The Guardian: Impacts of Harvesting for Bioenergy on Estonian Forests and on the Climate

‘Carbon-neutrality is a fairy tale’: how the race for renewables is burning Europe’s forests

The Guardian 14 January 2021

Hazel Sheffield

Kalev Järvik stands on a bald patch of land in the heart of Estonia’s Haanja nature reserve and remembers when he could walk straight from one side of the reserve to the other under a canopy of trees.

Järvik has lived in the Haanja uplands in the southern county of Võru for more than 10 years. His closeness to the forest has shaped his life as a carpenter and the fortunes of the surrounding villages, with their handicraft traditions – a substitute for farming on the poor arable land. Upcountry, travel literature promotes the region to city dwellers, promising its ancient woodlands as a place to rest and reinvigorate the mind.

But in 2015, the Estonian government allowed what is known as clear-cutting in some parts of the Haanja nature reserve. The practice involves stripping entire areas of mature forest and removing whole tree trunks.

To read more visit The Guardian

Alaska Native Tribes challenge Trump over Tongass Logging

GJEP co-founder Orin Langelle took this photo of an Indigenous Alaskan mask when he was coordinating media for Indigenous Environmental Network at the First Indigenous Peoples’ Global Summit on Climate Change in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo: (2011)

Alaska Native Tribes challenge Trump over Tongass Logging

JURIST 24 December 2020

Hannah Brem

Five Alaska Native tribes filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to challenge the Trump administration’s attempt to allow logging in the 17 million acre Tongass National Forest. The tribes are represented by nonprofits Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and are joined as plaintiffs by environmental groups, commercial fishing groups and tourism businesses.

In October 2020, the Trump administration announced that it would exempt the Tongass from the Clinton-era Roadless Area Conservation Rule, or the “roadless rule.” The roadless rule blocks logging and road construction in specified forests. Alaskan state leadership petitioned for the reversal, which puts nine million acres of the Tongass at risk. According to the United States Forest Service, the Tongass is the “largest intact temperate rainforest in the world.”

The complaint details the environmental virtues of the Tongass. The forest is a major carbon sink and is the sole habitat of rare, endemic species like the Alexander archipelago wolf. The plaintiffs also emphasize the importance of the Tongass to indigenous groups, saying, “The Tongass National Forest is central to the life ways of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people who have lived in and depended on the forest since time immemorial.”

To read the full article visit JURIST


Happy Holidays from GJEP! — Looking forward to 2021

All of us at Global Justice Ecology Project wish you and yours a peaceful and healthy holiday and New Year!

Looking forward to 2021 GJEP is planning to continue to build our work to defend forests, address the roots of the biodiversity and climate crises, support Mapuche and people’s struggles for freedom in Chile, and expand our role to help small nonprofits more effectively pursue their missions.

Please consider a donation to GJEP today to continue this important work. This holiday season, a donor will double your generous donation up to $5,000!

Protecting Forests, Stopping GE Trees and Advancing Climate Justice

In September of this year, the USDA published a petition seeking permission to release a new, unproven genetically engineered Darling 58 (D58) American chestnut tree into eastern US forests. If approved, this GE tree would be allowed to spread uncontrollably in wild forests with no follow up, monitoring or regulation.

A detailed analysis of their petition has revealed extreme shortcomings. First, this new GE tree has only been tested in the field since 2017–hardly sufficient to understand how it will behave for decades in the forest. Second, the risk assessments that were done were completely invalid–one study on the impact on pollinators used pollen from non-GE American chestnuts! This is an irreversible experiment with our forests with no clue as to the long-term risks.

Our work this past year gathered an historic number of names and groups registering their opposition to this dangerous scheme and in 2021, this movement building work will continue as we also continue our crucial public education program.

But it is not just US forests that are at risk. D58 GE tree is at the leading edge of the effort by industry to expand the disaster of industrial forestry around the world. If the D58 is approved, precedent will be set to approve GE trees for use in industrial tree plantations in the Southern US and Global South. They displace local communities and obliterate biodiversity. Adding GE trees will make these impacts even worse.

GE trees would also exacerbate climate change. Converting forests to water-greedy plantations greatly exacerbates the risk of horrific wildfires. And studies show that wild forests store 4x the carbon of tree plantations.

2020 saw unprecedented climate-related catastrophes, from hurricanes to massive fires. So we are doubling down in our commitment in 2021 to stopping GE trees and tree plantations.

Supporting the Struggle for Freedom in Chile

Mapuche man marches in Santiago, Chile during the Peoples’ Uprising in December 2019.

Toward the end of last year, GJEP and our partners at Biofuelwatch were in Chile. We were documenting a massive public uprising that was demanding a new constitution and the elimination of the crushing Neoliberal economic model that had created the largest income gap in Latin America and handed over huge swaths of Indigenous Mapuche territories for timber plantations. We are continuing to support the struggle for justice in Chile.

On October 25th of this year, one year after the uprising began, 80% of the people in Chile voted for a new constitution to replace that written under the bloody US-backed dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. This is an opening toward a future with justice, but there is much work to be done. The government working with transnational corporations in the country to undermine the peoples’ victory and try to pit social movements against each other.

We are staying in touch with groups and contacts in the region to do what we can to  support their efforts for social justice, economic transformation and Indigenous rights.

Enabling Small Non-Profits to Focus Their Energy on Their Important Work

In 2021 GJEP will continue to expand our role as fiscal sponsor for groups doing crucial work for ecological and social justice, forest protection and human rights. This helps them minimize bureaucracy so they can focus on their missions. The groups include BiofuelWatch, North American Megadams Resistance Alliance, Vermont Street Medics, A Center for Grassroots Organizing, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, and REDD-Monitor.


You make our cutting edge work possible. Please send a DOUBLED donation today.

Thank you for all you have already done to make this important work a reality.

Have a warm and peaceful Holiday,

Anne Petermann
Executive Director

Bloomberg Critiques Nature Conservancy’s Useless Offsets

Protest at the UN Climate Conference in Bali Indonesia outside of a World Bank press conference announcing the “Forest Carbon Partnership Facility” a program designed to encourage countries in the Global South to sell the carbon in their forests to supposedly “offset” carbon emissions from big polluters in the Global North.  Photo: Anne Petermann (2007)

Global Justice Ecology Project has been at the leading edge of the critique of forest carbon offsets since they were formally launched as REDD, and backed by the World Bank at the UN Climate Conference in Bali, Indonesia in 2007.

Since then we produced a film “A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests” to highlight the impacts of REDD on Indigenous Peoples, and worked closely with Indigenous Environmental Network, Global Forest Coalition, Climate Justice Now! REDD-Monitor, Climate Justice Alliance, World Rainforest Movement and many others to expose the dirty lie of forest carbon offsets.

We are very glad to see this article in Bloomberg exposing this sham.

These Trees Are Not What They Seem

How the Nature Conservancy, the world’s biggest environmental group, became a dealer of meaningless carbon offsets.

Bloomberg Green 9 December 2020

Ben Elgin

At first glance, big corporations appear to be protecting great swaths of U.S. forests in the fight against climate change.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. has paid almost $1 million to preserve forestland in eastern Pennsylvania.

Forty miles away, Walt Disney Co. has spent hundreds of thousands to keep the city of Bethlehem, Pa., from aggressively harvesting a forest that surrounds its reservoirs.

Across the state line in New York, investment giant BlackRock Inc. has paid thousands to the city of Albany to refrain from cutting trees around its reservoirs.

JPMorgan, Disney, and BlackRock tout these projects as an important mechanism for slashing their own large carbon footprints. By funding the preservation of carbon-absorbing forests, the companies say, they’re offsetting the carbon-producing impact of their global operations. But in all of those cases, the land was never threatened; the trees were already part of well-preserved forests.

Rather than dramatically change their operations—JPMorgan executives continue to jet around the globe, Disney’s cruise ships still burn oil, and BlackRock’s office buildings gobble up electricity—the corporations are working with the Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest environmental group, to employ far-fetched logic to help absolve them of their climate sins. By taking credit for saving well-protected land, these companies are reducing nowhere near the pollution that they claim.

To read the full article visit Bloomberg Green.

New Myth-Buster From CEO and Allies on the Energy Charter Treaty

Busting the myths around the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT)

A guide for concerned citizens, activists, journalists and policymakers

December 2020 –co-published by 29 organisations from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America 

Amidst growing concerns that the ECT undermines urgent climate action, and a growing backlash against the treaty, its corporate profiteers are spewing propaganda, promoting falsehoods about how the ECT attracts clean investment and how its ‘modernisation’ will fix any flaws.

Cut through their rhetoric with our new myth-busting guide to the ECT’s world of dirty energy, highway robbery, and corporate abuse.

The guide will help you counter 18 common claims that you will hear from ECT proponents.

Some of the key myths debunked are:

Myth 1: The ECT brings much needed foreign investment, including into clean energy
Myth 2: By protecting investments in renewables the ECT helps combat climate change
Myth 3: The ECT is mostly used by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
Myth 4: The ECT is the only way to protect energy investors when they go abroad
Myth 5: The ECT’s modernisation will fix its flaws
Myth 6: Countries in the global south would benefit from joining the ECT
Myth 7: Leaving the ECT does not protect governments against costly lawsuits

To download the guide visit Corporate Europe Observatory. It is available in English, Spanish and German.