tagged w/ Rights of Mother Earth
"The presence of Talisman here is causing divisions between those who have accepted the company and those who won't... We are on the verge of genocide."
In Achuar territory in the remote Peruvian Amazon, an already tense situation has taken a turn for the worse over recent months. According to the urgent testimony of two Catholic priests, who have been living in the region for more than 60 years combined, Canadian-based oil company Talisman Energy is fomenting severe divisions between indigenous communities, heightening the risk of imminent bloodshed between neighboring families.
Talisman is drilling exploratory oil wells in Oil Block 64 in a remote area of the Peruvian Amazon near the Ecuador border. The oil block overlaps the territory of the Achuar people, and wells are being drilled in the heart of Achuar ancestral territory, in the middle of critical hunting and fishing grounds in a flooded wetlands ecosystem that drains into Lake Rimachi, the largest lake in the Peruvian Amazon, and the Pastaza River Wetland Complex, a site acknowledged under the Ramsar Convention as one of the most productive aquatic ecosystems in the Amazon rainforest.
Achuar leader Peas Peas Ayui, President of the National Achuar Federation of Peru (FENAP) has just returned from Calgary, Canada where he met with Talisman CEO John Manzoni to demand that the company respect the Achuar people, withdraw from their territory and cease insistent attempts to convince communities to sign agreements. The Achuar previously delivered the same message to Mr. Manzoni in 2008 and 2010, but despite the Achuar people's steadfast opposition to oil drilling, Talisman Energy continues its relentless search for oil, resorting to dangerous industry practices: divided and conquer.
Recent testimony from Padre Diego and Padre Bola highlights signs of oil company bribery, ecological disruption, threats of bloodshed between indigenous communities, and even the first cases of sexually transmitted diseases are part and parcel of a deteriorating situation along the Pastaza and Morona rivers, where Talisman is currently exploring for oil.
The Peruvian government first created Block 64 in 1995 during the Fujimori dictatorship without consultation or consent from the Achuar people who live there. The oil block and Talisman's operations span two river basins: the Pastaza and the Morona. The block directly affects Achuar territory; Shuar-Wampisa and Shapra people downriver on the Morona are also affected.
The Achuar were united and opposed to oil operations since the creation of the oil block and forced successive companies to leave, but since Talisman's arrival in the region in 2004, two new Achuar organizations representing a minority group of eight out of the 50 Achuar communities have broken off and signed agreements with Talisman. The Achuar accuse Talisman of ignoring communities who oppose their operations and creating divisions and conflict through offering high financial incentives to any community or family who signs up with the company.
The testimony from Father Diego underlines the seriousness of this situation, and calls attention to the spread of this conflict downriver in Shuar-Wampisa communities where a peaceful protest in September 2011 almost ended in bloodshed after a group of pro-Talisman Achuar confronted protestors with guns. This was almost an exact repeat of a similar incident in May 2009 when 300-400 Achuar marched in protest to a Talisman well and were confronted by armed pro-Talisman Achuar standing with the company. Talisman is subject to ongoing litigation in Peru over its involvement in provoking this dangerous conflict.
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Click on double bars to stop video if you wish."The presence of Talisman here is causing divisions between those who have... more
In this extract from his book, To Cook A Continent, Nnimmo Bassey argues that climate negotiations, from Durban in late 2011 onwards, will increasingly confront the issue of climate justice.
The atmosphere is a common space, a global commons. Industrialised nations pumped a disproportionate amount of emissions into the atmosphere and they have cornered a disproportionate amount of global resources, largely by exploiting nations that are on the other side of the coin. Climate impacts are already being felt in a severe way in Africa as well as in other regions of the global South. Centuries of exploitation have weakened the resilience of these regions and in tackling climate change these historical facts must be addressed. One way of addressing this is by the payment of climate debt to make the needed financial and technological resources available to these vulnerable regions.
The Conference of Parties at Copenhagen and the following one at Cancun did not generate outcomes consistent with scientific warnings that the world faces a severe climate crisis. Copenhagen ended with an accord spearheaded by President Barack Obama of the United States with the backing of the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) concocted in a 'Green Room' dreamed up by Denmark's conservative ruling party. In that room, Patrick Bond recalled, were 26 countries 'cherry-picked to represent the world. When even that small group deadlocked, allegedly due to Chinese intransigence and the overall weak parameters set by the US, the five leaders (Obama, Lula da Silva, Jacob Zuma, Manmohan Singh, and Wen Jiabao) attempted a face-saving last gasp at planetary hygiene.'12
The demand of climate justice is that those who created the climate problem must be the ones to mitigate it, and in the process must transform their economies and societies.13 There are two ways to go about making this happen. First, rich nations must reduce rapacious consumption patterns and address the climate crisis with real solutions and not ones that have been seen to be false. Second, the rich nations have to support the poor nations who are being forced to adapt to a situation they did not create. One practical way of making that happen is through support for sustainable, green development paths.
Among governments, the Bolivians have made the clearest call for climate justice while India and China have used related arguments to defend their growth paths. At a time when the world has been calling for a curtailment of polluting industrial establishments, China has been building new coal-fired power plants at a prodigious rate.14 It is interesting to note that while China is massively expanding its coal-powered plants, it is also quickly assuming leadership in the utilisation of wind power. The discourse on how much both China and India must do in tackling global warming must not overlook the fact that vast numbers of people in both India and China still require electricity supply and that meeting that gap requires huge financial outlays.
Following the catastrophic outcome of the United Nations climate negotiations held in Copenhagen in December 2009, President Evo Morales of Bolivia announced that the world would meet in Bolivia for a thorough and inclusive discussion on this vital issue.
The summit, held in Cochabamba in April 2010, attracted 35,000 participants from 140 countries. The summit stood in sharp contrast to the Copenhagen event in many ways. First, this was an assembly of governments and peoples. In Copenhagen no effort was spared in keeping civil society out of the conference: the conference was marked by lockouts of civil society, detentions of climate activists and outright brutality towards non-violent protesters on the streets. In Cochabamba the police were offering assistance and were also participants. Whereas Copenhagen showed a disdain for the voices of the people, Cochabamba was about raising the voices of the people. The only similarity between the events is that they were both held in cities whose names start with letter 'C' followed by nine letters.
The key outcome of the Cochabamba conference was the People's Agreement. This agreement demanded that countries cut their emissions by at least 50 per cent at source in the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (2013–17), without recourse to offsets and other carbon trading schemes. In terms of finance, the People's Agreement demands that developed countries commit 6 per cent of their GDP to finance adaptation and mitigation needs. The financial suggestions of the Copenhagen Accord are a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed to secure vulnerable peoples and nations. The peoples of the world also affirmed that there is a climate debt that must be recognised and paid. The payment is not all about finance but principally about decolonising the atmospheric space and redistributing the meagre space left. Developed countries already occupy 80 per cent of the space.
The climate debt is also about taking actions needed to restore the natural cycles of Mother Earth and one clear way of achieving this will be through the proclamation of a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, with clear obligations for humans. Bolivia is in the forefront of promoting the adoption of this declaration at the United Nations. The People's Agreement recognises that the causes of climate change are systemic and that systemic changes are needed to tackle them. On this note, the model of civilisation that is hinged on uncontrolled development can only compound the crisis. The world needs to move towards living well and not continue on the path of domination of others and of conspicuous and wasteful consumption.
An area glossed over in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations is the role of industrial agriculture in climate change. The People's Conference debated this key sector and reached the agreement that the way to a sustainable future is through the enthronement of food sovereignty based on agro-ecological agricultural systems. The issue of access to water being a human right was also affirmed by the people and later on in the year by the United Nations.
In all, the People's Agreement recognises that real strategies to tackle climate change must be based on the principles of equity and justice in dealing with the structural causes. Without climate justice it will also clearly be impossible to achieve the much talked about Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Cochabamba resonated with calls for urgently securing the rights of Mother Earth as a means of reconfiguring our relationship with the earth and with each other – in a way that respects the past, today and the future. All these will be a pipe dream unless peoples' sovereignty is supported, restored or built across the world. Cochabamba was a turning point in the march to transform our world from the path of conflict, competition, exploitation and domination to a path of solidarity and dignity. It held a ray of hope for Africa.
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I posted this excerpt from this article because it hits the nail on the head about the mechanisms involved in the schemes being put forth by industrialized nations, the World Bank and corporations (industrial agriculture especially) looking to use this planetary emergency as a way to profit from it without really doing anything to address it. And that includes our seeds and water. Our voices now can make a dfference and they must be heard.In this extract from his book, To Cook A Continent, Nnimmo Bassey argues that climate... more
This week the United Nations General Assembly discussed international standards that grant nature equal rights to humans. Similar protocols have been adopted by over a dozen U.S. municipalities, as well as Bolivia and Ecuador. Renowned environmentalists Maude Barlow and Vandana Shiva join us. Says Shiva, "Most civilizations of the world, for most of human history, have seen the world in terms of relatedness and connection,” says Shiva. "And if there’s one thing the rights of Mother Earth is waking us to, is: we are all connected." [includes rush transcript–partial]This week the United Nations General Assembly discussed international standards that... more