Planet Watch
Chiquitania

Podcast: climate change and the global struggle III

In Episode 151 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes a tellingly ironic juxtaposition of simultaneous news stories: the COP27 global climate summit in Egypt and the World Cup games in Qatar—where mega-scale stadium air-conditioning betrays the fundamental unseriousness of our civilization in addressing the impending climate apocalypse. The COP27 agreement for a “loss and damage” fund stopped short of demands for climate reparations—a critical question for island nations that stand to disappear beneath the waves, flood-devastated Pakistan, and indigenous peoples of the fire-ravaged Bolivian Amazon. Petro powers like Russia and Saudi Arabia formed a bloc to bar any progress on limiting further expansion of oil and gas exploitation, while the Ukrainian delegation called for a boycott of Moscow’s hydrocarbons, and pointed to the massive ecological toll of Russia’s war of aggression. Meanwhile, the world population reached 8 billion, providing an excuse for groups like PopulationMatters to proffer the Malthusian fallacy even as the rate of population growth is actually slowing. Worldwide indigenous and peasant resistance to hydrocarbon exploitation points to a revolutionary answer to the crisis. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: Bolivian campesino volunteer fire-fighter. Credit: Claudia Belaunde via Mongabay)

Planet Watch
Tuvalu

Imperiled Tuvalu to become first ‘digital nation’

Tuvalu, the Pacific island nation beset both by rising sea levels and extreme drought, used the COP27 climate summit to announce that it will move to the so-called metaverse. “As our land submerges, we have no choice but to become the world’s first digital nation,” Simon Kofe, Tuvalu’s foreign affairs minister, said in a pre-recorded address from TeAfualiku islet—likely one of the first places in Tuvalu to sink beneath the waves in the coming years. “Piece by piece, we’ll preserve our country, provide solace to our people, and remind our children and our grandchildren what our home once was,” Kofe said. Tuvalu has indeed taken early steps to explore its digital survival under worst-case scenarios. But the overarching message is clear as world leaders emerge from another summit with still-gaping questions on climate action: “Only concerted global effort can ensure that Tuvalu does not move permanently online, and disappear from the physical plane,” Kofe said. (Image via Pixabay)

East Asia
Paiwan

Taiwan expands rights for indigenous peoples

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, speaking at an Indigenous Rights Forum in Taipei held to mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day, pledged new measures to protect and promote the languages, cultures and territorial rights of the island nation’s Aboriginal communities. Tsai noted that the new Indigenous Peoples Basic Act seeks to bring Taiwanese law and policy into conformity with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and calls for re-assigning the country’s place names to reflect Aboriginal languages. Her office has established a Transitional Justice Committee to oversee implementation of the law in collaboration with Aboriginal communities. (Photo: President Tsai on visit to harvest festival of the Paiwan and Rukai peoples, Sandimen township, Pingtung county, via Wikipedia)

Planet Watch
Pulau Pari

Indonesian islanders sue corporation over climate change

Four residents of the Indonesian island of Pulau Pari filed a lawsuit against Swiss cement giant Holcim over the effects of climate change on the island. Swiss Church Aid (HEKS), the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the Indonesian Forum for Environment (WALHI) are backing the suit brought in the Swiss courts. The residents claim that climate change has caused rising tides and devastating floods. HEKS warns that the island will be underwater by 2050 if nothing changes. According to a study from the University of Massachusetts, Holcim is the 48th biggest global polluter. A report from the Climate Accountability Institute finds that Holcim emitted seven billion tons of CO2 from 1950 to 2021—more than twice as much as the entire country of Switzerland. Said one plaintiff: “If Pari is submerged, where are we to go, where are we to live?” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Oceania
Vanuatu

Coalition backs Vanuatu case on climate justice

Some 1,500 advocacy groups from over 130 countries have formed a global alliance to support a Vanuatu government proposal seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on climate change. The government plans to put the proposal to the UN General Assembly for a vote later this year. Prime Minister Bob Loughman said the Pacific Island nations can’t survive if rich corporations and governments continue to put profits ahead of people and the planet. Addressing members of the new International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion (ICJAO) coalition, he said: “The climate crisis is a human rights crisis. Civil society and friends, this is not a crisis that I or my people will continue to accept; not before we have done everything within our powers to stop it. We, the smallest nations of the world do have power.” (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Oceania
new caledonia

China factor in New Caledonia anti-independence vote

In what was supposed to be a third and final referendum on the matter, voters in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia rejected independence by an overwhelming 96%. But the vote was this time boycotted by the pro-independence forces, who vowed to carry on the struggle. Coverage of the vote uniformly stressed fears by the métros (recent arrivals from France) of Chinese designs on the archipelago—and especially its mineral resources. The indigenous Kanak population, reduced to a minority after more than 150 years of French colonization, largely observed the boycott, and appeared to view Chinese designs as (at the very least) no worse than French. (Map via Geology.com)

Oceania
Free West Papua

Indonesia: ‘treason’ charges over West Papua flag

Indonesian police arrested eight Papuan university students on charges of treason for raising the banned “Morning Star” flag at a demonstration for the independence of the West Papua region. The demonstration took place in Jayapura, capital of Papua province. The region, comprising the contemporary provinces of Papua and West Papua, was liberated from Dutch colonial rule on Dec, 1, 1963 now considered by Papuans to be their “independence day.” Following a UN-sanctioned referendum, the region fell under Indonesian rule in 1969. But an independence movement rejects the referendum as illegitimate, and has adopted the flag as a symbol of West Papuan sovereignty. Independence activist Felip Karma served an 11-year sentence for raising the outlawed flag. (Photo of Melbourne protest via Wikipedia)

Planet Watch
countervortex

Podcast: the countervortex of global resistance II

In Episode 100 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses recent uprisings in two disparate parts of the world—the South Pacific archipelago nation of the Solomon Islands and two of the states that have emerged from the former Yugoslavia. In both cases, people who were pissed off for damn good reason took to the streets to oppose foreign capital, and corrupt authoritarian leaders who do its bidding. But in the Solomon Islands, popular rage was deflected into campism and ethnic scapegoating, while in Serbia and Kosova the people on the ground actually overcame entrenched and bitter ethnic divisions to make common cause against common oppressors. The contrast holds lessons for global protest movements from Hong Kong to New York City. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Oceania
solomon islands

Solomon Islands uprising in the New Cold War

Australia has dispatched some 100 police and military troops to the Solomon Islands following days of rioting and looting in the capital Honiara. Calling for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to resign, protesters set the parliament building ablaze, and torched and looted shops, causing millions of dollars in damages. The looting centered on the city’s Chinatown, where three charred bodies have been found amid the ruins. Tensions between Guadalcanal and Malaita islanders have been enflamed by massive Chinese capital flows into the former island, while the latter remains comparatively impoverished. The two provincial governments are bitterly at odds over Sogavare’s recent decision to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the People’s Republic. (Map: University of Texas Libraries)

Oceania
Nauru

Pact indefinitely keeps open ‘Australia’s Gitmo’

A new memorandum of understanding was signed allowing Australia to continue to indefinitely detain asylum seekers at a facility on the Pacific island of Nauru. Since 2012, asylum seekers arriving by boat have been barred from settlement in Australia and sent to offshore detention centers instead. The deal extending use of the Nauru facility comes just as the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) finally reached an agreement to close the contentious Manus Island Regional Processing Center, which was found to be illegal by the PNG Supreme Court in 2016. Most of those held there are now to be transferred to Nauru. Both the Manus Island and Nauru facilities have been criticized by rights groups as “Australia’s Guantánamo.” (Photo of Nauru facility via Wikipedia)

Oceania
Vanuatu

Vanuatu seeks ICJ opinion on climate justice

The South Pacific nation Vanuatu announced its intention to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the right of future generations to be protected from the consequences of climate change. Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Bob Loughman warned that the climate crisis is “increasingly eluding the control of individual national governments,” and stressed the need for a global solution. The announcement set out his government’s plan to coordinate the efforts of Pacific Island states and other vulnerable nations to seek clarification on the legal duties of large emitters of greenhouse gases. (Photo: David Cobbin via NUPI)

Oceania
rapanui

Inter-American panel to hear Rapa Nui land claim

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) agreed to hear a complaint against the state of Chile brought by the Rapa Nui indigenous people of Easter Island, demanding recovery of their ancestral lands. The complaint accuses Chile of numerous violations of the American Convention on Human Rights, citing Article 4 on the right to life, Article 12 on freedom of conscience and religion, Article 21 on property rights, and Article 25 on judicial protection. More than 70% of traditional Rapa Nui lands are now classified as “state lands,” from which the island’s indigenous inhabitants are effectively excluded—causing “irremediable damage” to their way of life and autonomy. The complaint charges that this constitutes a violation of the 1888 Acuerdo de Voluntades (Consent Agreement), under which the Rapa Nui accepted Chilean sovereignty. (Photo: DebatesIndigenas)