Archive for May, 2013

Tell Kickstarter not to allow bioengineered organisms – We have one week to stop them!

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Learn more and Sign the petition here

A synthetically engineered life form designed on a computer by a private biotech company will be sent out into the wild unless we can convince Kickstarter to stop it. It will be the first ever organism produced from Synthetic Biology (extreme genetic engineering) to be deliberately released into the environment and it will be entirely unmonitored and unregulated. It sounds like a bad science fiction plot, but it’s absolutely true.

Kickstarter is a crowdsourced fundraising website with rules preventing people from using it for projects involving drugs, weapons and even sunglasses! But unless they add to these rules, a Kickstarter project to bioengineer a new type of plant will receive over $400,00 of funding on the 7th June – just over a week away- and worryingly over 6000 people who gave more than $40 will be sent bioengineered seeds in the mail to release at will. The engineered plant, a common weed engineered to glow in the dark, will be built using a controversial technology called Synthetic Biology that is so new that apparently no US regulator has the power to stop the spread. At present over 600,000 seeds will be posted to over 6000 random locations – unmonitored and unassessed.

Synthetic Biology is a form of extreme genetic engineering where artificial DNA is engineered into living things to fundamentally change their character. Nobody knows how to asses synthetic organisms for safety and until now governments and companies have refrained from releasing these organisms into the environment because they may threaten the natural world. The UN has called for caution and advisors to the US President says that none of these new organisms should be released into the wild at this time.

Kickstarter was built to help struggling artists, not give corporate biohackers with risky technologies a blank cheque to threaten our ecosystems. Let’s return Kickstarter to its roots and help protect nature against this new threat of Synthetic Biology.

Brazil will sue companies that made forest carbon credit/trading contracts with Indigenous Peoples

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

By Rebecca Sommer

Indigenous Affairs bureau FUNAI stated that contracts for the sale of carbon credits offered by international companies are illegal and jeopardize the use of reservation land by the Indigenous Peoples themselves. Brazil has not yet created any legislation on REDD.

Brazil is preparing to fight international carbon credit negotiators (Carbon Cowboys) in the courts. The Attorney General’s Office (AGU) will bring a lawsuit against contracts that have been already signed between indigenous peoples and companies as well as to prevent any future operations or contracts in the carbon market sector with indigenous peoples in Brazil, on the ground that the negotiators and carbon emssion trading companies acted illegally in Brazil.

To date, at least three contracts considered illegal were identified by the authorities. “The contracts are for the sale of carbon credits, which means these contracts removed the exclusive right of enjoyment and full use of the land from the Indigenous Peoples. The contracts also tried to determine and secure access of unauthorized persons to indigenous lands,” said Flávio Chiarelli, the Federal Prosecutor Specialist with the National Indian Foundation (Funai), an agency that is part of the AGU.

FUNAI says more than 30 indigenous nations (with their legalized indigenous territory “reservation”) have been approached by companies interested in closing  Redd (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation Decrease) contracts with them,  an international mechanism that was created by rich major polluter countries, the World Bank and the UN – that don’t want to reduce (their) emissions at source,  and therefore created a scam to be able to claim by renting trees from southern countries that these would absorb their greenhouse gas emissions back home. However, this market is still voluntary, ie, is not subject to regulation and supervision by an international authority. It is important to note that REDD, the carbon market, carbon credits are a false, criminal NON-solution to climate change.  It is nothing else but an idea of business folks to make money, and an unethical try from states and banks to create the illusion of “we are doing something”, while the Earth needs a real solid and swift reduction of emissions, and not a fake ping pong carbon credit game that does nothing else but claiming to reduce emissions.

Brazil has not yet created a national law to regulate the sector. The recommendation Funai is clear: Funai asks indigenous leaders  not enter into REDD contracts ( to offset with their forests (biomass) carbon emissions through the REDD carbon credit scheme) due to the lack of regulation of REDD in Brazil.

Brasil vai processar empresas que fecharam contratos de carbono com índio

Thursday, May 30th, 2013
NO REDD pencil (created by Rebecca Sommer)

Funai afirma que os contratos de venda de créditos de carbono oferecidos

por empresas internacionais são ilegais e comprometem o uso das reservas pelos próprios indígenas. Brasil não tem legislação para acordos de Redd.

O Brasil se prepara para iniciar uma briga nos tribunais contra negociadores internacionais de créditos de carbono. A Advocacia Geral da União (AGU) vai entrar com uma ação judicial para impedir os efeitos de contratos assinados entre indígenas e empresas que atuam no setor e que teriam agido ilegalmente no Brasil.

Até o momento, pelo menos três contratos considerados ilícitos foram identificados pelas autoridades. “Os contratos são de venda de créditos de carbono e comprometem todo o usufruto [das terras], que é exclusivo dos índios, e garantem acesso de pessoas não autorizadas às terras indígenas”, afirmou o procurador federal Flávio Chiarelli, da Procuradoria Federal

Especializada junto à Fundação Nacional do Índio (Funai), órgão que faz parte da AGU.

A Funai diz que mais de 30 etnias já foram abordadas por empresas interessadas em fechar os chamados acordos de Redd (Redução de Emissões por Diminuição do Desmatamento), um mecanismo internacional criado para ajudar a estabilizar os níveis de emissões de gases estufa. No entanto, esse mercado ainda é voluntário, ou seja, não está submetido à regulação e fiscalização de uma autoridade internacional.

O Brasil ainda não criou uma lei nacional para regulamentar o setor. A recomendação da Funai é clara: ela pede às lideranças indígenas que não firmem contratos de compensação de créditos de carbono devido à falta de regulamentação do Redd no Brasil.

Colombia Signs Land-Use Agreement With Farc Rebels

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Colombia signed an agreement on land use with the nation’s biggest guerrilla group as part of peace talks to end a half-century-long conflict, President Juan Manuel Santos said.

The deal was announced today in Havana, where the government began talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia six months ago. Land is the first issue on a six-point agenda for the negotiations, Santos said in a statement posted on the presidential website.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that land is the first issue on a six-point agenda for the negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Talks with the Marxist guerrilla group aimed at ending Latin America’s longest running civil conflict began in October. Military victories over the group have opened up swathes of countryside for companies to explore for crude, coal and gold, with state-run oil producer Ecopetrol SA (EC) expanding drilling into areas previously under rebel control.

“We truly celebrate this fundamental step in Havana towards a full agreement to put an end to half a century of conflict,” Santos said. “We continue with the process prudently and responsibly.”

The deal with the group known as the FARC covers land rights, farming and investment in infrastructure, housing and water supply, Radio Caracol reported.

The next round of talks will begin June 11, the Bogota-based radio station said, citing comments made during a press conference today in Havana.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Quigley in Lima
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani

Australia Pushes for Far-Reaching Ban on Geoengineering Scheme ‘Ocean Fertilization’

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Australia Pushes for Far-Reaching Ban on Geoengineering Scheme ‘Ocean Fertilization’
‘Ocean fertilization’ does more harm than good, leaders warn

Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer Common Dreams

Australia is working on a legally binding ban on the controversial geoengineering technique known as ocean fertilization, Agence France-Presse reports Wednesday. Image taken on January 27, 2011 shows the sun rising in Indonesia’s Wakatobi archipelago. Australia said it was pushing for a ban Thursday of any commercial use of a pioneering technique to reduce the impacts of climate change by “fertilizing” the world’s oceans with iron, warning of significant risks. (Photo: AFP)Ocean fertilization involves dumping iron into the ocean to fertilize plankton on the ocean floor—which, as the theory goes, would absorb carbon dioxide before it is released into the atmosphere. However, iron dumping has drawn ire from environmentalists around the world, as it has been found to be responsible for “damaging toxic algae blooms, increasing ocean acidification, and depleting oxygen in deep waters,” as The Age reports. The Canadian Government was granted the tongue-in-cheek “Dodo Award” at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2012, for failing to to act when a rogue business team illegally dumped 100 tons of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean about 200 nautical miles west of the islands of Haida Gwaii, one of the world’s most celebrated, diverse ecosystems. As a legally binding ban on the process is yet to be developed, this week Australia joined with South Korea and Nigeria to push through an amendment to an international treaty on dumping-related ocean pollution—the London Protocol—that would legally ban iron dumping until more research is done. “The amendment seeks to put mandatory regulation in place around the practice of ocean fertilization,” said Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke. “Adoption of Australia’s proposed amendment would mean that the 42 parties to the London Protocol would take a precautionary approach while more research is undertaken,” he said. “It prohibits commercial ocean fertilization activities, while allowing for legitimate scientific research to identify potential benefits and ways to safely manage the process.” The amendment will be taken up at a treaty meeting in October.

Uninvited and Unwelcome: First Nation asks Enbridge to Leave Territory Following Botched Consultation

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Gitga’at First Nation reminds Enbridge that Northern Gateway pipeline and oil tanker project is not welcome in Gitga’at territory.

HARTLEY BAY, BRITISH COLUMBIA (May 16, 2013) – The Gitga’at First Nation has instructed Enbridge to leave its territory after the company and a team of oil spill response surveyors showed-up uninvited, during the nation’s annual food harvesting camp, a time of rich cultural activity and knowledge sharing.

Enbridge representatives were instructed to leave Gitga’at council chambers and Gitga’at territory, Wednesday morning, after councillors voiced their displeasure at not being consulted on an Enbridge oil spill response survey.

The dust-up comes on the eve of final oral arguments before the Joint Review Panel, which is reviewing the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

“Despite an ongoing review process, Enbridge has entered our territory and begun project work before their proposed oil tanker and pipeline project has even been approved,” said Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga’at First Nation. “This is disrespectful to the Gitga’at First Nation, the review process, and the people of British Columbia, who oppose oil tankers in our coastal waters.”
“Four years ago when Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel and Northern Gateway President John Carruthers visited Hartley Bay, we treated them respectfully, but informed them in no uncertain terms that their project is not welcome in Gitga’at Territory. We reminded their staff of that today,” said Clifton.

Enbridge signaled its intention to enter Gitga’at territory by sending an after hours fax without proper contact information, less than a week before their arrival, and without prior consultation. The fax also mistakenly included a letter addressed to Chief Councillor Conrad Lewis of the Gitxaala First Nation, which the Gitga’at returned to Enbridge.

“It’s hard to imagine a company screwing-up its relationships with First Nations more than Enbridge has,” said Marven Robinson, Gitga’at Councillor. “This incident shows not only the failure of Enbridge to meaningfully consult, but also indicates an insensitive, scatter-shot approach to dealing with First Nations. We remain resolved to protect our territory and people from this project.”

UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE WILL QUESTION THE UNITED STATES ABOUT INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ SACRED AREAS AND FREE PRIOR AND INFORMED CONSENT

Friday, May 17th, 2013

THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE WILL QUESTION THE UNITED STATES ABOUT INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ SACRED AREAS AND FREE PRIOR AND INFORMED CONSENT IN THEIR UPCOMING REVIEW OF US  COMPLIANCE WITH THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL AND POLICTIAL RIGHTS
 
April 25th, 2013:  The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on December 16, 1966.   It went into legal force on March 23rd, 1976.   The United States of America is one of the 167 countries, called the “State parties”, which have ratified the Covenant.  
 
The ICCPR is legally binding on the State parties.  State parties are required to undergo periodic reviews of their compliance with the Covenant, usually every 4 – 6 years.  The UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) is the Treaty Monitoring Body for the ICCPR.  The HRC conducts periodic reviews of the State parties and makes recommendations to the States about how to improve their compliance and better fulfill their legal obligations under the Covenant.  
 
The HRC consists of 18 members representing all the UN regions.   They are nominated and elected by the State parties to the Covenant.   The HRC members are independent experts (not representatives of their respective countries) and serve in their individual capacities.  For a list of current HRC members see: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/members.htm.
 
Reports submitted by the State parties under review, provisional agendas and other relevant documents for the next session, including submissions by Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples, are posted on the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights website, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/.   Recommendations and concluding observations of the HRC addressing the State parties’ compliance are also posted after the reviews. 
 
During its 107th session ending on March 28th, 2013, the HRC determined the issues which will be the focus of their review of 8 countries at their 109th session from October 14th – November 1st, 2013.  The United States will be reviewed at that time.   The list of issues for the US review is posted on the HRC web page, under 107th session, information on the US.      
 
In December 2012, the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) and the United Confederation of Taino People, with input from Indigenous Peoples, Nations and organizations in California, Hawaii, Alaska and New Mexico, submitted two proposals for issues to be addressed during the US review.  These focused on Article 1 of the Covenant addressing Self-Determination and Articles 18 and 27 addressing Language, Culture and Freedom of Religion for “minorities” and highlighted the relevant provisions in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Note:  as a UN Standard drafted in the 1960’s the term “Indigenous Peoples” was not used in the Covenant, however the HRC now uses this term).  
 
The HRC accepted the recommendations submitted by IITC et al pertaining to Article 27 of the ICCPR, and has drafted questions for response by the US and Indigenous Peoples as follows:
 
27.                Please provide information on measures taken to guarantee the protection of Indigenous Sacred Areas, as well as to ensure that indigenous peoples are consulted and that their free, prior and informed consent is obtained regarding matters that directly affect their interests. Please provide information on steps taken to implement Executive Order 13175 on Consultation and Coordination with Tribal Governments.  
 
The HRC will accept alternative or “shadow” reports with information in response to these questions and related concerns from Indigenous Peoples, Nations, Tribes and organizations as well as from Civil Society.  The alternative reports are due by September 1st for the October session.  The HRC requests information that is “as specific, reliable and objective as possible”, identifying the submitting non-governmental organization (NGO) or Peoples.  Anonymous information is not accepted.  Check the HRC web page on for additional information and guidelines on submissions by NGO’s and Indigenous Peoples.    
 
IITC plans to co-coordinate submission of a joint Indigenous Peoples “shadow report” on threats to Indigenous Peoples sacred areas, cultural rights, the right to Free Prior and Informed Consent and other relevant concerns for the US review.  On request, we will provide technical assistance and information to Indigenous Peoples and organizations who want to submit their information and issues as part of the IITC joint shadow report or on their own. 
 
As a reminder, we are also preparing for the periodic review of the US by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Treaty monitoring Body for the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  The CERD will review the US again in early 2014, and we are beginning to work on those submissions as well.   Contact IITC for information on that process, which will also address the protection of Indigenous Peoples Sacred Areas and Cultural Rights, Treaty rights, Environmental Racism and a number of other issues.  IITC has an on-line handbook on using the CERD including its urgent action process which we will provide upon request.    
 
If you are interested in receiving more information, scheduling a presentation or training, or contributing to the joint Indigenous Peoples shadow report for the HRC focusing on sacred areas, cultural rights and Free Prior and Informed Consent please contact:
 
IITC Legal Counsel Danika Littlechild email 
Consulting Attorney June L. Lorenzo (Southwest Sacred Areas) email
IITC Executive Director Andrea Carmen email    
 
IITC looks forward to working with you on this important opportunity to address issues of vital importance to Indigenous Peoples and to participate in an international process to hold the US accountable to their human rights obligations.
                                                                                                  
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Earth Peoples contre l’introduction de la compensation “forêts” dans le marché carbone californien

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Contre l’introduction de la compensation “forêts” dans le marché carbone californien

Monsieur le Gouverneur Brown,

Nous vous écrivons pour vous exhorter de ne pas inclure le mécanismes de compensations internationales REDD + (Réduction des émissions dues à la déforestation et à la dégradation des forêts) dans le marché carbone en Californie. Les systèmes de marché carbone n’ont pas réussi à réduire les émissions alors que les projets de compensation ont constamment ignoré les droits des communautés locales et sont intrinsèquement viciés. Les organisations soussignées envoient cette lettre pour alerter contre l’inclusion de crédits REDD + qui ne manqueront pas d’aggraver les conflits environnementaux et sociaux.

Les premières tentatives pour inclure les forêts dans les marchés carbone soutenus par l’ONU ont conduit à d’importants débats techniques. Les crédits forêts internationaux REDD + ont été jusqu’à présent rejetés dans les négociations climatiques de l’ONU et exclus du marché carbone européen de l’Union européenne (EU ETS) pour de bonnes raisons. Des problèmes techniques non résolus, y compris l’additionnalité (qui prouve que la zone forestière n’aurait pas été protégée sans), les ‘fuites’ (les destructeurs de la forêt passant à un autre domaine), la permanence (les arbres ne stockent pas le carbone en permanence), la mesure (très complexe et incertaine car elle repose sur la diversité des variables biologiques) et la temporalité (les émissions et les absorptions peuvent encore survenir plusieurs années après qu’un projet arrive à terme). Outre ces incertitudes techniquesles causes sous-jacentes de la déforestationrestent largement ignorées tandis que la responsabilité de réduire les émissions à la source est édulcorée.

En raison de ces problèmes, introduire les mécanismes internationaux de compensations forêt dans le cadre du marché carbone en Californie augmenterait probablement les émissions de gaz à effet de serre (GES) relatives aux objectifs AB32 plutôt que de les diminuer, puisque les industries polluantes achètent des droits pour accroître leurs émissions. Cela reviendrait àexposer les communautés à faible revenu qui vivent à proximité des installations industrielles en Californie à des problèmes environnementaux et de santé encore plus importants. Alors que de nombreux peuples autochtones et des communautés tributaires des forêts qui vivent dans le Sud ont très peu de titres officiels sécurisant pour leurs terres, REDD + va alimenter la spéculation, augmenter la pression sur les droits fonciers et déposséder les populations locales. Ces risques sont aggravés par l’inclusion de la monoculture dans la définition standard des Nations Unies de ce que constitue une forêt.

Les forêts riches en biodiversité ont une signification unique pour ceux qui y vivent et en dépendent pour leur subsistance et leur survie culturelle. Les projets REDD+ font peser de graves préoccupations en termes de violations des droits humains et environnementaux et ont conduit à ce que des peuples autochtones et des communautés locales dans le Chiapas (Mexique) et dans la région Acre (Brésil) s’y opposent (ce sont les deux régions où les pollueurs de la Californie achèteraient ces crédits internationaux). Réduire les forêts à de seuls puits de carbone fait courrir d’énormes dangers. Les luttes pour la terre s’intensifient à mesure que les droits sur les terres sont séparés des droits d’accès et d’usage d’autres éléments de la nature.


Le gouvernement du Chiapas au Mexique, promeut par exemple un projet REDD + pilote dans la forêt tropicale Lacandon sur plus de sept réserves naturelles. Afin d’être «prêt pour REDD +», le gouvernement doit prouver que les zones à partir desquelles des certificats de carbone seraient générés sont sous une protection environnementale. A cet effet, la Commission nationale adéjà déplacé plusieurs communautés locales en utilisant des expulsions forcées et des pressions économiques en dépit de fortes résistances.

En outre, l’expansion des monocultures d’agrocarburants est une autre raison de l’empressement du gouvernement du Chiapas. Un programme d’Etat, intitulé “Reconversion productive de l’agriculture», finance les communautés locales de la jungle Lacandon pour planter des palmiers africains et de plants de jatropha pour les agrocarburants qui sont envahissants, qui détruisent les forêts locales et créent des dépendances économiques qui écrasent l’autonomie locale. Le Chiapas est l’État au Mexique avec la plus grande zone de plantation de palmiers, situés sur les bords de zones naturelles protégées, et ces monocultures utilisent de grandes quantités de pesticides qui polluent les sols et l’eau et nuisent gravement à la santé des populations locales. Une fois de plus: les plantations ne sont pas des forêts!

La Californie devrait appliquer des politiques qui s’attaquent aux causes profondes de la déforestation et du changement climatique afin d’entamer une transition vers une ère post-fossile. Les politiques fondées sur la justice sociale et environnementale doivent garantir que les pollueurs soient tenus responsables de leurs émissions de GES et de la destruction de l’environnement, tout en faisant en sorte qu’elles bénéficient aux communautés vulnérables et à faible revenu. Nous vous demandons de maintenir le système international REDD + hors du marché carbone californien. En outre, nous vous recommandons respectueusement de regarder attentivement la façon dont le marché carbone européen a échoué, comme une préfiguration de ce qui pourrait advenir marché carbone en Californie. Commercer les émissions de carbone n’est PAS une solution au changement climatique.

Cordialement,

Aliança RECOs – Redes de Cooperação Comunitária Sem Fronteiras (Brazil)

Movimento Mulheres pela P@Z! (Brazil)

ITEREI

Friends of the Earth International

Centro de referência do movimento da cidadania pelas águas florestas e montanhas Iguassu ITEREI

Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD)

Terræ Organização da Sociedade Civil (Brazil)

Carbon Trade Watch

FERN

Common

Attac France

The Corner House

Centre for Civil Society Environmental Justice Project (Durban, South Africa)

Earth Peoples

World Bank rethinks stance on large-scale hydropower projects

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Despite their disruption, can dams help the organisation work towards ending poverty while keeping carbon emissions down?

* Howard Schneider for the Washington Post
*
Guardian Weekly, Tuesday 14 May 2013

The World Bank is making a major push to develop large-scale hydropower, something it had all but abandoned a decade ago but now sees as crucial to resolving the tension between economic development and the drive to tame carbon use.

Major hydropower projects in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Nepal and elsewhere  all of a scale dubbed “transformational” to the regions involved  are part of the bank’s fundraising drive among wealthy nations. Bank lending for hydropower has scaled up in recent years, and officials expect the trend to continue.

Such projects were shunned in the 1990s, in part because they can be disruptive to communities and ecosystems. But the World Bank is opening the taps for dams and related infrastructure as its president, Jim Yong Kim, tries to resolve a quandary at the bank’s core: how to eliminate poverty while adding as little as possible to carbon emissions.

“Large hydro is a very big part of the solution for Africa and south Asia and south-east Asia … I fundamentally believe we have to be involved,” said Rachel Kyte, the bank’s vice-president for sustainable development and an influential voice among Kim’s top staff members. The earlier move out of hydro “was the wrong message … That was then. This is now. We are back.”

Indigenous Himba protest against Orokawe dam and human rights violations, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

Indigenous Himba protest against Orokawe dam and human rights violations, 2013 (Photo © Earth Peoples)

It is a controversial stance. The bank backed out of large-scale hydropower because of the steep trade-offs involved. Big dams produce lots of cheap, clean electricity, but they often uproot villages and destroy the livelihoods of the people the institution is supposed to help. A 2009 World Bank review of hydropower noted the “overwhelming environmental and social risks” that had to be addressed but also concluded that Africa and Asia’s vast and largely undeveloped hydropower potential was key to providing dependable electricity to the hundreds of millions of people who remain without it.

“What’s the one issue that’s holding back development in the poorest countries? It’s energy. There’s just no question,” Kim said in an interview.

Advocacy groups remain sceptical, arguing that large projects, such as Congo’s long-debated network of dams around Inga Falls, may be of more benefit to mining companies or industries in neighbouring countries than poor communities.

“It is the old idea of a silver bullet that can modernise whole economies,” said Peter Bosshard, policy director of International Rivers, a group that has organised opposition to the bank’s evolving hydro policy and argued for smaller projects designed around communities rather than mega-dams meant to export power throughout a region.

“Turning back to hydro is being anything but a progressive climate bank,” said Justin Guay, a Sierra Club spokesman on climate and energy issues. “There needs to be a clear shift from large, centralised projects.”

The major nations that support the World Bank, however, have been pushing it to identify such projects  complex undertakings that might happen only if an international organisation is involved in sorting out the financing, overseeing the performance and navigating the politics.

The move toward big hydro comes amid Kim’s stark warning that global warming will leave the next generation with an “unrecognisable planet”. That dire prediction, however, has left him struggling for how best to respond and frustrated by some of the bank’s inherent limitations.

In his speeches, Kim talks passionately about the bank’s ability to “catalyse” and “leverage” the world to action by mobilising money and ideas, and he says he is hunting for ideas “equal to the challenge” of curbing carbon use. He has criticised the “small bore” thinking he says has hobbled progress on the issue.

However, the bank remains in the business of financing traditional fossil-fuel plants, including those that use the dirtiest form of coal, as well as cleaner but carbon-based natural gas infrastructures.

Among the projects likely to cross Kim’s desk in coming months, for example, is a 600-MW power plant in Kosovo that would be fired by lignite coal, the bottom of the barrel when it comes to carbon emissions.

The plant has strong backing from the United States, the World Bank’s major shareholder. It also meshes with one of the bank’s other long-standing imperatives: give countries what they ask for. The institution has 188 members to keep happy and can go only so far in trying to impose its judgment over that of local officials. Kim, who in his younger days demonstrated against World Bank-enforced “orthodoxy” in economic policy, now may be hard-pressed to enforce an energy orthodoxy of his own.

Kosovo’s domestic supplies of lignite are ample enough to free the country from imported fuel. Kim said there is little question Kosovo needs more electricity, and the new plant will allow an older, more polluting facility to be shut down.

“I would just love to never sign a coal project,” Kim said. “We understand it is much, much dirtier, but … we have 188 members … We have to be fair in balancing the needs of poor countries … with this other bigger goal of tackling climate change.”

The bank is working on other ideas. Kim said he is considering how the bank might get involved in creating a more effective world market for carbon, allowing countries that invest in renewable energy or “climate friendly” agriculture to be paid for their carbon savings by industries that need to use fossil fuels. Existing carbon markets have been plagued with volatile pricing  Europe’s cost of carbon has basically collapsed  or rules that prevent carbon trading with developing countries.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to establish a stable price of carbon,” Kim said. “Everybody knows that.”

He has also staked hope for climate progress on developments in agriculture.

Hydropower projects, however, seem notably inside what Kim says is the bank’s sweet spot  complex, high-impact, green and requiring the sort of joint public and private financing Kim says the bank can attract.

The massive hydropower potential of the Congo river, estimated at about 40,000MW, is such a target. Its development is on a list of top world infrastructure priorities prepared by the World Bank and other development agencies for the Group of 20 major economic powers.

Two smaller dams on the river have been plagued by poor performance and are being rehabilitated with World Bank assistance. A third being planned would represent a quantum jump  a 4,800MW, $12bn giant that would move an entire region off carbon-based electricity.

The African Development Bank has begun negotiations over the financing, and the World Bank is ready to step in with tens of millions of dollars in technical-planning help.

“In an ideal world, we start building in 2016. By 2020, we switch on the lights,” said Hela Cheikhrouhou, energy and environment director for the African Development Bank.

It is the sort of project that the World Bank had stayed away from for many years  not least because of instability in the country. But as the country tries to move beyond its civil war and the region intensifies its quest for the power to fuel economic growth, the bank seems ready to move. Kim will visit Congo this month for a discussion about development in fragile and war-torn states.

Kyte, the World Bank vice president, said the Inga project will be high on the agenda.

“People have been looking at the Inga dam for as long as I have been in the development business,” she said. “The question is: Did the stars align? Did you have a government in place? Did people want to do it? Are there investors interested? Do you have the ability to do the technical work? The stars are aligned now. Let’s go.”

Peru deputy minister resigns as Humala rolls back indigenous law

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

LIMA, May 4 (Reuters) – A key Peruvian official tasked with implementing a law to give indigenous groups more rights has resigned to protest efforts by President Ollanta Humala’s cabinet to roll back the law to protect mining investments.

Deputy Culture Minister Ivan Lanegra, who confirmed his resignation on Saturday on Twitter, was upset the government decided to exclude Quechua-speaking communities in the mineral-rich Andes from being covered by Peru’s “prior consultation law,” a number of sources told Reuters.

That law gives indigenous communities the right to shape natural resource developments that affect them, but does not allow them to veto projects.

Still, mining companies in one of the world’s top minerals exporters were worried the law would slow new projects by making community approvals more difficult.

Reuters reported in an exclusive on May 1 that Mines and Energy Minister Jorge Merino had persuaded Humala to keep Quechua communities from being covered by the law, because Merino feared its broad application in the Andes would hold up a $50 billion pipeline of mining investments.

Foreign investment in mining has traditionally powered Peru’s fast-growing economy.

Merino has argued that Quechua communities in the Andes are not “indigenous” but instead “peasant” because they mixed with Spanish colonizers centuries ago, often have formal town assemblies, and are less isolated than Amazon tribes.

Humala has made comments echoing Merino’s position.

It is unclear whether Lanegra’s resignation will further delay the application of the law in the Amazon, where it is still expected to cover tribes near Peru’s oil and gas reserves.

“I am grateful for the honor to have served my country and led such a challenging process that has only seen its first chapter,” Lanegra said on Twitter.

Humala had touted the prior consultation law as a salve to widespread and sometimes violent conflicts over mining and energy projects in Peru. Many communities have organized to hold up projects that they say could reduce scarce water supplies, cause pollution or fail to generate sufficient jobs and tax revenues.

When he signed the law in 2011, Humala listed the Quechua as one of the indigenous groups that would be covered by the law to “build a great republic that respects all its nationalities.” (Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Terry Wade and Vicki Allen)