Activists Defeat Coal Power Plant in South Florida!

Today, the Florida Public Service Commission voted 4-0 to deny Florida Power & Light’s permits for a proposed coal-fired power plant in Glades County. The $5.7 billion proposed plant would have been located just 68 miles from Everglades National Park heavily polluting the Glades and surrounding area. This plant would use 26 million tons of water daily, emit 180 pounds of toxic mercury every year, and further fuel climate change by releasing an estimated 16 million tons of C02 annually.

FPL faced a huge opposition from both local and national groups who recognize that energy efficiency and renewables like solar and wind should be our priority – NOT dirty fossil-fuels. While this is a great victory in stopping new coal development – Florida is still facing at least 8 more coal-fired power plants, and 150 more are planned around the US.

Earlier this spring, Citigroup and Bank of America gave $2.5 billion to FPL for new construction – and a big thanks to everyone who helped last week by calling in to Citigroup and letting them know that FPL was a bad investment! Your support makes a huge difference as we work to make sure Wall Street stops funding climate change!

Thousands of Protestors Block G8 Summit, Clash with Police, As Bush Derails Climate Talks

Thousands of protesters have laid siege to the G8 meetings in Germany where climate change is on the top of the agenda. Germany was hoping to get an agreement among the worlds 8 wealthiest nations (and some of the largest polluters) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050. Despite these emission cuts being far weaker than is necessary to address global warming, Bush refused to agree to them. Instead he forced through a resolution agreeing that the G8 nations would “significantly reduce” GHG emissions, without setting any specific commitments. In order for us to avoid the worst effects of climate change, we need to reduce global GHG emissions by at least 80% by 2050. Until then… TO THE BARRICADES!

Jun 7, 2007

Around 10,000 anti-capitalist protesters clashed with police and blocked roads to a Baltic resort where world leaders gathered on Wednesday for a summit.

Police turned water cannons on some 2,500 protesters in order to clear one of the roads to the venue for the Group of Eight summit in the Baltic resort of Heiligendamm. Police detained some 160 protesters in the skirmishes.

Delegates from several G8 countries, including host Germany, said the protests were limiting their ability to move around at the venue, a seaside resort on Germany’s Baltic coast.

Eight officers were injured during earlier clashes with protesters near the town of Bad Doberan, police spokesman Luedger Behrens said. Police “used water cannons twice after demonstrators bombarded police with stones,” he said.

The demonstrators were trying to block access to a luxury hotel on the coast in Heiligendamm where G8 leaders including US President George Bush were gathering.

By late afternoon, all three roads leading into Heiligendamm were blocked off by protesters before police moved in to clear a route through.

“There are about 2,500 demonstrators in the area and we cannot make any guarantees that the roads will stay cleared,” said Behrens.

One German official said the only way into Heiligendamm had been via boat or helicopter. Another said the demonstrations had become a “major problem” for journalists covering the summit.

“We’re stuck here now. The whole place looks shut down,” an official from one of the G8 delegations said by telephone from inside the summit venue.

Protesters celebrate

The protesters themselves were in a jubilant mood.

“It’s a great success just to be able to sit here,” said Gunar Finke, a student from the southern German city of Freiburg. “It’s only a symbolic step but it’s an important one to show we’re against G8 policies.” “We had a super plan and we surprised the police, who didn’t know how to stop us,” he said.

Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was forced to cancel a planned tour of the nearby Baltic resort town of Kuehlungsborn on Wednesday because of the demonstrations.

Dozens of protesters damaged a steam train being used to shuttle journalists between the summit venue and the media centre in Kuehlungsborn. It has since been repaired but protesters were sitting on the tracks and blocking it.

Some 16,000 security personnel are in the area. World leaders are shielded from demonstrators by a 12-km fence topped with barbed wire.

The Federal Constitutional Court, Germany’s highest court, ruled against plans for a demonstration on Thursday outside the fence. But with some protesters already at the fence that decision had been made largely irrelevant.

Massacres and Paramilitary Land Seizures Behind the Biofuel Revolution

Published on Tuesday, June 5, 2007 by the Guardian/UK

Massacres and Paramilitary Land Seizures Behind the Biofuel Revolution

by Oliver Balch / and Rory Carroll

Armed groups in Colombia are driving peasants off their land to make way for plantations of palm oil, a biofuel that is being promoted as an environmentally friendly source of energy.

Surging demand for “green” fuel has prompted rightwing paramilitaries to seize swaths of territory, according to activists and farmers. Thousands of families are believed to have fled a campaign of killing and intimidation, swelling Colombia’s population of 3 million displaced people and adding to one of the world’s worst refugee crises after Darfur and Congo.

Several companies were collaborating by falsifying deeds to claim ownership of the land, said Andres Castro, the general secretary of Fedepalma, the national federation of palm oil producers.

“As a consequence of the development of palm by secretive business practices and the use of threats, people have been displaced and [the businesses] have claimed land for themselves,” he said. His claim was backed up by witnesses and groups such as Christian Aid and the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia.

The revelations tarnish what has been considered an economic and environmental success story. The fruit of the palm oil tree produces a vegetable oil also used in cooking, employs 80,000 people, and is increasingly being turned into biofuel.

“Four years ago Colombia had 172,000 hectares of palm oil,” President Alvaro Uribe told the Guardian. “This year we expect to finish with nearly 400,000.”

“Four years ago Colombia didn’t produce a litre of biofuel. Today, because of our administration, Colombia produces 1.2m litres per day.” Investment in new installations would continue to boost production, he added.

However the lawlessness created by four decades of insurgency in the countryside has enabled rightwing paramilitaries, and also possibly leftwing rebels, to join the boom. Unlike coca, the armed groups’ main income source, palm oil is a legal crop and therefore safe from state-backed eradication efforts.

Farmers who have been forced off their land at gunpoint say that in many cases their banana groves and cattle grazing fields were turned into palm oil plantations. Luis Hernandez (not his real name) fled his 170-hectare plot outside the town of Mutata in Antioquia province nine years ago after his father-in-law and several neighbours were gunned down. When he and other survivors were able to return recently, they found the land was in the hands of a local palm producer.

“The company tells me that it has legal papers for the land, but I don’t know how that can be, as I have land titles dating back 20 years,” said Mr Hernandez. He suspects palm companies collaborated with the paramilitaries. “I don’t know if there was an official agreement between them, but a relationship of some sort definitely exists.”

A government investigation reportedly found irregularities in 80% of palm oil land titles in some areas. “If there have been abuses and the titles are shown to be false, then the land needs to be returned and all the weight of the law needs to be brought down on those that are responsible,” said Dr Castro, of the producers’ association.

Christian Aid is funding an effort to protect peasants who are trying to reclaim land from the paramilitaries, said Dominic Nutt, who has visited the plantations. “It is the dark side of biofuel.”

The paramilitary groups, first formed in the 80s by businessmen, landowners and drug lords to fend off guerrillas, became a powerful illegal army which stole land, sold drugs and massacred civilians. Under a peace deal with the government they have officially disbanded but many observers say remnants remain active.

Displacement continues, with an average of 200,000 cases registered every year over the past four years, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees, with most coming from palm oil-growing areas on the Caribbean coast. “We can’t keep up, they just keep coming,” said Ludiz Ruda, of the Hijos de Maria school in a shantytown outside the coastal city of Cartagena. Since opening last year it had been swamped with impoverished newcomers, she said. “More than 80% are refugees.”

Cocaine output rises regardless

Coca production in Colombia has surged despite US-funded eradication efforts, according to an estimate that casts fresh doubt on Washington’s “war on drugs”. Satellite imagery collated by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy survey suggests that cultivation of coca, the raw ingredient of cocaine, jumped 8% last year to 156,000 hectares.

The estimate was made public before a trip to Washington this week by President Alvaro Uribe. If confirmed, it would be the third consecutive rise in production, and a blow to the US strategy of bolstering Colombia’s security forces to help them destroy the crops.

Under its Plan Colombia project, Washington has funnelled more than $5bn (£2.5bn) in mostly military aid to its South American ally since 2000 – its biggest aid project outside Afghanistan and the Middle East. The Democrats say the security forces are accused of human rights abuses and complicity with traffickers.

Mr Uribe revealed the unpublished findings in an effort to get the bad news out of the way before he started lobbying Congress; the White House did not immediately respond.

“They told me they were worried about revealing this number because of my upcoming trip to the United States – that the Americans should reveal it,” he said. “But that’s why I’m revealing it. We’re not trying to put makeup on what is a serious matter.”

Plan Colombia began in 1999 and was supposed to halve production of coca within five years, using sprayer planes and officers on the ground. But the latest estimate suggests that since then it has risen 27%.

Last month Mr Uribe trumpeted a UN report that said cultivation was down to 79,000 hectares. The conflicting figures were incomprehensible and disorienting, said the president: “Could it be we’ve worked in vain? That all our work hasn’t produced the desired results?”

U.S. set to reject targets on climate change

U.S. set to reject targets on climate change: report
By Myra P. Saefong, MarketWatch
Last Update: 2:27 PM ET May 26, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — The U.S. is set to reject new targets on climate change at next month’s Group of Eight summit, the Associated Press reported Saturday, citing a document released by environmentalists.

That would ruin Germany’s and Britain’s expectations for a new global agreement on carbon emissions, the report said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants the meeting to agree on targets for greenhouse gas production cuts and a timetable for an agreement on emissions reduction that would succeed the Kyoto Protocol, AP said. The Kyoto Protocol, which runs through 2012, is an agreement between developed nations to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

But unattributed comments on a draft summit communiqué suggest the White House has serious reservations, the AP news report said. Greenpeace attributed the comments to U.S. officials and said they were given to the group by an undisclosed third party, AP said.

“The U.S. still has serious fundamental concerns about this draft statement,” the notes said, according to AP. “The treatment of climate change runs counter to our overall position and crosses multiple ‘red lines’ tin terms of what we simply cannot agree to.”

The document claims that the White House is ‘fundamentally opposed’ to many of the European objectives.
The 27 European Union members have agreed on a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The cut would rise to 30% if a broader international pact can be made, the AP said. See MarketWatch’s special report on global warming.
At the June 6-8 Group of Eight summit in Heiligendamm, on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, Germany’s Merkel wants to win agreements for a global cut in emissions of 50% below 1990 levels by 2050, as well as commitments to energy-efficient strategies, the news agency said.

Myra P. Saefong is a reporter for MarketWatch in San Francisco.