Category Archives: Uncategorized

When African Renewable Energy Was Hijacked

A few years ago, during the United Nations climate change negotiations in Paris in December 2015, 55 African leaders launched the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI). It pledged to follow a people-centred approach to renewable energy development and energy access work across our continent. It talked about rights and equity, very important for our context and for justice. It talked about community ownership and distributed power for African people, in both senses of the word ‘power’. It demanded new and additional renewable energy for our people – no double counting of funds for other projects. It was an African-owned and African-led initiative.

JA! people participated in the AREI meetings in Paris in December 2015 and in Marrakesh in November 2016. Civil society was included into this process from the beginning. Could this become something we would be proud of as Africans? The AREI was a unique approach, in a continent marred by ever-increasing development of dirty energies like coal, oil, gas and big hydro, where it is commonplace to sacrifice our people, kill the local ecology, grab lands and destroy the climate at the same time. The AREI put in strong and important criteria in place to avoid these terrible impacts and said that projects would not support fossil fuels or nuclear.

The AREI really pledged to be different. And this pledge to go for a different, people-based approach is really important. It moves us away from a system fix approach to a system change approach, to change the base principles which drive how we think about energy for people.

In Paris, developed countries stepped forward with $10 billion in pledges to support this initiative. But would these countries really let this initiative survive? Or would money talk? The frightening answer came just over a year later, and by early March 2017, the AREI was already in danger.

The first attack came from the European Commission (EC), and the French government which had helped birth this initiative in the UN talks in their country. What did the attack look like? They came forward at the board meeting with a plan to fund 19 renewable energy projects with an investment of a whopping 4.8 billion. You can read the press release dated 4 March of the European Commission at this link – http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-442_en.htm. When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The claim for 4.8 billion is false, they are providing a mere €300 million themselves and hoping to leverage the rest. Not just that, remember the AREI’s commitment for new and additional projects with strong criteria to prevent environmental injustices? Well, these proposed projects were already partly pre-existing ones, with all kinds of double-counting and dodgy accounting taking place on the financing. Some of the projects, like a geothermal project in Ethiopia, are from 2014, the year before the AREI initiative was even finalized. Worst of all, these projects are being rammed through without caring about criteria and impacts. Our colleagues discovered that at least 1 of these projects involves fossil fuels interests. We heard that 14 of these projects were just rubber-stamped through, while 5 of them were not even reviewed due to lack of time. The base principles of AREI were the first to be under attack. Even the vague notion of system change is threatening to the system.

 

African civil society began to hit back at this affront. By early April, JA! had joined over 180 African organizations who signed up to a letter demanding this hijack of the AREI be reversed. Last week at the UN negotiations in Bonn, on 18 May 2017, 111 international organizations outside of Africa released a letter supporting the African demands for the EC and France to stop the hijack of African renewable energy. A lot of media pick-up has happened around these letters.

The EC knows it is being watched and is now on the back-foot. Our European colleagues were invited to a meeting with them in Bonn last week, where they found out that the EC is seriously trying to do damage control. They are shocked by the media pick-up and are calling it a scandal. But they are not yet saying how they will do things differently. This meeting took place on 16 May 2017. Some mainstream system-fix type civil society people already wanted to stop the international letter since they said the EC is talking to us. Others said, no way, the EC and France need to be exposed and they made sure the letter was released 2 days later, before the Bonn talks closed. You can read the press release here- http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1102862873361&ca=c6022777-a64f-4bd8-b159-69ebbf8df668.

The Curse of Mega Projects

mega curse 2

In Mozambique, 2016 was marked by the scandal of illegal debts – EMATUM, MAM and Proindicus – which, one after the other, drastically brought down our currency (Metical) and dramatically increased the cost of living for Mozambicans. As if the political problems and the undeclared state of war we were already living in, were not bad enough, we discovered that the country had been mortgaged off… Thus, we entered 2017 with a lot of concern and very little hope, We were convinced that corruption in Mozambique thrives at the highest level with impunity. We were absolutely skeptical that there would ever be a competent and exhaustive investigation of the country’s mortgaged situation nor holding the culprits accountable.

In the last few years, we have done our best to explain that our greatest concern, our greatest fear for the future, is that our rulers continue to sell off our country – carelessly and without abandon – to Multinational corporations whose mega projects not only do not serve the Mozambican people, but hurt them greatly. They directly injure and impact on the lives of thousands of people who are expropriated from their lands and ways of life, conned and abandoned, or are subjected to living in unhealthy or even inhuman conditions. Indirectly, the sum of the social, environmental and political consequences of the “development” model that these mega projects bring – whether agricultural, mining, hydroelectric, etc. , far exceeds the meager economic benefits that our chronic “lack of bargaining power” guarantees the country.

But this story is not new nor is it only ours. Several publications, from various organizations, are tired of warning and denouncing the numerous problems that foreign mega investments bring to Mozambique. The Centro de Integridade Pública (Public Integrity Center) in Mozambique, for example, is responsible for some of the most pertinent reviews of the negotiations and contracts (the few that are being made public) between these investors and our government. These contracts, weak and often harmful to the State, allied to the State apparatus’ incapacity to enforce our laws, to unjust and inadequate resettlements, and to the ease with which – with the collusion of our rulers – these foreign investors unscrupulously usurp peasant land, make foreign investment in Mozambique a socio-economic calamity.

Like a stubborn child, we seem not to be interested in learning. With the new year, regrettably, new mega contracts have arrived, for the extraction of mineral resources from the north of the country. These contracts have been signed with some of the most infamous polluters on the planet, companies like Shell or ExxonMobil, who have been responsible for environmental disasters of epic proportions, including the disasters in Nigeria and Alaska. These companies are also marred by shameful disinformation campaigns.

Likewise, over the country, the mindless plans to “capitalize” on the country’s hydro potential with an arsenal of hydroelectric plants are still alive and oblivious to reason and science. Keeping in mind that most of the energy expected to be produced will be destined for export and not to supply the homes of millions of Mozambicans who continue to live under the light of a xipefo (lantern in the local language Changana) The science is clear that decentralized and renewable energy systems such as solar and wind energy should be part of a fair, adequate, safe and even cheap energy solution model.

On the Zambezi River alone, our government’s plans :

Expanding the existing Cahora Bassa dam, projected to increase the power capacity by 1,250 megawatts. Estimated to cost about US$700 million.

Mphanda Nkuwa, projected to generate of 1,500 megawatts. Estimated cost of US$4.2 billion.

Lupata, with the potential of 416 megawatts. Estimated cost of S$1.072 billion

Boroma with the potential of 210 megawatts. Estimated cost US$572.5 million.

If all these dams are built on the Zambezi, we have no doubt that this will be the river’s demise, and that of its ecosystems and the thousands of communities whose livelihoods depends on the river. In addition to these 4 projects in the Zambezi, there are also Lúrio and Alto Malema in Nampula, and Pavua, in the Púnguè River in Sofala. Pavua – the most recent addition to the list – appears to be (as yet we know very little about the project) an environmental atrocity of biblical proportions, purely and simply because (according to its Background Information Document) it will be 115 meters high by 950 meters long! (To generate only 120 MW!)

mega curse

Why so many dams? Are we adequately addressing the potential impacts these could have on our people? Have we thought about the use and management of water taking into account variables such as those expected in the face of climate change? Have we seriously considered the feasibility of other alternatives? We are sure this has not happened.

It seems clear to us that – either because of the greed of those who bargain and benefit from these mega projects, and/or because of the lack of clear guidelines (or willingness to follow them) – the foreign investment trend continues to be to devise profitable “solutions” for the few, instead of providing effective solutions for all, thus perpetuating a modus operandi in which the urgent need is repeatedly used to justify the investments, rather than the investment being requested to fully meet the identified need. We are running out of time to correct the damage we are inflicting on our environment (and therefore on ourselves)… but we could at least stop contributing to the problem.

More info and references:

COP 21: Mudança climática envolve poder, manipulação e guerra psicológica

New dams add 3,600 megawatts of power production in Mozambique

Pavua Hydropower Project, Background Information Documents

The pinnacle of capitalism – a hymn to imbecility and an incalculable risk to humanity

 

Regardless of what you think of him, and as surreal as it may still seem to the vast majority of Earthlings, Donald Trump is really the new President of the United States, and by the look of things, the New Yorker is not just going to play pretend President, and his vision to “make America great again” – slogan of his presidential campaign (which was curiously originally used by 1980 Ronald Reagan’s campaign, him too a man from the entertainment world who became President of the United States – is, to say the least, radical.

Unorthodox, with the fallacy, arrogance and lack of sensibility of a spoilt child, accustomed to impose his will on his hierarchy, Trump does not exude wisdom, solidarity or complacency. And that, for both Americans and the rest of the world that is irreparably subject to the consequences of US policies and actions, is a serious headache.

In environmental terms, Trump is potentially the worst thing that could have happened to the planet. It is a very low blow in the already meagre hopes for concrete and tangible changes to safeguard the environment, and thus the future of humanity. At a time when environmentalists and developed countries such as the United States were still duelling over the agreement reached at the Paris COP in 2015, Donald Trump is elected after stating categorically that climate change is a hoax and promising his electorate to repeal all the measures taken by the previous government to address the problem. A tiny little setback.

However, last week Trump shared his federal budget proposal with the American people. As expected, military expenditures gained about 53 billion dollars – a sum he deemed necessary for America to go back to winning wars. Scary…

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But guess where the 53 billion dollars come from? From all sides, experts say, except from defence programs. We Africans will be particularly affected by two budget cuts: the cut to the EPA, – its Environmental Protection Agency – that will affect the entire planet by weakening the monitoring, regulation and all the protection policies and mechanisms of one of the planet’s biggest polluters; and the cut to international aid, which despite representing only about 1% of the federal budget is expected to be drastic and dramatic for countries like Mozambique that benefit annually from hundreds of millions of US dollars of funding. The situation is so alarming that, according to CNN, last Tuesday hundreds of groups supporting the humanitarian work of the United Nations wrote a letter to members of the US Congress and Senate, calling for them to maintain their support to the UN and its Secretary General. The same news article pointed out that this political shift in the United States – notably the country that provides the most international aid – could not have come at a worse time, particularly given the serious problems of hunger in Southern Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia, where about 22 million people need urgent help; and, above all, due to the acute refugee crisis that the world is experiencing (the largest since World War II with more than 65 million displaced people) as a result of conflicts in countries such as Syria and Iraq.

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To wrap it up, let’s revisit the phrase we underlined out a few paragraphs ago: “Trump is potentially the worst thing that could have happened to the planet.” The only caveat for this statement is the sad possibility that, in the next few years, his presidency – which is expected to be seriously environmentally damaging – may coincide and contribute to climatic events so extreme that they end up catapulting political will to adequately address and resolve the issue. Unfortunately, if that happens, the cost of running this hypothetical full cycle will be many millions of lives.

Supports who?

Another mega agricultural project launched in Mozambique

We received the news about its launching ceremony with skepticism. For many of us, it was the first time we were hearing about the project. Another mega project loaded with ambitious and (some) noble goals, like so many others that preceded it and vanquished without achieving half of what they set out to do.

“This mega project of my Government, whose objective is to gradually take rural families out of poverty, is the embodiment of the investment in Mozambican families as the main mechanism to promote sustainable, integrated and inclusive development and reduce regional and local asymmetries”, said Filipe Nyusi.

It is premature to make major considerations or comments on the subject because still very little is known. We have not yet had access to any document on the project, and the little information that exists is circulating in the mainstream media. However, the simple fact that a project this big (judging by the amounts involved and by the 125 thousand families of alleged beneficiaries) is launched in this manner, leads us to ask: Where did this project come from?

Once again, this is a top to bottom approach. The project was designed, discussed and launched, without giving the alleged beneficiaries or other interested parties and/or affected people, the chance to participate in its construction!

Surely there are more than enough reasons to justify the urgency to launch this project. To justify why there was no time to perform appropriate public consultations; to involve the many actors who deal with agricultural issues such as research institutions, academics, civil society, grassroots organizations and peasants in discussions on priorities for the development of peasant agriculture; and to design the project on the basis of a truly open and transparent process.

To justify their hurry, the noblest of reasons will be invoked, such as the urgent need to support the development of the peasantry, given their evident poverty and vulnerability. Obviously, old and less noble arguments – which, truth be said, are nothing but mere distractions – will also come back, like accusing those who question the project of being against development and/or unpatriotic.

Interestingly enough, the World Bank and other similar agencies are far more influential in deciding what may or may not happen in Mozambique than the Mozambican people. And although, as we have said earlier, we know nothing about this project yet, we risk guessing that the role of the World Bank is not limited to financing it. They have certainly been involved in the project’s conception, ensuring that their altruistic support goes mainly to what interests them most: agro-business and forest plantations – monocultures of exotic species – they call reforestation.

“More than 5,000 jobs will be created by forest plantations, through the reforestation of more than 1600 hectares of degraded lands.”

According to information in the media, this project was conceived by MITADER and will be supported by the World Bank! The perfect wedding!

In other words, we owe a great debt to our government (and no, it is not that hidden and illegal debt we talking about)! We are deeply grateful to them for granting us another ready-made project to reduce poverty. Free from burdens such as having to think about development issues, about inclusive and participatory strategies, about how to ensure that the priorities of the peasantry are properly included, and even about how we want to manage our resources and how we want to see our country in the coming years.

For now, let’s wait for the enthusiasm to fade so we can then try to understand how this mega project is supposed to work and, above all, how will it – unlike the many others in the past just like it (loaded with the same promises and the same rivers of money to implement) – finally get Mozambicans out of poverty?

Who has left poverty behind thanks to the fantastic green revolution? Who has left poverty behind growing jatropha or other biofuels? Who will benefit from Prosavana? Someone always profits, but who? And at what cost? How many hundreds of thousands of Mozambicans’ well being will these ready made projects with incognito beneficiaries “cost”?

And while misunderstandings and failures in communication are, unfortunately, too often invoked to justify civil society’s opposition to so many mega-projects, – even though they are never the main reason – people insist on doing things behind closed curtains. Where is the official information about the project? It has already been inaugurated; it is already being advertised in the media; but it is not available on the websites of the entities involved and all we know about it is what is being reported by the media.

We would also like to believe and share their enthusiasm, but skepticism has taken over us long ago. Now we prefer a “seeing is believing” approach, and we have not seen anything yet …

 

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South-South Dialogue: The Bataan Statement

On the 29th and 30th of October, 2016, people from about 20 countries in the global south gathered together in Bataan city in the Philippines, to discuss about the climate catastrophe and dirty energy, from the perspective of southern countries and social, economic and environmental justice. JA! was proud to be part of that gathering. Below is the final statement released by the meeting.

 

SOUTH-SOUTH DIALOGUE: The Bataan Statement

1. The world has already begun to experience unprecedented and unparalleled catastrophes as a consequence of the global climate crisis. While governments have agreed to limit global average temperature rise to below 1.5-degrees Celsius under the Paris Agreement, the combined Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of countries who committed to this target will still ultimately condemn present and future generations to a devastating 3-degree Celsius average increase in the global temperature. Disturbingly, the commitments submitted by the governments of the North fall way below their fair share in combating climate change. The worst lurks in the offing for, should all the coal projects under construction and in the pipeline go online it would usher in a 6-degree Celsius average global temperature increase.

2. The Global North, in continuing to deny their responsibility by not committing to and pursuing an ambitious mitigation pathway, is condemning numerous species to extinction and an end to biological life as we know it, even as we already contend with the impacts of a destabilized climate. It is putting the lives, homes, and livelihoods of peoples across the globe in harm’s way.

3. At the frontlines of suffering from the worst impacts of the climate crisis are indigenous peoples, women, children and youth, workers, farmers, pastoralists, elderly people, differently abled and other marginalized and vulnerable communities, especially of the Global South, who, without the technology and resources to adapt, are left to fend for themselves. This poses an added burden to their daily struggles for survival in the face of poverty, want, hunger, political disenfranchisement, and discrimination.

4. Real solutions to the climate crisis exist in many communities, and we need governments to recognise and promote them. Most, if not all, countries continue to pursue a development pathway heavily reliant on the mass-scale extraction and burning of fossil fuels, however, it is the North who engage in the transfer of their emissions to the South to socialize liability to the detriment of developing countries while concentrating economic gains in their favor. Northern countries and the elites of the South persist in peddling false solutions like the deceptive, dirty lie of “clean coal”, geo-engineering schemes, carbon capture and storage (CCS), bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) as the answer to the much-vaunted industrialization of countries in the South.

6. While we agree on our right to development, as the right of all peoples, we believe that development should not be through dirty energy or else it is not development. Development must mean building sustainable societies, empowering people and communities, challenging injustice, discrimination and inequality at all levels and ensuring security, well-being and peace for all people.

7. We oppose all new coal projects. Furthermore, the climate science demands that all fossil fuels must remain in the ground to keep us from breaching the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold as set in the Paris Agreement. The North must scale up its ambitions in emissions reductions to steer the world away from the road to perdition. All countries should do their fair share of effort. It is thus imperative for countries of the North to fully decarbonize by 2030 and all countries well before 2050. Thus, the North must start phasing out its coal projects now. The South must cancel all coal projects in the pipeline while pursuing the transition to clean renewable forms of energy.

8. We must absolutely resist the attempts by the coal industry and governments to lock us in to coal power, leaving us with stranded assets. Coal extraction and burning do not only cause negative climate change impacts, they result in adverse health and environmental impacts threatening local ecosystems and community livelihoods. In areas where there are coal projects, resisting communities are met with and subjected to intimidation, harassment, human rights violations and other forms of violence.

9. Moreover, Southern governments should not hide behind the poor in their countries. While there are legitimate demands to address energy poverty in the south (1.2 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity), this has been used as an excuse to promote dirty energy policies, which have only benefited elites, transnational corporations and financial institutions, and the governments that support them. Though Southern governments have rightly called out Northern countries for their culpability in creating the climate crisis, we have reached our ecological limits, and no country, North or South, can afford to pursue a carbon-intensive development pathway.

10. The remaining carbon budget must be equitably divided across countries, based on historical responsibility and historical emissions. We oppose the trading of countries’ share of carbon budget, as we oppose nature being turned into a trade-able commodity in other forms as well. The remaining carbon budget must be used for the country’s own development not for export and trade.

11. In the South, our countries have great, enormous potential for clean and renewable energy technologies. However, there are certain renewable energy projects that have contributed to social conflicts, land-grabbing, and exacerbating inequalities. We thus take a strong position that renewable energy projects must be implemented in an equitable, just, safe, sustainable, and democratic way that benefits all and creates truly sustainable societies. We can and must achieve energy sovereignty through fundamental transitions to 100% clean, safe, affordable, locally-appropriate and socially-owned, democratic renewable energy technologies. We also call on the North to deliver climate finance to the South in order to make the clean energy transition possible.

12. We reject any mitigation action that reinforces prevailing exploitative and oppressive relations and policies. Equity and justice should be the driving consideration in taking on the climate crisis.

13. Clearly, the climate science confirms that the sun has set on coal and other fossil fuels. They no longer have a place in an increasingly uncertain future. It is this generation that will make the difference. The urgency to act is especially true for countries of the South who are now bearing the brunt of climate-induced disasters. It is, thus, important for peoples of the South to unite and demand for immediate actions from the North and from their own governments. The window to act is fast closing. Our actions now carry intergenerational consequence as the welfare of this and future generations is hinged on the decision we make today. We offer hope and solidarity by resisting the continued fossil fuel dependence and struggling for genuine change.

Tuloy ang laban! (Onwards with the struggle!)

Signatories of attending organisations:

Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development

Botswana Climate Change Network – Botswana

CENSAT Agua Viva/ Friends of the Earth Colombia

Change/350Vietnam – Vietnam

Center for Energy, Ecology and Development – Philippines

Centre for Environmental Justice/ Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka

Ecodefense – Russia

Earthlife Africa – South Africa

Egyptians Against Coal – Egypt

Environics – India

GreenID – Vietnam

groundWork/FOE South Africa – South Africa

JATAM – Indonesia

Justica Ambiental/FOE Mozambique – Mozambique

Kenya Civil Society Platform on Oil – Kenya,

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice – Philippines

The Egyptian Centre for Civic and Legislation Reform – Egypt

Umeedenoo – Pakistan

Walhi/ Friends of the Earth Indonesia

JA! launches new report on coal finance in Mozambique, during climate justice conference

On the second day of our climate justice conference here in Maputo, Mozambique, with over 100 people in the room with us again today, JA! with our colleague Tim Jones from the Jubilee Debt Campaign, launched  a new report on the situation of coal finance in Mozambique.

tim and report launch

The report is titled: “The Economics of Coal: Where are its Benefits?” The English version of the report can be found on our Issuu page here. The introduction of the report lays out the situation perfectly:

“Despite much talk, the anticipated coal mining boom in Mozambique has never taken off. Just three mines are operating, probably exporting just over 4 million tonnes of coal in 2015 (compared to claims of 30 million tonnes of exports just a few years ago). Internally there have been difficulties in transporting coal from Tete province to the coast, and coal produced has been of a lower quality than expected. Externally, the price of coal has been falling over recent years and collapsed in 2015 as China’s construction boom ended, and major economies have begun to turn away from coal given its high local and global pollution costs.

Today, all the existing coal mines operating in Mozambique are running at a loss, and there can be little expectation of further development based on current global coal prices. However, even if coal prices did recover, the costs of coal
mining in Mozambique far outweigh the benefits.

In 2014, the Mozambique government received just 13% of revenue generated from coal mines, but it is likely that this percentage has fallen further with declines in coal price and profitability. Coal mining is likely to account for just 1% of the government’s total revenue, in 2015 between $44 million and $50 million. In contrast, we have identified more than $700 million of loans to the Mozambique government which were supposedly spent on transport infrastructure for the coal industry and technical advice on managing the coal industry. Even if these came with 0% interest rates, which they didn’t, it would take between 14 and 16 years at current revenue levels just to recoup this money. There is likely to be other public funding spent on infrastructure development for coal mines which we have not identified, or has not been made public.

Extractive industries by their nature employ few people. Currently there are at most 3,000 Mozambicans employed directly by the coal mines,4 with mining making up just 0.6% of employment in Tete province. In contrast, 3,500 families (around 17,000 people) have lost their farmland through the development of coal mines so far, many of whom have not received land of similar quality in return. Mining has had a net destructive impact on livelihoods.”

This report launch wasn’t the only highlight of the day. Today we heard from Trusha Reddy of the International Coal Network about the situation of coal worldwide, the need to end coal and she shared some coal struggles from across the world. We then heard from Vijayan M.J. of Programme for Social Action, India, speaking about some victories of the communities in India fighting back against coal and other infrastructure projects. He talked about the importance of not feeling alone, and linking struggles across continents, such as the struggle against Jindal Indian company, now operating in Mozambique. We then had a very strong and emotional panel, hearing from communities speaking out against the Vale and Jindal coal mining in Tete province of Mozambique, and from Matthews Hlabane from South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, demanding a revolution against the lying mine-owners everywhere.

All this happened before lunch! After lunch, we worked to denounce gas being called as a transition fuel. Mozambique has discovered a huge gas reserve off our northern coast, but we discussed how the emissions of gas are still really high, and the pollution and leaks are known to be horrific. We made connections between the current debt and financial crisis situation of Mozambique, linked to extensive borrowing which happened on the backs of the gas reserves.

The third and final day of the conference takes place tomorrow.

 

 

Maputo climate justice conference – Summary of the 1st day

“Seeding Climate Justice II” – Summary of Day 1 of Maputo Climate Justice Conference

Justiça Ambiental’s climate justice conference began this morning at 8.30 am at Kaya Kwanga in Maputo. This is the second Annual Conference on Climate Change he are hosting, under the name “Seeding Climate Justice II.” Over 100 people, in fact about 108 people participated in the first day of the meeting, including representatives of local communities from 10 out of 11 provinces across Mozambique, Maputo-based civil society organizations, government representatives, and community and NGOs from South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria, India, Sweden, United Kingdom, and more.

Anabela Lemos, Director of Justiça Ambiental welcomed the participants, hoping that we can continue this process and be together next year as well, so that we can together contribute to the strengthening of local social movements for climate justice. Anabela Lemos then invited the Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development, Dr. Celso Correia to officially open the conference.

The Minister, Dr. Celso Correia, performed the official opening of the Conference, welcoming JA! for organizing the conference. He referred briefly to the history of the Mozambican Environment Ministry (known as MITADER), and the main issues of concern facing Mozambique, such as biodiversity loss, poaching, uncontrolled slaughter of our forests, referring to the conservation of these as a national imperative. He stressed the importance of building consensus, and the openness of the Ministry to work together with non-governmental organizations. The Minister put a challenge to JA! and the conference participants, that this conference should also be space to bring up solutions and build consensus for the numerous environmental problems that Mozambique is facing.

photo with celso correia

The conference proceeded with interesting presentations aimed to establish a common base of understanding of the current situation of climate change, the planetary crisis, why do we need to stay under 1.5 degrees, what does that even mean, what about the rights of impacted peoples or climate refugees. Then Nnimmo Bassey gave an overview of the link between climate, social and environmental injustice, which is still directly related to the models of “development” and the financial system that has been systematically implemented. He also spoke about the Paris Agreement, what did we gain and what did we lose, and how do we use those international spaces for connecting our struggles. Nnimmo also spoke about the spread of false solutions, financialisation of nature that we need to fight. A robust discussion followed, raising questions including the following:

  • the situation of climate crisis is so dire, sometimes it’s hard to care, but we have to, because this is a matter of justice, rich countries created the problem and we are going to die from it, this is an injustice that we need to fight;
  • what about the corporate capture of the UN negotiations, multi-national companies that are sitting in the discussion with more access than the NGOs;
  • since governments signed the Paris Agreement they are doing the opposite and are going for more fossil fuels so it makes Paris Agreement even weaker than it is, because it is not legally binding;
  • when we talk about climate science, whose science are we talking about, because we know that science is not without politics;
  • we need to understand the true nature of African Renewable Energy Initiative so that it doesn’t turn into an initiative that we have to oppose;
  • we shouldn’t be seeing ourselves as victims, we need to hold the rich countries accountable, but we also have to build our movement so that we don’t go down the same path;
  • as civil society we need to look at ourselves and analyse how successful have we been in claiming the outside spaces that were ours in Paris;
  • and many many more relevant issues were raised and discussed.

 

“We have to ensure that global average temperature does not exceed 1.5 degrees is crucial, there is how to adapt to an average temperature rise higher than this … There is no way to adapt, there is nothing to adapt!”

Nnimmo Bassey: “The Paris agreement was for many an important step, but for what we value, it a step in the wrong direction.”

The conference will continue for 2 more days, with many presentations and interesting discussions.

 

JA! Hosts 2nd Climate Justice conference in Maputo

 

After a hugely successful climate justice conference last year, JA! Friends of the Earth Mozambique is hosting our 2nd climate justice conference on 31 August, 1 and 2 September.
Below please find a draft agenda of our meeting.
Even though the budget for this year’s meeting was even less than what we got last year, we are managing to bring together about 50 community people from all across Mozambique plus Mozambican civil society organisations and government officials. We also bringing together about 20 international people, including from Africa, Europe & Asia. The countries represented are Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Sweden, India and Japan.
And the Mozambican Minister for Environment, Land and Rural Development is officially opening the conference!
We hope to make this a yearly conference, and hope you all will plan to join us for this in the future.
thanks
from the JA! team
JA logo small                FoE Moz logo small

 

 

FINAL AGENDA

“SEEDING CLIMATE JUSTICE II”

31 August – 2 September 2016

Maputo, Mozambique

 

Participants arrive – latest 30 August

 

DAY ONE: 31 August (Wednesday)

 

Time Item Speaker/ Facilitator
07.30 – 08.30 Registration of all participants  
08.30 – 08.45 Welcome note

 

 

Official Opening: H.E. Minister Celso Correia – MITADER

ANABELA LEMOS, Director – JA!

 

 

 

08.45 – 9.30 Short Introduction of participants Facilitator/ All

 

Intro to Main Big Picture Climate Reality Session Moderator
9.30 – 9.45 Maputo declaration from 2015 & where has the world come since then Samuel Mondlane
9.45 – 10.00

 

Planetary Crisis – introduction, urgency for action on climate change (climate science, 1.5°, tipping points, carbon budget, impacted peoples) dipti bhatnagar
10.00 – 10.15 Explaining the post-Paris scenario, what did we win and what did we lose in Paris, how we use the international spaces for inter-connecting our struggles Nnimmo Bassey
10.15 – 10.45 Debate All
10.45 – 11.15 Coffee Break All
11.15 – 11.45 False solutions – the problems with net zero, geoengineering and financialisation of nature and real world consequences of false solutions Nnimmo Bassey
11.45 – 12.00 Big dams as a false solution to the climate crisis Rudo Sanyanga
12.00 – 13.00 Debate All
13.00 – 14.00 Lunch  
Intro to Session on Mozambican Climate Change Platform Moderator
14.00 – 14.30 Mozambique Climate Change Platform presentation & debate Manuel Cardoso
   
14.30 – 16.15 Economic injustice feeds climate change: Corporate power, commodities markets, debt and the international climate negotiations Ruth Nyambura and Tim Jones
     
16.15 – 16.30 Wrap Up & close Day 1 One of the participants
16.30 – 17.00 Coffee and snacks and then people can leave All

 

DAY TWO: 1 September (Thursday)

Time Item Speaker/ Facilitator
08.30 – 08.45 Overview of Day 1 One of the participants
Intro to Coal and Climate Session Moderator
8.45 – 9.00 Framing the debate on coal – why does it need to end now, how coal finance angle can be used in coal campaigning, etc (Include the international scenario on fights against coal) Trusha Reddy
9.00 – 9.15 Presenting the Indian context on coal – coal fights in India as well as Indian coal companies operating in Africa Vijayan M.J.
9.15 – 9.30 Hearing from the Jindal and Vale Mozambican coal affected communities, including information about the recent southern African Peoples’ Tribunal held in Swaziland Anabela Lemos, Gizela Zunguze
9.30 – 10.30 Communities speak out about coal impacts they are facing Affected communities, Vale, Jindal, Mpumalanga
10.30 – 11.00 Coffee Break All
11.00 – 13.00 Launch of JA coal report, talking about the economics of coal in Mozambique. Tim Jones
13.00 – 14.00 Lunch Break All
Intro to Gas and Climate Session  
14.00 – 14.15 Framing around why Gas is not a transition fuel Daniel Ribeiro
14.15 – 14.30 Presentation by CIP (Contracts) CIP
14.30 – 14.45 Presentation by CTV about gas (Resettlement and compensation) CTV
14.45 – 15.00 Presentation by Grupo de Divida (Debt and resources) Grupo de Divida
15.00 – 15.30 Coffee Break All
15.30 – 16.45 Debate All
16.45 – 17.00 Overview & Closing One of the participants
     

 

DAY THREE: 2 September (Friday)

Time Item Responsible/Speaker
08.30 – 08.45 Overview of Day 2

 

One of the participants
Intro to real peoples’ solutions to the climate crisis, and way forward  
8.45 – 9.00 Good energy solutions – what kind of energy solutions do we want for the world, with examples dipti bhatnagar
9.00 – 9.15 Micro Hydro as a solution Domingos Neto, Associacao Kwaedza Simukai Manica
9.15 – 9.35 Community forest management            as a real solution to the climate crisis, and challenges that communities face Rene Machoco, JA!

 

Communities from Mabu and  Muzo

Session on Food sovereignty, Agriculture and Land  
9.35 – 9.55 Agriculture, land and energy David Fig
9.55 – 10.15 Agroecology as a real peoples solution to the climate crisis, and challenges faced Elizabeth Mpofu
10.15 – 10.35 Agriculture challenges and solutions in Mozambique Renaldo Chingore
10.35 – 11.05 Coffee Break All
11.05 – 12.00 Recap the agriculture and land arguments & Debate Ruth (recap) Discussion – All
12.00 – 13.00 Linking Gender, Extractives & Climate Justice -including debate Ruth Nyambura and Mela Chiponde
13.00 – 14.00 Lunch All
14.00 – 15.30 Strategy and way forward in small groups All
15.30 – 16.30 Coming back to plenary to discuss next steps ahead All
16.30 – 17.00 Closing remarks Anabela Lemos
17.00 onwards Snacks and get together  

 

 

Jindal coal mining affected villagers revolt!

Last Tuesday, 12 May, hundreds of Jindal coal mining affected communities, held a spontaneous protest and paralysed the activities of the company. The protestors came from the 500 families of Cassoca villages, Luane, Cassica, Dzinda and Gulu, who are directly affected by the coal mine operated by Indian company JINDAL. JA! staff Mafigo Borges based in Tete was present for the protests, and recorded the short video available on JA facebook page. The video reveals how fed up the communities are with the way they are being treated.

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Still shot from the video

The communities were protesting against the violation of their rights and against the failure of the promises made when the arrival of the mining company in the region. According to the communities, resettlement promises of agricultural land, employment and better living conditions, are today completely lacking, a situation that is compounded by the fact that these communities continue to live within the mine concession area subject to inhumane living conditions and are fully exposed to all impacts stemming from the operation of an open pit coal mine. These families are forced to breathe air polluted by coal clouds, consume contaminated water and they have less and less land to farm, their only source of livelihood.

Tired of being ignored, the women, men and children of these families rose up against the company, which has taken away land, has not provided any alternative housing or livelihood, has denied the right to a clean and healthy environment which is enshrined by law. There are constant reports of outbreaks of respiratory diseases and other health complications, said to affect both people and animals.

Till date, the company has been unwilling to provide any clarification. The government of Mozambique has often defended the company’s interests to the detriment of the interests and needs of the people. Some select local leaders, being the only ones to benefit from employment in the company, then control and repress the people, thus causing humiliation, abuse and marginalization for these families already impoverished. The communities have no free access to and contact with civil society and human rights institutions. It is as if, by living within the mining concession, communities have also been privately owned by the company.

This was neither the first nor the second time that the people have revolted. Since the beginning of the JINDAL operations, these demonstrations have been occurring regularly. In fact, the first one had shamefully taken place just days before then President Armando Guebuza personally inaugurated the immoral and illegal Jindal mine. This was just the formal inauguration, as we know that the mine was already operating before the Environmental Impact Study was approved.

But on 12 May, women with stones in their hands and children in their arms, men and kids with sticks, drums and other instruments, burned tyres on the roads and marched and chanted in the local language. Their songs and chants mirrored their dissatisfaction and helplessness:

“Even in our own land, JINDAL is making us suffer”

“Suca JINDAL Suca!” (curses)
As usual, in order to stop the demonstration, JINDAL called the Rapid Intervention Unit and the Civil Protection Police, which protects the safety of the private mining company. These so-called forces of public protection, fired several live ammunition into the air in an attempt to disperse the protesters, who refused to accept the order. The community remained defiant and fearless until the Marara district administrator arrived, and took responsibility to discuss their concerns with the company.

These families want nothing more than enjoy their right to a dignified life. Something that is constantly denied them in the name of development.

International Day of Rivers, The Zambezi and Mphanda Nkuwa

March 14th: International Day of the Rivers
To celebrate this date, JA! organized and held several events. The focus was the Zambezi River.
In Tete, we put up a banner on the Samora Machel Bridge in Tete which is the town closest to the proposed dam and also close to the coal mining-affected communities. The message on the banner was strong, and was directed at every single person who saw it: IN YOUR NAME, “PROGRESS” AND “DEVELOPMENT” ARE KILLING THE ZAMBEZI DAM BY DAM) We distributed leaflets about the consequences of the proposed Mphanda Nkuwa dam.

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(Photo credit: Gus Greenstein)

In Maputo and in partnership with the National Institute of Audiovisual and Cinema we also organized the screening of two documentaries about water: Entre Rios, which depicts the impacts of urbanization and expansion of the city of São Paulo on the rivers of the region, and Damocracy, which addresses the social and environmental impacts of the construction of mega dams in rivers. The aim of these projections was to create an awareness of the importance of rivers and water resources, which are vital for the planet and all of us. After the screening there was a very interactive discussion regarding the impact of human activity on the environment, its resources and their sustainability. Issues were also raised regarding the energy model that historically has caused serious social, economic, cultural and environmental consequences, and about the need to replace the use of dirty energy and the construction of mega dams (such as that intended to Mphanda Nkuwa) for the development and use of clean and renewable energy.

Dia dos Rios INAC

The Zambezi and Mphanda Nkuwa

In accordance to the mother of all geopolitical rules, as the developed countries stop building and actually begin to demolish their dams, the pressure from companies and financiers of such infrastructures over the underdeveloped and developing countries increases.

Unsurprisingly, the Mozambican government does not seem to be “getting the picture.” With a series of dams planned for our rivers in the coming years, fronted by the infamous Mphanda Nkuwa, the government’s agenda clearly indicates its commitment to send us the opposite direction to the course of development that they so often talk about.

In 2014, in the United States alone, at least 72 dams were demolished in order to restore rivers and preserve its people and biodiversity. In the US, the movement for the demolition of dams and river restoration is clearly becoming stronger, and much thanks to education and information campaigns, this increasing awareness regarding the impacts of dams in the past present and future is lessening the manoeuvring space for those who promote them within the political circles, and consequently, making it more difficult for politicians to foist them.

But who decides that a dam should be demolished? And why? Well, actually, there seems to be no rule. Sometimes governmental entities, for environmental and/or social reasons, determine it; sometimes the owners of the dam, when it is no longer profitable (if it ever was), come to the conclusion that maintenance costs are higher than demolition costs, and so, for financial and safety reasons choose to demolish it. Either way, nature says thank you.

The great victory in the fight against dams in 2014 was the overturning of the HidroAysén project, a 5 dams construction plan in the Baker and Pascua rivers in Patagonia. The Environmental Impact Assessment was approved in 2011, but a group of citizens opposed strongly and in 2014 the Minister for the Environment announced that her Ministry had rejected the project. She justified it by saying that the dam was jeopardizing biodiversity, traditional cultures, communities and even tourism in the region.

Another big win was to finally be able to hold the World Bank accountable for their involvement in human rights violations through its funding of dams. An example: the Rio Negro massacres caused during the building of the Chixoy Dam in Guatemala.

But what about us? How long will we keep pushing one way while the world moves in the opposite direction? We are different and want to continue to be different, but different for the better. We have to impose our will so that wise decisions on these matters are taken. Decisions upon which depend the welfare and livelihoods of millions of people and the balance of our environment. We agree that we cannot believe everything is said and written, but we cannot allow lightly taken decisions made in our name to be so obscenely wrong that a simple online search on any search engine disqualifies them peremptorily.

We need the decision makers of this country to promote a broad and open dialogue with society on the country’s energy needs, and allow it to participate in decision making. They could start by giving us answers to questions such as:

We need more dams to produce energy what and/or whom for?

What kind of energy do we want, and what options do we have?

In terms of social justice, we are certain that these decisions, taken together with the society, will be fairer, more valid, and certainly will not cost so much sweat, blood and tears to Mozambicans. Environmentally speaking, we have faith that this will also allow us to preserve our rivers, our water.

In the specific case of the Zambezi, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warns that in the coming years “the Zambezi basin will potentially face the worst effects of climate change (…) and suffer probably a substantial reduction precipitation of about 10-15%”. We cannot afford to ignore these warnings from leading scientist panels and lightly build more dams on the Zambezi. The consequences can be disastrous.

Proud of our partners victories in the US and Chile, we remain resolute in our struggle and hopeful to the end that victory will smile to us too. And you may even be thinking that this much desired victory will not be yours; worse, that in case of defeat, nothing will change for you; or even worse, that this investment will certainly serve the country, create jobs and bring progress… Think again. This investment could irreparably affect the lives of millions of Mozambicans living on the banks of the Zambezi. It can take the fish and the xima out of their tables, because the “health” of a river depends on an entire ecosystem, including the fields it irrigates. And how will the thousands of fishermen and farmers living by and of the river survive?

And the possible repercussions in the Zambezi delta and the shrimp industry?

What if we told you that Mphanda Nkuwa is not meant to help fix our country’s poor electrification rate? Would you be surprised? What if we told you that behind Mphanda Nkuwa there are other plans for energy-intensive dirty industries, that will in turn bring the country other social and environmental problems and the same development that the Cahora Bassa, Mozal, Vale and Jindal, among others, bring us today: insufficient when compared to what we sacrificed and disproportionately distributed.

There is only one Zambezi, and yet, there are many projects that the executive seems to have for him, as if it was inexhaustible and indestructible… Don’t you find it strange that none of them are directly aimed at benefiting its people?

Do you really believe that is progress?

For more information about the HidroAysén project and dam demolition:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/06/140610-chile-hidroaysen-dam-patagonia-energy-environment/

http://www.americanrivers.org/initiative/dams/projects/2014-dam-removals/#sthash.PNG8jVEs.dpuf

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