Category Archives: USSF

World Social Forum: Declaration of Social Movements Assembly

Note: Arabic, French and Spanish translation below.  Traducción al árabe, francés y español abajo. Traduction en français et en espagnol et en Arabe ci-dessous.

-The GJEP Team

March 29, 2013. Source: Global Square



As the Social Movements Assembly of the World Social Forum of Tunisia, 2013, we are gathered here to affirm the fundamental contribution of peoples of Maghreb-Mashrek (from North Africa to the Middle East), in the construction of human civilization. We affirm that decolonization for oppressed peoples remains for us, the social movements of the world, a challenge of the greatest importance.

Through the WSF process, the Social Movements Assembly is the place where we come together through our diversity, in order to forge common struggles and a collective agenda to fight against capitalism, patriarchy, racism and all forms of discrimination and oppression. We have built a common history of work which led to some progress, particularly in Latin America, where we have been able to intervene in neoliberal alliances and to create several alternatives for just development that truly honors nature.

Together, the peoples of all the continents are fighting to oppose the domination of capital, hidden behind illusory promises of economic progress and the illusion of political stability.

Now, we are at a crossroads where retrograde and conservative forces want to stop the processes initiated two years ago with the uprisings in the Maghreb-Mashreq region that helped to bring down dictatorships and to challenge the neoliberal system imposed on the peoples. These uprisings have spread to all continents of theworld inspiring indignation and occupation of public places.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Politics, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Solutions, USSF

Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry amends moratorium map and excludes oil palm concession issued in breach of moratorium

Note: And on it goes… Climate change?  What climate change?

By Chris Lang, 14th December 2011
Cross-Posted from REDD Monitor

Indonesia's Ministry of Forestry amends moratorium map and excludes oil palm concession issued in breach of moratorium

In August 2011, Irwandi Yusuf, governor of Aceh, signed a permit for a palm oil concession in the Tripa Peat Swamp, apparently in breach of the moratorium on new forest concessions under the Indonesia-Norway US$1 billion REDD deal.

The permit allowed PT Kallista Alam to clear 1,605 hectares for oil palm plantations. Walhi Aceh filed a legal case against Governor Irwandi in the Aceh administrative court. REDD-Monitor wrote about this story here, based on a press release from Walhi Aceh.

During the UN climate negotiations in Durban, the story was picked up by Reuters andAssociated Press. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the chair of the REDD+ task force, gave a critical response to Reuters:

“I spent four years in Aceh during the tsunami reconstruction. Opening up Kuala Tripa – an area with high conservation value and home to many animals endemic to Indonesia – is a grave mistake. . . While we recognise the need for the palm oil industry to also grow, signing an agreement with a palm oil company to allow the conversion of protected peat land into palm oil plantations, very clearly breaks the moratorium.”

Ahmad Fauzi Mas’ud, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Forestry, told Associated Press that, “We haven’t received the documents for this license yet. But if it’s inside peatland, it can’t be converted.”

Tim Koalisi Penyelamatan Rawa Tripa (TKPRT – Coalition Team for the Rehabilitation of Tripa) produced a map of the concession overlaid on the moratorium map. The concession area is clearly marked red, and therefore off-limits under the moratorium for conversion to oil palm plantations.

At this point, the story takes a strange turn. The moratorium map is revised every six months. The first revision of the map was released on 22 Novemeber 2011 and the red area of PT Kallista Alam’s concession has gone, as the maps below indicate:

May 2011 version of sheet 0519 of the moratorium map (above).

November 2011 version of sheet 0519 of the moratorium map (above).

A comparison of the two maps show that the concession area is not the only red area (i.e. protected area under the moratorium) to have been removed from the map.

Hadi Daryanto, secretary general at the Ministry of Forestry told the Jakarta Post that the permit should not have been issued under the terms of the moratorium:

“It’s clearly a violation because the area in question is a peat forest. On the moratorium map it’s clearly marked out as protected, but in the revision that followed, it was somehow excluded. That exclusion in itself is also a violation because it occurred after the moratorium went into effect.”

Elfian Effendi, Greenomics Indonesia Executive Director asks how this could possibly have happened. In a press release (below) Elfian says,

“This is a truly embarrassing state of affairs. That implementation of the moratorium has been characterized by a lack of synergy and coordination.”

Below Greenomics Indonesia’s press release is a clarification issued by Kamaruddin, legal council to the Coalition of Communities Concerned for Tripa.

UPDATE – 15 December 2011: Today, Greenomics Indonesia sent REDD-Monitor a response to the legal counsel to Coalition of Communities Concerned for Tripa. It is posted in full, below.

Revised moratorium map gets Aceh governor’s problematic palm plantation license off the hook

Press Release by Greenomics, Jakarta, 12 December 2011

Greenomics Indonesia can reveal that the first revision of the indicative map on the moratorium on the granting of new forestry licenses for natural forest and peatland, which was adopted by virtue of Minister of Forestry Decree No. SK. 7416/Menhut-VII/IPSDH/2011, dated 22 November 2011, validates the issuing of palm plantation licenses by Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf for peatland that was previously covered by the moratorium.

“One block of peatland that is included within the palm plantation concession of PT Kalista Alam and which extends to 1,065 hectares in Nagan Raya Regency, the license for which was granted by Irwandi, has been deleted from the first revision of the indicative moratorium map,” explained Elfian Effendi, Greenomics Indonesia Executive Director, in Jakarta on Monday (12/12/2011).

Elfian said that Sheet 0519 of the revised indicative moratorium map revealed that the area concerned was no longer colored red, as it had been in the original map.

“In fact, the peatland that is no longer colored red exceeds the area of the palm plantation concession granted by Irwandi,” Elfian continued.

Greenomics Indonesia has asked Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, the chairman of the REDD+ taskforce, to provide a public explanation of what has transpired is his capacity as an official observer of the moratorium’s implementation.

“This is especially important given that Kuntoro told Reuters news agency on 8 December 2011 that the opening up of peatland in Kuala Tripa, the area where the palm plantation license was issued by Irwandi, was a grave mistake. Kuntoro also advised the Aceh Provincial Government to review its decision to grant the palm plantation license and to seek alternative land for the development of such plantations,” Elfian said.

He added that Kuntoro’s statement appeared to be at odds with the first revision of the indicative moratorium map, which removed the land covered by the license issued by the Aceh Governor from the peatland block shown in the original indicative moratorium map, which was issued on 17 June 2011.

“In fact, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Forestry, Hadi Daryanto, has stated that the license issued by the Aceh Governor violates the indicative moratorium map. If that’s the case, why has the Minister of Forestry now gone ahead and removed the peatland area in question from the revised map? This is a truly embarrassing state of affairs. That implementation of the moratorium has been characterized by a lack of synergy and coordination,” Elfian stressed.

Elfian said that Nowegian Ambassador Eivind Homme had also told Reuters on 8 December 2011 that he was surprised to hear reports of the violation of the moratorium by the Aceh Governor, and that he had asked the central government to conduct an investigation.

“By excluding the area of the palm plantation concession from the area covered by the moratorium in the revised indicative map, the central government will now need to also investigate its own actions to find out why this has happened,” Elfian said.

A Clarification of the Press Release by Greenomics on 12 December 2011.

By: Kamaruddin, legal council to the Coalition of Communities Concerned for Tripa.
13th December 2011.

The press release by Greenomics on 12/12/2011 must not be allowed to confuse the legal issues concerning the permit issued by the Governor of Aceh on 25 August 2011.

While Elfian of Greenomics points out that the revised Moratorium map issued with the Minister of Forestry’s Decree No. SK. 7416/Menhut-VII/IPSDH/2011, dated 22 November 2011, removes the area of the new concession license issued to PT Kallista Alam from the original Moratorium map, this does NOT substantively affect the legal infractions that community members reported at the National Police Headquarters on 23 November 2011.

It is important to view the legal validity of the new concession issued by the Governor of Aceh within the wider legal context in Indonesia, not just the Moratorium on new permits established by the Presidential Instruction No. 10 of 2011. In their press release, Greenomics unfortunately fail to point out that the new concession breaks several national laws and regulations, in addition to the Presidential Instruction, all of which have higher legal status than the Minister of Forestry’s Decree:

1. Law No.11 of 2006 concerning the Governance of Aceh, which under article 150 mandates the protection of the Leuser Ecosystem and its restoration; and article 147 which states that the development of Aceh must conform to the National Spatial Plan and be based on sustainability, protection of environmental functions, appropriate utilization, and equitability;

2. Law no. 26 of 2007 concerning Spatial Planning, and its derivativeGovernment Regulation 26 of 2008, in which the Leuser Ecosystem was established as an Area of National Strategic Importance for Environmental Protection. Therefore the issuance of any exploitation permits contradictory to this function within the Leuser Ecosystem constitutes a criminal act.

In the hierarchy of Indonesian legislation, a Law (Undang-Undang) has higher legal status than a Presidential Instruction (Instruksi Presiden), which is higher than a Ministerial Decree (Keputusan Menteri).

Thus, although the changes in the Moratorium Map issued with the Ministerial Decree raise serious questions about the opaque processes behind its drafting within the Ministry of Forestry, (particularly as the permit was issued by the Governor in August 2011, and was thus issued in contravention of the Moratorium Map valid at that time, namely the map of 17 June 2011), the legal action against the issuance of the concession in Tripa continues unaltered, based on the higher National Laws mentioned above.

Indeed, it is possible that the Minister of Forestry, by acknowledging the validity of the recent PT Kallista Alam license in the new Moratorium map, may also become criminally liable under these 2 Laws, the Government Regulation, and the Presidential Instruction.

(Kamaruddin, 13 December 2011).

Response to press release by legal counsel to Coalition of Communities Concerned for Tripa

Jakarta, 15 December 2011

Greenomics Indonesia feels it necessary to provide clarification regarding the press release issued by legal counsel to the Coalition of Communities Concerned for Tripa on 13 December 2011. In particular, we consider it necessary to further explain the following matters:

1) The press release, directed at Greenomics Indonesia, was highly disproportionate bearing in mind that the earlier Greenomics Indonesia press release was not addressed at the legal isssues concerning the palm plantation license in question based on the following considerations:

a) A legal process is currently being undertaken in respect of the said license by Walhi-Aceh, with the support of other civil society groups; and

b) Greenomics Indonesia is continually using non-legal means to have the abovementioned palm plantation license revoked, including by engaging in direct communication with the governor of Aceh, Irwandi Yusuf, and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Forestry, Dr. Hadi Daryanto.

2) In the opinion of Greenomics Indonesia, our earlier press release did not give rise to any confusion as regards the legal issues involved, and in particular had no bearing on the legal proceedings currently underway in respect of the palm plantation license concerned. In the said Greenomics Indonesia press release, we confined ourselves to highlighting a lack of consistency on the part of the central government in implementing the moratorium, as shown by the fact that the area covered by the palm plantation license issued by the governor of Aceh was originally covered by the moratorium, but is now no longer covered. Greenomics Indonesia raised the point that this change was not in line with the pronouncements of Kuntoro Mangkusbroto (chairman of the REDD+ Traskforce) and Hadi Daryanto (Secretary General of the Ministry of Forestry, and also a member of the REDD+ Taskforce), who wish to see the peatland in question retained and not allocated for the development of palm plantations or other uses.

3) In highlighting the fact that the area of peatland in question in respect of a palm plantation license has been issued was originally covered by the moratorium but now is not, the Greenomics Indonesia press release will not have a substantive impact on the report prepared for the Police by the Coalition of Communities Concerned for Tripa given that the said press release did not address the legal aspects of the Coalition report. Greenomics Indonesia respects the legal process that is currently underway.

4) The press release issued by legal counsel to the Coalition of Communities Concerned for Tripa, which states that: “Greenomics unfortunately fail to point out that the new concession breaks several national laws and regulations…”. This statement is completely disproportionate and misconceived. The use of the emotive words “unfortunately” and “fail” in the said press release is highly inappropriate and is intended entirely to discredit Greenomics Indonesia’s advocacy efforts without good cause or basis in reason and/or fact bearing in mind that the Greenomics Indonesia release did not address the ongoing legal process, but rather confined itself to highlight a lack of government consistency as regards the implementation of the moratorium. We would suggest that legal counsel for Coalition of Communities Concerned for Tripa should confine themselves to presenting their opinions of the law to those involved in the ongoing legal process.

This response has been prepared in good faith for the purpose of providing substantive clarification in respect of the matters discussed above. What is important is that the goals and objectives of Coalition of Communities Concerned for Tripa and Greenomics Indonesia are similar, and our two organizations should be standing shoulder to shoulder so as to have the palm plantation license issued by the governor of Aceh in this case revoked.

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Durban/COP-17, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Pollution, REDD, USSF

Bolivia: Forests, Rights of Nature and Current Climate Change Negotiations Situation

Watch today’s press conference by clicking the link below

Bolivia’s Ambassador to the UN: Pablo Solon speaks about the status of the negotiations in Bonn and the need for real commitments and action if the Durban meeting will be a success.

Plurinational State of Bolivia

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

June 7, Bonn, Germnay

 Forests, Rights of Nature and Current Climate Change Negotiations Situation

CLICK HERE to watch via UNFCCC Website:  http://http//” target=”_blank”>

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Shutdown of World’s Largest Waste Incinerator Signals a Change in the Climate

Source: Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives

Detroiters rally to urge Detroit Mayor to permanently replace the burner with recycling jobs

Detroit, MI—At 10 a.m. today, Detroiters highlighted the recent closure of the world’s largest waste incinerator with a rally at Hart Plaza, in downtown Detroit. The shutdown of Detroit’s Municipal Solid Waste Incinerator on Oct 8th signals the kind of political shift needed to make the transition from dirty energy to clean jobs, stated members of Zero Waste Detroit, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance.

The incinerator has cost Detroiters over 1.2 billion dollars over the past two decades, while many community groups have brought political pressure on the city to stop burning waste. Zero Waste Detroit, a coalition of environmental, labor and faith groups are urging Mayor David Bing to replace the incinerator with a citywide recycling program.

Sandra Turner-Handy of Zero Waste Detroit and the Michigan Environmental Council said, “Communities in Detroit have taken a stand against the violence of pollution and poverty that burning waste brings to their families – so this is a rally for environmental justice.”  She concluded, “We urge Mayor Bing to seize the moment and demonstrate a long-term vision by permanently replacing waste incineration with recycling jobs for our communities.”

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters have also joined Zero Waste Detroit in demanding good, local recycling jobs that reduce toxins and help reclaim a struggling economy.

Celia Petty, Deputy Director of the Teamster’s Waste & Recycling Division pointed out that “Recycling creates six to ten times the number of jobs than incinerators or land-fills. Detroit has wasted more than a billion dollars in the last 20 years to subsidize burning garbage. We need to change that!” She added, “We look forward to working with Mayor Bing, the City Council and Zero Waste Detroit for a solution that creates good, local, union jobs in resource recovery.”

On a June 26 protest, the closing day of the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, thousands of labor and environmental justice advocates marched and rallied at the incinerator – demanding a closure of the facility, and justice for communities living next to polluting smokestacks across the U.S. Today, local activists relived the moment – with a clear reminder that the issue is not over.
“Detroit can show true leadership by transitioning our city towards clean air, good jobs and justice for all, including incinerator workers and local residents alike,” said Ahmina Maxey of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council and Zero Waste Detroit. “Today, we rallied in solidarity with the dozens of other communities like Ironbound, NJ and Harrisburg, PA that have also shouldered the toxic and financial burdens of incinerators for years.”

The closure of the facility is part of an economic downturn facing the incineration industry due to increased risk, cost and growing public opposition. Like most waste-to-energy facilities, the Detroit incinerator was a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and a toxic burden on community health. For over twenty years this incinerator, co-owned by Covanta Energy and the Energy Investors Funds, has undermined local efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle.

In addition to growing public opposition, a series of economic pitfalls have plagued Covanta in recent months, including: being shut down and sued for excessive pollution by the State of Connecticut; litigation with Harrisburg, Pennsylvania over the State Capitol’s incinerator construction debt; settling a lawsuit over community health impacts in Ironbound, New Jersey; and, having their NYSE stocks downgraded by Bank of America. Yesterday, the Dow Jones newswire reported that the world’s largest waste incinerator company’s quarterly earnings had dropped over 50% due to high operating expenses and weak sales.

Without taxpayer support and state subsidies, incineration cannot compete in the marketplace with real energy and waste solutions. “The reputational risk associated with burning waste has made the incineration industry obsolete,” said Ananda Lee Tan, of the Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance (GAIA), “With the largest waste burner finally down, we look forward to phasing-out the 86 that remain across the country. Detroit should not waste time and resources to revive this dinosaur.”

Related Resources:

Zero Waste Detroit Action Website:
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives:
International Brotherhood of Teamsters:

1. Brandy Baker:
2. Alter Echoes:

1. Ruckus Society:
2. Michigan Teamsters:
3. Global Justice Ecology Project:

News Stories

1. Detroit Metro Times: Detroit Incinerator Snuffed:
2. Climate Connections: Detroit Incinerator Action:
3. Wall Street Journal: Harrisburg Council Steps Toward Bankruptcy As Option:
4. New Jersey News: Covanta Shut Down and Sued for Pollution by Connecticut Attorney General:



Filed under Actions / Protest, USSF

Breaking News! Detroit Incinerator Snuffed



March to end Detroit incinerator following the U.S. Social Forum - Photo: Langelle / GJEP

Note: The Global Justice Ecology Project team worked with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and local community groups on media outreach for the June 26th, 2010 Detroit incinerator action that followed the US Social Forum.

–The GJEP Team


The trash burner in Detroit has been turned off – for now.  On Friday
October 8, 2010 the Detroit incinerator shutdown from “economic
factors”.  It has been a financial failure, an environmental failure, a public health failure, a public services failure, a city budget failure – a failure by undermining the fundamental needs and rights of
the people of Detroit.
-Brad van Guilder, Ph. D.
Ecology Center – SE MI Organizer

Cross-posted from The Detroit Metro Times

With no fanfare, Detroit’s incinerator quietly shuts down

By News Hits staff

Published: October 13, 2010

Apparently no one noticed, and no press conferences were held to alert residents, but the city quietly began landfilling its trash on Oct. 1, according to Dan Lijana, a spokesperson for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.

For more than 20 years, Detroit’s municipal waste has been disposed of at the waste-to-energy facility located on the city’s east side. But the incinerator’s operator and minority owner, Covanta Energy, issued a statement saying that it closed the facility Oct. 1 because of “economic factors.”

Although the facility stopped accepting trash Oct. 1, it continued to burn stockpiled inventory until last Friday, according to the company.

A contingency plan formulated by the Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Authority — the quasi-governmental agency charged with overseeing disposal of Detroit’s trash — was implemented at the beginning of the month, with trash being trucked to a landfill.

The problem for Covanta and the facility’s majority owner, Energy Investors Fund, is that they were unable to enter into a steam purchase contract with Detroit Thermal, which provides steam for the heating and cooling of nearly 150 downtown buildings.

Steam has continued to flow through the underground system because Detroit Thermal has the capacity to produce its own steam by burning natural gas.

At the same time, Detroit Thermal’s parent company, Thermal Ventures II of Youngstown, Ohio, has been in negotiations to buy the incinerator. According to Covanta spokesperson James Regan, a 90-day option to purchase the facility expired at the end of September without a deal being reached. It has been rumored, but not confirmed, that another investor had partnered with Thermal Ventures II in an attempt to buy the incinerator.

Covanta, in a prepared statement, said: “We are still exploring scenarios with a myriad of stakeholders in Detroit. If the right agreements can be reached, the plant will reopen.”

The facility’s closure substantiates much of what opponents of the incinerator have long contended, says Brad van Guilder of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor. A staunch critic of the incinerator, van Guilder has been a leader in the fight to have it permanently shuttered.

He says the shutdown adds credence to longstanding claims that the facility isn’t economically viable, and cannot produce steam at a competitive price.

“This facility has never been essential to the city of Detroit,” he says. “It has just been extremely costly.”

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Photo Essay: Detroit Incinerator Action

Following the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit environmental justice advocates from across the U.S., the Teamsters Union, and neighborhood residents marched together to the world’s largest waste incinerator to demand its closure.

Sandra Turner-Handy of the Michigan Environmental Council photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

Rhonda Anderson of the Sierra Club Environmental Justice Program photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

Guerrilla gardening photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Petermann/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

Michael Martin of the Michigan Teamsters Union photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Langelle/GJEP

photo: Andalusia Knoll


Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Photo Essays by Orin Langelle, USSF

Bio-Mess at USSF

By Rachel Smolker, BiofuelWatch

The US Social Forum will end with an action opposing the Detroit
Incinerator, the world’s largest garbage incinerator, which pollutes the
air and wastes valuable resources that could and should be recycled. We
will be marching for “Clean Air, Good Jobs and Justice”.  Meanwhile, just
yesterday, community groups in Traverse City, Michigan, celebrated a
victory having pushed back proposals for several wood burning “biomass”
incinerators proposed for the city. This was celebrated at a lively
workshop on biomass at the Social Forum featuring speakers from
Biofuelwatch, Dogwood Alliance, Friends of the Earth, ETC Group, Global
Justice Ecology Project and more.

Burning wood, garbage and other materials for electricity is the latest
“false solution fad”, recipient of the bulk of funding that is supposedly
directed to “clean renewable energy”.  But burning is anything BUT clean,
and forests around the globe are in dire threat of being devastated to
supply wood chips for these facilities. Most wood electricity facilities
require on the order of 13 thousand tons of woodchip per megawatt per year
of electricity. So an average size facility, 150 MW will require 1,950,000
tons of wood per year.  Climate policy discussions have focused much
attention on “REDD” (reducing emissions from deforestation and
degradation”), with the intent of reducing deforestation. Yet working
entirely in opposition to that goal is the push for renewable energy that
enables wood burning to be subsidized as the darling of renewable energy.

The entire push to burn trees for electricity is based on false accounting
that considers wood burning to be carbon neutral. A letter from 90
scientists submitted to Congress a few weeks ago spelled out why this is
false, as have several recent papers published in Science. In short: A
tree can be burned in minutes and take decades to grow back. In addition,
emissions from harvesting, from soil disturbance, and from transporting
large amounts of bulky wood must also be accounted for. A recent study
from Manomet in Massachussetts released last week points out that burning
wood for electricity releases more CO2 than burning coal!

Meanwhile in Toronto, the G8 and G20 are meeting to discuss their
proposals for reducing subsidies to fossil fuel industries, and public
opinion with respect to oil drilling is at an all time low as the Gulf oil
disaster continues to unfold. Will this add “fuel to the fires” of biomass
incineration as we look for alternatives to fossil energy?  And while in
Toronto our leaders can “offset” their participation by purchasing
investments in “biochar” – yet another biomass scheme that would have us
burn biomass to make fine grained charcoal, added to soils to “sequester
carbon” and “improve soil fertility”, even though very little is known
about its’ impacts. Nonetheless, biochar has made its way into climate
legislation under a title called “rapid mitigation”. Apparently many
people actually can be convinced that we will cool a warming planet with

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Vermont Workers Center on Democracy Now!

Cross posted from Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Vermont Workers Center

Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman covered the US Social Forum in Detroit and included a quick interview with the Vermont Workers Center, who led the 50-strong Vermont delegation. Watch the video below and connect

To view the video click here!

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Indigenous Groups Lead Struggle Against Canada’s Tar Sands

A group of lawmakers are calling on the Obama administration to take a closer look at the significant environmental impacts of a proposed massive pipeline that would carry Canadian tar sands oil 2,000 miles from northern Alberta all the way down to refineries in Texas and tankers off the Gulf Coast. Tar sands mining emits three times more greenhouse gas pollution than traditional oil and has come under heavy criticism from environmental and indigenous groups. Democracy Now!’s Mike Burke speaks to Clayton Thomas-Müller, a Canadian indigenous activist with the Indigenous Environmental Network (also GJEP Board Member and New Voices on Climate Change speaker.)

Click here to view the footage

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Independent Media, Indigenous Peoples, Media, New Voices in the News, Tar Sands, USSF

Detroit, Rising from the Ashes

– Jeff Conant

If Detroit has come to represent post-industrial devastation and the efforts of grassroots communities to build and rebuild with hope and dignity, then Detroit’s waste incinerator, one of the largest in the world, is profoundly symbolic of the city’s plight, and serves as a crucible for the climate justice movement. This is why its been chosen as a target for action on Saturday, the last day of the U.S. Social Forum.

The fight over Detroit’s waste incinerator is one of the most iconic environmental and social justice fights in the U.S. today. The incinerator began operating in the late 1980s over strong community opposition; over it’s 20 years of operation, the incinerator has cost Detroit taxpayers over $1.1 billion and plagued the city with toxic pollution leading to asthma rates three times the national average.

Rhonda Anderson of the Sierra Club Environmental Justice Program says, “The BP oil disaster has focused public attention on our unhealthy energy choices. In Detroit, hundreds of local BP-style disasters occur every day. The impact is immense, and entirely avoidable.”

Incinerators have long been a key target of environmental justice struggles, and with great success: massive public opposition and community advocacy have prevented any new incinerators from being built in the U.S. since 1997, in favor of alternative waste reduction practices such as recycling and composting. In recent years, the incinerator industry has tried to expand by marketing their facilities as “Waste to Energy” (WTE), using misleading claims of “reducing climate pollution,” and being a “clean energy source.” In fact, the opposite is true.

More than 90% of materials disposed of in incinerators and landfills can be reused, recycled and composted, creating both jobs and community resilience. Incinerators emit more CO2 per unit of electricity than coal-fired power plants. Incineration drives a climate-changing cycle of new resources pulled out of the earth, processed in factories, shipped around the world, and then wasted, buried, and burned. As a statement released by the Teamsters Union says, “The facts are clear. Recycling creates six to ten times more jobs than incinerating or land-filling. By recycling waste we can recover valuable materials and limit hazardous pollution.”

Similarly, the practice of zero waste – designing products and processes to minimize toxicity and waste and to conserve and recover all resources in a closed loop cycle – can conserve three to five times more energy than is produced by waste incineration.

It’s the same old story: industry maintains its costly and damaging technical solution – burn it all! – despite the existence of better, safer, cheaper, smarter options.

The word here in Detroit is that it’s time to stop burning. Ananda Tan of GAIA, the Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance, pointed out, “To stabilize the climate we need to stop burning oil, coal, forests, crops and waste. For most eco-system conscious cultures, fire is sacred – only to be used for life-support functions like cooking food, and carefully maintaining certain ecosystems with controlled burns. We need to reconsider the use of fire in destructive processes like burning for energy.” Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network concurred: “They’ve used fire the wrong way for too long,” he said.

That’s why hundreds of us will march to the incinerator this Saturday: to support Detroit’s frontline communities as the first front of the climate justice struggle, to stop the burning, and to build a new world from the ashes of the old.

(While Jeff Conant is here at the USSF working with Global Justice Ecology Project, his new book, A Poetics of Resistance: The Revolutionary Public Relations of the Zapatista Insurgency, has just been published by AK Press. There will be a joint book launch for this and other books at the Spirit of Hope Church in Detroit on Friday June 25 at 7 p.m.)

For more information on Friday’s action please click here:

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Pollution, Posts from Jeff Conant, USSF