Folklore, History & the Study of Myth

The Writings of Gary R. Varner

Responsible Governance and Sustainability


Monday, April 28, 2014


          Sustainability Linked to Responsible Governance


State of the World 2014 
calls for bottom-up pressure and greater government accountability 

Washington, D.C.---Citizens who expect their governments to lead on sustainability have been badly disappointed in recent years. From largely ineffectual international climate conferences to the failure to pass meaningful U.S. climate legislation, governments' progress has often been lackluster. Leadership has come from the bottom up rather than the top down. Action on climate change, species loss, inequity, and other crises is being driven by citizens', women's, and grassroots movements around the world, often in opposition to the agendas pursued by governments and big corporations.


State of the World 2014, which marks the Worldwatch Institute's 40th anniversary, examines what Governing for Sustainability really means. Contributing authorshighlight the responsibility of political and economic actors to achieve sustainability, emphasizing the strength of citizens to make significant sustainability changes and showing why effective governance systems need to be inclusive and participatory, allowing members to have a voice in the collective decision making.


"Governments today cannot consistently control themselves because they are decimated by a plague of corruption that devours the public interest in virtually every political system," says David Orr, Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College and State of the World 2014 contributing author. "Effective government, in its various forms, will require an alert, informed, ecologically literate, thoughtful, and empathic citizenry."


In this edition, contributing authors examine the potential for improving governance by analyzing a variety of trends, such as local and regional climate initiatives, energy democracy, and corporate responsibility. They argue that sustainability depends on action in both the economic and political spheres. Financial industries need to serve as public stewards again. Unions can help ensure that the transition to sustainability is socially just. Most importantly, citizens must take responsibility and empower themselves.


"Ultimately, it seems to us, all governance begins with individuals in communities. Humans are no more isolated actors in politics than they are the independent molecules of mainstream economic theory," says State of the World 2014 co-director Tom Prugh.


"Pressure to improve governance, at every level, can come only from awakened individuals, acting together, dedicated to making their communities sustainable places," adds State of the World 2014 co-director Michael Renner. "From there, it may be possible to build communities in a way that affords every person on Earth a safe and fulfilling place to live, and offers future generations the same prospect."


State of the World 2014's findings are being disseminated to a wide range of stakeholders, including government ministries, community networks, business leaders, and the nongovernmental environmental and development communities. For more information on the project, visit




Greenhouse Gas Emissions at Record High


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Contact: Supriya Kumar,

For more information:

 Record High for Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions


New Worldwatch Institute report critically examines

global greenhouse gas emissions

Washington, D.C.----The disappointing climate conference in Warsaw, Poland-which was intended to lay the groundwork for a global climate agreement in 2015-stands in sharp contrast to the continued growth in emissions of greenhouse gases. Negotiators and activists alike confront not only the fact that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reached the highest annual total to date, but also a shifting geographic distribution of emissions. The international community must take swift action, concludes a new Vital Signs Online trend released by the Worldwatch Institute (  


According to the Global Carbon Project, CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production reached 9.7 gigatons of carbon (GtC) in 2012, with a ±5 percent uncertainty range, and may reach 9.9 GtC in 2013. The 2012 value is 58 percent higher than emissions in 1990, the year often used as a benchmark for emissions trends. Coal (43 percent) and oil (33 percent) accounted for the majority of these emissions, with natural gas (18 percent), cement production (5 percent), and flaring (1 percent) making up the remainder.


Recent U.S. government and World Bank moves to limit international financing for new coal projects signal a desire to shift away from this particularly carbon-intensive resource. For now, however, coal remains a major driver of CO2 emissions, accounting for 54 percent of the emissions increase in 2012. Coal use is rising in countries currently undergoing energy sector transitions. Coal-related emissions increased in Germany (4.2 percent) and Japan (5.6 percent)-both of which are phasing out nuclear power plants. Oil, gas, and cement accounted for 18 percent, 21 percent, and 6 percent of the global increase in 2012 respectively.


Although CO2 is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities, it is not the only one with significant warming effects. Other major long-lived greenhouse gases include methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Each gas's contribution to climate change depends on such factors as the length of time it remains in the atmosphere, how strongly it absorbs energy, and its atmospheric concentration.


Fossil fuel combustion, together with deforestation and land use change, has pushed the mean atmospheric concentration of CO2 to approximately 393.9 parts per million (ppm) in 2012, an increase of more than 40 percent since 1750 and of 24 percent since the Scripps Institution of Oceanography began keeping detailed records in 1959. Scientists have suggested that the CO2 concentration will need to be reduced to at least 350 ppm if we hope to maintain a climate similar to that which has supported human civilization to date. Atmospheric CO2 concentration increased by 2.2 ppm in 2012 alone, exceeding the average annual increase over the past 10 years. And the Scripps Institution's measurements indicate an average of 396.2 ppm for the period of January to September 2013, implying an even greater increase this year.


Although the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed in 2010 that the increase in average global temperature since the pre-industrial period must be kept below 2 degrees Celsius, many projections now put the climate on track for warming that is significantly above that. The Global Carbon Project foresees a "likely" increase in temperature of 3.2-5.4 degrees Celsius. A World Bank report projects an approximate 20 percent likelihood of exceeding a 4 degrees Celsius increase by 2100 if current mitigation commitments and pledges are not fully implemented.


Emissions data also highlight the shifting geographical and historical complexity that makes international negotiations so contentious. The global distribution of emissions in 2012 looked very different than it did in 1990, when the Kyoto Protocol was established. At that time, industrial countries accounted for 62 percent of emissions; by 2012, that figure had dropped to 37 percent, reflecting rapid industrialization and development in emerging economies and shifting patterns in production and consumption.


Additionally, although international climate negotiations have focused traditionally on the role and responsibility of nation states, new analyses point to the significant role of corporate entities in emitting greenhouse gases. According to painstaking work by Richard Heede of the Climate Accountability Institute, investor-owned corporations have been responsible for 21.7 percent of CO2 and CH4 fossil fuel and cement emissions since 1750, with state-owned corporations responsible for an additional 19.8 percent, highlighting potential new ways to frame responsibility for climate mitigation.


As climate negotiators, experts, and activists leave Warsaw and gear up to work on forging a global deal in Paris in 2015, they will have to grapple with these changing complexities.


Further highlights from the report:

  • CH4 is the third most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, after CO2 and water vapor, on a per molecule basis. Although atmospheric CH4 levels declined during 1983-99 and remained relatively constant during 1999-2006, they have been increasing since 2007.
  • China's emissions rose by 5.9 percent in 2012, an increase that accounted for 71 percent of that year's global increase. The United States and Australia, although both still major emitters, experienced reductions of 0.05 percent and 11.6 percent respectively.
  • In 2012, the top four emitters of CO2 were China (2,626 million tons of carbon, or MtC), the United States (1,397 MtC), India (611 MtC), and the Russian Federation (492 MtC). 

Climate Change and Expansion of Biomass Industries


For immediate release - 6 December 2012

UK alleges it will address drivers of climate change - but aims to subsidise a massive expansion of wood-based biomass industry

Doha, Qatar - As negotiations failed to finalise an agreement on a controversial forest policy called REDD+ [1] during the ongoing UN Framework Convention on Climate Change talks in Doha, Qatar [2], forest groups published a letter challenging claims that the drivers of forest change are being addressed by countries within the REDD+ negotiations.

Negotiations on REDD+ turned sour in Doha as developing countries realised they can expect very little funding for this highly controversial forest scheme over the coming years. "The REDD honeymoon is obviously over" states Simone Lovera, executive director of the Global Forest Coalition, who followed the talks.

Furthermore, at the same time that REDD+ is being promoted within the UNFCCC to supposedly protect forest carbon, there is a massive expansion of the biomass industry underway, which will generate increased international trade in wood. This is being actively supported by governments such as that of the UK, and will dwarf any attempts made to protect forests within the UNFCCC.

Last week, the UK presented a 'new' forest-related funding scheme, which supposedly aims to address the drivers of forest loss [3]. The £300 million funding refered to, however, is not new funding, but money already pledged under existing schemes [4]. In addition, these funds will not stop deforestation or forest degradation: the UK government appears to be unable to see past false private sector greenwashing schemes, like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil [5], which promotes the continued expansion of commodity production and industrial plantations. Certification schemes such as this do not address the real drivers of deforestation. In addition they do nothing to prevent conflict over forest land with indigenous peoples or address the massive carbon emissions generated by peatland destruction for oil palm plantations [6].

At the same time energy companies such as RWE, Drax and E.On - all of whom are converting coal-fired power station capacity in the UK, to create the world's largest wood-burning biomass power stations - are massively increasing imports of wood pellets.

In a public letter released today [7], the Global Forest Coalition [8] reveals that Europe's single biggest carbon emitter [9], energy giant RWE, plans to increase pellet production for their power stations in the UK and elsewhere in Europe from 3 million to 6 million tonnes a year - with each tonne of pellets requiring 2 tonnes of fresh wood. One-fifth of wood pellets produced globally are now burned in RWE power stations. Global Forest Coalition is calling on RWE, to cease all investments in biomass and drop its false greenwash claims about wood-based bioenergy.

This massive and escalating increase in demand for wood for bioenergy, which is forecast to attract a total of around £3 billion in subsidies in the UK in the future [10] will lead to the acceleration of forest destruction in the southern US and British Columbia especially [11], the main regions from which RWE is currently sourcing its pellets [12].

RWE's actions also demonstrate the dubious role commodity certification schemes are likely to play in allowing further forest destruction. As the letter to RWE explains, RWE's own sustainability label - the Green Gold Label - is not an independent certification scheme, but is in fact closely connected to RWE.

Similarly, in the US, in Columbus, Mississipi, KiOR has spent more than US$200 million on a plant that is supposed to mix shredded wood waste with a patented catalyst, powdered to talcum-like consistency [13], ignoring the health impacts [14] of this biomass-based process. GFC's North American focal point Anne Petermann of the Global Justice Ecology Project and the STOP GE Trees Campaign [15] adds:

"Expansion of wood-based bioenergy will lead to further destruction of biodiverse native forests in the US South and elsewhere as they are replaced with monoculture tree plantations. This could even include highly destructive genetically engineered tree plantations if they are legalized. Any scheme to address climate change that advances the conversion of carbon-rich forests to carbon-poor plantations is absurd and bound to fail."

As an alternative to REDD, GFC strongly supports holistic, non-market based and non-private sector driven approaches to rights-based forest conservation for climate change mitigation and adaptation purposes, as proposed by countries like Bolivia and Indigenous Peoples' themselves. European countries, and especially the UK, need to review the ways in which they aim to address the drivers of forest loss: their escalating demand for wood including for energy constitutes one of the biggest pressures driving forest loss around the world.


Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch: +44-131 623 2600

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project: +1 802 578 0477



[1] Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in Developing Countries. For more information about REDD+ see:

[2] UNFCCC's 18th Conference of the Parties, Doha, Qatar, 26 November-7 December 2012.


[4] See: (especially footnotes 3-5)

[5] The UK government's support for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is outlined here: However, certification does address the underlying drivers of deforestation as explained here:

[6] For an overview of the UK's involvement in the biomass trade, and the impacts of that trade on Indigenous Peoples and forests, see Sustainable Biomass: the Modern Myth, Biofuelwatch, September 2012,

[7] The letter from Global Forest Coalition to RWE can be downloaded at:

[8] Global Forest Coalition is a coalition of 54 NGOs and Indigenous Peoples' organisations from 39 countries, striving for rights-based, socially just forest policies. See:


[10] This figure is based on projected futue biomass capacity in the UK (see and government proposals for long-term biomass subsidies (see

[11] Reports from Dogwood Alliance and Greenpeace Canada have published evidence showing that demand for industrial biomass is already significantly increasing pressures on forests in both regions.

[12] RWE has been investing in new-build biomass power stations and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants in the UK, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands and countries like Brazil, Central and West Africa are seen as important future suppliers.

[13] Fuel From Waste, Poised at a Milestone:

[14] Health Impacts of Pollution from Biomass Incinerators:


NRDC Report Reveals 29 States Unprepared for Growing Water Threats to Economy, Health


Press Contacts: Jackie Wei, (212) 727-4569,; and Leslie Anderson Maloy, (703) 276-3256,

NRDC Report Reveals 29 States Unprepared for Growing Water Threats to Economy, Health

First-of-its-kind state-by-state analysis examines climate preparedness levels in all 50 states, revealing nation’s best and worst; CA, CO, FL, MD, MI, MN, NV, NH, NM, NY, OH, PA, TX, VA & WI highlighted

WASHINGTON (April 5, 2012) – Only nine states have taken comprehensive steps to address their vulnerabilities to the water-related impacts of climate change, while 29 states are unprepared for growing water threats to their economies and public health, according to a first ever detailed state-by-state analysis of water readiness released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report ranks all 50 states on their climate preparedness planning, and is accompanied by an interactive online map at showing the threats every state faces from climate change.

The new NRDC report, “Ready or Not: An Evaluation of State Climate and Water Preparedness Planning,” outlines four preparedness categories to differentiate between the nine best-prepared and most engaged states with comprehensive adaptation plans (including California, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), from those states that are least prepared and lagging farthest behind (including Florida, New Mexico, Ohio, Virginia, and Texas). 

“Rising temperatures and more extreme weather events are impacting our families, our health and our pocketbooks. Water is a matter of survival. It powers our lives and industries, and it keeps our natural systems healthy,” said NRDC Water & Climate Program director Steve Fleischli. “This report is both a wake-up call and a roadmap for all communities to understand how vital it is to prepare for climate change so we can effectively safeguard our most valuable resources. Preparing for the impacts of a changing climate requires that states confront reality, and prioritize climate change adaptation to reduce local water risks and create healthier communities.”

NRDC’s report focuses on how state governments across the nation are planning and preparing for the water-related impacts of climate change. These impacts include more severe and frequent storms, intense rainfall, sea-level rise, warmer water temperatures, and drought events.

Key findings include:

* Nearly nine out of 10 states are poised for more frequent and intense storm events and/or increased flooding.
* While at least 36 states are facing possible water supply challenges, only six of those have comprehensive adaptation plans.
* The majority of states – 29 or nearly 60 percent - have done either nothing at all or very little to prepare for water-related climate impacts.  (See full list below.)
* Six states – Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Dakota – have done virtually nothing to address climate pollution or prepare for climate change in the face of growing water risks.
* Water preparedness activities appear to have “slowed or stalled” in four of the nine best prepared states – Alaska, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
* Only 22 states have developed plans and formally adopted targets or goals to cut the pollution that causes climate change, which comes mainly from power plants and vehicles.

The 29 states that have done either nothing at all or very little to prepare for water-related climate impacts are broken into two groups: The least prepared or “Category 4” (Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah); and the second least prepared or “Category 3” (Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming).

The full list of the nine most prepared states (“Category 1”) consists of: Alaska, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The climate crisis poses far-reaching implications for water supply, quality, accessibility, and use. More intense rainfall events increase flooding risks to property and health, and can cause devastating economic damages. They also overwhelm often-antiquated infrastructure, leading to increased discharges of untreated sewage in waterways and potentially contaminating drinking water supplies and closing beaches. Drought conditions and warmer temperatures threaten supply for municipalities, agriculture, and industries, and could increase water demand for irrigation, hydropower production and power plant cooling.

“A handful of state governments should be recognized as climate leaders for developing robust comprehensive adaptation plans while taking steps to cut global warming pollution,” said NRDC water policy analyst and report author Ben Chou. “On the flip side, there is tremendous potential for so many more states to follow suit. The first step is understanding how your state will be impacted by climate change. With an ever-growing body of research, new adaptation tools, and guidance resources, there’s no excuse not to tackle this challenge.”

There are proactive steps states can take to minimize the impact on communities increasingly vulnerable to climate-induced changes. NRDC encourages all states to undertake the following key actions:

* Enact plans to cut emissions from power plants, vehicles and other major sources of heat-trapping pollution; coupled with increased investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
* Conduct a statewide vulnerability assessment to determine potential climate change impacts.
* Develop a comprehensive adaptation plan to address climate risks in all relevant sectors.
* Prioritize and support implementation of the adaptation plan.
* Measure progress regularly and update the adaptation plan as needed.

For more information about NRDC’s Ready or Not and to find out how your state ranks, go to For state-by-state sound bites (SOTs) and b-roll videos, visit Ready or Not “Press Materials” sidebar.

NRDC’s blog series detailing select state findings:
* Maryland and Virginia: A Tale of Two States Preparing for Climate Change
* Texas: Texas Lags Behind Most States When it Comes to Preparing for Climate Change
* Florida: Drowning in Climate Change Denial
* California: Leading the Fight Against Climate Change
* Ohio: Bringing Up the Rear on Climate Change Action
* New York and Pennsylvania: Among the Best at Planning for Climate Change

Promising Salmon Run Needs Sufficient Water to Thri

For Immediate Release: December 1, 2011
Severn Williams, 510-336-9566,


Request Made to Department of Fish and Game and National Marine Fisheries Service for Higher Flows on the Eel River

Promising Salmon Run Needs Sufficient Water to Thrive


North Coast, Calif.  – With all signs pointing to a promising spawning year for imperiled salmonids on the Eel River, watershed advocacy group Friends of the Eel River (FOER) releases the following statement:

“FOER recently sent a request to the California Department of Fish and Game and the National Marine Fisheries Service to authorize the release of blockwater from Lake Pillsbury into the Eel River. Blockwater is held in the reservoir and released to assist in fish migration and survival when DFG and NMFS agree to do so. Our request was made in support of what may be the largest run of migrating salmon that have returned to the Eel River in decades. To date, CDFG and NMFS have never authorized the release of blockwater.

“While this year’s increase in chinook salmon numbers is very good news, it poses new and different challenges when it comes to ensuring a successful migration and spawning season.

“Although within the legal requirements to prevent jeopardizing Eel River chinook, releases from the Potter Valley Project into the Eel this fall have generally been at the lower end of the range of flows specified for this time of year. The best available scientific information strongly indicates that higher flows generally provide better migration and spawning conditions. 

“Agency representatives have stated their concern that releasing more water into the mainstem Eel could make it difficult for fish to find their preferred tributaries. While we share concerns for the once-robust Tomki Creek population of chinook, a sharp decline in returns to Tomki Creek was already evident in 2010. Meanwhile, in 2011, independent observers have confirmed that chinook have moved into the South Fork Eel and Van Duzen rivers.

“The agencies’ position on the use of the Eel River blockwater appears to be that higher flows within the recommended range would be harmful to Eel River chinook. If that’s true, then the agencies should clarify the recommended flows, and should come forward with the evidence that shows harm to Eel River chinook from the higher flows that previous studies support.

“It defies common sense to imagine that water must be held back within a human-engineered system in a watershed that has traditionally supported salmonid runs that number in the hundreds of thousands. Until PG&E’s Potter Valley Project was built in 1908, salmon and steelhead thrived in the Eel River with the benefit of ample cold headwaters. Current releases into the Eel do not even approximate the natural flows in this river in terms of volume, nutrient transport, or gravel bed load moving capacity.

“If water is not available for salmon to continue upstream, they will spawn in the mainstem in areas that can more easily be washed out when flows later increase. Ensuring that flows remain at a brisk pace throughout salmon and steelhead runs will help these fish to either continue their journey upstream or identify sheltered areas on the mainstem in which to build their redds (egg nests).

“One official in the region recently criticized FOER for requesting an increase in flows on the Eel River while expressing concerns about releasing too much water into the Russian River. The comparison regarding appropriate releases of water into these rivers is misinformed at best, if not outright misleading. The Russian River is an over-watered system in which unnaturally high flows overwhelm threatened salmon. The Eel River is systematically deprived of the minimal flows required to support migrating fish. The source of both of these problems is the same: PG&E’s outdated Potter Valley Project and mismanaged flow regimes.

“For all of these reasons, Friends of the Eel River once again requests that PG&E release higher flows from its Potter Valley Project into the Eel River. As 2011 appears to be one of our best opportunities to bolster recovering chinook, coho, and steelhead populations, it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure a very successful spawning year.”

About Friends of the Eel River (

Friends of the Eel River (FOER) is an environmental advocacy organization with more than 2,200 members. The organization strives to restore the Eel River and its tributaries to a wild and natural state of abundance. FOER works with scientists, fisheries experts, sport fishing alliances, river recreationalists, and concerned citizens to advocate for an increase in flows to the river that would enable native salmon and steelhead to once again thrive in the watershed.

World Grain Production Down, But Recovering

Worldwatch Institute


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

World Grain Production Down, But Recovering

Washington, D.C.----World grain production fell, exacerbating a global food situation already plagued by rising prices, according to new research published by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online publication. Despite record rice and maize yields around the world, global wheat production dropped substantially enough to bring total grain output to just below 2008 levels.


Maize, wheat, and rice provide nearly two-thirds of the global human diet and serve as critical inputs for both animal feed and industrial products. The significance of these crops guarantees that a decline in production will produce ripple effects throughout the global economy, particularly as increased food prices continue to take a toll on the world's neediest populations. Overall, rice and wheat production have tripled since the 1960s, and maize production has quadrupled, despite global acreage of these crops increasing by only 35 percent.


"Production increased worldwide, but there was greater reliance on irrigation, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides----all of which take resources, can be costly, and may cause substantial environmental degradation," said contributing researcher Richard Weil.


Nevertheless, preliminary data for 2011 indicate that grain production is recovering from the 2010 slump. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently forecast that cereal output in 2011-12 will be 3 percent higher than in 2010-11.


"Grain remains the foundation of the world's diet, and the failure of harvests in recent years to keep pace with growth in meat consumption and population is worrisome," said Worldwatch President Robert Engelman. "It's important that we identify and implement more inventive and sustainable strategies in grain production. Reducing the proportion of grain harvests lost to weather disasters and waste or diverted for corn ethanol production and animal feed is among such strategies. It's also important that we prioritize grain availability for those who need it most."


Recent growth in agricultural production has been uneven. In many regions, climate change has brought irregular weather patterns such as rising temperatures, violent storms, and flash flooding. In Russia, where severe drought has plagued large farming regions, overall wheat yields plunged 40 percent in 2010, compared to a decline of only 5 percent worldwide. Subsequently, Russia----the fourth largest wheat exporter in 2009----banned all wheat exports, severely disrupting world grain markets. Poor weather took its toll elsewhere as well: El Niño in the west Pacific, for example, brought rice production down significantly in the Philippines, already the world's largest food importer.


Rising demand for ethanol fuel, which in the United States is produced almost exclusively from corn feedstock, is having an impact on grain prices as well. "According to the CBO, about 20 percent of the increase in maize prices between 2007 and 2008 was due to domestic ethanol demand," said Weil. Demand for grains is also rising in countries such as China and India, where growing middle classes are adopting more diverse diets.


"Farming has always been an uncertain business that depends in large part on the weather, and it could be entering an even more difficult phase," said Weil. "As the global climate changes, the warmer, less stable atmospheric conditions could be detrimental for food production." In an already fragile economy, continued volatile prices and unpredictable weather-induced shortages are sure to negatively affect both producers and consumers in developing countries.


Further highlights from the research:

  • Between 1960 and 2010, annual global grain production increased from 643 million tons to 2.2 billion tons.
  • U.S. maize (corn) production was down 5 percent in 2010 due to drought in the east and excessive rain in the west. The United States is the world's largest exporter of maize, accounting for 56 percent of global exports from 2006 to 2010.
  • According to the FAO's Cereal Price Index (CPI), which uses 2002-04 prices for wheat, rice and maize as its baseline (100), food prices increased to an index level of 185 in August 2010 and set a record at 265 in April 2011.
  • Forty percent of the global increase in maize prices in 2000-07 was due to worldwide demand for ethanol, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute. Additional reasons for the jump in food prices include the weakening of the U.S. dollar, speculation on grain prices, and possible climate change impacts.
Stanford University researchers who created a model to determine how changing weather patterns affect crop yields found a 2.9 percent increase in global rice production as a result of greater precipitation, but losses of 3.8 percent for wheat and 2.5 percent for maize.

Organization calls for implementation of proposed reforms to jumpstart tribally diven renewable energy

For Immediate Release
November 29, 2011


NCAI Expresses Support for Interior’s Proposed Leasing Reforms for
Tribal Lands and Renewable Energy Development

Organization calls for implementation of proposed reforms to jumpstart tribally
driven renewable energy and economic development


WASHINGTON, DC – The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) welcomed Monday’s news from the Department of Interior (DOI) regarding proposed reforms to outdated lease regulations obstructing tribal economic and renewable energy development. The proposed lease reforms would streamline the leasing process on tribal lands and clear the way for tribally driven renewable solar and wind energy projects. This simple regulatory change promises to directly stimulate economic growth in Native communities and benefit the American economy.

“The federal government has heard the message of tribal nations to remove barriers stifling tribal economic and renewable energy development. Until these reforms are enacted though, tribes will continue to wait excessive lengths of time to permit a renewable energy project or approve a mortgage,” said Jefferson Keel, President of NCAI. “We don’t have time to wait; we’re ready to strengthen our economies now and jumpstart the clean energy economy in Indian Country.  This is something the entire country can get behind and there should be no hesitation.”

The proposed rule would modify regulations governing the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) process for approving surface leasing on lands the federal government holds in trust for tribes and individuals. Interior serves as the trustee for tribal lands and is responsible for approximately 65 56 million acres in Indian Country. The Department of Energy estimates Indian lands contain significant renewable energy potential – enough to meet 32 percent of the nation’s energy needs with wind power and 2 times the entire country’s energy needs with solar power. 

Although great potential exists, very few tribally owned renewable energy projects have moved forward because of the disproportionate review processes tribes are subject to. The new regulations impose timelines on the Department for reviewing leases - up to 30 days for residential leases, and up to 60 days for business leases and wind and solar energy leases. The proposed regulations distinguish between residential, business, and wind and solar energy leases, and establish separate processes for review.

In a statement released on Monday, the Department of Interior described the existing regulations, adopted in 1961, as “an antiquated, ‘one-size fits all;’ approach to processing all surface leases. Under the current system, which lacks a defined process or deadlines, it is not uncommon for a simple mortgage application to languish for several years waiting approval from the federal government.”

These reforms signal a positive step toward what NCAI President Keel called for in the annual State of Indian Nations Address in January of 2011. During the national address Keel called for the federal government “to clear the way for [tribes] to expand economic opportunity…so that we might compete…clear the way for us to develop energy on our own lands, build commerce and create jobs, so that we might contribute more the economy of America. We can create more opportunity for energy independence, and a larger recovery.”

There will be a 60 day comment period on the proposed regulations. 

Navajo Memory Complements Science in Study of Climate Change

Navajo Memory Complements Science in Study of Climate Change

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The sand dunes among which Navajos have eked out austere livings for generations are growing fast and becoming mobile as the climate changes, says U.S. Geological Survey geologist Dr. Margaret Hiza Redsteer, whose interviews with elders and historical research augment her decade-long research on Navajo Nation land.

Redsteer discusses her work Friday, Oct. 21 at the annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Miami, as part of a panel on "Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples on the Frontlines.”

One third of the Navajo Nation is sand dunes, much of it stabilized to varying degrees by vegetation that holds moisture and provides livestock range. Some of the dunes are very old; others date from the 1950s, when drought and wind mobilized sediment from floods on the Little Colorado River. Now, after severe drought has gripped the region with varying but persistent severity from 1996 to 2011, new dunes are increasing in number and previously inactive dunes are on the move.  The new dunes form downwind from rivers and washes, largely from dry, wind-blown river sediment. In the Grand Falls area of the southwest Navajo Nation, dunes have grown 70 percent since 1995 and are moving northeast at a rate of 115 feet per year.

Dune mobility can threaten roads and buildings, as well as the livestock raising vital to the Navajo economy and indispensable to its culture. It is one of many signs of the region’s increased aridity. Redsteer and the USGS Navajo Land Use Planning Project, under license to and in collaboration with the Navajo Nation, are mapping the area’s geology and documenting its changes to help Navajo leaders plan for the challenge.

In addition to using ground-based lidar measurements, meteorological monitoring, GPS and aerial and satellite imaging, Redsteer drew on more than 70 elders living in the southwestern Navajo Nation to record observed changes in land use practices, as well as weather, vegetation, location of water sources and the frequency of wind and dust storms. The interviews helped corroborate USGS science.
“Old men told me that they had seen grass grow in areas where no grass grows now,” Redsteer said.

“We have aerial photographic surveys of the study area from 1934 and from 1954, but between those years there were big changes. Our interviewing not only provides another line of evidence, but it also fills in a lot of the data gaps.”

Redsteer’s work also points up the vulnerability of indigenous people who live on land she calls “just on the edge of being habitable.
“The annual moisture here has historically been just enough to get by. When there is even a small change, there is a huge effect,” she said.

John Leeper, director of the Navajo Water Management Branch of the Navajo Nation in Fort Defiance, Ariz., called Redsteer’s work “critical in understanding the magnitude of the climate challenges facing the Navajo Nation due to sand dune movement and other impacts. If the current trends she identifies continue, much of the Navajo Nation will be severely impacted, and much of the Navajo Nation will become uninhabitable,” Leeper said.

“The Navajo Nation is intended to be a permanent homeland for the Navajo people,” he said. “However, much of that homeland may be in jeopardy if these trends can not be successfully mitigated. Not only has Margaret’s work identified and documented the current trends, her work also gives us perspective on the steps that can, and must, be taken to reverse many of the most damaging of these trends. Her work will help to ensure that the Navajo people will be able to find their livelihoods here long into the future.”

As part of their work, Redsteer and the USGS have conducted pilot studies of mitigations to dune movement, such as placing 2m by 2m PLA sand barriers to stabilize dunes and seeding dune areas to encourage vegetation.

“If we’re going to do research for people’s benefit, we have to try to see what kind of solutions there are,” she said.

Redsteer’s research in the Great Falls dune area is described in the USGS fact sheet “Monitoring and Analysis of Sand Dune Movement and Growth on the Navajo Nation,” available online at

For more information on the SEJ conference, go to

California Tribe Helping in Montana


San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Makes $200,000 Donation to the American Red Cross of Montana to Aid Tribes Recovering from Floods

San Manuel Tribal Nation (Near Highland, Calif.) – June 28, 2011 –The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians announced today that it has made a $200,000 charitable contribution to the American Red Cross of Montana for its ongoing relief efforts to assist American Indian communities, which have been directly affected by late spring flooding along the Little Bighorn and Missouri Rivers.

Initially damage affecting the Crow Indian Reservation grew to include more than one Indian tribe and reservation, including the Fort Belknap Indian Community, and Rocky Boy and Fort Peck Indian Reservations.  In response the American Red Cross of Montana was called into action to provide emergency relief through shelter operations, mass care, and feeding.  They remain ready to assist all who need help in the coming weeks.  

San Manuel’s contribution is intended to support recovery and clean up efforts which continue to be hampered by a limited availability of funds and potential for more flooding as winter snows melt. In the near term, funds will be used to secure on-going shelter and the necessities of daily living for families displaced from their homes.

“San Manuel recognizes that our brothers and sisters in Montana are facing a difficult period of recovery and want them to know that we stand by them through this process,” said San Manuel Chairman James C. Ramos. “We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with the American Red Cross.  They have the capability, organization and expertise to mobilize quickly and effectively when disasters strike anywhere in the world.”

Within the last week, Red Cross focus has shifted to damage assessment and clean-up in rural areas, with 301 people qualifying for individual client assistance – owing to insurmountable structural damage to homes. Also during this time, the Red Cross has distributed 2,544 clean-up and family kits to aid others currently able to restore homes to livability. 

But the need for ongoing support remains, with hundreds of reservation homes badly damaged or destroyed by flooding, and many residents still displaced.

Over the course of a five-week period,the American Red Cross of Montana lists 3,111 night stays for families and individuals affected by flooding. Also during this time,  the organization count16,797 meals and 30,511 snacks served to help those in need of assistance meet basic needs. 

“At one point during the operation, we had 330 Crow people in our care under one roof, and were the largest Red Cross shelter in the national system during a year of nationwide storm devastation,” said Rod Kopp, CEO of the American Red Cross of Montana. “We did, and still do, take that responsibility seriously and pledge to help people get back on the road of recovery and a renewed quality of life.”

San Manuel has a long history of working with the American Red Cross following natural disasters and emergencies in its home state of California and beyond. San Manuel has provided funds to the American Red Cross Inland Empire Chapter to support southern California communities swept by wildfires in 2003 and 2007 and recently with floods near its San Bernardino area reservation in late 2010. In the same year San Manuel contributed $1.7 million to the Red Cross Haitian earthquake relief and $320,000 to the organization to assist tribes in Nebraska, South Dakota and Arizona with their emergency relief efforts in response to 2010 winter storms.

Residents in need assistance are asked to call the American Red Cross at 1-800-ARC-MONT.

About the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians

The San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians is a federally recognized American Indian tribe located near the city of Highland, Calif. The Serrano Indians are the indigenous people of the San Bernardino highlands, passes, valleys and mountains who share a common language and culture. The San Manuel reservation was established in 1891 and recognized as a sovereign nation with the right of self-government. Since time immemorial, the San Manuel tribal community has endured change and hardship. Amidst these challenges the tribe continued to maintain its unique form of governance. Like other governments it seeks to provide a better quality of life for its citizens by building infrastructure, maintaining civil services and promoting social, economic and cultural development. Today San Manuel tribal government oversees many governmental units including the departments of fire, public safety, education and environment.

The Importance of Urban Agriculture to Feed the World


Thursday, June 16, 2011


Contact: Supriya Kumar,, (+1) 202-452-1999 x510




Farming the Cities, Feeding an Urban Future  


Worldwatch's Nourishing the Planet team emphasizes urban agriculture as a means of increasing food security, empowering women, and protecting the environment.


Washington, D.C.-As people move from rural to urban settings in search of economic opportunities, urban agriculture is becoming an important provider of both food and employment, according to researchers with the Worldwatch Institute. "Urban agriculture is providing food, jobs, and hope in Nairobi, Kampala, Dakar, and other cities across sub-Saharan Africa," said Danielle Nierenberg, co-director of the Institute's Nourishing the Planet project. "In some cases, urban farmers are providing important inputs, such as seed, to rural farmers, dispelling the myth that urban agriculture helps feed the poor and hungry only in cities."


The United Nations projects that up to 65 percent of the world's population will live in cities by 2050, up from around 50 percent today. The rate of urban migration is particularly high in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where inadequate urban infrastructure struggles to keep up with the large influx of people. "Although most of the world's poor and hungry remain in rural areas, hunger is migrating with people into urban areas," said Brian Halweil, co-director of the Nourishing the Planet project.


Currently, an estimated 800 million people worldwide are engaged in urban agriculture, producing 15-20 percent of the world's food. However, this activity occurs mainly in Asia, making it critical to place more worldwide emphasis on this vital sector. In Africa, 14 million people migrate from rural to urban areas each year, and studies suggest that an estimated 35-40 million Africans living in cities will need to depend on urban agriculture to meet their food requirements in the future.


"Urban agriculture is an important aspect of the development movement as it has the potential to address some of our most pressing challenges, including food insecurity, income generation, waste disposal, gender inequality, and urban insecurity" said Nancy Karanja, a Professor at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and a State of the World 2011 contributing author.   


Organizations such as Urban Harvest and others are working across the African continent to enhance urban agricultural efforts. In sub-Saharan Africa, the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO), a Florida-based organization, has helped farmers build gardens using old tires and other "trash" to create plant beds. And the group Harvest of Hope has helped organize urban Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs in Cape Town, South Africa, purchasing excess produce from city gardens and redistributing it in schools in the area.


"These projects are not only helping to provide fresh sources of food for city dwellers, but also providing a source of income, a tool to empower women, and a means of protecting the environment, among other benefits," said Mary Njenga, researcher at the University of Nairobi and the World Agroforestry Centre.


According to Nourishing the Planet, urban agriculture provides three important advantages that are evident in successful projects across the African continent:


·         Close to home (and market). Produce from urban farms and gardens does not need to travel as far as produce grown in rural areas to reach the dining table, which helps to reduce production costs, post-harvest waste, and greenhouse gas emissions. This is also helpful in situations when supply chains from rural areas have been interrupted and cities are unable to receive food imports.  


·         Empowering women and building communities. In Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya, Urban Harvest has helped women build "vertical farms" simply by using sacks of soil in which to grow vegetables. Using these gardening activities, the women share business ideas and technical know-how, empowering each other. The community gardens also act as a forum where community members can exchange ideas and discuss community issues and problems.      


·         Improving urban environments. Faced with limited resources, urban farmers are adept at utilizing urban waste streams to strengthen their soil and grow their crops. Garbage is used as compost or fodder for livestock, and nutrient-rich waste water is used for irrigation. By re-using these waste products, urban farms help to reduce the amount of refuse clogging landfills as well as the amount of water used in cities. Community gardens also provide an aesthetically pleasing space and help improve the air quality in urban areas.   


Nourishing the Planet ( is a two-year evaluation of environmentally sustainable agricultural innovations to alleviate hunger. Worldwatch researchers traveled to 25 countries across sub-Saharan Africa to meet with more than 350 farmers groups, NGOs, government agencies, and scientists, highlighting small-scale urban agricultural efforts that are helping to improve peoples' livelihoods by providing them with food and income. The findings are documented in the recently released report, State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet.


State of the World 2011 is accompanied by informational materials including briefing documents, summaries, an innovations database, videos, and podcasts, all available at The project's findings are being disseminated to a wide range of agricultural stakeholders, including government ministries, agricultural policymakers, and farmer and community networks, as well as the increasingly influential nongovernmental environmental and development communities.







Notes to Editors:    

For review copies of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet 

In the United States, Canada, and India, contact Supriya Kumar at

Outside of these three countries, contact, +44 (0)20 7841 1930. 


About the Worldwatch Institute:

Worldwatch is an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues. The Institute's State of the World report is published annually in more than 20 languages. For more information, visit


Elephant Aid International Launched



HOHENWALD, Tenn., (November 8, 2010) – Carol Buckley, co-founder and former CEO and president of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, has launched a new nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the welfare of elephants worldwide.

Elephant Aid International (EAI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, will develop programs to initiate widespread change in the care and management of elephants. EAI will take a hands-on approach to working with mahouts (elephant trainers), tourist facilities, elephant welfare groups, researchers and government officials to improve elephant welfare in captivity and the wild, as well as improving the lives of the people who care for them. 

EAI’s first projects will take place in Thailand , India and Nepal over the next year, including:

-          Mahout workshops: instruction in the use of positive reinforcement and a more humane approach to elephant management.

-          Elephant foot care course: instructing mahouts in proper foot trimming techniques to help improve foot health and eliminate life-threatening osteomyelitis (bone infection).

-          The development of government-mandated elephant care centers (sanctuaries) in India .

EAI has pioneered a new system, Compassionate Elephant Management, which will eliminate antiquated, dominance-based training and result in improved elephant welfare.


“ Asia is primed for change but, for now, local leaders are unclear how to proceed,” said EAI President and CEO Carol Buckley. “New legislation in India that bans elephants in circuses and zoos, coupled with the requests that EAI has received to assist with educating mahouts in Thailand and Nepal , provides us the opportunity to directly influence the welfare of elephants.”


“Not only will EAI help elephants in need,” she added, “the care centers we develop will be a model for a country struggling to develop solutions for its elephant welfare problems


EAI’s work is based on understanding the culture and traditions of the countries in which it works, and respect for the men and women who live and work with elephants. EAI will seek to improve the standard of living of mahouts, their families and communities by:

-          Removing begging elephants from the streets of Asia and exploring alternative revenue generating sources.

-          Helping to improve sanitation and living conditions for mahouts, their families and their villages.

Elephants in Asia were once revered members of multigenerational tribal families. Entire villages devoted themselves to their care. Mahouts were respected members of society and handed down their traditions from father to son.

Today, however, because there is not enough work to keep elephants employed, they have become an exploited commodity. Businessmen buy them to work in illegal logging operations, tourist camps and street begging, and hire untrained boys to manage them. There are only fragile fragments remaining of the mahout-elephant traditions that have survived for thousands of years.

“With our years of experience in elephant care, sanctuary development, elephant rescue and rehabilitation and development of positive elephant management systems, EAI has been invited to collaborate with other organizations in Southeast Asia to improve elephant welfare,” said Buckley. “These projects will be the first in a series that EAI will undertake over the coming years. As our projects become self-sustaining, we will continue to take on new and groundbreaking initiatives, expanding our efforts to improve elephant welfare around the globe.”

For more information on EAI, log on to

About Elephant Aid International

Elephant Aid International (EAI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was established to raise global consciousness about the lives of elephants both in captivity and in the wild. With the combined efforts of international scientists, veterinarians, mahouts (elephant handlers), elephant caregivers and elephant welfare supporters, EAI is helping to change how the public relates to elephants; how mahouts and elephant caregivers train elephants; and how captive elephants are cared for worldwide. EAI is also helping to improve the social status of mahouts through education and job advancement. By providing education and hands-on assistance, EAI is working to end the worldwide suffering of elephants…one elephant at a time. Learn more at


# # #


Climate Change Solution Funding

The Climate Institute and My Emissions Exchange Partner to Promote GHG Reductions with Personal Carbon Credits
In a unique partnership, the Climate Institute and My Emissions Exchange encourage individuals to reduce their GHG emissions, which earn Personal Carbon Credits, then donate those credits to the Climate Institute for new research into adaptation strategies and climate protection solutions
White Plains, NY - February 4, 2010 - The Climate Institute and My Emissions Exchange (MyEex) have partnered to raise money to fund the development of climate change solutions.  The money comes from a unique source - the proceeds from the sale of Personal Carbon Credits via My Emissions Exchange.
MyEex measures energy consumed by individuals and families in their homes via utility bills and provides guidance on how to reduce that energy usage.  Home energy reductions also reduce GHG emissions for which MyEex members earn Personal Carbon Credits.  These credits are verified and sold by MyEex in the voluntary credit market and the proceeds go to the members.  However, in this partnership, members have decided to support the Climate Institute and its programs by donating their credits to the Climate Institute.
"We look forward to working with the Climate Institute, with its long history in the climate change field, to promote this new approach of Personal Carbon Credits by individuals to mitigate climate change," said MyEex President Tom Reilly.

"The Climate Institute is pleased to be partnering with My Emissions Exchange. This program demonstrates that individuals can reduce their carbon footprint and tangibly contribute to climate solutions," said Climate Institute President John Topping.

The Climate Institute has been providing objective research on climate change for over 20 years and has worked to develop partnerships between public and private institutions at the local, national and international level to create innovative climate change mitigation solutions. By bridging the gap between scientists and policy makers, the Climate Institute has made appreciable progress toward its mission "to protect the balance between climate and life on earth."

On My Emissions Exchange, any individual household or business can earn a personal carbon credit by demonstrating that it has reduced their electric, natural gas, propane, or fuel oil usage versus the same month a year ago. Website users only need to input one recent utility bill to get started (since most utility bills display a year's worth of billing history). Money from selling the resulting credits then gets deposited into their PayPal account. To sign up, visit

### is a new website that pays members cash rewards for reducing their monthly utility bills. The site shows users simple ways to cut out wasted energy at home, earn money, and help stop global warming. Savings measured on utility bills earn members valuable "personal carbon credits"; member profits are deposited directly into their PayPal accounts. Join people like you who are finding out how rewarding it is to "earn green for going green" at

Corinne Kisner
Climate Institute
Marissa Miraval
My Emissions Exchange

Nuclear Energy? It's still flawed.


"Ugly" Field of Four Bailout Candidates Present Huge Taxpayer Risks With Rising Cost Estimates, Delays, Flawed Reactor Designs, and Credit Downgrades; January One of Worst Months Ever for Industry.

WASHINGTON, D.C. //February 3, 2010//What if the federal government held a beauty contest for taxpayer-backed nuclear reactor loan guarantee bailouts ... and no reactor project "beauties" could be lined up for the runway?

According to experts from around the United States, that is precisely the situation the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) faces today with the extraordinarily weak crop of four reactor project candidates vying for loan-guarantee bailouts. The four proposed projects at the top of the list for $18.5 billion in federal bailout support are: the Southern Company's Vogtle reactors in Georgia (widely believed to be the current front runner); the NRG reactor project in Texas; the VC Summer reactors in South Carolina; and the Calvert Cliffs reactor in Maryland.

The local experts are far from being alone in their negative assessment of the viability of the four bailout candidates. According to the independent Taxpayers for Common Sense, the four finalists all exhibit some combination of "rising cost estimates, delays related to reactor designs, and credit downgrades." Making matters even worse: The four deeply flawed reactor projects are reputed to be the best of the options available, which means that there are no viable candidates in the pipeline to justify the tripling to $54 billion in nuclear reactor bailouts proposed under the White House budget released this week.

This is the latest bad news for the setback-plagued nuclear power industry, which is coming off of one of its worst months ever in January 2010, including: a major court room squabble between NRG and the City of San Antonio over a surprise $4 billion estimated cost increase for two proposed reactors in Texas; the rejection of $1 billion in rate increases by Florida regulators that has caused the two state utilities to announce a slowdown on their nuclear projects; and a growing scandal in Vermont over carcinogenic tritium leaks into the water supply that threaten to derail state approval of the extension of the Vermont Yankee reactor.

Sara Barczak, a program director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, addressing the proposed Vogtle reactors in Georgia, said: "It is difficult to fathom how the Vogtle project, which was a poster child for cost overruns in the original nuclear 'boom' and bust in the United States, could be the front runner for taxpayer-backed loan guarantee bailouts. Vogtle's proposed Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design is not even approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as safe from hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. In fact, even if Vogtle got the loan guarantee go-ahead tomorrow, it could still face years of costly delays in order to make the reactor design safe or to gain license approval. This situation puts taxpayers squarely behind the eight ball in terms of increased risk from the very outset."

Barczak continued: "The bottom line here is that extremely powerful and financially savvy utilities, such as the Southern Company, have already found a way at the state level to shift the risk to those who can least afford to pay for costly new reactors and now they're hoping for even more handouts -- this time at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer. How much more burden can be piled on to the shoulders of hard working families and small businesses in Georgia?"

Karen Hadden, executive director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, addressing the embattled NRG reactor project in Texas, said: "The fact that NRG's South Texas Project is considered a leading candidate for loan guarantees shows just how flawed the selection process is. This project may very well be doomed at this point, given the enormous recent cost increase of $4 billion that was kept from the San Antonio City Council, and the resulting legal wrangling between the utilities proposing to build the project."

Hadden continued: "The South Texas Project is a perfect example of how the hope of loan guarantees is the only thing propping up reactors that otherwise would not be built. Even with the loan guarantees, the San Antonio City Council has signaled to their municipal utility that ratepayers can't afford the increasingly expensive energy from the reactor. NRG said they would not proceed with the reactor without the loan guarantees. If anyone can explain why sinking billions of taxpayer dollars into such a risky project makes any sense at all, it would be interesting to hear it!"

Tom Clements, Friends of the Earth, addressing the proposed VC Summer reactors in South Carolina, said: "The VC Summer project is ripe for major delays and huge cost overruns. The NRC has confirmed that the AP1000 reactor design as currently being reviewed is not 'certified' safe, contrary to claims by the utility SCE&G. Key reactor components, including the reactor pressure vessel, will have to be made overseas, and 90 percent of the uranium for fuel would come from foreign sources, belying the notion of 'home-grown power,' as is now incorrectly being touted by some SC politicians. The approval by the South Carolina Public Service Commission (PSC) for the project in February 2009 and the law forcing rate payers to pay in advance (even if the project fails) is being challenged by Friends of the Earth before the SC Supreme Court, with a hearing likely in March 2010."

Clements added: "SCE&G, which is a small utility with limited assets, has low-balled the reactor cost, still claiming that its 55 percent share of two units would include a gross construction cost of about $6.3 billion, for a total cost of about $11.5 billion for the two units, well below the estimated cost of other reactor projects. SCE&G has admitted in quarterly filings with the SC PSC that the cost had at one point increased $500 million. The PSC made it clear in a January 2010 ruling that, although it allowed an 18-month construction delay in its original decision, it will restart the delay clock every time SCE&G requests a new schedule for construction milestones. This, coupled with an almost-certain delay in issuance of a license by the NRC, is a warning sign that the project is facing great schedule and cost uncertainty."

Michael Mariotte, executive director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, addressing the proposed Calvert Cliffs reactor in Maryland, said: "The proposed EPR reactor at Calvert Cliffs is the most expensive reactor design ever put forward for the U.S. Constellation Energy admits costs of $10 billion (not including financing) for Calvert Cliffs, whereas PPL Electric Utility projects a cost of $13-15 billion, including financing, for an identical reactor in Pennsylvania. PPL's estimate works out to approximately $9,000 per kilowatt—about double the cost of wind power along Maryland's Atlantic coast."

Mariotte added: "Serious questions remain about the unprecedented level of foreign involvement in Calvert Cliffs. UniStar Nuclear is a 50/50 project of Constellation Energy and the French utility, Electricite de France (EdF). EdF is the largest single shareholder of Constellation (about 9 percent) and has recently purchased 49.9 percent of Constellation's existing reactors. Most of the construction money will go to EPR manufacturer Areva. Both EdF and Areva are 85 percent or more owned by the French government. UniStar Nuclear hopes to complement the loan guarantee with financing from the French government's Export-Import Bank. The NRC Commissioners have ordered that hearings on the foreign involvement issue be held before an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. This foreign control is pertinent since Areva's first EPR construction — Olikulioto-3 in Finland — is well over three years behind schedule and 75 percent over budget. The second EPR, being built by EdF at Flamanville, France, is at least 20 percent over budget after only two years of construction."


Widespread opposition has emerged to proposals to award currently authorized taxpayer-backed loan guarantee bailouts, as well as President Obama's proposed $54 billion tripling of such bailouts.

As the Center for American Progress pointed out yesterday:

"One down side of the president's budget is that it includes a misguided expansion of nuclear loan guarantees. The Obama administration proposes to triple funds for nuclear loan guarantees from $18.5 billion to $54 billion. This huge growth exposes taxpayers to billions of dollars of potential liability if the nuclear debtors default on their loans. The Congressional Budget Office found that nuclear investments are very risky, stating, 'CBO considers the risk of default on such a loan guarantee to be very high—well above 50 percent.' Even if this risk factor is cut in half, one in four nuclear power plants would default on their loans due to cost overruns or other factors, leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab. And there are already indications that this could occur. Taxpayers for Common Sense found that none of the four "top-tier" project proposals for the existing loan guarantee program inspire confidence. All have "rising cost estimates, delays related to reactor designs, and credit downgrades." The proposed tripling of the nuclear loan guarantee program burdens taxpayers with additional financial risk."

In a Monday article titled Obama's nuclear loan guarantees draw opposition, USA Today wrote:

"In a letter to Obama, four groups -- the National Taxpayers Union, Taxpayers for Common Sense, the George Marshall Institute and the Non-Proliferation Policy Education Center -- oppose an expansion of loan guarantees for new nuclear plants: 'With hundreds of billions in bailouts already on the shoulders of U. S. taxpayers, the country cannot afford to move forward with a program that could easily become the black hole for hundreds of billions more.' ...

At the conservative Heritage Foundation, David Kreutzer, a senior policy analyst in energy economic and climate change, warned against expanding loan guarantees in a recent post: 'This authorized $18.5 billion in loan guarantees will help build a handful of new nuclear reactors but any expansion of subsidies, tax credits or loan guarantees is a bad idea for taxpayers, consumers and long-term industry competitiveness. Continuing subsidies reduce the incentive to contain costs, create government dependence and stifle competition and technological development within the nuclear energy industry.

Another scholar, economist Dr. Mark Cooper at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, authored a report in June that found it would cost $1.9 trillion to $4.1 trillion more over the life of 100 new nuclear reactors than it would to generate the same electricity from a combination of more energy efficiency and renewables.

Peter Bradford, a former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, writes ...: 'Of 26 new nuclear reactor license applications submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since 2007, nine have been canceled or suspended indefinitely in the last 10 months. Ten more have been delayed by one to five years. The Tennessee Valley Authority has canceled plans to revive a partially built unit.'"

For additional background on the huge risks facing U.S. taxpayers from increased loan-guarantee bailouts for the nuclear power industry, see and

CONTACT: Leslie Anderson, (703) 276-3256 or

EDITOR'S NOTE: A streaming audio recording of the news event will be available on the Web as of 5 p.m. EST on February 3, 2010 at

Protests Against Corporate-Driven Climate Policies


For Immediate Release            22 September 2009

Actions Spreading Across the U.S. Against Corporate-Driven Climate Policy

Pittsburgh, PA--As groups protest the Pittsburgh International Coal Conference days before the G-20 arrives in the city, additional actions against U.S. climate policy and the fossil fuels industry took place on both the east and west coasts.

In New York City, Climate SOS, New York Climate Action Group  and Rising Tide North America protested what they called "a greenwashed U.S. climate agenda" at the opening of NYC Climate Week.  Activists distributed their version of the ACESA (American Clean Energy and Security Act) bill to event attendees and media in the form of fake $2 trillion bills [1] which subtly depict a collusion of prominent Green NGOs (NRDC, the Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund among others) with corporate backers of the bill (BP, Shell, Dow, and others). Climate SOS organizers Dr. Rachel Smolker and Dr. Maggie Zhou engaged ceremony patrons with a pointed critique of the bill's corporate-friendly implications.

Meanwhile on the west coast, the Mobilization for Climate Justice also took action in San Francisco against the corporate-driven U.S. climate bill. Activists blocked four lanes of traffic with a parachute-shaped banner which read "Climate Justice or Climate Chaos." "If Congress wants to protect the public interest, they would never consider adopting the current climate bill (ACESA) that was written by big oil and energy corporations in the first place," said Carla Pérez of the Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project. "Cap and Trade legislation coupled with direct subsidies to oil, coal, nuclear, bio-fuels and incinerator industries will only serve to add hundreds of toxic smokestacks in our backyards, she added."

Back in Pittsburgh, climate activists met in Schenley Park to set up the climate convergence--a space to talk about issues related to climate change and climate justice.  Part of this effort includes the New Voices on Climate Change program  of Global Justice Ecology Project. Anna Pinto, from CORE  in India, who came to the U.S. for a speaking tour as part of the New Voices on Climate Change program [2] , explained why opening space to discuss climate justice is so important. "Climate justice is not abstract. It's practical, it's about survival.  It's about need against greed," Ms. Pinto explained. "Is it worth it to have three cars today to have your children die of horrible diseases tomorrow? Both the United States and Indian governments are pandering to the greed of industrialists and financiers rather than enabling ordinary people to provide for their needs," she concluded.

Indigenous Environmental Network's Jihan Gearon, another New Voices on Climate Change participant, added her view on the centrality of climate justice within the discussion of climate change in the U.S.  "From extraction to transportation to refinement to distribution to consumption to storage, Indigenous Peoples are disproportionately impacted all along this road of destruction. The end result is contaminated and diminished food and water resources, forced removals, increased rates of illness and gridlocked economies," she explained.

"Global warming and climate change pose yet another serious threat. The land of the Indigenous people in the arctic is literally melting under their feet, disrupting the lifecycles of the plants and animals they depend on, and forcing coastal and island communities to abandon their homes and traditional lands. What happens to a culture when the land and environment it stems from no longer exists? Even more frightening is that the proposed solutions to climate change, such as carbon trading, nuclear power, and 'clean' coal technologies, will only exacerbate the problems we face," she added.

The repression experienced by indigenous and marginalized communities around the world due to climate change and the fossil fuel economy is today being echoed in Pittsburgh as a result of the same G-20 countries that are the main drivers of climate change.  Activists with the Three Rivers Climate Convergence and Seeds of Peace have been harassed and arrested numerous times over the past few weeks in the build up to the G-20 meetings later this week.

Protests across the U.S. demanding real, effective and just action on climate are expected to continue throughout the fall, to culminate on November 30th with massive non-violent civil disobedience actions nationally and internationally.

November 30th is significant as it is both the tenth anniversary of the historic shutdown of the WTO (World Trade Organization) meetings in Seattle and exactly one week before the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, where world leaders will meet to hammer out a new global agreement on climate.

Activists are joining together around the world to ensure that any new agreement on climate is devoted to real and just action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and not focused on corporate-controlled, profit-oriented false solutions to climate change.  Massive protests are being organized by the international network Climate Justice Action to occur during the UN meeting in Copenhagen, which some activists have begun to call "CorporateHaven" due to the overwhelming influence of industry in the climate debate.

Orin Langelle, Global Justice Ecology Project +1.802.578.6980
Ananda Lee  Tan, Mobilization for Climate Justice West Coast +1.415.374.0615/+
Hallie Boas, New Voices on Climate Change Coordinator +1.415.336.6590
Rachel Smolker, Climate SOS +1.802.735.7794
Abigail Singer, Mobilization for Climate Justice Co-Coordinator +1.828.280.3462



[2] The New Voices on Climate Change speaking tour is co-sponsored by Global Exchange, Speak Out and the Mobilization for Climate Justice.  Its goal is to highlight and amplify the voices of people and communities impacted by climate change, the fossil fuel industry and profit-driven false solutions to climate change.

Global Justice Ecology Project's New Voices

For Immediate Release                                          15 September 2009

New Voices on Climate Change North American Tour Launched

Burlington, VT--Global Justice Ecology Project's New Voices on Climate Change fall tour was launched on Monday, September 14th at the University of Vermont. The tour will travel from New England, to the G20 in Pittsburgh, to Appalachia, the midwest, southeast, Quebec and the final leg of the fall tour will culminate on November 30, 2009 in the West Coast. November 30th is the 10th anniversary of the WTO Shutdown in Seattle, and is a key organizing date for climate actions around the world this year.

The New Voices tour is co-sponsored by Global Exchange, Speak Out and the Mobilization for Climate Justice.

Hallie Boas, Coordinator of New Voices on Climate Change stated, "We launched the New Voices tour to raise awareness about the root causes and implications of human-induced climate change."  She continued, "The tour is intended to inspire and empower audiences to be aware of real community based solutions to climate change already being implemented all over the world and to build the U.S. movement for climate justice, while educating people about the particularly pivotal role of U.S. climate policy in preparation for the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark this December."

The first speaker on the tour is Anastasia Pinto [1], Executive Director of CORE (Center for Organizing, Research and Education) in India. Ms. Pinto is traveling throughout the northeast U.S. and speaking on climate change, gender justice and Indigenous rights. Her tour will finish at the G20 meetings in Pittsburgh, September 24-25.

"Climate change and false solutions to climate change are having an especially great impact on women and indigenous peoples in the so-called developing world, including my home country, India," stated Ms. Pinto. "If we are going to have any hope of stopping the climate crisis, we must join together to take strong action," she concluded.

Other sections of the tour feature Jihan Gearon [2] from the Indigenous Environmental Network Faith Gemmel, [3] an indigenous organizer for REDOIL, Camila Moreno, [4] from Terra de Direitos, a Brazilian NGO, and the final speaker of the fall tour is Fiu Mataese Elisara, [5] an indigenous Samoan activist.

Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project stated, "There are actions planned around the U.S. and all over the world on November 30, the day the tour ends.  This is also one week before the beginning of the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.  World leaders are gathering there to discuss creating a new global agreement on climate change. People are mobilizing globally to demand these meetings take real steps toward dealing with the climate crisis and do not merely focus on pro-corporate, profit-oriented false solutions. The New Voices tour is part of this mobilizing process to ensure that the Copenhagen climate talks must not become the CorporateHaven climate talks," she continued.


Hallie Boas
, Global Justice Ecology Project (West Coast Desk), New Voices Coordinator, +1.415.336.6590
Orin Langelle, Global Justice Ecology Project Co-Director, +1.802.482.2689/mobile: +1.802.578.6980
Reede Stockton, Global Exchange, International Climate Equity Campaign Manager, +1.415.575.5559

For more information please visit New Voices on Climate Change.

NOTES to Editors:

[1] Anna Pinto is the Secretary and Programme Director of CORE (Centre for Organisation, Research and Education), an indigenous peoples' policy research and advocacy organization based in the North East of India. Anna has been an active member of the Indian Women's Movement for over two decades. She will speak about the intersection between climate change, gender issues and indigenous rights. Anna will tour the Northeast U.S. in September to help mobilize participation in actions and events that will take place in Pittsburgh during meetings of the G-20. While the leaders of the twenty richest countries meet about the financial crisis and the climate crisis, activists representing diverse movements will convene in Pittsburgh to expose the common root causes of the financial crisis and the climate crisis and link them to war as well as the other crises we face: including food, water and biodiversity. For more on Anna

[2] Jihan Gearon, is Diné (Navajo) and African American. She is Tódích'ií'nii (Bitter Water) clan, and her maternal grandfather is Tl'ashchí'í (Red Bottom People) clan. Jihan's family is from the community of Old Sawmill and she grew up on the eastern part of the Navajo reservation in Arizona. Jihan is the Native Energy Organizer at the Indigenous Environmental Network, a member of the Steering Committee of the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative and on the Coordinating Committee of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. Jihan will be speaking about the impacts of climate change and fossil fuels on poor communities and communities of color in the United States; and about the intersection between the financial crisis and the climate crisis and connections with the struggle for environmental justice in the U.S. She will be speaking in the industrial Midwest on a tour beginning in Pittsburgh during the G-20 talks at the end of September and ending in Detroit one week later.  For more on Jihan

[3] Faith Gemmill is a Pit River/ Wintu and Neets'aii Gwich'in Athabascan from Arctic Village, Alaska, and is a campaign organizer for REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands). Faith previously worked on behalf of the Gwich'in Nation for over ten years as a representative, public spokesperson and Gwich'in Steering Committee staff to address the potential human health and cultural impacts of proposed oil development and production of the birthplace and nursery of the Porcupine Caribou Herd which is located within the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Faith continues as a public spokesperson, press and tribal liaison and human rights advocate with the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC). She will be touring through mountaintop removal coal mining country in the Appalachians to build bridges between the communities suffering from coal mining and those suffering from oil extraction. For more on Faith

[4] Camila Moreno is a lawyer and researcher with Terra de Direitos, a Brazilian NGO working on peasant and indigenous land rights. She has worked for years in support of the struggles of indigenous and peasant movements in Brazil. Camila will be speaking about the links between deforestation and climate change and the impacts on forest dependent indigenous communities, as well as the impacts of monoculture tree plantations (including genetically engineered tree plantations) developed for the production of agrofuels (biofuels). She will be touring through the Southeast U.S. during the first week of November to speak to communities where genetically engineered eucalyptus tree plantations have been proposed for the manufacture of cellulosic ethanol.  For more on Camila

[5] Fiu Mataese Elisara-La'ulu is the Executive Director of the Ole Siosiomaga Society (OLSSI). He came to the organization after spending over eight years (1993 - 2001) with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Samoa, six and a half of those years as Assistant Resident Representative (1996 - 2001). Fiu was given overall responsibilities for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and environmental programmes throughout much of his eight years with UNDP Samoa, and was closely involved with the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and other environmental partners, including OLSSI, in the implementation of environment programe around Samoa and the Pacific Island countries.  For more on Fiu

Genetically Engineered Trees a Threat to the Southern United States

 STOP Genetically Engineered Trees Campaign

For Immediate Release                11 June 2009

Government Set to Approve Planting of a Quarter Million Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus Trees in U.S. South

Hinesburg, VT, U.S.--The U.S. government is set to approve [1] a request from ArborGen, the genetically engineered (GE) tree research and development giant, for permission to plant 260,000 GE cold tolerant eucalyptus trees in 29 "field trials" across seven southern U.S. states.   Approval of such a large-scale planting of these dangerous flowering GE forest trees in the U.S. is completely unprecedented.  The GE eucalyptus, to be planted in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, would be allowed to flower and produce seeds, enabling them to potentially escape into native ecosystems and forests.

The STOP GE Trees Campaign, an international alliance of organizations that has banded together with the goal of globally banning the open-air release of genetically engineered trees, this week issued an "Urgent Action Alert" about ArborGen's potentially disastrous plans, with information about how the public can make comments to the government to help stop this large-scale release of GE trees.

"This is absolutely unprecedented--the government wants to approve the mass release of 260,000 flowering GE forest trees in so-called "field trials," stated Dr. Neil Carman who works with the Sierra Club in Texas.  "You cannot call over a quarter of a million trees over 330 acres "field trials."  These are experimental forests being planted outdoors under the disguise of "field trials" as a loophole.  The government must produce an Environmental Impact Statement to carefully review all of the potential environmental threats from this large-scale GE tree release," Dr. Carman continued.

Eucalyptus are internationally known for their devastating impacts--from invasiveness to wildfires to their ability to worsen droughts.  Massive wildfires in Australia earlier this year were fueled by eucalyptus, which contains a highly volatile oil.  These wildfires moved at 100 km/hr and killed 173 people, who literally did not have time to escape.  Additionally, eucalyptus grandis, one of the species in the GE eucalyptus hybrid, is also a known host to Cryptococcus gattii, a fungus that can cause fatal fungal meningitis in people and animals that inhale its spores.  C. gattii was recently found in the U.S. [2]

"In Brazil, eucalyptus plantations are known as 'green deserts' because they do not allow anything else to live," stated Camila Moreno, an attorney and Global Justice Ecology Project staff consultant in Brazil.  "No understory plants, no wildlife, no communities--only eucalyptus trees can survive there.  They are a disaster for Brazil, which is why there exists a large social movement against eucalyptus in Brazil and many hectares of plantations have been destroyed by communities," Moreno continued.

"ArborGen and their corporate owners, International Paper, Mead Westvaco and Rubicon [3] could not be more irresponsible.  The large-scale planting of these GE eucalyptus would spell disaster," added Danna Smith, Executive Director of the North Carolina based Dogwood Alliance.  "Already millions of acres of land in the South have been converted to pine plantations.  We cannot afford to lose any more of the precious native forests of the South--and especially not to eucalyptus plantations, which could make kudzu [4] look tame by comparison," she continued.

Official comments on the government's plans to approve the planting of 260,000 GE eucalyptus trees are being accepted until 6 July 2009 at 5 pm eastern U.S. time.   Also as a Public Service, the STOP GE Trees Campaign has created a sign-on Comment Letter demanding rejection of ArborGen's request to which members of the public can add their name. That Comment Letter with signatures will be submitted to the government.

Contact:  Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, +1-802-482-2689 office/+1-802-578-6980 mobile
Dr. Neil Carman, Sierra Club, +1-512-472-1767 office
Brian Tokar, Institute for Social Ecology, +1-802-229-0087


[1] On June 3, 2009 the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued their draft environmental assessment (EA) regarding ArborGen's request to plant 260,000 flowering GE eucalyptus trees over 330 acres in seven states.  In the EA, APHIS recommends approving the request. For details see


[3] ArborGen is jointly owned by International Paper, Mead WestVaco and Rubicon LTD.  All three are timber product corporations.  IP and Mead WestVaco are based in the U.S. and Rubicon is based in New Zealand.  The three joint partners fund ArborGen's activities.

[4] Links and information on Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) and its control:

An Urgent call to End Deforestation

For Immediate Release                                                       8 June 2009

Countdown for Survival: Global groups make an urgent call to end deforestation
and conserve the world's forests during UN Climate Talks

Bonn, Germany - A coalition of youth, environmental groups, NGOs, Indigenous Peoples organizations and women's groups delivered a plea to negotiators asking them to ensure a strong climate deal and warning them that they will put our survival at risk if they do not act immediately to halt deforestation and the industrial logging of the world's primary forests (forest degradation). [Signatories and statement below in NOTE 1]

"Survival is not negotiable. The climate deal signed in Copenhagen needs to ensure the survival of all countries and people. The immediate protection of the world's forests is no longer just an option, it is essential to ensure a safe climate for us and our kids," stated youth spokesperson Gemma Tillack.

The coalitions' plea asks delegates to ensure that any climate deal:

--Immediately ends deforestation, industrial scale logging in primary
forests and the conversion of forests to monoculture tree crops, plantations; 
--Protects the world's biodiverse forests including primary forests in
developed countries (e.g. Australia, Canada and Russia) and tropical forests in developing countries;
--Respects the rights of women, Indigenous peoples and local communities and allow them to lead healthy and sustainable lives whilst stopping deforestation and industrial logging of primary forests in their country; and
--Does not allow developed countries to use forest protection and the avoiding deforestation and industrial scale logging of primary forests in other countries as an offset mechanism for their own emissions.

"The forest is our life, without the forests we would not exist. Avoiding deforestation and stopping industrial logging will allow Indigenous peoples to live and will secure our future," said Adolphine Muley, of the Union pour l'Emancipation de la Femme Autochtone in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

"We need to ensure that climate change mitigation plans do not drive the establishment of monoculture tree plantations. The rapid ongoing direct and indirect replacement of forests by plantations is a significant cause of social and environmental harm and contributes significantly to climate change," said Diego Cardona from Friends of the Earth -Colombia and the Global Forest Coalition.

"The definition of forests in the climate change negotiations includes monoculture tree plantations thus allowing their promotion disguised as forests in market-based mechanisms that could be used in REDD. All countries need to accept and adopt a forest definition in the climate deal that clearly distinguishes forests from monoculture tree plantations," said Raquel Nunez from the World Rainforest Movement.

"A commitment to protect biodiversity and halt deforestation in primary forests would send a positive signal to the global community that we are on the right path towards avoiding a climate disaster," said Joao Talocchi from Greenpeace Brazil.

"Developed countries like Australia, Canada and Russia need to stop undermining the climate negotiations. They should stop industrial logging and woodchipping of their biodiverse forests, permanently protect their own carbon reservoirs and start accounting for their emissions from forestry activities. Only then can they ask developing countries to protect their forests," said Claire Spoors from Global Witness.

Ms. Tillack concluded saying, "We need to act now to secure a safe climate and peak our emissions by 2015. Every day of delay results in the release of huge amounts of dangerous carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We can not wait to take these first steps to ensuring our survival."

Gemma Tillack: The Wilderness Society and youth caucus +61 427 057 643
Claire Spoors: Global Witness +49 1763 546 3586
Joao Talocchi: Greenpeace Brazil  +55 11 8351 0169

[1] The coalition of youth, environmental groups, NGOs, Indigenous peoples' Organizations, women's groups who have signed this survival plea include:
International Youth caucus in Bonn
Ecosystems Climate Alliance
Global Forest Coalition
The Wilderness Society
World Rainforest Movement
Global Witness
Rainforest Action Network
Wetlands International
Rainforest Foundation Norway
Rainforest Foundation UK
Friends of the Earth
Indigenous Environmental Network
Global Justice Ecology Project
CORE India
Life gender, Environment and Diversity Germany
Sustainable Population Australia
Tanzania Forest Conservation Group
the Tanzania Community Forest Conservation Network MJUMITA
Stop GE Tree Campaign
RAVA Institute Indonesia
SWBC Nepal
Timberwatch Coalition South Africa
Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition
Friends of the Siberian Forests Russia
Focus on the Global South
Women´s Environment Network Australia
Women Environmental Programme Nigeria
Just Environment
COECO-CEIBA-Friends of the Earth Costa Rica
WALHI-Friends of the Earth-Indonesia
Down to Earth
Carbon Trade Watch
Women's Environment and Development Organization
Watch Indonesia
Asociacion ANDES Peru
Ecologistas en Accion Spain
Sustainable Energy and Economy Network
North East Peoples Alliance on Trade, Finance and Development India
WISE Inc. Philippines
FASE Solidarity and Education Brazil
Global Exchange
Kingdom Narintarakul Thai Working group for Climate Justice
Union pour l'Emancipation de la Femme Autochtone


Halt Climate Change ---- Halt Forest destruction ---- Halt Plantations
The undersigned broad coalition of NGOs, Indigenous Peoples' Organizations and women's groups call upon the Parties to the FCCC to take into account the critical role of forest conservation in climate change mitigation. The protection of forest biodiversity is vital for life on earth. Native forest ecosystems  provide us with clean air, clean water, a safe climate, food, fodder and shelter and they are an important part of our global and cultural identity. Forests provide aesthetic and intrinsic values. Indigenous Peoples and traditional local communities of the forests are the guardians and original conservationists  of the forest. They maintain a food sustenance and socio-cultural relationship to the forests based on their cosmovision. 

For that reason, we call upon Parties to:

- Immediately put in place rights-based and equitable policies and institutions to halt deforestation and forest degradation and the destruction of other natural ecosystems like peatlands and grasslands in all continents

- Identify and address the direct and underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation;

- Ensure that these policies and measures uphold international human rights and environmental standards and are  fully consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This includes the effective adoption and implementation by all Parties and all UN agencies and multilateral banks of the Right to Free Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples and local forest dependent communities;

- Ensure that these policies take into account the specific role, rights and interests of women and are fully consistent with Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women;

- Ensure that these policies are fully consistent with the Convention on Biodiversity and its Expanded Program of Work on Forest Biodiversity and contribute meaningfully to conserving and enhancing biodiversity and related cultural diversity, traditional knowledge and spirituality;

- Explicitly exclude the establishment and management of monoculture tree plantations, including genetically modified tree plantations, and the practice of industrial logging from these policies. This also implies adopting a forest definition that clearly distinguishes forests from monoculture tree plantations;

- Ensure any policies intended to reduce deforestation and forest degradation include measures to reduce consumption of forest products, especially in the Industrialized North;

- Ensure these policies secure the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits of forests and other ecosystems, both between countries and within countries, taking into account the critical role of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and women in conserving and restoring forests and other ecosystems. This also implies recognizing the customary and collective land tenure and forest rights of Indigenous Peoples and ensuring the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, local communities and women in all decision-making processes related to forests;

We call upon developed countries to recognize the historical debt to developing countries caused by their excessive greenhouse gas emissions. This implies immediate and drastic cuts in their domestic greenhouse gas emissions (45% by 2020/ 95% by 2050 as an absolute minimum) AS WELL AS providing sufficient financial and technological support to enable developing countries to halt the destruction of forests and other ecosystems. It is too late for either/or policies. Any form of carbon offsetting, including CDM afforestation/reforestation and REDD offset projects will only increase the ecological footprint and carbon debt of developed countries and must thus be avoided. (Due to a broad range of ethical, social and methodological risks, forest-based carbon offsets will undermine an effective, equitable and socially just climate regime.) Climate change mitigation and sustainable forest management must be based on different mindsets with full respect for Nature, and not on carbon offset mechanisms. Public funding mechanisms that ensure environmental integrity and equitable distribution of funds must be made established.

The Danger of Genetically Engineered Trees


For Immediate Release                8 May 2009

Joint Release from Global Forest Coalition, Global Justice Ecology Project and the STOP GE Trees Campaign

Field Trial of Dangerous Genetically Engineered Trees Begins in Belgium
GE Poplars Risk Contaminating European Forests with Climate-Destructive Traits

Amsterdam, The Netherlands--Organizations internationally are condemning the planting of a highly controversial field trial of GE poplar trees on 6 May by The Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB).  The poplars, planted in the Belgian countryside, have been genetically engineered for altered lignin content specifically for the production of agrofuels (industrial-scale biofuels). [1]

"Genetically engineered low-lignin poplar trees are a disaster waiting to happen," stated Dr. Miguel Lovera in Paraguay, chairperson of the Netherlands-based Global Forest Coalition.  "Poplars include thirty species that grow in a range of climates from subalpine in Northern Europe and Canada to subtropical areas in the south.  They can spread their pollen and seeds for up to hundreds of kilometers.  They can even spread asexually, through vegetative propagation, and can re-sprout from the stump if cut down.  Contamination of native poplars in The Netherlands and throughout Europe would be both inevitable and irreversible if GE low-lignin poplar plantations are developed," he added.

"Agrofuels made from food crops have been widely condemned due to their impacts on the global food supply," added Nina Holland, of the Belgium-based Corporate Europe Observatory.  "However, manufacturing agrofuels from non-food crops like GE trees is not the answer.  Non-food agrofuels will still monopolize land to grow the feedstocks--displacing agriculture and lopping down forests to free up the massive amount of land needed to produce the necessary quantities of fuel.  We have to reduce fuel consumption.  There is simply no way to sustainably replace the huge amount of transport fuel we currently use in Europe," she continued.

The role of healthy forests in mitigating climate change cannot be underestimated.  The escape of low-lignin GE poplar pollen and seeds into forests could cause devastating impacts including increased forest mortality since lignin is largely responsible for insect and disease resistance in trees.  Additionally, studies have found that low-lignin GE poplars store 30% less plant carbon as well as 70% less carbon in the soil. [2] They also rot much more quickly, rapidly releasing their carbon into the atmosphere.  This combination of destructive impacts indicates that GE poplars are yet another false solution and cannot be part of the fight against global warming.

"It is patently absurd to state that GE low-lignin poplars developed to produce agrofuels can be part of the solution to climate change," argued Anne Petermann, Executive Director of the U.S.-based Global Justice Ecology Project and Coordinator of the international STOP GE Trees Campaign.[3]  "Not only are GE trees themselves destructive to the climate, the entire notion of using wood to manufacture liquid fuels is ludicrous.  As we point out in the report, 'GE Trees, Cellulosic Biofuels and Destruction of Forest Biological Diversity', we need to be stopping the tremendous carbon emissions caused by deforestation, not creating a massive new demand for wood."

Dr. Miguel Lovera, Global Forest Coalition, +595-21-663654 (Office in Paraguay) +257 20993704 (mobile)  Dutch, French, Spanish and English

Nina Holland, Corporate Europe Observatory, +32 -(0) 2 89 30 930 (office),  +32 -(0) 497 389 632 (mobile)  Dutch and English
Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, +1-802-482-2689 (office), +1-802-578-0477 (mobile)  English

[1] In May 2008 VIB's field trial permit was rejected by the Belgian Ministers for Public Health as well as Climate and Energy.  After VIB fought the decision, it was suspended in December 2008 by the Belgian Council of State and in February 2009, it was announced that the field trial would be allowed.

[2] "Unregulated Release of GM Poplars and Hybrids", a report submitted to the USDA APHIS in response to a permit application from Oregon State University for field tests of low-lignin GE poplars, August 2007.

[3] The STOP GE Trees Campaign includes 136 organizations from 45 countries who have joined together to demand a global ban on the release of GE trees into the environment.  The Southern Hemisphere Coordination point of the STOP GE Trees Campaign, World Rainforest Movement, has created an inventory of GE tree research and development around the world.


Stimulus Environmental Projects Under Way

News Release

US Army Corps of Engineers
Sacramento District
Public Affairs Office
1325 J St. Room 1430
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: 916-557-7461
Fax: 916-557-7853

US Army Corps of Engineers announces stimulus projects

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (April 28, 2009) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District announces the following projects will receive funding provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

    In accordance with the legislation, these projects will be executed quickly, have low risk for schedule overruns, will result in high and immediate employment, be executed by either contract or direct hire of temporary labor, and complete a phase of or an entire project. Recovery Act funds will be used to complete increments of work on previously started projects and in some cases to complete such projects.

    In addition to funds provided for operations and maintenance and investigations (listed at, the following Sacramento District civil works projects designated are:
•    American River Watershed Common Features: $14 million
•    American River Watershed - Folsom Bridge and Folsom Dam raise: $3 million
•    Farmington Groundwater Recharge: $835,000
•    Guadalupe River - Mitigation and bridge construction: $12.5 million
•    Napa River Flood Protection Project and Napa Wine Train Relocation: $99.48 million
•    South Sacramento County Streams - Levee construction: $4 million
•    Yuba River Basin - Marysville Ring Levee stabilization: $9.25 million
•    Rural Nevada – Construction and upgrading of sewage and water treatment facilities: $10 million
•    Rural Utah – Construction of water supply pipeline and water plant improvements: $3 million

    The Corps is committed to achieving the President’s and Congress’ vision for the civil and military funding provided in the Recovery Act. We will act to quickly put those funds to use to help get our fellow citizens back to work and to help with the nation’s economic recovery.

    Through these projects we will continue to provide lasting value for the nation by addressing much needed infrastructure improvements, while ensuring their safe and efficient implementation, fidelity to existing contracting criteria and fully-transparent accountability to the American public.

    The lists of projects released today and additional information on the Corps’ role in the Recovery Act are available on the Web at


Indigenous People's Outrage


For Immediate Release                                                                  25 April 2009

Indigenous Peoples from around the World Outraged at the Rapid Escalation of Climate Change and Denounced False Solutions

Anchorage, Alaska--At the first global gathering of Indigenous Peoples on climate change, participants were outraged at the intensifying rate of destruction the climate crisis is having on the Earth and all peoples. Participants reaffirmed that Indigenous Peoples are most impacted by climate change and called for support and funding for Indigenous Peoples to create adaptation and mitigation plans for themselves, based on their own Traditional Knowledge and practices. Indigenous Peoples also took a strong position on emission reduction targets of industrialized countries and against false solutions.

The majority of those attending looked towards addressing the root problem - the burning of fossil fuels - and demanded an immediate moratorium on new fossil fuel development and called for a swift and just transition away from fossil fuels.

"While the arctic is melting, Africa is suffering from drought and many Pacific Islands are in danger of disappearing.  Indigenous Peoples are locked out of national and international negotiations," stated Jihan Gearon, Native energy and climate campaigner of the Indigenous Environmental Network. "We're sending a strong message to the next UN Framework Convention on Climate Change this December in Copenhagen, Denmark that business as usual must end, because business as usual is killing us.  Participants at the summit stood united on sending a message to the world leaders in Copenhagen calling for a binding emission reduction target for developed countries of at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 95% by 2050."

"In Alaska, my people are on the front lines of climate change and are devastated by the fossil fuel industry," related Faith Gemmill, Executive Director of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL).  "Alaska natives network and we are fighting back.  We recently won a major battle last week as the District Court of Columbia threw out a plan to access 83 million acres of the Outer Continental Shelf that was driven by Shell Oil. Shell has a long history of human rights violations, for which many have suffered and died, like Ken Saro-Wiwa of the Ogoni People in the Niger Delta of Africa."

Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network's Executive Director, commented, "We want real solutions to climate chaos and not the false solutions like forest carbon offsets and other market based mechanisms that will benefit only those who are making money on those outrageous schemes "  He added, "For example one the solutions to mitigate climate change is an initiative by the World Bank to protect forests in developing countries through a carbon market regime called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation or REDD."  He concluded, "Don't be fooled, REDD does nothing to address the underlying drivers of deforestation."

At a World Bank presentation at the global summit, Egberto Tabo, General Secretary of COICA, the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations in the Amazon Basin denounced "the genocide caused by the World Bank in the Amazon." Mr. Tabo also categorically rejected the inclusion of forests in the carbon market and the Bank's funding of REDD. The World Bank's representative, Navin Rai admitted that "the Bank has made mistakes in the past..We know that there were problems with projects like the trans-amazon highway." But REDD, he argued would not be more of the same. However, indigenous leaders at the global summit were unconvinced by his assurances and the Work Bank presentation ended with a Western Shoshone women's passionate appeal to the Bank to stop funding projects that endanger the survival of indigenous peoples.

Charred Earth Policy


Press Release                                                                                                  6th April 2009

Global Civil Society Opposes Charred Earth Policy

147 organisations from 44 countries warn against 'biochar' (large-scale charcoal) as a dangerous new false solution to climate change

An international declaration was today launched by 147 organisations opposing the growing hype and political support for Biochar. The groups signing the declaration "strongly oppose the inclusion of soils in carbon trade and offset mechanisms, including in the Clean Development Mechanism.” The groups further assert that, "the ‘biochar’ initiative fails to address the root causes of climate change.” [1]

Those issuing this warning range from small farmers associations and forest protection groups to international environmental networks and human rights advocates. Further organizations are being invited to sign the declaration.

This International declaration “Biochar, a New Big Threat to People, Land and Ecosystems” has been launched as UN and government delegates are meeting in Bonn this week to discuss a post-2012 climate change agreement.  One of the proposals [2] which they will be discussing is to allow carbon credits for using charcoal as a soil additive in the hope that this will create a permanent 'carbon sink' and help to reduce global warming, and reclaim degraded soil.  They will also discuss whether to generally include agricultural soils into carbon trading.

Civil society groups have called for caution on Biochar in view of serious scientific uncertainty. Many share concerns that this technology would lead to vast areas of land being converted to new plantations, thus repeating the unfolding disasters which agrofuels cause. They point out that large scale financial incentives for biochar or other soil sequestration could result in large scale land conversion and displacement of people.

Helena Paul from EcoNexus states: “Including biochar and agricultural soil in carbon markets would turn soils into a commodity that could be sold to offset pollution elsewhere. It would endanger smallholder farmers and indigenous peoples who cannot compete with governments and large companies and who are at risk of being displaced if the ground is literally sold out from under their feet.”

Stella Semino from Grupo de Reflexion Rural, Argentina adds: “The idea that charcoal will rescue a burning planet is absurd. Some biochar proponents call for quantities of charcoal which would require over 500 million hectares of industrial tree and crop plantations.  We know already that industrial agriculture and tree plantations are a major contributor to climate change and displace people and biodiversity. We need to protect ecosystems, not grow vast new monocultures and burn them! This is a farce.”

Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch states: “Large-scale support for biochar is premature and dangerous. Claims that biochar is retained permanently in soils and increases fertility are based on Terra Preta soils in Amazonia, which were made by indigenous peoples hundreds or even thousands of years ago.  Those farmers used biodiverse organic residues and compost, as well as charcoal. Modern biochar is not the same. Some companies are making biochar out of municipal waste and tyres, others promote using biochar to scrub flue gases from coal burners and then using this combination as a fertilizer. Some plan to use giant microwave ovens to char trees – justifying this by pointing to ancient Amazonian soils is absurd.” [3]


Rachel Smolker (U.S.):
 -  Tel  +1 – 802-482-2848 or  +1-802-735-7794
Almuth Ernsting (UK):
- Tel 0044-1224-324797
Helena Paul (UK):
 - Tel  +44–(0)207–431-4357
Stella Semino (Denmark):
 - Tel +45–(0)463-25328


[1] The declaration and organizations can be found at . Further Organizations wishing to add their name to the declaration should contact:

[2] The governments of Belize, Gambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Micronesia, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, have called for the inclusion of biochar into the Clean Development Mechanism, i.e. into carbon trading.  This is also supported by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

[3] For further information and references regarding biochar, see “Biochar for Climate Change Mitigation: Fact or Fiction?”

Prince Charles' Rainforest Speculation Plans

For Immediate Release                                      1 April, 2009


The Global Forest Coalition, a worldwide network of environmental organizations and Indigenous Peoples Organizations, have publicly rejected the plans of the Prince of Wales to finance rainforest protection with a system of bonds that are to be paid back with funding derived from carbon markets. The Prince launched his idea at a meeting with G20 Heads of State in St. James Palace today.

"It appears that the Prince has not read any newspapers in the past year," responded Dr. Miguel Lovera, the chairperson of the Global Forest Coalition. "Carbon markets have proven to be a highly unreliable source of funding for environmental protection. The last thing forests and forest peoples need is yet another form of financial speculation."

The members of the Global Forest Coalition are greatly concerned about the negative impacts the inclusion of forests in carbon markets will have on Indigenous Peoples and other forest dependant peoples.

Already the UN's newest market based mechanism for using forests as carbon offsets, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), has been controversial due to its predicted impacts on forests and Indigenous Peoples' rights. [1]

"Indigenous Peoples have proven to be capable of conserving and restoring their forests; but since we do not destroy forests, we will not be able to sell projects to reduce deforestation on the carbon market," states Marcial Arias, policy advisor of the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forest and Latin American Indigenous peoples' focal point of the Global Forest Coalition, who is attending the climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany [2] this week. "Instead, we are already seeing how Indigenous Peoples are being forcibly displaced from their land by carbon traders who want to use their lands to establish monoculture tree plantations."

Mr. Arias further added that Indigenous Peoples in developing nations have deliberately been selected to become part of the carbon market (developing nations are excluded from many of the schemes) because the legal protection and land appeal mechanisms in those countries are less likely to interfere with the development of the market based mechanisms.

Global Forest Coalition supports the position of the participants in the UK Climate Camp, [3] who are in the streets of London to oppose carbon markets. "Carbon markets favour a handful of polluters only.  In terms of mitigating climate change, carbon markets have proven to be a waste of time and money. The climate crisis is escalating so rapidly that we need both an immediate halt to deforestation AND a clear commitment of the developed country members of the G20 to take the lead and commit to the necessary reduction of at least 80% in their greenhouse gas emissions--with no carbon offsets," adds Anne Petermann, North American focal point for the Global Forest Coalition and executive director of Global Justice Ecology Project.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Miguel Lovera: (in Asunción, Paraguay): +595-991-216536
Marcial Arias (in Bonn, Germany): +507-67807457
Anne Petermann (in Vermont, U.S.): +1-802-482-2689 (office) +1-802-578-0477 (mobile)


[1]  "Protest Manifests as Indigenous Rights are opposed by U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand at UN Climate Conference"

[2] The 'Bonn Climate Change Talks'  is the first of three planned negotiating sessions before the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Conference Of the Parties 15, in Copenhagen this December.


Senate Bill Introduced to Conserve Migratory Birds

Contact: Steve Holmer, American Bird Conservancy, 202-234-7181, ext. 216,
Migratory Bird Photos Available: Click Here
Senate Bill Introduced to Conserve Rapidly Disappearing Migratory Birds

(Washington, D.C. – September 17, 2008) Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), George Voinovich (R-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have introduced bipartisan legislation to boost funding for the conservation of migratory birds. The Senate bill, S. 3490, reauthorizes the existing Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA), but at significantly higher levels, to meet the growing needs of our migrants, many of which are in rapid decline. Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) have introduced similar bipartisan legislation, H.R. 5756, in the House of Representatives.

“Maryland’s natural treasure, our environment, is a lure for millions of human tourists and avian visitors each year. For nearly a decade, federal investment in habitat protection, education, research and monitoring of neotropical migratory birds has been vital to the well-being of our ecosystem and our economy,” said Senator Cardin.

Of the 178 continental bird species included on the American Bird Conservancy/Audubon WatchList of birds of highest conservation concern, over one-third, 71 species, are Neotropical migrants. The populations of an estimated 127 species of migratory birds are in persistent decline, and 60 species have experienced significant population declines greater than 45% over the last 40 years. Several species, the Cerulean Warbler and Olive-sided Flycatcher, have declined as much as 70% since surveys began in the 1960s. 
“This legislation is urgently needed to prevent America’s native birds from disappearing,” said Darin Schroeder, American Bird Conservancy’s Vice President of Conservation Advocacy. “Nearly half of our songbird population is now in decline or facing serious threats; effective conservation projects can help us to start turning that around.” 
Saving Migratory Birds for Future Generations: The Success of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, a new report by American Bird Conservancy, details the disturbing downward trend in the populations of many migratory species and its causes, and documents the effectiveness of NMBCA. American Bird Conservancy and the Bird Conservation Alliance, a broad network of bird clubs, science and conservation organizations, have launched the Act for Songbirds campaign, to support reauthorizing the legislation and boosting funding levels each year. Citizens are being encouraged to contact their Representative and Senators in support of the legislation at
“This is something that everyone who loves birds can do to make a difference,” said Alicia King, Director of the Bird Conservation Alliance.
The House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans, held an oversight hearing July 10, titled "Going, Going, Gone? An Assessment of the Global Decline in Bird Populations." Witnesses, including Dr. George Wallace of American Bird Conservancy testified to the importance of the NMBCA to conserve declining migratory birds.
NMBCA supports partnership programs to conserve birds in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean, where approximately five billion birds of over 500 species, including some of the most endangered birds in North America, spend their winters. Projects include activities that benefit bird populations such as habitat restoration, research and monitoring, law enforcement, and outreach and education. Between 2002 and 2007, the program supported 225 projects, coordinated by partners in 44 U.S. states/territories and 34 countries. Projects involving land conservation have affected about 3 million acres of bird habitat.

Staff of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report that they receive many more requests for high quality conservation projects than they can provide grants for. NMBCA currently provides a maximum authorization of $6 million per year; last year Congress appropriated $4.5 million, a $500 thousand increase from the previous year. Under the new law, that amount would increase to $20 million by 2015. Grants require matching funds from other non-federal sources. Thus far, more than $21 million from NMBCA grants has leveraged over $95 million in partner contributions. FWS lists 341 migratory bird species that can benefit from the program:




American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is the only organization that works solely to conserve native wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts to safeguard the rarest bird species, restore habitats, and reduce threats, while building capacity in the conservation movement. ABC is the voice for birds, ensuring that they are adequately protected; that sufficient funding is available for bird conservation; and that land is protected and properly managed to maintain viable habitat. ABC is a 501(c)(3) membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator.

A Black day for the environment

For Immediate Release        World Environment Day, 5 June 2008

A Black Day for the Environment: False Solutions to Food Crisis will Escalate Starvation, Accelerate Climate Change and Devastate Biodiversity

Rome, Italy--The Global Forest Coalition, a worldwide coalition of environmental NGOs and Indigenous Peoples' Organizations, has called World Environment Day 2008 a black day for the environment, now that it appears the FAO Summit on World Food Security will fail to agree on an immediate halt to all forms of support for agrofuels. Instead, countries like the U.S. seem eager to exploit the current human tragedy for the promotion of a new 'Green Revolution,' which will have devastating impacts on both the climate and biodiversity.

"The rapid expansion of large-scale unsustainable agriculture that is being promoted at this Summit will lead to massive deforestation, thus contributing significantly to climate change," warns Dr. Miguel Lovera, the chairperson of the Global Forest Coalition. "In a country like Paraguay we have seen how the expansion of large-scale agro-industrial monocultures like soy has displaced small farmers and Indigenous Peoples, destroyed their forests, and contaminated their water resources with agro-chemicals, with devastating impacts on the health, welfare, and nutrition of rural communities."

It is widely acknowledged that the current food crisis has been caused by a combination of factors: climate change, a history of corporate-led globalization of food production and trade, increased consumption of meat and dairy products and the rapid expansion of agrofuels.

"Considering these factors, the one quick measure Heads of States could have taken to save the lives of many of the thousands of people currently starving, is to call for an immediate halt of all subsidies and other kinds of support to agrofuel production," stated Dr. Rachel Smolker of Global Justice Ecology Project, and the lead agrofuel researcher for the Global Forest Coalition.  Dr. Smolker concluded, "By failing to take this emergency measure, countries like the U.S. have made it clear that their main allegiance is to the agro-industrial interests that are capitalizing on the current crisis to promote their biotechnology, agro-chemicals, artificial fertilizers and other false solutions to the food crisis. This model of industrial agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, deforestation, rural depopulation as well as starvation. The 'solutions' being proposed by FAO will only worsen the situation. Food production, land and water rights must be put back into the hands of people, not corporations if we are to find a true solution to this crisis."

Climate change will have a particularly devastating effects in regions like Africa and the Pacific, that are already suffering disproportionately from the current food crisis. "By the end of this century 15 out of 27 nations in the Pacific will either no longer exist or will be totally uninhabitable," alerts Sandy Gauntlett, chairperson of the Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition. He ends, "The reality of agrofuels is that it is an economic measure that allows big industry to peddle psychological relief to the European and American consumer while the Pacific drowns and slowly starves."

For more information, please contact:

Orin Langelle, media coordinator, Global Forest Coalition, +1.802.482.2689 (office), +1.802.578.6980 (mobile)
In Rome, Italy: Dr. Rachel Smolker, tel:+39 333 211 8630 (English)
In Asunción, Paraguay: Dr Miguel Lovera, tel: +595-21-6636543 or +595-971-201957 (English, Spanish, French, Portugese and Italian)

'Cap and trade' climate scheme won't work in US either, warn European

16 April. For immediate release. With George Bush today expected to
outline options for a 'cap and trade' scheme to tackle US greenhouse gas
emissions, European environmental groups warned that a similar policy in
the European Union has been a 'total failure'.

European emissions have risen in the three years during which the EU
Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), which accounts for the vast majority
of trades in the world carbon market, has been in operation.

Heavy industry lobbying has led to an over-allocation of the free
pollution permits issued by the scheme, allowing large polluters to generate
billions in windfall profits but offering them little incentive to
change to cleaner energy and reduce emissions.

"Cap and trade schemes provide businesses with an opportunity to delay
making the transition to low carbon technologies" says Kevin Smith, a
researcher with the Carbon Trade Watch project of the Transnational
Institute, an Amsterdam-based think-tank. "Carbon trading will make huge
profits for a handful of polluting companies in the US, but it will not
bring about the emissions reductions that are so desperately needed."

"The European cap and trade scheme has seen industry lobbying at every
stage" says Oscar Reyes, also of the Transnational Institute. "There is
no reason to believe that this situation would be any different in the
US, where corporations enjoy an even greater degree of political

"There are many more effective policy tools than emissions trading to
fight climate change, such as increased spending on public transport and
more conventional regulations to cut energy use" says Jutta Kill of
the environmental group FERN. "An effective policy should cover all
sectors. The US military alone is responsible for the same amount of
emissions in one day as the whole of Sweden is in one year."

Further information
Kevin Smith, Carbon Trade Watch, ,

Oscar Reyes, Transnational Institute,, +31-647-035-778

Anne Peterman, Global Justice Ecology Project,,

1. Permits sold and re-sold as part of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme
(EU ETS) account for ¤19 billion of an estimated global market of ¤23
billion. See World Bank, State and Trends of the Carbon Market 2007 p.3

2. Recently released European Union statistics indicate that industries
covered by the ETS emitted almost 1.88 billion tonnes of carbon
dioxide against allowances of 1.91 billion tonnes. In other words, the 'cap',
which is meant to reduce emissions, failed to cap emissions because it
was set above the level of actual emissions.


Sears Green Vision


For Immediate Release- February 28, 2008
Contacts – William Craven, cell: 415.407.3426

'Green' Vision for Sears Turnaround Outlined in ForestEthics Memo
Investors Urged to Embrace “Good News” Eco-responsibility Could Bring Beleaguered Company
Quarterly Earnings Released Today; Large Shareholders Meet to Chart Future Course

NEW YORK— As Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: SHLD) released fourth quarter earnings expected to show a 47% loss for the fiscal year, forest advocacy group ForestEthics delivered to investors a memo urging the company to consider a novel step toward revitalizing their struggling brand: environmental responsibility.

The memo outlines how an embrace of environmentally friendly practices can provide Sears with much-needed good news following a series of financial, retail, product, and customer service mishaps.

The delivery of the memo also coincides with a meeting of shareholders in ESL Investments, the hedge fund founded by Sears Chairman Edward Lampert. ForestEthics hopes these large investors will consider the benefits of change at a time when the policies that made Sears successful in the 20th century appear outdated and wasteful in the 21st.

“Time and time again, we’ve seen what a significant impact adopting environmental standards can have on a major corporation,” said Ginger Cassady of ForestEthics. “It won’t solve all of Sears’ problems, but it can help reinvent their brand while protecting forests.”

The catalog practices of Sears (and SHC subsidiary Lands’ End) are having a devastating effect on our last remaining Endangered Forests, including the Canadian Boreal. The Boreal is logged at a rate of two acres a minute, 24 hours a day. In addition to serving as a critical line of defense against global warming, and as Earth’s most accessible source of freshwater, the Boreal is home to hundreds of First Nations indigenous communities and provides critical habitat for species of songbirds and caribou.

ForestEthics’ memo suggests six areas where Sears has an opportunity to show its commitment to employees, shareholders, customers, and the environment: the size of its climate footprint; the amount of recycled fiber in its catalogs; reduction in paper use; zero paper sourced from Endangered Forests; minimal use of precious natural resources in its paper production; and use of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) fiber.

The memo also cites a recent survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit indicating that “companies that saw their share price rise by at least 50% in the last three years place a greater importance on social and environmental goals than companies with share prices that have declined by more than 10%.”

ForestEthics, a nonprofit with staff in Canada, the United States and Chile, recognizes that individual people can be mobilized to create positive environmental change—and so can corporations. Armed with this unique philosophy, ForestEthics has protected more than twelve million acres of Endangered Forests. Visit or for more information.                   


# # #

Indigenous Peoples shut out of Climate Change Negotiations


Indigenous Peoples Protest UNFCCC
Indigenous Peoples shut out of Climate Change Negotiations

Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia- Indigenous peoples representing regions from
around the world protested outside the climate negotiations today
wearing symbolic gags that read UNFCCC, the acronym of the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change, symbolizing their systematic
exclusion from the UN meeting.

Yesterday a delegation of indigenous peoples was forcibly barred from
entering the meeting between UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer and
civil society representatives, despite the fact that the indigenous
delegation was invited to attend.  This act is representative of the
systematic exclusion of indigenous peoples in the UNFCCC process.

 "There is no seat or name plate for indigenous peoples in the
plenary, nor for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the
highest level body in the United Nations that addresses indigenous
peoples rights," stated Hubertus Samangun, the Focal Point of the
Indigenous Peoples delegation to the UNFCCC and the Focal Point for English
Speaking Indigenous Peoples of the Global Forest Coalition.

"Indigenous peoples are not only marginalized from the discussion,
but there is virtually no mention of indigenous peoples in the more that
5 million words of UNFCCC documents," argued Alfred Ilenre of the Edo
People of Nigeria.

This is occurring despite the fact that indigenous peoples are
suffering the most from climate change and climate change mitigation projects
that directly impact their lands.

Indigenous peoples are here in Bali to denounce the false solutions to
climate change proposed by the United Nations such as carbon trading,
agrofuels and so-called "avoided deforestation" that devastate their
lands and cause human rights violations.

"This process has become nothing but developed countries avoiding
their responsibilities to cut emissions and pushing the responsibility
onto developing countries," stated Fiu Mata'ese Elisara-Laula, of the O
Le Siosiomaga Society of Samoa.  "Projects like REDD (Reducing
Emissions from Deforestation in Developing countries) sound very nice but
they are trashing our indigenous lands.  People are being relocated and
even killed; my own people will soon be under water.  That's why I call
the money from the projects blood money," he added.

Marcial Arias of the Kuna People of Panama reminded the international
community that indigenous peoples' right to participate was recognized
in the Earth Summit in 1992 and reaffirmed this year. "On September
13th of this year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [1] which enshrines the
fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples to their lands,
territories and environment. It is precisely these rights recognized by the UN
itself that the UNFCCC is violating," he explained.

Contact: Hubertus Samangun, Indigenous Focal Point to the UNFCCC
(Bahasa, English) 0813-1077-8918
Orin Langelle, Global Forest Coalition Media Coordinator
0813-3895-9742 (English)
(photos available upon request)



No time left for false solutions

For immediate release
29 November 2007

No time left for false solutions:
Stop commercialising carbon, cut emissions at source!

The Global Forest Coalition (GFC) [1] is present in Bali, Indonesia,
for the 13th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, 3rd-14th December,
with a team of campaigners from around the world, including Indigenous
Peoples' representatives, to expose the false 'solutions' - agrofuels
[2] and carbon markets - being promoted by many governments and

It is now increasingly recognised that these failing solutions are also
having devastating impacts on the world's 854 million chronically
hungry people, [3] 1.6 billion forest-dependent people [4] and on forests
and biodiversity around the globe. [5] There is also growing evidence
that many are even making climate change worse.[6]

However, these so-called 'solutions' have certainly worked for those
governments and companies supporting them - but only because they have
generated windfall profits and subsidies for the world's richest
transnational companies, who have discovered that there are huge profits to be
made out of commercialising carbon; [7] and because they have allowed
governments to be seen to be doing something without making any
difficult decisions.

Dr Miguel Lovera, Chair of the GFC, said:

“Governments are here to stop climate change, not promote carbon
commercialisation. They should keep forests out of carbon markets, stop
subsidising agrofuels and say a resounding No! to the World Bank's planned
Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. They need to roll their sleeves up
and get on with the very real and urgent task of stopping climate
change immediately. There's no time left to make any more mistakes!”

Many effective 'tried and tested' processes, technologies, transport
systems and regulations, that cut emissions at source and provide social
and ecological benefits, already exist. These include (to name just a
few) bans on deforestation, converting to more sustainable wind and
solar energy sources and ramping up investment in efficient and affordable
public transport systems.

Journalists are invited to contact any of the campaigners listed below,
to talk about the specific social and environmental impacts of
commercialising carbon in different regions of the world.

In the first instance you may wish to contact our coordinators on their
Balinese mobiles:

Media Coordinator: Orin Langelle, GFC, US, +62 813 38959742, English
Campaigns Coordinator: Ronnie Hall, GFC, UK, +62 813 38959738, English

Speakers with different areas of expertise, regional knowledge and

Marcial Arias, a leader of the Kuna people, Panama.
Indigenous Peoples' rights, UN Declaration of Indigenous Peoples,
especially in relation to UNFCCC and the UN CBD.
Kuna and Spanish, +62 813 38959740

Timothy Byakola, Climate and Development Initiatives, Uganda.
Agrofuels, carbon trading and plantations.
Lunyoro, Swahili and English, +62 813 38959739

Fiu Mata'ese Elisara-Laulu, O Le Siosiomaga Society, Samoa
Sustainable development that impacts culture, social, environment and
economic issues.
Samoan and English, +62 813 38959741

Sandy Gauntlett, Chairman of the Pacific Indigenous Peoples
Environmental Coalition (PIPEC), Aotearoa/New Zealand
Plantations and agrofuels, Pacific climate impacts, Indigenous Peoples
English, +62 813 38938574

Dr Andrei Laletin, Friends of the Siberian Forests, Russia
Russian government's positions on forests and climate change, REDD
Russian and English, +62 813 38950984

Dr Miguel Lovera, Chairperson of the GFC and Iniciativa Amatocodie,
Conservation and restoration of forest biomass, rights of Indigenous
Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, Dutch and Italian, +62 813

Simone Lovera, GFC's Managing Coordinator and Sobrevivencia, Paraguay
International Environmental Law, payment for environmental services
schemes, soy expansion, Indigenous rights, REDD.
English, Dutch, Spanish, German and Portuguese, +62 813 37984639

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP), US
Genetically engineered forest trees; second generation agrofuels
English, +62 813 38918437

Hubertus Samangun, Director of ICTI, Tanimbar, Indonesia, Southeast
Asia Regional Coordinator of the International Alliance of Indigenous and
Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests. Indigenous rights, biodiversity
and forest policy, agrofuels, REDD.
Bahasa Indonesia and English, +62 813 10778918

Swati Shresth, Kalpavriksh, India
Agrofuels (especially Jatropha), tribal law and protected areas.
Hindi and English, +62 813 38918431

Dr Rachel Smolker, Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP), US
lead author of GJEP/GFC report "The true cost of agrofuels: food,
forests and the climate"
English, +62 813 38959709

Also present in Bali are many members of the International Alliance of
Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests. The
International Alliance is active in 43 countries. They can be contacted via:

Kittisak Rattankrajangsri, International Alliance of Indigenous and
Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests, Thailand
Thai and English, +62 813 38934295


1. The Global Forest Coalition is a worldwide network of
non-governmental organisations and Indigenous Peoples Organisations that promotes
effective rights-based forest conservation policies. See for more information.

2. The term 'agrofuels' is a more accurate label for the production of
fuel from industrially produced agricultural crops (and is also used by
the FAO). The term 'biofuels' gives a false impression that these
fuels are environmentally friendly, when they are in fact environmentally
and socially destructive.

3.  A recent report to the UN General Assembly, on the right to food
expressed “grave concerns” that agrofuels production ”presents
serious risks of creating a battle between food and fuel that will leave
the poor and hungry in developing countries at the mercy of rapidly
rising prices for food, land and water”. The author of the report, the
UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, recently
called for a five-year moratorium on the production of agrofuels using
current methods.
According to the UN's World Food Programme 854 million people are already
chronically hungry and nearly six million children under the age of
five die of starvation every year: one child every five seconds.

4. Agrofuels and plantations planted to offset carbon emissions in the
rich industrialised world are increasing deforestation, and this is
having a severe impact on forest-dependent communities. According to the
FAO, 1.6 billion people are dependent on forests or trees outside
forests See for example,
the impact of the tree planting project in the Mount Elgon national park
financed by the FACE Foundation at and the impacts of a
voluntary forest-related carbon offset project in Ecuador at

5. In Paraguay, for example, the expansion of the agricultural frontier
is the principal cause of biodiversity loss, and agrofuels are
stimulating demand for large scale monoculture products like soy. It is now
estimated to be 7-10% (Fundacion Moises Bertoni 2007) in isolated and
dwindling patches of forest. Since the 1980's this has been caused
primarily by the advance of soy monoculture.

6. The Global Forest Coalition/Global Justice Ecology Project will
launch its new report The real Cost of Agrofuels: food, forests and the
climate, in Bali on 4 December 2007. To take just one example, however, a
recent study of N2O emissions from agrofuels revealed that some
contribute up to 70% more to global warming via N2O emissions than they do to
cooling via avoided CO2 emissions. This is especially true for fuels
derived from rapeseed (about 80% of European production) and corn
(virtually all production in the US). In the author's words: "Here we have
concentrated on the climate effects due to required N fertilization and we
have shown that the use of several agricultural crops with high N/C
ratios for energy production can readily lead to N2O emissions, large
enough for several crops to cause net climate warming instead of cooling
by saved fossil CO2.” Crutzen, P.J., Mosier, A.R., Smith, K.A.,
Winiwarter, W. 2006. N2O release from agro-biofuel production negates climate
effect of fossil-fuel derived "Co2" savings.  Atmos. Chem. Phys.
Discuss., 2007, 7, 11191

7. The EU, for example, has fallen behind schedule to meet its Kyoto
target of an 8% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2012, and the
US$44 billion-a-year market has been labelled “an environmental and
economic failure”. The scheme has, however, generated “record profits
for RWE AG and other utilities”,

False Solutions to Climate Change

PRESS RELEASE FROM Global Justice Ecology Project  EMBARGO UNTIL 12:00 AM GMT, 17 NOVEMBER 2007

Governments must reject ˜Biofuels" and other False Solutions to
Climate Change

In reaction to today's launch of the synthesis report of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in Spain, the Global Forest
Coalition, a worldwide coalition of NGOs and Indigenous Peoples
Organisations, called upon governments to reject so-called ˜biofuels" and other
false solutions to climate change like carbon trading. It is now
becoming clear that these solutions may in fact make climate change worse,
not better, and that they have many other serious social and
environmental impacts. (1)

The IPCC report again highlights that climate change is already having
devastating impacts upon the economies and livelihoods of people all
over the world. Indigenous Peoples and other vulnerable and economically
marginalized peoples suffer the most dramatic consequences of climate
change, as they are directly dependent upon the forests, drylands and
polar ecosystems that are being destroyed by droughts, forest fires and
other effects of global warming. However, these communities are also the
main victims of the false solutions that some governments and high
profile advocates are proposing, like large-scale biofuels, (or
 ˜agrofuels" as most social movements refer to them) and carbon
investments in forestry projects.

Dr. Miguel Lovera, chairperson of the Global Forest Coalition, said:

"Here in Paraguay the soya boom that has been triggered by agrofuels
means that farmers are now racing to clear the forests and plant soy.
What is the point of planting a crop that is supposed to help stop
climate change, when it involves ripping out the lungs of the world and
destroying the homes and livelihoods of our forest peoples, including our
last communities of Indigenous Peoples living in voluntary isolation?
The IPCC recognizes that conserving forests is one of the most effective
and economically efficient ways of mitigating climate change but
governments don't seem to be listening: instead of banning deforestation,
they are actually subsidizing the production of these agrofuels crops
which are making deforestation worse all over the world." (2)

In Mato Grosso in the Brazilian Amazon, renewed soy expansion caused
deforestation to increase by around 84% between September 2006 and
September 2007. Soy expansion in South America is mainly caused by the
ethanol boom in the US, which has triggered US soy farmers to switch to corn.

“As the main problems are caused by the indirect impacts of
agrofuels, proposals to certify "sustainable biofuels" just won't work, as
they can't control these indirect impacts" emphasizes Dr. Rachel
Smolker of the Global Justice Ecology Project in Vermont (US).

"Second generation agrofuels, like genetically modified trees, will
also cause a myriad of environmental and social problems, including the
replacement of forests with vast monocultures of tree plantations,
planted to fuel cars" she adds.

The Global Forest Coalition also opposes proposals to finance reduced
deforestation through the international carbon market, as such offsets
do not contribute anything to mitigating climate change: every ton
carbon stored in forests will imply an extra ton of carbon emissions in the
North. Moreover, they form an inequitable and unpredictable source of
financial support. Carbon offset projects in countries like Uganda have
already led to devastating impacts on local communities. (3)

"Many Indigenous Peoples in the Pacific face the possibility of
losing everything in a short space of time:  their homes, their
territories and their livelihoods -, because of rising sea-levels. We insist that
governments do something now to stop this ethnocide. They urgently
need to invest in real forest conservation (4), sustainable transport
systems and solar and wind energy" stresses Sandy Gauntlett, chairperson
of the Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition.

For more information, please contact: - Dr. Miguel Lovera, Global
Forest Coalition, Paraguay, tel: +595-21-663654 and mobile: +595-971-201957
(English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch)
- Sandy Gauntlett, Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition,
New Zealand, tel: + 64 9 8349529
- Anne Petermann (mobile +1 802 578 0477) and Dr. Rachel Smolker,
Global Justice Ecology Project, USA, tel: +1 802-482-2689, and
- Ronnie Hall, campaigns coordinator, Global Forest Coalition, UK, tel:
+44 7967 017281,

(1) See also
For an overview of social and environmental impacts of agrofuels,
For an analysis of the possible impacts of the inclusion of avoided
deforestation in global carbon markets and
For an example of the impacts of a voluntary forest-related carbon
offset project in Ecuador.
(2) In 2007 alone, soy monocultures expanded from 2.4 million to 2.8
million hectares in Paraguay. The price rise of around 23% on the
international markets is considered to be one of the major factors. See also for more information on the environmental and social
impacts of soy production.
(3) The tree planting project in the Mount Elgon national park financed
by the FACE Foundation to offset CO2 emissions from air travellers and
Dutch electricity companies led to major negative social and
environmental consequences around the park, with communities that were living in
the area being forcibly resettled. Lack of agricultural land and
fuelwood outside the park led to increased forest degradation, land slides,
hunger, poverty, prostitution and HIV/AIDS. In 2005, a Ugandan Court
ruled that the resettlement was illegal, and in 2007 returning local
people cut down 100,000 of the newly planted trees to create space for
their farms again. For more information, go to
(4) The Framework Convention on Climate Change obliges all governments
to conserve forests and other carbon sinks, and developed countries to
provide new and additional resources to enable developing countries to
conserve their forests. See also
for an independent review of the implementation of the forest-related
clauses of the FCCC.