Think Global extra, April 2022
Welcome to the April edition of Think Global extra, where you can find all the latest news on our campaigns, plus ideas for taking action locally. Look out in particular for news of a win for the trade campaign, a day of action on 21 May, debt campaign protests at Blackrock’s offices in London and Edinburgh, details of our national gathering and AGM in July, plus tips for promoting local meetings.
- Pharma / People’s Vaccine
- Trade / corporate courts
- Climate justice
- Finance / debt and aid
- Organising corner
- Upcoming events
Protest at Pfizer in April
We are planning a protest at Pfizer’s HQ in Surrey on 28 April, calling for an end to the company’s pandemic profiteering and demanding it shares its vaccine recipes with producers in the global south. We’ll also use this moment to run workshops about how we build a new global health system that puts people ahead of profit. There will be music, arts and even some comedy as we seek to explain just how ridiculous a world where Pfizer calls the shots is. If you’re interested in joining this protest, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Decolonise Vaccines tour
During March, our Decolonise Vaccines speaker tour saw us joined first by South African human rights lawyer Fatima Hassan for a first week, and then Kenyan health activist Maurine Murenga for a second. Fatima spoke brilliantly about vaccine apartheid in the global south, highlighting that even when Johnson and Johnson boasted that it was producing vaccines in South Africa, they were actually exported to Europe, even as a huge wave of Covid-19 hit the country. Maurine galvanised us all with her sharp criticisms of the world’s complete failure to learn from previous pandemics. She was at the front line of campaigns for HIV/AIDS treatments in the early 2000s, risking arrest in several countries with campaigns that confronted political and corporate interests head on. Now, just as then, the global north and corporate pharma have sent people in Africa and low income countries to the back of the queue. A massive thank you to all the groups who have helped put on these events and support us to reach new activists!
Moderna’s eye-watering profits
Just before the speaker tour kicked off, Moderna announced that its publicly-funded, publicly-researched vaccine had made US$13bn in profits in 2021. Even after making such eye-watering profits, Moderna still refuses to share its blueprints and know-how with the vaccine hub in South Africa. Despite this, the hub has made important advances, announcing that it has made a first trial batch of mRNA vaccine that it has reverse-engineered from Moderna’s and beginning the process of teaching scientists from other countries how to make it too. Amid the greed, the dismal corporate priorities and the failure of western governments, this project provides real hope. However, pharma companies and their lobbyists are lining up to undermine the project’s success. We will need to act together to defend it in the coming months. Read Nick Dearden’s takedown of Moderna’s business model.
Covid-19 vaccine IP waiver
Finally, after 17 months of blocking the intellectual property (IP) waiver on Covid-19 vaccines and treatments called for by countries in the global south, a leaked text emerged from the World Trade Organization discussions in March. It quickly became clear, though, that this supposed ‘deal’ was in fact an EU stitch-up. First, the proposal covered only vaccines, and not treatments and tests. Second, it offered nothing to ease access to the trade secrets that manufacturers need to speed up production. Third, it actually added new and burdensome reporting requirements on top of an already complex set of rules. In short, the leaked text fell well short of what we and campaigners around the world want, so we have been pressing parliamentarians to push for a proper IP waiver.
- Vaccine patents action card, A6 card ideal for stalls
- Vaccine patents leaflet, 4pp A5 leaflet for public campaigning
- Fighting for a People’s Vaccine, 4pp supporter briefing on the campaign
- Stickers: The global south needs a vaccine too, sheets of 12 for public campaigning
Campaign win on UK-Canada trade deal
Last year, thousands of people took action – writing to the trade minister, feeding in to the government’s consultation, signing the petition, holding stalls and going on demonstrations. Finally, at the end of March, the UK government published its plans for the trade talks with Canada. And buried in the trade jargon is a single sentence that says the UK wants to “ensure” that ISDS will not be in the deal. Our allies in Canada have also succeeded in getting Canada to change its position too, which means corporate courts will be dropped. This is an amazing turnaround from a year ago, and getting rid of corporate courts in the Canada trade deal really matters. Canada is a hub for fossil fuel and mining corporations, and fossil fuel companies are increasingly using corporate courts to sue governments over climate action. Sometimes people feel there is nothing they can do about international treaties and corporate courts – this win shows that there really is.
Day of action against corporate courts
Our day of action against corporate courts on Saturday 21 May is getting closer and plans are forming. Having succeeded in getting corporate courts dropped from the Australia and Canada trade deals, the focus for the day is on the Energy Charter Treaty (see below). Together with allies across Europe, we’re calling on countries to exit the Energy Charter Treaty, ahead of a crunch point in June.
Online creative brainstorm
On Thusday 21 April, 7pm-8.30pm, one month ahead of the day of action itself, we’re holding an online meeting for local groups, activists and staff to come together and create ideas for the day and plan action. There’ll be an opportunity to find out about latest developments, but also to work in breakout groups to come up with action ideas and get inspired by other people’s plans.
Possible activities on the day so far include:
- A protest in the centre of town, or at a site relevant to corporate courts, which you try to get the local press to report on.
- A campaign stall to raise awareness and get people signing the petition.
Energy Charter Treaty recap
The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) is a corporate court deal between 49 countries, specifically for energy investments. It is being used by:
- Uniper and RWE to sue the Netherlands over phasing out coal power
- Rockhopper to sue Italy over a ban on offshore oil drilling near the coast
- Ascent Resources to sue Slovenia over fracking
Recently countries have admitted that fear of being sued under the Energy Charter Treaty has affected their climate policy. Denmark set climate targets twenty years later than the science tells them, and Germany paid twelve times the compensation it would usually do in its own coal phase out in exchange for fossil fuel corporations promising not to use the Energy Charter Treaty. Among the member countries of the ECT, there are proposals for ‘modernisation’ that have been floating around for some years now. The proposals are weak. They would not change the fundamentally unjust nature of corporate courts, nor would they stop fossil fuel corporations being able to use the treaty for at least another 10-15 years, possibly longer. All of the existing cases could still continue. Now some countries themselves are saying either the ‘modernisation’ needs to get real or they will leave. And they have set June as a deadline.
Cerrejón coal mine and Anglo-American
UK based mining giant Anglo-American is suing Colombia over the Cerrejón coal mine. Anglo-American has its AGM in London in April, and we’re working with War on Want and the London Mining Network to do some creative protesting. We will be having a creative session on Sunday 10 April to make dramatic protest props, in the shape of giant ‘corporate sharks’, out of willow and paper with a professional artist. We’ll also hear from activists who have worked with the communities affected by the Cerrejón mine. Then on Tuesday 19 April, we’ll take the sharks to a protest outside of the Anglo-American AGM in London. If you’re within reach of London and would like to get involved on either day, email email@example.com
Cerrejón is an open cast coal mine in Colombia, which has been controversial for decades. We’ve campaigned on it in the past. In 2017 local communities won a case in the Colombian supreme court against the diversion of a river to expand the mine. The mine owners, including Anglo-American, are now turning to corporate courts to challenge that decision.
- NEW: Corporate Courts versus The Climate, A5 booklet
- ‘Five fossil fuel firms…’ corporate courts A5 leaflet
- Climate injustice, corporate courts 4pp briefing
- ISDS case studies, videos and two-page briefings
The UN climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published its latest report at the end of February. As ever, the report gave a stark warning of the likely impacts of the climate crisis, particularly in the global south, without immediate and wide-ranging action. However, the report also finished with a call to action: there is still a window to prevent many of these impacts, if we act together and act now.
Our campaigner Daniel Willis wrote an article for Open Democracy outlining our response to the report and how the case for climate reparations is now irrefutable. In short, the report highlighted that 45% of the world’s population are “highly vulnerable” to climate change, meaning that they will be heavily impacted by floods, droughts or extreme weather in the decades to come. The IPCC also highlighted the failure of rich countries to provide adequate climate finance in the face of this catastrophe. As we highlighted before COP26, rich countries are still failing to give US$100 billion in climate finance, to provide adequate finance for climate adaptation, or to provide compensation for loss and damage.
DEBT AND AID
We are continuing to campaign in solidarity with Zambian civil society and to support their demands for debt cancellation from big banks. In January, we launched a new petition to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, calling on them to use their role in upcoming negotiations to support debt justice for Zambia. Since then, we co-signed a letter from the Zambian Debt Alliance to one of the country’s wealthiest creditors, Blackrock, calling on them to cancel Zambia’s debts. And just last week, we launched a new action, allowing supporters to write directly to Blackrock CEO in support of these demands.
Day of action
On Wednesday 13 April, we will be taking our demands directly to Blackrock’s doorstep with actions planned in London and Edinburgh. If you’re within reach of London and would like details on how to get involved contact firstname.lastname@example.org. In Edinburgh plans are shaping up and will very likely include a large Blackrock piñata to be smashed by protestors. If you’re within reach of Edinburgh and would be interested in joining us in the early evening on 13 April, or to help with creating props beforehand, please email email@example.com. In the run up to the day of action there will be a webinar, on 7 April, where you can hear from Zambian debt campaigners on why BlackRock must cancel Zambia’s debt.
New international development strategy
In the world of aid, we were expecting the announcement of a new international development strategy before the end of April, but this has now been delayed. According to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, the new strategy will focus on “promoting British expertise” and “building economic partnerships”. We are concerned that this will set in stone the government’s existing approach to aid which has seen money diverted away from the world’s most marginalised communities and towards the private sector, and projects which the UK will benefit from commercially. Fortunately, the delay means we have more time to build our petition in opposition to the move before we hand it in.
- Cancel Zambia’s debt, A5 petition leaflet
- Debt and the Climate Crisis: A Perfect Storm, 8pp supporter briefing
- End the debt trap: Cancel Zambia’s debt, 4pp supporter briefing
with Guy Taylor, local groups co-ordinator
“I want to share with you the way our Central London local group organised a really successful meeting, using a very effective social media strategy. On 14 March they held a meeting on Cobalt, Batteries and Global North Consumption, taking a look at the damaging effects of cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo for both miners and the environment.
“Ahead of the meeting, the group collected links to relevant online content, including news website articles, a clip from World Service radio, an episode of Panorama on BBC iPlayer and an incredibly moving poem written by a group member. All of these were shared on social media in the run up. Nearer the meeting profiles of the guest speakers were circulated.
“They used what had been quite a low-level active Facebook page and put out regular posts advertising the meeting and giving different information. They kept to this timetable:
Week 1: General introduction to the topic (including a more “fun” post at the weekend)
Week 2: More in-depth look at particular issues surrounding the topic
Week 3: Introduction of speakers at event, and event details
Week 4: (after event) Ask for event feedback, ask people about and promote solutions, share calls to action.
“The increase in traffic on the Facebook page was remarkable. We also sent out meeting details to every contact in the central London catchment area from the Global Justice Now office.
“The result? 63 people at the online meeting, and 12 people offering to join the local mailing list and hopefully getting involved in the group. After the meeting, the recording of the event was posted and there’s been continuing info and discussion resulting from the debate at the event itself. It’s really worth a look at the Facebook page. Use it as a template for your meetings!”
Day of action against corporate courts
Saturday 21 May, around the UK
Join us, and allies across Europe, for a day of action against corporate courts generally, and especially the Energy Charter Treaty, a 49-country investment deal specifically for the energy sector. See trade section above for more details and ideas of things you could organise locally.
National gathering and AGM
Saturday 9 July
Owen Building, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield S1 1WB
After two years of online AGMs, we’re returning to an in-person event this year, run as part of a national gathering. Expect international speakers, workshops and critical discussions about a globally just transition to an ecologically sustainable world. The public conference will take place in the afternoon. Further details will be available soon. For members and affiliated local groups, the AGM will take place at 11am in the Owen Lecture Theatre.
European Summer University of social movements
August 17-21 Mönchengladbach, Germany
Many of our European allies, including the ATTAC network of which we’re part, will be gathering in August for a large, international encounter of activists from around Europe. Global Justice Now will be running workshops and seminars with our campaigning partners, which will be part of a huge range of discussion topics and organising spaces. If you’re interested in going and would like to be kept in touch about Global Justice Now’s participation, email firstname.lastname@example.org