Category Archives: The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Senegal farmers, pastoralists complain of “land-grabbing”

April 14, 2014. Source: African Press Agency

Photo: Farmlandgrab

Photo: Farmlandgrab

Over nine thousand farmers and pastoralist in St. Louis in the north of Senegal are facing possible evictions from their land as multi-national agro-industries scramble for agricultural land in the region. Speaking to the African Press Agency on Sunday, Fulani cattle herders of the local community in Ross Bethio accused Senhuile – Sénéthanol, an Italian multinational company of encroaching on their grazing and farm lands.

They claimed that more than 37 villages are currently deprived of their land thanks to activities by the company which is based in St. Louis.

The local population said they have lost over twenty six thousand hectares, leaving them without the means to continue herding cattle and farming their lands.

“We prefer to die than to allow our land to be taken away by a foreign company. We shall not succumb to this new form of colonization” said Gorgui Sow, a member of the youth platform in Ndiael local community to fight the “illegal occupation”. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Corporate Globalization, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Water

April 17: International day of peasant struggles

April 8, 2014. Source: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

This year we dedicate the 17th of April, international day of peasant struggles, to the defense of seeds. Seeds are an essential basis for achieving food sovereignty because almost everything in agriculture depends on them: What we can plant and how it is grown; the quality and nutrition of our food, our ability to account for different tastes and cultural preferences; and also the wellbeing of our communities, our ecosystems and the planet. In this article we explain why this implies not so much the defense of seeds as such but especially the defense of peasant seeds—that is, seeds that remain in the hands of the peasant and family farmers of the world. We also give some examples of how we are carrying out this defense among the organizations in the 73 countries that make up La Vía Campesina.

The seeds used in agriculture are different from those that exist in non-cultivated nature. Until several thousand years ago the enormous diversity of peasant varieties of rice, potatoes, cabbages or barley did not exist as such. The richness of our nutrition today is based on the knowledge, practices, visions and needs of the peasant communities around the world that created them in the first place. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

False solutions in new IPCC climate report denounced

April 13, 2014. Source: Biofuelwatch

Photograph: Ed Andrieski/AP

Photograph: Ed Andrieski/AP

Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group on Mitigation of Climate Change released its “Summary for Policy Makers” [1]. Climate, energy and social justice groups [2] commend the IPCC for clearly acknowledging the close link between economic growth and increased greenhouse gas emissions but warn that the report falls far short on translating this insight into meaningful, holistic and bold pathways to mitigation.  They point to the disproportionate influence of economists, engineers and environmental managers, and a dearth of climate scientists, ecologists or other experts from key relevant disciplines in the group.

The groups are particularly concerned that large-scale bioenergy and biofuels, waste incineration, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS) are referred to as “low carbon” in mitigation models, despite concerns raised elsewhere that some of those technologies are risky, unproven and could actually make climate change worse [3].  They are also decry IPCC’s support for increased use of fossil gas over the next few decades [4] and by their endorsement of failed market mechanisms, including cap and trade [5]. Continue reading

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IPCC report proposes sucking carbon out of the air as climate fix

By Martin Lukacs, April 7, 2014. Source: The Guardian

A biomass plant in Metz, eastern France. A UN report has suggested burning biomass then pumping the released carbon underground could provide a fix for climate change. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images

A biomass plant in Metz, eastern France. A UN report has suggested burning biomass then pumping the released carbon underground could provide a fix for climate change. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images

An upcoming UN report suggests that unproven technologies to suck carbon out of the air might be a fix for climate change, according to a leaked draft obtained by the Guardian.

Scientists and government officials gather in Berlin this week ahead of Sunday’s publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s third part of its series of blockbuster climate change reports, which deals with policies addressing the emissions that drive global warming.

But environmentalists criticised the report’s inclusion of a controversial new technique that would involve burning biomass – trees, plant waste, or woodchips – to generate electricity, and then capturing the released carbon, pumping it into geological reservoirs underground.

Proponents of the technique – known as bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) – suggest that regrown trees and crops might sequester additional carbon, making the technology “negative emission” because it might reduce the overall amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Continue reading

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Women leading resistance to eucalyptus plantations in Brazil

Note: In the US, South Carolina-based ArborGen is awaiting a decision from the US Department of Agriculture to sell billions of genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees annually for planting across the southeast US.  The approval of this invasive, water thirsty and highly flammable tree species would be devastating for the southeast, a region expected to see more and more drought due to climate change.

Sign the petition demanding an immediate ban on the release of GE trees here: http://globaljusticeecology.org/petition.php

-The GJEP Team

Protestors denounce pact to transform rural region of Brazil into a “eucalyptus desert

March 2014. Source: MST via World Rainforest Movement

Photo: WRM

Photo: WRM

On March 8, 2014, peasant farmers from organizations including the MPA, MST, MMC, Quilombolas, the Union of Rural Workers of Mucuri and Montanha and Fetaes, along with youth activists and other social movements, took to the streets of Montanha, in the state of Espírito Santo, Brazil, to denounce the pact between large landholders, the public administration and multinational corporations like Fibria (formerly Aracruz Celulose) to transform the region into an “enormous desert of eucalyptus”. During the political rally held in the town’s central square, some 1,000 women handed out eucalyptus outside the town hall and the headquarters of public offices as a form of protest. The participants in the rally also paid tribute to fellow peasant farmers Saturnino Ribeiro and Valdício Barbosa, who lost their lives in the struggle for land in this region. After a march, two truckloads of food were distributed to neighbourhoods on the periphery of Montanha.

The main themes of the protest were: Agribusiness is the strategy used by patriarchal capitalism in the countryside! We must denounce it and unite in struggle! Stop violence against women! Agrarian reform is the only viable way to produce healthy food for workers!

Observations on eucalyptus and women in Mato Grosso do Sul

By Mieceslau Kudlavicz, March 2014. Source: World Rainforest Movement

“It is the rural women’s movements that have been at the forefront of massive public actions aimed at fighting back against the big corporations in the agri-food sector (pharmaceutical laboratories that produce transgenic seeds and toxic agrochemicals) and defending biodiversity.” (SILIPRANDI, 2013, p. 239)

Numerous events reflect the growing protagonism of women in the economy and, more recently, in political debate. In Brazil, one of the most visible examples of this political struggle was the action undertaken by the Peasant Women’s Movement (MMC), a member organization of La Via Campesina, in 2006, when close to 2,000 women occupied the Aracruz Celulose eucalyptus seedling production laboratories in Rio Grande do Sul. The aim of this action was to denounce the expansion of the “green desert” created by industrial eucalyptus plantations and the resulting expulsion of peasant communities. It was an act in defence of peasant agriculture as a promoter of biodiversity and foundation of food sovereignty. In this way, these women defended seeds for life, in the sense that “seeds are the beginning and the end of peasant farming production cycles. They are a collective creation that reflects the history of peoples and their women, who have always been their creators and the ones primarily responsible for their protection and improvement” (Martins; Stedile, 2011). Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Women

Biomass expansion project scrapped in Washington state

By Paul Gottlieb, April 4, 2014. Source: Peninsula Daily News

Port Townsend Paper is scrapping plans for a $54 million project to improve the mill’s biomass cogeneration plant. Photo: Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

Port Townsend Paper is scrapping plans for a $54 million project to improve the mill’s biomass cogeneration plant. Photo: Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend Paper Corp. has abandoned a much-disputed $54 million project that would have upgraded the mill’s biomass cogeneration plant.

Company President Roger Hagan told the Peninsula Daily News on Wednesday that the company’s construction permit will not be extended beyond the 18-month June deadline for the improvements.

“It’s not a financially viable project,” said Hagan, who took over at the mill May 1, succeeding Roger Loney.

“It is not our intention to proceed with the project or ask for another extension.”

He attributed the decision to environmental challenges that delayed the project, an overwhelmingly strong market for cheap natural gas compared with biomass and the expiration of federal tax-credit incentive programs despite a $2 million state grant for the project that the company received in 2009. Continue reading

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How climate pain is being spun into corporate gain

By Fred Pearce, March 31, 2014. Source: New Scientist

As the Arctic melts, the Russians are eyeing new shipping routes (Image: Jan Vermeer/ Foto Natura/Minden Pictures)

As the Arctic melts, the Russians are eyeing new shipping routes (Image: Jan Vermeer/ Foto Natura/Minden Pictures)

MY BOOKSHELVES contain several metres of books on climate change. This addition makes many of them seem redundant. It is also by a long way the most readable – and it made me laugh.

Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming by journalist McKenzie Funk tells the story of the people and corporations trying to profit from climate change. Many of them don’t want to halt its progress, they want to bring it on.

Here we meet private fire-fighters in drought-hit Los Angeles, selling their services to insurance companies, Russian shipping lines eyeing new routes opened up by the melting Arctic, Dutchmen rebuilding flooded islands in the Maldives, and manufacturers of snow-making machines selling their products to distressed winter resorts.

They all have an interest in global warming’s destructive progress. Funk lays bare their vanities and insanities while also exposing the magic of markets that can profit from anything.”I’m interested in climate change as a driver of human behaviour,” says Funk. “It’s a window into our collective state of mind.” Continue reading

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Arnold Schwarzenegger ‘linked to destructive logging companies’

Note: As noted below, Schwarzenegger has been a leading proponent of the so-called “green economy”, a proposal which would advance mega-projects and the privatization of natural resources in the Global South under the guise of environmental conservation and climate defense.

Schwarzenegger’s investment ties to conflict, forest destruction, and human rights abuses must be seen as the norm, and not the exception, for this emerging “green economy”, as many nation-states fail to recognize the land and resource rights of peasant and Indigenous communities directly impacted by investment-driven projects.

-The GJEP Team

By Suzanne Goldenberg, March 25, 2014. Source: The Guardian

Former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks during the opening ceremony of a conference on the green economy. Photograph: Louafi Larbi/Reuters

Former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks during the opening ceremony of a conference on the green economy. Photograph: Louafi Larbi/Reuters

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the one-time action hero fronting a blockbuster TV special on climate change next month, has financial ties to some of the world’s most destructive logging companies, an investigation group found on Tuesday.

The former governor and climate champion is a part owner of an investment company, Dimensional Fund Advisers, with significant holdings in tropical forestry companies.

A number of those forestry companies were implicated in highly destructive and illegal logging which has destroyed rainforest and critical orangutan habitat in Borneo, and fuelled conflict and arms trafficking in Liberia, the investigators from Global Witness said.

The group, whose founder won this year’s $1 million TED prize for its campaigns, said the holdings were at odds with Schwarzenegger’s public image as a climate champion. Tropical forests are an important store of carbon that would otherwise accelerate climate change.

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REDD could lead to a “carbon grab” – new report from the Rights and Resources Initiative

By Chris Lang, March 20, 2014. Source: REDD-Monitor

Image: Santiago Armengod and Melanie Cervantes

Image: Santiago Armengod and Melanie Cervantes

The World Bank continues with its push to trade the carbon stored in forests. But new research shows that safeguards and legal protections for indigenous peoples and local communities in these new forest carbon markets are “non-existent”.

The research was carried out by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) together with the Ateneo School of Government in the Philippines. It includes a survey of 23 countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, covering two-thirds of the Global South’s forests. 21 of these countries are members of the UN-REDD programme and/or the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Brazil has a US$1 billion REDD agreement with Norway. India is the only non-REDD country included in the research.

In a press release, Arvind Khare, RRI’s Executive Director, said,

“As the carbon in living trees becomes another marketable commodity, the deck is loaded against forest peoples, and presents an opening for an unprecedented carbon grab by governments and investors. Every other natural resource investment on the international stage has disenfranchised Indigenous Peoples and local communities, but we were hoping REDD would deliver a different outcome. Their rights to their forests may be few and far between, but their rights to the carbon in the forests are non-existent.”

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

A note concerning the International Day of Forests

Note: Today , March 21st, has been declared the “International Day of Forests” by the United Nations, to celebrate the “value” of standing forests.  But what type of “value” is the UN really celebrating?  Wally Menne of the Timberwatch Coalition in South Africa provides a deeper look at the United Nations’ increasingly pro-corporate agenda.

-The GJEP Team

By Wally Menne, March 21, 2014 

Natural peatland forest in Sungai Sembilang Nature Conservation Park in South Sumatra.  Photo: Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

Natural peatland forest in Sungai Sembilang Nature Conservation Park in South Sumatra. Photo: Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

On 21st March, the International Day of Mourning for Millions of Hectares of Destroyed and Stolen Forests, we should weep in solidarity with the millions of displaced, dispossessed and now poverty stricken, formerly forest dependent local communities and indigenous peoples around the world.

In a message, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlights the value of the world’s remaining forests to nearly 1.6 billion people worldwide who “depend on forests for their livelihood, food, fuel, shelter and medicine”.

The value of forests for their climate change mitigation and adaptation services is acknowledged too, but nothing is said about the ongoing corporate driven land grabbing; and the complete destruction of forests through logging and land use change, that has occurred over the past 60 years at least.

Praise is poured onto the timber and paper industries: “Round wood production, wood processing and the pulp and paper industries account for nearly 1 per cent of global gross domestic product”. But at what cost to forests, rivers and forest dependent people comes this mere “1 per cent”? Continue reading

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