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Nov 20, 2013

Reclaim Power: The Philippines Needs Justice, Not Coal Lobbyists

by Gerry Arrances — last modified Nov 20, 2013 11:07 AM

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.

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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.

Veolia, Areva and Auchan win the 2013 Pinocchio Awards!

by Les Amis de la Terre France — last modified Nov 20, 2013 11:30 AM

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 – caroline.prak@amisdelaterre.org
Vanessa Gautier, Peuples Solidaires - ActionAid France – 01 48 58 21 85 –
V.GAUTIER@peuples-solidaires.org

Notes :
(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