A guide for concerned citizens, activists, journalists and policymakers
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.
For Immediate Release Dec. 10, 2020
Contact: Tel- 202-455-8665 email@example.com
Now is the time for undeniably powerful grassroots leadership. If we’ve learned anything this year from the brilliant, brave, bold, and beautiful Black, Brown, Indigenous and other frontline communities and workers fighting inequitable impacts of pandemics, pollution, poverty, climate disaster and emboldened racism, it’s that real change happens at the grassroots.
Yet, in a year when frontline leadership is clearly critical, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (through his newly launched Earth Fund) has doubled down on philanthropy’s inequitable modus operandi by funneling hundreds of millions into outdated, ineffective, top-down strategies that attempt to erase the frontlines. This thoughtless, status-quo, self-serving strategy undermines the real systemic change we have been cultivating for decades in this most monumental fight against climate change, and for the protection of Mother Earth as we know her.
“Big green” environmental groups with majority-white leadership and top-down structures – World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, World Resources Institute, Environmental Defense Fund and The Nature Conservancy – received the lion’s share of the initial Earth Fund grants despite already having a combined annual budget in the billions. Added together, upwards of $600 million in grants will go to the world’s wealthiest conservation and environmental organizations. Less than a quarter of the first-round grants will go to intermediary funds that support thousands of grassroots communities cultivating solutions on the frontlines of the climate emergency. The inequities couldn’t be more striking.
Once again, corporate executives and the capitalist system they defend are pitting our grassroots struggles against an elite cadre of international policy groups wielding outdated, market-based strategies that fail to confront the root causes of climate change, and continue to profit off of sacrifice zones. If these big green recipients truly care about slowing the worst effects of climate change, they must support systemic change solutions by following the frontlines, environmental and climate justice communities and movements, their alliances, and networks.
Perhaps Bezos thought the Earth Fund could absolve him and Amazon of the injustice they continuously uphold. But no amount of greenwashing will distract from the historical and current disenfranchisement of Amazon workers, other frontline communities, and Mother Earth herself. As demonstrated when this funding was first announced in the first quarter of 2020, CJA steadfastly stands with Amazon workers and impacted communities, as they fight to realize basic dignity and human rights in the workplace.
Equity & the Need for Redistribution of Funds
To forego any comprehensive consultation or advance notice and drop this announcement on environmental justice communities just prior to Thankstaking deepens wounds of colonialism, anti-Indigenism, racism, and Black slavery — wounds that have perpetuated the racialized disparities and historic systems of oppression that underpin our interconnected climate, racial, and economic crises. It also turns an insulting blind eye to the fact that many Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities are also fighting against a global pandemic, the rise of fascism, disproportionate exposures to toxic chemicals and climate-causing greenhouse gas emissions, other environmental contaminants, and the collapse of the global economy.
But Bezos is not the only one to blame. We are disheartened to see many of the big green Earth Fund recipients continue their regular fundraising campaigns despite having just received $100 million each! This is particularly heartbreaking considering the public outpouring of solidarity statements from these very groups quite recently, espousing commitments to equity, environmental justice, and racial justice when it was popular to do so.
Time is running out for them to save the integrity of their statements, as well as the agreements, protocols, and initiatives they have committed to over the past several decades, including The 17 Principles of Environmental Justice, the Jemez Principles of Democratic Organizing, and the Building Equity & Alignment for Impact Initiative. The world is burning — literally and metaphorically — and we cannot believe we have to take precious time away from the fight of our lives to explain, yet again, the racism, elitism and plain obtuseness of the environmental sector. Here is just a partial list of letters addressing power and funding disparities and the harm inflicted far too often by philanthropy and big green organizations that span many decades.
A Super-Sized Order of False Solutions for Climate & Communities
This sizable funding from the Earth Fund, supported in part by Amazon’s refusal to pay taxes and other despicable practices that abuse workers and the planet, purports to “preserve and protect the natural world” from the “biggest threat to our planet”. However, it fails to acknowledge its wealth has been built off the backs of the very communities that are leading the struggle to stop the root causes of climate change. Despite being chronically and severely underfunded, these communities are creating innovative climate solutions while protecting our lands, waters, air, and ways of life, and showing the world sustainable paths to successfully navigate the storms, floods, fires, and droughts headed our way.
Meanwhile, the environmental organizations receiving over 80% of this funding, along with other big greens, continue to collaborate with the very corporate leaders driving and benefiting from the fossil fuel economy and causing this existential crisis. (One recent example of this is the push for the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) in the Northeast, organized in close coordination with British Petroleum.) Through ineffective policy solutions like this that further subsidize polluting industries including fracked gas, nuclear power, biomass, waste incineration energy, and biofuels, they enable investment capital to continue profiteering from the pollution and other harms they cause in frontline communities. In fact, some of the first grants being doled out are going to support major investments in risky and dangerous geoengineering experimentsand carbon market mechanisms, such as offsets and carbon pricing regimes, that will not stop climate change nor reduce emissions at source. Instead, they will put frontline communities and ecosystems on a fast track to becoming new sacrifice zones, rather than on a road to Just Transitions.
In fact, according to the REDD Monitor, Bezos is pouring millions into so-called “nature-based solutions” — a new name for the rebranding of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). Also known as “natural climate solutions,” nature-based solutions are false solutions to climate change in the form of carbon offsets with entire ecosystems. These so-called “solutions” do not reduce emissions, are slated for half the world’s land, may result in a planetary land grab within mechanisms of privatization, and could adversely impact a billion people. REDD Monitor reports that all five of the big green beneficiaries “mention natural climate solutions in their press releases about receiving money from Bezos.” In effect, these environmental and conservation groups, as well as myriad polluting corporations, create and participate in mechanisms that give way to the financialization of nature. These practices separate and quantify the earth’s cycles and functions – such as carbon, water, soils and biodiversity – by turning them into “units” to be sold in financial and speculative markets.
Our Values Must Guide Our Solutions
No one will save us but ourselves. Following the lead of the frontlines is paramount to our very survival. We know the ability to protect the earth’s living capacity now and in the future hinges on our ability to repair, renew, and right our relationships with her and each other. This involves centering the grassroots climate justice movement, which understands the need for humanity to protect the territorial integrity of Mother Earth and Father Sky, following the teachings of Indigenous sisters and brothers and land-based cultures. We can only undertake such global efforts to remediate and restore ecological balance if we redistribute the wealth accrued from stolen lands, stolen lives, and stolen labor to those from whom it was taken and who continue to be most impacted by pollution, poverty, racism, state violence, and pandemic around the world.
Across CJA’s members and allies, we have a multitude of Just Transition projects – real, scalable climate solutions that move us toward regenerative economies, such as: Black women-led food sovereignty projects in the MidAtlantic and on the West Coast; Latinx farmworker-led medicinal plant projects in the Southeast; BIPOC people-to-people mutual aid networks in the Gulf South; a community-owned solar project in the Northeast; Latinx-led feminist economy projects in the Southwest; emerging worker-owner cooperative models, such as a Black-owned natural building company in the MidAtlantic and an Indigenous-owned cooperative farm in the Pacific Northwest; Indigenous-led renewable energy companies; BIPOC-led non-extractive finance models; and a new project by the Reinvest In Our Power Campaign to move $100 million to local living economies that work in harmony with Mother Earth. This is just a glimpse of solutions already happening on the ground.
As revealed in 2010, later in 2012, and yet again in 2020, we know it is much more effective for philanthropy to fund the grassroots than the big greens, if they truly want to forge real change that actually tackles the climate crisis and the multitudinal impacts it has on us all.
At this moment in history, we must stand together as a movement to defend our right to speak for ourselves and our communities, and to self-govern. After all, this is not the first time our movement has had to stand up to racialized funding disparities. Over the last few decades, we have had to develop our own initiatives, organizing with allied funders and other national green groups, to have our voices heard. Since the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 1991 in Washington, D.C., our communities have been demanding equity from philanthropy and big greens, noting that funding disparities stem from existing cultures of white supremacy and elite privilege.
This moment can make or break our ability to stop the worst effects of climate change, and we will not stand in silence while those who are not amongst the first and most impacted try to define it — let alone those who just jumped into climate funding as a way to whitewash despicable labor practices. It is unacceptable that such enormous funds be redistributed and re-invested in ways that will not only divide our movements, but also dismantle progress greens and grassroots have made together, and set back our efforts to tackle accelerating impacts of the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.
We need to leave behind this era of racialized philanthropic practice and inequitable terms of engagement. We must foster meaningful pathways forward to confront the inextricably linked racial, economic, and climate crises by embracing and centering traditional Indigenous knowledge; investing in workers and the placed-based leadership of urban and rural frontline communities; and expanding democratic collaboration on Just Transition strategies to combat climate change and build sustaining and living economies.
Recommendations for Bezos, Big Greens and Allied Funders
At this pivotal moment in time, first, we call on Jeff Bezos to pay his fair share of corporate taxes, pay his workers a living wage, stop surveilling labor, social justice and environmental groups, and put money into the communities being impacted by industrial pollution and other harmful impacts caused by Amazon distribution centers.
Second, we call on all big green organizations receiving grants from the Earth Fund to follow and respect the leadership of the frontlines and their solutions, which meet both the challenge of climate change and the interconnected racist, anti-Indigenist, classist and undemocratic systems that created it, and move us toward regenerative economies. Immediately, these organizations can:
Third, we call on the allied funding community and the larger climate/environment philanthropic community to:
We stand firm and united to continue our grassroots struggles against the settler-colonial-capitalist system that has created the climate crisis and entrenches racism, corporate destruction of the earth, and market-based agendas that serve to ravage our bodies, our communities, and the planet.
As we usher in a new and transformative era, we call on Bezos, big green organizations, and funders alike to put their money where their mouth is, live their espoused values, and support the leadership of the frontlines with the words, deeds, and resources we need to lead us all through a beautiful multiplicity of Just Transitions. Taking swift action on the above clear steps is a solid way to start.
Climate Justice Alliance is a member-led organization of 70+ urban and rural frontline communities, organizations and support networks in the climate justice movement.
2005 GJEP Board meeting in Vermont. Soren is third from left, to his right is his wife Njoki Njehu. Also pictured, from left to right, Anne Petermann, Ann Lipsitt, Karen Pickett, Lesley Adams and Orin Langelle. Photo: Orin Langelle/ Photolangelle.org
We at GJEP are deeply grieved to announce the passing of Soren Ambrose from complications of COVID. Soren, a wonderful friend, outstanding organizer and powerful enemy of the ruling elite, was also a founding board member of GJEP and helped the organization navigate the waters of social and ecological justice work for the past 17 years.
Soren formerly worked with the 50 Years is Enough Network and was a leading organizer and strategist for the anti-corporate globalization movement of the early 2000s, especially A16, the April 16, 2000 shutdown of Washington, DC during the annual meetings of the World Bank. This protest was the first major protest since the shutdown of the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Seattle on November 30, 1999.
GJEP co-founder Orin Langelle met Soren through his work in Central America in the latter 1990s. Prior to Soren joining the Board of GJEP, Orin served on the Board of the 50 Years is Enough Network. About Soren’s passing, Orin writes,
“It’s hard for me to say what is on my mind,” said Orin Langelle, GJEP co-founder. “Soren was my friend for the quarter of a century that I knew him and he was so many things to me for so many reasons. I can’t pay him tribute enough. I am heartbroken knowing Soren’s physical presence is not with us.”
We miss him. Even though he was on the other side of the planet, his presence was always felt.
Besides being a good friend, he was an important voice on our board calls, his experience and deep wisdom offering so much to our conversations and decisions.
The board and staff of Global Justice Ecology Project send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Njoki Njehu and his mother and father in Chicago.
Here is one of Soren’s last pieces of writing:
Despite its own warnings, the International Monetary Fund is risking another ‘lost decade’ for development.
The City of Philadelphia officially apologized on 12 November 2020 for the 1985 bombing of a MOVE home that killed five children and six adults.
On 13 May 1985, the City of Philadelphia infamously dropped an incendiary bomb via helicopter on the MOVE home and allowed the resulting fire to burn for hours before the fire department was allowed to intervene. The resulting destruction destroyed an entire neighborhood in West Philadelphia. Members of the MOVE family that attempted to escape the fire were reportedly shot at by police.
Council Member Jamie Gauthier, a representative of the ward in which the bomb was dropped, has apologized 35 years later for the act and established May 13th an annual observance. For a copy of the formal resolution click here.
Mike Africa Jr. gave the following statement to GJEP regarding the apology by the City of Philadelphia:
On May 13th, 1985 when the police bombed my MOVE Family I was shocked to learn that the kids and adults that I knew and loved were dead. To learn that the police allowed the fire to burn and used it as a weapon to kill my people was not shocking to me at all but it was infuriating. It is so long overdue for the city to take these steps that Jamie Gauthier has so courageously put forth. Her comments in her statement are very powerful and encouraging especially when she says “I think if we had done the true work of acknowledging what happened with MOVE and with other acts of police violence, and we had really worked on not only the acknowledgment but building better relationships and working towards reconciliation, we wouldn’t find ourselves in the place we are now.
Police violence and excessive force has to stop. It’s been over 35 years since the bombing and still there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my murdered family members. I carry a void that 40 years of separation from my parents has left on me due to police violence. As a father and a very “hands on” uncle in my family and community, I can see the effects of generational trauma surfacing in my kids and the other MOVE children.
All summer long I’ve been a lead organizer in many of the “protest police terror” rally’s around the city and in my speeches I often lead with “apology without action is meaningless.” It is clear to me that this apology put forth by Jamie is a step in the right direction and I support and commend her for it. It is a single step in a million mile journey toward progress and if the step is not taken the journey never begins.
Peace and freedom is like the air you breathe, it’s always available to everyone but because of the systems in place many of us are literally being suffocated by the strangulation of injustice. I look forward to working toward creating the space and opportunity where everyone in this city and beyond can experience peace, freedom and equality.
Mike Africa Jr. is the subject of HBO’s recent documentary “Thirty Years a Prisoner,” which explores Africa’s struggle to find freedom for members of the MOVE organization that were imprisoned for over thirty years, including his own mother and father who were released in 2018. Mike Africa himself was born in a jail cell.
In October of last year at the North American Forest & Climate Convergence (co-organized by Global Justice Ecology Project) Mike Africa Jr. did an interview with GJEP.
More and more journalists and civil society organisations are being sued by powerful businessmen and politicians. [Shutterstock/itay uri/Burdun Iliya]
EURACTIV 16 November 2020
By A group of international organizations and NGOs
More and more journalists and civil society organisations are being sued by powerful businessmen and politicians. We call on the EU to ensure those with a watchdog role are protected from gag lawsuits. This scrutiny is the lifeblood of healthy democracies, writes a group of 87 organisations, including Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International.
This opinion piece has been co-authored by 87 organisations, including Greenpeace, Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, Transparency International, and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ). The English version has been made available exclusively to EURACTIV.
** Full list of authors is at the bottom
One hot spring afternoon in Malta, a journalist drove up to her house to find a court marshall duct-taping hundreds of sheets of paper to her front gate. Her family’s two guard dogs were barking uncontrollably and snapped at the marshall through the bars of the gate, but he was determined.
The orders from the court were that the journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, must be served with 19 defamation lawsuits filed against her, in one go, by a wealthy and powerful business figure. A few months later she was dead, murdered by a remotely-triggered car bomb.
We are a group of civil society organisations that consider this to be the most egregious case of SLAPPs we have seen so far, aggravated by the fact that the cases have continued after Caruana Galizia’s death against her widower and three sons.
“SLAPP” stands for Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation. It’s a form of legal harassment designed to intimidate critical voices into silence. Expensive and unscrupulous law firms market this attack-dog service to powerful and wealthy individuals who can afford to drag on abusive proceedings for years just to shield themselves from unwanted public scrutiny.
This scrutiny is the lifeblood of healthy democratic societies. The European Court of Human Rights and other national and regional courts have consistently and explicitly recognised in their judgments the important role a free press, and more broadly civil society, plays in holding the powerful to account.
Their judgments reaffirm the obligation states have to create an environment that is conducive to free speech. Because without this, democracy weakens and dies.
The holes in our laws that allow powerful people to hammer their critics into submission are a hole in European democracy. Cases of abuse pepper the continent.
Poland’s second-biggest daily newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, has received over 55 legal threats and lawsuits by a number of actors, including from Poland’s ruling party, since 2015.
French businessman Vincent Bolloré and companies affiliated with the Bollore Group have blanketed journalists and NGOs in libel suits to stop them covering his business interests in Africa.
In Spain, meat producer Coren is demanding €1 million in damages from an environmental activist for criticising its waste management practices, having previously threatened activists and scientists who were researching nitrate levels in its local waters.
The people we depend on for information about what is happening around us are being distracted, impeded, or entirely blocked from pursuing their work by these costly and resource-intensive legal attacks.
The situation is becoming skewed beyond recognition. When it comes to certain people, governments, companies and topics, it’s not writers, film makers or journalists who decide what we read, watch and talk about.
It’s not even the courts, for SLAPPs rarely make it to a hearing, let alone a court judgment. Rather, it’s the oligarchs and their associates in politics, through the lawyers they pay, who are shaping the narrative and preventing the truth from emerging.
We’ve seen a worrying pattern emerge in Europe of government officials or beneficiaries of large public contracts adopting the tactics of celebrities and oligarchs to shield themselves from the heightened level of scrutiny that their positions or financial links to government warrant.
The fact that the threats are often cross-border ratchets up the costs for journalists and activists, who find themselves summoned to court far from home in Europe’s most expensive legal jurisdictions.
Awareness of this problem is growing. European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová has promised to “look into all possible options” to counter the threat SLAPPs pose to European democracy.
One promising solution lies in the institutions of the European Union, and it could help realter the balance between pursuers of SLAPPs and the public’s right to be informed of matters in the public interest.
EU-wide legislation should be adopted to protect people across the European Union from SLAPPs. This has to be a priority.
As in other parts of the world, rules should be in place across the EU to allow SLAPP suits to be dismissed at an early stage of proceedings, to sanction SLAPP litigants for abusing the law and the courts, and to provide measures to allow victims to defend themselves.
When we consider the importance of public watchdogs such as investigative journalists, activists, and whistleblowers to the rule of law and the fight against corruption, the absence of safeguards is a threat not only to press freedom but to the proper functioning of Europe’s internal market and, increasingly, to Europe’s democratic life.
The reality is that for every journalist or activist threatened with violence in Europe, a hundred more are silenced discreetly by letters sent by law firms, perverting laws meant to protect the reputations of the innocent from attacks by the powerful.
SLAPPs are a far less barbaric means of silencing someone than a car bomb or a bullet to the head, but their silencing effect is often just as destructive.
Access Info Europe
Blueprint for Free Speech
Centre for Free Expression (CFE) (Canada)
CEE Bankwatch Network
Chceme zdravú krajinu (“We want a healthy country”, Slovakia)
Citizens Network Watchdog Poland
Civil Liberties Union For Europe
Civil Rights Defenders (CRD)
Civil Society Europe
Clean Air Action Group (Hungary)
Committee to Protect Journalists
Corporate Europe Observatory
Earth League International
Environmental Paper Network (EPN)
Eurocadres – Council of European Professional and Managerial Staff
European Center For Not-For-Profit Law (ECNL)
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)
European Environmental Bureau (EEB)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC)
FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
Forest Initiatives and Communities (Ukraine)
Forum Ökologie & Papier
Four Paws International
Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
Global Justice Ecology Project
Government Accountability Project
Greenpeace EU Unit
Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)
Human Rights Without Frontiers
Index on Censorship
Institute for Sustainable Development Foundation
International Media Support
International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)
International Press Institute (IPI)
Iraqi Journalists Right Defence Association
Justice and Environment
Maison des Lanceurs d’Alerte (France)
Milieudefensie – Friends of the Earth Netherlands
Netherlands Helsinki Committee
Nuclear Consulting Group (NCG)
Oživení (Czech Republic)
Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business
Rettet den Regenwald (Rainforest Rescue)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) ( Switzerland)
SOLIDAR and SOLIDAR Foundation (European networks, based in Belgium)
Speakout Speakup Ltd (United Kingdom)
Stefan Batory Foundation (Poland)
The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation
The Good Lobby Italia
The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)
The New Federalist
The Signals Network
Transparency International – Bulgaria
Transparency International EU
Transparency International Italy
Whistleblower Netzwerk (WBN) (Germany)
Whistleblowing International Network
Women Engage for a Common Future – WECF International
Young European Federalists (JEF Europe)