Nigeria a top 10 toxic threat??

The Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland published a new top 10 list of the “World’s Worst Polluted Places” — their first since 2007 — based on more than 2,000 risk assessments at contaminated sites in 49 countries. They found that Niger Delta, polluted by dirty energy giant Shell is one of them.

Water and soil in Ogoniland (in Nigeria) are contaminated by decades of oil production. Shell is responsible for the environmental disaster in the Niger Delta. The United Nations Environment Programme has confirmed the damage and specific recommendations that Shell and the Nigerian government can do to clean up this polluted area of ​​the Niger Delta.

Shell says it accepts these recommendations but only after the people in Ogoniland still have to drink contaminated water and cannot fish in polluted rivers and lakes.

Friends of the Earth Austria has this petition urging the leaders of Austria and Shell International to ensure that Shell provides sufficient resources to accelerate the cleanup of the Niger Delta.


False solutions for forests: Biomass energy, sustainable timber, and carbon markets

By Jeff Conant, Friends of the Earth US

FoE forests protest

In the landscape of global deforestation, a tension exists between policies and practices aimed at drawing a sharp halt to the exploitation of forests and forest peoples and those designed to stimulate a vaguely promised market shift toward more ‘sustainable’ extraction of an ever-dwindling resource. During the last two weeks, several significant reports have been released that highlight a few of the overarching approaches that we at Friends of the Earth see as ‘false solutions’ to the deforestation problem.

Friends of the Earth Australia released a report this week documenting the failures of “sustainable” timber policy across Asia. The report, called "From Policy to Reality," makes the case that the deforestation of Southeast Asian rainforests and logging-related human rights violations are driven by global over-consumption of tropical timber products and enabled by inadequate laws and purchasing policies.

Policies on “sustainable” timber procurement largely place the burden of proving timber legality and sustainability with producer countries -- those that need the money -- while consumer countries have failed to reduce their tropical timber consumption, the report announces.

In a press release announcing the report publication, Cam Walker of Friends of the Earth Australia said “We are witnessing a global depletion of natural timber resources and sustainable tropical timber remains essentially a mirage. Current laws and policies regulating timber production, export and import [often] ignore the reality on the ground [such as] systemic corruption, violations of human rights, and unsustainable production and consumption patterns.”

Even as policies guiding timber exports fail to curtail deforestation, the world’s energy economy is demanding increased burning of biomass -- meaning forests. At the recent United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal, Global Forest Coalition and Biofuelwatch launched a report called "Wood Bioenergy: Green Landgrabs for Dirty Renewable Energy." This report highlighted the impacts of expanding timber usable in order to generate industrial scale electricity and heat, especially in Europe and North America.

The report identifies increased demand for wood pellets in the EU and subsequent creation of new biomass facilities and conversion of coal plants to biomass as drivers of increased international trade in wood pellets. The UK alone is expected to burn pellets made from 82 million tons of wood in the coming year -- eight times the country's total domestic wood production. Most of these pellets are being imported from forests in British Columbia, Canada and in the southeast U.S., where they are sourced from rare Atlantic coastal wetland forests. The UK biomass facilities require pellets made from older hardwoods, the report reveals -- a technological ‘fix’ that is bound to undermine any sustainability standards the facilities pretend to meet.

Even as the industrial demands on forests grow and corrupt practices undermine legal enforcement of timber harvesting bans, global carbon markets continue to eye forests as a source of carbon credits under the UN-backed scheme called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+).

A lengthy article in the Atlantic Monthly outlines the specific corrupt practices associated with forest carbon trading. The article, entitled "The Forest Mafia: How Scammers Steal Millions through Carbon Markets" begins with the story of an Australian “carbon cowboy” who approached the indigenous Matses people in Peru with a scheme to protect their forests by selling the carbon rights in the forest on the global market, through a project modeled on REDD+. His scheme collapsed when "60 Minutes Australia" exposed his plans to cash in on the carbon and then log the forests for export to China.

The article then goes on to highlight fraud in the European Emissions Trading scheme, detailing a long list of scams that have resulted in costs in Europe on the order of €15 billion. Towards the end, the article notes:

"There is something especially insidious about these fake forest carbon credits. They believe they’re funding not only the preservation of trees, but also the wellbeing of local forest communities. Unwittingly, they might be financing the destruction of both."

In the absence of public support for forest conservation, most current REDD initiatives operate in voluntary carbon markets -- precisely the markets that fall easiest prey to carbon cowboys and fraud -- though the incentives to launder money through such an invisible commodity as carbon will easily encourage fraud in emerging ‘compliance carbon markets’ like California’s.

The Atlantic Monthly article points to California’s proposed REDD initiative as one public initiative that REDD proponents see as the savior of the policy. Through California’s cap-and-trade program, carbon credits sourced from forest management projects located within the lower 48 states can already help California companies such as Chevron and Shell meet legal compliance. But, the article notes, communities in the forest of Chiapas, Mexico, wrote a letter to California Governor Jerry Brown and other officials last year opposing California’s inclusion of Chiapas in the program and asking that forest offsets not be approved for use on the market. Friends of the Earth Mexico charged that the technical experts that helped set up the plan, “were more focused on approving the REDD+ scheme to assure business interests than guaranteeing the protection of biodiversity, forests, and indigenous and peasant farmers’ territories and rights.”

A more recent initiative by Indigenous Environmental Network, Idle No More and Friends of the Earth has continued to keep the heat on, asking Jerry Brown not to indulge in false solutions when the real solution is to reduce consumption of both fossil fuels and forest-products.

An article in the YALE forum on climate change states that the promise of REDD+ is flagging as the carbon markets fail to provide financing, and refers to another recent report from Conservation International called “REDD+ Market: Sending out an SOS” that warns: “the failure to increase the demand for REDD+ credits could result in the collapse of a number of high profile REDD+ projects while limiting the success of many others.”

I’d flip the script, however, and argue that it’s not the low demand for REDD+ credits that is the problem we need to address, but the high demand for forest lands and forest-derived products. Indeed, a recent assessment of the direct drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in 100 developing countries found that industrial agriculture is the cause of 73 percent of deforestation.

Yet, as a report from 2009 called REDD and Decentralized Forest Management shows,  the economic incentives for exploitive land uses would vastly outcompete forest conservation even if the price of carbon were far higher than its highest level ever. Based on a comparison of the May 2013 carbon price (approximately $2 per ton), with the opportunity costs of oil palm plantations (estimated to be as high as $178.16 per ton of carbon emissions reduced), a rational economic actor would choose palm oil over conservation by a wide margin.

Indeed, new research from The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) employs a quantitative analysis of media reports on REDD+ to reveal that  debates about REDD+ are skirting a fundamental issue by failing to discuss what actually causes deforestation in the first place.

“When governments, civil society and the private sector speak publicly about REDD+,” the CIFOR report reveals, “they often avoid talking about underlying problems.”

That, friends, is why we call it a false solution.

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Protesters in the UK kick off Reclaim Power week 3 taking on Shell & oil in Nigeria.

This week as part of Reclaim Power – Global Month of Action on Energy we are taking on Shell & oil in Nigeria.  Groups have already started taking action & there have been some great actions in the UK in Oxford & London. Below is a summary of some of those events shared with information from Danny Chivers (a member of Shell out Sounds and Tar-Free Oxford)

On Tuesday, a picket of a Shell recruitment stall in Oxford took an unexpected turn when a separate group of protesters arrived to pour “oil” on Shell’s equipment


On Thursday, protesters turned up to protest with leaflets and banners outside a Shell promotional event at the Shell-funded Earth Sciences lab at Oxford University

At the same time, Shell representatives at a sponsored event in the Geography department were getting a grilling from a student campaigner, who was armed with questions we’d obtained directly from Nigerian activists that morning over the internet.

The key question, of course, was “why haven’t you cleaned up your mess in the Niger Delta?”.  Afterwards, she sent this report directly back to the Nigerian campaigners:

“Hi all, I approached the Shell representatives today at the end of some presentations made by the students funded by Shell. I explained that I was a student at Oxford and asked why there was such interest in students in Oxford when they were happy to neglect the damages they were causing elsewhere, such as the widespread pollution in Nigeria, as the UNEP 2011 report documented – that would take 30 years to clear up, where levels of toxins and carcinogens are thousands of times above internationally accepted levels, causing serious health risks to the people living there. (I was able to have a quick read of the report beforehand.)

The one that responded, a lady whose name I can’t remember (Victoria) told me a series of things: firstly, that the primary cause of the pollution in Nigeria is piracy, and asked me who I thought was responsible for that: the people drilling or the people attacking the pipelines? I pointed out that it was Shell that was profiting from the actions, and that they had the funds to clear them up, and that it was very much their responsibility to ensure that their activity in the country wasn’t resulting in harm to the environment and community. She eventually agreed that there was ‘dual’ responsibility (so she backed down slightly from stating that it wasn’t Shell’s fault at all), but went on to say that they had spent ‘vast sums of money’ in clearing up the waste. I suggested that since the pollution is still significant, as the report shows, it wasn’t enough.

She said she hadn’t read the report, and I suggested that she did so – it was freely available on the internet. She went on to argue that Shell was benefitting the economy of the country through their activities, and employed thousands of people, and spent money on schools. I said that if the drinking water of thousands of people was contaminated causing serious health risks, they were not doing enough to protect the people impacted by their activities. This argument went on for some time, back and forth, with the Shell representative denying that any large injustices had been done.

It was a frustrating encounter overall, and she sounded as though she was trained to deal with such questioning. I hope this is useful – please do ask if you have any questions. There’s another talk tonight which is by a Shell employee in Oriel college, but unfortunately I can’t attend that one. Best wishes and good to meet you all – virtually at least. It makes me happy when we can make these kind of direct solidarity connections through the power of the interwebs."

Then on the 25th October, a “guerrilla choir” put on a surprise performance of an anti-oil song just before a Shell-sponsored concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall, prompting applause from the audience. They even applauded the anti-Shell banner!


Take action where you are with Reclaim Power & make sure to sign the petition demanding Shell clean up their mess in the Niger delta.

Highlights: The Second International Day to Ban Fracking

Across the world last weekend, communities rose up and came together to call for a ban on fracking in the second Global Frackdown. From France to Argentina, Australia to South Africa, India to Mexico and all across the United States, actions took place opposing fracking and related projects like frac sand mining, pipelines and other infrastructure projects. It was a beautiful and powerful day for the anti-fracking movement and shows our movement stronger and more unified than ever.

Read all about it here!


Credit: Food and Water Watch

Rejecting Fake Solutions on Energy

Rejecting Fake Solutions on Energy

Joint Press Release

Global Month of Action for Climate Justice


Indonesian government reneged on promises of political re-saving the environment. In a speech at the APEC Meeting (October 6, 2013), the President reiterated support to the development which accelerate the pace of carbon emissions, that is the Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development (MP3EI). President SBY even say, in 14 years MP3EI will add value to investment in agriculture, mining, energy, industrial, marine, tourism and telecommunications. Whereas in 2009, Mr. President stated his commitment to decrease GHG emission by their own way,  that is 26% to 41% in 2020.

Although it is followed by the publication of the National Action Plan for Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction (RAN GRK) and passed through Presidential Decree No. 61 In 2011, the political commitment to its implementation is weak. This is proven by full support that was given by the government to the MP3EI, and the Government is still relying on coal within the framework of conventional construction.

The government is still supporting the construction of energy-intensive fossil and natural resources. First, according to Presidential Decree No. 59 In 2009, the President set a plan to build 35 coal fired power plants (coal-fired plant) with a total capacity of 10,000 megawatts. Among the top ten coal-fired plant are located in Java. The coal-fired plant development policy is with the same money MP3EI, namely to facilitate the needs of a variety of energy companies to invest.

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