Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fresh Air Center @ COP15

The climate negotiations are all but over and we don't have the Fair, Ambitious and Legally binding deal that millions of people worldwide have demanded. But it is impossible to be without hope as our movement has come so far in this short space of time…

Head of States and other World Leaders still have the chance to get this right, but the time is ticking just like the Tcktcktck movement.

At the Climate Change Conference, most NGO's were denied access to the Bella Center but the Fresh Air Center which was started from the very beginning of the summit has acted as base-camp for many media people and NGOs, accredited and unaccredited alike. Situated about a few kilometers from the Bella Center in Copenhagen, the Fresh Air Center is part of Tcktcktck, a global campaign platform designed to bring climate justice organizations together in solidarity. This center acts as the main news hub so that the rest of the world can be connected and informed of the negations' in real time.

I was very happy to be part of the Vancouver crew represented at the Fresh Air Center. Countless numbers of Vancouver people have worked on the Tcktcktck campaign and with other climate justice organizations, so it is really no surprise of their strong presence at the conference. I was star-struck when I was introduced to the Mayor of Vancouver; Mayor Gregor Robertson by my photo-blogger buddy, Kris Krug here in Copenhagen where he is set to attend the Copenhagen Climate Summit for Mayors.

Many other celebrities keeps showing up at the Fresh Air Center day-in, day-out and always get introduced. What did I do to deserve all that, Kris? Daryl Hannah from the following movies, Splash, Wall Street, Roxanne and Kill Bill [1 & 2] showed up on Wednesday night and Steve Rio [main tech-support man from the Tcktcktck campaign] introduced me once again. It been my first time meeting a great movie star like her; I had some funny feelings in my stomach before approaching her. I didn't forget to carry my Ghana flag for the photo-shoot with her. Darryl has a biodiesel El Camino and is well-known climate justice activist.

That same night, Kumi Naidoo from Green Peace Organization took the podium at the Fresh Air Center where he explained his letter for Barack Obama as he made his way to Copenhagen from the White House yesterday. He's a great orator and I like his charisma. He was the one who got me tweeting this phrase at the conference; "We want a Fair, Ambitious and legally binding deal"& "No Deal is a Bad Deal"… I didn't wait for him to finish his talk before I approached him. His name "Kumi" sounded Ghanaian so I asked; if he's got a Ghanaian origin which he responded in the negative but rather linked his name to a Ghanaian sport legend back in the days. He's a South African by birth but had to live in exile in the United Kingdom for a year.

Next was Naomi Klein, a Canadian journalist and Author of "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" and other great books. She also contributed to the writing of the Going Rouge: an American Nightmare book.

Negotiations are ongoing and even though, I am still optimistic of a real deal coming out of the talks, my hopes seems to be fading away gradually. Well, I am keeping my fingers crossed till the last minute.

Bill McKibben writes on the outcome of the "Deal" that the US, China, India and South Africa struck last night.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Full Text of Pres. Barack Obama’s Speech @ COP15

December 18, 2009

Remarks of President Barack Obama - As Prepared for Delivery

UNFCCC Summit. Copenhagen, Denmark

December 18, 2009

Good morning. It's an honor to for me to join this distinguished group of leaders from nations around the world. We come together here in Copenhagen because climate change poses a grave and growing danger to our people. You would not be here unless you - like me - were convinced that this danger is real. This is not fiction, this is science. Unchecked, climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies, and our planet. That much we know.

So the question before us is no longer the nature of the challenge - the question is our capacity to meet it. For while the reality of climate change is not in doubt, our ability to take collective action hangs in the balance.

I believe that we can act boldly, and decisively, in the face of this common threat. And that is why I have come here today.

As the world's largest economy and the world's second largest emitter, America bears our share of responsibility in addressing climate change, and we intend to meet that responsibility. That is why we have renewed our leadership within international climate negotiations, and worked with other nations to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. And that is why we have taken bold action at home - by making historic investments in renewable energy; by putting our people to work increasing efficiency in our homes and buildings; and by pursuing comprehensive legislation to transform to a clean energy economy.

These actions are ambitious, and we are taking them not simply to meet our global responsibilities. We are convinced that changing the way that we produce and use energy is essential to America's economic future - that it will create millions of new jobs, power new industry, keep us competitive, and spark new innovation. And we are convinced that changing the way we use energy is essential to America's national security, because it will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and help us deal with some of the dangers posed by climate change.

So America is going to continue on this course of action no matter what happens in Copenhagen. But we will all be stronger and safer and more secure if we act together. That is why it is in our mutual interest to achieve a global accord in which we agree to take certain steps, and to hold each other accountable for our commitments.

After months of talk, and two weeks of negotiations, I believe that the pieces of that accord are now clear.

First, all major economies must put forward decisive national actions that will reduce their emissions, and begin to turn the corner on climate change. I'm pleased that many of us have already done so, and I'm confident that America will fulfill the commitments that we have made: cutting our emissions in the range of 17 percent by 2020, and by more than 80 percent by 2050 in line with final legislation.

Second, we must have a mechanism to review whether we are keeping our commitments, and to exchange this information in a transparent manner. These measures need not be intrusive, or infringe upon sovereignty. They must, however, ensure that an accord is credible, and that we are living up to our obligations. For without such accountability, any agreement would be empty words on a page.

Third, we must have financing that helps developing countries adapt, particularly the least-developed and most vulnerable to climate change. America will be a part of fast-start funding that will ramp up to $10 billion in 2012. And, yesterday, Secretary Clinton made it clear that we will engage in a global effort to mobilize $100 billion in financing by 2020, if - and only if - it is part of the broader accord that I have just described.

Mitigation, Transparency and Financing. It is a clear formula - one that embraces the principle of common but differentiated responses and respective capabilities. And it adds up to a significant accord - one that takes us farther than we have ever gone before as an international community.

The question is whether we will move forward together, or split apart. This is not a perfect agreement, and no country would get everything that it wants. There are those developing countries that want aid with no strings attached, and who think that the most advanced nations should pay a higher price. And there are those advanced nations who think that developing countries cannot absorb this assistance, or that the world's fastest-growing emitters should bear a greater share of the burden.

We know the fault lines because we've been imprisoned by them for years. But here is the bottom line: we can embrace this accord, take a substantial step forward, and continue to refine it and build upon its foundation. We can do that, and everyone who is in this room will be a part of an historic endeavor - one that makes life better for our children and grandchildren.

Or we can again choose delay, falling back into the same divisions that have stood in the way of action for years. And we will be back having the same stale arguments month after month, year after year - all while the danger of climate change grows until it is irreversible.

There is no time to waste. America has made our choice. We have charted our course, we have made our commitments, and we will do what we say. Now, I believe that it's time for the nations and people of the world to come together behind a common purpose.

We must choose action over inaction; the future over the past - with courage and faith, let us meet our responsibility to our people, and to the future of our planet.

Thank you.

Day 5 & 6: We want a Real Deal

I joined a group of climate change activists, bloggers and youth for a candle light vigil at a hall opposite the KlimaForum in Copenhagen. Even though the temperature was very bad, the turn-out was very huge and this shows how people were passionate towards the climate change issue and were demanding for a fair, ambitious and a legally binding deal.

The main reason for the vigil was to stand together in a moment of silence and also tell world leaders that "Now is the time for a Real Deal".

Each of the 1,200 candles held by the participants at the vigil read, "This candle represents 10,000 people who want a real deal", referring to for a fair, ambitious, and binding climate treaty called for in the Tcktcktck petition. However, the vigil was not held inside the Bella Center, where the heads of state from over 110 countries have gathered, as almost all representatives of civil society were removed from the Bella Center some days ago.

Below are photos from the Candle Light Vigil.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Open letter to Barack Obama

Mr. Barack Obama
President of the United States of America

White House, Washington DC


Dec 17, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

Now is the time to give hope more than a voice. As you depart for the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, I feel compelled to express my hope and desire for the role you will play when you join the other heads of state in reaching an agreement to avert catastrophic climate change: the role you must play in keeping hope alive for many millions of people around the world.

My Name is Mac-Jordan Holdbrookes-Degadjor, I am a proud Ghanaian Blogger with the
Ghana Blogging Group and also an NGO activist with, & But, most of all, like you, I am a global citizen. I am also a child of Africa.

Like so many people around the world, I was uplifted during your presidential campaign. I had great hope as I listened to you speak to the perils of global warming, and about the promise of a clean energy economy. I was delighted by the promise that the US would return to multilateral engagement. After so many years of denial and inaction by the Bush Administration, you restored my hope that a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate agreement was possible. My hope that a deal which would banish the specter of catastrophic climate change could be struck. I believed and still believe you could be the leader to ensure that happens.

As a child growing up under the strict hands of my father, I learned that it is possible for a leader seeking change to keep hope alive. I also learned that, sooner or later, transformative leaders must make difficult decisions. Tomorrow you will face such a decision. Your choice could change the course of history.

As you well know, no region or nation is immune to the ravages of climate change. Melting glaciers, blazing forests, and acid seas are some of the well-documented ecological impacts of climate change. But too often, we lose sight of the inextricable link between the environment and how real people are affected. It is now estimated that some 300,000 people, mostly the poor and politically disenfranchised, die every year in our warming world.

Water, food, and habitable land are becoming scarcer, compounding human suffering and multiplying political tensions. The latest figures suggest that if we don't act now, as many as one billion people will be uprooted by climate impacts by mid-century.

The poor and voiceless will suffer most; they will be hit hardest and fastest. The unfairness of that pains me. They are the least responsible for causing climate change.

I cling on to hope, because as you have so vividly demonstrated, anything is possible. The prospect of personal leadership at the negotiations allows me to retain some 'audacity of hope' that you will have both the courage and the vision to make history.

This is not a simple political crisis: it is a moral crisis. I want to continue to believe in you Mr President. I appeal to your humanity - please don't condemn the peoples of low-lying island states and the world's most vulnerable countries to uncertainty. Do not let them be wiped off the map.

You have given the world hope that we will finally put this crisis behind us. You have the opportunity to turn hope into action and into reality.

Those from the most vulnerable states face a clear and present danger, but let us be clear, all of the world's 6.8 billion people will suffer from the consequences of unchecked climate change. They need a leader with the courage and vision to act. I pray and hope you are such a leader.

I end by reminding you of something you said often during your campaign. You frequently invoked the powerful words of Martin Luther King: "The fierce urgency of now".

Sadly, according to the science the urgency of now has become even more fierce. I humbly appeal to you to reject the voices of short-term interest, of political expediency and of compromise.

Listen instead to the call of history. Listen to the voices of those most at threat. Listen to the voices of future generations, of our children and grandchildren. Of your children. Of your grandchildren, as yet unborn. Then, please, take the action that you know is needed.


Mac-Jordan Holdbrookes-Degadjor via Kumi Naidoo [CEO of]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 4: High-Level Segment

Yesterday, officials from the UNFCCC decided to reduce access to the Bella Center where the Climate Change summit is ongoing for reasons known to them only. This time round, only 7000 observers will be allowed in the building.

Over 45,000 people have applied to attend the conference, three times more than its capacity. An overwhelming number of those who applied arrived on Monday, causing congestion in the area outside the UN venue, which is under the control of the Danish police, and also long delays inside the UN area of control at accreditation counters. The UN accredited a total of around 3,500 new delegates today.

This morning, it was hell for all those who haven’t registered for the summit since it started. Thousands of media, NGO representatives and party delegates have to wait for hours to enter the conference venue. The metro station called “Bella Center” was close down due to the amount of people gathered around the place, therefore making it inconvenient for commuters to alight at and before the Bella Center Station.

I had it real tough yesterday trying to get my accreditation processed. I got to Bella Center at exactly 0550am CET and I happened to be the No.7 in the queue. Gradually, people started coming and the queue also got bigger and bigger. The temperature at that was -1°C and I was actually clad in my warm clothes bought from Kantamanto as usual.

Access to the Bella Center begins from 0800am CET but it was opened at about 0825am CET. Everyone including me was very pissed but we have no choice than to accept whatever comes our way.

Slowly, the crowd moved and it got to my turn at the UN Desk to have my accreditation processed. Guess, what happened here? I know, what you are thinking about now. Yes, just that. My accreditation couldn’t be located in the system… How on earth? Grrrrr…!!!

The most annoying aspect of this was; the UN Agent behind the desk was very rude and not nice to me.

I moved away and decided to seek assistance at the “HELPDESK” designated area. This lady was much nicer and very calm with me. She requested for my passport and my accreditation letter which I gave her. She checked the database and didn’t find my name but said, she’s going inside the main office to cross check. Luck was on my side this time because she came back with a letter for me and a form to fill which I hurriedly did.

This was where, LUCK shone on me. My card was labeled PRESS; meaning I was out of the NGO’s and Observers who wouldn’t make it to the Bella Center from today till the end of the summit because of the presence of the High Profile delegates.

I’m currently at the Bella Center where the High-level Segment attended by heads of States and heads of Government just finished with H.E. Mr. Lars Løkke Rasmussen -Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Denmark, Mr. BAN Ki-moon - Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Ms. Connie Hedegaard [COP15 / CMP5 President], Mr. Yvo de Boer - UNFCCC Executive Secretary, HRH the Prince of Wales & Dr. Wangari Maathai - 2004 Peace Nobel Prize Laureate from Kenya.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 3 : African Nations Walks Out Of Climate Talks

I attended the “Copenhagen and beyond: Delivering a meaningful deal on Climate Change – the Global Green perspective” talk show at the Orange Hall at the KlimaForum09 yesterday evening with my Global Voices Contributor from the Maldives, Saffah Faroog.

The main speakers for the talk show were Marina Silva, Wangari Maathai, Jose Bove, Christine Milne, Elizabeth May and Catherine Greze. The meeting brought together Green Politicians from across the globe who outlined their views on what a meaningful climate agreement is and how it can be achieved.

With the ongoing UN Climate talks in Copenhagen expected to fall short on delivering a far reach-reaching and binding agreement to tackle climate change, the event also gave a Green perspective on how meaningful and sufficient global deal on climate change can be reached before its too late.

And just a few minutes ago from the Bella Center, where the UNFCCC is been held, African countries raised the "nuclear option" suspending climate talks in protest of wealthy nations' resistance to discuss binding emissions reductions. Though African nations have walked out for the day, they are not leaving the talks permanently.

Friends of the Earth International's Nnimmo Bassey said: "We support African countries' demands for Kyoto targets and mandatory emissions reductions for rich countries. We denounce the dirty negotiating tactics of rich countries which are trying to change the rules and tilt them in their own favor. Developed countries are stalling these negotiations as Africa attempts to move them forward."

A plenary session for all countries has been put on hold because of the breakdown; while Annex 1 developed nations were working to restore talks. But the chances of discussing a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol, wealthy nations contend, remain nil.

The possibility of a summit-ending walkout at Copenhagen China and India both mentioned it last month. Last week, G77 chief negotiator Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aiping walked out of one meeting in protest… I can’t wait to meet Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aiping and have a photo with him.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 2 : Bla. Bla.. Bla... ACT Now

Yesterday saw about 200,000 people take part in the climate change demonstration on the Global Day of Action in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The activity was part of Global Day of Action activities worldwide, directed at world leaders gathered at the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. Greenpeace and other Climate Organizations under the Tcktcktck movement are asking for a fair, ambitious and binding deal. Below are a couple of photos from the protest courtesy Kris Krüg

Ghana Blogger at COP15, Denmark.

I left Accra last night [11.12.2009] to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which is ongoing in Copenhagen, Denmark. The program started from the 7th Dec and should be over with a "reached agreement" by the 18th Dec, 2009. The temperature upon arrival was 2°C; I quickly have to change into proper warm clothes before stepping outside.

I arrived 0810 local time and had to wait for my host; Kwesi Asare Bekoe [a High School Mate from Presec, Legon] to come meet me. Exactly 0845, he quickly spotted me in my Ghana Flag wrapped around my neck. It was very nice seeing him after days of talking about my coming online.

Fast-Forward >> He explained the train/metro system to me which I already was familiar with but still have to pay rapid attention to. There was a COP15 bus been deployed to pick-up all those arriving for the summit at the airport to the Bella Center every 10mins. Since my host wanted to us to rush to his place [Copenhagen Business School, Campus] before going to the Bella Center, he bought ticket for us [I and him] for the trip.

Reaching the Central Station, I had to grab a SIM Card for SMS, Int'l & Local Calls. Kwesi advised I buy the "VECTONE Mobile" card since that's what he's using and it's relatively cheaper. True to his words, it's very cheap to call international from Copenhagen on this SIM Card.

Kwesi showed me the various stops on the Metro and where to do my switching of lane. We got to the stop called "FORUM", took the elevator up to the street level, crossed to the opposite to join the bus numbered A2 which goes to his apartment. His place is the last stop on the route so he advised we seat the rear of the bus.

Fast-Forward >> Got to his place, grabbed some food to eat and had to rush to the Bella Center to process my accreditation and Press/Buss Passes. It was very easy locating my stops both on the metro and on the bus lanes.

Arriving at the Bell Center, I saw this huge crowd of different people from different parts of the world all in a queue to get registered for all events till the 18th Dec, 2009. The weather was very cold [temp at that time was -3°C]. I saw a few African Nationals really struggling with the cold because their clothes weren't helping at all. Some of the officials upon seeing how the weather was having a very bad effect on some of the people in the queue decided to allow us all in to the security area which was very warm.

Finally, it got to my turn in the queue. I have to loosen everything in my jacket before going through the metal detectors. I passed and all went successful. Not a single beep from the system. [Same happened in Kotoka Int'l Airport, back home in Accra].

I showed up at the UN Desk to confirm my accreditation and also process my Events/Transport Pass. The lady was having a hard time locating my name in the system. This went on for almost 1-hour and I just had to give up and come sort it out later. The same time I was behind the counter, that very time too; a Protest Match was going on in downtown Copenhagen, where demonstrators were matching from Christiansborg Slotsplads, or Castle Square, toward the Bella Center. [More on that in my next post]

I decided to go to the Fresh Air Center which is a rapid response digital media hub in Copenhagen for top global bloggers and digital campaigners. This place is been operated for free by the Tcktcktck Organization. The goal of the Fresh Air Center is to help civil society define the narratives coming from COP-15, encourage sharing and collaboration, and break through the noise by connecting powerful NGO, blogger, and independent digital media channels together.

I am currently sited in a conversation with Beka and Safaah over events for next coming days and also tweeting as usual…!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Post From Takoradi

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow readers/followers in the United State and a Happy Eid-al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) to all my Muslim friends/mates and families. I know, I haven’t written on any subject since I started working in Takoradi, away from Accra about some weeks ago. Don’t know the exact dates but I’m sure, it is not been more than eight weeks yet…

So, I have been very busy with preparations for my trip to the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark somewhere from the first week of Dec, 09 and also working indefatigably coordinating with my fellow organizers [ Ato-Ulzen Appiah and Henry Barnor] towards Barcamp - Ghana ’09 which comes off in Accra, Ghana on the 21st Dec, 09 under the theme: Leadership for our times: Cultivating Change Makers. Hopefully, we shall be able to organize another successful Barcamp in Ghana. Make sure, you bookmark the date and be there. Don’t miss out.

Guess who I met at my favorite Fufu [God Is Love Chop bar @ Pipe-ano] joint in Takoradi this afternoon. You won’t believe me but it is very true. Well, is it no other person than Mr. Rod McLaren also known as Nana Akwasi Amoako Agyeman II, Edubiase Nkosuahene. Does that name ring a bell? I am not sure in the case of the ordinary Ghanaian but most residents within the Sekondi/Takoradi city would have an idea. My Canadian friends should also be able to remember this name with ease.

Just sitting across our table at the Fufu joint was sited Nana and his relatives, I guess because he later introduced her daughter [Afua Sewaa McLaren] who’s the General Manager of the African Rainbow Resort in Takoradi, a Caucasian young-man and another gentleman [African-American] whom I am told plays Jazz music at the hotel.

There’s a saying that, before random people became good friends, there surely was an issue. I believed that saying right after lunch after my encounter with Nana. Before our food was served, we [I and two former colleagues from Skyy TV] were having a chat when I realized the waitress serving our food commented on why the African-American sited with Nana Akwasi Amoako Agyeman II was using his left hand to eat the Fufu. Something not accepted in the Ghanaian community. Who are you to say, it? Lol ;(

Immediately, I made the waitress understand, I don’t see anything wrong with it so she should just mind her business. Unfortunately for me, Nana’s eyes caught mine just after the waitress left and he angrily asked me; “Is there a problem, young man?” and I just replied, “No, Sir”, and there was peace.

After this incident, I enjoyed my bowl of Fufu together with my friends and upon licking the earthen-ware dry, my friends suggested I approach Nana and let him know, it was very wrong for the gentleman to eat with the left hand in Ghana. I boldly introduced myself to him as a blogger and there and then, he accepted his ignorance about the whole situation and apologized. That is one true virtue of a chief and an educated man. I liked that of Nana J

Even though his twi wasn’t sounding in the right directions, I liked the fact that he wanted to communicate with me twi. We had a great time discussing about blogging in Ghana, his book [Rainbow Round the African Sun] which is currently out and how delighted he will be if I would recommend his hotel to my friends in the Diasporas and beyond (something which I have already done long ago). I might be going there this weekend if I don’t make it Accra, though.

The African Rainbow Resort is located in the fishing village of Busua on the coast in the Western Region of Ghana. It has long been a destination for travelers because of the long crescent beach. It is one of the safest beaches on the coastline, and is also recognized in the international surfing community. According to of my friends from Germany who stayed at this hotel had this to say; [The staffs are great and their food is spicy and wonderful. The view of the Atlantic Ocean is spectacular.]

Well, a little bit of information for travelers and holiday-freaks heading to [Takoradi] this side of the Ghana. Crime rate is very low here but that doesn’t mean you should not care about your belongings and live a care-free life. Just be careful and be on the lookout always. If you are a nite-club/social bird like me, I will recommend the following places to hang-out with full security assured.

Champs Sport Bar just opened in the Oil city by the Stellar Group is located on the Shippers Road heading towards the Takoradi Harbor. There is a bar and restaurant which is open to the public. This is a branch of the same bar that has been operating in Accra for a long time and is very popular. The place is really new and really stunning with huge TV screens everywhere showing all the latest sports. It has rapidly become a really popular venue within Takoradi which is otherwise quite sleepy and is a fun place to chill at night. Try the trivia Games on Thursday evenings, the Karaoke evening on Friday nights and their All-You-Can-Drink Session for just GHC10.00 on Saturdays. This place offers great value for money.

For sometimes now, Paragon Nite-Club has been the very place where every party-addict would like to go and hang out after working industriously from Monday to Friday. Due to the influx of expat’s in the Oil City, there’s now a VIP Section at the nite-club to put some level of decency among nite-clubbers. There’s also the popular-stand which I sometimes refers to as, “the zongo” where those who can’t afford the GHC20.00 for the VIP section can just party their nite away till who knows when they will be tired.

LOU MOON LODGE is a very beautiful, posh place on the marvelous beach near Axim, definitely the best beachside accommodation on the coast. The price is very high, but it is worth spending at least one day/night. Plus, maybe the only place in Ghana where you can actually swim, protected from the ocean waves!!!

There is this fairly new and nice good standard restaurant located in the heart of Takoradi called Bocadillos Restaurant. They have many types of food, local (even some Nigerian) and international, pastries, French baguettes, cakes and ice cream. They used to have a bar where they showed African Movies and sometimes, do Live Band. Currently, they have a wireless hotspot access at the place where visitors have to purchase a time code and access the internet at the comfort of free fresh air and good music…

My brain just stopped thinking despite there is a lot for me to write. Lots of ideas but little time to write... I have to do this later. Ma brɛɛ... adɛn kraaaa (trans; I’m tired, what at all again ;) I have to do this after the holiday or frankly, later someday.

Meeting up Sompair Elias who’s in town for his alma-mater, Ghana Secondary Technical School’s 100th Anniversary celebration. Oyaaa.. I'm done ;)