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World Bank and UN carbon offset scheme 'complicit' in genocidal land grabs - NGOs Plight of Kenya's indigenous Sengwer shows carbon offsets are empowering corporate recolonisation of the South

By Nafeez Achmed - The Guardian, July 3, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Between 2000 and 2010, a total of 500 million acres of land in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean was acquired or negotiated under deals brokered on behalf of foreign governments or transnational corporations.

Many such deals are geared toward growing crops or biofuels for export to richer, developed countries – with the consequence that small-holder farmers are displaced from their land and lose their livelihood while local communities go hungry.

The concentration of ownership of the world's farmland in the hands of powerful investors and corporations is rapidly accelerating, driven by resource scarcity and, thus, rising prices. According to a new report by the US land rights organisation Grain: "The powerful demands of food and energy industries are shifting farmland and water away from direct local food production to the production of commodities for industrial processing."

Less known factors, however, include 'conservation' and 'carbon offsetting.'

In west Kenya, as the UK NGO Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) reported, over a thousand homes had been torched by the government's Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to forcibly evict the 15,000 strong Sengwer indigenous people from their ancestral homes in the Embobut forest and the Cherangany Hills.

Since 2007, successive Kenyan governments have threatened Sengwer communities in the Embobut forest with eviction. A deadline for residents to leave the forest expired in early January, prompting the most recent spate of violence. The pretext for the eviction is that the indigenous Sengwer – labelled wrongly as 'squatters' – are responsible for the accelerating degradation of the forest.

Elsewhere in Kenya's Mount Elgon forest, however, the KFS' track record reveals a more complicated story. In 2010, the indigenous Ogiek were issued a deadline to relocate in the name of forest conservation and reforestation. In February this year, Survival International reported that, like the Sengwer, the Ogiek continued to be violently evicted from their homes in violation of court orders, with reports of government officials and their supporters seizing their land.

While deforestation is undoubtedly linked to the activities of poor communities, the Kenyan government's approach illustrates favouritism toward parochial vested interests. In addition to the indigenous communities, the forests are also inhabited by many thousands of tea-planters, loggers, and squatters.

Progressive Extractivism: Hope or Dystopia?

By Don Fitz - Climate and Capitalism, Jun 24, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Continuing the  debate on extractivism in Latin America. Don Fitz says it highlights different views on what type of society we are working to build and how we plan to get there.

Previous articles in this discussion:

Don Fitz  is editor of Green Social Thought: A Magazine of Synthesis and Regeneration, which will publish this article in its Fall 2014 issue.

The controversy over extractivism in Latin America has become a lot hotter.  Though social justice and environmental activists have sought a partnership for years, this could become a wedge issue.  The debate is core to our conceptualization of what type of society we are working to build and how we plan to get there.

Historically, social justice advocates have pointed to economic growth as the road to eliminating poverty.  Inspired by authors such as Andre Gunder Frank and Eduardo Galeano, they understood that “underdevelopment” is not a result of Latin American countries’ lagging behind the Europe and the US.  It has flowed from their wealth being drained as they produced raw materials for rich countries. [1, 2]  Could they break out of the “underdevelopment” cycle by keeping the profits from extracted raw materials?

A new generation of Latin American authors has challenged the focus on extractivisim because of the damage is does to indigenous cultures, the environment, and health of current and future generations.  Yet, their challenge is itself being challenged by those who insist that governments such as those elected in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay and Brazil are improving the quality of life of millions of people by retaining a much greater proportion of extracted wealth.

Extraction is the beginning point of economic systems.  It provides the physical basis for production.  Wealth from manufacturing allows for the financing of medical care, education and other social services.  Extraction includes not only critical metals of iron, tin, copper, zinc, gold, lead, manganese, chrome, gold and silver, but also fossil fuels from gas fracking, coal mining and oil drilling (essential for plastics), tree harvesting, crop monocultures, and massive exhaustion of water, both for electrical power and aiding every other type of extraction.

Malaysians Protest Anew Lynas Rare Earths Plant; Aussie Environmental Protester Among Those Arrested

By Vittorio Hernandez - International Business Times, June 24, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

About 1,000 protesters blocked the entrance of the Lynas Advanced Materials facility in Gebeng, Kuantan, on Sunday as Malaysians push anew for the closure of the facility.

Northern Gateway Pipeline Protesters Lock Doors To Tory MP Offices

Staff Report - Huffington Post BC, June 24, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Chains and padlocks greeted workers at the constituency offices of two B.C. Conservative MPs Tuesday, as opponents of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline called for the politicians to "vacate their posts."

The Port Moody office of Industry Minister James Moore and the North Van office of MP Andrew Saxton were targeted by a citizens' group calling itself "Settlers on Stolen Land."

Unist’ot’en Clan Refuse All Pipeline Projects: A Video Message

By Unist'ot'en Clan - Unist'ot'en Camp, June 18, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Amid threats of a raid and impending pipeline approvals, the Unist’ot’en Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation are prepared to continue to defend their territories against the incursion of government and industry. A soft blockade was erected in 2009, which remains today, to insure that pipeline projects which violate Wet’suwet’en Law would not trespass onto Wet’suwet’en territories to develop projects without their consent.

Northern Gateway and Class Politics in British Columbia: Ready for War?

By Brad Hornick - rabble.ca, June 6, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence… illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.

--Feuerbach, Preface to the second edition of The Essence of Christianity

In an article entitled "Apocalypse Forever? Post-political populism and the spectre of climate change," Erik Swyngedouw argues two points. The global problem of climate change represents a mounting clear and present danger to human civilization and has become an issue politicized as never before. Secondly, this paradoxically coincides with a political environment, he says, "that has evacuated dispute and disagreement from the spaces of public encounter to be replaced by a consensually established frame" of the "post-political" and "post-democratic condition."

Many critique Swyngedouw for glibly announcing the apparent disappearance of environmental politics in the present context of intensive mobilizing around the climate crisis and other issues of social justice. Nevertheless, his substantive point is that in formalized processes within the public realm, the political dimension has been replaced by undemocratic technocratic management and consensual policy-making. Politics has moved from the streets, the woods and bargaining tables to the boardrooms, courts and ballot box.

This scenario is being dramatically played out in British Columbia, an epicentre of global fossil fuel politics. The "post-political" was magnificently demonstrated recently by one of British Columbia's foremost environmentalists in The Globe and Mail. Oil sands and pipelines is an "ugly, polarizing and simplistic debate" replete with "schoolyard bullying" says the author. Equally at ease with industry executives, family and workers, she explains, "it doesn't take long to find common ground in the oil sands debate across what is often portrayed as enemy lines."

'Building rage': Decolonizing Class War

By Natalie Knight - Rabble.ca, June 13, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following is a speech by Natalie Knight delivered at "Decolonization 101," a panel organized by Streams of Justice on June 2, 2014. The panel took place at Grandview Baptist Church, Unceded Coast Salish Territories.

I want to acknowledge that we are on occupied and unceded Coast Salish territories which are Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, and Skxwú7mesh-ulh Úxwumixw lands.

On February 26 of this year, an Inuk woman named Loretta Saunders was found murdered and dumped on the side of the road in Salisbury, New Brunswick. Her death raised a national conversation about violence against Indigenous women. It is a deeply sad loss, and an acute effect of colonialism. And I also wonder about the reasons why Loretta received a more mainstream response than others or those that can't even be reported, those deaths that are basically sanctioned by the police. Loretta was in university and maybe it was easier for Canada's white-dominated society to recognize her and her violent absence. Maybe an Inuk woman who goes to university is more comprehensible than the over 1,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women who have been documented in the recent RCMP report, and the many Indigenous women still in certain shadows, including those missing and murdered below the colonial border.

In a series of online articles, Indigenous activists and writers expressed outrage, love, and wrote to contextualize Loretta Saunders within a much larger web of daily assault against Indigenous people, particularly Indigenous women, that goes unseen. Siku Allooloo wrote a piece called "From Outrage to Radical Love," which starts by saying: "I've been in a building rage. I am outraged at the status quo, at the overwhelming rate of gender violence and murder suffered by Indigenous women and girls in this country. I am disgusted with the lived experience of that; of gender violence as a pervasive experience that the majority of Indigenous women and young girls face in various forms throughout our lifetimes."

Siku Allooloo goes on to argue for the power of love to bind Indigenous people together in the face of horrific violence. And we definitely need more love. But I want to linger on this "building rage" that she had because I feel it and I don't actually want to transform that rage into anything other than a decolonized class war that finds its power in leadership by militant Indigenous and racialized women.

But looking for Indigenous and racialized women leadership is not ultimately about identity. It's not about just centring some voices who don’t get heard and asking others to be quiet and listen. It's not about making adjustments in representational democracy or ensuring that we have the right ratios of identities in our spaces, it's not just about breaking the visible signs of white supremacy by assimilating some racialized people into spaces that haven't actually changed. Decolonization is instead about breaking the entire system that creates and maintains identity categories that act to severely limit class solidarity. It is also about refusal, dissonance, and an unrelenting commitment to remaking myself, my relationships, and politics along lines that I can't really predict and that won’t be recognized by whatever dominant social structures are around. For me this is the power of decolonization, and in the settler colonial state of Canada, it might be the only way to revitalize class politics that reflect our real lived lives and are relevant to a much larger international class war.

A call for unions in BC to defend the province’s and the world’s ecosystem

Statement of the Vancouver Ecosocialist Group, May 28, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Last month, four leaders of the main construction unions in British Columbia issued a statement in support of the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline. The statement is signed by the Teamsters, Plumbers, Operating Engineers and Labourers’ unions. The text is enclosed below.

Now the same four leaders have come out in support of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline.

These two statements are an occasion to remind ourselves of why we should oppose the climate-wrecking agenda of the fossil fuel industry and its government backers. We believe there is a better way forward for unions and for society.

Climate science is telling us that society must move rapidly to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. That means lessening and eventually eliminating most extraction and burning of fossil fuels. We must end the reckless and excessive production and consumption of ‘things’ that only serves to fill the pockets of large corporations. We believe the unions in BC as well as the political party they support, the NDP, should be developing audacious policies for the alternative economy that is needed. But instead, the opposite is happening:

  • Many BC unions are supporting a key part of the fossil fuel industry agenda—increased fracking of natural gas in the northeast of the province and the creation of an entirely new industry, LNG, on the northwest coast. First Nations in the northeast say that fracking is destroying their air and water as well as the fish and wildlife they have depended upon for millennia. A new report of the prestigious Council of Canadian Academies is another reminder of the dangerous environmental consequences of fracking. We should heed these voices.
  • Another industry—export of thermal coal (mined in the U.S.)—is surging ahead. Instead of more coal, we need more action on transition to a renewable energy economy. Unions have a vital role to play in assuring that new jobs for coal miners and new economies for their communities are created.
  • A third part of the industry agenda is increased transport through communities of highly dangerous trains carrying crude oil, tar sands bitumen and refined fossil fuel products.
  • And finally, there are the two proposed pipelines to carry Alberta tar sands bitumen to the BC coast. Awareness and concern over Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain line is growing, as evidenced by the big rally that took place in Burnaby on April 12, organized by Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan (BROKE). In northern BC, meanwhile, residents of the province might have hoped that Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline will be consigned to the dustbin, once and for all, following the April 12 plebiscite vote in Kitimat against it. The project is already facing the ‘Wall of Opposition’ that First Nations peoples and other residents in northern BC have created. But Enbridge is pressing ahead, and it has the federal government in its back pocket, so we are obliged to continue to organize against it. On May 10, thousands of people rallied in Vancouver and across British Columbia to say ‘no’ to tar sands pipelines.

Trade union and NDP leaders should pay heed to the opposition to Northern Gateway by First Nations, by the citizens of Kitimat (who voted by 58 per cent against the project on April 12) and by growing numbers of citizens in the Lower Mainland and along the pipeline routes.

South America: How "Anti-Extractivism" Misses the Forest for the Trees

By Frederico Fuentes - Truthout, May 26, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

A recent spate of high-profile campaigns against projects based on extracting raw materials has opened up an important new dynamic within the broad processes of change sweeping South America. Understanding their nature and significance is crucial to grasping the complexities involved in bringing about social change and how best to build solidarity with peoples’ struggles.

Many of the campaigns that target specific mining, oil, agribusiness or logging ventures share common elements. They have raised public awareness around a variety of important environmental issues such as water scarcity, forest preservation and sustainable land usage.

In some cases, particularly in Ecuador and Bolivia, these campaigns have influenced existing discussions on issues such as climate change, the rights of Mother Earth and the kinds of alternative development models needed to achieve radical change.

Another common aspect has been the central role played by rural indigenous communities. This is due not only to the fact many of these extractive ventures occur in indigenous territories, but also the leading role indigenous movements have played in recent years in the global environment movement.

As a result, issues such as indigenous autonomy and the right to prior consultation on ancestral lands before embarking on extractive projects have become increasingly intertwined with debates over resource extraction and the environment.

When Cowboys and Indians Unite - Inside the Unlikely Alliance that is Remaking the Climate Movement

By Kristin Moe - Waging Nonviolence, May 2, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

It began with a dream and a memory.

Faith Spotted Eagle slept. In her sleep, she saw her grandmother lying on a table, wrapped in a blanket with her white braids on her chest.

Her sister appeared. “What’s going on?” Spotted Eagle asked.

“I don’t know. They told us to come.”

A door opened; a room full of people, ancestors, stared silently. She felt in their stares a sadness, but also a strength. Another door opened to another room with the same scene. She knew that if she were to keep opening doors, all the rooms in the house would be filled with those watchful, silent ancestors.

Spotted Eagle closed her eyes, unsure of what do to, but knowing that it was impolite to stare back. Then her grandmother’s voice came to her.

The nightmare that’s fostering kinship

The day after Nebraska rancher Bob Allpress rode through the nation’s capitol on horseback in a cavalry contingent of ranchers and tribal members, he was a little stiff. He doesn’t ride much anymore. But Allpress, with his bandana, boots and well-groomed mustache, still looks every inch the cowboy.

When the pipeline route through Nebraska was changed in 2012, ostensibly to avoid the ecologically-sensitive Sandhills, the newly proposed path now cut straight through the Allpress’ alfalfa field. If built, the pipeline would lie just 200 yards from their house.

This is no ordinary pipeline, just as tar sands is no ordinary oil. According to a Natural Resources Defense Council report, tar sands oil is 3.6 times more likely to spill than regular oil. It is also highly corrosive and nearly impossible to clean up. Residents who live near the path of Keystone 1 — a smaller, already existing tar sands pipeline operated by TransCanada — know this story already. They saw 14 spills — along its route from Canada to refineries in Oklahoma and Illinois — during the pipeline’s first year of operation.

The southern portion of the Keystone XL has already been built through Texas, in spite of grassroots resistance; now, the last northern section remains. Allpress fears that a tar sands spill would contaminate his land and water, rendering it unusable for years to come.

TransCanada used what Allpress calls “the old slap and tickle” when it notified him that the pipeline would go through his land: a nice offer of some compensation up front, but a warning that under the law of eminent domain, the pipeline would go through no matter what.

“TransCanada’s been nothing but deceitful and a bully the entire time,” he said. And in the words of his wife, Nancy, “We felt like we were the sacrifice.”

But cowboys don’t like to be pushed around. So they told TransCanada to shove it, and joined Bold Nebraska, a four-year-old organization led by Jane Kleeb that has emerged as one of TransCanada’s most formidable obstacles. When Bold Nebraska began partnering with tribes in South Dakota, the Allpresses were on board. They’ve since attended their first tribal council meetings, gone to rallies and public hearings, and written op-eds to Nebraska papers, refuting what Allpress calls TransCanada’s massive public relations campaign.

Environmental activism isn’t exactly what the Allpresses had in mind when they returned to Nebraska to retire from careers in government and the military, and investing what they had in their land.

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