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You are here: Home / Media / Archive / 2000 / pressstopmining

pressstopmining

Friends of the Earth Press Release, September 25th, 2000

 

International Environmental Group Calls On World Bank To Stop Funding Oil, Gas, And Mining Projects

Extraction Linked To Ecological And Social Harm, Little Payoff For Poor

CONTACT:

In Prague: Jennifer Kelly, EMS ++ 44-7967-678-097
Andrea Durbin, Friends of the Earth ++ 44 7967-678-180
In Washington, DC: Deborah Rephan, EMS 202-463-1310, ext. 267

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC ‚ The world's largest environmental federation today called on the World Bank Group and other international financial institutions (IFIs) to establish an immediate moratorium on financing new fossil fuel exploration and mining projects in ecologically sensitive areas. The one-million member group Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) said the moratorium should be the first step toward a total phase out of new fossil fuel and mining exploration investments.

Activists from FoEI issued their call before a backdrop of oil barrels and a banner reading "World Bank Get Out of Oil, Mining, and Gas Projects", set up outside the Prague Congress Center where World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials are holding their annual meeting.

"Oil, gas, and mining operations have left a legacy of ecological destruction and social upheaval on the world's poorest in the 20th century," said Ricardo Navarro, Chairman of FoEI and Director of the group's El Salvador office. "If the World Bank truly seeks to end poverty and suffering, there is no justification to carry these investments into the 21st century."

According to a report FoEI released today, there is no statistical evidence demonstrating that fossil fuel and mining investments substantially enhance GDP for most developing nations, or that they deliver measurable benefits to the poor. Yet the World Bank Group alone devoted nearly $6 billion in investments, loans and guarantees to fossil fuel and mining projects between 1995 and 1999. Combined with similar backing from other IFIs during that period, that amount totaled $51 billion.

Yet the report explains, with country-by-country examples, that the problems associated with such projects take their worst and first toll on the world's poor. Among the damaging impacts of oil, gas, and mining:

‚ Oil spills, gas flaring and improper waste disposal result in toxic releases that are dangerous and even deadly to humans, and can poison groundwater, livestock and marine resources upon which the poor depend for subsistence. These effects are particularly acute in developing nations where environmental standards and enforcement are often weaker or non-existent, as evidenced in Nigeria's oil fields;

‚ Locally affected communities rarely get any of the "modern" benefits of such projects like fuel or electricity;

‚ By continuing to invest huge sums in fossil fuels, the World Bank and other IFIs are increasing the emission of greenhouse gases that cause global warming, undercutting any gains from the Kyoto Protocol. Global warming is associated with increased flooding, drought, crop destruction and the spread of infectious diseases, impacts that take their harshest toll on the poor. It is estimated that the Bank's recently approved Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline project alone will ultimately contribute 446.4 million metric tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere;

‚ Exploitation of fossil fuels has all too often led to brutal and sometimes deadly suppression of human rights, when affected communities demand fair compensation or environmental clean-up. Such projects have also caused forced resettlement of local and indigenous peoples.

The report explains how a phase out of fossil fuel and mining projects by the World Bank and other IFIs should start with a moratorium on new exploration in biologically rich or ecologically pristine areas such as intact tropical rainforests and marine areas. FoEI says the Bank should then develop a concrete action plan over the next year that supports a complete phase out of such investments, and emphasizes lending that directly alleviates poverty through environmentally and socially sustainable energy services.

The FoEI report, "Phasing Out Public Financing for Fossil Fuel and Mining Projects" can be found on www.foe.org. For an interactive map profiling World Bank oil, gas, and mining projects, visit www.ems.org

 

 

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