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WinnersWinners 2011

Tereos feeds our cars ... and starves Mozambique.

 

The production of biofuels for Europe is not without consequences for local people and their ability to fulfill their basic needs.

 

Tereos is a French agro-industrial group specialised in processing sugar beet, cane sugar and cereals. Through its Brazilian subsidiary Guarani, Tereos owns a 75% stake in the Sena sugar refinery which is located in Mozambique  and produces biofuels there.

As part of an agreement between the European Union, Brazil and Mozambique [1], 4.8 million hectares are to be diverted from their primary purpose - growing food for local people - to produce agrofuels for the cars of overfed Europeans. According to Anabella Lemos from Friends of the Earth Mozambique: "The expansion of biofuels swallows up forestry and natural areas to transform them into energy monocultures. This confiscates fertile agricultural land that was allowing local people to produce their food."

 

The contract signed with the Mozambique government and valid up to 2023, offers 98,000 exploitable hectares to Tereos which can be renewed for 50 years and possibly extended by 15,000 hectares. It also foresees an 80% reduction of income tax and exemption from dividend tax. Under these circumstances, we can understand why Tereos highlights "the favourable legislative framework" of Mozambique in a June 2010 report!

 

In 2010, 70 % of Mozambique's population was living below the poverty threshold and foof riots caused 13 deaths and nearly 3000 injured. In the same year Tereos realised profits of Euros 194 million. 

 

Sime Darby : Want some more of that palm oil?

 

 

The booming European oil palm economy: a juicy business that is disrupting local communities.

 

After South-East Asia and Colombia, big palm oil companies like Sime Darby Unimilis BV, the european subsidiary of Malaysian Major Sime Darby, are now reaching for African soil.

 

The civil war that devastated Liberia from 1980 to 2003 was one of the bloodiest in Africa and has deeply destabilized the country. Yet, the domestic context did not prevent Sime Darby from purchasing for about 400 000 hectares of palm oil plantations, representing 4% of the national surface area.

 

Like many countries that have been colonized, in Liberia, land tenure is a hot topic and many communities demand that their rights to land are recognized. In the Cape Mountain and Bomi districts where Sime Darby plantations are concentrated, the conflicts spread. 27 villages claim that Sime Darby has deprived them of their territories, and have decided to challenge the activities of the company supported by the Green NGO Advocates. According to Friends of the Earth Liberia, 90% of communities affected by palm oil plantations say there was no information or prior consultation to the sale of these lands to Sime Darby.

 

Instead of calling policy and the conflicts it creates into question, Sime Darby live with are making no signs of repairing the damage and even plan to open a new factory in Port-la-Nouvelle, South of France, to provide the European market with oil palm. The opportunities for them are enormous, since European vegetable oil consumption has doubled during the last ten years, thanks to the development of agrofuels. The Languedoc-Roussillon French region, owner of the seaport, prefers to welcome this company with the promise of jobs, but in reality, it destroys the right to live with dignity for thousands in Liberia. But of course, this oil will be “sustainably” labeled.

 

Bolloré's bluecar: what an un-ethical choice!

 

 

Lithium batteries developed in France to the detriment of water resources in the Global South.

 

Present in the streets of Paris for a few weeks,the Bluecar does not really display all its facets. The main technological argument to this “exceptional car” is its battery, lighter and stronger than competing models, since it is made of lithium, the lightest steel in the world.

 

But this electric car is not as ecologically friendly as it sounds. Indeed, lithium exploitation has huge consequences on water resources, creating ecological catastrophes, such as the lowering of groundwater levels. In Chili, lithium is extracted from the North of the country in the Atacama desert, one of the driest area in the world, with only, in some places, 1mm of rain every 5 to 20 years.

 

No measure has yet been implemented to save and pump water into the ground to restore the groundwater. The meadows and marshes are thus continuously risking drying, condemning the existing pastures and changing the lagunes morphology.

 

Since Lithium factories are all located in natural areas, the production activities around them is noisy and the accompanying infrastructures increased transports of engines and workers, affect the surrounding ecosystems. The destruction of ecological corridors mean local species are endangered. Not surprisingly, the consequences on the livelihoods of the local community are also harmful. 

 

The “Autolib” service (combining the French words Automobile – car  and Liberté – freedom), that manages Bolloré’s Bluecar in Paris, claim its responsibility for its “tangible impact on the environment” : people in Chili witness it every day.

 

Vinci takes care of our farmers ... by building an airport on their land!

 

 

To justify the construction of a new airport, Vinci tries to make their project look green.

 

Resisted for 40 years by the residents and citizens, the construction of a new airport for the city of Nantes on the lands of Notre Dame des Landes is one of the priority projects for the French construction giant Vinci. The construction of the airport and of its infrastructure would result in covering nearly 2,000 hectares of fertile agricultural land with concrete and in the destruction of a grove of exceptional ecological quality. Faced with these realities, the project sponsors are trying to justify the unjustifiable.

 

Therefore Vinci proposes in the project specifications to create an "agricultural observatory” which will be responsible for the development “of a document bearing witness to the site’s history”. They do not stop there and guarantee farmers in the area that they will be able to sell their products in "the terminal's restaurants and shops”. As a bonus, travellers will have the right to a "demonstration farm in front of the parking lots” and to an "instructional path designed by franchisers".

 

To add to their cynicism and the hijacking of the green image, Vinci proposes to create an AMAP, a French community-supported agriculture initiative for the retention of local farming to “promote sustainable agriculture by initiating the sale of organic food baskets to the airport’s employees”.

 

Far from being alternatives, these measures are just part of the “green washing” operation of this airport project.

 

But Vinci does not just operate in France. The Vinci group also persists in the construction of a 15 km long highway segment through the Khimki forest near Moscow. In addition to the massive destruction of a world-unique biodiversity, abusive arrests orchestrated by the Russian police and private militias multiply against environmental activists.

 

For more information (in French): 

 

 - Collective against the Notre Dame des Alndes airport 

 - The Stop Vinci collective 

 - Excerpts from the Vinci contract 

 

 

When Veolia sails in dark waters

When Veolia sails in dark waters
 

With an extra “green communication”, Veolia Eau claims to defend water as a common good. A claim of lies!

 

With 106 subsidiaries in 77 countries, Veolia Environment boasts that they represent the “French model” of water management in every corner of the globe. Water, energy, transports and cleaning, so many fundamental public services managed by Veolia.

 

Today, the model is in crisis. Veolia has to face the surge of municipalization, giving local authorities full responsibility for water management in France and elsewhere. Through a massive publicity drive and “Sustainable development charter”, Veolia has difficulty to handle the contradictions appearing between the socially and ecologically responsible image they display vs the real impacts of their activities.

 

Two cases show this in a very explicit way. Firstly, the brutal closure of a wastewater treatment plant in 2009 in Brussels whereas the local authorities were unaware of it… This led to a major political conflict and a ten days pollution of three downstream waterways. The so-called less polluting innovative technology highlighted by Veolia to get the contract was evidently neither safe nor calibrated! Secondly, the terrible delegated water management in place for the last ten years in Rabat, Morrocan capital city, with problems such as unjustified water price increases, delayed and undersized investments, opaque funds transferring, etc. During the Arab Spring, the protests against the French firm have strengthened with protesters shouting “Veolia, buzz off!”

 

On the eve of the Alternative World water forum in Marseille in March 2012, the ecolopportunism of water sellers like Veolia do not fool anyone! Water is a fundamental common good that must not become a commodity!

Thanks to the Off-Media Observatory, there is more and more paper to protect the environment !

Thanks to the Off-Media Observatory, there is more and more paper to protect the environment !

 

 

The Off-Media Observatory (L’Observatoire du Hors-Media) is very vocal about the environmental advantages of paper prospectus but the reality is quite different.

 

The Off-Media Observatory is an association created in 2008 composed of various players from both the print and web communication industry. To rehabilitate paper to the general audience and institutional people, the Observatory has launched in February 2001 a campaign named “I love my prospectus”.

 

Distributed at 13 million copies in the French mailboxes, this campaign aims at make you believe that paper production, and by extension prospectus production, contributes to protecting forests and struggling against climate change.

 

What argument is the Off-Media Observatory putting forward? Make you believe the prospectus are all made from paper produced in France, whose raw material comes from forest upkeep, sawmill wastes or old papers recycling.

 

Indeed, almost 60% of the paper used in France is imported… according to the figures of that same industry! Even the paper produced in France is made thanks to massive wood pulp importations from abroad. Your prospectus has then big chances to be coming from a rainforest of Northern Europe, Canada or from a huge Latin American eucalyptus monoculture.

 

Another argument and another big mistake: paper consumption would be good for the climate “In a no-paper world, there would be less forests… and more CO2. Every stage of paper production needs energy : from wood collecting, paper producting to transporting to prospectus to your mailbox. The paper industry is the 4th biggest carbon emission industry in the world.

 

In this add, the observatory wonders “Have I been fooled?”. Without any doubt, the answer is YES! 

 

Société Générale finances future Fukushimas.

 

 

Defying the risks and the opposition of the people, nuclear projects continue to multiply on the planet - largely thanks to French banks.

 

Société Générale is the fourth largest bank in the world in terms of providing financing to the nuclear industry. The bank is also the coordinator of a consortium of private banks that is behind € 1.1 billion of funding for the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear power plant on the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 

In case there is a need for evacuation from the power plant, the most important emergency road is often blocked by landslides and fallen rocks, as has been stressed repeatedly but without success by local authorities in proximity of the site. The reactor of 1350 MW will be located 130 km to the west of Rio de Janeiro and 220 km to the east of Sao Paulo, the two largest cities of Brazil. The consequences of a major accident would hence be dramatic.

 

Based on an outdated reactor model from the 1970s, Angra 3 is far from the latest industry standards. In addition, serious studies from 2009 concluded that using renewable energies in Brazil would generate cheaper electricity faster.

 

The license for the construction of Angra 3, granted to the French builder Areva, violates the statutes of the Brazilian Constitution which specify that any construction of a nuclear power plant must be approved by the Congress. This has never been the case.

 

To make things worse, Société Générale has been approached to help finance the construction of the Jaitapur nuclear plant in India, which has also been entrusted to Areva. The intended site is located at an area on the edge of three tectonic faults, with potential earthquakes up to level 7 on the Richter scale. The multiple repressions of local protests have already caused one death and many arrests.

 

Way to go!

 

For more information:

 

 - Friends of the Earth (Amis de la Terre) website 

 - BankTrack website 

 - "Nuclear banks? No thanks" coalition 

 

Perenco puts up the money for a Maya exhibition in Paris... and for armies in Guatemala

 

 

An oil exploitation that disregards indigenous people and the environment.

 

Perenco is a Anglo-French oil company present in 16 countries. In Guatemala, its subsidiary Perenco Guatemala Limited, exploits 47 wells in a concession in the Laguna del Tigre National Park which is the widest wetlands in Central America.

 

The related agreement, signed for 25 years, offended in the latter half of 2010. It was impossible to renew this agreement, since the exploitation area had been legally designated as a protected area since 1989. Yet, in 2010, in a climate of corruption, Perenco G.Ltd was allowed the renewal of its contract for 15 years and was authorized to drill 4 more wells. Moreover, Perenco still has not disclosed an environmental and social impact assessment, which is mandatory.

 

Whereas theoil is very welcome in the protected area, the communities can not get any rights for their lands. Threatened by expulsion, they feel intimidated by the large military operation that is set up in the zone. Perenco G. Ltd has indeed paid 3 millions US dollars in 2010 for creating 6 battalions. 0,30 dollars per barrel produced is deducted to fund them : for the communities, “the militaries are there to protect the firm.”

The economical conditions of the agreement with Perenco G. Ltd remains unfavourable to the Guatemalta for the exploited oil is hardly taxable, quite apart from the fact that the firm benefits from some recoverable costs that allows it to claim recompense of lots of its outgoings!

 

The Perrodo family, owner of the Perenco firm, is now ranked in 2011 as the 40th French fortune with an estimated assets of 1,2 billion euros, an increase of 500% compared to 2010.

 

Known as a discrete firm, Perenco treated themselves with an impressive showcase at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, funding an exhibition about the Maya. Seeing its attitude in Guatemalta, one question has to be asked : would Perenco prefer the Maya stuffed?  

 

Toreador, watch out!

 

 

Development projects on shale and oil gas rouse public opinion. But Toreador will not surrender.

 

Toreador is a French oil company that holds several exploratory licences on shale oil in the Parisian Basin. Managed by Julien Balkany, half-brother of the city of Levallois mayor  and close friend to Nicolas Sarkozy, Toreador, according to the French Oil Institute, is built on a goldmine: 60 to 100 billion of oil barrels, the equivalent of 70 to 120 years of the Koweit production, lie under the Parisien subsoil. An appealing commodity for a big firm proud to focus its production only on the French territory.

 

Within the new legal framework, Toreador committed not to use the controversial fracking (hydraulic fracturing) method and above all, not to exploit any shale gas in the Parisian Basin.

 

A similar promise was made in March 2011 in a letter to the people, sent in order to ease the opponents to these licences.

 

Yet, we found out that some internal documents prove the contrary!

 

Indeed, only a few says before their announcements, Toreador was proudly presenting its shareholders, the Parisian Basin as non-conventional resources. A disturbing fact is that these resources are exactly the sameas the ones revealed by the company in October 2010 in its record on shale gas!

 

These documents sounds like an obvious fact: Toreador never abandoned on exploiting shale gas on the French territory. The make-up on their projects to escape the legal framework and to act with impunity shows it clearly, especially when we know that the fracking remains the only method to exploit oil and shale gas today.

 

Between lies to the people and pressure on journalists, it’s about time to turn the Toreador by its horns!

 

 

 

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