Friends of the Earth Scotlandâ€™s supportersâ€™ magazine Issue 56 Spring / Summer 2011
working with Friends of the Earth International. Community leaders and Friends of the Earth International staff present at the Pre-Conference on Forests, Biodiversity and Indigenous People in Penang, Malaysia. See p3
Photos ÂŠ Conor Ashleigh
What on Earth 56 Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES) is: • Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation • An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland • Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent. Our vision is of a world where everyone can enjoy a healthy environment and a fair share of the earth’s resources.
We say goodbye to Duncan McLaren who has been our Chief Executive for the last seven years
Editor: Davina Shiell Picture Editor: Per Fischer Voluntary Assistant Editor: Mark Johnson Design: www.triggerpress.co.uk Advertising: Kash Bhattacharya Tel: 0797 100 3132 Cover Photo: Conor Ashleigh
The views expressed in What on Earth are not necessarily those of Friends of the Earth Scotland. FoES accepts no liability for errors, omissions or incorrect data in advertisements. RE-USE AND SPREAD THE WORD When you have finished with this magazine, save it or pass it on to friends, a doctor’s surgery, school, student union, library or café. As a last resort recycle it.
News Friends of the Earth International is 40!
Campaign News We’ve been busy with RBS, environmental justice, biomass and a host of other stuff.
Local Groups and Activism Our star activist is Christ Scatchard from Inverness.
Friends of the Earth Scotland is an independent Scottish charity SC003442. What on Earth is published by and copyrighted to: Friends of the Earth Scotland 5 Rose Street, Edinburgh EH2 2PR T: 0131 243 2700 E: email@example.com W: www.foe-scotland.org.uk
View from the street
The poor had no lawyers Land rights in Scotland and abroad, by Andy Wightman.
10 REDD All the ins and outs of REDD: reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, by Chris Lang.
12 Biofuels Unsure what biofuels are? You won’t be after campaign intern Emilia Hanna’s expert analysis.
14 The road to feed the poor We talk to La Via Campesina’s Henry Saragih from Indonesia.
15 Eco-living How to install solar panels and wood-burning stoves at home.
16 Your Support How you can get involved in our community fundraising and outreach programme.
Printed on Revive pure white silk 100% recycled paper
View from the Street
It’s been a great privilege to serve as Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland for the past seven years. In that time I’ve seen the organisation achieve incredible things – culminating in the passage of world leading climate change legislation in 2009. We have mobilised thousands to support climate justice, to fight poverty and to act for a greener future. We’ve helped Scotland resist new nuclear power and genetically modified crops. We’ve helped set, and then seen great progress towards, ambitious targets for increased recycling and more renewable energy. But we’ve also experienced constant struggles to resource the essential work we do.
What on Earth Spring/Summer 2011
We have to constantly resist misinformation, vested interests, complacency, and now a political ideology
at Westminster that is undermining the very foundations of a sustainable society. So I want to thank each and every one of you for your continued loyalty, support and generosity for the cause. If Scotland is to realise the potential of a greener future, it will need Friends of the Earth Scotland more than ever to promote a just transition. We want a world where new green technologies bring green jobs, in which the benefits are shared widely, and in which people in declining dirty industries are helped in solidarity - not abandoned to the whims of the market, or an ever-stretched voluntary sector under the vague mantra of a ‘Big Society’.
of fear – in approving yet more unnecessary road schemes like the M74 and the Forth Replacement Crossing, and in bowing to the interests of developers in rejecting third party right of appeal and real participation in urban planning. More devolved powers will bring more opportunities and more challenges. I know that Friends of the Earth Scotland is willing to face them. I’m sure you are too.
Devolution has helped Scotland make some bold steps towards becoming a sustainable and just society.
Our supporters are our best advocates. Please do what you can to help us build public support for the challenges ahead. Give what you can. Ask your friends and colleagues to support us too. Share this magazine and our email, facebook and twitter updates widely. Be the change you want to see!
But it has also seen some of the worst of insular decision making and the politics
Our new Chief Executive will be announced soon.
Many thanks to those of you that returned supporter surveys to us from the last What on Earth. Your feedback is invaluable and helps us to know where we are doing well and where we need to improve.
A few of you wanted to receive the magazine by email, so we have added you to our What on Earth email list. I was pleased to see that many of you re-use the magazine by passing it on to schools, doctors’ surgeries, friends and libraries.
We are pleased to hear that a large majority of you really liked the new look What on Earth. You asked for some more detailed expert analysis, so this time we have plenty of guest features on land rights. If you have any suggestions for future features, please let us know.
If you have any more comments and suggestions in future, please do get in touch. It’s your magazine, and we want to make it as useful and interesting as possible for you. With best wishes, Davina Shiell, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
To celebrate Friends of the Earth International’s (FoEI) 40th birthday, we are issuing a special edition of What on Earth about land rights issues around the world. Friends of the Earth International was founded in 1971 by four environmental organisations in France, Sweden, England and the USA. From its earliest days FoEI was a key player in the anti-nuclear movement and became known for advocating alternative energy solutions. Groups from Asia, Latin America and Africa joined the federation in the 1980s when tropical rainforests and indigenous rights became major issues. In the mid 1980s Eastern European members joined, which facilitated campaigning across Europe on acid rain, packaging, air pollution and biotechnology. Subsequent years saw the
Every two years FoEI member groups get together to discuss joint strategies and campaigns and to vote on the federation’s future direction at a BGM (Bi-annual General Meeting). Davina Shiell, Head of Supporter Development and Communications, attended the BGM in Penang, Malaysia in October 2010. Davina said: I arrived in a very hot and steamy Penang and was ferried off to a small rainforest island with monkeys running around to spend the first two days at a ‘Pre-conference on Forests, Biodiversity and Indigenous People.’ Friends of the Earth campaigns to protect the livelihoods of people within their environment. Over these first two days I met indigenous and community leaders from across Asia, Latin America and Africa (pictured on the inside front cover) who are fighting against greedy corporations, the trade in palm oil, expulsions from their land and environmental destruction. Listening to the community leaders
federation taking strong stances against genetically modified organisms and corporate power, as well as protecting biodiversity, tackling climate change and reducing waste. A strong sense of social as well as environmental justice has always been at the heart of FoEI’s work. Today FoEI is a federation of 76 independent groups that campaign internationally, nationally and locally to protect the environment and create sustainable societies. A small secretariat based in Amsterdam provides coordination and support, and there is also an office in Brussels that brings together European voices to lobby the EU. Top priorities include climate change, biodiversity, land rights, consumption and corporate power.
speak in their range of languages dressed in their traditional wears, it was alarming to hear the pattern of repetition that is happening across the globe. Whether it was a story from Uganda, Guatemala or Indonesia, they spoke of poor people being displaced from their land to make way for foreign interests growing crops for commodities to be used by us in the North. Moving to a high-rise hotel in Penang for the BGM, I then spent a long but fascinating week with FoE campaigners from across the world to agree on FoEI’s strategy and discuss how to transform the world in a positive way. The stories I heard and the networks and connections I made in those few days were invaluable as well as stimulating, and will help strengthen our links with the international network into the future.
Our fight to stop the new coal-fired power station at Hunterston goes on. We’ve been working with the local campaign group CONCH (Communities Against New Coal at Hunterston) to gather letters to the local council. A formal objection from Ayrshire Council could trigger a Public Local Inquiry. To prove that Scotland doesn’t need this kind of new fossil fuel development, we commissioned some research to show how we could meet all our energy needs from renewables. The report, called ‘Power of Scotland Secured’ shows that we can not only meet our own electricity needs from renewables, but that we can also share our resources with others. We can build the kind of infrastructure that, even if the wind stops blowing, the tides stop turning and the waves go still, will give us access to more than enough energy for our needs. Oily stunt outside an RBS branch in London Our Low Carbon Power campaign is supported by the European Climate Foundation.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Download the 'Power of Scotland Renewed' report at www.foe-scotland.org.uk/power-secured
Our Clean Up RBS campaign got off to a healthy start this year with an oily stunt outside the Treasury in London. On the day that RBS bosses announced their annual results we handed in 1000 postcards from Scotland demanding that George Osborne takes action to cure bankers of their addiction to financing the fossil fuel industry. RBS’s results showed that the bank is still not making a profit so our stunt highlighted the unhealthy investments of an unhealthy bank. Our message to the Chancellor was that for the health of the planet, the Government must intervene to create a Royal Bank of Sustainability from the wreckage of the Oil Bank of Scotland. More recently, groups around the country have been taking part in the UK Government’s Climate Week initiative. It’s grimly ironic to discover that one of the key sponsors of this celebration of public action on climate change is none other than RBS!
What on Earth Spring/Summer 2011
Campaigning in North Ayrshire
We’re starting work on Scotland’s fuel poverty problem. We think it’s unacceptable that people are living in cold homes in 2011 and we’re determined to force the Government to deliver genuinely universal programmes to make all Scottish homes comfortable and energy efficient. The Robertson Trust and FoE Europe share our concern and are supporting this work.
We wrote to all the official supporters of Climate Week to point out the problems with RBS’s involvement given their track record in financing the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel activities on earth. It’s heartening to report that as we go to press we have already had a great response from groups expressing their concern.
WHAT YOU CAN DO In April we will be making a fuss around the bank’s AGM in Edinburgh. Visit www.foe-scotland.org.uk/cleanupRBS to find out how to get involved. Email the Chancellor, asking him to attend the AGM on taxpayers’ behalf at www.foe-scotland.org.uk/cyberactions
Ross Finnie MSP gets to grips with our campaign.
Our Access to Justice campaign calls for changes in the law to enable campaigners and community groups to fight against decisions that affect our environment, such as the construction of power stations, bridges, roads and golf courses. We handed thousands of signed postcards in support of the campaign to the Scottish Parliament’s Convenor of the Public Petitions Committee in the Autumn, and the Committee considered our petition in early December. The Scottish Government thinks the system works for communities and people who want to defend their environment, but we disagree. The great news is that the Parliament’s Petitions Committee agreed with us and have asked the
Together with our local groups network, we have been challenging proposals for four big biomass power stations planned by Forth Energy in Dundee, Grangemouth, Rosyth and Edinburgh’s Leith. We’ve been out on the streets, working with local campaigners and lodging formal objections to the plants. The large scale biomass plants being proposed are billed as ‘renewable energy.’ Biomass is plant matter used to generate energy from heat. It can include wood, forest residues (dead branches, tree stumps, wood chips) as well as rubbish. However, although trees do grow back, this takes time. In the case of old growth forests it can take hundreds of years. At the moment Forth Energy plans to import the majority of the wood from overseas, contributing to deforestation and increasing
© MAVERICK PHOTO AGENCY
Government to prove why they believe the system works. We’re piling on the pressure and, hopefully, we’ll change the system for good! ‘It is clear that there is a strong case to answer and that the Government has very little to lose and much to gain in taking up the matter.’ Robin Harper MSP talking about our Access to Justice campaign. With many thanks to the Esmee Fairburn Foundation for their generous support and to our supporters that donated to this campaign.
pollution from shipping. There are also concerns about human rights violations relating to sourcing wood from certain countries. We believe that the scale of these four plants, in a context of a boom in biomass across Europe and North America, may contribute to severe pressure on forests, and the people who rely on them. Proposals for new logging and plantations to feed European demand are emerging all over the developing world: in countries like Indonesia, Guyana and Liberia. We need to look at the big picture – and not use more than our fair share of the world’s wood to feed energy demands. As our new ‘Power of Scotland Secured’ Report shows (see page 4), there are alternatives. With many thanks to our suporters that donated to our biomass appeal.
As well as speaking to the activists we met politicians from the Greens and the Left Alliance. Despite FoE Finland / Maan Ystavat’s excellent campaign so far, there are a number of political and practical difficulties that make a climate law difficult or unlikely. Finland is a big manufacturing exporter, being dubbed the ‘China of Europe’. Given that the Finnish economy is structured on exports, there are strong economic pressures against a climate law. Politically, the centre-right party is increasingly popular and it
FoE Scotland staff with Finnish campaigners is widely expected it will be in Government following elections in April. Overall the probability of a good climate law outcome from the April election is low. Reflecting on this, we have to admit to some extent we were lucky in Scotland. All the parties in the Scottish Parliament supported a climate law. In addition, the arithmetic of the Parliament gave us the opportunity to work with opposition parties in pushing the minority Government further than it might otherwise have gone. But that doesn’t mean we are ceasing to push for more, and as a new Government takes shape we will be seeking to ensure they prioritise tackling climate change.
© SCOTTISH PARLIAMENTARY CORPORATE BODY – 2011
As part of our work with Friends of the Earth Europe sharing the success of our Big Ask Scotland campaign, we went to Finland to talk to the FoE group there about the Scottish climate law. We took part in an activists’ training weekend where we made presentations about the Scottish Climate Change Act as well as the campaign we ran to help secure it. The Finnish activists’ feedback on the Scottish input was very positive: they really appreciated having a concrete example of a successful campaign.
By Gail Wilson, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland Co-ordinator The Scottish elections on 5 May present a major opportunity to ensure that climate change doesn’t fall off the political agenda. While political parties will understandably focus their election campaigns on the economy, jobs and cuts to the public sector, we know that these issues are linked to our response to climate change, so this needs to remain a priority.
What on Earth Spring/Summer 2011
Stop Climate Chaos Scotland came together to campaign for what is now the world’s strongest climate law: the Scottish Climate Change Act. Every political party voted the Act through the Scottish Parliament, demonstrating cross-party commitment to addressing climate change.
But we know legislation on its own isn’t enough. Whichever party or parties hold political power in Scotland after May, they will have a responsibility to show strong leadership and action to enable Scotland to play its part in tackling global warming. Trying to come up with a manifesto that reflects the diversity of our coalition – from development and environmental organisations, to trade and student unions, community and faith groups – was no easy task. But together we identified ten key areas where we knew Scotland would need to act. We have some exciting plans for the next few months, giving people in Scotland a chance to talk directly to their future
politicians. We’re organising Climate Cafés across the country, where local people will talk face to face – speed-dating style – with their parliamentary candidates about the climate change issues that concern them. On Wednesday 13 April, which we’re dubbing ‘Climate Day’, we’ll host a live online political debate where the parties will face questions on climate change from a ‘virtual’ audience. You can be part of this virtual audience by logging on and watching the event live from your computer and posting questions and comments online.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Find out more about Climate Cafés and Climate Day at www.stopclimatechaos.org/scottish-elections Read the manifesto at www.stopclimatechaos.org/sccsmanifesto. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland can also be contacted on 0131 317 4112.
Local groups and Activism
Campaigners in Tayside have objected to a new biomass power plant in Dundee, one of the four large-scale biomass power stations planned for Scottish ports. The application from Forth Energy was lodged at the end of 2010, and FoE Tayside responded with a well researched objection. Kimberly Ellis, a member of the group, describes the campaign: “The main arguments people make locally against the biomass “renewable” energy plant are about its visual impact and effects on local air quality. But there are broader issues: the social and environmental impact of logging and monoculture in other countries, not to mention the overall CO2 emissions when you take changes in land use into account. It’s about time we develop a sense of global solidarity with people in so called ‘developing’ countries.” She goes on to explain the latest developments: “Members of the opposition at the council suggested recommending that the Scottish Parliament starts a public inquiry into the proposal. This would have given us more time to demonstrate to politicians what a bad idea Forth Energy’s proposal is in terms of ecological and economic sustainability. However, this was voted down by councillors in the main party.” The group has had good communications with their MSP, Shona Robison, who has said that the Scottish Government is looking at its biomass policy.
Chris is a member of the Inverness group, and has a real passion for sharing his love for the environment with other people. He is incredibly generous with his time, and loves finding ways of helping new people get involved in campaigning. He decided he wanted to raise awareness about climate change, and bring local community and environmental groups together. So he came up with the idea of holding a Climate Quiz.
Leith protesters against biomass outside the Scottish Parliament
Chris wrote to all sorts of different charities asking them to provide questions and a prize for the quiz. He invited groups from all over the area to enter a team, and promoted the event far and wide.
Volunteers moved into Falkirk Mall to present a creative alternative to the usual consumer driven Christmas. The group demonstrated craft ideas, emphasising reusing resources and fostering learning with others. The group would like to thank Jessica Paterson for her work organising the event.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Get involved in your local group! We have groups in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Inverness and Ross, Moray, Stirling and Tayside. Contact details and meeting times are at www.foe-scotland.org.uk/localgroups or call Hannah Kitchen on 0131 243 2700.
The event was a huge success, which brought together all sorts of people to stretch their brains on some surprising environmental facts. He’s even put the questions on a CD so that groups can hold the quiz in other areas. Chris continues to campaign with the Inverness group and is a real asset to the environmental movement. Thanks Chris!
Feature: Land rights
By Andy Wightman In December I visited Israel and Palestine as part of a fact-finding delegation investigating the activities of the Jewish National Fund. In particular, we were interested in the role that the Fund has played in the expropriation of land from the million or so Palestinians who were expelled from their homes and whose villages were destroyed in the ethnic cleansing of 1948. These people and their families are now scattered all over the world, with 4.7 million living today in refugee camps in Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon pending a solution to their plight. Land issues are central to the conflict in Palestine and range from sovereignty and colonialism in the West Bank to the right of return and expropriation of property in East Jerusalem. Whilst this particular conflict is among the most critical anywhere in the world, it is by no means unique and disputes over land are frequent, ubiquitous and of long standing. Whilst few conflicts come close to the intensity of the Palestinian question, the fundamental elements of the dispute over land are common all over the world. In short, the powerful suppress the weak, and economic and legal instruments are deployed to legitimise and sanction colonisation and theft of land. In Palestine this was achieved initially through the Absentees’ Property Law 1950, which expropriated the land of those who had been expelled on the grounds that they were now absentees.
What on Earth Spring/Summer 2011
In Scotland, the same process took place over many centuries as the indigenous land codes were eliminated by feudalism and
then the commons were steadily appropriated and privatised through a process of legalised theft. Any attempt to sort out land rights must be based on a clear understanding of how the legal regime emerged. Land reform in Scotland emerged as a mainstream topic of public debate in 1997. However, rather than becoming central to debates about economic and social policy, it has remained associated with rural Scotland and with the north and west in particular. But land rights affects us all. How secure are you in your own home? What happens if you are a tenant and your landlord defaults on their mortgage? What rights do you have as a citizen to take action to defend common good land in your town? And how can unscrupulous individuals be prevented from grabbing land? Land reform is about why common land in the heart of Edinburgh has been let for a penny a year to a commercial property company who, if the Leasehold Reform Bill proposed by the SNP Government goes through, will get outright ownership. It is about why, in this day and age, children still have no legal rights to inherit land. It is about why at a time of austerity and proposed caps on public benefits of £26,000 per family, it seems to be quite all right to hand out millions in agricultural subsidies to some of the richest families in the country. It’s about a housing bubble built on cheap credit that has denied young people a place to live, and it is about how property speculators can pocket millions of pounds in rising land values on the back of publicly funded infrastructure. A few years ago I bought some land. Not a lot, just a little bit. It cost me £12.95 and is located at Area F-4, Quadrant Charlie on the light side of the moon. I will probably never visit though I did see it the other night – it’s in the Oceanus Procellarum. The deeds for the property are detailed and they appear to be, in every sense, legitimate and proper. My problem, of course is that were I to try and defend my property rights I would have difficulty doing so since there is no legal jurisdiction for lunar property. At the end of the day I simply have a few bits of worthless paper. By way of contrast, a few months ago I uncovered the title deeds of a 400-acre parcel of common land in Scotland and was intrigued to find out that in 1986 it had been split up among the three landowners whose land bounded it irrespective of the fact
Settlements in the West Bank and, in foreground, a destroyed Palestinian village
Feature: Land rights
Alyth Hill – a common in Perthshire that has been ‘stolen’
Waverley Market – dispute about common good status
that many more people potentially had an interest in it. Not only that, but these landowners only had rights of use in the commonty and no rights of property. Even the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland made a note in the Register of Sasines ‘agent aware granters apparently only have title to rights in pasturage.’ In other words, the conveyancing solicitor (who shall remain nameless for the moment) knew that the farmers had no property rights in the common but still drafted and submitted the deed for recording. Nevertheless, they grabbed it and despite all the blatant defects, this deed (unlike my moon deed) actually enjoys the full protection of the Scots law of property. Call me naive but is this not what would, in any other circumstances, count as theft? If I walked away with a suitcase full of cash that was lying around and appeared to belong to no one, could I claim it as mine? If it was stolen property, surely I would be guilty of reset? If it was legitimately owned by others, then I am a simple thief. But land is different. Why? Because land is power, and how such power is derived, defined, distributed and exercised affects numerous aspects of how we live our lives. It is at the root of growing inequality in Britain and at the heart of the housing crisis.
In 1872, Cosmo Innes, the famous antiquarian, advocate and law professor observed that ‘the poor had no lawyers’. Not only did the poor have no lawyers but they spoke no Latin either and were not in the habit of travelling to Edinburgh on a regular basis to examine the title deeds of the nobility. Today we are better informed and should be doing more to uphold community land rights and provide a check on the abuses of power that the legal system has tolerated for too long. That goes for Palestine too. Andy Wightman is a writer and researcher on land rights. His latest book, The Poor Had No Lawyers is published by Birlinn.
WHAT YOU CAN DO To hear Andy Wightman speak about land rights, come along to our post AGM conference on land rights on Saturday 28 May in Edinburgh. Register at www.foe-scotland.org.uk/AGM-landrights and see inside back cover for details.
Feature: Land rights
REDD, or Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, is one of the most controversial issues in the climate change debate. The basic concept is simple: governments, companies or forest owners in the South should be rewarded for keeping their forests instead of cutting them down. The devil, as always, is in the details.
What on Earth Spring/Summer 2011
The first detail is that the payments are not for keeping forests, but for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. This opens up the possibility, for example, of logging an area of forest but compensating for the emissions by planting industrial tree plantations somewhere else.
The idea of REDD was already discussed in the negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol, but was rejected because of serious difficulties in guaranteeing that payments would fund things that wouldn’t have happened anyway, and that the process wouldn’t simply result in protecting one area but displacing deforestation to somewhere else. It would also be very difficult to measure the avoided emissions and the carbon stored reliably, and it would only create a temporary store of carbon. These problems remain major set backs in implementing REDD, both nationally and at project level.
© WALHI/FOE INDONESIA
By Chris Lang Guinea calling themselves the Coalition for Rainforest Nations. In December 2010, REDD formed part of the Cancun Agreements. Since the UN climate conference in Bali in 2007, conservation, ‘sustainable management’ of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks have been added to the actions to be supported: making REDD into ‘REDD plus’. But these “plus points” bring more potential drawbacks. Conservation sounds good, but the history of the establishment of national parks includes large scale evictions and loss of rights for indigenous peoples and local communities. Sustainable management is vague and could include subsidies to industrial-scale commercial logging operations in oldgrowth forests or indigenous peoples’ territory. Enhancement of carbon stocks could result in conversion of land (potentially including forests) to industrial tree plantations. There are some safeguards annexed to the text but they are weak. For example the text only notes that the United Nations ‘has adopted’ the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The text refers to indigenous peoples' rights, but it does not protect them.
WALHI/FoE Indonesia demonstration against REDD.
REDD is to be funded – that decision is postponed to the UN climate conference to be held in Durban this December. There are two basic mechanisms for funding REDD: from government funds or from private sources, which would involve treating REDD as a carbon ‘offset’, and allowing polluters to pay to have their continued emissions offset elsewhere through a REDD project. There are many variants and hybrids of these two basic mechanisms, but any mechanism that would directly trade the carbon stored in forests is controversial. That is because carbon trading does not itself reduce emissions because for every carbon credit sold, there is a buyer. Trading the carbon stored in tropical forests would allow pollution in rich countries to continue. Worse, forest carbon trading could create a new bubble of carbon derivatives or discourage investment in more sustainable means of cutting emissions.
Funding REDD REDD discussions in Cancun REDD developed from a proposal in 2005 by a group of countries led by Papua New
But perhaps the most controversial aspect of REDD is omitted from the text agreed in Cancun. There is no mention of how
Creating a market in difficult to measure REDD carbon credits opens the door to carbon cowboys, or would-be carbon
© BEN POWLESS
Feature: Land rights
Ricardo Navarro, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth El Salvador, protests against the exclusion of recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities in a decision on REDD.
traders with little or no experience in forest conservation, who are exploiting local communities and indigenous peoples by persuading them to sign away the rights to the carbon stored in their forests. The role of the World Bank in financing REDD is of particular concern, given its fondness for carbon trading. The Bank has already set up the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) with the explicit aim of creating markets for forest carbon.
“Alarm bells are ringing. It is simply too big to monitor … Organised crime syndicates are eyeing the nascent forest carbon market... Fraud could include claiming credits for forests that do not exist or were not protected or by land grabs. It starts with bribery or intimidation of officials, then there’s threats and violence against those people. There’s forged documents too. Carbon trading transcends borders. I do not see any input from any law enforcement agency in planning REDD.”
There is a serious risk of REDD leading to increased corruption if large sums of money start to flow – particularly for unregulated trade in REDD carbon credits in poorly governed countries. Forestry departments are among the most corrupt departments in some of the most corrupt countries in the world. Billions of dollars have already been lost from carbon markets in Europe through fraud.
Without monitorable and enforceable safeguards, and strict controls and regulation, REDD may deepen the woes of developing countries. In the same way that revenues from oil, gold, diamond and other mineral reserves have fuelled pervasive corruption and bad governance in many tropical countries, REDD could prove to be another ‘resources curse’. Ultimately, this will make protection of forests less likely to be achieved and will do nothing to ameliorate carbon emissions.
Peter Younger at Interpol is already concerned. He said:
Chris Lang runs the www.redd-monitor.org website.
‘The end goal is mitigating climate change, after all, not making money. Governments have been tasked with creating low carbon economies, not new carbon markets.’ Friends of the Earth International report ‘REDD: The realities in Blank and White,’ November 2010.
Feature: Land rights
By Emilia Hanna
In June 2010 in Riau, Indonesia, a 45 year-old mother called Yusniar was shot dead for protesting about the destruction of her homeland and the exploitation that she had suffered by corporate palm oil giant PT TBS, who had not paid her salary in months. Meanwhile, in Paraguay, Silvino Talavera’s family continue the fight for justice. Silvino, aged 11, died from toxic poisoning after exposure to herbicides being used on soya fields in his village in 2003. Although Silvino and Yusniar are from opposite sides of the globe, their stories are united by one common factor: EU policy on renewable energy and biofuels.
What on Earth Spring/Summer 2011
What are biofuels?
Biofuels, which are also known as agrofuels, are made from biological matter, such as plants. Crops such as maize, soya or palm oil have sugars and fats which contain high levels of energy. These sugars and fats can be extracted and distilled into ethanol or biodiesel. In the transport sector bioethanol and biodiesel are mixed with petrol and diesel, and in the energy sector biofuels are used as an electricity source.
The European Union: an insatiable appetite for biofuels Produced on a small scale, biofuels can be a green alternative to fossil fuels – waste vegetable oil, for example, can be recycled and used again as a fuel. But the problem is that all EU countries must, by law, increase their consumption of biofuels massively by 2020. The mandatory targets have created an insatiable appetite for biofuels, which cannot be met by local production alone. What’s more,
companies are rewarded for supplying biofuels through subsidies. The sheer scale of the demand has placed pressure on land availability, with devastating consequences.
Fuelling deforestation In response to the demand, large-scale monoculture plantations in tropical regions of the world have proliferated. Communities in South America and Southeast Asia have seen the rapid depletion of their forests. Jefri Gideon Saragih of Sawit Watch, an Indonesian Human Rights NGO, told us that ‘400,000 hectares of Indonesia’s land and forests are being converted every year to meet the international demand for biofuels. I urge Europe to please decrease its demand for palm oil.’ The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that 98 per cent of Indonesia’s primary rainforest will be destroyed by 2022 as a result of palm oil plantations. On the other side of the world, Paraguay is now the world’s fourth largest soya exporter; the EU is the main importer. Marco Castillas, Paraguayan land rights expert, reports that the landscape is now covered in soya fields where there once stood forests.
Does EU biofuels policy protect against deforestation? Not properly. The EU law now says that biofuel plantations are no longer to be grown on land which has been deforested for the purpose. Firstly, however, this rule is hard to monitor, and in many instances the deforestation carries on unabated. Secondly, even if biofuels companies do not grow directly on forests, they are displacing farmers and rural communities, forcing them to retreat into and destroy the forests. This phenomenon is called
Feature: Land rights
Biofuels plantations in Paraguay
‘indirect land use change’ and because the policy does not account for it properly, the deforestation continues.
Exacerbating rights abuses The examples of Yusniar in Indonesia and Silvino from Paraguay are not isolated. In Indonesia land conflicts have quadrupled to over 660 cases in the last six years. Sawit Watch has reported cases of people resisting companies entering their lands getting bulldozed off. Once the land is taken over by the palm oil company, there is little that can be done to retrieve it. In Paraguay forced displacement of indigenous people is currently the order of the day, according to the International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs. The spraying that Silvino Talavera received is a regular tactic used by soya cultivators to force people off land. This resulted in the hospitalisation of over 200 people from the Itakyri indigenous community in 2009, and has been linked to chronic long-term syndromes resulting in death, spontaneous abortions and babies being born with birth defects. Marco Castillas says that ‘The consumption model in Europe is directly linked to the wellbeing of the Paraguayan landless farmers. If consumers don’t change their consumption patterns, chaos will prevail in Paraguay.’
Does the policy protect against human rights abuses? No. The EU law simply requires the European Commission to publish a report on human rights issues associated with biofuels by 2012. It seems that a report, to be published in over a year from now, will be cold comfort for communities such as those in Paraguay and Indonesia who are suffering the effects of biofuels policy now.
© MARCO CASTILLAS
Are we using biofuels in Scotland? Yes. Across the UK and in Scotland we are currently mixing 3.3 per cent biofuels with transport fuel. This will increase to 4.1 per cent next year. Although this doesn’t seem like much, biofuels used in the UK and Scotland in 2009/2010 came from 31 different countries, taking up 1.4 million hectares of land– an area about half the size of Belgium, or 2 million football pitches! Three-quarters of biofuels used came from overseas. In terms of electricity generation, Scotland does not currently have power plants run from biofuels. Plans for a biofuel plant at Grangemouth by energy company INEOS, which we opposed, were shelved in 2008. However, there are plans for four new power plants to be run from biomass, a solid form of biofuels, which we are also opposed to due to sustainability concerns. You can find out more about biomass in Scotland on page 5. Emilia Hanna is a campaigns intern at FoES and wrote a Masters dissertation on biofuels.
WHAT YOU CAN DO • Friends of the Earth England, Wales & Northern Ireland (EWNI) are running an e-petition to express solidarity with Silvino Talavera, the young Paraguayan boy killed from exposure to toxic chemicals. http://tinyurl.com/6aacgpt • Attend our post AGM conference on land rights on 28 May in Edinburgh to hear more from FoE EWNI’s biofuels campaigner, Kenneth Richter. Register today at www.foe-scotland.org.uk/AGM-landrights • To find out more about biofuels and how you can get involved in campaigning, visit www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/
Henry Saragih from La Via Campesina spoke to our Communications Officer, Per Fischer. Henry is the chairperson of the Indonesian Peasant’s Union and has been the International Co-ordinator of the grassroots mass movement La Via Campesina since 2004. What on Earth: Could you introduce us to La Via Campesina? Henry Saragiah: La Via Campesina represents small farmers, agricultural workers and indigenous people. The organisation was created in 1993 in Belgium as the response to neo-liberal global policies affecting farmers. Since the beginning we’ve been responding to neo-liberal policies which are destroying the lives of people in rural areas. We are working against the agreements and policies of the World Trade Organisation, against IMF policy, and against the rule of trans-national corporations. And we defend food sovereignty, a concept that we created in 1996. WOE: Do you think the organisation is still relevant in the 21st century? HS: Yes, because, as you know, people have more serious problems than in the last century, like hunger in the world, which is now increasing to reach 1 billion. Back in 1996 all the government leaders said at the World Food Summit that they would reduce world hunger to 125 million by 2015. Now, in the 21st century, the number of starving people is close to 1 billion. La Via Campesina is relevant in the struggle to solve this problem. The majority of people hit by hunger live in rural areas and the number of people living in poverty is increasing. Climate change is the real problem for people around the world, and according to the IPCC 50% of greenhouse gases are from industrial agriculture.
from other countries. Their rice farmers cannot compete with the rice from Thailand, so Japan has become one of the biggest rice importers in the world. 70% off all food in South Korea and Japan is imported form other countries. The exporters of all this food, whether it’s Indonesia, the Middle-East or Europe, are expanding their food production with big plantations, leading to massive land-grabbing. Food is not only produced to feed people, but also to feed animals in industrial animal production and to produce agro-fuels. We must change this economic model. La Via Campesina works both on the policy level and on a practical level. We have proposed a peasants’ rights charter, to give all small farmers and people living in rural areas rights within the UN system. I have worked for this for 10 years on an international level. WOE: How far away are we from having a peasants’ rights charter? HS: With the food crisis and poverty of people in rural areas, I think we are looking at progress, and hope to have the declaration within a year. La Via Campesina is a strategic ally of Friends of the Earth International.
What on Earth Spring/Summer 2011
WOE: Is climate the most important of these issues?
HS: I would say that climate change is a consequence of the world’s economic model, the model of industrial development. The corporate food production system has failed to feed the people of the world, because of its relations to the economic model, while making the climate crisis worse. WOE: So it’s possible to feed the planet in the future? HS: Yes, the Earth is can feed us. The problem is that the current economic model makes it impossible for each country to feed its own people. For example, Japan is able to feed all its people, but Japan’s farmers cannot compete with the products
Henry Saragih has been campaigning for farmers' rights since 1996.
By Chris Burton We had our Morso Squirrel wood burning stove installed last August, and despite one of the coldest winters on record, we enjoyed a very cosy winter season. It’s something we had been meaning to do since we moved into our flat about five years ago, but had been put off a little by price, inconvenience of fitting and space loss. True enough, it’s not cheap and cost about £2,500 for the stove including fitting (which took a couple of days), but we are now kicking ourselves for not having it done earlier.
By Bing San
Solar power provides renewable and clean energy that can be used in our homes. There are two different types – solar thermals heat water and are very effective, providing enough hot water for a whole family. Photovoltaics convert solar power into electricity and are currently less efficient. To install solar panels onto your home, you need to work out its orientation. The direction of your solar panels and the pitch they will be angled at are important in maximising the amount of energy they can capture. The optimum orientation for your solar panels is south-facing, at an angle determined by the latitude of your location. Your solar panel supplier will advise you of the size needed, which will be determined by the amount of hot water or electricity required. When installing any kind of renewable system in your home, decreasing energy consumption is important, as a renewable system should be part of a greener lifestyle. Ways to reduce water consumption include showering more and bathing less, using dual-flush toilets and reducing dishwasher use.
For other city dwellers like ourselves, you’ll need one of the smoke exempt (SE) models, which are more expensive, and although some models can only burn wood, the Squirrel can burn both wood and coal. I guess it must be the ‘hunter-gatherer’ instinct in me, but I have really enjoyed the practical aspects of collecting wood, cutting it to size, making kindling and getting the fire going. I’ve also created a couple of woodsheds where the free wood that I have collected over autumn is seasoning in time for next winter. Buying bulk bags of wood keeps fuel costs down. The stove itself is really quite small and sits in the corner of the living room, creating a really nice focus. Once alight, which takes a matter of minutes with the use of firelighters, the room is toasty warm within about 20 minutes and keeps the living room and the rest of the flat warm with minimal maintenance for the rest of the evening. It is advisable that you check regulations about wood burning stoves in your area with your local authority. The Morso Squirrel multifuel stove.
For a solar hot water system, a back-up supply is required if the heat collected from the sun is not sufficient to provide enough hot water. The back-up supply will provide hot water on overcast days or heat up the water when it cannot reach the required temperature. This still saves energy, since the temperature difference between the initial and final temperatures is lower. There are ways to create your own solar panels in a green way by reusing old materials. Solar panels can be made up of pipes in an encased glass box or old radiators. We recommend that you seek professional advice when installing solar panels.
2010 was an exciting year at Friends of the Earth Scotland, with a new fundraising and outreach programme. Our fantastic supporters ran, strutted on the catwalk and ate delicious food, all in the name of fundraising. Our team of outreach volunteers attended festivals across Scotland, including EcoFusion, T in the Park and The Big Tent to engage the public with our campaigns.
FASHION SHOW © DES TINNEY
2011 started off with a very successful Valetine’s Ceilidh – thank you to the Ceilidh Collective for their ongoing support. We’ve also just had a swish (clothes swap) at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh, with one in Glasgow planned for later in the year. We have lots more activities so please do support us and get involved! Bike Ride & Fashion show
What on Earth Spring/Summer 2011
In a new venture we are holding a series of craft fairs – the first one was in March at Augustine United Church in Edinburgh where we had some beautiful crafts on sale. If you missed this one, don’t worry – we will be at the Eric Liddell Centre on 30 July & 12 November from 10.30am to 3pm. Entry is free and there will be home baking, tea and coffee on sale. Please come along and join us!
We are once again a charity partner for the Edinburgh Half Marathon, and this month will see our dedicated supporters running the 13.1 miles across Edinburgh for us. If you would like to take part next year, please drop us an email at email@example.com and register your interest. John Fellows completes the half marathon in 2010
We will be a part of Scotland’s biggest cycle ride this year – sign up now to take part in the 51 mile ride from Glasgow to Edinburgh, or the 100 Sportive ride, which takes in the Southern Uplands. To find out more and sign up go to www.pedalforscotland.org and choose Friends of the Earth Scotland as your chosen charity.
Our team of volunteers will be heading out to festivals and events across Scotland this summer. Spreading the word about what we do is vital to our organisation, and the more volunteers we have the more events we can attend. If you would like to be a part of our team, please get in touch! You can find out more at www.foe-scotland.org.uk/outreach.
WHAT YOU CAN DO You can also organise your own fundraising activities with your friends, place of work or school. Find out more at www.foe-scotland.org.uk/fundraising or call Zoe Furnivall on 0131 243 2700.
Saturday 28 May Out of the Blue Drill Hall, 36 Dalmeny Street, Edinburgh EH6 8RG 10.30–14.00 Annual General Meeting for FoES members (free lunch included) 14.00–17.00 Public conference on land rights Ou AGM is your opportunity to find out more about the organisation, have your say in the running of the organisation and to stand for election to our Board.
© DANIEL REBEIRO
Speakers for our conference on land rights are: • Andy Wightman, Scotland's leading land rights expert (see his article on p8-9) • Kenny Richter, Biofuels Campaigner, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland • Benny Wanda, West Papuan independence leader
Register today at www.foe-scotland.org.uk/agmlandrights or complete and return the form sent with this copy of What on Earth.
With our jewellery recycling scheme you can recycle any type of unwanted jewellery – it doesn't have to be gold, silver and precious stones – we accept costume jewellery, watches, and broken items. Place your unwanted jewellery in the FREEPOST jewellery recycling envelope enclosed, or visit our website to find out more: www.foe-scotland.org.uk/jewelleryrecycling