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EU and big polluters ignore climate action – pushing to expand carbon markets at COP19

Brussels, 7th November 2013–The EU aims to expand carbon markets that would benefit big polluters at the UN climate talks, COP19 in Poland, says a statement signed by 120+ groups, movements and networks. The Statement denounces the corporate capture of COP19 by the same companies that stand to profit.[i]

“The European Commission and the carbon crooks who turn profits from the failing EU ETS are pushing for a lifeline through linking up markets, foreshadowing a global carbon market,” stated Tamra Gilbertson from Carbon Trade Watch.[ii]

COP19 partners, explains the statement, include Polish energy group PGE, whose Belchatow coal-fired plant was the biggest polluter and the biggest recipient of free allowances in 2012.[iii] “ COP19 will be the most extreme case of corporate capture we have seen within the COP,” according to Belén Balanyá from Corporate Europe Observatory, “The Polish government has granted partner status to eleven companies, among them climate culprits with horrendous track records –  such as ArcelorMittal, the biggest beneficiary from the EU ETS, and auto maker BMW – who are blocking EU’s attempts to reduce emissions from cars for decades.”

The statement highlights the links between the Polish Ministery of Economy and the coal industry, who are organising a Coal and Climate Summit in parallel to the climate talks. “The cooperation between the coal industry and the Polish government is blatant” says Maxime Combes from Attac France, “they have drafted a communiqué promoting coal as a solution to the climate crisis. Coal is one of the dirtiest energy sources, fuelling climate change.”  Rather than consuming coal and fossil fuels, EU countries should enable a just transition to a post-fossil fuel society. It is time to scrap the ETS and other attempts to commodify nature, time to leave fossil fuels and minerals in the ground, and time to start a real transition towards just and people-driven alternatives.

[i] Link to statement

[ii] Discussions on the Framework for Various Approaches (FVA) would be the first step towards allowing the trading of permits from different emissions trading schemes (dangerously including permits created outside of the UNFCCC) to be used for compliance with targets under the Convention. Many industrialised countries see this as a paving stone to a global carbon market.

[iii] “EU ETS emissions dropped by 1.4% in 2012”, ENDS Europe, 2 April 2013, http://www.endseurope.com/31222/

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Filed under Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Pollution, UNFCCC

Monsanto waves white flag

Note: while this article seems to imply that Monsanto giving up pursuit of its GMOs in Europe will ‘hurt consumers,’ clearly it is a victory for anyone who supports food sovereignty, clean food and water and a Monsanto-free world.

–The GJEP Team

Monsanto headquarters in St. Louis, MO.  Photo: Langelle Photography

Monsanto headquarters in St. Louis, MO. Photo: Langelle Photography

From the Sept. issue of Nature Biotechnology

Monsanto said on July 17 that it will progressively withdraw applications for commercial growing of genetically modified organisms pending in Brussels and no longer seek approval in Europe for new genetically modified (GM) seeds.

The St. Louis–based agbiotech giant intends to concentrate on other markets, while focusing on conventional agriculture in the EU. Monsanto is pulling out after 15 years of investing in R&D and 400 field trials conducted in Europe. “Monsanto’s decision this summer and BASF’s last year could be seen as inevitable given Europe’s thirst for innovative industries,” says Nathalie Moll from the European Association of Biotech Industries in Brussels (Nat. Biotechnol. 30, 204, 2012).

Even if applications to cultivate GM crops in the EU are dropped, an efficient authorization process for GM imports remains important to biotech growers worldwide, Moll adds. “It seems that in future, Europe will continue to import and consume GM feed and industrial crops, yet these will not be produced by Europe’s own farmers,” says Robert Paarlberg, a policy analyst at Harvard.

Sales of the only GM seeds approved for planting in the EU—MON810 corn—will continue, but the GM corn represents a negligible share of the corn under cultivation in the continent. “Consumers and the environment will pay the bill. The relevant science in Europe is fading away or leaving. There is, however, hope: the young generation appears more biotech- friendly,” says Hans-Jörg Jacobsen from the Leibniz University of Hannover in Germany. – Anna Meldolesi

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Filed under Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture

Europe’s green fuel search turns to America’s forests

Note: One of the GE industry’s stated goals is to sell half a billion genetically engineered eucalyptus trees for plantations across US southern states specifically to feed biomass electricity production.  While the old coal burners need slow growing trees like pines and native hardwoods, the new biomass burners could use GE eucalyptus trees.  The Campaign to STOP GE Trees–including Global Justice Ecology Project, Earth First!, Real Cooperative and others are in Asheville this week protesting a major international conference on GE trees.  For more on this, go to treebiotech2013.org.  And stay tuned to Climate Connections for updates throughout the week.  Two Asheville residents were arrested disrupting the conference yesterday and we will be rallying and marching on the conference later today.

–The GJEP Team

By Justin Scheck and Ianthe Jeanne Dugan, 28 May, 2013. Source: Wall Street Journal US Edition

[image]Duke Wrighton of R&S Logging at a North Carolina site.  Matt Eich for The Wall Street Journal

WINDSOR, N.C.—Loggers here are clear-cutting a wetland forest with decades-old trees.

Behind the move: an environmental push.

The push isn’t in North Carolina but in Europe, where governments are trying to reduce fossil-fuel use and carbon-dioxide emissions. Under pressure, some of the Continent’s coal-burning power plants are switching to wood.

But Europe doesn’t have enough forests to chop for fuel, and in those it does have, many restrictions apply. So Europe’s power plants are devouring wood from the U.S., where forests are bigger and restrictions fewer.

This dynamic is bringing jobs to some American communities hard hit by mill closures. It is also upsetting conservationists, who say cutting forests for power is hardly an environmental plus.

On a hot Tuesday along North Carolina’s Roanoke River, crews were cutting the trees in a swampy 81-acre parcel, including towering tupelos. While many of the trunks went for lumber, the limbs and the smaller trees were loaded on trucks headed to a mill 30 miles away, to be ground up, compressed into pellets and put on ships to Europe.

“The logging industry around here was dead a few years ago,” said Paul Burby, owner of a firm called Carolina East Forest Products that hired subcontractors to cut the trees after paying a landowner for rights. “Now that Europe is using all these pellets, we can barely keep up.”  Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, Greenwashing, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Crop wars: Seeds of conflict

Note: In the US, tree biotech corporation ArborGen- which describes itself as “the next Monsanto”- is looking to plant billions of genetically engineered (GE) freeze tolerant eucalyptus trees across the US Southeast for pulp and bioenergy production.  The US Department of Agriculture is currently taking public comment on ArborGen’s petition- click here to submit public comment to the USDA.

Global Justice Ecology Project and the STOP GE Trees Campaign are mobilizing to stop this threat, and demanding a ban on the release of genetically engineered trees into the environment.  We can stop this disaster before it occurs- sign the petition for a ban on GE trees now!  http://globaljusticeecology.org/petition.php

–The GJEP Team

By Andrew Curry, March 13 2013. Source: Discover Magazine

Belgian police subdue protesters in a field of genetically modified crops near Ghent, 2011.  Photo: Gianni Barbieux/Reporters/Redux

Belgian police subdue protesters in a field of genetically modified crops near Ghent, 2011. Photo: Gianni Barbieux/Reporters/Redux

Not long after midnight on July 9, 2011, six men descended on a fenced-in field at biovativ, a research facility in the northern German town of Gross Lusewitz. It was a clear, warm Saturday night, and the 115-acre farm was lit by a half moon.

Moving quickly, the men surrounded the night watchman. Shining their flashlights in his face and threatening him with pepper spray and clubs, they frisked him, took his flashlight and keys, and smashed his cell phone. Then they headed directly for their target, a potato patch the size of a tennis court. Within minutes, the potatoes—part of a research project run by the nearby University of Rostock to see if rabbit vaccines and plastic polymers could be grown in plants—had been ripped out of the ground or trampled.

Two nights later, at a farm 100 miles to the south, the scene repeated itself almost exactly. This time, a dozen masked men overpowered two guards at the Üplingen Plant Science Garden, hopped a waist-high wire fence and trashed a plot of genetically modified potatoes, along with part of a nearby stand of transgenic wheat. As police cars sped toward the farm, the raiders melted into the night. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Victory!: European Bank drops controversial Monsanto project

Note: Ha ha Monsanto!


January 28, 2013.  Source: Bankwatch Network

A potential cooperation between the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the agro-corporation Monsanto has thankfully not come to fruition. The case highlights the difficulties for a large development bank to reach farmers on the ground.

In November 2012 Bankwatch reported on the EBRD’s plans to undertake a USD 40 million ‘risk-sharing facility’ with none other than the notorious Monsanto. The EBRD was exploring a project to provide financing so that medium-large farmers and distributors in Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey could buy Monsanto’s seeds and agro-chemicals in installments, without Monsanto losing money if they got into debt.

Well, after a lively reaction from groups around the world, including a letter signed by 158 organisations, other individual letters, meetings with the bank, a protest in Serbia, and questions in the German and Slovene parliaments, we’re glad to be able to report that the EBRD has confirmed that the project is not going ahead. So has the EBRD admitted that Monsanto is an unsuitable recipient of European public development support? Not exactly.

Here’s an extract from the EBRD’s response to an enquiry on the status of the project:

“Please be advised that, in this particular transaction, the EBRD and Monsanto were unable to find a satisfactory project structure for financing. Each institution will continue to explore other opportunities in order to provide farmers and distributors with adequate and time-appropriate financing, which we recognize to be one of the key challenges to increase agricultural productivity in the Bank’s region of operations.” (Source: Email communication with the EBRD)

This highlights one of the problems for such a large institution as the EBRD, that it is difficult to reach individual farmers without intermediaries, because the bank does not have the on-the-ground infrastructure or local knowledge to provide thousands of loans for a few hundred or thousand euros. This is a problem that needs to be addressed by the region’s governments and farmers’ unions if the EBRD is not to pick such unsavoury business partners again in the future.

So, a great outcome for now, but we’ll be keeping our eyes and ears open in case the EBRD makes such ill-advised moves again.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture, Victory!

Half of Europe’s renewable energy ‘comes from wood’

November 30 2012. Source: EurActiv

Practically half of the EU’s renewable energy currently comes from wood and wood waste, according to the EU statistics office Eurostat, but a lack of sustainability criteria for measuring its environmental impact is stoking fears of a hidden carbon debt mountain.

The new Eurostat numbers were issued in conjunction with the UN’s Year of Sustainable Energy For All (SE4ALL), which sets ambitious renewables, energy efficiency and universal energy access targets.

According to the Eurostat statistics, on average, 49% of renewable energy in the EU 27 states came from wood and wood waste in 2010, and most EU states met the majority of their renewable energy obligations this way.

Forest products were most popular in the Baltics, accounting for 96% of Estonia’s renewable energy and 88% of Lithuania’s. At the other end of the table, Norway and Cyprus only used wood materials for 11% and 13% of their renewable energy needs respectively.  Continue reading

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Green Economy, Pollution, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Civil society warns against land and resource grabs at Asia-Europe summit

November 7, 2012. Source: The Inquirer

Note: See also the article on summit-caused evictions after the jump. – The GJEP Team

Policy-makers at the ASEM 9 Summit in Vientiane, Laos. Over 300 families were evicted from Don Chan island to make way for the summit. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

VIENTIANE, Laos— “The grabbing hands grab all they can/All for themselves – after all/It’s a competitive world.”

New wave band Depeche Mode released their single “Everything Counts” in the early 1980s and the message of the song seemed prophetic of what’s happening today as the global financial crisis and the ill effects of climate change are spawning a “new wave of land-, water-, and resource-grabbing” in Asia and Europe, an international civil society said Tuesday.

In its declaration, the Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) thus urged the 51 state leaders of the Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem) Summit to protect the tenure rights of small-scale food producers and to ensure a more equitable governance of natural resources.

Governments “should protect and respect people’s access to land, water, and biodiversity,” according to the Ninth AEPF Declaration the Laos government delivered to Asem state leaders.

AEPF, a grouping of civil society organizations that engages Asem, said states must abide by the goals of food sovereignty and sustainable land and natural resource management.

“Powerful international and domestic forces are pushing forward a new round of enclosures globally for both food and non-food purposes,” according to the AEPF Declaration.

“In Asia, land- and resource-grabbing is accelerating in the name of ‘development’…through large-scale investments in agriculture and extractive industries…resulting in a cascade of negative impacts on rural livelihoods and ecologies, human rights, and local food security and food sovereignty,” it said.

Article continues here.

Continue reading

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Land Grabs

Rising energy costs may usher in U.S. freight revival

Note: As the US Southeast confronts a ‘new normal’ of prolonged drought due to climate change, clearing native forests to plant monoculture tree plantations and then shipping them abroad to incinerate in former coal-fired power plants is downright ludicrous- especially when studies are consistently showing that burning biomass can potentially emit more CO2 than coal.  –The GJEP Team

By Chris Nelder, October 22, 2012. Source: Scientific American


Photo: Flickr / jefzila

It just may be a hunger for wood pellets that drives a resurgence of freight rail in the U.S. Southeast. European demand for this greener fuel is expected to triple by 2020, driven by climate-friendly policies that encourage coal-fired utilities to burn biomass as well to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions. But Europe does not have enough wood pellets, and the shortfall between global supply and demand is expected to grow to 45 million metric tons per year. And that is where Sean Dunlap, director of Mississippi’s Wayne County Economic Development District, sees an export opportunity.

“We’re blessed with trees and we want to get them to market,” Dunlap explains. “Mississippi has two counties that are 50 to 70 percent covered in forest, but they can’t get the timber out economically without rail.”

Bulky, low-density materials like wood pulp and pellets are too expensive to ship by truck, so Dunlap, along with partners, wants to build a 90-kilometer (56-mile) freight rail link that would restore direct service from Chicago all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests