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Dec 19, 2013

Friends of the Earth’s Assessment of the UN Committee on World Food Security Negotiations

by Radio Mundo Real — last modified Dec 19, 2013 11:23 AM

Real World Radio presents the assessment by Friends of the Earth’s Food Sovereignty program coordinator Kirtana Chandrasekaran on the latest decisions of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS) on agrofuels.

Interview with Kirtana Chandrasekaran: MP3 (10.3 MB)

Chandrasekaran speaks about the CFS resolutions regarding investments in smallholder agriculture and civil society’s role in the committee.


Real World Radio also interviewed environmental activist Otto Bruun, from Friends of the Earth Finland, who focused on the role of social movements and organizations in the so called “Civil Society Mechanism”.

The CFS decisions on investment in smallholder agriculture and agrofuels, which go in different directions in terms of tackling world hunger, were negotiated and adopted by the governments at the CFS 40th session held in Rome, Italy, from October 7 to 11. Both Chandrasekaran and Bruun, as well as co-coordinator of FoEI’s Food Sovereignty Program, Martin Drago, attended the CFS talks in Rome.

The Committee on World Food Security is a multilateral agency reformed in 2009 to include the participation of different stakeholders in the debate on food security and nutrition. In 2011, the CFS commissioned reports on two different issues to a High Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition. As regards the investment in smallholder agriculture, the CFS followed the panel’s recommendations, while it dismissed its assessment on agrofuels.


Visit Radio Mundo Real for more news and interviews

WTO Talks: A Death Sentence. More Business and Trade Liberalization

by Radio Mundo Real — last modified Dec 19, 2013 11:22 AM

The outcome of the World Trade Organisation’s Ministerial Conference held in Bali, Indonesia, from December 3rd through 7th, is a “great disaster for peoples’ lives and for Mother Earth”.

Listen to the interview with Lucia Ortiz: MP3 (6.8 MB)

This was the assessment made by the coordinator of the Economic Justice Program of Friends of the Earth International, Lucia Ortiz, in interview with Real World Radio.

The Brazilian activist attended the WTO talks in Bali and said the resolutions adopted there are a threat to food sovereignty, which would lead to more “hunger and death”.

On December 3rd, several social movements, organizations and civil society groups demonstrated in Bali and in Geneva, Switzerland against the corporate capture of the WTO negotiations and of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The groups, which are part of the international campaign “Dismantle Corporate Power and End Impunity”, had demanded legally binding rules to punish transnational corporations for their crimes.

Ortiz highlighted the social movements’ demonstrations and actions in Bali. There was a memorial in honor of South Korean peasant Lee Kyung Hae who killed himself during the protests held in Cancun, Mexico, against the WTO negotiations on September 10th, 2003. With this memorial the demonstrators wanted to show what the WTO does to peasants.

Ortiz said that, contrary to the demands of social movements, the WTO passed a legally binding package to facilitate trade.

“Not even the measures to protect the least developed countries were achieved here. They (developed countries) keep only empty promises by an organization whose aim is to deliver trade liberalization and business for corporations”, said Lucia Ortiz.


Visit Radio Mundo Real for more news and interviews

Dec 10, 2013

Bowing to civil society pressure, palm oil giant promises to end its forest destruction

by admin — last modified Dec 10, 2013 10:15 AM

9th of December 2013 – In response to years of pressure from civil society, Wilmar International, the world's largest palm oil trader, has just announced a “No deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation Policy”.

Friends of the Earth International and many Friends of the Earth member groups have
campaigned for years to end Wilmar’s destructive, unsustainable, and often illegal practices. The ravages of the palm oil sector are well known and well documented, and we need urgent action to reduce the massive harm caused to forests and communities by industrial palm oil plantations.


We are strongly cognizant that Wilmar’s commitment to improvement comes in the wake of many years of land-grabbing, fueling of conflicts, destruction of endangered habitat, and other abuses – all of which has rewarded Wilmar and its associates with enormous profits, and established the company as the world’s largest palm oil trader.


Given this history, and the context within which transnational corporations such as Wilmar
operate, Friends of the Earth recognizes that a voluntary commitment by Wilmar, no matter how broad, can only be fully effective when accompanied and overseen by strong national legislation and international norms to prevent systematic exploitation of lands, lives and livelihoods, and by the full empowerment of local communities and community-based organizations to determine the best use of their lands and resources.


Friends of the Earth has documented several ongoing cases of social and environmental abuse involving Wilmar, its subsidiaries, and its third party suppliers. These cases demonstrate that Wilmar’s membership in the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil did not prevent it from violating the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities or from deforesting large areas.


In light of this, Wilmar needs to take immediate steps to demonstrate that it takes this new policy seriously. These steps include bringing an immediate end to conversion of natural forest to plantations; halting its purchasing of palm oil from Bumitama Agri Ltd.; immediate adherence to national laws in Uganda and all the countries where it operates; and the full and demonstrable application of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in all of its operations, including consideration for returning lands which were previously acquired without communities’ consent and through processes which did not respect their ownership rights. Without these concrete and immediate actions, the statement of Wilmar will be merely greenwash to prevent pressure from civil society groups.


Friends of the Earth will be closely monitoring the implementation of Wilmar’s stated
commitments.

 

Image: Riau palm oil 2007

Nov 27, 2013

Friends of the Earth South Africa: Send Eskom to rehab for its coal addiction

by Megan Lewis — last modified Nov 27, 2013 11:02 AM

Eskom coal-fired power stations surround the home of Thomas Mnguni, who lives with his two young children in the Mpumalanga Province in South Africa, experiencing daily the health impacts of Eskom’s coal addiction. South Africa’s energy utility supplies 90% of its electricity through its coal-fired power stations. The pollutants generated by coal combustion and the health impacts are severe, and it is those that are most vulnerable, such as the elderly, pregnant women and children, that are forced to bear the brunt of Eskom’s activities. Eskom is now attempting to avoid compliance with South Africa’s laws on air quality, put in place to protect people’s health.

Thomas plays an active role in his community on these issues as he sees the impacts Eskom’s addiction to coal has on them:

“Eskom is directly polluting us, but they are in denial about how the emissions from their coal-fired power stations affect our health. In Middleburg, where my children and I live, the air is some of the worst in the country, if not the world. My child and many others in the community suffer from asthma”.

Thomas, his community, and the entire South African community need your help to put pressure on Eskom to clean up their act! And the way you can do this is by naming and shaming the company by voting for it in the Public Eye Awards www.publiceye.ch

Regardless of Eskom publicly admitting that it is probably the biggest emitter of pollutants in South Africa, it is currently attempting to gain exemption and/or postponement for 14 of its 18 coal-fired power stations from having to comply with air pollution standards (minimum emissions standards). The areas in which many of these power stations are found already exceed South Africa’s air quality emission standards, so these applications are a flagrant disregard for people’s health. It is estimated that the external public health cost resulting from the Kusile coal-fired power stations in Mpumalanga, will be over R180 million (US$17.7m) , and 51% of hospital admissions in this province are from power generation activities.

Hosted by Greenpeace and the Berne Declaration, the international Public Eye Awards take place annually in parallel to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, to name and shame the world’s worst corporations, eight of which have been shortlisted this year based on human rights violations, environmental destruction and corruption.

Eskom is of course amongst these companies and the people of South Africa need your vote to put an end to Eskom’s coal addiction which is killing the people and their environment.

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

by Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka — last modified Nov 27, 2013 10:40 AM

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

The International day for the elimination of violence against women 2013

by admin — last modified Nov 25, 2013 05:35 PM

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

Polluters talk, we walk: Mass walk-out of corporate-captured climate talks in Poland

by admin — last modified Nov 21, 2013 02:27 PM

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 [1]. 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.

***
NOTES:

[1] 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: susann.scherbarth@foeeurope.org, Tel: 0032 (0) 486 341 837

Sam Fleet, communications officer, Friends of the Earth Europe
Email: Samuel.fleet@foeeurope.org, Tel: 0048 537 884 902


Nov 20, 2013

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

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.

Nov 15, 2013

Super Typhoon Haiyan: World Must Act on Climate Change

by Lidy Nacpil — last modified Nov 15, 2013 03:18 PM

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

Please donate now to Friends of the Earth Philippines and help provide relief to affected communities

by Friends of the Earth International — last modified Nov 13, 2013 03:55 PM

An estimated 2,000 people are feared to have been killed in the fierce typhoon that hit the Philippines on Friday. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced and as many as 10 million affected.

Please donate now to Friends of the Earth Philippines and help provide relief to affected communities, including the Tagbanua indigenous community whose ancestral domain and waters have been devastated.

 

 

Join us in demanding climate justice!

For more than twenty five years Friends of the Earth Philippines has campaigned for the rights of indigenous and rural peoples, those who are directly dependent on the land and natural resources for their livelihoods. These communities are at once the most vulnerable to climate change and the least responsible for it. Friends of the Earth Philippines is working with organisations of Indigenous Peoples and disaster relief agencies on efforts to provide assistance to communities that are most inaccessible.

Friends of the Earth International and our members around the world are calling for urgent and just action to avert the worst consequences of climate change, and to fundamentally change the world’s current energy system. Ordinary people and communities around the world are paying with their livelihoods and lives as the risk of runaway climate breakdown draws closer.

Contribute to Friends of the Earth Philippines and help support those who are struggling to defend their rights and livelihoods in the face of the climate crisis.

As government negotiators meet in Poland for the UN climate summit, the typhoon should serve as another reminder that the world is on a precipice. From flooding to hurricanes to droughts and food shortages, the impacts of climate change are becoming more frequent and devastating day by day.

Tackling climate change means changing the unjust and unsustainable economic system, especially our dependence on polluting fossil fuels and other forms of dirty energy which is driving land grabbing, pollution, deforestation and the destruction of ecosystems, as well as human rights abuses, health problems, premature deaths, and the collapse of local economies.

Help support the environmental movement of the Philippines and across the globe as we echo the words of the chief representative from the Philippines at the UN climate talks in Poland: “stop this madness.”


Image: EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

Friends of the Earth South Africa: The real people's climate negotiations start tomorrow

by Megan Lewis — last modified Nov 13, 2013 02:40 PM

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


NOTES

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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.



CONTACTS

Megan Lewis

Media and Communications Officer at groundWork

Email: megan@groundwork.org.za

Mobile: +27 (0) 83 450 5541



Desmond D’sa

Coordinator at South Durban Community Environmental Alliance

Email: desmond@sdceango.co.za

Mobile: +27 (0) 83 982 6939



Vanessa Black

Chairperson at Earthlife Africa Durban

Email: black@ispace.co.za

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

by Friends of the Earth Africa — last modified Nov 11, 2013 12:55 PM

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. [1]”

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 [2].


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 [3]. 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: godwin@eraction.org  
Siziwe Khanyile, Coordinator of Friends of the Earth Africa, siziwe@groundwork.org.za
Anabela Lemos, Director of Friends of the Earth Mozambique, anabela.ja.mz@gmail.com
Kwami D. Kpondzo, Friends of the Earth Togo, kwadodzi@yahoo.fr  


[1] The letter to President Obama can be found at this link:
http://libcloud.s3.amazonaws.com/93/a5/b/3320/11-8-13_Power_Africa_lett_FINAL.pdf

[2] The report and a summary can be found online at http://www.goodenergybadenergy.org

[3] http://www.bdlive.co.za/africa/africanbusiness/2013/10/25/clashes-in-mozambique-may-disrupt-coal-shipments

Oct 25, 2013

Blog: Friends of the Earth International solidarity mission to Palestine - Part 4

by Jagoda Munic — last modified Oct 25, 2013 11:25 AM

Chair of Friends of the Earth International Jagoda Munic reflects on the international solidarity mission to Palestine

Monday, October 14th 2013

It is time to go home. On the way to the airport by taxi, I was stopped at a check point. A soldier asked where I had been and whether I had passed check points. They searched a rucksack belonging to the taxi driver for weapons. The driver, an Israeli Jew, said later: “It is always a problem when you travel from Jerusalem. There are many Arabs there, and if they stop them, they keep them for a half an hour or longer at the check point. That is way I always tell them that I drive from Tel Aviv, not from Jerusalem. But now, I couldn’t because of you, so that our stories are not different. There are people from Spain, and other countries coming to help Palestinians. Coming to the airport from Jerusalem is always a problem.” We got to the airport, two and a half hours before the scheduled departure. My mind was still stuck on the check point. But little did I know what was ahead of me.

At the airport, my passport was checked 5 times. Apart from where I had been, with whom, etc. they asked me if I had explosives, why had I been in Malaysia (twice), do I know anyone there and where did I stay there (note these travels were in 2010 and 2005 respectively.).

They manually searched all my check-in and hand luggage and I was interviewed by security officers twice. They pulled out Palestinian scarves I had bought and threw them on top of the stuff, as if I was smuggling drugs. Of course, they found a copy of the FoEI annual report and the publication 'Environmental injustice and violations of the Israeli occupation of Palestine' and asked me about FoEI. One security officer said that my readings were rather biased towards the Palestinian perspective, and that he has a feeling that I do not say all the truth. I replied: “What is the whole truth?”. After this, they let me stand there for a while, searched my things a bit more. Then the lady that was searching my things escorted me to the check in desk and then on to a hand luggage scan.

Though I seemed to pass the scan, they put “samples” of something – they wouldn't tell me what – into a computer. The computer display turned red and an alarm went off. They said that they found a little problem in my hand luggage and that they need to search it thoroughly. They took me aside for a body search. Three of them went through all of my stuff, opening jars of cream, pulling coins out of my wallet and taking shots with my camera. I was intimidated of course, but even more worried that they would delete my photographs. I was also worried that they would write down the names of people we met from the notebook and business cards I had with me. After more questions about which hotel I had stayed at etc., they took my laptop out of my hand luggage and put it in a box, which was sent on the same plane. I got the laptop back in Zagreb with my check in luggage.

In the end, I was escorted to passport control and had to go straight to the gate, just in time before the already full plane started to roll off. I was thirsty, exhausted and angry all at the same time. I reckon that is how they treat “Palestinian friends”, as the rest of the team was also questioned and searched. Perhaps this experience is the final proof that what we have observed and heard from Palestinian people is not an exaggeration, but a harsh and underreported reality.

Epilogue


I am now home in Zagreb. It is sunny after rain and green parks are turning in the autumn yellow and red colors. Such a contrast to the dry landscape of Palestine. Croatian problems seem insignificant in comparison with Palestinian, despite our troublesome history in the Balkans and the many economic, social and environmental problems we face.

But what have I learned from this trip? Has this visit to Palestine changed me? And what we can do about it?

You see, before I went to Israel and Palestine, I would not consider myself pro-Palestinian. I was following the conflict superficially. I also know, from the war in Croatia and later in Bosnia, that the media are quite biased and that each side has its own version of a story. I am also very reluctant to jump to conclusions. I prefer to have good information before I make my mind. I did some reading and watched some documentaries prior to the trip.

But nothing prepared me for the harsh reality of Palestine. It is not about two equal sides fighting each other, for reasons illogical to outsiders. There is one side that has much more power and it is abusing this power at every step in the West Bank. The oppression perpetrated by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories is so apparent, that is not surprising that they do not want foreigners to visit the area. It is understandable that Palestinians aim to stop the occupation and that they see it as a root cause of environmental degradation. I also have a much better insight into the work of PENGON - FoE Palestine, that on one side, politically exposes environmental degradation and injustice, but their member groups are working in the fields with poor communities providing access to water and electricity. Indeed, If we stand for environmental and social justice and anti-militarization, we have to support their work and provide accurate information to international fora. I have no doubt that the way to go is to join the boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. The boycott has worked well in the case Montgomery and helped in the case of South African apartheid system, so I believe it can work in the case of Palestine too.

 

Part one of Jagoda Munic's blog from Palestine

Part two of Jagoda Munic's blog from Palestine

Part three of Jagoda Munic's blog from Palestine

Press release from the solidarity mission

Real World Radio's coverage of the mission

COPINH: Urgent call for solidarity

by admin — last modified Oct 25, 2013 11:15 AM

Four leaders of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) are being persecuted by the Honduran court systems for standing up for a local community, the Lenca people, who were not consulted about the construction of a hydroelectric project on their lands. This is COPINH's latest call for solidarity.

http://hondurasresists.blogspot.nl/2011/02/copinh-for-re-foundation-of-honduras.html

The Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH)’s General Coordinators are calling for the solidarity of grassroots organizations, progressive social and political groups, the resistance as a whole, national and international human rights organizations and the media.

We would like to inform you about a situation that took place as a result of political persecution against our organization by the Honduran courts, which are racist and follow the orders of private corporations. We are referring in particular to the cases of Bertha Isabel Cáceres Flores, General Coordinator, and Aureliano Molina Villanueva and Tomas Gómez Membreño, communicators and indigenous members of the grassroots and of the executive committee. They are being persecuted for COPINH’s defense of the collective and individual rights of the communities of Rio Blanco, of common goods, of the rights of the Lenca people in general and for their struggle against the privatization of River Gualcarque.

 

For all of the above we hereby express the following:

 

1. That the case brought about by DESA corporation against our colleagues, accusing them of damage and sedition is now at the appeals court of Camayagu. Legally, the court has up to five days to respond to the appeal filed by COPINH’s lawyers. Judge Lissien Lisseth Knight sentenced Bertha Caceres to prison and Tomas Gomez and Aureliano Molina to punitive measures, including appearing in court every fortnight and forbidding them to go to the places where the incidents purportedly took place, as claimed by the Attorney General Henry Alexander Pineda and private lawyers led by Juan Carlos Sanchez Cantiyan.

 

 

 

2. That on October 3rd, at the request of DESA, Judge Lissien Lisseth Knight changed the punitive measures in the case of Aureliano Molina. The new measures included banishing him from neighboring communities, even though it is an unconstitutional and ridiculous measure to ban someone from visiting his or her ancestral lands.

 

 

 

3. That in the case of the court’s false accusation of “illegal possession of arms to the detriment of the internal security of the State of Honduras” brought against Bertha Caceres by the Army and the Attorney General’s office, the Appeals Court of Santa Barbara gives absolute priority and credibility to the testimonies of the military officers of the Army Engineers Batallion. Besides, there has not been an investigation into who are the actual owners of the weapon planted in COPINH’s vehicle, which has been used as evidence to accuse Bertha Caceres, even though there is no evidence, records or expert opinions to support this accusation. This is a way of rendering legal the Army’s illegal acts to criminalize even further the struggle of COPINH and of the Indigenous Peoples. The increasing cases brought against Bertha Caceres show the bad faith and racism of a judiciary at the service of colonial companies.

 

 

 

4. For all of the above we demand the Appeals Court of Comayagua and the judiciary in general to:

 

 

 

-Stick to the law, which includes the indigenous law, by securing the right to justice, truth, the respect of territories, culture and spirituality of the Lenca People, as well as the full and effective enforcement of ILO’s Convention 169.

 

- To not treat the people who are the actual invaders and usurpers of territories, common goods and life of the Lenca People as victims. This case involves the corporation DESA, which has caused historical and irreparable damage, such as the murder of Tomas Garcia by the mercenary Honduran army at the service of the company. His murder has remained unpunished and it has sown insecurity in our communities, by seeking to divide them, or threaten them with the presence of military and assassins.

 

-To annul the decision of the Court of Intibuca regarding the aforementioned accusations, and the sentence to prison of Bertha Caceres, the punitive measures against Aureliano Molina and Tomas Gómez Membreño. We also demand the annulment of a court warrant for the eviction of the communities of Rio Blanco.

 

-That justice be served on those who, from their position of power, are denying the existence of the Lenca People and of our native peoples, such as Deputy Attorney General Rigoberto Cuellar, former Minister of SERNA (Natural and Environmental Resources Secretariat).

 

JUDGES: LAWYERS HUMBERTO MIDENCE (Presiding the C.A.); RUBEN RIVERA FLORES; OMAR BONILLA.

PHONE/FAX: (504) 27.72.01.76

 

Our voices of life, justice, freedom, dignity and peace raise with the ancient strength of Icelaca, Lempira, Mota and Etempica!

 

No more criminalization of COPINH! Stop the criminalization of the right to defend our rivers, territories, ancient culture and lives!

 

Rio Blanco is not a barracks! Army and Police out of Rio Blanco!

 

COPINH

Intibucá, October 21st, 2013

Oct 23, 2013

Blog: Friends of the Earth International solidarity mission to Palestine - Part 3

by Jagoda Munic — last modified Oct 23, 2013 11:45 AM

Chair of Friends of the Earth International Jagoda Munic reflects on the international solidarity mission to Palestine

Sunday, October 13 2013

Our mission finishes in a village close to Jerusalem that is surrounded by the wall. Water is an issue here as well, as water access comes through nearby Israeli settlements. Sometimes when, for instance, there is a festival in the settlement, they simply close the pipe and cut off the water. Most Palestinian villages, unlike Israeli settlements, have water tanks on many roofs. Living with frequent and unpredictable interruptions to the water supply means Palestinians need to be prepared for outages in ways their neighbors do not.

Checkpoints, the wall, barbwire and injustice; it's not surprising that Palestinians call this apartheid. Large red signs announce zone A, under Palestinian Authority: This road leads to area “A”, under the Palestinian Authority, The entrance for Israeli citizens is forbidden, dangerous to your lives and is against the Israeli law.

 

House in a cage

 

Perhaps the most ridiculous example of this perverse system is the Palestinian 'house in a cage', next to Jerusalem. As one Israeli settlement spread and grew, they wanted to take over the land and house of a Palestinian living nearby. But because the owner had a construction license issued by Israel in the 1970s, the court prevented the army from knocking down the house. Instead they built a cage around it, with only one access bridge under permanent surveillance and with doors that the Israeli army can close automatically and remotely, effectively locking down the house. If I hadn't witnessed this myself, it would be hard to believe that something like this existed at all. It is so surreal.

I feel numb. Perhaps my heart and brain still cannot believe the injustice we have seen.

 

Part one of Jagoda Munic's blog from Palestine

Part two of Jagoda Munic's blog from Palestine

Part four of Jagoda Munic's blog from Palestine

Press release from the solidarity mission

Real World Radio's coverage of the mission

 

Top image: Jagoda Munic

House in a cage images: Dave Hirsch

Oct 21, 2013

Blog: Friends of the Earth International solidarity mission to Palestine - Part 2

by Jagoda Munic — last modified Oct 21, 2013 06:10 PM

Chair of Friends of the Earth International Jagoda Munic reflects on the international solidarity mission to Palestine

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My day started early. At 7.30 a.m. I met Dr. Ayman Ribi, the President of PENGON / Friends of the Earth Palestine. We head to Palestine TV together, to take part in a live broadcast of Good morning Palestine where we chat generally about the mission and Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), and announce tomorrow's press conference. After the show, we go back to the hotel to pick up the rest of the team and head for the Jordan valley.

 


 

We visited the Ras Al–Auja canals, where a stream, once so abundant in water that a little dam was built a few decades ago, is now dry. It is hot and a desert-like landscape surrounds us. We stand next to the water pump facility. Our guide, an American who refuses to be filmed or pictured - let's call him Jim  to protect his identity - explains: “Water pumping here is extensive, both from the surface streams and from aquifers. Israeli pumps go as deep as 400 meters, while Palestinians are not allowed to have such deep wells. Over there, we can see some villages that do not have access to water or electricity, although there are transmission cables and water pumps near them.”

Over exploitation of water from aquifers is occurring, but it is an even greater environmental injustice that denies or limits water access to Palestinian villages and towns in comparison with Israeli settlements. On average, settlements consume 369 liters per person per day (l/p/d), in comparison with 73 l/p/d of water consumption by Palestinian villages, which is much less than the WHO recommendation of a minimum of 100 l/p/d.  During our drive through Jordan valley this difference could be seen plainly. You can distinguish settlements with big houses, green areas and plantations of dates or other crops so green, in comparison with overcrowded and not so green Palestinian villages.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal according to the UN, but they are still spreading. There are now about 580,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Apart from over consuming water, the settlements cause a significant loss of agricultural land and uprooting of trees. They are also dispersed around the area like holes in  Swiss cheese. Not only do the settlements suck up resources, but due to their geographic distribution, they can control water pipes, sewage systems, and electricity lines, meaning that at any moment they can deny Palestinian villages and towns access to basic resources.

We drive further through the Jordan valley and visit local herders whose modest habitats – tents and huts mostly – have been destroyed by the Israeli army. They are trying to defend themselves in court and are determined to stay on the land they have used for about 50 years. There is a military base on a hill above the herders. Soldiers approach us in a jeep just a few minutes after we started to chat with the herders.

“What are you doing here?” they ask. “Nothing – we are just looking around and leaving soon anyway” I reply. Perhaps they do not mind us taking photos – indeed, a bit further away was another group including tourists – but we were had our friends from PENGON with us , who could communicate with the herders for us in Arabic. The soldiers stayed there for a while before they decided to leave, but not before they saw us start to board our van.

The last location that we visited in the Jordan valley is a Palestinian village called Zbeidat, from where there is a beautiful view of the valley. In the distance, we see mountains in Jordan. Somewhere in the middle is the meandering Jordan river.  Our hosts tell us that here the river is just centimeters wide, because of a lack of water in the bed due to interference upstream. The land between the village and the river, belongs to the villagers, but they can not do much with it, as it is in security zone C and controlled by the army. The villagers wanted to install a wastewater treatment system  to deal with the sewage from the village and to use it for agriculture, but were refused permission. Despite the land in zone C officially falling under Palestinian control, it is almost impossible to develop the infrastructure because permits for such construction are still subject to Israeli approval.

 

Part one of Jagoda Munic's blog from Palestine

Part three of Jagoda Munic's blog from Palestine

Part four of Jagoda Munic's blog from Palestine

Press release from the solidarity mission

Real World Radio's coverage of the mission

 


Image: Radio Mundo Real

Friends of the Earth groups mark the second Global Frackdown

by Denis Burke — last modified Oct 21, 2013 11:50 AM
Filed Under:

Friends of the Earth groups around the world took action to mark the second annual global day of action against fracking, known as the Global Frackdown on Saturday October 19.

 

The Global Frackdown is part of the Global month of action on energy, which was launched on October 11 and will continue until the vital UN Climate Change Conference which begins in Warsaw on November 11th.

 

Among the highlights were Friends of the Earth Scotland's action at the conference of the Scottish National Party, in Perth; a persuasive letter from Friends of the Earth South Africa to President Jacob Zuma, laying out the reasons why South Africa should take action immediately; and dozens of local actions by campaigners and community groups in England Wales and Northern Ireland.

 

Learn more about the Global Frackdown and read about events that took place worldwide.

 

Image: PERTH, UK - 19th October 2013: Environmental protestors erect a giant drilling rig outside the SNP Party Conference at Perth Concert Hall to call for a ban on unconventional gas extraction. The demonstrators and members of the community in Scotland joined as part of Global Frackdown Day to show their opposition and voice their concerns to MSP's. Pictured MSP Paul Wheelhouse stands with demonstrators. (MAVERICK PHOTO AGENCY)

Friends of the Earth South Africa appeal to President Jacob Zuma on fracking

by Friends of the Earth South Africa — last modified Oct 21, 2013 11:39 AM
Filed Under:

October 19 marks the global day of action against fracking, known as the Global Frackdown. Friends of the Earth South Africa/ Groundwork sent the letter below to President Jacob Zuma.

Community people all over the world are sending a message that we want a future powered by clean, healthy, renewable energy, not dirty, polluting fossil fuels, which fracking is a part of.

Dear President Jacob Zuma,


In South Africa, the fracking debate may appear to be polarised along racial lines with greater emphasis on the Karoo. However, it is not only white farmers in the Karoo and a bunch of ‘Greenies’ who are concerned about the government’s green light on fracking, but there are citizens of every race, social and economic standing who are concerned and are vehemently opposed to fracking. This experience is global.


We are concerned that government is speeding the fracking process up by the lifting of the fracking moratorium without enough time to conduct meaningful and transparent impact studies and engage with stakeholders. Furthermore, government is moving too fast to authorise shale gas exploration, as the Minister of Trade and Industry indicated, it will happen before elections next year.


Of great concern is that the poor are once again being used as pawns in this process, with promises ofhundreds of thousands of jobs based on ‘independent’ research commissioned by Royal Dutch Shell.


The unskilled poor in whose name many such developments take place will neither receive the jobs nor will they be able to afford the electricity once it is produced. Socio-economic inequalities will continue to widen.


In our hard-fought democracy, there has been little meaningful public consultation during this process. The South African public is not being heard on the issue of fracking and our decision makers are not learning from over 100 jurisdictions around the world where fracking has a moratorium, been banned or restricted. Sadly, our ability to enforce any good legislation is currently lacking which leaves us and our environments open to abuse by multinationals – as Minister Manuel suggested at the 12 Annual International Corporate Governance Network Conference in 2007 – like Shell who have shocking records of environmental and human rights abuses in countries like Ireland, America and
Nigeria.


We will not be acting responsibly as one of the largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters in the world if we allow fracking. Methane gas from fracking is a far more powerful GHG than CO 2. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says methane is 86 times more damaging than CO2 over a 20 year period. Coal has devastated our land and water resources and shale gas fracking will do the same. South Africa has places like the Karoo and KwaZulu-Natal which have the potential to produce alternative energy sources, tourism and agriculture, which are now earmarked for an environmentally destructive process like fracking.


President Zuma, we urge you to take leadership on the issue of the development of clean energy systems that are protective of our health and wellbeing. We urge you to take a lesson from countries that have held onto their moratoria while doing thorough investigations. We urge you to learn from the United States where the destruction of land and peoples’ livelihoods has taken place as a result of fracking. We urge you to find out what the majority of South Africans want, rather than rely on the push by corporations for the exploitation of our resources.


What will the legacy of your presidency be? Will it be that we have more polluted toxic water, land and air than ever, that result in health impacts especially on the poor who cannot afford medical treatment?

 

We are calling for a government that hears the voice of its citizens and not just the voice of profit and economic self-interest.


Yours sincerely
Siziwe Khanyile
Climate and Energy Justice Campaigner
groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa

Fracking is a dirty word: The Global Frackdown with Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland

by Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland — last modified Oct 21, 2013 11:36 AM
Filed Under:

Local groups in England, Wales and Northern Ireland call on councils to keep their communities ‘frack-free’.


Saturday, October 19, residents joined forces with people in more than 60 areas of the UK, to ask their council to swear not to allow fracking locally.

Friends of the Earth local groups set up an oversized swear box in their town centres. They invited passers-by to drop in signed postcards to the Leader of the local council. The postcards ask them to swear not to allow the ‘dirty F-word’ in their local area.

The dirty F-word

The Government is running rough-shod over local communities and plans to puncture holes across huge swathes of the country. This is in search of controversial new fossil fuels: shale gas and coal bed methane.  

Burning these fossil fuels will contribute to climate change and risks polluting local water supplies. It is highly unlikely to lower fuel bills.

Recent polling shows that 52% of people would support wind turbines within 10 miles of their house compared to just 18% who would support shale wells.

Global Frackdown Day

October 19 was ‘Global Frackdown Day’, with hundreds of actions taking place in communities in over twenty countries, as part of a month of international action on energy.

“People all over the world are making a bold stand against fracking. If the UK Government is serious about tackling climate change and providing energy we can all afford, the solutions are renewables and energy saving.” said Tony Bosworth, Senior Energy Campaigner.

 

Image: Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland

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