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'No Logo' Author Naomi Klein to Focus on Climate Controversies in New Book

Cassandra Szklarski

Author Naomi Klein is shown in a 2007 handout photo.

TORONTO - Naomi Klein says her next book delves into the simmering debate over how best to rein in carbon emissions, a highly divisive issue she predicts will explode at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, set for Copenhagen next month.

The Toronto-based journalist and activist says advocates for market-based solutions like carbon trading will face-off against those who believe a longstanding "climate debt" obliges rich countries - which produce most pollution - to fund sustainable environmental futures for poorer countries, which suffer the most ecological damage.

"It is absolutely going to be a war in Copenhagen," Klein says in a recent interview.

"I'm hearing more and more young environmentalists saying, 'We think the way to solve this crisis is to leave fossil fuels in the ground,' and this is particularly important in the Canadian context where we are extracting some of the absolutely most lethal, dirtiest forms of fossil fuels in the oil sands and the tarsands."

Klein says the issue has galvanized young people the same way the anti-corporate movement did 10 years ago.

The acclaimed writer documented that time in her debut book, "No Logo," a call-to-arms that was re-released this week with an updated introduction. The new material includes Klein's take on the Wall Street bailout and the rise of the "Obama Brand," which she deems "the most powerful brand in the world right now."

Klein credits the tome's mammoth success to good timing, noting that it was published just as tens of thousands of protesters shut down a meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle.

"And it's funny because the book was late," recalls Klein, 39, who also got a boost in sales when Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke said the book influenced their 2000 album, "Kid A."

"It came out eight months later than it was supposed to come out and these things are, in some ways so random, because I think if the book had come out when it was supposed to come out it would have probably gone nowhere."

"I think it's a very rare thing for a writer to have this, I see it really as a blessing, to write a book about a movement and have that book become part of a movement."


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Today, Klein says that same grassroots spirit is fuelling a battle over the environment at the upcoming UN summit. She notes that business attempts to turn carbon into a tradable commodity are drawing strong opposition from environmentalists in much the same way brand bullies elicited the rage of anti-corporate activists in the '90s.

"People are rightfully suspicious of the idea of trusting our most pressing challenge as a species to these same market forces," she says.

If anything, anti-corporate rage is stronger than ever, she says.

"You have this generation of young people whose views of the market and the economy have been profoundly shaped by this meltdown and by witnessing massive inequality and even witnessing this so-called recovery," says Klein, who speaks regularly at university campuses.

"When I grew up we were constantly told what's good for corporations is good for all of us - if the Dow is going up that's good for everyone. And now you have this generation where it's so clear that what's good for Goldman Sachs and Bank of America is not good for them."

Klein says she'll be in Copenhagen to research her planned book, as well as speak at a people's summit and report daily for several alternative publications. She says she'll put much of the material up on her website.

"On one level it's insane that we're all burning so much carbon to go to Copenhagen and talk about lowering carbon emissions but on the other hand, there is such an extraordinary array of activists from around the world who really are on the front lines of the climate crisis who are going to be in Copenhagen," says Klein, whose most recent book, "The Shock Doctrine" was turned into a documentary that will screen at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah next year.

"I'm very excited by the idea of climate debt.... This accounting could lead to serious funding for countries to leapfrog over fossil fuels. It isn't just a punitive measure, it has all kinds of possibilities that benefit everybody."

The 10th anniversary edition of "No Logo" is on sale now.

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