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The darkest hour is just before the dawn

by Daniel Kessler

November 16, 2009

There was enough bad news last week to make me want to crawl under my desk and never come back out. But as the saying goes, sometimes the darkest hour is just before the dawn. First came news that President Obama, along with other leaders of Asian Pacific countries, would announce that they will not pursue a binding treaty in Copenhagen next month. Millions of climate activists have been working for years to make the Copenhagen negotiations the time when the world would come together to make the necessary agreements that will halt catastrophic climate change. Now that chance is in serious danger of being lost.  

 

bustar climate defenders camp 

 

On the heels of this dereliction came word that police were descending on Greenpeace’s Climate Defenders Camp, our outpost in the threatened Kampar Peninsula in Indonesia, designed to show Obama and other leaders the face of deforestation, a primary driver of climate change.

 

But in an amazing turn of events, the chief of police of the Pelalawan district revoked an earlier order of the Governor of Riau to evict Greenpeace activists and permitted them to stay following massive support from local communities. Over 300 community members of Teluk Meranti village, across the river from the camp, came in the morning to prevent Greenpeace activists from leaving the camp under police escort as per the orders of Riau police.

 

The activists in the camp were overwhelmed and humbled by this extraordinary support from the people of Riau, and it confirms our belief that the people of Indonesia wish their forests to be protected. The community support should be a signal to President Yudhoyono that his people are willing to help him honor his ambition to reduce emissions from deforestation.

 

Greenpeace opened the camp three weeks ago to bring urgent attention to the role that rainforest and peatland destruction play in driving dangerous climate change. Almost a fifth of global warming causing emissions come from deforestation, making Riau ground zero for climate change.

 

The camp will continue to serve as a beacon of hope for all of us waiting until our leaders wake up to reality. These leaders will not act until massive public outrage forces them to.The time for action is now, not next year or the year after. We can’t kick this can down the road for the next generation to deal with. President Obama, show leadership and galvanize support for a binding treaty now.

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