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Happy Holidaze and Farewell for Now December 29, 2009

Posted by Julie in astroturf, bonner and associates, cejapa, chamber of commerce, climate bill, copenhagen, G20, obama to copenhagen, tcktcktck.
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Copenhagen has passed and the Action Factory has packed up, moved out, and dispersed. This just might be the last post on our blog for a while.

In the end, we did not get nearly what we had hoped for — neither a US Senate climate bill, nor a binding international climate treaty.


…perhaps we can claim just a little credit for helping push Obama to go to Copenhagen? After all, we did give him a plane ticket for his birthday. And we gave him some flack when he went there to try to get the Olympics.

…Or how about for influencing Arlen Specter’s far-from-certain EPW committee vote after we chased him in a SurvivaBall herd, all the way from the capitol into the Hart Office Building?

…Or for making Jack Bonner of Bonner and Ass. look like a real idiot when we shook his hand while wearing Astroturf suits at a House Commitee hearing, much to the delight of Congressman Ed Markey…

…And there was also that time we crashed a press conference being held by Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravestahl prior to the G20 summit at the National Press Club. Before the G20 summit even began, we dominated the media cycle by asserting our first amendment rights and demanding strong climate action from world leaders. Then we continued to make news once in Pittsburgh with our Global Climate Wake-Up Call (the first link is hilarious, btw)

… And finally, I suppose we can claim credit for the defection of a major paper company from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It happened just 1 day after we successfully pulled off an elaborate spoof press conference with the Yes Men in which we temporarily reversed the Chamber’s backward stance on climate policy. We may have even provoked the Chamber to dig itself into an even deeper hole and sue some of us… gee, that would make them look real bad… hmm…. oh wait, we did. The Chamber also sent a letter to Senators Boxer and Inhofe not long after our stunt, trying to play nice guy and directly assert supposed (feigned?) support for climate legislation, an act which Senator Kerry suggested would be a “Nixon to China” moment, if the Chamber really meant it.

All in all, we had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends. We generated hundreds of media hits highlighting the dire need for climate action, and these were undoubtedly seen by hundreds of thousands. We hope that through our actions, we have inspired and will continue to inspire many, many more actions.

Here are three nuggets of DC action wisdom:

1. Crash other events for media attention

2. Being ridiculous is fun and can actually put pressure on elected officials

3. The bottom of the reflecting pool is slippery – enter boldly, but carefully and everything will work out fine.

The Action Factory may be over, but our work is far from complete. In the final hours of the Copenhagen conference, a handful of countries – including Tuvalu, Bolivia, and Venezuela – made statements strongly opposing the undemocratic accord, which is essentially a death sentence for many low-lying countries. When one nation’s “unprecedented breakthrough” is another’s death sentence, something is clearly not right. That’s why in 2010 many of us will stay engaged with battles and creative actions in the Coal River Valley, within the US Senate, at the US Chamber of Commerce and elsewhere. Avaaz as an organization will take on the Chamber directly. We hope you will join us for the long haul — not just because it matters, or because the future of our planet depends on it, but because it is FUN.

Thanks to all of you who have been along for the ride – it’s been a pretty wild one. See you in the streets.


Monsanto Refuses Angry Mermaid Award December 18, 2009

Posted by sam daly in astroturf, climate bill, copenhagen, oilsands.
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The seas are swirling with mermaids’ fury against Monsanto and the corporate criminals who sabotaged the Copenhagen climate process. Mermaids know no borders. They swam it all the way to DC Wednesday to share their anger with the 3 winners of the “Angry Mermaid Awards“.

We at the DC Climate Action Factory teamed up with a delegation of irate Danish anthrofishies and hit the frozen streets of K and I: global corporate lobby ground zero. It’s from here that climate criminals and climate profiteers staged their war to infiltrate and cripple the climate legislation that so many saw as the lynchpin for progress towards a real deal at the COP. Naturally, this place is home to the Angry Mermaid Award winners.

First stop we hit it was API, the American Petroleum Institute. API came in at 3rd place in global interweb polling of over 10,000 homo sapiens sapiens and mermaids. API’s lobbying war chest weighed in at $4.1 million this year. Beyond the beltway, they fielded a mercenary astroturf army, lobbing lies at congresspeople and directing climate coverage in corporate media. All to perpetuate the fossil fuel economy that’s devastating the planet and threatening mermaids, humans, and everyone else who depends on natural temperatures and stable ecosystems.

Apparently someone tipped them off, because we arrived to find the API entrance caution-taped. But nay, no length of ribbon could thwart our MERMAID FUNK ARMADA. We triumphed in delivering a 5ft. Angry Mermaid award inside the building despite heavy resistance from the astroturf army sentinels who tried in vain to blockade the entrance.

But that’s all for another video. And so is our daring ascent up the highest steeple in the Church of Shell Oil, Jorma Ollila’s sustainable tar sands spa. Yes, we bested them too, the 2nd place winners. But that is also for another video. This is a 3-part series.

What we can share is this: Exclusive footage of a daring fin and foot dance attack on Monsanto castle, 1st prize winners. We were victorious in our goal of decorating Monsanto’s terrific genetically modified Christmas tree with a life-size Mermaid trophy. But, alas, there were casualties on our side. Chalk another up for the murderous behemoth that is Monsanto.

Monsanto is at the head of the corporate climate profiteers‘ counter-evolution, undermining sustainable technology by lobbying for false solutions to the CO2 emissions crisis. Monsanto’s prime false solution is leading the proprietary GMO biofuel monoculture empire. Similarly, Shell and API champion Carbon Capture technology and unconventional extraction like the Alberta Tar Sands project.

Alongside the false solutions scam, the Angry Mermaid winners feed from another common trough: government subsidies for carbon-intensive economic sectors. All three winners benefit from fossil fuel, factory-farming, and military-industrial subsidies. The related industrial sectors, transport, industrial agriculture, dirty energy, manufacturing, and war, comprise the greatest emitters in the second-worse emitting country in the world.

As people who depend on the land and water ecosystems in the United States and depend on the same oceans and atmosphere, we share in the rage of the angry mermaids. Thus the uncompromising beat of our global MERMAID FUNK ARMADA. We are unstoppable. And as with all things unstoppable, more action is on the way.

The Angry Mermaid Award is organised by ATTAC Denmark, Corporate Europe Observatory, Focus on the Global South, Friends of the Earth International, Oilchange International and Spinwatch.

Here’s another DC Delivery by the Organic Consumers Association

Who’s making the climate bill a clown show? October 27, 2009

Posted by Morgan in climate bill, copenhagen.
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Opening hearing at the Environment and Public Works committee on the Kerry-Boxer climate bill. Left to right. Drew Veysey, American University, Caitlin Giblin, SustainUS, Tom Owens, Carrolltown, PA, Avaaz Action Factory Morgan Goodwin, Keene, NY, Avaaz Action Factory Sarah Murphy, Peterburough, NH, Avaaz Action Factory

The Action Factory greeted senators and press to the kick-off of the EPW hearings on the climate bill with Halloween costumes and a timely message: Trick or Treaty.  This is about a climate treaty, and senators need to see young people calling for not just a strong climate bill, but a global climate treaty in Copenhagen.

One Senator in particular had a problem with us turning this process into a clown show, and he should know, he’s very good at it.  Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma is worried that our presence demeans the process.

I’m sorry Senator Inhofe, with all due respect, we’ve watched you make this process a circus for years, and we’re sick and tired of it.

As I write this, our allies on the EPW committee are passionately making the case for clean energy jobs, climate solutions and owning up to the responsibility we face.  Even though we didn’t get into the hearing (even folks who showed up at 6am were shut out by lobbyists paying line-standers), we made it clear that we’re here, we’re invested in this process, and we’re going to push for more.

Many in the media and even in environmental organizations are pessimistic about the prospects for a treaty in Copenhagen.  But they don’t know what this movement can do.  We had the largest day of international grassroots action ever.  On Saturday, over 5,000 events in virtually every single country convened to call for a science based target.  Rep. Markey was in Copenhagen last weekend meeting with lawmakers from all over the world, and he returned with progress and an  optimism that the global process will move forward well.

Action Alert: Call Senators for Climate Funding October 20, 2009

Posted by Morgan in climate bill, copenhagen, International Adaptation, tcktcktck.
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Its been a pretty busy week for us.  Running around DC to help the Yes Men with some amazing activism, and helping to get the word out about the Survivaball.  On top of that, we’re helping to run a call-in campaign to senators for stronger international provisions in the climate bill – so that SurvivaBalls aren’t necessary.  Read on and make a phone call!

Right now, US Senators are meeting behind closed doors to negotiate the contents of America’s first serious attempt to address climate change. With critical UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen mere weeks away, the fate of a fair, ambitious, and binding global climate treaty hangs in the balance.
Two key provisions of the bill would fund developing countries’ efforts to adapt to climate change and bypass a dirty-energy economy. These efforts are crucial to the global negotiations [1] — but now they’re under fire from the fossil fuel lobby as it seeks to line its pockets with taxpayer money.

{state}’s Senator {name} is on the Senate Finance committee, which could announce its climate finance proposal any day now. Let’s flood the committee’s phone lines to demand that Congress fully fund international climate adaptation and technology transfer.

Call Senator at (202) 224-3121 now to tell them:

  1. The Senate Finance Committee must allocate 5% of the revenue from carbon trading to international adaptation — to save lives by helping poor countries cope with climate change caused by countries like the US.
  2. The Committee should also allocate 5% of the bill’s revenue to international clean tech transfer, to make a global treaty possible and avoid other countries taking the same high-pollution road we’ve been on.
  3. Funding for climate adaptation and clean tech transfer must be additional to existing aid money — not taken away from urgent priorities like fighting AIDS and providing clean water.

And then report your call by clicking here:


A recent study found that 300,000 people already die every year from climate change, and the health and livelihoods of hundreds of millions more are affected [2]. Meanwhile, over the last century, the United States has emitted more carbon than all the world’s developing countries combined [3]. Developing countries need climate funding both out of simple fairness–and in order to reach the treaty we all need.

A year ago, when Bush was still in office, we could only have dreamed of being so close to a strong global climate treaty that specific provisions of a US Senate bill would be the biggest obstacle. It took millions of calls and letters, thousands of individual meetings and one of the largest days of action the world has yet seen to get us here.

We’re not done yet, but if we can keep these negotiations on track we can start to see the outlines of history — the story we can tell our grandchildren about how we fought for, and won, a planet they can still enjoy.

With hope,

Ben, Taren, Iain, Ricken, David, Morgan, and the Avaaz US Climate Action Factory team

Shell Chairman and the Chamber of B.S. October 16, 2009

Posted by carolynauw in chamber of commerce, climate bill, copenhagen.
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Yesterday the Action Factory greeted Royal Dutch Shell’s Chairman Jorma Ollila at the National Press Club’s newsmaker luncheon.  He promised to discuss “energy and the need for worldwide action to address climate change in advance of international climate talks in Copenhagen,” but we just got a lot of hot air and a tummy ache.  And we called him out on it a couple times.

Actually, the real reason Ollila was speaking is because he‘s the new chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a CEO-led group of 200 companies that encourages sustainable development.  That translated to a speech filled with rhetoric about businesses being good corporate citizens and that if government would lead on climate change, business would provide back up.  Sounds good, except that Congress has been working hard on climate legislation for the past several months and the Chamber of Commerce has been pouring money into stopping it.

Ahhh, yes, the Chamber.  This was the real reason we bought an overpriced lunch, and I personally sat through 30 minutes of small talk with five American Petroleum Institute cronies.

Back in August, Bill Kovacs, the Chamber’s VP of Environment, Technology & Regulatory Affairs, called for a “Scopes Monkey Trial” on climate change, horrifying many of the Chamber’s members with such an extreme talking point.  Since then, four companies have resigned in protest – Exelon, PG&E, PNM Resources, and Apple  – while Nike left its position on the board of directors.  Many others have publicly stated that the Chamber does represent them on climate change (for the full round-up, see Pete Altman’s blog on NRDC’s website here.)

USCAP, on the other hand, is a group of businesses advocating for a “mandatory, flexible climate program” including cap and trade and other market-based carbon reduction regulation and incentives.  And guess who’s a member?  You guessed it – Shell.

This contradiction led us to scribble down a pretty obvious question to Ollila for the Q&A, which was so obvious, in fact, that seven people asked the same question (despite the room being packed with industry types).

Happily for us, it was our expertly phrased question read aloud to Ollila (starts at 50:30):

“Shell is a member of both USCAP and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, groups with opposing agendas on climate legislation and on Copenhagen.  Does the Chamber of Commerce speak for Shell when they lobby against climate legislation?”

Starting with a “mmmm, yeah . . . how did I guess it might be this one,” Ollila proved he didn’t prep very well despite the anticipation.  After his long, drawn-out answer, the nugget was this: although Shell won’t leave the Chamber or any trade association over one issue like this,

“that has to be coupled with a situation where everybody transparently knows that we disagree with the view and this is exactly happening . . . that there is a disagreement between Shell’s position and in this case, the Chamber position.”

It was good to hear Ollila publicly acknowledge that difference but something still rankled.  In the course of the Q&A, Ollila answered another question with the gem that “as a businessman during the past 30 years, I have learned to trust more on the actions than the talk.”

So how are we supposed to trust this talk when Shell’s Chamber dues are still paying for lobbyists to obstruct climate legislation?

We tracked him down for some further clarification.  Watch our video for that exchange as well as his first answer during the formal Q&A.

Of course Shell will continue to spout feel-good doublespeak on climate change while not following talk with action. In particular, its commitment to extracting every last drop of oil from the Canadian tar sands comes to mind.  But one thing is certain — the Chamber of Commerce is an increasingly irrelevant group that doesn’t speak for its members.

And making that painfully clear was well worth the tummy ache.

Hey Senate: Fund International Adaptation October 15, 2009

Posted by Morgan in climate bill.
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Hey Senate! Yeah, you, the guys behind the big desk! Look at our big signs that say “Global Treaty Now” and “Fund International Adaptation” And whatever you do, don’t listen to the hack from the American Enterprise Institute!

Today Senator Menendez (D-NJ) hosted a Foreign Relations sub-committee hearing specifically on international adaptation. Four of the 5 panelists spoke very highly of the need for the US to get on board with the rest of world and fund adaptation, listing reasons like the moral humanitarian obligation, the security obligation, and mostly the political necessity of having bargaining power in Copenhagen. See my post yesterday on why this is a huge part of a global deal.

Mr. Kenneth Green of the American Enterprise Institute, everyone’s favorite partner in making the world a better place, was there, touting his worn out and contradictory market approaches to solving climate change. And we were right there behind him, wearing snorkels. When we asked him afterward if he wanted one of the snorkels, as a free-market, personal approach to climate resilience, he considered taking one, then replied that he already had a personal flotation device built-in and patted his stomach. I’m glad he’s thinking ahead.

Some highlights:

Green: I don’t like these adaptation projects. I’m more of the opinion that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.
Oxfam and ActionAID: Most of the programs we’re talking about – drip irrigation, floating gardens, etc. are about teaching people how to be more resilient.

Green: I don’t think migration is a bad thing. We want people to move out of risky areas with less chance of drought or flooding.
Crowd, in their heads: Where are they going to move to?

Green: We should giving poor countries our expertise and advice, not building things for them or giving them supplies.
Menendez: So even if we’re going to give them ‘advice’ we need a way to do that, and that costs money. Lets agree, as a foundational question, that we’re going to have to spend some money here.

Luckily, Senator Menendez wasn’t having any of the shenanigans. Senators Cardin and Shaheen both had a great grasp of the realities about getting a climate treaty in Copenhagen. Too bad they had to drag out the side-show of AEI. But when there’s the need to call attention to something stupid going on, Ac Fac is there!