The below press release and letter was originally posted 12 November 2014 by awasMIFEE!, a group of independent activists in the UK in solidarity with the people of the Merauke and elsewhere in West Papua threatened by the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) mega-project for the pulp and oil palm industries.
Category Archives: Land Grabs
Biofuelwatch co-director and GJEP partner Rachel Smolker has posted an important article on Bioenergy and Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) at the Washington Geoengineering Constortium website.
Smolker’s piece continues to build on and share her extensive knowledge and critique of bionenergy strategies touted by industry as “climate solutions.” Smolker makes a clear case that these strategies are false solutions to climate change and that environmental thinkers should not naively buy into these strategies.
The Washington Geoengineering Consortium is an initiative of the Global Environmental Politics program in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, DC. They are concerned with the social, political, and legal implications of geoengineering technologies.
By Rachel Smolker, Biofuelwatch, 10 November 2014.
In 2012, Biofuelwatch published a report titled “Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage: Climate savior or dangerous hype?” We had long been working to reveal and oppose large scale industrial and commercial scale bioenergy in various forms ranging from ethanol refineries to soy and palm oil biodiesel to coal plants converting over to burn wood. We had argued that corn ethanol would drive biodiversity loss, cause food prices to rise and contribute to chronic hunger, while failing to reduce emissions, as it has in fact done. We argued that burning wood as a substitute for coal would create a new driver of deforestation, even as protecting forests and ecosystems was recognized as a “best line of defense” against climate change. We pointed out that large scale bioenergy was incompatible with the simultaneous push to quantify, commodify and protect land based carbon sinks and their “services” (often for the dubious purpose of providing offsets to polluters…). We highlighted the human rights impacts, as land grabs for bioenergy escalated in Africa and elsewhere. And we argued over and over that the carbon consequences of bioenergy were far from “climate friendly” or “carbon neutral,” a myth that has been perpetuated by industry proponents and even parroted by many naive environmentalists.
Washington Geoengineering Consortium definitions of geoengineering here.
Out of Washington, D.C., comes a new report from the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), showing an alarming increase in forest and nature reserve land grabbing. Giant corporations enter into these land agreements with governments without any communication with or consideration for the people living in these areas.
According to the report, indigenous people live on 99 percent of the land being taken, and almost all of these communities are ignored when the deals are made. The result? Devastation, destruction, and, in some cases, violent clashes.
by Amantha Perera, Farm Land Grab, 30 October 2014
But while companies and governments enter into agreements on lands as if they were not inhabited, when work begins on commercial projects it invariably collides head-on with communities who call the same land their traditional home.
The financial damage resulting from such confrontations can run into millions. A recent paper by the U.S. National Academy of Science noted that one company reported a loss of 100 million dollars during a single year, due to stoppages forced by company-community conflict.
The company was not named in the report. “An economy wide valuation of ‘environmental, social and governance risks’ across the Australian Stock Market in 2012 by Credit Suisse identified 21.4 billion Australian dollars in negative share-price valuation impact,” the paper, entitled ‘Conflict Translates Environmental and Social Risk into Business Costs’, claimed.
RRI’s Ogden said that despite such losses, the global trend still was to sideline indigenous communities when entering into concession agreements. “They remain invisible in most of these contracts.” Such invisibility on paper can be deadly on the ground. In South Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, serious violence erupted between police and activists during a protest that took place a fortnight ago, Mina Setra, deputy secretary general of Indonesia’s Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), told IPS.
Get the rest of the story on Farm Land Grab.
As part of our continuing coverage of the Seneca Lake protests and arrests, Climate Connections is giving a little well deserved love to Stefanie Spear and EcoWatch. Spear, founder and CEO of Ecowatch, provides excellent coverage of environment, energy, and anti-fracking news.
The hard news today is that our friends at Seneca Lake continue to face arrest and prosecution for blockading the gates to the Crestwood Midstream gas storage facility, which was recently authorized to store natural gas under Seneca Lake by the FERC. Protests and arrests are also occurring at the DC headquarters of FERC. Yesterday, 15 protesters were arrested at the Seneca Lake Blockade.
Stefanie Spear. EcoWatch. 3 November 2014
Fifteen people were arrested this morning blockading the gates of Texas-based Crestwood Midstream’s gas storage facility on the shore of New York’s Seneca Lake. This action marks the beginning of the third week of protests trying to stop major new construction on the gas storage facility authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
“We’re standing on what used to be a part of my legislative district in Schuyler County. I am embarrassed and saddened to see what is going on here, I’m sad to see that some of the people in this district are actually supporting this endeavor to store gas in a very unstable salt formation,” said Ruth Young of Horseheads, a former member of the Schuyler County legislature and among those arrested today.
More information at We Are Seneca Lake.
Donate to the Jail Fund: Go to the Paypal Link on the right
Dr. Blessing Karumbidza, a member of GJEP’s New Voices Speakers Bureau, presented at the First Africa Conference on Land Grabs, held this week in Johannesburg. He reported to the conference that more land has been grabbed in Africa in the 21st century than in the rest of the world combined–a startling 55 million hectares of land between 2000 and 2012.
SAPA, the South African Press Association, also ran a story picked up widely by South African media.
Sapa, Times LIVE, 29 October 2014
Over 55 million hectares of land in Africa have been “grabbed” since 2000, according to research presented at a conference.
More land had been “grabbed” in Africa between 2000 and 2012 than in the rest of the world combined, Dr Blessing Karumbidza, senior research associate at the Durban University of Technology, told the Africa land Grab conference in Midrand.
Since 1974, U.S. federal relocation policy—known as Public Law 93-531—has forced tens of thousands of Dineh (Navajo) people from their ancestral homeland—now known as the Hopi Partitioned Lands—in Arizona. This constitutes the largest forced relocation of Indigenous peoples in the U.S since the Trail of Tears. The relocation is ongoing and impacts generations. The policy, crafted by the Department of Justice and Peabody Energy Company representatives, opened access to the mineral resources of Black Mesa – billions of tons of low-sulfur coal, uranium, and natural gas. A July 2012 report by the Navajo Human Rights Commission classifies the relocation as a massive human rights violation and demands the immediate repeal of PL 93-531 and an end to relocation efforts and harassment in the form of surveillance, livestock impoundments, and disruption of gatherings and ceremonies that the resistance community experiences.
Black Mesa Indigenous Support. 26 October 2014
UPDATE from HPL (Hopi Partition Land) residents: Shirley Tohannie and elder Caroline Tohannie had their entire herd of 65 sheep impounded by the Hopi Rangers (US federal government) Tuesday, October 22, 2014. If the fines aren’t paid the sheep will go to auction, and the family is being told that the sheep will not be able to return to the family’s rangeland. The cost to release the livestock is nearly $1,000.
Jerry Babbit Lane, the Tohannie’s neighbor on the HPL, was arrested by Hopi rangers when he attempted to check on his neighbors and was charged with disorderly conduct. He was released this evening, 10/23. Rangers told Shirley they plan to take Rena’s (Jerry’s mother) sheep too and that they’re going to start impounding across the HPL.
As we’re writing, another family on Big Mountain has had nearly their entire herd impounded.
Indigenous peoples and small farmers in the Philippines created a new alliance, the Coalition Against Land Grabbing (CALG), in order to prevent palm oil plantation expansion in the province of Palawan. According to a post on farmlandgrab.org, CALG nabbed more than 4,000 signatures demanding a halt on the plantations, which are ripping apart the native forests.
Like many land grab situations, the palm oil plantations tear through local forests and land with little to no concern for the ecosystem or the people who rely on those forests for their livelihoods. Fed up, the Palawan people have solidified their stance just in time — nearly 20,000 hectares are set to be wiped out for future palm oil plantations, a large source for biofuels.
Tribes and farmers unite to end oil palm expansion in Philippines
By farmlandgrab.org, 22 October 2014
Palawan, which is often referred to as “the Philippines’ last ecological frontier”, is a biosphere reserve and home to tribal peoples such as the Palawan, Batak and Tagbanua, who rely on their forests for food, medicines and for building their houses.
“To find medicinal plants we must walk more than half day to reach the other side of the mountain range,” said a tribal Palawan man. “Because of the far distance we must leave our young children at home, so they do not learn the name and uses of these plants. The old knowledge is being lost.”
The plantations have brought hardship to the local communities. Rates of poverty and malnutrition are rising fastest in the area with the largest amount of land converted to oil palm production. Indigenous community organiser, John Mart Salunday called the oil palm project a complete “fiasco” in terms of poverty eradication.
Read the full article here.
The track record of the Olympics for bringing misery and destruction continues. Global Justice Ecology Project is the North American Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition.
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA, 16 October 2014 - Friends of the Earth International campaigners are standing with Korean environmentalists in opposition to the construction of a ski course for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang province, South Korea.
The Olympic ski course is under construction at Mount Gariwang, a protected area, which is covered by an ancient forest that harbours unique species, including the rare Yew tree, the Wangsasre tree, which is only found on the Korean Peninsula, and possibly the oldest oak in South Korea.
A delegation of Friends of the Earth International and the Global Forest Coalition joined members of the Korea Civil Network on the CBD, the Korea Federation for Environmental Movement / Friends of the Earth South Korea, and local communities on a visit to the site, on the occasion of the XII Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which is hosted by South Korea this week.