We discussed four things: climate demonstrations, the esf program, the environmental impact of the esf itself, and an environmental village.
There were demonstrations against climate change on December 3 in many countries around the world. In Europe there were demonstrations or rallies in Finland, Russia, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Italy, Norway, England and Scotland. There were 10,000 people in London, 4,000 in Turkey, and in most of the other places the demonstration may have been small, but it was the largest ever climate demonstration in that country, and the organizers were pleased.
The meeting agreed to support the idea of global demonstrations again this year, probably on Saturday 11 November 2006, the same time as the UN climate talks in Nairobi. We want to make the ESF in Athens a major focus for organizing these demonstrations.
Finally, we agreed on a European climate activists meeting to extend the organizing of demonstrations in Europe in November. This meeting will happen parallel to the next preparatory meeting of the esf, in Frankfurt, at 14.00 – 18.00 on Saturday 4 March.
The ESF program and events
The main thing we saw in the program is that there are not yet nearly enough meetings proposed on environmental issues. There are a few meetings on climate. But nothing, or almost nothing, on water, air pollution, waste, biodiversity, forestry, nuclear power and many other issues. So we will try to contact all the organizations we can and encourage them to propose meetings. We cannot make more decisions about meetings until more are proposed.
To propose a meeting, all you have to do is go to the website, www.fse-esf.org, and follow the directions for first registering your organization and them proposing meetings. If you have several other organizations you want to propose a meeting with jointly, that is good. But if you are only one organization, and would like partners to work with, you can propose a meeting and the esf process will try to find you other organizations to put the meeting on with as partners.
For the big meeting organized by the Greeks on the environment there were two proposals. A majority of the meeting supported a meeting on the Environment, Globalisation and Resistance. A minority wanted a meeting only on Climate Change. We all agreed that we wanted a mass bicycle ride in protest at climate change as part of the event.
Finally, we agreed to support what looked like very good meetings proposed by the municipalities of two towns in Turkey, where the Ilusu dam and another dam will destroy the environment and many homes if they go ahead.
Environmental impact of the ESF
We are concerned about the environmental impact of the ESF itself. We want the Greek organizers to have an eye to this, to try to put on an event with the least possible environmental impact, and to report to the next EPA how they are accomplishing this.
But we agreed that the most important impact of the ESF would be many thousands of people flying to Athens and putting carbon into the air. There was a long discussion what to do about this. Finally we decided to recommend that anyone coming from 800 km or less away try to use bus, rail or ferry.
For Athens itself this matters only in Greece, as other places are further away. But for future EPAs there may be many who could come in this way.
We will try to put information up on the website telling people how to come to Greece by road, rail and ferry, avoiding air, even if they are coming from further.
We wanted an environmental village at the ESF, where the environmental NGOs could all have stalls.