Nov 27, 2013
Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka/CEJ and “Siyane Jalaya Syurakeeme Jana Neguma” file legal action seeking justice for people harmed by water pollution in Rathupaswala
26th November 2013 Colombo, Sri Lanka. Today, Sri Lanka's Court of Appeal issued notice to the Central Environmental Authority (CEA), Board of Investment (BOI) and Venigross (Pvt) Limited after considering the writ application case filed by Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka/the Centre for Environmental Justice(CEJ) and a representative of “Siyane Jalaya Syurakeeme Jana Neguma (SJSS)” regarding the pollution caused by the factory.
CEJ, and the SJSS sought a writ to compel the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) and Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka, to bring justice to the residents of Rathupaswala by taking legal action against the Venigros (Pvt) Ltd, for the pollution of inland waters and soil and for violating the terms and conditions of the EPL in the performance of their statutory duty.
Petitioners have stated in their petition that the CEA and the BOI have failed to undertake investigations and inspections to ensure compliance with this Act and to investigate complaints relating to non-compliance with the provision of the National Environment Act as well as the non-compliance for the conditions of the EPL. Also, that Venigros (Pvt) Ltd has improperly dumped industrial effluents and hazardous waste without properly treating them first.
Furthermore, some residents from the Nedungamuwa area complained that they are unable to consume their well water and they have suffered various diseases because of the polluted water discharged by Venigros (Pvt) Ltd. Petitioners have requested that the factory be relocated following the conclusions of a report prepared by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board.
The case was supported on 26th November 2013.
Nov 25, 2013
Today we express our solidarity with all the women and girls around the world who have been subjected to violence. Staggeringly high levels of domestic and sexual violence persist around the world. We commend the work of the various local, national and international organisations responding to this situation. We salute the courage and fortitude of the dedicated activists and survivors of violence who often make great sacrifices to insist that gender violence – in all its insidious manifestations – be utterly eliminated not only for the well being of those most affected, but for the security and peace of mind of those who are threatened or vulnerable.
We also reflect on the many brave women whose courageous political and environmental protests are too often met with cowardly violence or the threat of violence. Today, as the results of the election in Honduras are disputed, Berta Caceres and her colleagues will continue to fight for fair treatment for their community, despite the many threats of violence they have received and the ongoing political persecution they face.
Activists like Berta Caceres face a range of challenges, including systemic injustice and discrimination. Patriarchy perpetuates and safe-guards systemic and structural injustices, hindering the work of activists both female and male. We applaud and support the precious work done by Friends of the Earth groups and other civil society groups to dismantle, subvert and replace patriarchal structures.
Nov 21, 2013
Friends of the Earth Europe: Warsaw, November 21 – One day before the scheduled conclusion of the international climate talks in Warsaw, hundreds of climate activists – including Friends of the Earth – have walked out in protest at the lack of ambition at the talks, and in solidarity with people affected by climate change.
The walkout included social movements, trade unions and major environmental, development and youth groups, such as Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Action Aid and the International Trade Union Confederation, as well as many others. Together they represent millions of people who demand real climate action . The delegates who walked-out wore t-shirts with the slogan ‘polluters talk, we walk’ to signify the toxic influence of dirty energy corporations on the climate talks and the positions of many national governments.
Susann Scherbarth, climate justice and energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “We are walking out in frustration and disappointment – the talks here in Poland have done nothing to cut emissions or provide real finance to tackle climate change. We also walk out in solidarity, with those communities and countries who stand to lose so much from climate change, and for whom these talks have done so little. Enough is enough.”
The Polish government’s decision to invite sponsorship from big polluters and to host a coal summit during the talks has already drawn heavy criticism from civil society organisations.
Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth Europe commented: “Big polluters were welcomed with open arms and the negotiations are driven by corporate interests. There is no room for people or planet. The Polish presidency’s short-sighted coal-driven policy marks these talks out as one of the dirtiest yet.”
Industrialised countries’ governments are neglecting their responsibility to prevent climate catastrophe, and protect those that are losing so much as a result of climate change. Their positions at the global climate talks are increasingly driven by the narrow economic and financial interests of multinational corporations, according to Friends of the Earth, in particular Australia, Canada, Japan and the US.
Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on European politicians to push for fast and fair emission cuts in line with science, and a renewable energy-powered future that puts the interests of people at its centre. It is calling for binding EU climate and energy targets for 2030, at least 60% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and ambitious energy efficiency and renewables targets. This needs be alongside more ambitious pre-2020 action.
There needs to be international recognition that communities and countries are suffering irreversible losses due to climate breakdown, now, and governments need to put new money on the table to help developing countries compensate, adapt to the impacts of climate change and tackle urgent development needs.
 The organisations include Friends of the Earth International, the International Trade Union Confederation, PanAfrican Climate Justice Alliance, Bolivian Platform on Climate Change, Jubilee South (APMDD), 350.org, Greenpeace, WWF, Oxfam, ActionAid, Young Friends of the Earth Europe and others.
Maruska Mileta, from Young Friends of the Earth Europe said: “At a time when the climate science is clearer than ever, young people feel increasingly let down by our governments. They are prioritising short-term economic interests over a liveable climate for all of our futures.”
- Updates from the talks: http://www.foeeurope.org/climate-justice
- FoEI report, Good energy, bad energy (November 2013): http://www.foei.org/en/good-energy-bad-energy
For more information please contact:
Susann Scherbarth, climate justice and energy campaigner, Friends of the Earth Europe
email: email@example.com, Tel: 0032 (0) 486 341 837
Sam Fleet, communications officer, Friends of the Earth Europe
Email: Samuel.firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 0048 537 884 902
Nov 20, 2013
I am an activist and I am a Filipino. It’s a very hard time for me to be outside of my country, while my brothers and sisters are still sorting through the wreckage and the death brought by Typhoon Yolanda. But I am activist and I know that terrible storm was no accident, so I must take action.
No one storm is ‘caused’ by climate change, but this one storm warns us of the reality - we have changed the climate. If we keep spewing out pollution from dirty energy, it will change further and extreme weather events will become only more extreme and more common.
So, in solidarity with my brothers and sisters affected by this typhoon and struggling against other impacts of climate change, I am committed to stopping what we call “extreme” weather becoming “regular” weather next year. In the Philippines we know what it will take to stop the climate crisis, it will take the complete transformation of our energy sector.
I work everyday to realise that transformation. I work in the Philippines, and today I am working in Warsaw, at the UN climate conference. I am here because that transformation will require what we call “the end of coal.” I am not the only one working for the end of coal, there are millions of us. And we want to end it globally.
Today in Warsaw we launched our People’s Communique on Coal, it sets out why coal as an energy source makes us sick, poisons our rivers, kills our trees and causes deadly storms like Yolanda. The People’s Communique says clearly: “the push for Coal is a betrayal of the commitment and obligation of governments under the United Nations to address climate change and shift to sustainable pathways.”
That seems like a simple sentence to me. Something nobody who’s even looked sideways at an IPCC report could quibble with. Yet today in Warsaw the Polish Government supported a conference that claims that coal is somehow part of the solution, that it is somehow part of the future, that somehow it does not kill. This idea was rejected by people from all over the world, in many creative ways and that creativity should give us all hope.
As simple as that sentence in the People’s Communique seems, the Australian and Japanese governments have come to this conference acting as if they work for coal companies instead of people. Last week they announced a weakening of their commitment to international climate action. NGOs laid the dead in the Philippines at their feet , and I would agree.
I would agree and I will keep fighting in the Philippines too. Coal energy has been actively pushed by transnational corporations, international financial institutions, international energy investors, and the government in the Philippines. The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) spearheaded a National Action Against Coal, in solidarity with the Global Day of Action Against Coal, at 15 sites of coal struggles in 13 provinces across the Philippines.
Thousands of affected communities took to the streets across the country to the demand to the Philippine government to immediately declare a national moratorium on all new coal projects and fulfill its commitment to shift to renewable energy systems and contribute in the global fight against global warming and climate change.
These are hard struggles, and these are hard times in the Philippines, but we are strengthened to know that people around the world are joining us and signing up to the People’s Communique. If you have not signed yet, do. If you are the UN, do not allow coal to undermine you again. If you are Australian, or Japanese, or from any country where your government is working for big coal companies instead of for you, join us.
Gerry Arrances, is an activist and anti-coal campaigner with the Philippines Movement for Climate Justice.
Paris, Tuesday 19th November 2013 – After the launch of the public voting process last October 15th, Les Amis de la Terre - Friends of the Earth France, in partnership with Peuples Solidaires - ActionAid France and the Centre for Research and Information for Development (CRID), put an end to the suspense during the Pinocchio Awards ceremony tonight, at La Java (Paris). This year, an impressive number of internet users mobilized themselves to elect the winners among the nominated companies: more than 41,000 votes in total, that is to say more than twice as much as the previous years. Veolia, Areva and Auchan are the big winners of the 2013 edition (1).
Veolia received the Pinocchio Award in the category "One for all, all for me" (2) with 39% of the votes, for its implication in water privatization projects in India, and more particularly in Nagpur. While the multinational pretends to be the hero bringing water to the poor, in the field, the reality is a lot different: price increases, opacity of the public-private partnership contracts, delays in work, conflicts with the communities and the local officials. If Veolia seems to succeed in getting profit from these projects, water, when it does reach the populations, is still delivered in tanker trucks…
In the category "Greener than green" (3), Areva easily wins the Pinocchio Award with 59% of the votes. It must be said that the nuclear multinational dared to imagine the unimaginable: creating "Urêka", a museum dedicated to the glory of uranium mines in the French region of Limousin, on the area of former mine sites that left heavy environmental and sanitary consequences. "Come and discover the adventure of uranium", says Areva, without any issue regarding the dramatic social and environmental impacts that these uranium extraction mines keep having all over the world, especially in Niger and maybe soon on the land of the Inuits.
Finally, with 50 % of the votes, the Pinocchio Award in the category "Dirty hands, full wallet" (4) has been given to Auchan. The number two of large retailers in France refuses to admit its responsibility and to participate to the compensation fund for the victims of the Rana Plaza garment factories collapse, in Bangladesh, whereas labels of its clothes have been found in the ruins of the accident that killed 1133 people and left even more wounded people, mostly women. Auchan acknowledged that part of its production had been informally subcontracted in the Rana Plaza and claims to be a victim, yet contracting companies such as Auchan set conditions for their suppliers impossible to respect, and as a consequence, promote the phenomenon of informal sub-contraction.
Through the condemnation of peoples’ rights violations and environmental damages, the Pinocchio Awards have succeeded in getting more important since their creation in 2008, and thus, contribute to put pressure on companies to make them change their practices.
Juliette Renaud, Corporate accountability campaigner at Friends of the Earth France, comments the 2013 edition: "This year, the Pinocchio Awards occur at a time when a law proposal on multinationals’ duty of care has just been introduced at the National Assembly (5). This is a first result of the struggle that has been carried on for a long time by civil society, especially by Les Amis de la Terre, Peuples Solidaires and the CRID. We strongly hope that members of Parliament and the government will now be able to resist the lobby pressure and that this law will be voted and implemented as soon as possible, thus paving the way for the recognition of multinationals’ parent company legal responsibility on their subsidiaries and subcontractors."
For Fanny Gallois, campaigns coordinator at Peuples Solidaires, "these Awards are an opportunity to raise the voices of those that, all over the world, suffer the negative impacts of multinationals’ activities and fight for the respect of their rights. It is high time to act and stop multinationals from taking profit of impunity and refusing to assume their responsibility in respect to populations".
This year, the Pinocchio Awards were organized in media partnership with Basta !, the Multinationals Observatory and Real World Radio, which have published insight articles and interviews on each nominee (6).
Press contacts :
Caroline Prak, Les Amis de la Terre – Friends of the Earth France – 01 48 51 18 96 / 06 86 41 53 43 – email@example.com
Vanessa Gautier, Peuples Solidaires - ActionAid France – 01 48 58 21 85 –
(1) In total, nine companies were nominated. The description of each case denounced in 2013 is available here: http://prix-pinocchio.org/en/nomines.php
(2) « One for all, all for me! »: awarded to the company which has the most aggressive policy in terms of landgrabbing, exploitation or destruction of natural resources.
The two other nominees were Total and Société Générale.
(3) « Greener than green »: awarded to the company which has led the most abusive and misleading communication campaign in regard to its actual activities.
The two other nominees were BNP Paribas and Air France.
(4) « Dirty hands, full wallet »: awarded to the company which has the most opaque policy at the financial level (tax evasion, corruption, etc), in terms of lobbying or in its supply chain.
The two other nominees were Alstom and Apple.
(5) This law proposal is supported by the Members of Parliament Danielle Auroi, Philippe Noguès and Dominique Potier :
Text of the law proposal (in French): http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/14/propositions/pion1524.asp ;
Press release by Members of Parliament Noguès and Potier (in French): http://pnogues.fr/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Communiqu%C3%A9-de-presse-Nogu%C3%A8s-Potier-07112013-D%C3%A9p%C3%B4t-dune-proposition-de-loi.pdf
(6) These articles and interviews are available here: http://www.amisdelaterre.org/prix-pinocchio.html
Nov 15, 2013
Guest blog by Lidy Nacpil, Convener of the Philippines Movement for Climate Justice (first published by Huffinton Post)
My colleague Claire and I are now at the international climate talks in Warsaw - we got out of Manila just as Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful in recorded history, was making landfall in the Philippines, our home.
All our worries were confirmed when the first video coverage appeared after several hours of complete black out as all communications were down. I have many friends and colleagues in the worst hit area.
These friends and colleagues lost children. They lost parents and grandparents. They had their families shattered. They had to drag bodies out with their bare hands. They are still without proper food, water or shelter.
Philippine government agencies estimate that thousands are feared dead in Leyte island alone. CNN reports more than 800,000 people are dislocated. 800,000 souls ripped from their homes.
This is the fourth super-typhoon to hit the Philippines this year. These extreme weather events are increasing in severity. This is in line with what the science suggests: more ferocious extreme weather, driven by human emissions of climate changing gases.
A year ago during the UN Climate Summit in Doha, Qatar - the Philippines made the news with Typhoon Pablo making its destructive way through Mindanao (Southern Philippines), leaving over a thousand people dead, dislocating tens of thousands of families, destroying homes, crops and livelihoods and changing the landscape across a vast area. Those areas have not yet substantively recovered. Everyone acknowledged then that Typhoon Pablo underscored the urgent need to arrive at international agreements for decisively addressing climate change - both its causes and consequences.
Here we are one year later, at the beginning of another UN Climate Summit, with news of even greater devastation in the Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan, and still no real progress in international climate negotiations.
Our sorrow and our rage should make us fight harder, in all arenas at all levels, to demand that those responsible for this planetary crisis take immediate decisive action towards just and equitable solutions. It should make us work faster in building our movements and scaling up our actions, in effecting a shift in power relations and transforming the unjust and destructive system that is at the root of climate change.
Now in Warsaw, we are once again working with Friends of the Earth to raise the voices demanding change and building on our joint work over the last month during our global month of action: Reclaim Power.
We are urging international Governments to increase climate pollution controls and ban new dirty energy projects - and to deliver clean energy through people-controlled, democratic systems. And sadly, because it is now necessary, calling for an international system to deal with the loss and damage caused by the climate change we can no longer avoid.
Lidy Nacpil is convener of the Philippines Movement for Climate Justice, which includes Friends of the Earth Philippines: http://climatejustice.ph/
Original post here
Nov 13, 2013
Bluff, Durban, South Africa, 13 November 2013 – Siga Govender, a local small scale farmer who has been working the land next to the former Durban airport for 25 years, is aware that he is either going to have the land beneath his feet literally dug out beneath him for expansion of the port, or washed away if an alternative approach to energy production globally is not implemented immediately. Tomorrow at 14h00, in solidarity with the farmers, the People’s Climate Camp will march from the Reunion Beach Centre to the farmer’s land in Prospecton, ending in a press conference at 15h00.
The City of Durban and Transnet’s proposed multi-billion rand Durban port expansion will also squeeze out many other communities in the south Durban basin, who will be inundated with increased trucks, logistics parks and the expansion of the already heavily polluting petrochemicals industry. While government proposes the project as development, the reality is that it will destroy the farms, destroy jobs within the small local economy, destroy the earth and destroy a unique eco-system. It will obstruct and divert ocean currents, accelerate coastal erosion and cut a wide gap in the natural defences against sea level rise.
Govender, who is the Chairperson of the Airport Farmer’s Association, explains what losing his land would mean to him:
“The land means the world to me in the sense that I’m here six days a week from 7 o’clock in the morning till 5 o’clock in the afternoon and when I get home it’s only my farm that I think of and nothing else. So it’s my livelihood and I would like to remain on the land”.
As the estimated human death toll of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines rises above 2000, the annual UN climate negotiations are under way in Warsaw, Poland. Haiyan is not the only natural disaster the world has witnessed this year; from India to Canada, people’s lives, homes and communities are being wiped out as a result of the rapidly increasing average global temperature.
Corporate capture of the international negotiations by big polluting energy corporations, such as Eskom and Sasol, who are seemingly permanent members of the South African delegation and the lack of real change in most government’s energy policies, highlight that changing the approach to energy production lies not with an international process but with the people.
Details of tomorrow’s march and press conference are as follows:
Venue: Starting at Isipingo Reunion Beach Recreational Centre, left onto Refinery Road and right onto farmer’s land.
Time: March 14:00 – 15:00 and press conference 15:00 – 15:30
Details for the camp are as follows:
Date: Thursday, 14th November to Sunday, 17th November.
Venue: Eco Park, 55 Grays Inn Road, Bluff, Durban
 South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (and its affiliate organisations), Airport Farmers Association, groundWork, Earthlife Africa Durban, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, KwaZulu Regional Christian Council, Newcastle Environmental Justice Alliance, University of KwaZulu Natal Centre for Civil Society, Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance, Greater Middleburg Residents Association, Mpumalanga Youth Against Climate Change, South African Waste Pickers’ Association, Streetnet, Umbano Traders Alliance, Diakonia Council of Churches, Timberwatch, Biowatch, Abahlali Base Mjondolo, 350.org, Umphilo waManzi, Refugee Centre, Pietermaritzburg Association for Community Action.
 Govender is one of 16 farmers who employ around 100 farm workers. Most have worked on the land next to the former Durban airport in Prospecton for about 25 years under a monthly lease held formerly by Acsa but which has recently been taken over by Transnet. They sell fresh produce to local street markets and larger supermarkets. The Airport Farmers Association was established with the support of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance to organise the farmers around previous issues of removal and any other grievances.
 The purpose of the People’s Climate Camp is to resist projects that damage climate, environment and people and still is seen directly in the proposed port expansion project; to articulate and build capacity for the alternative of people’s sovereignty (food and energy in particular); and to make a platform for people to articulate views on climate and energy justice on the way to the people’s pre-CoP in Venezuela in 2014 and CoP21 in Paris in 2015 – this is the CoP that is supposed to agree a new climate deal for implementation in 2020.
Media and Communications Officer at groundWork
Mobile: +27 (0) 83 450 5541
Coordinator at South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
Mobile: +27 (0) 83 982 6939
Chairperson at Earthlife Africa Durban
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 472 8844
Nov 11, 2013
Friends of the Earth Africa: Commemoration of Saro-Wiwa murder reinforces demand to wean off dirty energy
Commemoration of Saro-Wiwa murder reinforces demand to wean off dirty energy. 75 African groups demand Obama stops pushing dirty energy through 'Power Africa' initiative.
As the world commemorates the anniversary of the murder of playwright and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, remembrance activities are being organized all over the world to continue Saro-Wiwa’s legacy of advocating for the preservation of territories, supporting environmental defenders, resisting corporate rule and seeking justice for communities affected by dirty energy.
In connection with these tributes, as part of the Reclaim Power Month of Action on Energy, and on the eve of the UN Climate Convention in Warsaw, today, African groups wrote to U.S. President Barack Obama to “reject any further extraction of and exploitation of fossil fuels, including natural gas, oil, coal and unconventional fossil fuels” as part of Obama’s Power Africa initiative and attempts to weaken the greenhouse gas cap of the US development finance institution, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Rather, the groups urged support for “small-scale, decentralized, community-owned renewable energy initiatives throughout the African countryside and cities.”
Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders were sentenced to death on 10 November 1995 by the junta of late General Sani Abacha for speaking out against the impact of Shell’s exploratory activities for petroleum in Ogoniland in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.
Godwin Ojo, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria, said: “18 years after the extra judicial murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa for resisting corporate rule instigated by Shell, the aggressive extraction of fossil fuels and other forms of dirty energy continue unabated, instigating injustices, oppression and ecological genocide in the Niger Delta and many other parts of Africa and the world. That is why we are launching this letter today to President Obama to reject support for dirty energy as part of his Power Africa initiative. ”
A new report by Friends of the Earth International titled: “Good Energy, Bad Energy: Transforming the Energy System for People and the Planet', has also been released this past week. The report exposes the grave threat posed by the aggressive drive for fossil fuels and other dirty energy forms. The report notes that world’s current energy system is driving climate change and many other social and environmental problems, from land grabbing, pollution, deforestation and the destruction of ecosystems, to human rights abuses, health problems, premature deaths, unsafe jobs and the collapse of local economies .
In this context, Friends of the Earth Africa demands that the Obama administration stop pushing the further exploitation of fossil fuels through initiatives like ‘Power Africa’. Siziwe Khanyile, Coordinator of FoE Africa said, “We’re facing catastrophic climate change and grabbing of territories of communities for dirty energy and false solutions. 75 African groups demand: Leave the Oil in the Soil and the Coal in the Hole. We want clean, democratically-controlled renewable energy systems for our people instead.”
The world’s largest recent discovery of natural gas in the past decade was found in Mozambique . But Anabela Lemos, Director of Friends of the Earth Mozambique states: “We want to avoid climate disaster and so does President Obama. So it is simply impossible to exploit this natural gas in Mozambique. We don’t need more of a resource curse in Africa.”
Kwami Kpondzo of Friends of the Earth Togo said: “Small scale solutions can provide us with sustainable lives and livelihoods without sinking our health along with that of the continent and the planet.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Godwin Ojo, Executive director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria: firstname.lastname@example.org
Siziwe Khanyile, Coordinator of Friends of the Earth Africa, email@example.com
Anabela Lemos, Director of Friends of the Earth Mozambique, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kwami D. Kpondzo, Friends of the Earth Togo, email@example.com
 The letter to President Obama can be found at this link:
 The report and a summary can be found online at http://www.goodenergybadenergy.org
Oct 17, 2013
On October 19 2013, people around the world will gather to make their voices heard in unanimous rejection of fracking. The second annual Global Frackdown is an opportunity for people to learn and share their knowledge about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and let policy makers know that the tide has turned: Fracking will not be tolerated.
A number of significant victories have been scored against the practice of fracking since the last Global Frackdown. Even in the last few weeks, France's highest legal body upheld a ban on fracking and European Union lawmakers voted to force energy companies to carry out in-depth environmental audits prior to any procedure involving fracking. Bulgaria also banned fracking and moratoriums are in place in Ireland, the Czech Republic and Lithuania. Opposition to fracking is also growing in Africa and the Americas. But there is still a long way to go and much, much more work to do. Join us!
What can you do?
October 11 marks the beginning of a month of worldwide public protest and action to say no to dirty energy, and to support clean, renewable alternatives.
Clean, community-owned energy already exists and is a real solution to climate change. But it needs more momentum and political support. We'll be telling our decision-makers to put people at the heart of a clean energy future.
Recent reports from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency demonstrate the need for a revolution in how societies generate their power and that almost two thirds of known reserves of fossil fuels must remain underground if we wish to prevent catastrophic climate change.
This month gives people the opportunity to protest against the dirty energy of the past and to demand a clean energy future in the run up to the vital UN Climate Change Conference which begins in Warsaw on November 11th.
People can add any energy activity they are planning to the global map of actions. Each action, large or small, will contribute to strengthening the global movement for a world free of dirty energy projects, and for real community energy solutions.
The month of action is divided into the following theme weeks:
- 11 October: annual meeting of the IMF and the World Bank, we will call on these institutions to stop public subsidies for fossil fuel projects.
- 19 October: Global Frackdown – global action day against hydraulic fracturing, one of the most extreme forms of fossil fuel extraction.
- 20-27 October: People vs Coal – the dirtiest and most polluting industry is befriending governments to directly influence public decisions.
- 28 October - 3 November: Shell, clean up your mess! Shell has failed to clean up decades of pollution in the Niger Delta, we need to stand with the most affected communities
- 4-11 November: Community Power – communities across the world are building democratic renewable alternatives.
Friends of the Earth International is part of a worldwide initiative to help organise this month of action along with Greenpeace International, 350.org, Push Europe, La Via Campesina, Action Aid International and many more groups.
Oct 15, 2013
Les Amis de la Terre/Friends of the Earth France, in partnership with CRID (Centre de Recherche et d’Information pour le Développement /Research and Information Centre for Development) and Peuples Solidaires – Action Aid France, have opened public voting for the Pinocchio Awards 2013.
Les Amis de la Terre/Friends of the Earth France, in partnership with CRID (Centre de Recherche et d’Information pour le Développement /Research and Information Centre for Development) and Peuples Solidaires – Action Aid France, have opened public voting for the Pinocchio Awards 2013. By highlighting specific cases of social and environmental rights violations committed by multinational companies, these Awards are an opportunity to report the gap between the speeches about “sustainable development” and the actual practices on the ground. Through the Pinocchio Awards, these organizations are fighting for a binding legal framework for multinationals’ activities.
Six years after the first edition of the Sustainable Development Pinocchio Awards, Les Amis de la Terre France, in partnership with CRID and Peuples Solidaires, are launching the 2013 edition and opening polls at www.prix-pinocchio.org. Nine companies have been nominated in three categories (1):
- Greener than green: awarded to the company which has led the most abusive and misleading communication campaign in regard to its actual activities.
- Areva and its mining museum Urêka
- Air France and carbon offsetting in Madagascar
- BNP Paribas and research against climate change
- Dirty hands, full wallet: awarded to the company which has the most opaque policy at the financial level (tax evasion, corruption, etc), in terms of lobbying or in its supply chain.
- Auchan and the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh
- Apple and the Bangka tin mine in Indonesia
- Alstom and the big dams of Belo Monte and Rio Madeira in Brazil
- One for all and all for me!: awarded to the company which has the most aggressive policy in terms of appropriation, exploitation or destruction of natural resources.
- Total and shale gas in Argentina
- Veolia and the privatization of water in India
- Société Générale and the coal mine Alpha Coal in Australia
According to Nathalie Peré-Marzano, director of CRID, “Private actors, especially multinational companies, are entrusted a major role in ‘development’ that States still reduce to economic growth. This vision is being challenged by many today since these multinationals are at the heart of the system that aggravates inequities all over the world, abusively exploits natural resources, and affects the basic rights of populations.”
For Fanny Gallois, campaign manager at Peuples Solidaires, “From the exploitation of workers to the appropriation of populations’ natural resources, in addition to environmental damages, the activities of multinationals, especially the French ones, sometimes have catastrophic consequences. The Pinocchio Awards are here to question their responsibility and to remind the elected officials and the government that it is time to regulate the activities of these companies.”
Juliette Renaud, Corporate Accountability campaigner at Les Amis de la Terre France, concludes: “Current government ministers, including Nicole Bricq, have admitted the need to recognize the legal responsibility of the multinational parent companies regarding the damages caused by their subsidiaries and sub-contractors. Action has now to be taken by setting up a binding legal framework and putting an end to their impunity. Citizens from every continent are affected by the nominated companies for the Pinocchio Awards and they should all be able to enjoy the same rights and access to justice.”
Mobilization around the Pinocchio Awards will take place from 15th October to 19th November, date of the public award ceremony (2). Bi-weekly focuses will be realized in order to enlighten each case. Local groups from Les Amis de la Terre France and Peuples Solidaires will organize regional events. A stand is expected in Paris during the Week of International Solidarity.
To learn more, visit our website: prix-pinocchio.org
Caroline Prak, Les Amis de la Terre – Friends of the Earth France – 01 48 51 18 96 / 06 86 41 53 43 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Fanny Gallois, Peuples Solidaires – Action Aid France – 01 48 58 21 85 / 06 19 89 53 07
Camille Champeaux, CRID – 01 44 72 89 74 – email@example.com,
 The detailed presentation of the Pinocchio Awards and the nine 2013 nominees is available in French, English, and Spanish on the following website: www.prix-pinocchio.org.
 The Pinocchio Awards are given on the basis of thousands of internet users’ votes across the world. The ceremony will take place 19th November 2013 with Peuples Solidaires and CRID, at La Java, Paris. Registration is open here
Follow the Pinocchio Awards and Les Amis de la Terre France updates on Twitter @amisdelaterre
Oct 11, 2013
Civil Society movements blamed Governments negotiating on biofuels at the Committee on World Food Security [1, 2] for defending the interests of the biofuels industry rather than the interests of people pushed into hunger by biofuel policies. Ignoring expert evidence from the High Level Panel of Experts showing that biofuels targets aggravate food price volatility and hunger, Governments led by North America, Australia and the EU systematically deleted any references to Human Rights, links with food price spikes and land grabbing.
Governments acknowledged that biofuels crops compete with food crops and influence food prices but did not have the courage to recommend any action to stop this. The domination of pro biofuel countries in talks, spearheaded by the EU, has resulted in decisions heavily favorable for biofuels expansion. Governments including Egypt, Jordan and China who spoke expressing strong misgivings have largely been ignored.
Robbie Blake, biofuels campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said:
"Experts agree that burning food for biofuels is not a 'green' solution. It fuels hunger, land grabs and climate change. Yet, under intense pressure from a subsidy-hungry biofuel industry, the UN Committee on World Food Security has today ignored the obvious: that to reduce pressure on land and food we must stop using food for fuel for the rich."
Kirtana Chandrasekaran, food sovereignty coordinator for Friends of the Earth International, said:
"Small scale food producers have spoken powerfully here about the reality they are confronted with every day: that biofuels crops compete with their food production, for the land they till and for the water that sustains them. They called on this assembly to take action to defend the right to food from the impacts of biofuels; instead the recommendations overwhelmingly defend the interests of the biofuels industry and legitimise violations of the right to food."
In June the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE), on the request of the CFS, released its report on biofuels policies to inform the negotiations . The report clearly concluded that there is a link between the energy policy and food insecurity and that biofuels have been a key driver behind steep food price spikes and food price volatility in recent years. It said: “Everything else being equal, the introduction of a rigid biofuel demand does affect food commodity prices. […] In the last few years (since 2004) of short-term commodity food price increase, biofuels did play an important role.” Other independent research such as by the European Commission has confirmed similar findings . And the OECD, World Bank, IMF, WTO and FAO in 2011 called on ministers of G20 countries “to remove provisions of current national policies that subsidize (or mandate) biofuels production or consumption” . All this advice was discounted.
Estimates suggest about six million hectares of land in sub-Saharan Africa is already controlled by European biofuel companies and about 293 land grabs covering more than 17 million hectares worldwide have been reported due to biofuels.
On Monday more than 80 civil society organizations sent a letter to CFS members warning that the current recommendations would fail to uphold the Right to Food or stop hunger caused by biofuels.
 The CFS serves as a forum in the UN System for review and follow-up of policies concerning world food security. Civil Society participates at the CFS through the largest international mechanism of civil society organizations seeking to influence agriculture, food security and nutrition policies and actions.
 The mandate and spirit of the reformed CFS is to create a body that includes all countries and stakeholders. A Global Strategic Framework rooted in the Right to Food is at the heart of the reformed CFS and provides clear guidance to coordinate actions on food security and nutrition.
 The HLPE provides scientific and knowledge-based analysis to inform governments on priority issues. It’s report on biofuels is: www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/hlpe/hlpe_documents/HLPE_Reports/HLPE-Report-5_Biofuels_and_food_security.pdf
 Open Letter on Biofuels in the CFS
 Civil Society intervention after the CFS Biofuels Decision Box is adopted
Oct 07, 2013
The delay to trade talks between the EU and US, which were due to start in Brussels today, must be used to address the risks a deal represents to people and the environment, says Friends of the Earth Europe.
The negotiations were put on hold on Friday evening when it was announced that the US delegation would not be travelling to Europe due to the current shutdown of parts of the US administration.
Friends of the Earth Europe is highly concerned about the threat the EU-US trade deal – known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – poses to environmental, social and consumer standards and safeguards. The group is calling on negotiators to use this delay as 'thinking time' to make sure the interests of people and the environment are given priority over business interests.
Many corporations are already lobbying for a deal that is in their private interests, for example, against measures to prevent the import of dirty tar sands from the US and Canada to Europe, and against EU food protection measures which make it harder for US companies to export GMOs.
Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Decision-makers on both sides of the Atlantic now have extra thinking time and they need to realise that an EU-US trade deal can only help get us out of the economic and climate crises if it has the interests of people and the planet at its heart. Big corporations will undoubtedly be using this delay to continue lobbying for weaker standards, especially on issues related to food, agriculture, chemicals and energy. Our health and safety must not be traded away for an agreement that would mainly profit big corporations or limit states’ ability to regulate."
Friends of the Earth Europe insists that, as part of the deal, companies and investors should not receive excessive rights to legally challenge democratically adopted measures through a so-called ‘investor state dispute settlement’. It says a partnership should only be agreed if it results in higher standards for the environment, safety and consumer protection and if the ability of governments to make new legislation is not weakened.
The group is also concerned about the lack of transparency of the negotiations so far and is calling for the public to be given access to negotiation documents.
The following briefings on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have been published today by Friends of the Earth Europe:
'Trading away our future?' briefing on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP): www.foeeurope.org/sites/default/files/foee_briefing_ttip_oct13.pdf
'How fair and sustainable food and farming could be permanently damaged by a transatlantic trade deal' briefing: www.foeeurope.org/sites/default/files/foee_iatp_factsheet_ttip_food_oct13.pdf
'The risks of including an investor-to-state dispute settlement in transatlantic trade talks' briefing: www.foeeurope.org/sites/default/files/foee_factsheet_isds_oct13.pdf
The environmental education center for Friends of the Earth has been honored by Hostelling International
As Corcerizas wins an international award for sustainability
The environmental education center for Friends of the Earth, As Corcerizas, has been one of the international winners of the Hostelling International Award for projects aimed at improving natural heritage through reducing carbon emissions. The prize of 24,800 pounds (about 30,000 euros) will make As Corcerizas an energy island through the winter months.
As Corcerizas has been chosen as a winner, taking second prize, from a selection of hostels from all around the world belonging to the international network of youth hostels. The final vote was between 15 finalists from participating countries such as the U.S. , Brazil and China. The three initiatives with the most votes were the winners of the prizes from the network, enabling them to improve the sustainability of its facilities and surroundings: Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States [1 ] .
The award endorses the implementation of a project presented by Friends of the Earth which proposes the installation of a wind turbine and the construction of a heated cob wall as radiation system. A program for schools to minimise their carbon footprint in order to tackle climate will also be developed.
At the Friends of the Earth hostel all energy production comes exclusively from renewable energy, and so it is able to operate outside the conventional electricity grid, forming what is known as an "energy island" in virtually every month of the year. The problem was that in winter the sun and the flow of water coming from the small reservoir in the Sierra de San Mamede would sometimes not be enough to cover the entire building's electrical demand. Thanks to this award As Corcerizas will be entirely solidified as an energy island, serving as an example of sustainability not only in Spain, but also at a worldwide level.
" This award recognizes the work of all workers and volunteers and for their professionalism, effort and motivation which has managed to push through a project which is 100% renewable and democratic. This is how we are proving the viability of a center that operates outside of the electricity grid. We want to thank all the people who have supported As Corcerizas and have made utopia a reality," stresses Analia Moares, responsible for the center.
Promotional video: ( English)
Oct 02, 2013
Young Friends of the Earth Norway has been instrumental in facing down the country's imposing oil industry and protecting a delicate, precious environment. The story below is from Silje Lundberg's blog.
Last night we got the news we’ve been waiting for for years: vulnerable areas in the extreme north of Norway, the Lofoten islands, are to be kept closed from the oil industry for the next four years. This is a major victory for the local fishermen who’ve been fighting this for more then two decades and for us, the people.
The fight against oil drilling off the coast of the Lofoten-islands has been a fight between local fishermen, environmentalists, and young people on the one side, and major oil companies and politicians blinded by the wealth from oil on the opposite side. Today we won. Yet again. Since 2001 this is the fifth time we’ve kept the oil industry’s dirty paws away from the Lofoten islands, and for each victory the oil lobby will have a harder time convincing parliament to open the areas. Because the public don’t support them, science doesn’t support them and youth don’t support them. We believe in a different future for our country and for the northern region.
I grew up not far from these precious islands, and ever since I joined Young Friends of the Earth Norway, more then thirteen years ago, I’ve been fighting for their future. The oil industry and the petroholic politicians argue that we need to open these areas to secure jobs in the north. That this is the only way for young people to move back to the region. That’s bullshit. This is my region, and I have faith in it and the people here. We cannot continue to build our country on an industry that produces a product that threatens millions of people all over the world. There has to be some boundaries, also for the Norwegian oil industry. We need to leave the oil in the soil, and the most obvious place to start is to keep the areas outside the Lofoten-islands free from the oil industry.
The area holds unique cold-water reefs, pods of sperm whales and killer whales, some of the largest seabird colonies in Europe as well as being the spawning grounds of the largest remaining cod stock in the world. Why on earth would any one even consider drilling for oil here?
It’s been a long fight. In 1994 the Government opened parts of the areas for the oil industry. In 2001 Young Friends of the Earth Norway and the Bellona Foundation stopped one of the exploration rigs headed towards Lofoten. The pressure from the public on the Government was huge, and they had no other option but to order the rig to turn and go back, without succeeding in their mission. Since then we’ve secured the areas at every cross road, first in 2002, then in 2006, in 2011 and then again this year. In 2013. This year will go down in the history books as yet another year when the people stood up, against major oil companies and one of the most powerful lobby groups in Norway, and the people won. We managed to get the new minority Government, consisting of two parties who both want to open the areas for oil exploration to preserve the areas. And to put the considerations to future generations and to renewable and everlasting fisheries over the short term profit that the oil industry might give us.
In 2017 the fight continues. But I’m certain that for every time we’ve won this, it gets harder and harder for the oil industry to win. And therefore I am certain that when the time comes, we’ll win again. There is no other option.
Sep 27, 2013
September 25 was the deadline for an important defense appeal: Berta Caceres has been sentenced to serve time in prison and her colleagues' freedom of movement has been curtailed. And why? Because they stood up for a local community, the Lenca people, who were not consulted about the construction of a hydroelectric project on their lands. Let the Honduran authorities know that this violation of human rights is not acceptable. We firmly believe that Berta Cáceres's life is in danger if she is sent to prison.
We demand that the Honduran authorities
Immediately suspend the arrest warrant against Berta Caceres
Stop all judicial persecution of Aureliano Molina, Tomas Gomez and Victor Fernandez
Suspend the eviction order of the Lenca people in Rio Blanco
The four activists have been working with the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to protest a planned hydroelectric project, a joint operation involving the Honduran government and a national company called Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA), in the Rio Blanco territory of the country. The population of Rio Blanco has strongly objected to the project since its inception. International human rights instruments, such as ILO Convention 169, compel the Honduran state to meaningfully consult with the local population and protect indigenous lands.
The local Lenca people, working with COPINH, have been protesting against the continued efforts by the government and DESA to push ahead with the project. The government has used the ongoing protests as a pretext to militarize the area.
DESA, a Honduran company, working with a large team of lawyers, has been engaged in legal harthrassment of the COPINH leaders for months. The activists have faced a variety of spurious charges, including, most recently, coercion, theft and damages against the company. On September 20, Judge Knight Lisseth Lissien handed down a jail sentence to Berta Caceres, and punitive measures for her colleagues – including ordering them to stay away from Rio Blanco and report every 15 days to court.
These events are taking place in the context of a widening crackdown on peaceful dissent in Honduras. Since this government seized power in a coup, opponents of the government and its interests have been intimidated, persecuted and even murdered. COPINH is one of a number of Honduran organizations who have spoken up in defense of human rights and land rights and who have faced this persecution. This cannot continue.
We demand an end to the judicial harassment of the COPINH leaders, immediate suspension of the arrest warrant for Berta Caceres, an end to the criminalization of social movements in Honduras, and respect for the right of Peoples to be consulted on projects affecting their territories.
Aug 22, 2013
An Open Letter from Friends of the Earth Africa, signed by many NGO's and other groups from Africa and other parts of the World, which is being handed over to several Danish Embassies all over Africa.
To: The Honorable Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Denmark
In light of the interview given by your Minister for Development Cooperation, Christian Friis Bach, on the 9th of this month to the Danish newspaper Politiken, and taking into account that the presence of Danish cooperations on the African continent dates long before the independence of most countries where they still operate today through various organizations that develop various projects and activities in various spheres of the political system, civil society and the business sector, we cannot refrain from expressing our deepest distaste for the disrespectful and peculiar ideological content of the above-mentioned interview.
Truth be told, Minister Christian Friis Bach said exactly what many politicians and leaders of developed countries think but cleverly would never dare say. Frankly, we prefer Christian Friis Bach to those other dodgy individuals. Petulant or reckless, your Minister of Development Cooperation said just what he thinks, giving us a chance to rebut, to contest and tell him that his notion of development is obsolete, that what he says he is willing to do is ethically despicable and offensive, that those who he claims would be the main beneficiaries of the policies he intends to impose will for sure become its main victims, and that even though unfortunately he may have the power to influence the decisions taken by the state apparatuses of some African countries, he definitely does not have the right to do so. We believe that he ought to know it. We Africans assure Christian Friis Bach and all who think like him, that even though we are already being pillaged, we will never allow Africa to be economically recolonized. Never.
It is instructive to remember that contrary to what Minister Friis Bach said in his interview, we Africans do have capacity to feed and sustain our people. African agriculture and food needs have been met over time through sustainable and multi-dimensional approaches, keeping to a minimum such externalities as artificial fertilizers, imported pesticides and herbicides, as well as practices that are alien to the socio-cultural settings of our people.
The support Africa needs right now is a decisive stand to maintain seed as well as cultural diversities and defend staple crops which are targeted by biotech even when there is no need for their engineered varieties or GM crops.
To you, as the highest elected representative of the Danish people, we would like to ask if you share the opinions of your Minister for Development Cooperation. If you do, please be kind enough to answer the following questions:
Do you think it is fair that the African continent should be held accountable "today" for the bad decisions rich countries such as yours made “yesterday”, and which led to over-exploitation of nature, animals and human beings by introducing unhealthy and destructive diets as well as excess energy consumption?
Do you consider it acceptable that countries like yours should impose their failed development models on Africa as if they were models of success and the only guaranteed path towards development?
Would you imagine a world in which Africa adopts your ideas of production, consumption, development and progress?
Do you think it right that we Africans must accept without question the responsibility of using our resources to support those who were obviously unable to manage theirs?
It honours us greatly that the world is turning to Africa and its leaders say they are counting on us. We Africans are hospitable and supportive and for long we have been wanting to contribute more and better to a development path that supports sustainable livelihoods. However, we do not have to sacrifice ourselves to accommodate the whims of those who think it is a mark of progress to destroy the planet. We want to rely on the support of all who are well intended, but such support must not trample on our sovereignty and dignity.
In this context, we, African organizations, movements and associations who hereby signed this letter, reiterate that we continue to consider much welcome the support of those who wish to walk with us towards a development path:
- That adequately serves our needs and those of our future generations;
- That is fair and just and not predicated on exploitation, resource grabs and denigration;
- That is logical and thoughtful and does not necessarily have to be traversed in pursuit of anything or anyone;
- In which we may not be sole beneficiaries, but we must not be denied our due;
- That not only respects the sovereignty of each African country, but also our diversity as a people, as well as the diversity of our cultures and traditions;
- That is guided by principles of honesty, transparency and inclusion, fundamental to the democratic exercise of any territory.
- That respects our Food sovereignty, which is built upon the inalienable rights of peoples to maintain their cultural as well as seed diversities. Cultural diversity permits peoples to maintain and enlarge their stock of local knowledge; produce, save and use their seeds and have control over farming practices developed over centuries of experimentation and experience. Food sovereignty ensures that farmers stay in business and that peoples are not forced to alter their diets.
Naturally, we consider that any development project that ignores or disregards any of these principles is not in the best interest of Africa or Africans, and we reject and denounce the position taken by your government through your Minister of Development Cooperation.
For the sake of the good relations we wish to maintain with you, we would appreciate you would be so kind as to respond to this letter.
Aug 20, 2013
Friends of the Earth Australia calls for transparency on climate aid and recognition of customary land rights in Indonesia
Friends of the Earth Australia has called on the Australian government to initiate an open review of its failed experiment in climate aid in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, citing a lack of transparency and a lack of effective engagement with issues surrounding customary forest rights as key failings of the government’s approach.
Photo Credit: naturemandala via Compfight cc
In an open letter supported by Indonesian partners WALHI / Friends of the Earth Indonesia, Yayasan Petak Danum Kalimantan Tengah (Land and Water Foundation Central Kalimantan) and Friends of the Earth International, Friends of the Earth Australia has called on AusAID and the Australian government to break its silence on the controversial program.
The Kalimantan Forest Carbon Partnership (KFCP) was originally slated to protect 70,000 hectares of peat forests, re-flood 200,000 hectares of dried peatlands and plant of 100 million trees, projected to lead to 700 million tonnes of greenhouse gas reductions over 30 years. It was championed by both Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd as an important test case for initiating climate action through the UN’s Reduced Emmissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) program. The KFCP was quietly shelved on June 30 this year, having failed to achieve any of these targets, and having caused sustained conflict among local communities who were supposed be at the heart of the project's efforts.
‘With such ambitious targets announced by successive Coalition and Labor governments, the Australian government should now front up to the public in an open and honest way, and conduct a thorough review of the KFCP’ said Nick McClean, Climate Justice Coordinator with Friends of the Earth Australia.
‘Walking away from a $47 million dollar investment without accounting for how the money was spent and what the outcomes are is unacceptable in any situation. But with a major increase in Australian foreign aid on the cards, and lasting change in the forested lands of the developing world a crucial part of climate action, learning the lessons from this REDD trial is crucial for any future conservation efforts. A reported gag on project staff and the continued protests from a number of customary landholders in this case are particularly alarming aspects of the project. It begs the question as to what really happened in the KFCP’
Isaac Rojas from Friends of the Earth International echoed these concerns:
‘REDD has so far been problematic in many parts of the world, and the unwillingness of REDD partners to help secure the rights of customary landholders is proving a key problem with this approach. Getting to the bottom of why these problems keep occurring will help in developing partnerships with local communities that can lead to effective conservation programs,’ he said.
Deddy Ratih, Bioregion and Climate Campaigner with WALHI / Friends of the Earth Indonesia said: ‘Throughout Indonesia, local communities have an intimate knowledge of their forests and a willingness to engage that can be a major asset in halting deforestation and managing forests sustainably. But if the international community are unwilling to support these communities in securing their rights to land ownership as the basis of a positive collaboration, it’s hard to see how conservation schemes like REDD will be successful in the long run. Simply paying communities to stay out of their forests so foreign polluters can offset their emissions won’t work. Supporting the recognition of the active custodial relationships with traditional lands these communities maintain an important part of the long term solution to deforestation’ he said.
Currently between 50 and 80 million people live in Indonesia’s forested areas, many of whom are customary land holders who receive little recognition of their rights from the Indonesian government. While a recent constitutional court case established the validity of these land rights in the Indonesian constitution, the Indonesian government is yet to act on this development and legislate for widespread recognition of these rights.
Nick McClean from Friends of the Earth Australia said : ‘Customary landholders deserve a better deal than what they are currently getting, being the unfortunate victims of the widespread landgrabbing and deforestation that occurs in Indonesian Borneo. Supporting recognition of their rights is a way of countering these destructive industries and investing long term in the conservation estate. We hope that a review of this project will contribute to mapping out a positive path forward on this challenging issue’
Aug 05, 2013
Since this post was originally published earlier this month, the Dipped Products Glove factory, which had been the target of protests, has been ordered to relocate and may close pending further government invesitations.
The events are starkly reminiscent of the final stages of the demonstration in Cochabamba in Bolivia in the year 2000, when Victor Hugo Daza was killed. That protest was also against the privatization of public water.
The incident in Sri Lanka is a warning to the people of the terrible consequences of protesting against neoliberal and corporate interests. It is shameful how some politicians are painting a misleading picture of this incident, while media footage and eye witness testimonies clearly tell a different story.
The World Socialist Website reported:
“About 1,000 soldiers wearing flak jackets and armed with T-56 assault rifles were deployed to the area. Members of the army’s motorcycle brigade arrived in Belummahara at about 2 p.m. and immediately began harassing demonstrators, demanding they disperse.
About two hours later another group of soldiers were mobilized to Weliweriya to break up the demonstration. While the protesters eventually agreed to a directive from an army brigadier to disperse within five minutes, in the ensuing commotion, commandos suddenly started firing live rounds. Protesters were also attacked with long batons, tear gas and water cannon.”
On the surface, the protest is a water conflict. People were simply demanding clean water for their daily consumption and for the factory to be closed. However, on closer inspection, it is an issue of exploitation of a common good by a corporate giant and a business tycoon for corporate interest. The military was indirectly serving the businesses against the public interest.
A peaceful protest in Welivariya, Sri Lanka demanding clean water, ended with the killing of three people including a 17 year old school boy, Akila Dinesh (who was the only child in his family) and many others wounded. They were demonstrating against the Venigross Gloves Factory, located in Rathupaswela (about 17 km from Colombo, Sri Lanka), which has caused water contamination in a more than 3 km radius, affecting twelve villages.
The affected people are living in rural villages, which depend entirely on wells for their water. There are no pipe water facilities and no monthly bills. The factory has released acidic effluent and given the untreated sludge as manure to local people, which, in turn, makes the groundwater acidic.
Farming families now cannot go to the paddy fields due to the pollution from the factory. They cannot even drink their own well water. Therefore, those people who have set up this polluting factory in such a pristine place should be held responsible for destroying lives and traditional livelihoods.
Affected people have a legitimate right to oppose this polluting factory. They also have a right to demand clean water, which is a basic need and a human right. They face the risk of contaminated food, even when they grow it on their own land. The water table will not be recovered in the next two to three decades. The factory, which was presented as a much needed source of local jobs, will instead be a burden on these communities for the foreseeable future.
Jul 25, 2013
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) today (July 24, 2013) launched a new campaign titled "Publish What You Pump", which aims to fill the gap in the present Publish What You Pay and the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) processes.
At an event in Port Harcourt graced by representatives of civil society groups, community-based organizations and the media, ERA/FoEN said that although the NEITI processes have been ongoing for nearly 12 years, it has largely failed to sanitize the Nigerian petroleum sector or reduce the level of corruption as Nigeria loses nearly 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day, costing the nation nearly $8 billion dollars per year.
The initiative will require that institutions such as the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) set up appropriate guidelines for measuring oil and gas production as well as have the necessary tools to carry out their oversight functions.
In his presentation, ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Godwin Ojo said that today marks an important milestone in the launch of a national and global advocacy initiative which will address the lack of transparency and accountability in the oil and gas sector thereby posing a grave threat to national security and sustainable development.
The domestication of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) into the Nigerian context seeks to address poor resource governance and revenue mobilization to reverse the resource curse. Nigeria is endowed with abundant natural resources but is unable to utilize this for the wellbeing of citizens. As a result, poverty is rife, and more than 50 percent of its citizens live on less than US$2 per day. The Nigerian government is yet to properly account for the US$ 600 billion accruing from oil in the last four decades. We believe that given the necessary political will and prioritization, Nigeria can afford a National Basic income Scheme (NaBIS) of about N15,000 for all unemployed Nigerians if all the leaks, looting and theft of its resources are eliminated.
The Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) audits have unearthed a variety of discrepancies over the 10-year audit period and discovered nearly $2.6 billion dollars loss, tax evasion, and non-payment of royalties by the oil majors. In all counts, the oil majors failed to respect the NEITI findings but have ignored them with impunity.
The Publish What You Pump draws attention to the crime scene of ecological devastation, ecocide, and oil theft in the Niger Delta. It is time to hold oil companies and the presiding captains overseeing these rots and deaths corporately and personally accountable for the deaths and destruction they are helping to create.
The lack of transparency and accountability in the oil sector is leading to massive oil theft from the point of production to the point of sale. For example, it is the aspiration of the federal government to increased crude oil production to 4mbpd in the near future. We state categorically that government is already realizing its aspirations and producing well beyond 4mbpd that is far above the oil industry disclosed production rate that is averaging 2.4mbpd.
The recent disclosure in July that crude oil theft from pipelines has reached alarming proportion of 400,000 bpd is restricted to the Bush Refineries by local oil thieves. What about the more massive oil theft that is going on at the oil wellheads, flow stations, and export terminals that are directed at the international market? In addition to this, there are over 4,000 oil spills in the Niger Delta and not one has been effectively cleaned up. The volume of the spills averages at least 1 ExxonMobil Valdez spill per annum, that is, about 500,000-700,000 barrels spilled in the Niger Delta on a yearly basis.
The frequent oil spills and gas flaring has degraded the environment, destroyed livelihoods, led to human rights violations, violent conflicts, impoverishment and ecocide such that the Niger delta lies prostrate on a stretcher and panting for breathe.
Who Is Afraid of Metering?
The continued resistance of the oil companies to metering oil and gas at well heads and flow stations and the acquiescing of the regulatory agencies as well as other institutions of government can only point to collusion between the oil majors and powerful government officials who benefit from the oil theft. Indeed, in the oil sector, it is business as usual as the regulator has firmly become the regulated. During the recent Joint Senate Committee hearing on the Petroleum Industry Bill, while the oil companies are advocating for metering of crude oil at the point of sale, civil society groups are advocating for metering at the point of production from the oil well heads, flow stations and export terminals. The core issue affecting the oil and gas industry is the failure and or refusal of operators in the industry and regulatory bodies to publicly disclose or engage easily available scientific templates for precise measurement of the volume of all oil and gas produced in Nigeria, and at the different stages of the production process.
The Publish What You Pump Campaign has tremendous benefits. First, it effectively shatters the myths and misconceptions that it is technologically impossible to ascertain the volume of oil and gas produced on a daily basis in Nigeria.
Secondly, the PWYPC will reduce the level of waste, enhance revenue for infrastructure and social amenities provision. It will drastically reduce or eliminate oil theft if the technology to ensure scientific and real time precision metering of oil and gas flows at any point in the oil and gas production and supply are deployed. The current practice of solely relying on the oil sector for crude oil production figure is clearly unacceptable. Thirdly, the initiative marks a significant threshold in aggregating voices and actions of civil society groups, local communities, the media and all Nigerians towards achieving the critical mass required to effect fundamental changes in the way the Nigerian oil industry has been run in the last five decades.
Although the metering of the production line is important in the short term, it is the national shift in energy production and consumption from fossils to renewable sources of energy that are the more relevant for a shift towards a post petroleum economy that is imminent for Nigeria.