Category Archives: Rio+20

That was the year – Unlucky 13

January 7, 2014. Source: ETC Group

etc_groupUnlucky 13: Our 2012 year-end review, “193 Shades of Gray,” stumbled into the surreal, post-Rio+20 “Hunger Games” as FAO admitted that it has been underestimating the number of hungry people and overestimating future food requirements and, in a cowardly act of conspicuous consumption, the UN Committee on World Food Security failed to condemn biofuels; Warsaw withered the way of every climate conference since Kyoto; the USA, UK, China and Russia significantly underestimated GHG emissions while the UK, Japan, New Zealand and Australia concluded that they just don’t give a damn. UNEP first endorsed – and then disclaimed – methyl hydrates as a green, clean energy source. Haiyan/Yolanda, the most powerful typhoon ever recorded, struck the Philippines leaving four million people homeless, and a million Syrians bore the hurricane of refugee flight amidst the tsunami of winter snows.

Lucky 13: In October, a pro-Terminator bill came up for vote in Brazil’s Judicial Commission but was withdrawn; came back again at the end of December and was withdrawn again; massive GM maize plantings in Mexico about-to-be approved most of 2013 were halted by national and international mobilizations leading to a lucky legal ploy in September; that was overturned in December, but restored the same week; lucky us, Edward Snowden courageously told us more than we feared to suspect; Benedict XVI quit; replaced by the happy surprise of the year, Pope Francis. We had Nelson Mandela for 95 years.

2013’s Over-the-Top Understatements: Two demonic pearls from prominent Canadians: Toronto’s hallucinogenic Mayor, Rob Ford, admitted to the Today show, “I’m not perfect,” and Harvard’s hubristic professor, David Keith, confessed to news satirist Stephen Colbert that spraying sulfuric acid in the stratosphere (geoengineering) was a “totally imperfect technological fix.”

2013’s Idiotic Idioms:

·      “Unconventional energy,” or “unconventionals,” for short – including fracking, methane hydrate extraction;

·      “Oilsands” (a.k.a. “tar”) – the capitalist’s alternative to “alternative energy;”

·      “Distorporation” – The Economist magazine’s description of MLPs (Master Limited Partnerships) for the massive secrecy move by extractivist investors;
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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Humor, Land Grabs, Rio+20, Synthetic Biology, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Warsaw/COP-19, World Bank

Green activists face grave threat as death toll doubles in a decade

By Fred Pearce, February 21, 2013

The activist Sombath Somphone disappeared in Vientiane in December 2011. Photo: Somphone Family/AFP/Getty Images

The activist Sombath Somphone disappeared in Vientiane in December 2011. Photo: Somphone Family/AFP/Getty Images

Where is Sombath Somphone? With every day that passes, the fate of one of south-east Asia’s most high-profile environmental activists, who was snatched from the streets of Laos in December, becomes more worrisome.

His case has been raised by the State Department and countless NGOs around the world. But the authorities in Laos have offered no clue as to what happened after Sombath was stopped at a police checkpoint on a Saturday afternoon in the Lao capital of Vientiane as he returned home from his office. It looks increasingly like state kidnap — or worse, if recent evidence of the state-sponsored killings of environmental campaigners in other countries is anything to go by.

Personal danger is not what most environmentalists have in mind when they take up the cause of protecting nature and the people who rely on it in their daily lives. But from Laos to the Philippines to Brazil, the list of environmentalists who have paid for their activism with their lives is growing. It is a grim toll, especially in the last year.

One of the most grisly cases occurred last year in Rio de Janeiro on the final day of the Rio+20 Earth Summit. On the afternoon of June 22, delegates from throughout the world — me included — were preparing to leave for the airport as Almir Nogueira de Amorim and his friend João Luiz Telles Penetra were setting sail for a fishing trip in the city’s Guanabara Bay.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Illegal logging, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Rio+20

Strike four in climate change: A “Climate Space” to rethink analysis and strategies

Note:  While the post below is a few months old, Global Justice Ecology Project find’s former Bolivian climate negotiator Pablo Salon’s analysis on the UNFCCC incredibly relevant and important.  It is due time to rethink strategy and analysis in approaching solutions to climate change, inequality and economic domination.

-The GJEP Team

By Pablo Salon.  Source: Focus on the Global South

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In baseball, when you have 3 strikes, you are out. In the climate change negotiations we already have 4 strikes. Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban and now Doha. Four attempts and each of the results were bigger failures than the last. The emission reductions should have been at least 40 to 50% until 2020 based on 1990 levels. Four COPs later, the current numbers are down to a measly 13 to 18%. We are now well on our way to a global temperature increase of 4 to 8ºC.

“The perfect is the enemy of the good” is what some UN negotiators say. To which we can reply: “When our house is burning down, the worst thing you can do is lie to us”. It’s time to rethink what is happening and try to find new strategies to avoid a global catastrophe.

It isn’t because of the lack of evidence

Climate change is no longer a theoretical possibility. It has real impacts on the lives of people, nature and the economy.

Climate change is already contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year[1]. This month, during the COP18 negotiations in Doha, Qatar, Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines with all its intensity, leaving in its wake more than 700 dead. The strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines in decades devastated Mindanao, damaging more than 70,000 homes and forcing 30,000 to now live in temporary shelters.
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Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Copenhagen/COP-15, False Solutions to Climate Change, REDD, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Rio+20, UNFCCC

‘The last bit of paradise’: Giant dam threatens Brazilian rainforest

By Jonathan Stock, February 1, 2013.  Source: Spiegel Online.  Full photo gallery here

300 Indigenous People, peasants, fisherfolk and activists occupy the Belo Monte dam site during Rio+20

300 Indigenous People, peasants, fisherfolk and activists occupy the Belo Monte dam site during Rio+20

They search for dead meat, and rummage through the trash. They come from the forest and live on the city’s waste. They’re called “urubus” in northern Brazil, black vultures with curved beaks and lizard-like heads.

The old people say the birds bring bad luck. There are now thousands in the city of Altamira, more than ever before. They blacken the sky when seen from a distance, and at closer range their silence is unsettling. Black vultures, lacking the vocal organ found in birds, the syrinx, rarely make any noise at all.

“The urubus,” says Bishop Erwin Kräutler, “are an unmistakable sign that the city is in chaos.” Kräutler, a native Austrian, is the bishop of one of the world’s large prelatures, which is larger than Germany. He talks about chaos, speaking into every camera that’s pointed at him, and he speaks loudly — too loudly for the big landowners, the corporations and the government. His enemies have placed a bounty on the bishop’s head for the equivalent of almost €400,000 ($543,000), and even the largest newspaper in northern Brazil wrote that it was time to “eliminate” him.

Bishop Kräutler is now 73. He’s been living in Altamira, on the edge of the rainforest and in the middle of the Amazon region, for almost 50 years. For the last 30 years, he has been fighting the construction of the dam directly adjacent to the city, a project that is financially lucrative for many in the area.

He and his friends from environmental organizations advise the victims, file lawsuits against government agencies and plan rallies. He has spoken with prosecutors and the country’s supreme court, has met with the president twice and was awarded the Alternative Nobel Prize, but all to little avail.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Rio+20, Water, World Bank

2012 Top ten articles on Climate Connections

Note: The following are the top ten articles from Climate Connections from 2012, based on the number of views each story received. Several articles were written by GJEP, or were sent to Climate Connections by the original authors. They are posted in reverse order, from number 10 through number 1.  Our blog received a record 270,000 visitors in 2012 from over 200 countries.

Please subscribe to Climate Connections, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

Happy New Year,

-The GJEP Team

10. Three responses to Bill McKibben’s new article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math” (July 24)

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director of GJEP, Rachel Smolker of BiofuelWatch, and Keith Brunner, GJEP Communications Associate

Bill McKibben, in his new Rolling Stone article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math” does an effective job at summarizing the hard and theoretical numbers that warn us of the devastating impacts of continuing to burn the Earth’s remaining fossil fuel reserves–yet it somehow falls short of its stated goal to help mobilize a new movement for climate action.  Continue reading here

9. Breaking News: Secret US military testing of radiological materials on poor and minority communities (September 24)

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director of GJEP, and Orin Langelle, GJEP Board Chair

During an interview we conducted last week in St. Louis, MO, Dr. Lisa Martino-Taylor gave us a long description of research she had conducted into a major military cover up of the use of U.S. citizens as test subjects for military experiments related to the Cold War.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Idle No More, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Nuclear power, Oil, Political Repression, Posts from Anne Petermann, Rio+20, Tar Sands, War, Youth

Rio Earth Summit: tragedy, farce, and distraction

By Anne Petermann, September 2012.  Source: Z Magazine

As I flew to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 12 for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)—the 20-year anniversary of the historic “Rio Earth Summit”—I read an article in the Financial Times titled “Showdown Looms at OPEC After Saudi Arabia Urges Higher Output.” The article explained that Saudi Arabia was urging OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) to increase their output of oil in order to ensure that the global price of oil would not exceed $100 per barrel in order to “mitigate the risks that high oil prices pose to the global economy.”

The article pointed out that ensuring the health of the global economy requires expanding oil production. This, as we know, will worsen the climate crisis. The takeaway message of the article, therefore, is that the global economy will only thrive by destroying the life support systems of the planet.

At the Rio Earth Summit, this was also the underlying logic of the so-called “green economy” proposals that have polarized and paralyzed the talks since the first preparatory meeting for Rio+20 in May 2010.

According to Jim Thomas of the ETC Group, who wrote about the Rio+20 summit’s preparatory meetings for the Guardian back in March 2011, “Far from cooking up a plan to save the Earth, what may come out of the summit could instead be a deal to surrender the living world to a small cabal of bankers and engineers. Tensions are already rising between northern countries and southern countries…and suspicions are running high that the…‘green economy’ is more likely to deliver a greenwash economy or the same old, same old ‘greed’ economy.”

At the Rio+20 summit, industrialized countries and multinational corporations, accompanied by institutions like the IMF and World Bank, led the push for development of the green economy—that is, to use the very ecological devastation caused by global capitalism to create markets in so-called “environmental services” by turning them into tradable commodities. These new markets would help prop up the global economy in a greenwashed version of business as usual.

“Environmental services,” provided by intact natural ecosystems—which include such things as the storage of carbon, the purification of air and water, and the maintenance of biodiversity—would be given a monetary value in the market, enabling them to be purchased and supposedly protected. In reality, however, it would allow companies to destroy a biodiverse ecosystem in one area, by purchasing the protection of an equivalent ecosystem.

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Filed under Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Events, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Land Grabs, Politics, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Rio+20, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

The dark side of the “green economy”

Note: Jeff traveled to Rio+20 as Global Justice Ecology Project’s Communications Director.

–The GJEP Team

By Jeff Conant, August 1, 2012. Source: Yes Magazine

BPsignsBIG.jpgPhoto: Ben Powless


Everywhere you look these days, things are turning green. In Chiapas, Mexico, indigenous farmers are being paid to protect the last vast stretch of rainforest in Mesoamerica. In the Brazilian Amazon, peasant families are given a monthly “green basket” of basic food staples to allow them to get by without cutting down trees. In Kenya, small farmers who plant climate-hardy trees and protect green zones are promised payment for their part in the fight to reduce global warming. In Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest nations, fully 19 percent of the country’s surface is leased to a British capital firm that pays families to reforest.
These are a few of the keystone projects that make up what is being called “the green economy”: an emerging approach that promises to protect ­planetary ecology while boosting the economy and fighting poverty.

On its face this may sound like a good thing. Yet, during the recently concluded United Nations Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil, tens of thousands of people attending a nearby People’s Summit condemned such approaches to environmental management. Indeed, if social movements gathered in Rio last month had one common platform, it was “No to the green economy.”
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Filed under Climate Change, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Rio+20

The great impostors

In the name of saving the natural world, governments are privatising it.

By George Monbiot, August 7, 2012, Source: the Guardian

The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying ‘this is mine’, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not anyone have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, ‘Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody’”(1).

Jean Jacques Rousseau would recognise this moment. Now it is not the land his impostors are enclosing, but the rest of the natural world. In many countries, especially the United Kingdom, nature is being valued and commodified so that it can be exchanged for cash.

The effort began in earnest under the last government. At a cost of £100,000(2), it commissioned a research company to produce a total annual price for England’s ecosystems. After taking the money, the company reported – with a certain understatement – that this exercise was “theoretically challenging to complete, and considered by some not to be a theoretically sound endeavour.”(3) Some of the services provided by England’s ecosystems, it pointed out, “may in fact be infinite in value.”
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Filed under Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Land Grabs, Rio+20