Mayan communities are suing the Mexican government over a million solar panel megaproject

Mayan communities are suing the Mexican government over a million solar panel megaproject

SOURCE: Climate Home News DATE: October 23, 2020 SNIP: Indigenous communities in Mexico are suing the government over plans by a Total-owned company to install more than a million solar panels near their homes. The 674-hectare site earmarked for the solar farm, between the Mayan-speaking villages of San José Tipceh and Plan Chac, in the southern state of Yucatán, is partly located on indigenous communal land. To make space for the photovoltaic panels, project developers plan to clear 600 hectares of trees and other wild vegetation. Residents fear deforestation of the site will create a “heat island” and worsen water shortages – potential side effects identified in the environmental impact assessment. Dependent on small-scale agriculture and bee farming, people in both villages have opposed the plans, saying the project will hurt their livelihoods for little reward. “The contracts only benefit… the Americans who designed the project. The villagers are only left with the crumbs,” Abraham Chi, a resident of the nearby town of Muna, told Climate Home News. “If there was a benefit for the community, I doubt there would be anyone opposing it.” The solar farm, which is divided into two sites, known as Ticul A and Ticul B, would see the installation of 1.18 million solar panels to generate 300MW of electricity. Opponents to the project are taking their case to a district court in the state of Yucatán, where they will argue their rights to consultation were violated – and environmental concerns have not been addressed. The case has become emblematic of failure to engage communities in the development of large energy projects on indigenous land,...
Indonesia readies its green diesel. These are the likely social and environmental impacts

Indonesia readies its green diesel. These are the likely social and environmental impacts

SOURCE: Phys.org DATE: October 23, 2020 SNIP: In July, Indonesia’s state-owned oil company, Pertamina, produced its first batch of biofuel made entirely from palm oil. Called D100, this “green diesel” is part of Indonesia’s strategy to promote what is claimed to be environmentally friendly fuel. Indonesia began mandating a 30% mix of biofuel in gasoline in January 2020. The plan is to increase the amount of biofuel used in the country. The policy will increase demand for palm oil—the country’s number one agricultural export. The government has positioned the program as a way to lower fossil fuel imports and greenhouse gas emissions. But it will worsen deforestation, increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to a loss of biodiversity. It will also lead to more social conflicts. Research shows the palm oil industry is a major driver of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and loss of biodiversity. Palm oil plantations produce more oil per unit of land than alternative crops. A report by the European Union concluded palm oil is associated with higher levels of deforestation than other biofuels. In any event, the biodiesel policies aim to replace fossil fuels. Thus, the comparison should be with fossil fuels, not other kinds of vegetable oil. Studies have found palm oil-based biodiesel creates more carbon emissions than fossil fuels. Indonesia’s 94.1 million hectares of forests are particularly rich in both biodiversity and carbon content. Peatlands are also very rich in carbon. When land is converted to palm oil plantations, carbon is released into the air. In 2014, more than half of Indonesia’s carbon emissions came from forest and land-use changes. As production of...
Indigenous People Confront 350 and Sierra Club

Indigenous People Confront 350 and Sierra Club

SOURCE: DGR News Service DATE: October 20, 2020 SNIP: On October 12th, 2020, Indigenous People’s Day, a group of indigenous people and allies gathered in Illahee (Portland, Oregon) to confront the Sierra Club and 350.org for their corporate ties and advocacy of false solutions as outlined in the film Planet of the Humans. These groups were informed that they had breached trust with the grassroots environmental movement and local indigenous people, and had betrayed their own stated goals. Sierra Club was informed that their promotion of “green investments” in massive multinational corporations via their “sustainable investing funds” represent a fundamental opposition to life on the planet. 350.org was informed that even their name and stated goal, 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide, is incompatible with life for the small island nations. As the Association of Small Island States write in their 2009 briefing as part of the Copenhagen climate conference, “350 ppm is a death sentence. . . . The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States) is around 260 parts per million. . . . CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 ppm, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.” Both of these groups have and continue to advocate for false solutions, including “green” technology, “green” investments, and other greenwashing schemes. Both groups failed to sign the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth created at the 2010 Cochabamba World People’s Conference on Climate Change, despite the opportunity to...
B.C. gives Pacific BioEnergy green light to log rare inland rainforest for wood pellets

B.C. gives Pacific BioEnergy green light to log rare inland rainforest for wood pellets

SOURCE: The Narwhal DATE: October 9, 2020 SNIP: Sean O’Rourke was hiking in B.C.’s globally rare inland rainforest this spring when pink flagging tape indicating a planned cutblock caught his eye. Finding flagging tape is nothing new, but when he looked closer, he realized the tape had the name of a nearby pellet company on it — Pacific BioEnergy. The company operates a plant in Prince George where it turns waste wood products — sawdust from mills, tree bark, wood shavings and clippings — into pellets to be burned to produce heat or electricity, replacing coal and fossil fuels. More than 90 per cent of Canadian wood pellets are shipped overseas to Europe and Asia, according to the Wood Pellet Association of Canada. But the ancient cedars and hemlocks in the rainforest in Lheidli T’enneh First Nation territory, about 60 kilometres east of Prince George, are most certainly not waste wood. O’Rourke, a field scout with Conservation North, a grassroots organization advocating for the protection of old-growth forests in northern B.C., took photos of the flagging tape to show his colleagues. He later combed through the publicly available harvest data to confirm the province had indeed issued permits to Pacific BioEnergy to log the old-growth forest. While wood pellets are often touted as a renewable energy source, Conservation North director and ecologist Michelle Connolly challenges that claim. “If the raw material for harvested wood products or pellets is coming from primary and old-growth forest, it is not clean or green or renewable in any way, shape or form,” she said in an interview. “Destroying wildlife habitat to grind forest...
House Dems Pass Climate Bill Boosting Oil Drilling, Lobbied for by Biden Donor

House Dems Pass Climate Bill Boosting Oil Drilling, Lobbied for by Biden Donor

SOURCE: The Real News DATE: October 5, 2020 SNIP: House Democrats passed legislation to boost the fortunes of the oil industry as one of their last acts before going to recess until after Election Day. The bill passed as funeral ceremonies were held in Washington for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Only 18 Democrats opposed HR 4447, called the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, in the Sept. 24 220-185 vote, including “The Squad”—Reps. Alexandria Ocacsio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar. The bill is unlikely to pass in the Senate in its current form and the White House has pledged to veto it. Buried within the House climate bill is a provision that was once a standalone bill called the Fossil Energy Research and Development Act (HR 3607), which extends $1.64 billion in subsidies to the Energy Department to “maintain robust investments in carbon capture technologies for coal and natural gas applications” and oversee the creation of three natural gas or coal power plant pilot facilities for carbon capture. The bill further extends $722 million to the Energy Department to “carry out large-scale carbon sequestration demonstrations for geologic containment of carbon dioxide” in utilizing the captured CO2 for a drilling process called enhanced oil recovery (CO2 EOR). That’s over $2.3 billion in industry subsidies. HR 3607 had lobbying support from electricity utility company Ameren, the Coal Utilization Research Council, and Arch Coal. It also received labor union lobbying support from the Utility Workers Union of America and the Blue-Green Alliance, a coalition whose green group members include Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, and the Environmental Defense...