegates had to say... "It is GREAT to see youth like you'll taking the initiative to make a difference without waiting for the Governments"

Once all set for the final Solargeneration activity of this AGM, the media was called and the Swiss delegates arrived as well. As our sumo wrestlers entered the scene there was a loud applause which aroused curiosity among people around the otherwise quiet conference center, getting more spectators than expected.

The wrestlers entered the ring and the match began with Mr.Coal, the reigning champion, winning the first round over the underdog, Mr.Renewables. But Mr.Renewables wouldn't give up so easily... he fought back with all his might... after a long and well fought battle, Mr.Renewables came out victorious!! But the championship wasn't his yet because he had another dangerous and powerful challenger, Mr.Nuclear. Though Mr.Nuclear put up a good fight Mr.Renewables was on a roll and wasn't prepared to give up his hard-won championship. Mr.renewables then awarded Switzerland with the award for the "Best Country for future generations".

The sumo wrestling championship was a great way of ending our campaign. We had good media coverage and the attention of a lot of people and most importantly we could complete our activity and make our messsage clear without having to end it midway. Though Solargeneration didn't make Governments take immediate action, we certainly did get them thinking.

Solar Generation Delhi

Delhi group of Solar Generation is taking its shape and became active even outside campuses. Last Saturday we got our volunteers (from Jawaharlal Nehru University,Kamla Nehru College,Miranda House) who joined the energy campaign team on streets to interact with people to spread the message 'Ban the bulb' and get petition signed.All of them were for the first time on street but their performance were excellent despite the Delhi heat.we managed to get 1800 signature in a single day and interacted with many more. Many of the students went back to their native places in differt parts of India where they will spread the message of 'Ban the bulb' and some will come back with photo story on 'Energy uses in their area'.

Bangkok SolarGeneration Skillshare Diary: Raju Ranjan New Delhi

Loma Resort
Today early morning at 5.30 am my Aeroplain landed in Swarnbhumi airport (Bangkok). It is a very big and clean airport .when I was doing my immigration enquiry I meet my Bangalore friend Inchara who is also participating in Solar generation skill share programme . After completing our immigration inquiry we came out of airport.
There we saw two Thai guys in solar generation t-shirt aged “between” 20-23 were waiting for us. They were waiting for us since 4.30 am. There name is confusing to me but I can remember one name of AA. He can speak English, any way around 8.30 am we reached Loma resort, and were we have to stay from 27 to 29 of April.
All the participants already arrived here and they were taking breakfast.
I meet with my new roommate Jeffrey, he is from Philippines.
After getting fresh all of us assembled in conference hall at 9 am. I missed my breakfast, but I was not feeling like hungry. Here Agnes started the programme.
After a brief introduction we went for tour of a river which is polluting because of many factories on the bank of river.
We were in a beautiful boat, it was very fun on boat , we played lots of game one game which we like most was PIPO game, in this game u have to act as a peacock and dance like a peacock .
After coming back we had taken our lunch in a beautiful canteen, it was my first Thai food and unfortunately I one of my German friend Lisa have eaten very hot chilly dish, which makes us full of sweat.
Again we assembled in conference hall here I meet with one Indian Green peace activist in Thailand SHAI or Shailendra. I feel proud.
In Afternoon Agnes and Abi has given the presentation and informed about further activity in between this four more participants from Indonesia joined us.
At Evening around seven we taken our dinner it was delicious I ate many sea foods.
It was quite good day, I am very tired and feeling sleepy. See u tomorrow
Loma resort
Today I wake up at 6.30 am it was a beautiful morning,
Our workshop started at 9 am with warm-up game named PEEPOO.
Agnes and Abi started the session with the topic on campaign.
FA is helping every one in this session in their presentation. At 10.15 am Philippines delegate Karla given the presentation, there after Germany and France delegates Lisa and Aurelie have given their presentation, thereafter Indian delegates from Hyderabad and Bangalore described about their works in country, at last I presented a bamboo gift of god Ganesh to Agnes and given a beautiful Madhubani painting of SUN which is made by a small girl of BIHAR and few stickers to solar generation workshop.
Every body likes that painting.
We started our workshop programme with group discussion and play on speaking with university president. In this programme one of my Chinese friend became the university president and I as a solar generation member going to talk him. I am happy because I was able to convince him.
Today I had taken lunch with my Chinese, and Thai and Philippines friends. It was delicious food no spices but hot and nutritious.
Afternoon session some media person and BBC broadcasting members were in between us. They participated in workshop programme and given us some tips on interviews and camera facing.
After this boost-up workshop we had a brain storm session on COP /MOP. At night we started creative activities which are a preparation for up coming events.
I am in hot spot visit activity. We are making banners and posters for IPCC meeting. YaYa is guiding us.
Till 1 am and we are not able compete our work because of few colors missing,
We planed to complete it tomorrow.
It is already late and tomorrow we have to do lots of work so good night………….
Loma resort
At 9am we started our work. After a group discussion we had started brain storm for next meeting in Bali
Again we have divided in four groups in my group I am along with Jeffrey from Philippines, Indonesian friend Christy and a Thai friend.
We had planned very interesting events for Bali. We wanted to start Bali meeting with beach party which can attract more public and officials.
After lunch we completed our painting works. YAYA and Abi were busy with their camera to make this event memorable.
At 6.00pm we left Loma resort with beautiful memories for Bangkok city in a hotel called Suan dusit place.
Luckily Jeffrey is my roomy here, he is very happy because there are few English channels also in cable.
After arriving we discussed on our tomorrows IPCC activity. We were divided into two groups who are going to meet high officials in ministry.
Inchara is going ministry of energy and resources and I am going ministry of environment and resources.
Tomorrow we have to meet Dr. Rajendra Pachouri who is famous among us on the name of Mr. P who is the head of IPCC also.
So it is very important day for us. Tomorrow we have to wake up early in the morning so see u bye bye….
Suan dusit place
Today we wake up early at 6 am and gathered in meeting room. It is raining; we have decided to leave at 8.30 am for UN building where IPCC meeting is going to be held.
I along with three Thai and one Indonesian girl were distributing pen wind mill with a pleasing smile to high officials who were coming for IPCC meeting.
While my other friends were standing with solar van to meet Dr. Pachouri in formal way with messages to save climate.
It was very interesting for me to speak Swaddee kha which means good morning and talk with high officials directly on the topic of global warming and presenting a gift of pen wind mill to them in between media person who were busy in making news report with this activity.
We had given this gift pen wind mill which is a message to use renewable source of energy to security personals as well as media person also.
Most of them accepted our gift but few of them who were seems to very busy they went directly inside some of media person passed comment in Thai on them.
Then Dr. Rajendra pachouri came there, again I felt proud on being Indian. We gave a pen wind mill to him also.
After this event we went to parliament there we meet ministers of parliament.
It was a good meeting between us we raised our question among them?
At last he invited Thai students to participate in parliament discussion. He has taken their email ids.
After this meeting we had divided in two groups one group went to meet ministry of energy and resources and my group went to ministry of environment.
There minister of environment welcomed us with snacks and tea. Thai student actively raised many question to him on the issue of global warming in their language but it was useless for me because he was speaking in Thai language.
By the way I also given my message to him but I am not sure whether he understand it or not.
After this session we went to parliament canteen where we had taken our lunch. I enjoyed Thai food in canteen..
And then we returned back
Now it is 5 pm. I am along with my Thai friends going near by area to make mast….!!!

Sunday, May 06, 2007


May 4th

Day number 1 started off with a panel discussion between ADB and the Civil Society Cooperation on the requirements in the development of adb's energy strategy. The rest of the day was more interesting with us working on the cherry blossom bookmarks and planning out activities for the next day.And the day ended with the grand reception and cultural event organised by the Kyoto committee. I shall go into details of each event now.


The panelists at the discussion were:
Bruce Murray, Director General, Operations Evaluation Department,ADB
Carl Middleton,South East Asian Campaigner,International Rivers Network
Zhao ang, Greenpeace China
Mika Ohbayashi,Director,Institute for Sustainable Energy Policy
Ana Maria Nemenzo,Freedom from Debt Coalition
Woochong Um,Director,Energy,Transport and Water Division,ADB

The discussion was attended by representatives of several ngos and the media was present as well. Minutes of the discussion can be read at www.adb.org/annualmeeting/2007

'CLEAN COAL'... What??!! Yes, this was one of the strategies put forth and strongly considered. All except Zhao ang from greenpeace,China, seemed to be in complete agreement with this. Zhao ang said he wanted to make something clear and stated "coal is dirty energy and can never be even considered clean"


The national flower of japan, the cherry blosssoms, bloom earlier each year due to the effect of global warming. We used these as a symbol to represent disturbed ecosystems all over the world.These were to be handed out to the Governors and other delegates as they arrive for the Opening Session for the Board of Directors, thereby giving us an opportunity to speak to them on taking action on climate change to safeguard our future and the generations to come.


This was a dinner party organised by the host country. Solargeneration and Greenpeace decided to keep a low profile, joining the rest in the ELABORATE dinner. We did get to speak to a lot of the guests and they seemed very interested in what we had to say about our aims and our actions.

May 5th


I can confidently say "we all looked beautiful"... six solargeneration delegates strolled down the aisle in the Japanese traditional wear, the 'KIMONO', at the dinner reception organised by ADB President Kuroda.

Walking around elegantly in the Kimono, we did not fail to catch the attention of every single person at the reception.

As we shook hands with the president we made our message clear by opening out the fans we carried, which read 'adb quit coal' and 'clean energy now'. Though the president was annoyed,if i may say so,he was pretty much helpless.

Rest of the evening we walked around in 3's making our message clear. Camera flashes nearly blinded us with people wanting a picture with the multinational 'japanese' girls.

The guests and delegates, all equally impressed came up to us saying 'impressive work' and 'nice tactic'. Some even saying 'yes,so no more power plants'... but we all know how much they actually meant it...though we can always remain positive.

And the whole experience?? Way beyond words!!! To begin with, it was a 5 HOUR job to get dressed!! And another 5 hours in front of the cameras? Even more tedious.But the feeling of being dressed in Japan's most celebrated and prestigious traditional outfit and all the attention... no words can describe that...
We also had delegates from Turkey and Kazakistan and the presidents of some other banks appreciating our work saying "Atleast the youth are taking action and not waiting for their governments." The response on the whole was really good. Though our messge may not necessarily be put into action immediately, they were crystal clear and did leave a lasting impression

We were the Solargeneration 'MAIKO' girls with a very strong message... 'ADB QUIT COAL' and 'CLEAN ENERGY NOW'

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bearing Witness, Bangkok

Don't drown our future:
On the first day of May, Greenpeace staff and volunteers and 36 members of SolarGeneration went to the coastal community at Khun Samutchine in Samut Prakan Province, Thailand to bear witness to the impacts of sea level rise, erosion and storm surges which threatens the fishing villages and mangrove ecosystem.
Bearing banners that say "Save the Climate" and "Don't Drown our Future" as well as individual messages on climate change and renewable energy, SolarGeneration members from 7 countries (China, France, Germany, India, Thailand, Philippines) also visited the Buddhist temple in the community that today is partly claimed by the sea. The team also had a chance to talk to Samorn Knegsamut (the village chief) and one of the Buddhist monks that is now protecting the temple.Along with our team were IPS, Reuters, EPA and Bankok Post. paper on our trip. We're all muddy and tired but the 1 hour treck to the area was worth it.

Solargeneration Kiosk, Bangkok

Bangkok, THAILAND — “The message is clear: we must choose clean and safe energy solutions--anything else is a betrayal to the earth’s future generations.” Greenpeace and SolarGeneration youth issued this challenge to world governments today as they presented renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions at the opening of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group III meeting held today in Bangkok.
Solar Generation spoke out as they met wth IPCC Chair Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, a special guest at their SolarGeneration kiosk just outside the meeting venue at the UN Convention Center. Dr Pachauri addressed the students, representing youth from Thailand, India, Indonesia, Philippines, China, Germany, and France, and acknowledged the importance of youth involvement on climate change issues.“The only climate change solutions we want are those that will guarantee a safer and better future. Our governments should not consider proposals which will do more harm than good,” said Karla de Guia, a SolarGeneration member from the Philippines. “We believe that renewable energy is the only perfect solution.”The IPCC meets in Bangkok to discuss policy recommnedations to mitigate climate change. The report will be made public at the end of the meeting on Thursday. Various press agencies have reported that options expected to be presented in the meeting will range from energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy to dangerous and untested technologies such as nuclear and carbon capture and storage.