Monday, December 7, 2009

Candlelight Vigil outside US Embassy


11 December, Friday afternoon to evening
(midway through the climate negotiations in Copenhagen)

Join the Action in Tshwane!

When: Friday 11 December from 15h00 onwards, to 22h00.

Where: Corner of Pretorius and Orient Street, as well as Schoeman and Orient Street, close to the entrance of the US Embassy.

How can you participate?

Just be there. Bring along yourself and your friends. Send e-mails to all your friends and challenge them to be there. Bring candles in jars to protect the flame. Bring your own posters or get a poster with a catchy slogan from the organizers.

You don’t have to be there from 15h00 right up to 22h00, but try to set aside two hours to join the vigil during this period. You might discuss the time-slot that you will be available with the organisers (see below).

We will be trying to send out clarifying messages to the passing public.

Parking available in Orient Street.


Janneke Weidema (cell 083 399 2028; e-mail

Philemon Beghela (cell 0763050766; e-mail

Annalet van Schalkwyk (cell 082 321 7131; e-mail

Please call us if you have any queries.

Some of the participating organizations:

Avaaz (see; South African Faith Communities’ Environmental Institute (SAFCEI) and Tshwane Peace Group.

You are welcome to come as a representative of your specific organisation or simply as an individual who desires to make a change!

Call for action:

Dear friends

With the biggest climate summit in history happening right now in Copenhagen, major world leaders are backing away from their promises for a deal to stop catastrophic climate change. The USA is unfortunately proving to be the most obstructionist of all the wealthy nations. Obama will be attending for one day – the 9th of December – when he’ll no doubt deliver a rousing and eloquent speech. He’ll then go to Norway the next day to collect his Nobel Peace Prize.

Currently, the US emissions target of 3 percent in the lowering of CO2 is very far away from the 40% scientists are saying is necessary. The USA now holds the most important key to unlock the climate treaty process, and we need Obama and the US Congress to turn that key.

(According to climate scientist James Hansen of NASA and others, the acceptable level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is 350 parts per million and a CO2 reduction of 40% by the year 2020 is necessary to preserve a planet “similar to that on which human civilization developed”.)

The problem is that Europe, Canada and the US send dozens of negotiators to these summits – while most poorer countries and small island states cannot afford to send more than two or three delegates. The result is that the global South is not able to wield a strong enough bargaining power at the Summit.

We need the voices of the global South to be heard. We need the voices of African states to be heard. And we need a strong, focused voice from the South African government, as they participate in the Copenhagen Climate Summit.

We need a fair Climate Summit Deal to ensure a sustainable future for Africa.

If not only the rich countries, but also the global South, fail, it won’t only mean less snow on ski slopes. Much of the Netherlands and Belgium and coastal resorts in Florida, USA, as well as Long Island, Manhattan, could be under water while Durban’s Marine Parade might disappear.

Millions of families in Africa will see their farms turn to dust as the desert advances, many in Asia will die in worsening floods and storms, and entire nations on small islands will be threatened by rising seas – all within 10-15 years.

In South Africa and throughout the world, candlelight vigils are planned for
Friday 11 December to bring the danger to the attention of, specifically, the powerful, but also the less powerful participants in the Summit.

The timing here is crucial – the vigils are part of a huge mobilization on the weekend of December 11th - 13th: midway through the negotiations. The climate talks will build to a head a few days later: so the more the negotiators feel the pressure from citizens around the world demanding a genuine deal and consistent action, the more hopeful the final outcome will be.

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