“How can our voices be silenced here?” Jannie Staffansson – a Sami woman from Northern Europe
We are the persons who are dying. My friends, my family are the ones who go through water, they are the ones killed in avalanches. How can the purpose of this negotiation not be people? How can our voices be silenced here?
Jannie Staffansson – a Sami woman from Northern Europe
Two environmental activists are killed every week according to Global Witness, and disproportionate number are Indigenous people
Kumi Nadioo, Greenpeace International
References to human and Indigenous rights have been removed from Article 2 in the core part of the Paris Agreement draft. They remain in the preamble. More than 240 civil society groups insist the human rights language be re-inserted into Article 2.
Why is this important?
Article 2 is about the purpose of the agreement which surely is to protect people and the climate said María José Veramendi Villa, Asociacion Interamericana Para La Defensa Del Ambiente (AIDA) of Perú. “Indigenous peoples are amongst the most impacted by climate change,” she said in a press conference today.
Article 2 also sets out how the agreement is to be implemented. This is crucial because some purported climate actions already in place such as biofuel plantations and carbon sequestration projects have already violated the rights of local people. People have been removed from their ancestral lands and protesters have been killed in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Norway, the European Union, the US and others oppose the inclusion for reasons that are completely unclear said Veramendi.
“It doesn’t change obligations that are already in the UN Declaration on Human Rights,” she said.
Countries like the US are only acting to protect the interests of a few powerful corporations in these negotiations, said Greenpeace’s Nadioo.
That’s why there is a global movement, a dynamic movement for real climate action that they cannot stop, he said.
Sacred prophesies of Indigenous peoples say the gathering of people at the Paris climate talks are turning point for humanity
From 1 to 5 December 2015 some thirty outstanding Wisdom Keepers from around the world – elders and grandmothers of Indigenous Peoples, spiritual leaders, scientists, economists, artists, youth and more – will gather in the Voices 4 Mother Earth Gathering– World Wisdom Gathering just outside Paris.
“We recognize that all people are members of the Human Family and that our life depends on our Mother Earth. We accept our obligation to our children and our children’s children to live in modest harmony with all living things.”
The world’s last remaining forest wilderness is rapidly being lost – and much of this is taking place in Canada, not in Brazil or Indonesia where deforestation has so far made the headlines.
A new satellite study reveals that since 2000 more than 104 million hectares of forests – an area three times the size of Germany – have been destroyed or degraded.
Since 2000 more than 104 million hectares of forests – an area three times the size of Germany – have been destroyed or degraded.
“Every four seconds, an area of the size of a football (soccer) field is lost,” said Christoph Thies of Greenpeace International.
The extent of this forest loss, which is clearly visible in satellite images taken in 2000 and 2013, is “absolutely appalling” and has a global impact, Thies told IPS, because forests play a crucial in regulating the climate.
The current level of deforestation is putting more CO2 into the atmosphere than all the world’s cars, trucks, ships and planes together, he said, adding that “governments must take urgent action” to protect intact forests by creating more protected areas, strengthening the rights of forest communities and other measures, including convincing lumber, furniture manufacturers and others to refuse to use products from virgin forests.
Greenpeace is one of several partners in the Intact Forest Landscapes initiative, along with the University of Maryland, World Resources Institute and WWF-Russia among others, that uses satellite imagery technology to determine the location and extent of the world’s last large undisturbed forests.
The new study found that half of forest loss from deforestation and degradation occurred in just three countries: Canada, Russia and Brazil. These countries are also home to about 65 percent of world’s remaining forest wilderness.
However, despite all the media attention on deforestation in the Amazon forest and the forests of Indonesia, it is Canada that has been leading the world in forest loss since 2000, accounting for 21 percent of global forest loss. By contrast, the much-better known deforestation in Indonesia has accounted for only four percent.
Massive increases in oil sands and shale gas developments, as well as logging and road building, are the major cause of Canada’s forest loss, said Peter Lee of Global Forest Watch Canada, an independent Canadian NGO.
A big increase in forest fires is another cause of forest loss. Climate change has rapidly warmed northern Canada, drying out the boreal forests and bogs and making them more vulnerable to fires.
In Canada’s northern Alberta’s oil sands region, more than 12.5 million hectares of forest have been crisscrossed by roads, pipelines, power transmission lines and other infrastructure, Lee told IPS.
Canada’s oil sands and shale gas developments are expected to double and possibly triple in the next decade and “there’s little interest at the federal or provincial political level in conserving intact forest landscapes,” Lee added.
The world’s last remaining large undisturbed forests are where most of the planet’s remaining wild animals, birds, plants and other species live, Nigel Sizer, Global Director of the Forest Programme at the World Resources Institute, told a press conference.
Animals like Siberian tigers, orangutans and woodland caribou require large areas of forest wilderness, Sizer noted, and “losing these top species leads to a decline of entire forest ecosystems in subtle ways that are hard to measure.”
While forests can re-grow, this takes many decades, and in northern forests more than 100 years. However, if species go extinct or there are too few individuals left, it will take longer for a full forest ecosystem to recover – if ever.
Trees, plants and all the creatures that make up a healthy forest ecosystem provide humanity with a range of vital services including storing and cleaning water, cleaning air, soaking up CO2 and producing oxygen, as well as being sources of food and wood. These ‘free’ services are often irreplaceable and generally worth far more than the value of lumber or when converted to cattle pasture, said Sizer.
In just 13 years, South America’s Paraguay converted an incredible 78 percent of its remaining forest wilderness mainly into large-scale soybean farms and rough pasture, the study found. Satellite images and maps on the new Global Forest Watch website offer see-it-with-your-own eyes images of Paraguay’s forests vanishing over time.
The images and data collected for the study are accessible via various tools on the website. They reveal that 25 percent of Europe’s largest remaining forest, located 900 km north of Moscow, has been chopped down to feed industrial logging operations. In the Congo, home of the world’s second largest tropical forest, 17 percent has been lost to logging, mining and road building. The Global Forest Watch website also shows details of huge areas of Congo forest licensed for future logging.
Deforestation starts with road building, often linked to logging and extractive industries, said Thies. In some countries, like Brazil and Paraguay, the prime reason is conversion to large-scale agriculture, usually for crops that will be exported.
The new data could help companies with sustainability commitments in determining which areas to avoid when sourcing commodities like timber, palm oil, beef and soy. Market-led efforts need to gain further support given the lax governance and enforcement in many of these forest regions, Thies said.
He called on the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – a voluntary certification programme that sets standards for forest management – to “also play a stronger role” and to improve those standards in order to better protect wilderness forests.
Without urgent action to curb deforestation, it is doubtful that any large-scale wild forest will remain by the end of this century, concluded Sizer.
Land is the missing element at next month’s big U.N. sustainable development summit known as Rio+20, where nations of the world will meet Jun. 20-22 with the goal of setting a new course to ensure the survival and flourishing of humanity.
However, governments are apparently unaware that a reversal of decades of land reform is underway with speculators, investment banks, pension funds and other powerful financial interests taking control of perhaps 200 million hectares of land from poor farmers in Africa, Latin America and Asia in recent years. Speculators and investors know land is the key to three necessities of life: food, water and energy. But neither land nor community land rights are on the summit agenda.
“Rural people are losing control over land and water because of this global land grab,” said Honduran farmer leader Rafael Alegria of the international farmers’ movement La Via Campesina.
Anywhere from 80 to 227 million hectares of rural, often agrarian land have been taken over by private and corporate interests in recent years, according to an April report released by Friends of the Earth International.
Many small land holders are being displaced in Central America and up to 40 percent of Honduran small farmers live in extreme poverty, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation, Alegria told IPS through a translator.
Mexico and Central America look like they are covered in dried blood on maps projecting future soil moisture conditions.
The results from 19 different state-of-the-art climate models project extreme and persistent drought conditions (colored dark red-brown on the maps) for almost all of Mexico, the midwestern United States and most of Central America.
If climate change pushes the global average temperature to 2.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial era levels, as many experts now expect, these regions will be under severe and permanent drought conditions.
Future conditions are projected to be worse than Mexico’s current drought or the U.S. Dust Bowl era of the 1930s that forced hundreds of thousands of people to migrate.
“Drought conditions will prevail no matter what precipitation rates are in the future,” said co-author Michael Wehner, a climate scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a U.S. government research centre in California.
“Even in regions where rainfall increases, the soils will get drier. This is a very robust finding,” Wehner told Tierramérica.
Without major reductions in carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, global temperatures will increase to at least 2.5 degrees of warming between 2050 and 2090, depending on rates of emissions of greenhouse gases, climate sensitivity and feedbacks. Continue reading →
+15,000 temperature records already broken in the US this year
By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 4, 2012 (IPS)
What are you doing on Saturday? Peter Nix, a retiree, will be standing on a railway track on Canada’s west coast blocking a coal train destined to ship U.S. and Canadian coal to Asia.
Nix will be joined by dozens of people near White Rock, British Columbia on May 5. They will be in good company as tens of thousands of people around the world participate in global day of action to “connect the dots” between climate change and extreme weather.
“There will be at least 1,200 actions in more than 100 countries,” says Jamie Henn, communications director for 350.org, a U.S.-based environmental group.
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There’s been a general perception that climate change is a future problem but with all the extreme weather disasters and weather records the public is being to realise that climate change is here, says Henn.
“Recent opinion surveys show the more than 60 percent of the U.S. public are connecting extreme weather to climate change,” Henn told IPS.
The planet is in peril, 3,000 scientists and other experts concluded at the recent Planet Under Pressure conference in London. Climate change, overuse of nitrogen and loss of biodiversity are just three of the perils threatening to make much of our home uninhabitable.
World leaders will meet in Rio de Janeiro June 20-22 to address this at the Rio+20 Conference, 20 years after the very first Earth Summit.
Rio+20 needs to be the moment in human history when the nations of the world come together to find ways to ensure ‘the very survival of humanity,’ environmentalists and scientists have said.
A “Green Economy” will be one of the main ideas under discussion in Rio. The idea is to make a transition to an economic system that maximizes human well-being while operating within the planet’s environmental limits. Exactly how this could be accomplished has yet to be defined.
The current economic system rewards those who exploit and destroy nature, said Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, Executive Director, Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education).
The current system hinders and even blocks Indigenous peoples from practicing their traditional ways of living that actually represent “a real green economy” that can be sustainable, achieve well being and are climate-friendly, said Tauli-Corpuz, a member of the indigenous Kankana-ey Igorot community in the Philippines.
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Climate change is the result of not behaving in the right way, according to the isolated Trio, an indigenous people living in Suriname’s Amazon forest near its border with Brazil.
“They see climate change as big problem. They say their forests are changing, deteriorating,” said Gwendolyn Smith, a project director for the non-profit organization Amazon Conservation Team (ACT).
ACT was launched by U.S. ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin and Costa Rican conservationist Liliana Madrigain Madrigal in 1996 to work with indigenous peoples in the rainforests of Suriname and elsewhere in the Amazon to retain their traditional knowledge.
The Trio (also known as Tiriyó) number perhaps 2000 and live entirely off their forests as hunters and swidden farmers. Swidden is a form of slash and burn agriculture where small plots are cleared and crops planted for one or two seasons, after which plots in new areas are cleared. Old plots are left fallow for many years, allowing the forest and soils to replinish. On a small scale this is sustainable.
“They have strict rules for managing their forest,” said Smith, who has worked with the Trio for seven years and is also a PhD student at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.
Their knowledge of the forest is unparalleled but the Trio know little about the wider world. “Money was only introduced to them six years ago and they don’t really understand concepts like saving,” she said.
Need global moratorium on new large-scale mining, extraction and prospecting
The average U.S. citizen uses an astonishing 22,000 times their weight in minerals, metals and fuels in their lifetime
By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada – March 1 2012, IPS
A global scramble for land and mineral resources fuelled by billions of investment dollars is threatening the last remaining wilderness and critical ecosystems, destroying communities and contaminating huge volumes of fresh water, warned environmental groups in London Wednesday.
No national park, delicate ecosystem or community is off limits in the voracious hunt for valuable metals, minerals and fossil fuels, said the Gaia Foundation’s report, “Opening Pandora’s Box”. The intensity of the hunt and exploitation is building to a fever pitch despite the fact the Earth is already overheated and humanity is using more than can be sustained, the 56-page report warns.
“We’re calling for a global moratorium on new, large-scale mining, extraction and prospecting,” said Teresa Anderson of The Gaia Foundation, an international NGO headquartered in London, UK that works with local communities.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has recently warned of the threats to World Heritage Sites from planned mining and oil and gas projects. One in four iconic natural areas in Africa is negatively affected, the report notes.
“No matter where you live, land acquisitions for mining, oil or gas are coming,” Anderson told IPS following the report’s launch in London.
The easy-to-get resources are gone. Now the extractive industries, funded by pension funds and commodities speculators, are using new technologies like fracking for natural gas to get at previously unprofitable resources. Continue reading →
Many indigenous peoples are living examples of societies thriving with sustainable, low-carbon lifestyles. Successfully meeting the global climate change challenge requires that much of the world shift from high carbon-living to low.
This shift is daunting. Current emissions for Australia and the United States average about 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person. In the coming decades that needs to fall to two tonnes per person as it is currently in Brazil or the Dominican Republic.
Emissions from most indigenous peoples are even lower and are amongst the lowest in the world.
Marilyn Wallace, a Kuku Nyungkal Aboriginal woman. Photo: Citt Williams, OneWorld 2.0
“I live in a shack but I love being on my ‘bubu’, my traditional land,” said Marilyn Wallace of the Kuku Nyungka ‘mob’ (tribe) in northern Queensland, Australia.
Wallace has lived in towns but fought for years to “return to country” and live in her tropical forest homeland 60 kilometers from Cooktown.
At the workshop Wallace and every other indigenous delegate focused on land rights. The simple truth is that if they can’t live on and manage their lands with time-tested traditional methods, they can’t be part of the solution to climate change.