Our bank re-branding actions were carried out in solidarity with climate camp activists in Montreal who were confronting representatives of dirty industries at a World Energy Congress. Here in Ontario we targetted RBC, the leading financier of tar sands operations in Alberta — the most destructive and unsustainable project on earth. Other major Canadian banks have much the same blood on their hands, so making an example of RBC is just a strategic way of pressing for wider changes among the big banks. Activists also have targetted RBC in other parts of the country, and that common target has helped with getting together a little solidarity between our groups.
Here in London (Ontario), our messages about RBC and climate justice were up on RBC’s street signs for at least a day. Our “global warming crime scene” tape didn’t hold out for nearly as long, but we were able to recover most of it after it was torn down.
The climatejustice.tk web address we taped onto RBC’s signs and ATM pointed people to our web site, where there is information about how RBC “KILLS”. A quick street message can’t give much information in itself, but a web address can offer some background.
Absentee managers and owners leave easy corporate property targets for us.
The skull image that we taped to RBC’s sign is a symbol of mining industry piracy. This skull is a variation on part of a pirate Canadian flag that mining campaigners had brought to the Quebec climate camp in August. They made their pirate flag to point out how companies based in Canada are world leaders in mining operations (with loads of foreign investments). Here in Ontario, our pirate image was used to re-brand the local RBC headquarters. Since the tar sands are a mining operation, RBC has a major hand in mining industry looting and pillaging.
The French button also is from the August climate camp in Dunham, Quebec. The button reads ‘Change the system! Not the climate!’.
Here is a video of our re-branding of the local headquarters.
The main campaign around the climate camp is a way of blocking tar sands expansion, while helping out local victims, at the same time. The pipeline project cuts across Maine, Quebec, Ontario, Michigan, Illinois, and other surrounding areas — so there are plenty of points of intervention, and plenty of grounds for solidarity.
These photo sets are from the “convergence days” between August 18th and August 22nd.
In the first photo there are signs that say ‘No dirty oil in our territory’ and ‘climate action camp’ (in French). The banners in other photos say ‘Change the system, not the climate’ (in French), ‘stop the wave of destruction’ (in French), “CO2lonialism”, and ‘Change the system! Not the climate!’ “Trailbreaker = Tar sands”.
UK Climate Campers have said this on Twitter (in their “bio” statement) -
“It’s time to show our ‘leaders’ how we’re going to take action to reduce emissions ourselves. Because it’s business as usual at Copenhagen.”
“Canadians increasingly live in a confusion of values. A 2008 survey by the Globe and Mail found that while 79 percent of respondents said the tar sands are good for Alberta and Canada, more than half of those respondents (55 percent) said that the sands were not good for the environment. The obvious contradiction can be justified only by minimizing or disconnecting oneself from the importance of [natural environments]. The problem is that global warming and the rapid dying out of species makes this level of self-deception increasingly dangerous.”
This Diggers’ Song video was posted during the summer Climate Camp in England -
With that song, these Climate Campers have affiliated themselves with previous attempts to share and maintain “a common treasury for all” — which some simply would describe as a “commons.”
Like the Diggers, the Climate Campers rally around common environments — protected or claimed through civil disobedience, and other activism. At a very basic level, their goals and tactics are similar.
But the Climate Camps and the Diggers have approached these common environments from different angles. While the Climate Campers have been more inclined to approach fields as meeting places, and as launching-off points for nearby protests, the Diggers attempted to claim lands that could be farmed in common. They mainly were after agricultural lands which they might have used to sustain farming collectives. Food concerns have not been central at Climate Camps, but food issues are not completely off the ‘map’ at Climate Camps either — as this Climate Camp TV video about fruit smoothies indicates. Yet, as Climate Campers have focused on greenhouse gases, and on other fossil fuel pollution released into our common atmosphere, it seems that they haven’t devoted much attention to emissions from industrial agriculture, and other mainstream food systems. (Here is a post that addresses interconnections between food systems and greenhouse gas emissions — approached through generalized statistical estimates.)
I’m raising those points about distinct focuses and limitations to compare the two approaches to common environments.