New Biofuelwatch Report: Swallowing Indonesia’s Forests

Note: Biofuelwatch is a fiscally sponsored project of Global Justice Ecology Project. Rachel Smolker is the Co-Director at Biofuelwatch and a member of the international and national Campaign to STOP GE Trees.

Swallowing Indonesia’s forests: New report reveals how Indonesia’s proposed food estate projects threaten a social and environmental disaster of global concern

by Rachel Smolker, Biofuelwatch

The Indonesian government recently announced plans for several new “food estate”projects in Central Kalimantan, Papua and North Sumatra Provinces. These would target hundreds of thousands of hectares of land, including some of the world’s last remaining areas of pristine tropical forests in the region, for logging and conversion. Past experience with food estate projects (the “Mega Rice” project and the “Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate”) proved to be a social and environmental disaster, displacing communities, producing little food and causing more, rather than less, hunger, and leaving vast swathes of previously forested land denuded and smoldering with peat fires that polluted air across continents. Who benefitted? those who profited from the sale of timber followed by establishment of palmoil and other export commodity crops.

The new food estate proposals are framed as a response to economic impacts of COVID and food insecurity, but in reality they are opportunistic land grabs aimed to further pad the bloated coffers of a few corrupt individuals at the expense of people and the planet.

With implementation of the food estates partially under authority of the ministry of defense, displacement of communities, under threat of violence is commonplace and resistance often life- threatening. Indonesia’s people deserve to be safe, to enjoy food sovereignty, to be consulted about their lands, and treated with respect. The governments’ proposed food estate programmes will do none of the above.

Our planet is in crisis. Deforestation and ecosystem degradation, pollution and loss of biodiversity, and the impoverishment of peoples and places leaves us faced with dire predictions for the future. Meanwhile, international agreements including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Aichi targets, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and international agreements on climate and biodiversity all will be rendered meaningless and blatantly violated if Indonesia proceeds with stated plans for more “food estate” disasters. The international community cannot abide by these proposals. Banks and potential investors must act responsibly to reject Indonesia’s thinly veiled plans for escalated destruction of her forests and her peoples.

Read the full report: Swallowing Indonesia’s Forest

Watch: WRM Highlights Feminist Struggle on International Women’s Day

Image courtesy of World Rainforest Movement

The feminist struggle: A path of resistance and hope

World Rainforest Movement 8 March 2021

In the midst of the global health, social and economic crisis caused by Covid-19, women organized around the world—from Brazil to India, Sierra Leone to Mexico—once again show a possible way forward: One of solidarity, of growing and accessing healthy foods, and of caring for and sharing the commons; one in which women resist, and sustain paths of collective struggle toward sovereign ways of life—free from the oppression of capitalism and patriarchy; and one where livelihoods are interconnected with cycles of nature, coexisting in harmony and balance with forests and other ecosystems.

This March 8, on International Women’s Day, we want to highlight the path forged by feminist struggles, which continue to resist and combat the various and brutal forms of violence against women. These forms of violence are intrinsically related to the extractive industries, such as oil palm companies.

Particularly, women who live near or work on industrial oil palm plantations suffer rape and sexual abuse, dispossession of their land, and contamination of water sources and health problems; this is because they are subjected to forced labor and exposure to agrochemicals. This pattern of violence is seen repeatedly in countries in Central and West Africa, Asia (especially in Malaysia and Indonesia) and Latin America.

On this day, we share a series of articles from the WRM bulletin, and a recent video made by the Informal Alliance Against Oil Palm Plantations in Central and West Africa. These publications and video denounce the violence against women and highlight their struggles in different countries in the Global South.

Today, we once again express our solidarity with women organized around the world, who are resisting and forging a path of hope in the face of oppression from capitalism, racism and patriarchy. The struggle goes on.

For more information visit World Rainforest Movement

Audio: Geoengineering on a Global Scale

In our conversation with Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director for ETC Group, we discuss geoengineering, the radical techno-fix to climate change. Geoengineering comprises dangerous attempts to alter climate on a global scale. Environmental groups are concerned with the unknown dangers of geoengineering, including its disproportionate risk to countries and people least responsible for global warming in the first place.

Interview by Steve Taylor, Press Secretary of Global Justice Ecology Project.

GJEP Supports Farmers Protesting in India

Canadian Labour, Civil Society Groups Express Solidarity With Protesting Farmers

“The farmers are literally sacrificing their well-being and putting their lives on the line to uphold these constitutional guarantees on behalf of all the people of India and are setting a glorious example to the entire world.”

The Wire 28 February 2021

New Delhi: A group of labour, community and civil society organisations from Canada and elsewhere have issued a statement supporting protesting farmers in India.

“These laws were drafted without any consultation with farmers or their representatives, the farmers’ unions. The farmers have consistently opposed these laws, which go against the promises and commitments made to farmers by different governments over several decades,” the statement reads.

The organisations argue that the contentious farm laws openly benefit big corporates and harm farmers. However, instead of responding to farmers demands, “The government and its propaganda machines…have concentrated not on finding solutions but on delegitimizing the protests and all who support them as representing special interests (large and rich farmers) in prosperous states.”

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” the statement continues.

To read the full article visit The Wire

New Friends of the Earth International Report Unpacks the Science Behind “Net Zero” Claims

Chasing Carbon Unicorns: The deception of carbon markets and “net zero”

Friends of the Earth International 22 February 2021

Powerful actors are using “net zero” pledges to hide their climate inaction. Stopping the climate crisis requires us to stop burning fossil fuels – no magical thinking will solve this problem, just immediate action and system change. But transnational corporations and governments are hiding behind the “net” in “net zero” – claiming that they just need to pay someone else to remove carbon, through carbon offsetting, rather than taking action on their own.

This report unpacks the science behind “net zero” claims and how they are used to obscure climate inaction. It explores the new strategies to expand carbon offset markets, linked with new “net zero” demand for offsets. It also explains the roles played by various actors involved in the effort to “make offsetting great again”. These include less obvious players such as a few large mainstream conservation organisations, as well as the more obvious ones: the banks, the finance industry, and corporate interests behind maintaining the status quo of fossil fuel production and consumption.

“Net zero” means that fossil fuel companies can continue to explore, drill, extract, and burn fossil fuels, while someone somewhere else sucks carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, magically balancing out emissions. But whose land, whose forests will be used to suck that carbon out? Fossil futures require carbon unicorns. 

The area of land required to sequester just 2 Gt CO2 through ecosystem restoration is estimated at 678 million hectares – about twice the land area of the country of India. Communities in the global south are already facing huge land and resource grabs, loss of livelihoods, and violations of their territorial rights. 

“Net zero” targets need to be transformed into Real Zero targets, including a complete phase-out of fossil fuels and industrial agriculture, keeping equity in mind, and support for rights for communities whose livelihoods are dependent on those ecosystems. 

Download the full report here: