Archive for the ‘REDD / REDD+’ Category

Earth Peoples co-founder Arthur Manuel passed away, 66-years-old.

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Dear Earth Peoples.
Arthur Manuel was always working hard.
Tiokasin Ghosthorse brought me to collaborate with Rebecca Sommer, one of my best friends… and this is where I met Arthur. I was very glad to from the start. I was in line with him in the cafeteria at the UN during the indigenous peoples caucus for the Earth Peoples partners event. I got some coffee and was going to sit down at the table he was at. Arthur said with warning…you might not want to sit there. I said oh is this seat taken? He said no its just that you might not want to be associated with me. A lot of people do not like me.
I looked around over my shoulders and said.. jokingly I said….want me to beat them up for you? He laughed a lot. That was the comical and genuine relationship that I had with him from the start. He is someone I am honored to say has changed my life and i can call him my favorite person and a best friend. I am so thrilled that I had the opportunity to know Arthur.
Arthur was my Earth Peoples brother, a child of our mother Earth and I loved him very much. I always looked up to him for saving the world. I remember saying to Arthur that I hope that I can somehow make a difference in the world like he does. I would like to make my life meaningful. He said Elaine, You don’t want to do what i do. He said… I am not complaining but Elaine, you have the creative arts and you can work in that medium and be effective. As you do…. and it seems more fun. That meant a lot to me. I appreciate that with all of my heart. I hope that i can send that message through my art so that I can make him proud and maybe send some laughs too.
He lives forever in our hearts. He lived. I only hope that I can too live a life that makes the ancestors proud  as was well.

Book Arhur ManualHis last writing to me was when he signed his book
Unsettling Canada
for me with the words “May the world be good to you my friend.

He will be greatly missed!!!


Brazil: Campaign to Stop Genetically Engineered Trees

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Campaign to Stop Genetically Engineered Trees


Growing Movement Against Genetically Engineered Trees Protests Globally at Brazilian Embassies and Consulates

New York (2 April 2015) – Concerned citizens demonstrated at Brazilian consulates and embassies located around the world this week, as part of a second week of global protests demanding that the Brazilian government reject an industry request to commercialize genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees.

In Brussels, Belgium, dozens of people representing organizations from around the world traveled from the European Parliament to the Brazilian Embassy where they rallied against GE trees and delivered letters of protest. In Melbourne, Australia, protesters dressed as koalas, owls and other forest creatures rallied against GE eucalyptus trees at the Brazilian consulate. Other demonstrations took place in Europe and North America.

This week’s actions follow a wave of protests against GE trees at Brazilian embassies and consulates on 3 March 2015. These protests were directed at a 5 March 2015 meeting of the Brazilian Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio), which was to decide whether or not to approve a request by FuturaGene to commercially release GE eucalyptus trees in Brazil. The meeting was interrupted by 300 peasants organized by La Via Campesina and eventually cancelled [1].

Earlier on the morning of 5 March, 1,000 women of the Brazil Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) from the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais occupied the operations of FuturaGene, destroying seedlings of GE eucalyptus trees [2].

A woman from The MST who took part in the action stated, “The landless women came here to denounce, to reject, to say that this model of agribusiness is the model of death, not of life. We the landless women are here to defend a model of life, defend food sovereignty, and defend agrarian land reform.”

CTNBio and FuturaGene rescheduled their meeting regarding GE eucalyptus trees for 9 April, sparking the latest series of protests against GE eucalyptus this week.

“These weeks of protest against GE trees in Brazil demonstrate the renewed commitment of organizations, activists and social movements around the world to ensure that GE trees are never legalized,” stated Ruddy Turnstone, a campaigner with Global Justice Ecology Project and the Campaign to STOP GE Trees who rallied at the Miami, Florida Consulate on 31 March.

In November 2014 scientists, foresters, agronomists, Indigenous Peoples and other experts from six continents met in Asunción, Paraguay to discuss the problem of genetically engineered trees. They recently finalized the Asunción Declaration, which calls for the outright rejection of all GE trees, including those in field trials [3].

In the US, a similar request to the USDA from GE tree company ArborGen to legalize their GE eucalyptus trees is currently pending [4].

The Campaign to STOP GE Trees is an international alliance of organizations mobilized to protect forests and biodiversity and to support communities threatened by the dangerous release of genetically engineered trees into the environment.

Kip Doyle, Media Coordinator, Campaign to STOP GE Trees: +1.716.931.5833(office), +1.716.867.4080 (mobile), [English]


Suruí leaders confirm in meeting with president of Funai that they no longer want the carbon project on their land

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

By Patrícia Bonilha, 25/02/2015

Twelve leaders of the Paiter Suruí whose Indigenous Territory (IT) Sete de Setembro is located in the state of Rondônia, confirmed at a meeting held in the morning of the 24th of February with the president of the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), Flávio Chiarelli, that they want the Suruí Forest Carbon project to be suspended. The main arguments made by leaders were: serious divisions that have occurred among their peoples; non-fulfillment of promises that life in the communities would improve (while at the same time, they noted, a few families have benefited significantly); the removal of leaders and the centralization of representation of their peoples; and the threats made to several among their peoples who have recently voiced their opposition to the project.

The project signed [a contract] with Brazil’s largest cosmetics company, Natura, in September 2013, which includes carbon credits equivalent to 120,000 tons * [1] of carbon sequestered [in the forests] on the Sete de Setembro indigenous territory. The contract is from 2009 to 2012, for a reported value of R$ 1.2 million, according to press reports [2]. As the first REDD project on indigenous territory, and with international certification, the project won acclaim around the world, in addition to being “sold” as a model project by companies that promote the “green” economy.

However, when the current general chief of the Paiter Suruí, Henrique Iabaday Surui, gave an interview to the September 2014 issue of Porantim newspaper about the severe impacts of this project, another reality was revealed. “The promises were very good: Better quality of life, health, education. Everybody contributed. But soon the conflict started and there was a lack of respect. We are all guilty of accepting this, of signing. But we were deceived and now, we are experiencing the consequences. The suffering is increasing. We regret. This project is not working for us”, explained Jonaton Surui, second chief of the village Linha 14. Then, he said that “if this project continues, there will be deaths, fights, jail. Not only among the Suruí, but among other peoples who are also getting involved with these projects, such as the Arara.”

Speaking in the Suruí language, the elder Joaquim, deputy general chief, reinforced the concerns expressed by his kin, Jonaton and Henrique. “We fell into the trap of a misleading proposal. We’re here to call for the suspension of this project which was also approved by Funai. We are here in front of the president of Funai to call for him to also take responsibility towards us. We do not want this project for our peoples any longer”, he stated emphatically.

In a document delivered to Funai, indigenous peoples from 10 peoples in Rondônia state:
“We demand with urgency the suspension and subsequent cancellation of the carbon project on the Suruí and Cinta Larga indigenous territories and the halting of implementation of any project that involves this kind of exploitation in all indigenous territories in the state of Rondônia and in Brazil. We emphasize the responsibility of FUNAI for the implementation of the Carbon Project on Suruí territory, in the absence of legislation providing for such an initiative.”

After explaining that FUNAI gave approval to the project because they had concluded that the project would benefit the community, and at the insistence of one of the leaders of the peoples, Flávio Chiarelli said that the facts reported by the Suruí leaders present at the meeting were serious and that the agency first needed to better understand what was happening. “This is the first time that the community says that this project is a problem. Once we have heard more [detail], we can refer the case to the attorney to review and, if necessary, bring a lawsuit against it, “he said.
The ongoing struggle for land

After a debate on the need for strengthening of regional Funai coordination and of the agency as a whole, another topic discussed during the morning meeting was the situation regarding the demarcation processes of indigenous territories in the states of Rondônia and Mato Grosso.

The director of ‘Territorial Protection’ at Funai, Aluísio Azanha, after presenting a brief analysis of the difficult political context in which the Funai has been working due to a lack of staff and the curtailment and reduction of financial resources, in addition to the offensive against indigenous rights, provided information on some of these processes. He said that, for example, the Karitiana and Kaxarari indigenous territories were facing legal problems and that in relation to the territories of the Cujubim, Migueleno and Wajoro, it would not be possible to set up working groups this year. Regarding the study in relation to the land of the Puruburá peoples, Azanha confirmed that field work in the area claimed as indigenous territory was expected to take place still in 2015.

In response, representatives of the Puruburá peoples, Antônio and Hosana, urged swift action from Funai in relation to the demarcation of the land and respect for their peoples. “Funai pulled us away from our original territory. We would never have left. The dream of our Elders is to have our land demarcated, but they are dying without seeing this dream come true, having to live in hiding because of the threats that we suffer,” said Hosana Puruburá.

Discussions about the demarcation processes on indigenous territories of the indigenous peoples in Rondônia were held in a meeting in the afternoon. However, already during the meeting in the morning, several leaders expressed their concern about the grave, and unfortunately quite common, invasion of indigenous territories in that state by loggers. A complaint shared by all of the 10 peoples present was related to the feeling of having been abandoned by Funai and a need for the strengthening of this agency in order to be able to provide the support that indigenous peoples need, for example in relation to surveillance and punishment of those who steal wood.


The Suruí and the Carbon Project: For the world to know
24/02/2015. By Egon Heck, Cimi

“We request the immediate suspension of this carbon project, which is killing the Suruí.” This was the call from all chiefs and leaders of the Suruí at a hearing in the auditorium of the Federal Public Ministry that lasted for more than three hours. Deborah Duprat, coordinator of the 6th Chamber, listened carefully and discussed with the delegation of Indigenous Peoples from Rondônia, in an atmosphere of great trust and openness. After a brief presentation, Dr. Deborah expressed her bewilderment about the presence of some security guards in the auditorium. After having enquired who had sent them, she commented: “We never need such presence at our meetings with indigenous people. So I ask you to withdraw.” Despite claiming ‘higher orders’, they withdrew from the room.

“For me, this is perhaps one of the most important activities of our coming to Brasília,” said Antenor Karitiana. In fact, the Federal Public Ministry has become one of the important areas of struggle and guarantor of the rights of indigenous peoples. Even though the operating structure imposes limitations, it is undeniable that indigenous peoples have an important ally in their struggle for constitutional rights in the Federal Public Ministry.

Controversial project, abhorred by the Suruí
Most of the meeting time at the Federal Public Ministry revolved around the controversial Surui Forest Carbon Project which started in 2007. It is considered the first of its kind implemented on indigenous territory in our country. And in the view of the Suruí and the delegation of indigenous peoples from Rondônia, it should be the last. That is at least what they are fighting for, so that a similar deception is not repeated on any other indigenous territory. The general chief of the Suruí, Henrique Iabaday, who was part of the delegation, said the following about the project in an interview published in the September 2014 issue of Porantim: “The Carbon Project on our land is to take the life out of the Suruí Peoples, it will take the happiness from our life, take the right to live off the territory … It’s a bomb to the life of any human being … What happened to the Suruí Peoples is a story for life, and for the world .. . So that no other indigenous [peoples] engage in this type of project on their land … There is no way of expressing what happened to the Suruí. Our peoples are without life. We want the project to be suspended.”

After testimonies from Suruí leaders, Dr. Deborah Duprat shared her reflection: “I want to be very honest with you. We have a very serious problem with the Surui carbon sequestration project. The 6th Chamber advised not to accept the project. The contract was signed, and therefore, continues to be valid. For advancing a legal case, proof is required that what was agreed is not complied with. I can assure you that the Federal Public Ministry will press for a rigorous and thorough evaluation of the project and its consequences in terms of the violence that resulted, the serious conflicts that can lead to deaths and misappropriation of resources, and about who benefits from them. I’ll ask that Funai conduct a detailed assessment on which to base future decisions. What is needed is to analyze and discuss with all of the communities the terms of the contract. We will investigate, and you do your part.” And she made it very clear that: “The Public Ministry will not interfere with the internal matter of the peoples, because those in the best position to prevent this project are you.”

It was evident, after the more than two hours of debate and clarification that the perverse consequences of this type of project should serve as a lesson and strong reminder to prevent the same happening to other indigenous peoples. The important thing is to understand such a project as part of ‘green capitalism’ policies and as neocolonialism. In February 2012, Cimi issued a statement strongly condemning the insistence of implementation of REDD projects on indigenous territories. From the perspective of the rights and vision of these peoples “those projects transform nature into a commodity, gratitude in obligation, the mythical in terms of contracts and well-being in alleged ‘benefits of capital’. It is the commercialization of the sacred and the changing of human relations at the interface with the environment”, and therefore, we “join those who say NO to the financialization of nature, NO to the green economy and NO to the carbon market “(Porantim , September 2014).

War over land and health

The serious situation in relation to [indigenous] land, because of the invasion by large projects and various economic interests, as well as the paralyzed state of advance in recognition of indigenous territories, coupled with initiatives, such as the PEC 215, against indigenous peoples’ rights as enshrined in the Constitution, amounts to a declaration of war by the Brazilian State against indigenous peoples.

Regarding the paralysis [of the demarcation processes], Dr. Deborah pointed out that the Public Prosecution has urged Funai to take steps regarding the demarcation procedures under way and they have been considering adjustments to the process to enable the continuition of the cases. As for the PEC 215, she reported that steps had already been taken in relation to the unconstitutionality of the initiative.

The document submitted to the coordinator of the 6th Chamber further emphasized: “Another major problem we, indigenous peoples of Rondônia and Mato Grosso, face, is the use of pesticides in the surrounding of our territories. This is seriously affecting the health of our people and compromises biodiversity, reducing the fish in our rivers, the hunting in our forests, and it contaminates the water we consume.”

Regarding the health issues raised, the delegation denounced the overall lack of assistance and expressed their opposition to the creation of the INSI (National Institute for Indigenous Health.). Dr. Deborah added: “If the indigenous health is bad already, it will get worse.”

A lógica perversa do capitalismo verde

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014


Para entender como e por que o capitalismo verde avança sobre os territórios indígenas e das populações tradicionais é necessário reconhecer os paradoxos da água. Ou seja, a água é vida e morte, liberdade e escravidão, esperança e opressão, guerra e paz. A água é um bem imensurável, insubstituível e indispensável à vida em nosso planeta, considerada pelo Artigo 225 da Constituição Federal, bem difuso, de uso comum do povo.
Fonte da notícia: Jornal Porantim – Edição Especial “NÃO à Economia “Verde”
“Tudo o que é financeiro, lamentavelmente, é econômico. Mas nem tudo o que é econômico é financeiro”
Por Amyra El Khalili
Nesse sentido, a recente descoberta do que pode ser o maior aquífero de água doce do mundo na região amazônica, o Alter do Chão, que se estende sob os estados do Amazonas, Amapá e Pará, exige atenção e cuidado por parte da sociedade brasileira[i].

O aquífero Alter do Chão, que chega a 86 mil quilômetros cúbicos, possui quase o dobro da capacidade hídrica do Aquífero Guarani, com 45 mil quilômetros cúbicos. Sendo assim, ele atrai, inevitavelmente, a cobiça dos países do hemisfério Norte, que já não têm mais água para o consumo, e pode tornar-se a causa de enfrentamentos geopolíticos. Processo similar acontece no Oriente Médio, com disputas sangrentas pelo petróleo e gás natural.

O controle sobre esta riqueza hídrica depende exclusivamente do controle territorial. As águas são transfronteiriças e avançam sobre os limites entre municípios, estados e países. O recorde histórico da cheia do Rio Madeira neste ano de 2014, que inundou cidades na Bolívia, além das trágicas inundações nos estados de Rondônia e no Acre, é um bom exemplo desta característica das águas.

De modo geral, a água está sendo contaminada com a mineração e com o despejo de efluentes, agrotóxicos e químicos, e poderá ser poluída também com a eminência da exploração de gás de xisto, onde a técnica usada para fraturar a rocha pode contaminar as águas subterrâneas.

Terra à venda

Segundo estimativas de um relatório do projeto Land Matrix, que reúne organizações internacionais focadas na questão agrária, mais de 83,2 milhões de hectares de terra em países em desenvolvimento foram vendidos em grandes transações internacionais desde 2000. Os países economicamente mais vulneráveis da África e da Ásia perderam extensas fatias de terras em transações internacionais nos últimos 10 anos, sendo que a África é o principal alvo das aquisições, seguida da Ásia e da América Latina. Estas compras são estimuladas pelo aumento nos preços das commodities agrícolas e pela escassez de água em alguns dos países compradores, que o fazem para a exploração da agricultura, mineração, madeira e do turismo[ii].

Outros países são alvos desta ofensiva fundiária, como a Indonésia, Filipinas, Malásia, Congo, Etiópia, Sudão e o Brasil, que teve mais de 3,8 milhões de hectares vendidos para estrangeiros somente nos últimos 12 anos. É importante salientar que, até aqui, estamos falando de terras que podem ser adquiridas, em tese, através da compra. Porém, as terras indígenas e de populações tradicionais são terras da União e, não podem ser negociadas e nem alienadas, pois estão protegidas por leis nacionais e internacionais.

Acontece que são justamente estas as terras que estão preservadas e conservadas ambientalmente e são as mais ricas em biodiversidade, água, minério e energia (bens comuns). E, portanto, são nessas áreas que ocorre o avanço desenfreado do capitalismo verde que nada mais é que o velho e desgastado modelo colonialista, extrativista e expansionista neoliberal com uma roupagem atualizada, que visa a apropriação dos bens comuns. Esses bens são definidos como “recursos naturais”, assim como os trabalhadores são considerados pelo sistema como “recursos humanos”. Tudo neste modelo “verde” é usado ilimitadamente e no curto prazo.

Essa concepção utilitarista do “capitalismo verde” já é confrontada com outros modelos de vida, como o Bem Viver, dos povos das florestas, a economia socioambiental, a economia solidária e a agroecologia, dentre outras que estão florescendo.

Para a implementação deste modelo com purpurina verde, algumas leis estão sendo aprovadas com o claro propósito de beneficiar o mercado financeiro. Paralelamente, outras leis são desmanteladas para institucionalizar e legitimar a ocupação de estrangeiros, empresários e banqueiros em territórios latino-americanos e caribenhos, como é o caso dos direitos fundamentais dos povos indígenas, do Código Florestal e dos direitos trabalhistas.

Confundir para se apropriar

Desse modo, contratos unilaterais e perversos são assinados por atores com forças políticas totalmente desiguais, em que confunde-se, propositadamente, “financiar” com “financeirizar”.

Aqui cabe uma elucidativa exemplificação: financiar é, por exemplo, permitir que uma costureira compre uma máquina de costura e consiga pagá-la com o fruto de seu trabalho, tornando-se independente de um empregador para que venha a ser empreendedora.

Já, financeirizar é fazer com que a costureira endivide-se para comprar uma máquina de costura e jamais consiga pagá-la, até que o credor possa tomar a máquina da costureira por inadimplência (não cumprimento do acordo mercantil)

A financeirização faz com que uma parte do acordo, a descapitalizada, fique endividada e tenha que entregar o que ainda possui, como as terras indígenas. E, assim, são desenhados perversos contratos financeiros e mercantis com a finalidade de vincular as terras ricas em bens comuns para que essas garantias fiquem alienadas e à disposição da parte mais forte: a capitalizada.

Nestes termos, as populações indígenas e os povos das florestas deixam de poder usar o que lhes mantém vivos e o que preservam há séculos para as presentes e futuras gerações, as florestas e as águas, para que terceiros possam utilizá-los, além de que estes passam também a controlar seus territórios.

É esta a lógica perversa do capitalismo verde, sustentado pelo argumento de que as florestas “em pé” somente serão viáveis se tiverem valor econômico. O que é uma falácia, pois valor econômico as florestas “em pé” e as águas sempre tiveram. O que não tinham, até então, era valor financeiro, já que não há preço que pague o valor econômico das florestas, dos bens comuns e dos “serviços” que a natureza nos proporciona gratuitamente.

O capitalismo somente avança nas fronteiras que consegue quantificar. Porém, jamais conseguirá se apropriar do que a sociedade puder qualificar.
O bem ambiental é definido pela Constituição como sendo “de uso comum do povo”, ou seja, não é bem de propriedade pública, mas sim de natureza difusa, razão pela qual ninguém pode adotar medidas que impliquem gozar, dispor, fruir do bem ambiental ou destruí-lo. Ao contrário, ao bem ambiental, é somente conferido o direito de usá-lo, garantindo o direito das presentes e futuras gerações.
Somente qualificando o bem comum, ao dar-lhe importância econômica pela garantia da qualidade de vida que nos proporcionam e nos recusando a colocar-lhes preço (financeirizando-o), é que poderemos impedir o avanço desenfreado do capitalismo verde sobre os territórios indígenas e das populações tradicionais.
Não podemos nos omitir nem deixar de nos posicionar em favor daqueles que são os guardiões das florestas e das águas. Se o povo, o proprietário hereditário dos bens comuns, decidir que o ouro, o petróleo e o gás de xisto, dentre outros minérios, devem ficar debaixo do solo para que possamos ter água com segurança hídrica e alimentar, que sua vontade soberana seja cumprida.

Panel finds corporations, United Nations and governments guilty of violating nature’s rights

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

By Indigenous Environmental Network.

Lima, Peru (Dec. 7, 2014)– The International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature judged twelve international and domestic cases; examining the violation of the rights of peoples and nature committed by corporations, The United Nations, and governmental entities. The judgments reference the legal framework of the Rights of Nature and the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. The cases were reviewed on Dec. 5th and 6th in Lima’s Gran Hotel Bolivar.

According to Alberto Acosta, president of the Tribunal and former president of the Constitutional Assembly of Ecuador, the rights of nature must have a universal validity. “This ethical tribunal arises when States fail to fulfill their obligation to preserve the lives of living beings,” said Acosta. “As long as nature is seen as property in law, there can be no justice for communities, the climate or nature.”

Acosta led the 13 judges through 12 cases

The Tribunal was dedicated to Shuar leader, José Tendentza, who was found murdered just days before the Tribunal. Tendentza of Southern Ecuador was scheduled to present the Condor Mine case. Acosta led the 13 judges through 12 cases that were determined by the judges to demonstrate egregious violations to rights of nature and human rights. Cases included:

-False Solutions related to Climate Change and REDD+;
-Peruvian cases: Conga Mine, Bagua Massacre – Defenders of Earth, 4 River Basins of Peru;
-Ecuadorian cases: Condor Mine, Chevron/Texaco, and Yasuni ITT
Brazil: Belo Monte Dam
-USA and Bolivia: Hydraulic fracturing “fracking”
-Oceans: BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, coal mine and other threats to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

Of the cases, the oil exploitation of the Yasuni territory of Ecuador was condemned in addition to the relentless persecution Yasunidos are facing for their dissent. Since 2013, the Ecuadorian government green-lighted oil drilling in Yasuni National Park, one of the most biodiverse areas in the world and home to two indigenous nations in voluntary isolation.

In protest, a group of young Yasunidos joined together to claim the rights of nature, which are guaranteed in the Constitution of Ecuador. They collected more than 800,000 signatures to call for a referendum on the oil exploitation, but their request was rejected by electoral institutions. The Yasunidos are now suing the Ecuadorian government, led by President Rafael Correa, and are waiting for their complaint to be reviewed by the tribunal of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH).

Additionally, the Tribunal for the Rights of Nature found Chevron-Texaco in Ecuador to be guilty of using inappropriate technology and causing irreversible damage to the environment. They determined that the corporation must fully compensate those affected by the environmental impact.

The Peruvian cases of Conga and Bagua were accepted as threats of violation to the rights of nature. An international special commission was appointed to visit the impacted Amazonian basins to collect more information on the contamination.

The case of the mining project in the Cordillera del Condor was found by the Tribunal to be in direct violation of the rights of nature. They determined that mining must be suspended and those affected must be compensated. They urge the state to investigate and punish those responsible for the death of José Tendentza, the prominent social activist that was in opposition to the mining.

A widow of one of the four murdered activists shares her testimony

The Peruvian cases of Conga and Bagua were accepted as threats of violation to the rights of nature. An international special commission was appointed to visit the impacted Amazonian basins to collect more information on the contamination.

Shannon Biggs, director of Movement Rights, shared testimony on the impacts of fracking , a process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. “You cannot do safe fracking,” said Biggs. “This technique should have never been invented. It is one of the most destructive activities against the environment ever seen.”

According to Biggs, 800,000 active oil and gas wells are being fracked in the United States, producing roughly 300,000 natural gas barrels per day. Severe water pollution and earthquakes have been linked with fracking. “We die from fracking. The population is suffering from cancer; my sister has died,” said Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca) of Oklahoma in her testimony. “The water is contaminated; we cannot fish. We are in danger of extinction.”

Plans to develop large-scale hydraulic fracking in Bolivia were reported by Martin Vilela of Platform Climate Reaction. In recent years the country has increased the production and export of natural gas. 82.4% of its production is exported, generating more than six billion dollars a year. Bolivia has 8.23 trillion cubic feet of gas, and YPFB plans to invest over 40 million dollars between 2013 and 2015. Vilela explained that in 2013 this corporation signed an agreement for fracking in the Chaco area, a region with water scarcity to extract 48 trillion cubic feet of shale gas. Estimates determine that this would consume between 112 and 335 billion liters of water.

Nnimmo Bassey, a Nigerian architect, environmental activist presented on the contamination and temperature rise affecting Nigeria. According to Bassey, oil fields and pipelines have caused deep environmental degradation, deforestation, and countless oil spills. Life expectancy in these impacted areas is 44 years.

Bassey warned that climate change will have catastrophic consequences. “For every degree the temperature rises globally, in Africa it will rise an additional 50%.” In 2012 floods in Nigeria led to the relocation of 6 million inhabitants. Bassey speculates that in 2030 Africa violent conflicts will increase by 54% due to the lack of access to natural resources.

At the hearing on “false climate solutions,” geoengineering techniques that seek to manipulate climate without changing the conditions that cause climate change were reviewed.

REDD+ was also put on trial. President of the Huni Kui people of Acre, Brazil, Ninawa Kaxinawá (Hunikui) testified that “REDD is a lie. We do not accept putting nature on market because it is our soul and spirit; it is priceless, it is our voice.”

According to Ruth Nyambura, of the Biodiversity Network Africa, says that in Kenya, evictions are occurring as a result of REDD. “Four indigenous people were arrested,” said Nyambura. “A woman was hit by the forest service because she was outside of her land.”

The Tribunal is calling for a special hearing in Paris in 2015 to coincide with the upcoming UN COP 21 summit.

Carbon Trade Watch Newsletter 2014/1

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

While governmental leaders in Lima meet to trade away the climate, we would like to share some publications and multimedia work published in 2014 by CTW. Some key highlights include: Support for resistance in Brazil against pre-salt offshore oil drilling, research into natural gas and other energy conflicts in Europe, and uncovering further financialisation of nature plans such as biodiversity offsetting, and the new Natural Capital Finance Facility.


The Natural Capital Finance Facility: A window into the green economy
This new publication aims to break down the complexities of emerging “nature” financing by exploring a new pilot facility put forward by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, called the Natural Capital Finance Facility. The authors discover the lack of transparency and power relations behind the NCFF and outline in clear language how natural capital financing functions, where the money comes from, how profits are made and how public funds are leveraged. In addition, the publication explores how funding mechanisms emerge before policy has been decided and links this to REDD+ and the carbon markets. This paper outlines the dangers to this approach and explores what is lost when financial mechanisms are given priority over grant-based projects.
To order

A Tree for a Fish: The (il)logic behind selling biodiversity
Putting a price on ecological systems has been around for several decades, although it was especially heightened during the UN climate negotiations with the introduction of the carbon market, a system which places a monetary value on the carbon-cycle capacity of nature for trade in financial markets. The carbon market quickly became “the only game in town” that policy-makers and multilateral agencies would discuss and implement regarding climate change policy. Following this logic, the 2010 UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) called for “innovative financial mechanisms’” to deal with biodiversity loss, making biodiversity offsets the standard buzzword within conservation debates. At the same time, people have been resisting projects that claim to compensate for biodiversity destruction and continue to demonstrate how this concept fails to address the drivers of environmental and social damage.
To order
En español

Like a Dull Knife: The People’s Climate “Farce” (Quincy Saul, Truthout)

Friday, September 19th, 2014

By Quincy Saul, Truthout

In the lead-up to any large-scale protest, it is useful to bear in mind the potential dangers and drawbacks of such an endeavor. On the eve of what is being advertised as “the biggest climate march in history,” we might reflect on Malcolm X’s experience of the March on Washington, as recounted in the Autobiography of Malcolm X:

“Farce in Washington”, I call it. . . . It was like a movie. . . . For the status-seeker, it was a status symbol. “Were you there?”. . . . It had become an outing, a picnic. . . . What originally was planned to be an angry riptide, one English newspaper aptly described now as “the gentle flood”. . . . there wasn’t a single logistics aspect uncontrolled. . . . They had been told how to arrive, when, where to arrive, where to assemble, when to start marching, the route to march. . . . Yes, I was there. I observed that circus.

Of course, not everyone present concurred with Malcolm X about the March on Washington – and even in a top-down format, one hopes the upcoming march could draw much-needed attention to the climate movement. The question is: At what cost? In this vein, what follows are a few reflections on the buildup to the September 21 People’s Climate March in New York City, to provide some concrete analysis of concrete conditions, and propose some solutions.


The climate justice movement has an expiration date. If the tipping points in the earth system are passed, and the feedback loops begin their vicious cycle, human attempts at mitigation will be futile, and climate justice will become an anachronism – or at worst a slogan for geo-engineering lobbies. Thousands of scientists have come to consensus on this point, and many years ago gave us a deadline: A carbon emissions peak in 2015 followed by rapid and permanent decline.

In other words, we have roughly four months to work for climate justice. The world is literally at stake; all life on earth is at risk. Never has there been a more urgent or comprehensive mandate.

Even the guardians and gatekeepers of the ruling class, from politicians to scientists, are forthcoming on this point. Listen to Al Gore: “I can’t understand why there aren’t rings of young people blocking bulldozers, and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants.” He said that in 2007. It is in this context that we must seek to better understand and analyze the People’s Climate March.

“An Invitation to Change Everything”

The People’s Climate March has a powerful slogan. It has world-class publicity. But the desire to bring the biggest possible number of people to the march has trumped all other considerations. The results are devastating:

No Target: The march is a U-turn through Times Square, beginning at a monument to genocide (Columbus Circle) and ending . . . in the middle of nowhere. Here in New York City where the ruling class of the whole world has made their diverse headquarters, the march will target none of them. The march will not even go near the United Nations, its ostensible symbolic target.

No Timing: The United Nations will convene leading figures from all over the world – several days after the march. The march does not coincide with anything, contemporary or historic.

No Demands: Again, to attract the largest number of people, the march has rallied around the lowest common denominator – in this case, nothing. Not only are there no demands, but there is in fact no content at all to the politics of the march, other than vague concern and nebulous urgency about “the climate,” which is itself undefined.

No Unity: While a large number of people are sure to converge on Columbus Circle on September 21, the only thing they will have in common is the same street. The revolutionary communists will link arms with the Green Zionist Alliance and the Democratic Party, and compete with Times Square billboards for the attention of tourists and the corporate media.What is the binding agent for this sudden and unprecedented unity? Fifty-one years later, the words of Malcolm X still ring true: “the white man’s money.”

No History: Instead of building on the momentum of a decades-old climate justice movement, this march appears to be taking us backwards. Here’s what Ricken Patel of Avaaz, one of the main funders of the march, said to The Guardian: “We in the movement, activists, have failed up until this point to put up a banner and say if you care about this, now is the time, here is the place, let’s come together, to show politicians the political power that is out there on there.”

It is as if the massive mobilizations outside the United Nations meeting in Copenhagen (2009), Cancun (2010) and Durban (2011) never took place, let alone the literally thousands of smaller, more localized actions and gatherings for climate justice. At all of these gatherings, activists convoked the world to demonstrate the power of the people, under banners which were far more radical and transformative than anything we have seen so far for this march.

No Integrity: The invitation to change everything has been permitted and approved by the New York City Police Department. This permit betrays a lack of respect for the people who will be making sacrifices to come all the way to New York City to change the world, and a lack of integrity among those who want to change everything, but seek permission for this change from one of the more obviously brutal guardians of business as usual. This lack of integrity sets up thousands of earnest souls for an onset of depression and cynicism when this march doesn’t change the world. This will in turn be fertile soil for everyone and anyone hawking false solutions.

No target, no demands, no timing, no unity, no history and no integrity amounts to one thing: No politics. The whole will be far less than the sum of its parts. The biggest climate march in history will amount to something less than Al Gore.

In discussions over the past month with a wide range of people – UN diplomats, radical Vermonters, unionists, professors, liberal Democrats, etc. – the same thing has been repeated to me by everyone: “If we get a huge number of people, no one will be able to ignore us.” “The mainstream media will be forced to cover it.”

So what is being billed and organized as The People’s Climate March, and An Invitation to Change Everything, turns out to be a massive photo op. The spectacle of thousands of First World citizens marching for climate justice, while they continue to generate the vast majority of carbon emissions, brings to mind the spectacle of George W. Bush visiting New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

So what are we left with? James Brown knew, when he said: “You’re like a dull knife; Just ain’t cutting. You’re just talking loud; And saying nothing. Just saying nothing. Good luck to you; Just allow you’re wrong. Then keep on singing that; Same old money song . . .”

So What Are We Going to Do About It?

This is not the place to complain, but to propose solutions. If we are unsatisfied with this march and its leadership, we have to provide an alternative. As James Brown knew, we “have to pay the cost to be the boss.” Here are some suggestions for starters:

We are going to stop lying to the people. This is the primary and cardinal rule of revolutionary politics. To invite people to change the world and corral them into cattle pens on a police-escorted parade through the heart of consumer society is astoundingly dishonest. From now on, we will stop lying to people. Climate justice requires nothing less than a global revolution in politics and production; it requires a historic transition to a new model of civilization, which will demand great sacrifice and creativity from everyone.
We are going to stop making demands of anyone or anything but ourselves and each other. The powers that be are deaf, dumb and deadly, and we will waste no further time trying to pressure or persuade them. We are going to stop speaking truth to power and start speaking truth to powerlessness. Either we are going to become the leaders we have been waiting for, starting now, or we are going to resign ourselves to the inevitability of catastrophic climate change and the sixth mass extinction.
We are going to return to the source. This means three things: (A) Return to the common people from the delirious heights of symbolic protest politics, with dedication to concrete local work, to divorce food, water, shelter and energy systems from capital. (B) Return to the livelihood and wisdom of our ancestors, the indigenous peoples of every continent, who have lived for thousands of years in harmony with nature, and who still possess the knowledge and skills to restore balance. (C) Return to the sun – a second Copernican revolution and a heliocentric energy policy. Either we return to a subsistence perspective that has prevailed for the majority of human history, or all future development of productive forces must be based exclusively on solar energy.
We are going to get arrested! The only thing that we can do to meet the deadline for climate justice is to engage in a massive and permanent campaign to shut down the fossil fuel economy. But we have to do this strategically, not in the symbolic cuff-and-stuffs that are a perversion and prostitution of the noble ideals of civil disobedience and revolutionary nonviolence. So we are going to shut down coal plants; we are going to block ports, distribution centers and railway hubs where fossil fuels are transported; whatever it takes to keep the oil in the soil. We’re going to put our bodies between the soil and the sky.So let’s make sure that the call to “Flood Wall Street” on September 22 is the “angry riptide” it should be, and not “the gentle flood.”
We are going to join the rest of the human race. For 200 years too long, citizens of the United States have been parasites and predators on the rest of the world. To prevent climate catastrophe, we are going to leave our imperial hubris behind, and join with the revolutionary ecosocialist uprisings that are sweeping the global South.

Berlin: Aufruf zur gemeinsamen Teilnahme an der Klimademo am Sonntag, 21.9.2014

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Liebe Mitstreiter,
gemeinsam mit Tausenden von Demonstranten in New York, London, Paris und weiteren Städten auf allen Kontinenten wollen wir die Politiker, die am Klimagipfel 2 Tage später teilnehmen, an ihre Verantwortung für diese Welt erinnern! Die Filmaufnahmen dieser Demos werden auf der Konferenz gezeigt werden.

TREFFPUNKTE am 21.9. um 14:30 Uhr
14 Uhr – Alexanderplatz – Fußgänger Demo mit Silent Climate Parade.
14.30 Uhr – Mariannenplatz Kreuzberg – Fahrrad-Demo
16.30 Uhr – Potsdamer Platz/Ebertstraße (Vor ‘Vapiano’) – Kinder- und Familiendemo

All drei Demozüge führen zum MAL SCHNELL DIE WELT RETTEN am Brandenburger Tor.

In Richtung Straße des 17. Juni wird es eine eine Schnippeldisko-Vokü geben, Upcycling-Events und Workshops sowie Infos und Diskussionen mit Umwelt- und Klimagruppen.

Wir sammeln uns an den angegebenen Treffpunkten. Abmarsch Richtung Brandenburger Tor – Ankunft Brandenburger Tor: ca 17 Uhr. Dort beginnt dann eine große Kundgebung mit vielfältigem Programm bis in die späten Abendstunden. Wir sollten dort noch eine Weile beieinander bleiben. Zwischen 17:30 und 18:00 Uhr werden Luftballons auf den Weg nach New York geschickt.

Die Demos sind als Silent Climate Parade konzipiert: das heißt für die Fußgänger TANZEND zum Brandenburger Tor zu ziehen. Die Musik dazu kommt über Kopfhörer, die man sich individuell am Neptunbrunnen bei den Hauptveranstaltern ausleihen kann (Ausgabe ab 13 Uhr, Personalausweis dabei haben!). Abgabe der Kopfhörer ab 17 Uhr am Brandenburger Tor.

Weitere Informationen:
Alle Aktionen auf dieser Demo sind umweltfreundlich, Musik wird über Kopfhörer gehört, auch die Luftballons, die zwischen 17.30 Uhr und 18.00 Uhr am Brandenburger Tor auf den Weg nach New York geschickt werden, sind biologisch abbaubar.

Bitte auch Information in Englisch lesen: Like a Dull Knife: The People’s Climate “Farce” (Quincy Saul, Truthout)Klick hier

Hidrelétricas, crime e tragédia no Rio Madeira: quem é que vai pagar por isso?

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Por Elder Andrade de Paula

Camponeses arriscam suas vidas na tentativa de colher bananas em uma plantação  inundada em Puerto Yumani, departamento de Beni-Bolívia (Fevereiro de 2014) Fonte:

Camponeses arriscam suas vidas na tentativa de colher bananas em uma plantação inundada em Puerto Yumani, departamento de Beni-Bolívia (Fevereiro de 2014) Fonte:

Entre as centenas de imagens que vi até o momento, essa é a que mais impressionou-me nessa mega e inconclusa tragédia no rio Madeira e seu entorno. O olhar e expressão dessa mulher campesina parece-me sintetizar toda a dor e desespero de milhares de pessoas que perderam tudo: moradias, plantações, familiares (só na Bolívia foram registrados mais de 60 pessoas mortas até o momento).

Por essa razão, ao mesmo tempo em que felicito a iniciativa do MPF e MPE de Rondônia em conjunto com OAB-RO, por impetrar ação civil pública solicitando a suspensão das atividades nas usinas hidrelétricas de Jirau e Santo Antônio – até que se refaçam os Estudos de Impactos Ambientais – considero-a insuficiente diante da magnitude desse crime. Isto é, as obras do complexo madeira iniciadas com as construções das usinas de Sto Antônio e Jirau foram executadas a ferro e fogo, transgrediram acintosamente a Constituição e sua regulamentação no que diz respeito aos procedimentos para licenciamento ambiental.

Existe uma vasta documentação destacadamente o PARECER TÉCNICO Nº 014/2007 – COHID/CGENE/DILIC/IBAMA de 21 de março de 2007. Esse documento se tornou mais conhecido pelo seu conteúdo e repercussões políticas: demissão do diretor de Licenciamento do Ibama, Luiz Felippe Kunz Jr e desmonte do IBAMA a partir daquele momento. Ao analisar o conjunto da documentação “Estudo de Impacto Ambiental (EIA), Relatório de Impacto Ambiental (RIMA), Audiências Publicas, vistorias técnicas, reuniões técnicas, documentação apensada ao processo” a equipe técnica do IBAMA expôs em 220 paginas, as insuficiências e omissões dos mesmos.

De acordo com o Parecer, a área a ser alagada poderá ser o dobro daquela projetada nos estudos apresentados. “Em síntese”, conclui o referido Parecer:

i) há notória insuficiência dos estudos e complementações apresentados, fato atestado pelas contribuições de demais órgãos e entidades ao processo, notadamente o Relatório de Análise do Conteúdo dos Estudos de Impacto Ambiental proporcionado pelo Ministerio Publico do Estado de Rondônia;

(ii) as áreas diretamente afetadas e as áreas de influencia direta e indireta são maiores do que as diagnosticadas;

(iii) as vistorias, Audiências Publicas e reuniões realizadas trouxeram maiores subsídios a analise do EIA, demonstrando que os estudos subdimensionam, ou negam, impactos potenciais. Mesmo para assumir um impacto, e preciso conhecê-lo, e a sua magnitude;

(iv) as analises dos impactos identificados demonstraram a fragilidade dos mecanismos e propostas de mitiga coes;

(v) a extensão dos impactos (diretos e indiretos) abrange outras regiões brasileiras e países vizinhos, comprometendo ambiental e economicamente territórios não contemplados no EIA, sendo, desta forma, impossível mensurá-los;

(vi) a nova configuração da área de influencia dos empreendimentos demanda do licenciamento, segundo a determinação presente na Resolução no 237/1997, o estudo dos significativos impactos ambientais de âmbitos regionais. Neste sentido, considerando a real área de abrangência dos projetos e o envolvimento do Peru e da Bolívia, a magnitude desses novos estudos remete a reelaboração do Estudo de Impacto Ambiental e instrumento apropriado a ser definido conjuntamente com esses países impactados. De qualquer forma, e necessária consulta a Procuradoria Geral do IBAMA para o adequado procedimento.

Dado o elevado grau de incerteza envolvido no processo; a identificação de áreas afetadas não contempladas no Estudo; o não dimensionamento de vários impactos com ausência de medidas mitigadoras e de controle ambiental necessárias a garantia do bem-estar das populações e uso sustentável dos recursos naturais; e a necessária observância do Principio da Precaução, a equipe técnica concluiu não ser possível atestar a viabilidade ambiental dos aproveitamentos Hidrelétricos Santo Antônio e Jirau, sendo imperiosa a realização de novo Estudo de Impacto Ambiental, mais abrangente, tanto em território nacional como em territórios transfronteiriços, incluindo a realização de novas audiências publicas. Portanto, recomenda-se a não emissão da Licença Previa ( pg 220-221, grifos nossos).


Ao jogar no lixo esse Parecer Técnico e todas as criticas e advertências emanadas de movimentos sociais como MAB, especialistas e intelectuais comprometidos com a justiça e defesa dos direitos dos povos, o governo Lula praticou conscientemente um duplo crime: de responsabilidade administrativa e ambiental. Por essa razão, tanto o chefe do executivo na época (Lula) quanto os que tiveram responsabilidades diretas no licenciamento das hidrelétricas do rio Madeira tem que ser processados.

Mais ainda, devemos exigir a suspensão imediata da construção de hidrelétricas, de Belo Monte e daquelas projetadas na bacia do rio Tapajós. Está coberto de razão o povo Munduruku ao travar uma luta sem tréguas contra as barragens no Tapajós e precisam mais do que nunca contar com todo nosso apoio, especialmente o de “nosotros”, aproximadamente 2 milhões de pessoas atingidas pela tragédia das hidrelétricas do rio Madeira na Amazônia brasileira, boliviana e peruana. As hidrelétricas, juntamente com mineração, agronegócio, exploração florestal madeireira e financeirização da natureza via Pagamentos por Serviços Ambientais -PSA, formam o eixo básico desse repertório macabro da destruição posta em marcha pelo capital na Amazônia. Ou desobedecemos e lutamos ou seremos tragados por esse “moinho satânico”.

Acre State Law Regarding Payment for Environmental Services Benefits Financial Market

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

By Amyra El Khalili[1] and Arthur Soffiati [2] for

Translation of the original article into English by Leandro Moura.

Acre State Law nº 2,308 of 22 October, 2010, which creates the State System of Incentives for Environmental Services (SISA), the Programme of Incentives for Environmental Services (ISA Carbono) and other Environmental Services and Eco-systemic Product Programmes [1] seems to be a manifestation of the green economy, even before this concept was presented at the Rio+20 conference. If the work of bees as pollinators can be valued and priced, who will receive the money in their name? Nature works without the notion of work and remuneration. Someone will receive it for them. Who will it be? The vulture works daily, whether it is Saturday, Sunday or a holiday. It does so because it is in its nature, not because it needs money. Schemes like SISA and ISA Carbono will make it a lot easier for big business to receive money for what Nature does for free, by valuing and pricing it. Someone will want to receive the money from these services Nature provides for free.

Price formation in the capital markets, specifically on stock and financial exchanges, is determined by three factors: an analysis of fundamentals, which is a study of the current economic setting; a mathematical analysis, which includes calculations of interest rates, time frames and costs; and a graphical analysis, which records the movement of the supply and demand for the object (asset or commodity). Therefore, the complexity involved in price formation demands in-depth knowledge of the object being traded.

In the neoliberal school, in order to shorten the price formation path, “indexes” have been created by elite universities and research institutes. Financial players pay top dollar to these institutions so that with these indicators to hand, they can make decisions (sales and purchases) and turn over contracts on the futures markets at an ever faster pace.

The futures industry, dealing in so-called derivatives, has become the most profitable in recent years, mainly for brokerages and banks, since intermediaries make money on the volume traded, irrespective of the result. In other words, they earn brokerage fees when the customer is making money and also when the customer is losing money.

Over time, it was no longer interesting to earn brokerage fees on sales and purchases for each contract closed. The appetite for speculation and the greed over the advantages of buying and selling quickly, often in seconds, created opportunities for intermediaries (brokers and traders) to profit from the financial game as well; and in general, gambling with other people’s productive work and money, rarely their own.

The financial industry has grown out of proportion with the production of real goods and services; deregulation has advanced, allowing for profits to be made without a system of guarantees in case of losses being incurred; power has become concentrated in the hands of half a dozen banks – also guarantors of deals they themselves offer their customers.

In December 2007, the Bank for International Settlements estimated that the derivatives business was worth US$ 681 trillion – ten times the GDP of all the countries in the world. It is a case of the fox [2] looking after the chicken coop.

We do not know whether those who authored the SISA law know how the financial markets work. What we do know is that the conceptual apparatus used by them is well-known and can lead to mistaken conclusions – like the ones suggested in relation to new laws on so-called ecosystem services.

The article “Duas filosofias de proteção à natureza” [Two nature protection philosophies], by Catherine Larrière, included in the book Filosofia e Natureza: Debates, Embates e Conexões [Philosophy and Nature: Debates, Conflicts and Connections], edited by Antônio Carlos dos Santos (Aracaju: Editora da Universidade Federal de Sergipe, 2008) highlights the importance of differentiating between the concepts of conservation and preservation. They are well-established and of fundamental importance to understanding the relations between human societies (anthropo-societies) and non-human nature.

Preservation means maintaining non-human nature free from human use. Conservation indicates using non-human nature while respecting its limits. In what sense does the law use the concept of preservation? Apparently, as a synonym for protection, a concept that involves preservation and conservation.

Among one group of defenders of non-human nature and the critics of the ecological and environmental movements, the concepts of conservation and of preservation are understood as mutually excluding opposites. A false opposition, for preservation and conservation complement each other. One cannot be a preservationist in a city, nor can one be a conservationist in an extractive reserve.

Proponents of the law also attribute to the Summit of the Peoples [3], a movement in parallel with Rio+20, the inadequate use of ideological analysis, drawing attention to its uninformed ideology. Here, they enter a minefield, a dangerous terrain, since according to one current of thought (Mannheim and Althusser, for example), every human being thinks in an ideological fashion, while classical Marxism understands ideology as the dominant thought that shapes the structure – and hence, the dominant ideology is the ideology of the ruling class. To which of the two meanings of ideology are those questioning the critique of the law referring? From the way the expression is used, it seems like they are outside the realm of ideologies, while the Summit of the Peoples is a prisoner of it.

The authors of the Law maintain that SISA seeks “to make economic and social development compatible with the best environmental preservation practices”. [..] “Making compatible” as in trying to reconcile predatory development, i.e., conventional economic growth, with environmental protection? Historically, since the 1970s, it has been suggested that such reconciliation is provisionally possible. However, when the rope that joins environmental protection and development breaks, development is always prioritised. But different conceptions of development exist. To which development model do the law’s authors refer? The answer to this question soon appears in the text of the Law: sustainable development.

The concept of sustainable development established itself in the 1980s, mainly through the book Our Common Future, which resulted from the Brundtland Commission. It gradually replaced the much clearer concept of eco-development, and became central to the Rio 92 Conference. Over time, its use has become so widespread that it has lost its meaning. Nowadays you hear things like sustainable interest rates, sustainable profits, sustainable income, sustainable growth, sustainable practices and even sustainable body without even a minimum of conceptual rigour. In responding to opinions critical of the SISA Law, its authors do the same. The consequence of such ambiguous use is that, in the case of Sustainable Development, indicators like income and GDP growth are employed. But the production of armaments and related services generate income and contribute to GDP growth. Where is these authors’ pioneering spirit if they use such indicators so uncritically?

Discussing carbon credits is tantamount to returning to the past – or a symptom that we never left it. The carbon market does not tackle the environmental crisis head-on, but seeks to transform it into a source of profits. But the past is also embedded in the present and, likewise, in the future. It suffices to examine the concept of green economy, trumpeted before, during and after Rio+20. What is its content? Nobody knows for sure. What is known is that it is being used by wheeler-dealers to make money from Nature. Just read the book A Economia Verde: Descubra as Oportunidades e os Desafios de uma Nova Era dos Negócios [Strategies for the Green Economy: Opportunities and Challenges in the New World of Business], by Joel Makower (São Paulo: Editora Gente, 2009). The concept of green economy opens the way to the valuing of the air and of photosynthesis, for instance. Producer and product, service provider and service are all lumped together.

It seems we are heading towards a new and more subtle form of slavery. In the slave system, slaves and the goods and services generated by them could be valued. A slave, even with arms crossed, had a price. He or she could be bought and sold, regardless of the goods and services produced by him or her. The new slavery is more akin to what French philosopher Étienne de La Boétie called voluntary servitude. Plants carry out photosynthesis voluntarily to exist, and not because we compel them to. But someone may ascribe to him or herself the right to charge for it, or be granted some government concession to exploit it. Let us leave it there, for the list of modes of undue exploitation is long.

Therefore, the SISA Law opens a dangerous precedent for the fox to look after the chicken coop and to get paid masses of money for doing so [4], as it allows resources to be gathered and then administered by the financial system through the carbon market. It is under the media spotlight, being trumpeted [5] as a model law for the world. While the European carbon market is in the doldrums [6], exacerbated by the 2008 financial crisis, over here preachers sell the carbon market as the path out of the convergence of crises.

It is strange that the authors of Acre’s law regarding payment for environmental services seem to have ignored the lessons that can be drawn from analysing the impact of the pricing of agricultural products on international commodity markets, such as cacao, sugar, coffee, soy beans, maize and beef, among others. One has the feeling that the most basic rules of pricing were not studied, those being the analysis of fundamentals (economic setting), mathematical analysis (interest rates, time frames and costs) and graphical analysis (supply and demand).

One cannot create a viable market artificially, with laws and environmental marketing. The experiences with commodity and derivative markets have taught us that the State’s direct participation in regulation to foment sales creates distortions and stimulates speculation.

When the Central Bank regulated exchange rates on the gold market, there was liquidity because the monetary authority would feed the market by buying and selling gold. When the Central Bank left the gold market, it evaporated. There was no future currency market simply because there were no future currency traders. When the Bank established currency control via the exchange rate band, the future currency market at the old BM&F (now BM&FBovespa) emerged from scratch, and is today the market that sustains, in conjunction with the interest rate market, the impressive financial turnover of BM&FBovespa.

Let the State play its role as a regulatory and enforcement agent of the financial system, let it even be a fomenter, but it should not dabble in “market-making”. If the State struggles to manage to prevent environmental degradation and devastation through enforcement, how can it become a financial agent or, with the best intentions, pass on this role to third parties (the fox)?

Ask BM&FBovespa: why do agricultural commodity markets not advance? Or: why do family farmers of this continent not operate on the Futures Exchange to protect themselves from sudden fluctuations in agricultural commodity prices? Ask the players: why is the national soy bean price set by the Chicago Exchange and not formed considering Brazilian costs?

Ask more questions before making laws “to ascribe value to” and/or “to value” environmental goods. Ask Arabs and Africans: why has water (a scarce good in the Middle East and Africa) never been quoted on stock exchanges? Or: why have Arabs and Northeast Brazilians not yet invented the future water market?

Also, ask members of the RECOs Alliance (Networks of Community Cooperation Without Borders), who are building a new economic model for Latin America and the Caribbean by creating “environmental commodities”, whose reports and public consultations have been signed by 5,000+ professionals from varied disciplines and hundreds of communities over more than a decade: why did we not propose (or, better still, not think up) this SISA Law before?

Maybe because we are not as intelligent as the authors of the SISA Law, to the point of mobilizing the vulture. Concluding, it is worth recalling the poem “O urubu mobilizado” [The mobilized vulture], by João Cabral de Melo Neto:

Durante as secas do sertão, o urubu

de urubu livre, passa a funcionário.

Ele nunca retira, pois prevendo cedo

que lhe mobilizarão a técnica e o tacto,

cala os serviços prestados e diplomas,

que o enquadrariam num melhor salário,

e vai acolitar os empreiteiros da seca,

veterano, mas ainda com zelos de novato:

aviando com eutanásia o morto incerto,

ele, que no civil que o morto claro.

Embora mobilizado, nesse urubu em ação

reponta logo o perfeito profissional.

No ar compenetrado, curvo e secretário,

no todo de guarda-chuva, na unção clerical,

Com que age, embora em posto subalterno:

ele, um convicto profissional liberal.


(1) Acre’s SISA law:
(2) Pagamento por “Serviços Ambientais” e a flexibilização do Código Florestal para um capitalismo “Verde” [Payment for “Environmental Services” and the loosening of the Forest Code towards a “Green” capitalism]. Terra de Direitos, August 2011:

(3) Final Declaration of the Summit of the Peoples at Rio+20

(4) Uma análise crítica da economia verde e da natureza jurídica dos créditos ambientais [A critical analysis of the green economy and of the legal nature of environmental credits]

(5) Acre participa da Conferência de Mudanças Climáticas em Cancún, no México [Acre takes part in the Cancún Conference on Climate Change, in Mexico], 10 December 2010

(6) O Comércio de Carbono: Como funciona e por que é controvertido [Trading carbon: How it works and why it is controversial]. 3 July 2012.

Translation of the original article into English by Leandro Moura.

[1] For further context to this article see also Amyra El Khalili: Lei de pagamento por serviços ambientais do Acre beneficia Mercado Financeiro and response to the article by Virgilio Gibbon: Mira do fogo amigo erra ao criticar Lei de Pagamentos por Serviços Ambientais do Acre and Arthur Soffiati’s article Lei de Pagamento por Serviços Ambientais do Acre joga produtor e produto no mesmo saco

[1] Amyra El Khalili is an economist from São Paulo, author of the e-book Commodities Ambientais em Missão de Paz: Novo Modelo Econômico para a América Latina e o Caribe [Environmental Commodities on a Peace Mission: A New Economic Model for Latin America and the Caribbean]. São Paulo: Nova Consciência, 2009. 271 pages. Access freely on

[2] Arthur Soffiati holds a PhD in Social History with an emphasis on Environmental History from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He is a retired professor from the Fluminense Federal University, and member of its Socio-environmental Studies Centre. He has published ten books, as well as various book chapters, articles in specialized journals and in the weekly press.