Think Global extra, July 2021
Welcome to July’s edition of Think Global extra, where you can find all the latest news on our campaigns, plus ideas for taking action locally.
G7 summit – what happened
The UK government hosted the G7 summit in Cornwall from 11-13 June, where world leaders once again failed to stand on the right side of history and back the India and South Africa proposal for a temporary suspension of intellectual property rights on Covid-related vaccines, treatments and technologies (also known as the TRIPS waiver).
We were there to hand in the petition and put pressure on G7 governments to back the TRIPS waiver. We even made a song and dance about it. You can watch it here.
As text-based negotiations at the WTO have only now started, there is still time for us to change the UK government’s position! So if you’re planning on meeting your MP to talk about our campaign, then please let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll give you a version of the petition that you can hand in, a briefing for your MP and a draft press release that you can send to your local newspaper.
We also have an e-action to members of the Scottish parliament urging them not to be bystanders as vaccine apartheid unfolds across the world. If you’re in Scotland, please do the e-action and share it.
People’s Vaccine week of action
To coincide with the G7 summit, the People’s Vaccine coalition organised a global week of action which included live stunts and brilliant content on social media. Check out this video from a ‘Big Pharma CEO’ Jolyon Rubinstein!
Local groups will have received summer stall materials with the June copy of Think Global – and will hopefully be planning how to put them to use!
We would love to see pictures of the leaflets, action cards, posters and excellent stickers put to use, so please share images and let us know if you need more resources.
If you’re not in one of our local groups, then we also have an exciting activist pack that you can use to raise awareness of the campaign for a people’s vaccine. This one-stop shop lets you add a new ‘I’ve had my vaccine but the global south needs it too’ frame for your Facebook profile picture, sign our petition and order campaign materials. Whether you are planning to take action locally as an individual or as part of a group, we can send you stickers, leaflets, action cards and posters so you can spread the word.
We have a virtual gathering for activists and supporters coming up at the end of July on vaccine inequality, including speakers from the global south and skill-sharing sessions. This will be a great opportunity to learn from each other and plan for escalating our campaign in the autumn. Exact date tbc. More info coming soon.
- People’s Vaccine action card, four-sided A6 action card, ideal for use on a public stall, June 2021
- People’s Vaccine leaflet, two-sided A5 leaflet which explains the need for suspending intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, June 2021
- People’s Vaccine online action pack, this web page has a frame to add to your Facebook profile, the online petition and a link to order materials, June 2021
- Five-step plan for a People’s Vaccine, policy manifesto by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, outlining five steps governments must take to ensure a People’s Vaccine, May 2021
- Fighting for a People’s Vaccine, eight-page briefing, explains the campaign for access to Covid-19 vaccines, and the demands we’re making to ensure vaccine justice for the global south, February 2021.
Corporate courts, climate and trade deals
Last month – Australia
When we wrote a month ago about our campaigning on the impact of corporate courts (ISDS) on climate action, the focus was mainly on the UK-Canada deal. In the course of the last month we had a bit of a rapid swerve, as corporate courts in the UK-Australia deal came up fast on the outside, overtook … and with some deft campaigning were then knocked out (hopefully). So now we’re more or less back where we started, but it was quite a busy month!
We hadn’t expected there to be corporate courts in either the Australia or the New Zealand deals – New Zealand has a position against them, while Australia has had bad experiences (the Philip Morris case) and negotiated a deal with the US that excluded it. But then we heard behind the scenes that the UK government was actively pushing for corporate courts in both. The New Zealand government seems to be standing firm, but the Australian government was wavering.
There wasn’t much time – the government wanted to sign the Australia deal alongside the G7 summit – but we were able to raise the alarm. We got questions asked in parliament, over four thousand of you wrote to your MPs, and we and our allies in Australia also managed to get some media coverage (here, here and here).
And it made a difference! While there are still many other problems with the deal (including further climate risks) when the deal was signed, trade minister Liz Truss told parliament “ISDS is not part of our trade agreement with Australia”. We helped to get corporate courts dropped from that deal, which is something to celebrate! It’s an example of the ‘vampire’ approach to campaigning – the government hopes it can get away with including something if it can keep it in the dark, but we succeed in pulling it into the light of day, the plans crumble to dust (sometimes!).
This was a signing ‘in principle’. There are still many months of detail to be negotiated, so we’ll keep following to make sure things don’t slip backward.
Next month – back to Canada, ECT and CPTPP
So after that mad rush, our attention shifts back to the Canada deal again, along with the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The government has a consultation on the Canada deal. They’ve made it technically difficult and quite confusing, so we’re going to be asking supporters to co-sign our submission. We are planning to run a zoom briefing as well, for activists who feel up to making their own individual submissions, so do keep a look out for an email about that.
At the start of July we will be launching a joint letter along with hundreds of other organisations across Europe, calling for governments to exit the Energy Charter Treaty before the COP26 Climate Conference in November. The Energy Charter Treaty is a deal between more than 50 countries specifically in the energy sector, which includes corporate courts. Several other European countries are considering exiting. So far, the UK wants to stay put but if we can ramp up the pressure that could change.
Talks are now underway for the UK to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and we’re in touch with global allies.
Taking action locally on corporate courts and climate
As things hopefully begin to open up a bit more, and as we step up a gear in our mobilisation toward the COP26 Climate Conference, we’re looking at ideas for local actions around the UK to raise awareness of the risk to climate action from corporate courts.
We’ve put together a list of locations around the UK linked to fossil fuel companies and law firms involved in ISDS cases related to climate action. If there is a location near you, could you hold a stall, have a demonstration or hang a banner there?
Could you hold a webinar (or even an in person event, perhaps outside)? Jean is always happy to speak about corporate courts, trade and climate – contact her at email@example.com
We have a new short video about Ascent Resources, a UK registered fossil fuel company which is using corporate courts to sue Slovenia for requiring an environmental impact assessment on a fracking project. This is also something that can be good to show in a webinar – and we have several other videos of other cases, including on RWE who are suing the Netherlands over the phasing out of coal power.
Nearly 25 thousand people have signed our petition, which calls on the government to:
- Drop corporate courts in the UK-Canada and UK-Australia trade deals
- Exit the Energy Charter Treaty
- Stop joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)
Action cards for this petition are on their way to Global Justice Now local group contacts in the post. To order more copies of this or any of the other resources contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Beyond corporate courts
The government is also running a consultation on a trade deal with India. We have many concerns about this – from the risk to access to medicines and vaccines, to the impact on small-scale farmers. We will be in touch with more about this later.
- Climate injustice: how corporate courts block climate action, four page briefing, Mar 2021
- Don’t let corporate courts block climate action, petition action card, May 2021
- NEW: Toxic fracking v Slovenian democracy, short video, July 2021
- The dirty coal company suing Holland for climate action, short two minute video, Apr 2021
- How trade deals are fuelling climate breakdown, four-page leaflet, Dec 2020
Assemble and organise for the COP26
The local climate justice hubs, aiming to build and strengthen and UK wide movement, that we mentioned in the last edition of Think Global, are coming together. So far, people have set up hubs in seventeen locations across the country and are starting to organise events locally in those places. You can see which locations they are here, and if you’re interested in joining in then you’ll also find contact details for the local organisers. And if you don’t see anywhere near you listed, and you’d like to help set a hub up then please do get in touch with email@example.com and we’ll be very happy to put you in touch with others and give you a hand.
The UK government’s aid cuts were back in the news this month as MPs tried to prevent continued reductions in aid spending in 2022/3 and demonstrate the scale of opposition to the cuts in parliament. Former development secretary Andrew Mitchell attempted to introduce an amendment into Commons legislation in early June, but this was ruled to be out of the scope of the bill by Commons Speaker Lyndsey Hoyle and was not debated.
The Speaker did, however, rebuke the government for not allowing a proper vote on the cuts and allowed Mitchell to lead an emergency debate in the Commons the following day when MPs from across the House condemned the aid cuts. Mitchell believes that he had enough support to defeat the government by at least nine, and maybe even as many as twenty votes, suggesting that if any vote does come to the Commons the government will have a hard time defending its plans. If no vote is forthcoming, then MPs and civil society are planning to take the matter to the courts.
On debt, we followed our action outside HSBC’s AGM with a joint letter to the Chancellor calling on him to use the UK’s G7 Presidency to force big banks to offer debt cancellation to any country that needs it. Unfortunately the outcome of the G7 was another disappointment, with rich governments offering warm words but no real action to bring private creditors to the table. Our campaigner Daniel has written an article for Ethical Consumer on why we are targeting the big banks for debt cancellation, and you can now also catch up with our latest webinar on debt justice on YouTube.
In Scotland, we’re highlighting Zambia’s debt crisis (since Zambia is a key international development partner of the Scottish government) and urging the Scottish government to call on the banks and other private lenders to drop Zambia’s debt. We’ll be publishing a briefing on this very soon.
Our latest action on the aid cuts has now closed, but we will launch another action when / if there is another vote in parliament. In the meantime, you can:
- Contact your MP to raise your concerns about the cuts to aid spending;
- Write to the CEOs of Blackrock, UBS, HSBC and JP Morgan to demand debt cancellation via our website;
- Download our latest leaflet to build public opposition to the cuts;
- Organise a local event or action to oppose the aid cuts or demand debt justice.
For more info, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re working with Jubilee Debt Campaign, CAFOD and Christian Aid on this campaign, so these groups could also be allies locally.
- Stop the Aid Cuts, A5 leaflet available to order now for use on public stalls, May 2021
- Under the Radar, briefing on private sector debt and coronavirus, October 2020
Remembering John Strange
It was with great sadness that we learned of the news of the death of long-standing social justice activist and founder of Global Justice South East London John Strange. His gentle, kind and positive outlook will be missed by all who knew him. You can read his obituary here.
Global Justice Now Council election results
At our AGM in June, a number of new members to our governing Council were elected. You can see the full list here. Three of the new members were nominated by local groups. They are: Sally Brooks (nominated by Global Justice York), Maggie Mason (nominated by Global Justice Cumbria) and Nicola Ansell (nominated by Global Justice Richmond and Kingston).
Receiving campaign e-actions, event, news etc by email
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No August issue of Think Global
As usual there won’t be an August issue of Think Global, but of course you are welcome to contact the activism team for support and advice at any time.