Category Archives: Posts from Anne Petermann

Rio+20 Alternative Peoples’ Summit opens today: People of the world vs. the “green economy” and global economic foreclosure

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Today is the opening day of the Cupola dos Povos–the alternative Peoples’ Summit for Environmental and Social Justice in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

It was pulled together by Brazilian groups and is being attended by social movements, Indigenous Peoples, activists and organizations from all over the world who are coming together to identify real solutions to the multiple and rising crises we face as humans on planet Earth.  The summit was organized in direct opposition to the official UN circus known as the Rio+20 Conference for Sustainable Development.  More aptly it would be called the Rio+20 Conference for the greenwashing of Business as Usual.

As I flew to Rio on 12 June, I read an article in the Financial Times titled “Showdown Looms at OPEC After Saudi Arabia Urges Higher Output.”  The article explained how Saudi Arabia is urging OPEC to increase their output of oil in order to ensure that the global price of oil does not exceed US$100/barrel in order to “mitigate the risks that high oil prices pose to the global economy.”

The insane logic of expanding oil production in the face of mounting climate chaos in order to help rescue the global economy accurately reflects the mindset behind the negotiations around the UN’s Rio+20 Earth Summit, set to start next week here in Rio.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Rio+20, World Bank

KPFK Audio: GJEP’s Anne Petermann reports from Rio on the Rio+20 Earth Summit and Alternative Peoples’ Summit

Today as the official negotiations continue in preparation for the upcoming Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development–also known as the Rio+20 Earth Summit–KPFK’s Sojourner Truth show interviewed Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) Executive Director Anne Petermann, who is on the ground in Rio about the Rio+20 summit, which starts on 20 June, as well as the alternative Peoples’ Summit, which starts on 15 June.

To listen to the 15 minute interview, click here: Rio+20 interview with GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann on KPFK

Global Justice Ecology Project will be in Rio to report on and campaign around both the official UN meetings and the alternative Peoples’ Summmit, from 15 June to 23 June. Stay tuned to this blog for daily news and reports.  Beginning Tuesday, 19 June GJEP will be partnering with the Sojourner Truth show to provide daily interviews on the events in Rio.

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Earth Radio, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Posts from Anne Petermann, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Rio+20

This Week’s Earth Minute: GE Tree Field-trials Destroyed by Protesters in New Zealand

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Environment Segment every Thursday. In this week’s Earth minute, Anne Petermann makes clear that, “if the government won’t stop GE trees, it appears some people are prepared take matters into their own hands.”

To listen to the Earth Minute, click here: http://bit.ly/IMCn71

The full text of this week’s Earth Minute:

In New Zealand, a field trial of genetically engineered trees was destroyed by protesters, who broke through two security perimeters to access them over Easter weekend.  Damage was estimated at over $400,000 New Zealand dollars.

The field trial was planted last year by Scion, a forestry research venture that is partnered with US-based GE tree company ArborGen.  ArborGen has petitioned the US government for permission to sell hundreds of millions of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees for planting across the US south.

But there is widespread public opposition to GE trees–which Scion clearly understood by their high level of security. GE trees are potentially disastrous, and once they escape into a natural forest, there is no calling them back.

The good news is there are no commercial-scale plantings of genetically engineered trees anywhere in the world, except for a small plantation in China.  GE trees are still one disaster we can stop.  And if the government won’t stop them, it appears some people are prepared take matters into their own hands.

For more information on GE trees, visit nogetrees.org.

For the earth minute and the sojourner truth show, this is Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project

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This Week’s Earth Minute: EU’s Renewable Energy Target is Destroying Forests & Worsening Climate Change

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Environment Segment every Thursday.

Go to the link below and scroll to minute 44:12 to listen to this week’s Earth Minute:

April 3, 2012 Earth Minute

Text from this week’s Earth Minute:

The European Union’s goal of providing 20% of their energy from renewable sources is coming under attack from environmentalists because of the heavy reliance on energy from burning trees.

On 29 March, a call challenging this goal was launched at the European Parliament.  It stated, “We’re paying people to cut their forests down in the name of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, yet we are actually increasing them.”

Because it is mistakenly considered ‘carbon neutral’, wood-based electricity is given numerous government subsidies in the EU, the US and elsewhere.

There is a significant gap in time, however, from when carbon is released from cutting, transporting and burning a tree–to when the carbon is re-stored by a new tree that has grown to the same size.  This carbon gap lasts for decades.

The “carbon neutral” label of wood-based energy is ironically creating intense pressure to cut and burn forests in the US and globally for energy production, threatening massive deforestation at the same time that scientists are emphasizing the crucial role forests play in stabilizing the climate.

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project.

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Earth Minute, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Posts from Anne Petermann

This Week’s Earth Minute: Earthquakes and Tsunamis = Climate Change

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Environment Segment every Thursday.

Go to the link below and scroll to minute 40:58 to listen to this week’s Earth Minute:

March 27, 2012 Earth Minute

Text from this week’s Earth Minute:

Earth Minute 3/27/12

On Sunday night, central Chile was violently shaken by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake–its second in two years.  In April 2011, Japan experienced a nuclear disaster following a severe earthquake and resulting tsunami.  In January 2010, Haiti was devastated by an earthquake, and in April 2010, Iceland’s volcano erupted, disrupting air travel across the Atlantic.

Are these events related?  According to a recent article in the UK Guardian, they were likely the result of climate change–in particular, the rising of sea levels.

As the polar ice caps melt, and the ice sheets on Greenland and Iceland vanish into the ocean, sea levels rise.  The enoromous weight from all of that added water causes the Earth’s crust to shift and bend.  This in turn sets off seismic shocks–including earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions–particularly along coastal areas.

As naturalist John Muir pointed out, “Whenever we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project.

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History and Photos of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees

Genetically engineered trees (GE trees) are also known as genetically modified trees (GM trees) or transgenic trees.  This refers to trees which have been genetically altered through the insertion of foreign DNA to give the trees unnatural characteristics such as the ability to kill insects, resist toxic herbicides, grow faster or have modified wood composition.

This Nov. 11, 2008 photo released by ArborGen shows a field trial of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in Sebring, Fla. South Carolina-based ArborGen received federal approval to plant 260,000 GE eucalyptus trees in locations around the South for use by International Paper, MeadWestvaco and Rubicon LTD. (AP Photo/ArborGen)

The release of GE trees into the environment is extremely dangerous and the impacts of the escape of these trees into native forest or other ecosystems is unknown, but likely to be extremely destructive.  If GE trees are released on a large scale, the escape of pollen or seeds from these trees is both inevitable and irreversible.  Contaminated trees would go on to contaminate more trees in an endless cycle.  For this reason, we began campaigning to stop GE trees as soon as we learned about them in 1999, when we were still Native Forest Network, launching the official first campaign against GE trees in June of 2000.  In April of 2003 we co-founded the STOP GE Trees Campaign.

Below is a brief history of the campaign to stop the release of genetically engineered trees.  Thanks to our generous supporters for making our work to protect forests and communities from the dangers of GE trees possible.

GE trees are still one disaster we can stop.  To join the campaign against GE trees email globalecology@gmavt.net.  To sign the petition calling for a global ban on GE trees, please click here.  To read our report on the current status of GE trees, click here.

–Anne Petermann

Coordinator, STOP GE Trees Campaign

Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

History of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees

 June 2000: Campaign against GE trees launched at Biodevastation protest during Biotechnology Industry Organization national conference in Boston.  Washington Post runs front page article about the campaign.

May 2001: Chapter on the dangers of GE trees published by GJEP Co-Founder Orin Langelle in the book Redesigning Life.

July 2001: Native Forest Network (NFN) report released From Native Forests to Frankentrees: The Global Threat of Genetically Engineered Trees.

July 2001: NFN organizes protest at GE tree conference at Skamania Lodge in Washington state.

GE trees action at International Paper subsidiary in Sacramento, CA. Photo: Langelle

March 2003: Action for Social and Ecological Justice, Rainforest Action Network and Northwest Resistance Against Genetic Engineering organize GE tree protests at the World Trade Organization agricultural negotiations in Sacramento, CA.

December 2003: UN Climate Convention’s Ninth Conference of the Parties (COP 9) in Milan, Italy decides that GE trees can be used in carbon offset forestry plantations.

April 2004: STOP Genetically Engineered Trees Campaign founded.  Founding members include Global Justice Ecology Project, Sierra Club, Southern Forests Network, Dogwood Alliance, Forest Ethics, Forest Guild, GE Free Maine (now Food for Maine’s Future), Institute for Social Ecology, Klamath-Siskyou Wildlands Center, Northwest Resistance Against Genetic Engineering, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), Rainforest Action Network.

April 2004: GJEP presents dangers of GE trees to delegates at the UN Forum on Forests in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mapuche activist shows us eucalyptus seedling covered with toxic pesticides responsible for contaminating the watershed. Photo: Langelle, 2004

September 2004: GJEP launches collaborative partnership with Indigenous Mapuche group Konapewman against GE trees and plantations in Chile.

October 2004: GJEP presents social and ecological dangers of GE trees during founding meeting of the Durban Group for Climate Justice in Durban, South Africa.

December 2004: World Rainforest Movement (WRM) report released, Genetically Engineered Trees, the Ultimate Threat to Forests.

December 2004: GJEP and WRM organize side event and press conference on social and ecological dangers of GE trees at the UN Climate Convention COP 10 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mapuche participant presents threats to Indigenous peoples.

September 2005: Award-winning GE trees documentary released: A Silent Forest: The Growing Threat, Genetically Engineered Trees, narrated by renowned geneticist Dr. David Suzuki.

MST camp in Espirito Santo, Brazil. Banner reads "eucalyptus plantations are not forests." Photo: Langelle

November 2005: Global Justice Ecology Project, World Rainforest Movement and FASE host joint international strategy meeting on GE trees in Vitoria, Brazil.  Participants attend from five continents.

March 2006: STOP GE Trees Campaign and EcoNexus campaign against GE trees at UN Biodiversity Convention COP 8 in Curitiba, Brazil.  UN decides to warn countries about GE trees, calls for application of the Precautionary Principle and launches a study into the ecological and social impacts of GE trees.

July 2006: UN Food and Agriculture Organization releases a report titled, Preliminary Review of Biotechnology in Forestry, Including Genetic Modification. In it, a survey of GE tree researchers reveals that their topmost concern about GE trees is the “unintentional contamination of non-target species.”  Their second greatest concern is public opinion of GE trees.

Boat action in Charleston harbor protests industry conference on GE trees and plantations. Photo: Petermann

October 2006: STOP GE Trees Campaign, Rising Tide and Katuah Earth First! organize protests and a boat action organized around the International Union of Forest Research Organizations “2006 Forest Plantations Meeting” in Charleston, South Carolina, US.

May 2007: STOP GE Trees Campaign launches “National Effort to Stop Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus Plantations in US Southeast.”

June 2007: STOP GE Trees Campaign issues press release asking US health and environmental agencies to investigate potential link between pathogenic fungus and genetically engineered eucalyptus trees.

November 2007: Global Justice Ecology Project and Global Forest Coalition publish the report, The True Cost of Agrofuels: Impacts on Food, Forests, People and the Climate.

February 2008: GJEP, EcoNexus, GFC and WRM organize GE trees protest inside a UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Rome.

April 2008: Global Justice Ecology Project, Global Forest Coalition and the STOP GE Trees Campaign release the report, GE Trees, Cellulosic Biofuels and Destruction of Forest Biological Diversity.

 

Frankenforests threaten to take over UN Convention on Biological Diversity conference in Bonn, Germany. Photo: Langelle

May 2008: A major series of protests and side events are organized by a large international alliance of groups and Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations at the UN CBD convention in Bonn, Germany calling for a global ban on GE trees.  Unanimous support for the ban received from entire African delegation, many Latin American and Asian country delegations, and all NGOs and IPOs present.

November 2008: World Rainforest Movement releases GE Tree Research: A Country by Country Overview.

May 2009: Belgium Permanent Mission in Manhattan protested by Indigenous Peoples during the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues due to Belgium’s development of test plots of GE poplar trees.

May-June 2009: Living On Earth, an NPR program, interviews GJEP on the impacts of GE trees.

June 2009: Tree Engineer Steve Strauss, of Oregon State University, writes article “Strangled at Birth? Forest Biotech and the Convention on Biological Diversity” in Nature Biotechnology magazine which criticizes international regulatory hurdles created by GJEP’s efforts to ban GE trees internationally.

June 2009: The STOP GE Trees Campaign and allies submit nearly 17,500 public comments to the USDA opposing the USDA’s recommendation for approval of an ArborGen proposal to plant over a quarter of a million GE eucalyptus trees in test plots across seven states.  Only 39 favorable comments were received by the USDA.

August 2009: Jim Hightower national commentary airs: “The Invasion of Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus.”

Mapuche woman protests outside of the Belgian Mission in Manhattan. Photo: Langelle

October 2009: La Via Campesina, the world’s largest peasant farmer organization, organizes protests outside of the XIII World Forestry Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  GJEP speaks about GE trees.

February 2010: Groups Force USDA to re-release Draft Environmental Assessment on genetically engineered eucalyptus trees after their original EA lacked key US Forest Service hydrological studies.

May 2010: USDA approves ArborGen request to plant 260,000 genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in test plots across the US South despite overwhelming public opposition.

June 2010: Global Justice Ecology Project, Global Forest Coalition and Biofuelwatch release new report, Wood-based Bioenergy: The Green Lie, at the UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany during a European tour on the issues of GE trees and wood-based bioenergy.

July 2010: Global Justice Ecology Project, Dogwood Alliance, Sierra Club, Center for Food Safety, International Center for Technology Assessment and Center for Biological Diversity file suit against the USDA over their approval of ArborGen’s large-scale test plots of GE eucalyptus trees.

August 2010: Charlotte Observer editorial, “Could eucalyptus trees be the kudzu of the 2010s?” [Note: the Charlotte Observer is the largest newspaper near ArborGen’s headquarters.]

 September 2010: Global Justice Ecology Project, Dogwood Alliance and the STOP GE Trees Campaign release a 5 minute video on the dangers of large-scale tree plantations and genetically engineered trees.

October 2010: ArborGen announces plan for Initial Public Offering (IPO) to raise funds for research.

Protest against the World Bank's Forest Carbon Partnership Facility at the UN Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia in 2007. ArborGen is trying to get their GE trees into forest carbon offset projects. Photo: Langelle

2007-2010: GJEP organizes side events and press conferences with World Rainforest Movement, Global Forest Coalition, Climate Justice Now!, Indigenous Environmental Network and other groups at annual UN Climate Conferences linking GE trees to the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme and denouncing the UN’s definition of forests.

January 2011: ArborGen partner Range Fuels shutters taxpayer-subsidized cellulosic ethanol plant in Georgia, due to their inability to manufacture affordable cellulosic ethanol.

January 2011: ArborGen submits request to USDA for full deregulation and commercial approval of their GE eucalyptus trees.

January 2011: Des Moines Register article, “Court challenges stall new biofuel crops.”

April 2011: Biomass Power & Thermal Magazine article, “Genetic Engineering Hang-Up: Lawsuit highlights a barrier to biotechnology advancements in the US”

 May 2011: ArborGen postpones IPO indefinitely.

 June 2011: STOP GE Trees Campaign Action Alert against ArborGen coincides with Tree Biotechnology 2011 conference in Brazil.

Protest outside of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative conference in Burlington, VT. Photo: Langelle

September 2011: Protest organized to counter the push for GE tree sustainability criteria at the 2011 conference of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative in Burlington, Vermont.

October 2011: USDA grants $136 million for research into GE trees and other wood for bioenergy.

October 2011: Judge in GE trees test plot lawsuit rules in favor of USDA.

October 2011: Commercial Appeal article, “Court loss won’t stop environmentalists’ battle against modified-eucalyptus trees” [note: the Commercial Appeal is the largest newspaper in Memphis–home to ArborGen co-owner International Paper].

November 2011: article, “GE Trees in Sweden Cause Concern.”

January 2012: New video A Darker Shade of Green Documents Critical Perspectives on REDD reveals global resistance to forest-carbon projects as well as GE trees.

February 2012: COST Alliance formed in EU to advance GE tree “sustainability criteria” by “…improving the scientific basis for safe tree development…with the intent to supply the world with fuel, fibre and energy.”

March 2012: Action Alert launched to stop the expansion of ArborGen’s GE eucalyptus test plots in the US South.

March 2012: ArborGen Board announces major changes to Senior Management.

The false solutions circus at VT Yankee Protest. Photo: Dylan Kelley

March 2012: Vermont Yankee Protest–Protesters link nuclear power and GE trees as dangerous “false solutions” to climate change.

For a complete listing of news around genetically engineered trees, go to: http://nogetrees.org

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Energy, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Indigenous Peoples, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, Water

This Week’s Earth Minute: Chevron Executives Charged Over Oil Spill in Brazil

Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Environment Segment every Thursday.

Go to the link below and scroll to minute 38:42 to listen to this week’s Earth Minute:

KPFK Earth Minute Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Text from this week’s Earth Minute:

On March 10th, Members of the Stop Suncor and Tar Sands Coalition, including the American Indian Movement and other groups, occupied the site of a Suncor Energy oil spill on the shore of Colorado’s Sand Creek.

Suncor Energy boasts of being the first corporation to begin extracting the tar sands in Athabasca, leading to the deforestation of thousands of square miles of Boreal forest and the destruction of First Nations cultures. Suncor produces more than 90,000 barrels of oil per day at its refinery in Commerce City, Colorado.

Tessa McLean of the American Indian Movement said, “the oil that’s being spilled here came from Athabasca, a First Nations community. My people up are suffering there because of the oil we’re refining here.”

Deanna Meyer of Deep Green Resistance Colorado added, “Suncor has so poisoned this land that oil is bubbling up through numerous burst sub-surface pipelines.  Benzene levels in this water—that fish, ducks, geese, beavers and other beings depend on—are 100 times the safety limit.”

While the spill was first reported last November 27th, it is believed to have begun in February 2011.

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Filed under Climate Change, Earth Minute, Energy, Oil, Pollution, Posts from Anne Petermann, Water

UN Climate Conference: The Durban Disaster

By Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle

Cross-Posted from Z Magazine, February 2012

During the march against the Conference of Polluters. Photo: Langelle/GJEP

This year’s UN Climate Conference of the Parties (COP-17) inDurban, South Africa, nicknamed “The Durban Disaster,” took the dismalt track record of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to new lows. At one point, it appeared that the talks might actually collapse, but a small cabal of 20-30 countries held exclusive closed-door talks over the final days to create the Durban Platform, which carbon analyst Matteo Mazzoni described as “an agreement between parties to arrange another agreement.”

The details of the platform will not be completed until 2015 and will not be implemented until 2020, leading many to charge that the 2010s will be the lost decade in the fight to stop climate catastrophe. Pablo Solón, the former Ambassador to the UN for the Plurinational state of Bolivia, summed up the negotiations this way: “The Climate Change Conference ended two days later than expected, adopting a set of decisions that were known only a few hours before their adoption. Some decisions were not even complete at the moment of their consideration. Paragraphs were missing and some delegations didn’t even have copies of these drafts. The package of decisions was released by the South African presidency with the ultimatum, ‘Take it or leave it’.”

Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, similarly condemned the outcomes: “An increase in global temperatures of four degrees Celsius permitted under this plan is a death sentence forAfrica, small island states, and the poor and vulnerable worldwide. This summit has amplified climate apartheid whereby the richest 1 percent of the world have decided that it is acceptable to sacrifice the 99%percent.”

Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the North America-based Indigenous Environmental Network, went even further, calling the outcome, “climate racism, ecocide, and genocide of an unprecedented scale.”

The UN, on the other hand, trumpeted the success of the conference at “saving tomorrow, today.” One of the great achievements touted by Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, was the renewed commitment to the Kyoto Protocol (KP):  “…countries, citizens, and businesses who have been behind the rising global wave of climate action can now push ahead confidently, knowing that Durban has lit up a broader highway to a low-emission, climate resilient future.”

To read the entire article, please visit the Z Magazine website

To view Orin Langelle’s Photo essays from Durban, go to:

Photo Essay: Global Day of Action Against UN Conference of Polluters (COP) in Durban

Photo Essay: UN Climate COP: Corporate Exhibitionism (parting shots)

To read the associated blog post by Anne Petermann, go to:  Showdown at the Durban Disaster, Challenging the Big Green Patriarchy

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, False Solutions to Climate Change, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, UNFCCC