Greenpeace – Yes Men spoof newspaper declares climate deal

Feature story - 18 June, 2009
Readers of a free copy of the International Herald Tribune in Brussels today may have done a double take when they saw headlines like “Markets Soar on News of Copenhagen Climate Deal” and “Atmosphere Named World Heritage Site.” That’s because the newspaper, datelined six months into the future, was brought to them by Greenpeace and the Yes Men.

Greenpeace distributes 35,000 copies of spoof International Herald Tribune in Brussels.

Unbeknownst to the folks over at the International Herald Tribune, we created the hopeful hoax and distributed 50,000 copies of the paper outside of metro stops and street cafes in major cities from New York to Beijing to Brussels. (Along with a complimentary copy and a bottle of champagne to the chief editor of the real International Herald Tribune) 

The headline read "Heads of State Agree Historic Climate Saving Deal."  So maybe we haven't actually seen our leaders stand up and take responsibility for leading the global community in the fight to a climate deal; we can't help but ask ourselves "Why not?"

Thousands of journalists gathering in the European Council building in Brussels were audibly chuckling as they awaited the news of the real outcome of discussions today, concerning how much money, if any, the EU will be putting on the table to help poor countries adapt to and mitigate the consequences of climate change.  According to the fictitious paper, the breakthrough moment enabling the December 2009 climate deal came today, when EU leaders broke the negotiation deadlock and agreed "US$ 50 billion (Euro 35 billion) for climate protection measures in developing countries."

Can't change the science? Change the politics!

The paper is an optimistic fairy tale of how our leaders set aside their national interests and work together to save the climate.  It's a story made of  satire and hope, about how civil society forced a new direction, and politicians responded to public protests around the globe demanding that world leaders do the right thing for the planet.  It tells the inspiring story of a climate deal that forced ambitious cuts in global carbon emissions, an end to deforestation and a fund for climate protection measures in the developing world.  It's a story that we want to come true, and a story you, dear reader, can help make happen

Check out the paper online or download the PDF

Less talk, more action

The real news is not so good. Negotiators are leaving meeting after meeting with little or no progress towards a climate deal that tackles climate change. The science demands that, as a group, developed countries  cut emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. So far they have offered - at most - 15 percent. Unless they raise their game considerably over the next six months, the world will be heading for a global temperature rise of 3° C and the distinct possibility of runaway climate change, and irreversible climate impacts.  World leaders need to take charge and stop the compromise.

Scientists continue to warn against inaction. The public continues to demand action. But so far we haven't seen any. In December, 15,000 assorted politicians, negotiators, journalists, observers, caterers and cleaners will set up camp in the Copenhagen Bellacentre for the two-week Climate Summit. We expect world leaders to also be there, acting in our name and taking responsibility for our future. The international deal that saves the climate doesn't just have to be a headline in a spoof newspaper, it can be the real thing delivered by our Heads of State.

We can't carry on like this and still hope to get the outcome the planet needs at the Copenhagen Climate Summit. Something has to change. Take action now and demand that Heads of State show up and be part of the climate deal that will dictate the future of the planet.

Update:

We have just recieved a correction - and sadly it's not good news. It reads:

World Not Actually Saved

Fate of Planet Back in the Balance as EU Leaders fail to deliver

The editors of yesterday’s special edition wish to correct stories appearing on pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 of yesterday’s 8 page special. It appears that European leaders failed to pledge funds to help the developing world address climate change at the heads of state meeting on June 18.

As a result, a climate saving deal was not agreed in Copenhagen as reported in this paper. The IHT regrets the error. We also regret any premature celebrations our publication may have triggered among lovers of polar bears, coral reefs, tropical forests, the billion people now once again likely to suffer water shortages in the next decades,  and everyone else on the planet, who now face an impoverished and chaotic future as a result.

Due to a printing error, the quote from Greenpeace responding to the meeting conclusion was mistakenly edited out of the story. The statement should have read:

"Greenpeace calls upon the citizens of the world to hold the EU heads of State personally accountable for this failure, and to get out into the streets to demand with the loudest voice ever raised on Earth that our leaders lead, so that the fictitious vision of a world saved from global warming which the International Herald Tribune mistakenly described might in fact become a reality."

The IHT regrets the omission. The IHT does not, however, regret reporting that Silvio Berlusconi was suffering from hug related injuries. That part was right.

Take Action

Tell Obama of the US, Hu of China, Brown of the UK, Merkel of Germany, Sarkozy of France, and Lula of Brazil that they must clear their calendars and show up at the UN Climate Summit to secure the future of the planet, and take personal action to get us out of this mess.

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