UK :: FRACKING ::
Project: Barton Moss
Funders: IGas is a plc and investors include local authority pension funds via the Henderson group. Backing for the industry also includes the UK Government via tax-breaks
Climate impacts: Risks locking in a new fossil-fuel base for the economy.
Local impacts: Potential destruction of mosslands, wildlife sanctuaries, local air and water quality.
Resistance: Direct action to limit access to exploration sites; resident-organised campaigns to convince the council to ban fracking.
In Autumn of 2013, local residents were shocked to find out that a company, IGas, had been given a 25-year permission to explore and extract methane gas from the coal seams underneath their community, and that they would start drilling imminently.
Extracting coal bed methane and shale gas are highly risky activities for the environment, health and the climate.
Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide so, depending on how much methane is released during extraction, fracked gas could be as dangerous to the climate as coal.
In resistance to this dangerous development, groups from diverse backgrounds – including trade unionists, environmentalists, and local resident groups – have banded together to stop the expansion of fracking, using a variety of tactics.
The camp has already withstood damaging storms; rebuilding twice over the winter, and is supported by local residents bringing food and supplies.
Local residents have also responded by surveying the neighbourhood and instigating petitions that show huge opposition to fracking in the area, in a move that is putting pressure on the local council to ban the dangerous practice.
They are also now looking to develop a community energy project in the area so that local people can have a stake in the energy they produce and use.
Helen Rimmer, an activist with Friends of the Earth engaged in the local struggle said, ‘the UK Government is ignoring the well-founded concerns of affected communities and pursuing a reckless dash for gas for the benefit of those who will make huge profits from fracking. But the inspiring movement being built around Barton Moss and other fracking frontlines shows the power that communities have when they come together, and will pave the way for a new energy future based on clean community-owned renewables not dirty fossil fuels.’
NORTH AMERICA :: OIL ::
Project: Keystone XL pipeline (KXL)
Funders: Exxon Mobil, American Petroleum Institute
Climate impacts: If completed, the pipeline would carry and emit 181 million metric tons of CO2 each year—the equivalent of more than 51 coal plants.
Local impacts: From Northern Alberta, along the proposed route to Texas, tar sands and the KXL pipeline are already harming communities and local environments through water waste and pollution; forest destruction; violation of Indigenous Rights; pipeline spills.
Resistance: Mass mobilizations across the United States and Washington, D.C. Banning pipeline development via municipal governance. Two million public comments opposing the project.
Keystone XL is a proposed tar sands pipeline that would connect Alberta, Canada with the US Gulf Coast’s refineries and would carry 800,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil across the United States to be refined, exported and burned.
Tar sands oil has a massive carbon footprint — sometimes requiring more energy to produce than it creates— and Keystone XL is the key to making burning that oil economically feasible.
Keystone XL is one of many campaigns that groups like 350.org are taking on as they struggle to stop similar projects that would allow the tar sands oil to be a viable source of energy.
Across North America a movement with grassroots led campaigns is targeting railways, refineries and pipelines new and old.
But it’s Keystone XL that requires a Presidential Permit to move forward, and so a large movement has sprung up to push him to hold to his climate promises and reject the pipeline.
President Obama is expected to make a decision about the pipeline sometime in the first half of 2014, and he has said he’ll reject the pipeline if it means a ‘significant impact’ on the climate. That makes his decision simple: building a 800,000 barrel per day pipeline of the world’s dirtiest oil will mean more tar sands dug up and burned, and more carbon pollution.
In April, pipeline fighters will return to Washington DC to make closing argument against Keystone XL. Led by an alliance of farmers, ranchers and tribal groups, they will set up camp on the National Mall under the banner ‘Reject and Protect’, and bear witness to President Obama’s decision using ceremony and demonstrations.
Dr James Hansen, former head of the NASA Goddart Institute for Space Studies, said, “President George W. Bush said that the U.S. was addicted to oil. So what will the U.S. response to this situation be? Will it entail phasing out fossil fuels and moving to clean energy or borrowing the dirtiest needle from a fellow addict? That is the question facing President Obama. If he chooses the dirty needle it is game over because it will confirm that Obama was just greenwashing, like the other well-oiled coal-fired politicians with no real intention of solving the addiction.”
Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, said, “as if we needed more reminders, the IPCC is telling us as bluntly as is possible: leave the carbon in the ground. Every new mine or wellhead or pipeline like Keystone XL translates straight into the sort of chaos they describe.”
INDIA :: COAL ::
Project: Tata Mundra (Coastal Gijarat Power Limited) Ultra Mega Power Project
Funders: Include the World Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank, BNP Paribas, Korean Exim Bank and several large Indian banks.
Climate impacts: Will emit more than half of Bangladesh’s annual emissions.
Local impacts: Destruction of livelihoods of fisherfolk, Salt-Panners and other local communities through habitat destruction; negative health impacts. Toxic contamination of local fish & salt produce.
Resistance: Local opposition including through local and national legal remedies, as well an international campaign to stop World Bank funding of the project.
His village is situated close to the site for the ‘Tata Mundra’ ultra-mega-power project, a 4 GW coal fired power station that emits in one year well over half of the annual climate polluting CO2 emissions of the whole of the 155 million people living in Bangladesh.
In addition to being a ticking-time-bomb for the global climate, the Tata Mundra project has dredged and destroyed local mangroves and creeks as well as discharging huge quantities of warmed water into the gulf, all of which have combined to destroy the livelihoods of Fakir and many of his colleagues.
These impacts are compounded by the sharp rise in breathing problems and respiratory illnesses suffered in Saleiha and other villages near the plant like Tunda-Wandh, Navinal, and Mota Kandagra.
Yet, despite these local impacts and the huge risk the project presents to the climate, it continues to receive funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) a member of the World Bank Group, and other development banks.
Amina Behn, another fisherwoman affected by the plant, said, “the outlet channels have led to drastic reduction in fish catch and the water supply in our villages. Thanks to these companies, we now have to take a long walk to fetch water even for our daily activities.”
Souyma Dutta an activist with the Beyond Copenhagen Collective that is supporting the resistance of the local community said, ‘this project is a monstrous climate spoiler – as for adding only about 0.33 % to India’s Total Primary Energy Supply it is contributing about 1.72% of the country’s total CO2 emissions. Thus, incredibly – this Tata-Mundra energy is over five times as carbon-intensive as India’s present energy mix.’
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO :: MEGADAM ::
Project: Inga III
Funders: Proposal currently supported by the World Bank
Climate impacts: Risks disrupting the Congo Plume a massive carbon sink; will divert finance from community-controlled renewable energy solutions.
Local impacts: Will likely impact the endemic fisheries of the Congo River, perpetuates the conditions that underlie Camp Kinshasa.
Resistance: Campaigns against international institutions considering funding the proposal.
With the support of the World Bank, the DRC Government now proposes to develop the Inga III project, which includes a dam and a 4,500MW hydroelectric plant at Inga Falls on the mighty Congo River.
The proposed dam would irreversibly alter the hydrology of Africa’s most powerful river, the Congo, while significantly disrupting the Congo Plume, a massive carbon sink in the Atlantic Ocean. In this sense, a purported solution to climate chance will destroy an ecosystem, while leaving lasting inequality for local inhabitants.
During the construction of earlier dams Inga I and II, a temporary workers’ camp called “Camp Kinshasa” was erected in the concession area. After construction, many of the workers remained. Today, an estimated 9,000 people – a mix of former project workers and their families, and some families from the Inga displaced communities – call Camp Kinshasa home; it is from here that resistance is being organized.
Because, despite the energy poverty of the people in the DRC, power production from the Inga III Dam will be mainly for industry users and will not improve the access level for the more than 90% of the DRC population who have no access to electricity.
Investments in decentralized power supply projects, including small- and medium-scale hydro across the country, could more evenly reach the population and finally begin to close DRC’s energy divide, but so far have not been considered.
Kate B. Showers, a researcher at the University of Sussex, warns that due to the Inga III Dam’s impacts on the basin and carbon sink known as the Congo Plume, “plans to divert, store or otherwise intervene in Lower Congo River dynamics are truly alarming”.
Peter Bosshard, Policy Director, of International Rivers, who is working to support dam-affected people in the region, and advocates for alternative community-controlled energy access solutions, said, “the DRC government and the supporters of Inga III need to critically examine their role in this project and to promote transparency and the pursuit of world standards in the development of these projects. There is need for transparency, sincere and committed public engagements, and implementation of an energy development path that addresses the needs of the country.”
MEXICO :: WASTE ::
Project: Mexican states of Puebla, San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo and Mexico State
Funders: CEMEX, Mexico DF City Council, UN Clean Development Mechanism
Climate impacts: Increases GHG and toxic emissions resulting from waste incineration and reinforces a pattern of extraction, production, consumption and disposal that is incompatible with effective climate mitigation.
Local impacts: Respiratory illness, skin disease, and crop loss
Resistance: Protest at project sites and legal avenues to prevent new projects and to close existing ones.
Ultimately the community won and the plant was closed by the Mexican Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources; but not before it was awarded funding through the UN’s ‘Clean Development Mechanism’ carbon-trading scheme.
This victory has inspired people across the Mexican states of Puebla, San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo and Mexico State to raise their resistance against waste incineration in cement kilns in their communities too.
The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternative (GAIA) along with the Platform of Communities Affected by Waste Incineration in Cement Kilns are working to highlight the extent of local impacts of this dangerous practice and showing that it is not a true climate solution as it increases GHG and toxic emissions, as well as perpetuating an unsustainable system of extraction-production-consumption-disposal of natural resources that will not work within an effective climate mitigation strategy.
The demands of local communities and activists from across the country and the world are getting stronger, forcing local and national governments to take note.
Jorge Tadeo Vargas, an activist with Revuelta Verde, who worked with the community in Huichapan, said: “We’re calling on the Mexican Government and municipalities to hear the local communities’ demands and stop their complicity with the cement industry –waste incineration is burning our planet and getting our people sick. Why do we have to put up with it when there are better alternatives?”
UK :: BIOMASS ::
Project: Drax PowerStation, Yorkshire
Funders: UK Government via subsidies and loan guarantees.
Climate impacts: No less than burning coal.
Local impacts: Direct and indirect destruction of native forests and ecosystems; ongoing local air pollution.
Resistance: Online campaigns against the Green Investment Bank and planned action at the Drax AGM.
Under threat from EU regulations that would close it down for causing too much pollution, the power station owner is switching to wood-pellets as a source of fuel.
But the sources of the wood-pellets being used by Drax are very questionable, with one supplier, Enviva, sourcing 80% of wood from native hardwood forests, especially from the clearcutting of ancient swamp forests.
A large number of scientific studies shows that burning wood from whole trees, which are necessary for wood-pellets – let alone from ancient forests as in the case of Drax’s source– will result in greater CO2 emissions than burning coal for many decades to come.
Activists across the United Kingdom have united to stop this ‘false solution’, which purports to be greener than coal but actually poses the same climate risk.
Campaigners argue that it’s clear that without being incentivized to switch to wood-pellets the plant would have shut down.
Activists are now preparing for protests at the 23rd of April AGM of Drax.
Ms Almuth Ernsting, an activist with BiofuelWatch, said: “Drax is a perfect example of what is wrong with the governments’ definition of renewable energy. There is nothing renewable nor remotely climate friendly about clearcutting and burning biodiverse and carbon-rich forest ecosystems. Coal power stations need to be shut down, not converted to false-solutions. And renewable energy subsidies need to be reserved for genuinely renewable, clean and sustainable forms of energy.”
Scot Quaranda, of the Dogwood Alliance, a US-campaign group focused on protecting native forests said, “burning the forests that are supposed to be our best defense against climate change to protect us against climate change has to be one of the most ridiculous ideas I’ve ever heard.”
PHILIPPINES :: COMMUNITY ENERGY ::
Project: The Dragonfly: Joint project between the Philippines Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and the community of Capintalan, Philippines.
Funders: Funding for the development of the project came from British Embassy and the Municipality of Capintalan. Upkeep and expansion of the project has been crowdsourced from the community: energy users pay a small fee and volunteer labor.
Climate impacts: A positive climate impact! Micro-hydro uses river run-off to produce electricity, reduces the community’s need for fossil fuel-run generators and firewood.
Local impacts: Reliable, 24/7 electricity for more than 100 homes, which allowed for electrical appliances like fans, and computers in schools.
Community strength: A community without affordable access to energy, Capintalan, with help from the Philippines Rural Reconstruction Movement, took matters into their own hands and built a renewable, community-owned energy system that provides for those who need it most.
A few months into construction in 1998, after bureaucratic, weather, and funding setbacks, the project was set to fail–that’s where Tano comes in.
Tano Mindanao had never experienced the comfort of electrical power in his home. A vegetable farmer and father of eight, he could not afford a generator; he and his family made do with kerosene lamps at night and a battery-powered transistor radio for entertainment.
That is, until he and his community came together and built the Dragonfly. Tano, who didn’t finish high school, enrolled in an electronics short-course in a nearby town and earned a spot on the Dragonfly’s para-electrician team. He took it upon himself to resuscitate the Dragonfly: for four years Tano and his team tinkered with mechanics, developed community infrastructure, and rallied community support.
The Dragonfly generates power from mountain streams through “run-off-of-the-river” technology. This type of hydro is much less destructive than large-scale mega dams, because it doesn’t require building a dam – instead, river run-off is diverted through a series of turbines before feeding back into the river downstream.
Today, after many years of trial and error, the people of Capintalan enjoy 24/7 electricity. They are able to keep household appliances and study late at night; the elementary school has computers; the streets have lamps and are safer, which has also improved bus service. The cost of energy is a fraction of what customers in Capintalan paid before.
The success of the Capintalan project has inspired communities nearby to follow suit and set up their own community-owned run-off river projects—providing energy access and freedom from volatile energy prices.
The Dragonfly is not without challenges and setbacks: heavy loads can sometimes cause brownouts, and there are still more houses that need energy access. But what’s certain is that Capintalan has the community power to make it happen, and will create community-owned, democratic solution to future energy challenges.
UK :: COMMUNITY ENERGY ::
Now a new community owned hydro scheme is being built. When it’s completed at the end of the year, it will once again produce clean green energy and bring benefits to the community.
The finance for construction of the scheme will come mainly from people buying shares in the project, with nearly £600,000 raised so far. The share offer has just been extended to allow more people to be involved with the scheme, which predicts a 5% annual return on investment.
The electricity generated willbe enough to power 300 homes. It will be used first by Lancaster Cohousing, who now own the last remaining mill at Halton, and have also built 41 dwellings built to the highest energy saving standards, and heated by a biomass district heating system. The surplus will be exported to the grid, and will be enough to power up to 300 homes.
One of the key ambitions of the project, which is run by a society for the benefit of the community, is to raise more than a million pounds from profits to support and encourage a thriving, involved, active and sustainable community in the local parish. Some of the community funds will be used to support other local energy efficiency measures and low carbon solutions such as:
• Reducing home energy use by improving insulation, adoption of smart meters and thermostats, help with best tariffs, operating practices etc.
• Reducing home water use and protecting water resources for example rain water storage.
• Using sustainable home building materials and household products.
• Encouraging the use of appropriate renewable technologies such as heat pumps and small scale solar PV.
• Improved public and community transport.
If you want to find out more or would like to invest see www.haltonlunehydro.org