Category Archives: World Bank

Confronting Climate Catastrophe: Direct Action is the Antidote for Despair

Or, Why the UN is Worse than Useless and we need to Flood Wall Street!

Climate Convergence Plenary Address, Friday, 19 September 2014

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer.  Photo: Photolangelle.org

UN Security arrests clown at Durban Climate COP shortly before assaulting the photographer. Photo: Photolangelle.org

Good evening everyone and thank you to Jill, Margaret and the other convergence organizers for the opportunity to speak to you tonight.

In four days time, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will hold a UN Climate Summit–a closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conferences (or COPs as they are called) in Lima, Peru and Paris, France.

I was asked to put into context the reason for the march and actions this weekend–especially the problem of the corporate capture of the United Nations Climate Convention, which I have attended and organized around since 2004, when I attended my first UN Climate COP, in Buenos Aires, until 2011 when I was permanently banned from the UN Climate Conferences following a direct action occupation at the Climate COP in Durban, South Africa.

But I actually got involved with the UN Climate Conferences through the work I have dedicated myself to, which is stopping the dangerous genetic engineering of trees.

What happened was in 2003, the UN Climate Conference decided that GE trees could be used in carbon offset forestry plantations. Understanding that this was a potential social and ecological disaster, and being completely naïve about the UN process, we decided to go to the UN and explain to them why this was wrong, and to get them to reverse this bad decision.

But what we found out was that GE trees had been permitted in carbon offset forestry plantations because Norway had tried to get them banned. But Brazil and China were either already growing GE trees or planning to, so they blocked Norway’s proposal. As a result, GE trees were allowed simply because they could not be banned. The UN, we learned, does not reverse decisions, regardless of how ill-informed and destructive they are.

This is the dysfunction of the UN Climate Convention.

But let’s go back a minute to see how we got where we are now.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, COP21 Paris 2015, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Politics, Posts from Anne Petermann, REDD, UNFCCC, World Bank, WTO

Historical Critique of the Corporate Takeover of the UN

This piece examines the history of the takeover of the UN Climate Conferences by industry and promotes the US climate movement getting on board with the fundamental demands and actions, and alternative solutions being advanced by social movements around the world.  It also gives a nod to the work of GJEP in this arena and credits our report, The Green Shock Doctrine. Thanks Margaret and Kevin!

Cancun-COP16-Indigenous-p-006
Protest at UN Climate Conference, Cancun, Mexico 2010. Photolangelle.org

Climate Alarm Bells Ring but UN and Obama Administration Fail To Act
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. The Smirking Chimp. September 5, 2014.

The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most worrisome so far. Paired with data from the 2014 National Climate Assessment, there is no question that the climate crisis is here and is accelerating at a faster pace than predicted. Its effects are widespread and dangerous, yet real solutions are being suppressed.

The climate crisis is a ticking clock that demands immediate effective action, but the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP), which is the international body responsible for creating agreements on climate change, has become nothing more than a tool for multinational corporations and financiers to force a neo-liberal agenda and profit from the crisis. The false solutions being promoted displace and exploit people, destroy the environment and worsen climate change.

The climate crisis is our greatest challenge. Significant work has been done over the past decade by civil society groups around the world cooperating to create plans for resistance to the corrupt COP process and a vision for a just transition to sustainable systems. Now is the time for organizations throughout the United States that advocate for justice to recognize that the climate crisis affects all of us and to participate in this global movement.

Effective strategy requires knowledge of the political environment, the entities involved and an understanding of real versus false solutions. The United Nations, the United States government, Big Green Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the corporations that exert influence over them all are obstacles to effective action. Solutions exist but they won’t be coming from above, rather they will come from a mobilized grass roots demanding transformation to a carbon-free, nuclear-free energy economy.

To read the entire article, click here.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, COP21 Paris 2015, Copenhagen/COP-15, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, Natural Disasters, Solutions, UNFCCC, Warsaw/COP-19, World Bank, WTO

Happy Anniversary Bilaterals.org!

Congratulations to Bilaterals.org, an important website monitoring the status and developments of unjust bilateral trade agreements around the world.  This crucial movement asset was founded by a group of global justice activists 10 years ago, including GJEP Board member Aziz Choudry.

3 September 2014

bilaterals.org is a collaborative website for the exchange of information and analysis about bilateral free trade and investment agreements. It was launched in September 2004 by the Asia-Pacific Research Network, Global Justice Ecology Project, GATT Watchdog, GRAIN, IBON Foundation and X Minus Y Solidarity Fund.

What brought these diverse groups together was a shared concern about the growth of bilateral trade and investment deals outside the remit of the World Trade Organisation, and a feeling that these less visible but very powerful agreements were still “under the radar” of many activists.

bilaterals.org was thus set up as an open-publishing site where people would be able to find and post their own information and analysis about the full range of free trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties being negotiated and signed across the globe, and keep up to date with where and what forms of resistance are taking place.

bilaterals.org is now ten years old. To mark the moment, we made this slideshow to remember some of the key struggles against FTAs or BITs that have rocked our worlds these past ten years, all the people who participated and all that was achieved. (Special thanks to Juan Vicente for his musical contribution!)

We are also running an online survey where you can tell us what you think about bilaterals.org and how to improve it. Please help us out and participate! We are also about to undertake a major redesign of the site, so more is coming soon. thanks for your support!

the bilaterals.org collective

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Filed under Corporate Globalization, Politics, Uncategorized, World Bank, WTO

Veolia Water Company slams into Detroit!

The city of Detroit’s state appointed emergency manager has hired the notorious Veolia North America, the American subsidiary of the equally notorious Veolia Environment, headquartered in Paris.  Veolia, one of the leading privatizers of water systems in the world and Veolia North America has colonized American cities, especially those located on the Great Lakes.

Photo courtesy Food and Water Watch

Photo courtesy Food and Water Watch

The Company has been hired to “advise” the city on “how to find cost savings” in the sewer and water department.  The city has now opened up bids on privatizing the water and sewer system in Detroit, which has been resisted for years.

Wait, it only gets worse. The United States is in the middle of negotiating a trade deal with the European Union, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, aka TTIP, which could undermine communities ability to halt hostile privatizations efforts, hinder attempts to reclaim water systems from EU corporations and make it harder to hold private water companies accountable.

Just what Detroiter’s that are already suffering human rights violations and access to water need! We see the future and it is here.

Read the whole story in Mitch Jones’ story at Food and Water Watch

How Free Trade Might Harm Detroit Again
Mitch Jones, Food and Water Watch. Sept 2, 2014.

While once a central component of the economic activity of the United States, Detroit – like other American cities reliant on manufacturing – has fallen on hard times. To be clear, this isn’t an accident of misfortune. Detroit was targeted by both the “free trade” and anti-labor agenda that took over American politics in the 1970s. As a result, the city lost thousands of jobs and its economy suffered. The current crisis in Detroit involving water shut-offs is a symptom of this agenda.

The state-appointed emergency manager for Detroit opened up bids for privatizing the sewer and water department. Recently, the city hired private water company Veolia Water to advise the city on “cost savings” within the department. Headquartered in Paris, Veolia Environnement operates as Veolia Water North America in the United States and is the second largest water company in the country, serving about 10.5 million people in 32 states. In addition to advising the city on cost savings within the department, Veolia is also one of the companies that have expressed interest in a privatized Detroit water system.

Read the whole story here

Demand System Change

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, BREAKING NEWS, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Great Lakes, Politics, Uncategorized, Water, World Bank

White House Council on Environmental Quality buries its head in sand on climate change ruling – DeSmog Blog

Over the past weekend Steve Horn published an important analysis of the recent federal decisions by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to not offer guidance to the federal agencies that it coordinates regarding energy policy and climate change. Industry pushback is given as a primary reason that the CEQ has dropped the ball.

Maybe organizers and participants at the September 17-24  Week of Action surrounding the People’s Climate March in New York can find a way to fit an objection into their busy “demands” list!

Photo from FOEI

Photo from FOEI

 Legal Case: White House Argues Against Considering Climate Change on Energy Projects
By Steve Horn, DeSmog Blog. August 31, 2014.

Just over a month before the United Nations convenes on September 23 in New York City to discuss climate change and activists gather for a week of action, the Obama White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) argued it does not have to offer guidance to federal agencies it coordinates with to consider climate change impacts for energy decisions.

It came just a few weeks before a leaked draft copy of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest assessment said climate disruption could cause “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

 

Read the whole article here

Demand System Change!

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Coal, Commodification of Life, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Events, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, Hydrofracking, Keystone XL, Media, Oil, Political Repression, Politics, Pollution, Tar Sands, Uncategorized, War, Waste, Water, World Bank, WTO

New World Bank ‘light touch’ rules abandon ecological protections, allow borrowers to opt out of indigenous rights

 

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

John Vidal of the Guardian recently reported on a leaked draft of the World Bank’s proposed new ‘light touch’ lending policies, weakening safeguards put in place after disastrous projects drew global criticism to it in the 1980s and 1990s.

According to Vidal, the new relaxed policies would allow for logging and mining in before protected areas as long as ecological “off-sets” are put in place and would not require consultation with indigenous peoples before projects like tree plantations or mega-dams begin on their land.

Moreover, Vidal writes,

Under the proposed new “light touch” rules, the result of a two year consultation within the bank, borrowers will be allowed to opt out of signing up to employment safeguards, existing protection for biodiversity will be shredded, countries will be allowed to assess themselves, and harmful projects are much more likely to occur…

Most shocking is the opt-out option on indigenous rights:

a proposed loophole for governments to opt out of applying the bank’s policy on indigenous peoples, jeopardising the rights of hunter-gatherer communities such as the pygmies of the Congo rainforest.

The Bank Information Center, a World Bank watchdog group, further explains the meaning of the proposed new policies.

On off-sets:

Meanwhile, the introduction of “biodiversity offsets” into previous “no-go” areas substantially weakens existing protections for critical natural habitats and protected areas, based on the shaky premise that destruction to these areas can be compensated or “offset” by agreements to preserve habitats elsewhere in perpetuity.

On gutted assessment:

The elimination of clear, predictable rules also appears to be a clear attempt by the Bank to avoid accountability for the negative impacts of projects that it funds.

Finally, the BIC writes:

As the World Bank asks us to trust them, the string of broken promises, the climate of secrecy in preparing the proposal, and an underfunded safeguard staffing structure in utter disarray, provide little reassurance that these policies will be implemented in an effective way to prevent negative impacts to project affected communities and the environment.

Safeguards are only as good as the institution itself: Even with these safeguards in place, the World Bank has backed projects that are ecologically and ethically unsound. The above photo, for example, comes from a story from April on an investigation of the World Bank funding illegal land grabbing. Other such stories can be easily found on Climate Connections.

Rather than ushering in a new period, these policies seem more like the real face of the Bank peeking through.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Indigenous Peoples, World Bank

Cambodia: World Bank investigates over ‘land-grabbing link’

By Amelia Woodside, April 23, 2014. Source: Phnom Penh Post

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

Villagers walk through recently cleared forest inside a HAGL rubber plantation in 2013. Source: Phnom Penh Post

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has launched an internal investigation into a complaint lodged against the institution for investing in a Vietnamese rubber firm accused of illegal logging and land grabbing in Ratanakkiri, an NGO and villager said yesterday.

Earlier this month, representatives of the IFC’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) met with leaders from 17 indigenous communities in Andong Meas and O’Chum districts, along with representatives of Vietnam-based Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL), which operates rubber plantations on economic land concessions in the Kingdom’s northeast, according to Eang Vuthy, executive director at NGO Equitable Cambodia.

“This was a preliminary visit . . . the IFC met with community leaders [and] government officials at the company.

We’re very hopeful a resolution between the parties will be reached. They say the company HAGL is willing to negotiate, so we’re hoping for a positive course of action once the IFC releases their report,” Vuthy told the Post yesterday. Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Corporate Globalization, Forests, Land Grabs, World Bank

Ngäbe-Buglé challenge constitutionality of land seizures, protest camps targeted by high-powered lamps

By Robin Llewellyn, April 9, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry

ngabe1

All photos by Robin Llewellyn

The controversial Barro Blanco dam project will face another challenge today when the Cacica Silvia Carrera presents a demand of unconstitutionality before Panama’s Supreme Court of Justice regarding Law 18, passed on March 26, 2013.

With Article 127 of the Panamanian Constitution protecting collective ownership of lands and prohibiting private ownership of indigenous territories, Law 18 was rushed into place by President Ricardo Martinelli to allow the legal appropriation of collective lands, particularly lands held by the Ngäbe communities of Nuevo Palomar, Kiad, and Quebrada Caña. All three communities face land seizures as a result of the dam’s construction.

Genisa, the Panamanian company developing Barro Blanco, initially argued that no land within the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca would be affected by the 28.85 MW dam project; but then claimed that the indigenous communities had consented to the dispossession of their territories. The project has been approved by the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism, and is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank, the Dutch state development bank FMO, and the German development bank DEG.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, UNFCCC, World Bank