No To False Alternatives

Posted on 16 December 2009 by editor

Demonstration for climate justice in Copenhagen. Credit: Courtesy of Cindy Snodgrass

Demonstration for climate justice in Copenhagen. Credit: Courtesy of Cindy Snodgrass

By Joshua Kyalimpa

COPENHAGEN (IPS/TerraViva) – Looking at what is on the table this week, Camilla Moreno would rather no climate deal at all is reached this week, than have 192 countries embrace what she calls false alternatives.

Moreno is with the forests and biodiversity programme of Friends of the Earth in Brazil. She is worried about some of the proposals for reducing deforestation. She’s opposed to the way carbon trading schemes in the deal could support the parceling out of large chunks of indigenous people’s land to companies and wealthy Brazilians.

“Deforestation is done by the big companies, politicians and other well connected politicians and they are the same people getting the land to plant trees for carbon trading,” she says.

She also opposes funding for bio-fuels as alternative to fossil fuels.

Sixty percent of the Amazon, the world’s biggest tropical forest, is found in Brazil. Moreno says the forest should be conserved by paying royalties to the communities there instead of promoting solutions that entrench business as usual.

Nnimmo Bassey, executive director of Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria, widens the criticism to the whole of the deal.

Bassey points to the oil industry in his native Nigeria. Gas flaring, the burning off of natural gas released while drilling oil, has been illegal since 1984, yet it continues. The practice has been going on in Nigeria since the late 1950s when oil exploitation began; the country is the world’s second largest gas flarer behind Russia.

In addition to producing massive amounts of carbon dioxide, flaring causes  numerous health problems such as cancer and asthma. A Nigerian court has ruled that gas flaring is illegal, Bassey’s group and other civil society organisations but the ruling has not been respected.

But oil companies now stand to be paid money to finally cease this illegal activity, as reward for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions under the proposed climate change deal.

“If you have been a big thief, stealing ten cars and for some reason you decide – not to abandon stealing – but to reduce the number of cars you steal to six, should you claim for an award?”

Bassey and Moreno were both speaking at a Friends of the Earth panel at the Klimaforum, a parallel meeting of civil society in Copenhagen, also deliberating on what needs to be done to avoid disastrous climatic changes.

(END/2009)

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