UNFCCC: No False Solutions to Climate Change!

For immediate release
29 November 2007

No time left for false solutions:
Stop commercialising carbon, cut emissions at source!

Global Justice Ecology Project and the Global Forest Coalition (GFC) [1] are present in Bali, Indonesia, for the 13th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, 3rd-14th December, with a team of campaigners from around the world, including Indigenous Peoples’ representatives, to expose the false ‘solutions’ – agrofuels [2] and carbon markets – being promoted by many governments and companies.

It is now increasingly recognised that these failing solutions are also having devastating impacts on the world’s 854 million chronically hungry people, [3] 1.6 billion forest-dependent people [4] and on forests and biodiversity around the globe. [5] There is also growing evidence that many are even making climate change worse.[6]

However, these so-called ‘solutions’ have certainly worked for those governments and companies supporting them – but only because they have generated windfall profits and subsidies for the world’s richest transnational companies, who have discovered that there are huge profits to be made out of commercialising carbon; [7] and because they have allowed governments to be seen to be doing something without making any difficult decisions.

Dr Miguel Lovera, Chair of the GFC, said:
“Governments are here to stop climate change, not promote carbon commercialisation. They should keep forests out of carbon markets, stop subsidising agrofuels and say a resounding No! to the World Bank’s planned Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. They need to roll their sleeves up and get on with the very real and urgent task of stopping climate change immediately. There’s no time left to make any more mistakes!”

Many effective ‘tried and tested’ processes, technologies, transport systems and regulations, that cut emissions at source and provide social and ecological benefits, already exist. These include (to name just a few) bans on deforestation, converting to more sustainable wind and solar energy sources and ramping up investment in efficient and affordable public transport systems.

Journalists are invited to contact any of the campaigners listed below, to talk about the specific social and environmental impacts of commercialising carbon in different regions of the world.

In the first instance you may wish to contact our coordinators on their Balinese mobiles:

Media Coordinator: Orin Langelle, GFC, US, +62 813 38959742, English
Campaigns Coordinator: Ronnie Hall, GFC, UK, +62 813 38959738, English

Speakers with different areas of expertise, regional knowledge and languages:

Marcial Arias, a leader of the Kuna people, Panama.
Indigenous Peoples’ rights, UN Declaration of Indigenous Peoples, especially in relation to UNFCCC and the UN CBD.
Kuna and Spanish, +62 813 38959740

Timothy Byakola, Climate and Development Initiatives, Uganda.
Agrofuels, carbon trading and plantations.
Lunyoro, Swahili and English, +62 813 38959739

Fiu Mata’ese Elisara-Laulu, O Le Siosiomaga Society, Samoa
Sustainable development that impacts culture, social, environment and economic issues.
Samoan and English, +62 813 38959741

Sandy Gauntlett, Chairman of the Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environmental Coalition (PIPEC), Aotearoa/New Zealand
Plantations and agrofuels, Pacific climate impacts, Indigenous Peoples rights
English, +62 813 38938574

Dr Andrei Laletin, Friends of the Siberian Forests, Russia
Russian government’s positions on forests and climate change, REDD
Russian and English, +62 813 38950984

Dr Miguel Lovera, Chairperson of the GFC and Iniciativa Amatocodie, Paraguay
Conservation and restoration of forest biomass, rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, Dutch and Italian, +62 813 38959743

Simone Lovera, GFC’s Managing Coordinator and Sobrevivencia, Paraguay
International Environmental Law, payment for environmental services schemes, soy expansion, Indigenous rights, REDD.
English, Dutch, Spanish, German and Portuguese, +62 813 37984639

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP), US
Genetically engineered forest trees; second generation agrofuels
English, +62 813 38918437

Hubertus Samangun, Director of ICTI, Tanimbar, Indonesia, Southeast Asia Regional Coordinator of the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests. Indigenous rights, biodiversity and forest policy, agrofuels, REDD.
Bahasa Indonesia and English, +62 813 10778918

Swati Shresth, Kalpavriksh, India
Agrofuels (especially Jatropha), tribal law and protected areas.
Hindi and English, +62 813 38918431

Dr Rachel Smolker, Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP), US
lead author of GJEP/GFC report “The true cost of agrofuels: food, forests and the climate”
English, +62 813 38959709

Also present in Bali are many members of the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests. The International Alliance is active in 43 countries. They can be contacted via:

Kittisak Rattankrajangsri, International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests, Thailand
Thai and English, +62 813 38934295


References:

1. The Global Forest Coalition is a worldwide network of non-governmental organisations and Indigenous Peoples Organisations that promotes effective rights-based forest conservation policies. See http://www.globalforestcoalition.org for more information.

2. The term ‘agrofuels’ is a more accurate label for the production of fuel from industrially produced agricultural crops (and is also used by the FAO). The term ‘biofuels’ gives a false impression that these fuels are environmentally friendly, when they are in fact environmentally and socially destructive.

3.  A recent report to the UN General Assembly, on the right to food expressed “grave concerns” that agrofuels production “presents serious risks of creating a battle between food and fuel that will leave the poor and hungry in developing countries at the mercy of rapidly rising prices for food, land and water”. The author of the report, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, recently called for a five-year moratorium on the production of agrofuels using current methods. http://www.swissinfo.org/eng/swissinfo.html?siteSect=881&sid=8305080 According to the UN’s World Food Programme 854 million people are already chronically hungry and nearly six million children under the age of five die of starvation every year: one child every five seconds. http://www.wfp.org/aboutwfp/introduction/hunger_what.asp?section=1&sub_section=1

4. Agrofuels and plantations planted to offset carbon emissions in the rich industrialised world are increasing deforestation, and this is having a severe impact on forest-dependent communities. According to the FAO, 1.6 billion people are dependent on forests or trees outside forests http://www.fao.org/forestry/site/livelihoods/en/. See for example, the impact of the tree planting project in the Mount Elgon national park financed by the FACE Foundation at http://www.wrm.org.uy/countries/Uganda/book.html and the impacts of a voluntary forest-related carbon offset project in Ecuador at http://www.wrm.org.uy/countries/Ecuador/book2.pdf

5. In Paraguay, for example, the expansion of the agricultural frontier is the principal cause of biodiversity loss, and agrofuels are stimulating demand for large scale monoculture products like soy. It is now estimated to be 7-10% (Fundacion Moises Bertoni 2007) in isolated and dwindling patches of forest. Since the 1980’s this has been caused primarily by the advance of soy monoculture.

6. The Global Forest Coalition/Global Justice Ecology Project will launch its new report The real Cost of Agrofuels: food, forests and the climate, in Bali on 4 December 2007. To take just one example, however, a recent study of N2O emissions from agrofuels revealed that some contribute up to 70% more to global warming via N2O emissions than they do to cooling via avoided CO2 emissions. This is especially true for fuels derived from rapeseed (about 80% of European production) and corn (virtually all production in the US). In the author’s words: “Here we have concentrated on the climate effects due to required N fertilization and we have shown that the use of several agricultural crops with high N/C ratios for energy production can readily lead to N2O emissions, large enough for several crops to cause net climate warming instead of cooling by saved fossil CO2.” Crutzen, P.J., Mosier, A.R., Smith, K.A., Winiwarter, W. 2006. N2O release from agro-biofuel production negates climate effect of fossil-fuel derived “Co2” savings.  Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 2007, 7, 11191

7. The EU, for example, has fallen behind schedule to meet its Kyoto target of an 8% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2012, and the US$44 billion-a-year market has been labelled “an environmental and economic failure”. The scheme has, however, generated “record profits for RWE AG and other utilities”, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=awS1xfKpVRs8&refer=home

Top:  These children were working picking peanuts for 9 cents per day
following Hurricane Mitch after their parents had to go to Costa Rica to
find work.  The devastation of Hurricane Mitch was exacerbated by
deforestation.  Devastating hurricanes like this have become symbolic of
the weather extremes that are becoming more and more common with climate change.  Photo: Langelle/GJEP

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