Category Archives: False Solutions to Climate Change

GE Trees + Climate Change = Social and Ecological Disaster

In addition to being the day of the People’s Climate March, today is also the International Day of Action against Monoculture Tree Plantations.  The issues of industrial tree plantations, genetically engineered trees and climate change are inextricably linked in many, many ways, and the statement below, put out by our allies at World Rainforest Movement, La Via Campesina and others, explains this.

At Ban Ki-moon’s upcoming Climate Summit, the corporate-dominated UN will try to sell tree plantations (and future GE tree plantations) as “climate smart.”  This, even though studies have proven that tree plantations both store far less carbon than native forests and accelerate destruction of those forests to make room for new plantations.

Banner photo (Plantations Are Not Forests):  Petermann/GJEP-GFC

“Plantations are not forests” Protest at the World Forestry Congress, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2009  Photo: Petermann/GJEP-GFC

21 September 201410th Anniversary of the International Day of Struggle against Monoculture Tree Plantations
Dismantle the power of transnational plantation corporations!

There is no “smart monoculture”

Ten years ago, at a meeting of 250 members of communities affected by large-scale eucalyptus plantations in Brazil, September 21st was established as the National Day against Tree Monocultures. The aim was to increase the visibility of the many peoples and communities struggling against tree monocultures, as a way of breaking the circle of silence around the numerous violations faced by the communities whose territories were surrounded by these monocultures. The day was also created in order to disseminate as widely as possible the evidence emerging from the resistance struggles about the negative social and environmental impacts of these plantations. The impacts on the lives of women in the affected communities are particularly severe. Recognizing the importance of the decision taken by the Brazilian communities, the World Rainforest Movement (WRM) decided in 2006 to make this day an International Day of Action.

This year, September 21st is also a day of mass mobilizations for Climate Justice. Thousands of people will join the People’s Climate March, while political leaders – and increasingly also corporate representatives – are meeting at the United Nations in New York City for the Climate Summit 2014, convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. This summit represents yet another step towards the corporate takeover of the UN climate negotiations, and the privatization of land, water and air resources under the guise of a global climate pact.

The UN and other international agencies will launch the “Climate Smart Agriculture” initiated at the summit. This initiative is a new smokescreen being used to greenwash the worst practices of industrial agriculture: chemical fertilizers, industrial meat production, and genetically modified crops, such as tree plantations and other monocultures, which are being disguised as ‘climate smart’. Proponents of this dangerous false solution include the World Bank; they are seeking to turn the carbon in farmers’ fields into carbon credits, which would lead to land-grabbing and undermine real climate solutions.

The expansion of large-scale tree plantations of eucalyptus, pine, acacia, rubber and oil palm species, which may be defined as ‘climate smart’ if the proposal being discussed at the New York climate summit prospers, is furthering capital accumulation by large and often transnational corporations. Some of these corporations are Stora Enso, Arauco, APP/Sinar Mas, Bridgestone/Firestone, Wilmar, Olam and Sime Darby. Production from these large-scale monoculture plantations is for industrial and export purposes, and the rate of expansion has been devastating. The area of these plantations worldwide has increased four-fold since 1980. In the global South, eucalyptus and oil palm monocultures have experienced remarkable growth. Were it not for the widespread resistance of small farmers, indigenous peoples and rural communities in many countries, this expansion would probably have been even greater.

Transnational corporations are primarily responsible for the problems caused by plantations: land-grabbing and the seizure of common ‘resources’; destruction of biodiverse areas and their associated wildlife; the drying up and pesticide pollution of rivers, streams and springs; soil exhaustion and erosion; degrading working conditions; and the increasing financialization of nature, land and production. However, these corporations not only persist in denying and systematically concealing all these processes of social and environmental injustice; they even argue they are part of the ‘solution’ to the problems. Some of the market’s false solutions, which are really solutions beneficial primarily for financial capitalism itself, increase the injustices associated with monoculture. Among these false solutions are initiatives that legitimize corporations’ operations without requiring them to be accountable for the crimes and violations they commit.

Examples of this kind of ruse are ‘green’ certificates issued by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) the ‘forest dialogue’, initiatives where civil society and corporations forge voluntary corporate commitments, and other so-called ‘sustainable’ initiatives, like phony commitments to ‘zero deforestation’. Although such action may lead to short-term benefits for local communities in some places, they have mainly led to frustration and community division, by promising ‘compensation’ that does not fulfill people’s key demands for guaranteeing their way of life, the return and respect for their territories, and an end to the environmental injustice caused by monocultures.

These initiatives are ‘voluntary,’ that is, they are not legally binding, and therefore lack a democratic institutional framework whose main goal is to protect the rights of the people affected. In this way, these initiatives, without aiming to change the destructive logic of capital, ultimately legitimize the expansion of a production model that we call neocolonial, because it destroys ways of life, is based on environmental racism and does not question any of its fundamental premises, such as the concentration of land and production in large-scale monocultures with poisonous pesticides and degrading working conditions. Moreover, “green” and “sustainable” initiatives and commitments do not hinder big companies from further expanding their plantations and encroaching on local people’s territories.

Increasingly serious is the rise of “flex tree” monocultures, producing multiple-use trees and forest commodities that are perceived to be interchangeable (energy, wood, food, carbonsequestration, etc.). Their “flexible” nature is of major interest to financial capital, which is increasingly promoting, together with the monoculture tree plantations corporations, the speculation over the control of production and land uses. These companies continue to insist on commercial uses of transgenic trees, as well as other uses of wood for energy purposes, and on selling ‘environmental services’ such as carbon. These are all false solutions to the environmental and climate crisis confronting human societies today, and they ultimately exacerbate injustice, hunger and poverty. Monocultures and transgenic crops are not smart; they are one more tool of ‘green’ capitalism to grab peoples’ lands, undermining those who are building real solutions to the social, environmental and climate crisis.

To confront the impact of the big corporations and the expansion of plantations, we must continue to push for the transformation of this model of production and to fight the neoliberal policies that favour big capital. An important step is for us to join forces in the framework of the “Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power”, in order to build and strengthen instruments to put a stop to the architecture of impunity and legitimation that corporations enjoy today.

The starting point of the Campaign is the struggle of communities resisting the invasion of their territories by transnational corporations, or their fight to expel transnational corporations from their territories. It affirms the right of peoples to freely determine their own way of life. Agrarian reform and the demarcation of indigenous peoples’ territories and those of other traditional and small farmer populations all over the world are urgently needed actions to make headway in the struggle for food sovereignty, social and environmental justice, and people’s power.

We cannot end this declaration without paying tribute to the women and men all over the world who carry out a daily struggle, in different ways, against monoculture tree plantations. They have already achieved important victories in the defense and recovery of their territories and the biodiversity they need for their physical and cultural survival. These women and men, in their arduous and long-suffering struggles for the cause of life and the future, stand in sharp contrast to the greed of the big corporations and investors that seek to appropriate ever more same lands to generate profits for their shareholders.

“Plantations are not forests!”

There are no smart monocultures!”

September 21st, 2014

Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity
La Via Campesina
World March of Women
Friends of the Earth International
World Rainforest Movement (WRM)

 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Greenwashing, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Tree Plantations, Uncategorized, UNFCCC

Naomi Klein: This Changes Everything

Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, details how our  economic system and the planetary system are at war. The book was released 16 September 2014.

On 3 December 2011 thousands of people from around the world hit the streets of Durban, South Africa to protest the UN Climate Conference.  Photo by Orin Langelle  http://photolangelle.org

On 3 December 2011 thousands of people from around the world hit the streets of Durban, South Africa to protest the UN Climate Conference. Photo by Orin Langelle http://photolangelle.org

Klein appeared on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman on Thursday 18 September.  Read the transcript and watch the video here.

 

 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Uncategorized

Confronting Climate Catastrophe: Direct Action is the Antidote for Despair

Or, Why the UN is Worse than Useless and we need to Flood Wall Street!

Climate Convergence Plenary Address, Friday, 19 September 2014

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer.  Photo: Photolangelle.org

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer. Photo: Photolangelle.org

Good evening everyone and thank you to Jill, Margaret and the other convergence organizers for the opportunity to speak to you tonight.

In four days time, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will hold a UN Climate Summit–a closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conferences (or COPs as they are called) in Lima, Peru and Paris, France.

I was asked to put into context the reason for the march and actions this weekend–especially the problem of the corporate capture of the United Nations Climate Convention, which I have attended and organized around since 2004, when I attended my first UN Climate COP, in Buenos Aires, until 2011 when I was permanently banned from the UN Climate Conferences following a direct action occupation at the Climate COP in Durban, South Africa.

But I actually got involved with the UN Climate Conferences through the work I have dedicated myself to, which is stopping the dangerous genetic engineering of trees.

What happened was in 2003, the UN Climate Conference decided that GE trees could be used in carbon offset forestry plantations. Understanding that this was a potential social and ecological disaster, and being completely naïve about the UN process, we decided to go to the UN and explain to them why this was wrong, and to get them to reverse this bad decision.

But what we found out was that GE trees had been permitted in carbon offset forestry plantations because Norway had tried to get them banned. But Brazil and China were either already growing GE trees or planning to, so they blocked Norway’s proposal. As a result, GE trees were allowed simply because they could not be banned. The UN, we learned, does not reverse decisions, regardless of how ill-informed and destructive they are.

This is the dysfunction of the UN Climate Convention.

But let’s go back a minute to see how we got where we are now.

Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, COP21 Paris 2015, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Politics, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, UNFCCC, World Bank, WTO

The Green Shock Doctrine

Earlier this year the Global Justice Ecology Project published the Green Shock Doctrine.

The publication announced a new understanding of exactly what the people of the world are facing in the context of both the onrushing climate crisis, and the resurgent global corporate and business reaction to address these issues.  That reaction includes the United Nations corporate trade show approach to fixing the problems, and the unwavering economic and so-called “sustainability” approach of the various Kleptocracies that rule governments local and national. It all amounts to superficial tinkering with and slight adjustments to the status quo.  Behind the scenes it is even more sinister as the hidden hands guide us over the precipice of unlimited wealth extraction, exponential disparity, warmongering, and an ecological crisis that is driving an extinction episode that may see the end of humanity as we know it within a few decades.

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The Global Justice Ecology Project has drawn the line with the publication of Green Shock Doctrine.  We must demand system change. Our very survival depends on this.

Global Justice Ecology Project’s Intro to Green Shock Doctrine

There is much being said and written today about how to effectively address the oncoming catastrophe of climate change, which is already, for many, tragically real.

There is a crucial and obvious need for a powerful global movement to tackle the climate crisis. But this movement will not be based on reform. Capitalism and the markets have led us to the brink of the abyss. They will not provide our parachute. The system cannot be reformed. It must be transformed.

The more we understand how the roots of the many issues we are fighting are intertwined, the better we can cooperate to change the system driving them. In diversity is strength, as any ecologist understands, and our movements for change are no exception.

Global Justice Ecology Project is publishing The Green Shock Doctrine as a means to help expose and examine the deeper issues behind the climate crisis and their links to many of the other crises we are facing. In doing so, we hope to help advance the effort to transform the global system driving climate catastrophe.

Read the GREEN SHOCK DOCTRINE here

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Introducing GreenWatch Radio with Dr. Rachel Smolker

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We are pleased to introduce a new Climate Connections feature that we will produce occasionally. GreenWatch Radio with host Jay Burney.

This initial edition features Biofuelwatch co-director Dr. Rachel Smolker and focuses on renewable energy strategies and false solutions to climate change.

Dr. Smolker talks about pressures in the US to produce bioenergy products for world markets and the negative impact that these agricultural developments cause to biodiversity, ecosystems, wildlife and humans that are dependent upon and are a part of these ecosystems. Smolker also talks about the US Military’s evolving investment in biofuels and how this is creating pressures involving both agricultural development and genetic engineering of tree and agrifuel “products.” With Rachel Smolker, Jay Burney, Grady Hawkins, and Joe Schmidbauer.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Dr. Rachel Smolker, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, GreenWatch Radio, Independent Media, Media, Occupy Wall Street, Uncategorized

A Real Solution in NYC? Flood Wall Street

So many climate-related events are occurring in NYC this week, as Biofuelwatch co-director Dr. Rachel Smolker points out. However, in a recent post on Huff Post Green, she also acknowledges that many of these events come to us in neatly wrapped packages, promoting corporate agendas and false solutions.

A week of climate related events will be brought to the city by “The Climate Group”, courtesy of Duke Energy, Goldman Sachs, BP, Swiss Re and others, Smolker writes.

Photo: itsgettinghotinhere.org/

Photo: itsgettinghotinhere.org

These entities embody the corporate take-over of the Climate Summit and the Climate March’s promotion of false solutions. What we need, Smolker argues, is “system change,” not “climate change.” That’s why there’s Flood Wall Street.

After the Climate March, Then What? Flood Wall Street

by Rachel Smolker, Huff Post Green, Sept. 18, 2014

[...]

Some will be content to call on “them” (congress, politicians, the UN, the Pope, Grandma…) to write a blank check for some unspecified “action on climate”. They will play right into the hands of the corporate wolves in sheep’s clothing who peddle false solutions and have laid elaborate and deceiving plans for profiteering from the climate crisis.

But there are also many with a deep and abiding understanding of the depth and breadth of the climate, economic, ecological, social, political crisis we are facing and its’ common twisted roots. They will not just travel to NY, march in an orderly and permitted fashion, and then go quietly home afterwards feeling satisfied and personally redeemed.

They will be there, some long beforehand, doing the serious heavy lifting required to build a movement. They will be participating in the “Convergence for People, Planet and Peace Over Profit”, discussing strategy, sharing knowledge and forging plans for the future monumental task that is “System Change Not Climate Change”. They will link up to learn from and build solidarity with frontline communities and activists at The People’s Summit.

They will stick around after the march to get on with the relentlessly demanding work of building the “post-march world” which means moving mountains, confronting the criminal corporate behemoths, speaking truth to power, putting their hearts, souls and lives on the line to make and shape a just, peaceful, healthy and yes, even potentially beautiful, future.

What less can we aspire to?

Find out more by reading the full article here.

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NYC Climate Convergence adds context, depth, and significance to the Peoples Climate March

Whether or not you are in New York City this weekend for all of the climate change activities, it is important to take note of the Climate Convergence Conference that will take place starting Friday 19 September, and running through the weekend.

The stated purpose of the Climate Convergence Conference is to “explore the root causes behind our climate crisis and to strengthen movements for a world where people, peace, and planet come first”.  

People attending this event include Naomi Klein,  Jill Stein, Oscar Olivera, Chris Williams, and our own Global Justice Ecology Project’s executive director and the Campaign to STOP GE TREES  Coordinator, Anne Petermann. Petermann will speak at the at the Friday Opening Plenary at St. Peters Church, 619 Lexington Ave, Manhattan, which gets underway at 7pm.

 

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On Saturday, at St. John’s University 51 Astor Place, Room 110 in Manhattan, our GJEP and The Campaign to STOP GE Trees partner and collaborator and Biofuelwatch co-director, Dr. Rachel Smolker,  Petermann, and Jeff Conant, will conduct a Land, Energy and the Green Economy Workshop, 2:15-3:45pm.

 

More about Anne Petermann:

The Need for Clear Demands at the People’s Climate March by Anne Peterman, Daily Kos August 13, 2014

Anne Peterman on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman: Is REDD the New Green? Indigenous Groups Resist Carbon Market-Based Forestry Scheme to Offset Emissions

The Green Shock Doctrine published by the Global Justice Ecology Project,

 

 More about Dr.Rachel Smolker:

Is Toxic Algae Good for You?  HuffPost Green 18 August 2014

Cellulosic Ethanol: Firsts, Failures, Myths and Risks  HuffPost Green 11 September 2014

 

 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, COP21 Paris 2015, Copenhagen/COP-15, Corporate Globalization, Energy, Events, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Human made disasters, Independent Media

Can I get a cup of genetically modified coffee?

An article on Bloomberg Business Week reveals that scientists have cracked the genetic code for robusta, the coffee plant that provides the java for about one third of the world’s early morning pick-me-ups. According to reporter Caroline Winter, scientists can use this discovery to engineer GMO decaffeinated coffee beans, an easier alternative to extracting the caffeine from the natural beans.

Attempts at GMO coffee in the past have been thwarted by hackers (a group who definitely needs round-the-clock caffeine), not to mention rousing the anger of thousands of hipsters who eat only organic and drink out of mason jars. Coffee isn’t just a beverage; for many it’s a culture.

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Photo: Wikimedia

The most ironic part of the article starts when scientists claim that genetically engineering coffee beans will help the plant survive climate change. Again, with the false solutions. How can one of the very methods that accelerates climate change be considered a solution?

I guess it’s time to really make that switch to tea.

Science Cracks Coffee’s Genetic Code. Up Next: Frankencoffee

by Caroline Winter, Bloomberg Business Week, 9 Sept. 2014

Scientists have managed to sequence the java genome, a breakthrough that brings new insights into the venerated bean while also opening the door to genetic engineering.

A group of more than 60 international researchers painstakingly pinpointed all the genes that make up robusta coffee, according to an article published last week in Science, a plant variety that accounts for roughly one-third of the world’s coffee consumption. Various groups are still working on sequencing the fancier, more delicious arabica strand, which contains about twice as much genetic information.

One surprising discovery: Coffee’s mode of producing caffeine is quite different from that of its cousin, cocoa, indicating that the two plants don’t share a common ancestor. There are several reasons why unrelated plants might evolve to produce the addictive substance we love so much. “Bugs don’t chew on the coffee plant leaves because they don’t like the caffeine, but pollinators like bees do,” Victor Albert, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Buffalo and one of the study’s authors, told the Associated Press. “So pollinators come back for more—just like we do for our cups of coffee.”

Top off your cup and check out the full article here.

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Filed under Climate Change, False Solutions to Climate Change, Genetic Engineering