Monday, December 21, 2009

People's Declaration from Copenhagen

By Tony Gonzales

AIM West

COPENHAGEN -- As I am making preparations to head for home to the Bay Area, I am sending you this final Declaration that came from the KlimaforumO9 in Copenhagen, from the large group of NGOs attending the UNFCCC separate from the Government representatives meeting at the Bella Center. Please post the document.

I must say that I am not pleased at all with the final outcome of the text, particularly where Indigenous peoples were inserted deep in page 6, beginning with "Our Demands."

Although I did attempt to work as close I could with the declaration team to include Indigenous Peoples somewhere after the Preamble and to insert the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples -- both to secure the rights of all Indigenous Peoples, and to gain the NGO's support for it to function as a stop gap to the continued and future destruction of Mother Earth that contributes toward the unregulated emissions and increasing temperatures -- evidently it was to no avail.

What we need is our own document and for it to stand on its own. For this to occur we will need the support from our brothers and sisters, friends, allies and supporters to join with the American Indian Movement International Conference to be held in San Francisco, California during the week of November 22-26, 2010. This should be just prior to the next COP-16 in Mexico City, November 29th until December 10, 2010.

Hopefully we will develop a more strategy plan that will effectuate the necessary systems change that will assert the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and take that to Mexico City to be adopted both by all NGO's, and Governments into their final document. I will elaborate further on this project/plan when I return to San Francisco later during this week. All is not lost, we are still hopeful, and coming into our element! Until then, to all my relations.

Tony Gonzales

AIM-WEST Director


The Klima forum09 Declaration – final version

System change – not climate change

A People’s Declaration from Klimaforum09


There are solutions to the climate crisis. What people and the planet need is a just and sustainable

transition of our societies to a form that will ensure the rights of life and dignity of all peoples and deliver

a more fertile planet and more fulfilling lives to future generations.

We, participating peoples, communities, and all organizations at the Klimaforum09 in Copenhagen, call

upon every person, organization, government, and institution, including the United Nations (UN), to

contribute to this necessary transition. It will be a challenging task. The crisis of today has economic,

social, environmental, geopolitical, and ideological aspects interacting with and reinforcing each other as

well as the climate crisis. For this reason, we call for urgent climate action:

• A complete abandonment of fossil fuels within the next 30 years, which must include

specific milestones for every 5-year period. We demand an immediate cut in GHG of

industrialized countries of at least 40% compared to 1990 levels by 2020.

• Recognition, payment and compensation of climate debt for the overconsumption of

atmospheric space and adverse effects of climate change on all affected groups and people.

• A rejection of purely market-oriented and technology-centred false and dangerous solutions

such as nuclear energy, agro-fuels, carbon capture and storage, Clean Development Mechanisms,

biochar, genetically “climate-readied” crops, geo-engineering, and reducing emissions from

deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), which deepens social and environmental conflicts.

• Real solutions to climate crisis based on safe, clean, renewable, and sustainable use of natural

resources, as well as transitions to food, energy, land, and water sovereignty.

Therefore, we demand that COP15 reach an agreement that will initiate the restoration of the

environmental, social, and economic balance of planet Earth by means that are environmentally, socially,

and economically sustainable and equitable, and finally come up with a legally binding treaty.

The adverse impacts of human-induced climate change cause gross violations of human rights. All nations

have an obligation to cooperate internationally to ensure respect for human rights everywhere in the world

in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. Any specific agreement on climate change must be

seen in the broader context of achieving a sustainable transition of our societies.

We, participating peoples and organisations at Klimaforum09, commit to continue our full and active

engagement in promoting such a transition, which will require a fundamental change in social, political,

and economic structures and a rectification of gender, class, race, generational, and ethnic inequalities and


This requires a restoration of the democratic sovereignty of our local communities and of their role as a

basic social, political, and economic unit. Local and democratic ownership of, control over, and access to

natural resources will be the basis for meaningful and sustainable development of communities and

simultaneously for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There is also a need for stronger regional and

international cooperative arrangements to manage common and shared resources, as well as for a stronger

and democratic UN.

We call upon every concerned person, social movement, and cultural, political or economic organisation

to join us in building a strong global movement of movements, which can bring forward peoples’ visions

and demands at every level of society. Together, we can make global transitions to sustainable futures.

[ The Klima forum09 Dec lar ation – fina l ver sion ]


System change – not climate change

A People’s Declaration from Klimaforum09

1. Preamble

There are solutions to the climate crisis. What people and the planet need is a just and sustainable

transition of our societies to a form that will ensure the rights of life and dignity of all people and deliver a

more fertile planet and more fulfilling lives to present and future generations. This transition must be

based on principles of solidarity – especially on behalf of the most vulnerable – non-discrimination,

gender equality, equity, and sustainability, acknowledging that we are part of nature, which we love and

respect. To address the climate crisis, however, awareness creation and determined actions adhering to a

rights-based framework are required. All nations have an obligation to cooperate internationally to ensure

respect for human rights everywhere in the world, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

We, participating peoples, communities, and all organizations at the Klimaforum09 in Copenhagen, call

upon every person, organization, government, and institution, including the United Nations (UN), to

contribute to this necessary transition. It will be a challenging task. The crisis of today has economic,

social, environmental, geopolitical, and ideological aspects interacting with and reinforcing each other as

well as the climate crisis. This very moment of conjunction of crises – climate, energy, financial, food, and

water crises, among others –, urges us to unite and transform the dominant social and economic system as

well as global governance, which currently block necessary solutions to the climate crisis. For this reason,

a movement from below is called upon to act now.

Environmental and climate debts must be paid. No false, dangerous, or short-term solutions should be

promoted and adopted, such as nuclear power, agro-fuels, offsetting, carbon capture and storage (CCS),

biochar, geo-engineering, and carbon trading. Instead, we should implement a truly sustainable transition

built on clean, safe, and renewable resources as well as energy conservation. We welcome alliances across

social movements and sectors, representing all ages, genders, ethnicities, faiths, communities, and

nationalities. We want to take the future into our own hands by building a strong and popular movement

of youth, women, men, workers, peasants, fisher folks, indigenous peoples, people of colour, and urban

and rural social groups; a movement that is able to act at all levels of society to deal with environmental

degradation and climate change. We call for a new international economic order and support a strong and

democratic UN as opposed to G8, G20 or other closed groups of powerful countries.

2. The challenge as we see it:

The concentration of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) in the atmosphere is already so high that the climate

system has been brought out of balance. The CO2 concentration and global temperatures have increased

more rapidly in the last 50 years than ever before on Earth, and will rise even faster in the coming

decades. This adds to a multitude of other serious ecological imbalances, the impacts of which threaten

the lives and livelihoods of the people of the world, most acutely, impoverished people and other

vulnerable groups.

The imbalance of the climate system leads to greater and more frequent extremes of heat and rainfall

patterns, tropical cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons, extreme flooding and droughts, loss of biodiversity,

landslides, rising sea levels, shortage of drinking water, shorter growing seasons, lower yields, lost or

deteriorated agricultural land, decreased agricultural production, losses of livestock, extinction of

ecosystems, and diminished fish stocks, among others. These phenomena result in food crises, famine,

illness, death, displacement, and the extinction of sustainable ways of life. Interacting with this is the

introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), monoculture farming, and industrialized

agriculture, all strongly promoted by corporations. These seriously threaten the stability and diversity of

ecosystems, marginalize and impoverish small-scale farmers, and undermine food sovereignty. Corporate[

The Klima forum09 Dec lar ation – fina l ver sion ]


controlled agriculture is geared to meet an inflated global demand generated by over-consumption

especially in the North, rather than for local basic needs. The same can be said about modern industrial

fisheries, intensive forestry and mining, which destroy ecosystems, diminish biodiversity and destroy the

life and livelihoods of local communities.

These effects of climate change together with growing social inequalities and severe impacts on our

common environment are already devastating the lives of millions of people as well as their local

communities. However, we – the people – are not prepared to accept this fact as our fate. That is why

there are fast growing popular movements determined to defend their livelihoods and stand up against

those forces and causes that have led us onto this ultimately suicidal route of environmental destruction.

In Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Oceania and South and Central America, as well as the periphery of

North America and Europe, popular movements are rising to confront the exploitation of their land by

foreign interests, and to regain control over their own resources. A new type of activism has revitalized

the environmental movements, leading to a wide variety of protests and actions against mining, dams,

deforestation, coal-fired power plants, air travel, and the building of new roads, among others. There is a

growing awareness about the need to change the present economic paradigm in a very fundamental way.

Among various movements, alternative ways of life are proliferating. At the same time it is becoming

evident to the public that the present holders of power are unwilling to face and deal with the threats of

climate change and environmental degradation. The so-called strategy of “green growth” or “sustainable

growth” has turned out to be an excuse for pursuing the same basic model of economic development that

is one of the root causes of environmental destruction and the climate crisis.

3. The causes as we see them:

The immediate and primary cause of human-induced climate change is an unprecedented emission of

greenhouse gasses (GHGs) into the atmosphere originating from the increasing burning of fossil fuels for

industrial, commercial, transportation and military purposes, to mention a few but significant sources.

Other important drivers of climate change are forest degradation – excluding indigenous people’s

sustainable practice of shifting cultivations – deforestation, extractive industries, disturbance of the water

cycle, expansion of industrial agriculture areas through land grabbing, increased industrial meatproduction,

and other types of unsustainable use of natural resources.

Une ve n co ntr ol and owne rs hi p ov er re sources

These immediate causes are the results of an unsustainable global economic system built on unequal

access to and control over the planet’s limited resources and the benefits that accrue from their use. This

system is premised on the appropriation of local, national, and planetary commons by local and global

elites. What has been praised as great strides in technology, production, and human progress has in fact

precipitated global ecological and development disasters. Still, a privileged global elite engages in reckless

profit-driven production and grossly excessive consumption while a very large proportion of humanity is

mired in poverty with mere survival-and-subsistence consumption, or even less. This is the situation not

only in countries of the South but also in the North. The world’s largest transnational corporations

(TNCs), based mainly in the northern countries and tax-havens, but with expanding operations, have long

been at the forefront of these excesses.

The competition among global corporations and rich nations for resources and greater market shares, as

well as trade agreements and treaties, have led to a neo-colonial suppression of southern peoples, denying

them rightful ownership and control of their resources. The World Trade Organization (WTO) and

international financial institutions, as well as the European Union (EU) and United States (US), using

bilateral trade agreements, are increasing the privatization and commoditization of public resources,

intensifying the plunder of natural resources of underdeveloped countries, and imposing conditions that

increase their dependence.

Pre vail ing p atte rns of tho ught and alte rnati ves

The development model promoted by these institutions is not only a question of “economics.” The

prevailing economic paradigm is strongly related to a system of thought that is based on an imagination

[ The Klima forum09 Dec lar ation – fina l ver sion ]


conception of the human being as “economic man.” This ideology is reinforced by corporate media and

marketing firms that promote egoism, competition, material consumption, and boundless accumulation of

private wealth in utter disregard of the social and ecological consequences of such behaviour. This system

of thought is intimately intertwined with patterns of patriarchy and paternalism.

If we really want to address this crisis, we need to recognize that the human species is part of both nature

and society and cannot exist without either. Therefore if humanity is to survive, we need to respect the

integrity of Mother Earth and strive for harmony with nature and for peace within and between cultures.

We are at once citizens of different nations and of one world. Everyone shares responsibility for the

present and future well-being of the human family and the larger living world. The spirit of human

solidarity and kinship with all life is strengthened when we live according to the principle of “One among


4. A just and sustainable transition

It is clear that solving the climate crisis requires far-reaching transformations, which are currently

excluded from the agenda of policy-makers in governments and multilateral institutions. People are

calling for system change, not “business-as-usual” and the uncritical use of technology and market

fixes to which powerful interests have confined the climate agenda.

People’s movements embrace a number of alternative visions for society and concrete steps that

must be taken in order to move towards a sustainable future while addressing the climate, water,

food, and economic crises at the same time. Such a sustainable transition will begin by many

different initiatives. Some of these steps towards sustainable transition are:

• Food sovereignty and ecological agriculture: Uphold the rights of people,

communities, and countries to determine their own systems of production, including

farming, fishing, food, forestry, and land policies that are ecologically, socially,

economically, and culturally appropriate to the circumstances. People’s, especially women’s

access to and control over productive resources such as land, seeds, and water must be

respected and guaranteed. Agricultural production must rely principally on local

knowledge, appropriate technology, and ecologically sustainable techniques that bind CO2

in the diverse and native plant systems, bind water, and return more nutrients to the soil

than were taken out. Food and agricultural production must be primarily geared towards

meeting local needs, encourage self-sufficiency, promote local employment, and minimize

resource use, waste and GHG emissions in the process.

• Democratic ownership and control of economy: The reorganization of society’s

productive units around more democratic forms of ownership and management, in order

to meet people’s basic needs, such as employment creation; access to water, housing, land,

health care, and education; food sovereignty; and ecological sustainability. Public policy

must make sure that the financial system serves public interests and channel resources for

the sustainable transformation of industry, agriculture, and services.

• Energy sovereignty: A dramatic reduction of energy consumption especially in the

enriched countries, combined with a mix of renewable and public energy sources such as

solar, wind, geothermal, mini-hydro, wave, and tidal; the development of off-the-grid

electricity distribution to secure energy supplies to communities; and public ownership of

the grid.

• Ecological planning of urban and rural zones: The aim is a radical reduction in the

inputs of energy and resources and the outputs of waste and pollution, while encouraging

locally based supply of basic needs of the citizens. An urban and rural planning built on

social justice and equal service to all, reducing the need for transport. Promoting public

transport systems such as light and high-speed rail-systems and bicycles, reducing the need

for private motor vehicles and thus decongesting the roads, improving health and reducing

energy consumption.

• Education, science and cultural institutions: Re-orientate public research and

[ The Klima forum09 Dec lar ation – fina l ver sion ]


education to meet the needs of people and the environment, rather than the present bias

for developing commercially profitable and proprietary technologies. Research and

development should be primarily an open and collaborative endeavour in the common

interest of humankind. Eliminate patents on ideas and technology. Fair and just exchange

of appropriate technologies, traditional knowledge, and indigenous innovative practices

and ideas between countries should be encouraged.

• An end to militarism and wars: The present fossil fuel based development model leads

to violence, war, and military conflict over control of energy, land, water, and other natural

resources. This is demonstrated by the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq and

Afghanistan, as well as militarization across the globe in regions rich in fossil fuels and

other natural resources. Peasants and indigenous communities are also being violently

displaced from their lands to make way for agrofuel plantations. Trillions of dollars are

spent on the military-industrial complex, thus wasting enormous material and human

resources, which should instead be devoted to implementing a sustainable transition.

By taking steps forward, we can learn by doing. These steps will help us to convince the broad

majority of people that a sustainable transition entails the promise of a more fulfilling and good life.

The social, political, economic, and environmental fields are closely interrelated. A coherent strategy

must therefore address them all, which indeed is the central idea behind the concept of sustainable


One aspect of this concept is the restoration of local communities rather than the global market as a

basic social, political, and economic unit. Social cohesion, democratic participation, economic

accountability, and ecological responsibility can only be accomplished by restoring decision-making

at the lowest appropriate level. This is a basic lesson we have learned from ethnic cultures and local


A community-based approach does not, however, contradict the need for extensive international

cooperation. On the contrary, it will need stronger alliances within and across all borders between

direct producers in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and industry. Alliances also built on the strength of

gender equality and on recognizing and overcoming unjust power relations at all levels. It also

includes the need for stronger regional and international cooperative arrangements to manage

common and shared resources, such as cross-border water resources. Furthermore, international

cooperation will promote the full mutual exchange of ideas, technologies, and expertise across all

boundaries, as well as an open-minded dialogue between different cultures, based on mutual respect.

5. Paths to transition

Many people are involved in the practical creation of more sustainable industry, agriculture, forestry,

and fishery as well as in the renewable energy sector. These initiatives within the system have

furthermore created alliances with other sectors of society, trade unions, consumers, city dwellers,

teachers, and researchers, all of whom are striving towards sustainable ways of life.

Uni ted Natio ns (UN) and Confe renc e of Par ties (COP)

We need to address the UN negotiations on Climate Change, and the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15)

on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The lessons from previous rounds of

negotiations are not very promising. Despite the high-profile schemes for concerted action launched first

in the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change of Rio de Janeiro and later in the 1997 Kyotoprotocol,

results are meagre and the problems have not been solved. Indeed, it has worsened as the

principles, targets, and timelines of both the Convention and the Protocol have made little headway.

The same big corporate interests that are largely responsible for causing the climate crisis appear to have

immense influence on climate policies at the national and global level. We strongly oppose this

undemocratic influence of corporate lobbyism in the current COP-negotiations. Contrary to this, we call

on states to put in place an appraisal mechanism for all policies and policy instruments under the

[ The Klima forum09 Dec lar ation – fina l ver sion ]


UNFCCC, to ensure inclusive and deliberative multi-stakeholder processes that repair existing inequalities,

whether based on gender, colour, age, disability or other forms of discrimination in the COP-negotiations.

We demand that COP15 reach an agreement that will initiate the restoration of the environmental, social,

and economic balance of planet Earth by means that are environmentally, socially, and economically

sustainable and equitable, and finally come up with a legally binding treaty.

Our demands

We are raising our voices to the leaders in the UNFCCC to put forward the people’s demands and


1. Phasing out fossil fuel: We call for a clear strategy for dismantling the fossil fuel era within

the next 30 years, which must include specific milestones for every 5-year period. We

demand an immediate cut in GHG emissions of industrialized countries of at least 40%

compared 1990 levels by 2020.

2. Reparations and compensation for Climate Debt and crimes: We demand full

reparations for southern countries and those impoverished by northern states, TNCs, and

tax-haven institutions. By this, we partly address historical injustices associated to

inequitable industrialization and climate change, originating in the genocide of indigenous

nations, transatlantic slave trade, colonial era, and invasions. This must be accompanied by

an equally clear strategy for compensating impoverished people for the climate and broader

ecological debt owed by the enriched. A global and democratic fund should be established

to give direct support to the victims of climate change. Developed countries must provide

new, mandatory, adequate, and reliable financing as well as patent-free technologies so that

developing countries can better adapt to adverse climate impacts and undertake emission

reductions. This would allow developing countries to play their part in curbing climate

change, while still meeting the needs and aspirations of their people. International financial

institutions, donor agencies, and trade mechanisms should have no part in reparations.

3. An immediate global ban on deforestation of primary forests and the parallel initiation

of an ambitious global tree-planting program based on native and diverse species in

partnership with indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities. Similarly, a ban on

large-scale industrialized fishing methods and a return to primarily local and sustainable

fishing practices. Finally, a ban on land grabbing by foreign interests and the full acceptance

of people’s sovereignty over natural resources.

4. We express strong opposition to purely market-oriented and technology-centred false

and dangerous solutions put forward by many corporations, governments, and international

financial institutions. These include nuclear energy, agro-fuels, carbon capture and storage,

Clean Development Mechanisms, biochar, genetically “climate-readied” crops, geoengineering,

and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) as

currently defined by the UNFCCC. These only produce new environmental threats, without

really solving the climate crisis. Carbon trading and offsetting are also false and unjust

instruments, because they treat a common planetary resource – the atmosphere – as a

commodity that can be owned and traded. So far, the system has not proven its merits, and

by allowing rich countries to offset their reduction obligations, it has maintained this unjust

and unsustainable system.

5. Equitable tax on carbon emissions: Instead of the regime of tradable emission quotas we

demand an equitable tax on carbon emissions. Revenues from this carbon tax should be

returned equitably to people, and a portion should be used to compensate and contribute to

finance adaptation and mitigation. This is, however, not a substitute for repayment of

already accumulated climate debt. This compensation and funding should be unconditional

and free of market mechanisms and financial institutions. Reduction of emissions must be

strongly encouraged by a briskly increasing, transparent carbon tax, in addition to direct

regulations to drive the phase-out of fossil fuels, while enabling safe, clean and renewable

[ The Klima forum09 Dec lar ation – fina l ver sion ]



6. Multilateral institutions and TNCs: Unjust, unsustainable, and unaccountable global

economic and financial institutions like the WTO, the World Bank, the International

Monetary Fund (IMF), regional development banks, donor institutions, and trade

agreements should be replaced by democratic and equitable institutions functioning in

accordance with the United Nations Charter, that respect people’s sovereignty over

resources, and promote solidarity between people and nations. A mechanism for strict

surveillance and control of the operations of TNCs should be created as well.

Finally, we commit ourselves to a full and active involvement in carrying our sustainable transitions

of our societies along the lines put forward in this Declaration.

6. A global movement for sustainable transition

Irrespective of the outcome of the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, there is an urgent need

to build a global movement of movements dedicated to the long-term task of promoting a

sustainable transition of our societies. Contrary to the prevailing power structures, this movement

must grow from the bottom and up. What is needed is a broad alliance of environmental

movements, social movements, trade unions, farmers, civil societies, and other aligned parties that

can work together in everyday political struggle on the local as well as national and international

level. Such an alliance entails at the same time the creation of a new mindset and of new types of

social activisms, and must be capable not only of reacting to unsustainable practices, but also

showing by example how a new sustainable economy can indeed function.

We, participating peoples, communities, and social organizations at Klimaforum09 are all committed

to build on the results achieved at this event in the further development of a global movement of


This Declaration aims to inspire the further development of such a movement by pointing to the

general direction in which we choose to move. Together, we can make global transitions to

sustainable future. Join us.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hada'a Sidi to Fight Peabody Western Lease Amendment

Media Statement

The Navajo Nation Council will hold a work session on Monday, December 21st, and then hold a vote the next day, on whether to approve amendments to a Peabody Western Coal Company mining lease. Hadada'a sidi, a Navajo grassroots reform organization, opposes the amendments because there is insufficient public information on its fairness and how it will benefit the Navajo Nation, and the public has not been adequately notified and involved. As is often the case, we aren't seeing transparency and inclusion in the legislative process.
There are problems with the amendment: For example, Peabody Coal promoters promised the people of the Black Mesa and Kayenta areas that the company will help with basic community needs.
They include water, electricity, roads and other infrastructure items. Given that Navajo society is still largely oral, Navajo communities and voters took the coal company representatives at their word and approved leases based on promises for assistance. However such promises are not legally enforceable, and they were not kept. While the central government may get the benefit of coal leasing, the affected communities did not. It is up to Western Agency Navajo Nation Council delegates to vote down any continuation of leasing until that is addressed.
The proposed amendments offer 12.5% of "gross realization" (proceeds from the sale of coal for one mine) and 6.25% for another (where the royalty is split with the Hopi Tribe). The people are not being told what the market rate is or whether the Navajo Nation will be cheated the way it was cheated in the past. We do not know if there were arms-length negotiations and due diligence by Navajo Nation officials.
Peabody Coal cheated the Navajo Nation in the negotiation of a past lease far below market rate.
The Nation brought suit against the United States for breach of its trust responsibility to assure market rate leasing, but the $600 million claim was dismissed on a technicality under a federal statute on government legal liability. There is no discussion of the monies lost for past cheating and no indication that justice will be done given the opportunity of this lease. There is no indication that the $600 million will be paid to the Navajo Nation by the party responsible for the loss.
The proposed amendment provides for scholarships, but such a "gift" takes away from the Council's responsibility to fund them out of coal royalties and other general fund monies. It is the Council's responsibility to determine scholarship needs and funding, and the coal company has no business adding them to sweeten the deal. They are funded out of monies that should go to the Navajo Nation anyway. There is no legislation pending to appropriate scholarship money, so we do not know what the Council intends to do with it.
Is the lease good for the Navajo Nation? It is being renegotiated after the fact because the prior lease expired in 2007. Why is there a wait? There is a signing bonus of $I,555,000 if the Secretary of the Interior personally approves the amendments within thirty days after they are made. Who gets that money? Will it be appropriated for "discretionary funds" yet again? Is this deal good for the Navajo Nation?
There is yet another reason the Council should refuse to act: Navajo Nation law provides for a five member "Navajo Negotiating Team" to represent the Navajo Nation in mineral lease negotiations and make recommendations "for the prudent development of Navajo resources which are consistent with the legal, economic, environmental, cultural, social, labor and resource policies of the Navajo Nation." The Team is required to make reports and recommendations on mineral leases to the
President of the Navajo Nation for review. The reports are then referred to the Navajo Nation Council Resources Committee for action.
Hada' a sidi has reviewed the legislative package for this resolution, and the proposed lease, and there is no indication that it was reviewed by a "Navajo Negotiating Team," with representatives from all five Navajo Nation agencies and submitted to the President for review. There is no showing of any public hearing by a Negotiating Team, any opportunity for public input, or any consideration of local need and how it will be satisfied. No report to the President and Resources Committee is mentioned in the resolution papers, and there is no copy of a report, with findings and recommendations.
One issue on the table-where there is a lot of talk and no action-is how rehabilitation of the former Bennett Freeze Area will be funded. A negotiating team report might hear public input on that, and make findings and recommendations, of the law was followed.
Hada'a sidi puts the Navajo Nation Council on notice that if it goes forward with this lease without adequate public input and without satisfying the law, there will be a suit to block implementation of the lease.
For more information, contact:
James W. Zion
(505) 389-9549

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Phoenix: Community Indictment against Sheriff Arpaio

Community Indictment against Maricopa County Sheriff J. Arpaio
Violations of US Civil Rights, Human Rights, and Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Jan 16th, 2010 Phoenix



18 U.S.C. § 241
Section 241: Conspiracy against rights

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured - They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

18 U.S.C. § 242

Section 242: Deprivation of rights under color of law

Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated
sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Adopted on December 10, 1948
by the General Assembly of the United Nations (without dissent)

Article 5

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Adopted by the General Assembly September 13, 2007

Article 36

1. Indigenous Peoples, in particular those divided by international borders, have the right to maintain and develop contacts, relations and cooperation, including activities for spiritual, cultural, political, economic and social purposes, with their own members as well as other peoples across borders.

2. States, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take effective measures to facilitate the exercise and ensure the implementation of this right.

January 16th, 2010
Before the
National Human Rights Commission of the United States
And the diverse public constituencies of Maricopa County, Arizona
The Spirit of Justice, the True Light of Law

In the Spirit of Truth


Peltier: Ben Carnes and Warrior Film in LA

Ben Carnes and film 'Warrior: The Life of Leonard Peltier'

On Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 6:30 pm we will have a free screening of 'Warrior: The Life of Leonard Peltier' with special guest speaker Ben Carnes of the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee. We will also have a community potluck (please bring a dish) and raffle.

Bringing the Circle Together: A Native American Film Series is a FREE monthly film series located at the National Center for Preservation of Democracy (directly across from the host sponsor The Japanese American National Museum) at 111 North Central Ave, in downtown Los Angeles, 90012.

A little about the film:

The shocking, true story of Leonard Peltier, the American Indian leader locked away for life, convicted of the alleged murder of two FBI agents during a bloody shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975. Around the world his trial and conviction have been denounced as a sham. The heart of the film, is a detailed painstaking account of Peltier's harrowing odyssey through the American justice system.

The film series was established to provide quality documentaries by and about Indigenous cultures of the Americas, and bring together a central gathering place where discussion and awareness of issues can be shared with the Native community and its supporters.

The film series is hosted by Lorin Morgan-Richards and is sponsored by the following organizations:
The Japanese American National Museum
American Indian Community Council
Hecho de Mano
Nahui Ohlin
SCIC-InterTribal Entertainment
Department of Cultural Affairs

One West Bank Demands Tribe Vacate Tribal Property

One West Bank Demands Tribe Vacate Tribal Property by Jan 15 2010

Press statement

Once again, we are being threatened with a forced eviction due to the Department of the Interior/Bureau of Indian Affairs ineptness of actions to do anything to assist or protect our Tribe. The governments’ failure or intentional lagging to correct the abuses and inflictions caused to our Tribe by the corruption within the local BIA's Central California Agency and Superintendent Troy Burdick who is personally working with and allowing outside influences to viciously attack and interfere into our Tribal Affairs is now on the brink of causing more serious concerns.

We have continued to forward documented factual information (including the criminal histories of the individuals plotting against us) to the BIA/Dept. of the Interior and our local elected officials, and they still have not stepped in to stop the continued criminal actions (fraud and identity theft) being perpetrated by Chadd Everone and his phony group. Mr. Everone continues to mislead government, court, and other agency officials to believe that he and his attorneys represent our Tribe.

We need your support. We need our story to be put out all across America and abroad. All those who can help us get justice, please come forward. Call your friends, Tribes (recognized or not), Universities, Veterans, Students, Elected Officials, and anyone who can step up and stand with us to get the government to take notice of the hardships and emotional suffering that is being cast upon our Tribe and its members. Due to our local Governor, Congressman, Senators, Assemblymembers, etc… turning a blind-eye to our cries for justice, we are now asking you (the Public) to contact your Congressional representatives, Senators, and Assemblymembers, etc… to help us.

We are requesting that all people who know what its like to have an injustice done to you and who can remember how it felt for people to walk away without helping, or for those who had been wrongly accused and had to stand alone and fight through the tears and frustration to be ridiculed and finally justified in the end when the truth came out in the open, you are the ones that we are asking to step up and help us.

Please send letters, faxes, and or emails to your elected officials, and also leave voice messages regarding how appalled you are about the Bureau of Indian Affairs allowing such abuses to happen to a federally recognized Tribe, for this has gone on (years) too long!!! Do not allow the lies of Chadd Everone and his Gaming Developers (financial backers) to continue to cover up the truth of what they have been doing to destroy us. Demand that an investigation be set forth.

Appointed and elected officials get paid by our tax dollars to protect their citizens. Why is it that they have deaf ears to our situation? Is it because we are Native American Indians? Is it because they just don’t care? The last I remember, identity theft and fraud was illegal in this country, so then, why isn’t Chadd Everone not in jail? Is the Government waiting for one of us, or all of us (in the Tribe) to be seriously or fatally injured? What is going to happen on January 15th 2010 when the Sheriff’s department comes in to force the Tribe and its members out into the street? Will the American Indian Movement come to stand with us? Will the college and university students come to stand with us? Will our local community stand with us? The system of law and righteousness has failed us. Please help us !!


“Chadd Everone” (who is a non- Indian and is not in any way associated with our Tribe, other than trying his best to steal it) has an agenda to cinch his Gaming Agreement with Albert D. Seeno, to build “the Biggest Casino in Northern California” but to do that, he must replace us with his phony group.

We the California Valley Miwok Tribe are asking all of you out there, to please make the calls, write the letters, emails, blogs, twitter messages, radio and tv announcements. Contract your friends, if anyone knows of any actors who are willing to help us get justice, any one who has influence in the media whether it be youtube, rez radio, newsletters, newspapers, banners, flyers, one-liners…. Anything helps!!

While (as another year is set to pass), once again, Government Officials (Bureau Officials included), etc… are readying themselves for the holidays!! Again, they have NO TIME for our concerns, our fears, our cries or our suffering, or our REALITY!!!. SCROOGE IS ALIVE AND WELL . . . WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!

For more information on how to help the Tribe, please contact us at the Tribal office at;209.931.4567 or by fax;209.931.4333 or you may contact the Tribal attorneys at Rosette & Associates, PC at 480-889-8990.


Put yourself in our place and think about how you’d feel if you were the one that was quiet and shy and had a bully constantly abusing you. Please make a difference, make the contacts, get President Obama’s attention… let him know that you want change, and that the American public supports the rights of the Native American Indians. Let him know that the California Valley Miwok Tribe needs him to step in and save it from being destroyed due to the lack of action(s) by appointed and/or elected officials who are either unwilling or unable to step up and do their job to protect this Tribe from those individuals who are causing the “Tribe” GREAT harm by using illegal tactics such as identity theft and fraud to discredit it, destroy it financially, and leave us homeless and without any recourse to defend ourselves.

Silvia Burley, Chairperson

Physical Address:
California Valley Miwok Tribe
10601 Escondido Pl
Stockton, California 95212
Tribal Office:;209.931.4567 Fax:;209.931.4333

Mailing Address
California Valley Miwok Tribe
1163 E. March Lane, Suite D-PMB#812
Stockton, California 95210-4512

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rodriquez: 'Blessed are the Warmakers'

Column of the Americas
Dec 15, 2009
Blessed are the Warmakers
By Roberto Rodriguez

They will speak of peace and wage war
They will wage war and call it peace
They will mercilessly wage war
and be hailed as peacemakers

Never in history anywhere in the world have leaders waged war not
believing it to be a noble cause. And of course, wars are usually
waged against infidels and against evil in the name of God. Now,
President Barack Obama appears to have joined those ranks. Truthfully,
he has not joined the brutes of history, i.e., Ghengis Khan or
Caligula. Instead, in maters of war, he has become quintessentially
American. He has followed in the footsteps of James Polk, Teddy
Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and most
remarkably, his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, in continuing
to wage wars of aggression under false pretenses. And like his named
predecessors, he will escalate the war(s) to end the war(s).

And now, back to the Tiger Woods saga, or better yet, to things that
really matter. For instance, whatever happened to balloon boy? And how
is Sarah Palin’s book tour coming along?

That seems to be the focus and attention span of American media. More
time is spent on covering sex scandals, reality TV and its
flight-by-night stars and empty headed celebrities than on the story
of our times: the American assertion of the right to wage worldwide
permanent war. The president is not only engaged in a costly war in
Iraq, but is also escalating the war in Afghanistan. Worse, he is also
laying the foundation for a third war in Pakistan.

His acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize was a scene straight
out of the Twilight Zone. Rather than speak of peace, he made the case
for war… for so-called just war. Every tin pot dictator and warmonger
around the world was pleased. At home, right wing politicians such as
Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove and even Sarah Palin herself heaped
extraordinary praise on the Commander-in-Chief.


And as noted, the news cycle has moved on. The war(s) is no longer an
issue, even though the country cannot afford to wage them. Yet in
poetic language, the president has defended and sanctioned his
predecessor’s war policies, no less, during the Nobel Peace Prize
ceremony in Oslo. And not surprisingly, the right wing is pleased.
Apparently, defending the notion of a -just war- does not include
denouncing unjust wars by name: Iraq.

There are unjust, illegal and immoral wars and all of them spell Iraq.
Yet, the president could not get himself to name Iraq. Truthfully, had
he done so, it would have exposed the past administration to the
International War Crimes Tribunal and other courts of justice. Not
mentioning Iraq does not absolve or insulate the past administration
from criminal or legal claims at the Tribunal. It only gives them
protection and cover during the tenure of the current administration.
No president anywhere can make an illegal war legal, moral or just.

It was bad enough that the president was nominated for this prize
while waging two wars and while calling for escalation in Afghanistan,
but worse is that he obscenely justified war, while receiving this

Perhaps at fault here is not the president, but rather, the committee
that bestowed him this honor. What were they thinking? It is obvious;
Bush raised worldwide tension every time he spoke arrogantly of war,
of fighting evil and doing so in the name of God. The world frowned
upon this Texas cowboy.

Now, they have embraced president Obama. He speaks of peace but wages
war. At least he’s not Bush.

President Obama gives credibility to war. Gives it a good name. He
speaks of committing more troops as though he were sending Boy Scout
and Girl Scout troops and Peace Corps volunteers overseas. His
eloquent talk permits U.S. troops to continue to kill by the
thousands, including through the use of unmanned drone technology. No
blood on anyone's hands here. His smooth talk makes easy their
dehumanization. He calls them incorrigibles. His predecessor called
them evil. He calls them evil. As long as not too many Americans are
killed on the battlefield, the sanitized wars will continue. And the
wars will continue until the nation’s enemies resemble us, until
everyone shares our values and partakes in our customs, until they all
speak English and pray to a Christian God.

Blessed are the Warmakers.

© 2009 Column of the Americas. Rodriguez can be reached at

Monday, December 14, 2009

Protest Blackstone/Sithe in NY on Dec. 15, 2009

For Immediate Release

Event Contacts:
Rob Disney, Sierra Club, NV: (202) 415-5166

Lori Goodman, Diné CARE, NM: (970) 759-1908
Michele Burkett, Defend Our Deserts, NV (801) 557-8823
Mike Eisenfeld, San Juan Citizens Alliance, NM (505) 360-8994

Media Advisory for Tuesday, December 15, 2009 – 8:00 AM Eastern

Groups Gather at Blackstone to Protest
Proposed Coal Plants
SANTA: ‘Stephen Schwarzman Gets Coal in His Stocking’

Santa Claus and his elves will be out in front of the headquarters of the Blackstone Group to give CEO Stephen Schwarzman lumps of coal.


Stephen Schwarzman has been a very bad boy! The Blackstone Group owns 80% of Sithe Global, Inc. and is financing three large dirty coal burning power plants: Desert Rock on the Navajo Nation, Toquop Energy Station in Nevada, and the River Hill project in Pennsylvania. Investing in dirty outdated coal is foolish. Groups from communities who oppose these plants will deliver this message directly to Stephen Schwarzman in front of his building.

WHO: Activists with Diné CARE and San Juan Citizens Alliance from New Mexico, Defend Our Deserts from Nevada, and Sierra Club members from Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and New York.

WHEN: Tuesday, December 15, 2009, 8:00 – 10:00 AM, Eastern

WHERE: On the street in front of Blackstone Group Headquarters, 345 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10154.

VISUALS: Activists dressed in Santa and Elf suits holding larger banners and handing out coal and postcards.

Other Information Sources:


Follow @blackstonecoal on Twitter: Live updates on the event & press conference!
Twitter hashtags: #blackstone #climatechange #coal #coalash #energy #nocoal,

Short Films: Community Battles to Stop Blackstone Coal Plants:
Four Corners in the Crosshairs
Nevada Fights for Clean Energy

Blackstone Coal Blackstone Group Coal
Coal ash Coal plant Energy
Steven Schwarzman


Tim Wagner
Program Director
Resource Media
150 S. 600 E. Suite 2B
Salt Lake City, UT 84105

Office: 801-364-1668
Mobile: 801-502-5450

American Indian Airwaves: Cobell case and Bolivia's democracy

American Indian Airwaves regularly broadcast every Monday (PCT) from 8pm to 9pm
12/14/09, Monday, on American Indian Airwaves

"Cobell Case Settled? & U.S. Ambassador Condemns Democratic Indigenous Bolivia"

Part 1
Elouise Cobell (Blackfeet Nation) ( and Keith Harper (Cherokee Nation) ( join us for these exclusive interviews on the Cobell vs. Salazar court case. Indigenous plaintiffs, in the longest class action lawsuit against the federal government for mismanagement of the individual Indian trust recently settled with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of the Treasury on 12/08/09. Under the terms of the Settlement in Cobell v. Salazar, the federal government will create a $1.4 billion Trust Accounting and Administration Fund and a $2 billion Trust Land Consolidation Fund. The Settlement also creates a $60 million federal Indian Education Scholarship fund to improve access to higher education for Indian youth, and it includes a commitment by the federal government to appoint a commission that will oversee and monitor specific improvements in the Department’s accounting for and management of individual Indian trust accounts and trust assets, going forward. This Settlement is believed to be the largest ever against the federal government and dwarfs the combined value of all judgments and Settlements of all Indian cases since the founding of this nation.

Part 2: Kathryn Ledebur, Andean Information Network (
), joins us for this exclusive interview on United States Ambassador Roger F. Noriega's recently published article, by the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute, titled "Evo Morales's Reelection: Democracy's Last Stand". The article can be viewed here: Kathryn joins us for this exclusive segment to discuss the Obama Administration's adversarial position of undermining and saber rattling at newly re-elected, democratic, Indigenous Bolivian President, Evo Morales, the Morales Administration's policies, and implementation of the newly voted Bolivian Constitution, which recognizes fundamental human rights of Indigenous Peoples.

American Indian Airwaves regularly broadcast every Monday from 8pm to 9pm (PCT) on KPFK FM 90.7 in Los Angles, FM 98.7 in Santa Barbara, and by Internet with Real Media Player, Winamp, & Itunes at
and every Tuesday from 9pm to 10pm (ECT) on WCRS 98.3/102.1 in Columbus, OH. Myspace:

SPECIAL NOTICE: weekly shows can now be heard on the KPFK web site ( ) under "audio archives" located on the top of the KPFK webpage.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ruling out the Nuclear Option -- Not Clean or Green

Ruling out the Nuclear Option – Not Clean or Green

The Legacy of Nuclear Energy, Nuclear and Chemical Weapons Upon
US Indigenous & Communities of Color

We are communities that, in partnership with the Peace Development Fund, form the Building Action for Sustainable Environments Initiative (BASE). We are citizens who represent some of the communities in the US who bear the legacy of 50 years of nuclear energy and weapons production. We are indigenous nations, we are Latino citizens and farm-workers, and we are African American communities living near nuclear power and weapon production sites. Reducing and eliminating the wasteful and dangerous means of producing nuclear energy and bringing renewable green energy production and jobs to our communities are the goals in which our communities have a major stake.

Our communities suffer from diseases and illnesses that we contend are related to our exposure to the highly toxic processes of mining and milling uranium, the unsafe storage of radioactive materials and the lack of clean-up of sites and facilities, the transportation of highly radioactive waste through our communities, and the lack of safe disposal methods for highly deadly nuclear waste. Cancer, neurological damage, genetic damage, lung disease, respiratory disorders, lupus, and heart problems are among some of the illnesses that affect our communities.

In the Pacific Northwest US, on Spokane tribal lands where both mining and milling of uranium took place, the legacy has resulted in 40 radioactive “hot spots” along the highway that runs through the heart of the Reservation. People, schools and children, soil, water, and air are exposed to highly toxic sludge materials#.

Washington State is also home to the largest contaminated nuclear facility. The 586-square-mile Hanford Site, located along the Columbia River in southeastern Washington, is a plutonium production complex with nine nuclear reactors and associated processing facilities. Hanford played a pivotal role in the nation's defense for more than 40 years and today is engaged in the world's largest environmental cleanup project, with a number of overlapping technical, political, regulatory, financial and cultural issues#.

Hanford storage facilities are leaking and have contaminated the water, air, and soil, according to Martín Yanez of the Northwest Social and Environmental Justice Institute. The Institute represents Latino communities and farm-workers who work the land and have suffered and died from different forms of cancer. With the leaking tanks of radioactive waste, the Columbia River is contaminating the groundwater used to irrigate the fields where farm-workers work, as well as the wildlife and the salmon on which the Indigenous Peoples depend on to preserve their cultural heritage and provide food for their families.

The Navajo reservation, located in the Southwestern US, is the largest in the nation. There, “the legacy of uranium development still exists today in the Four Corners Area. Hundreds of abandoned mines have not been cleaned up and present environmental and health risks in many Navajo communities. Health conditions in those communities have never been studied despite being impacted by uranium development that dates back to the late 40s and early 50s#.”

New Mexico is also home to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the US’s first permanent repository for radioactive waste. WIPP contains transuranic waste from atomic bomb-making. ('Transuranic' means heavier than uranium.) The US Department of Energy (DOE) predicts that 24,000 truckloads containing 625,000 cubic feet of waste will be deposited in WIPP over the next 35 years. Much of this waste is plutonium-laden. Plutonium is often termed the most dangerous substance known to man. Inhaling a miniscule amount of plutonium leads inevitably to lung cancer. Ingesting plutonium can lead to leukemia and other cancers. This plutonium-laden waste travels from numerous sites through 23 states to reach its destination near Carlsbad and Loving, NM - not far from Carlsbad Caverns, the region's most famous geological feature#.

In the Southeastern US, both workers and residents bear the burden of the nuclear waste legacy associated with the Savannah River Site (SRS), a DOE facility. Over 100 African-American workers at the SRS facility in Aiken, South Carolina, were silenced by threats of job losses when they raised issues of their overexposure to radioactive materials while performing their jobs. According to Dr. Mildred McClain, who marched with workers representing Citizens for Environmental Justice based in Savannah, Georgia, “this former nuclear weapons site has the current mission of disposing of 50 metric tons of weapons grade plutonium, receiving 15,000 spent nuclear fuel rods from Europe, and to dispose of 34 million gallons of radioactive waste.”

“The failure to clean-up the site and provide full disclosure of the risks to the air, land, soil and human health is a major concern,” stated Reverend Brendolyn Jenkins of the Imani Group and President of the Aiken Branch of the NAACP.

We are impacted by nuclear waste that is highly radioactive and deadly for 25,000 years, and there is no safe disposal process. The transporting of highly radioactive waste through our communities and on public highways between SRS, WIPP, Yucca Mountain, and Hanford is of major concern of our collective communities.

We Are Here In Copenhagen Because

The human legacy of nuclear energy and weapons production must be addressed
Our voices and the legacy of the nuclear nightmare have been hidden under the guise of national security by our own government. Internationally, when other governments have also faced nuclear accidents like Chernobyl, the threats to human health and the environment has been shrouded in secrecy. The increase in cancers and the contamination issues that face communities living near nuclear sites worldwide requires international attention and redress.

Our communities continue to suffer from the legacy of nuclear energy and weapons production due to the lack of responsible leadership from the United States government and the nuclear industry. Our communities can attest to the fact, that after half a century of producing nuclear waste that will remain deadly for thousands of years, there is not a method of isolating these wastes from the environment and protecting human health.

“Tritium, a byproduct of nuclear generation, can enter the body through ingestion, absorption or inhalation. Long-term exposure can increase the risk of cancer, birth defects and genetic damage. In June 2005, the most recent study from the National Academies of Science reaffirmed that there is no level of radiation exposure that is harmless or beneficial, and that even the smallest does of ionizing radiation is capable of contributing to the development of cancer. Tritium takes about 250 years to decay to negligible levels and is very difficult to remove from water#.”

Honorable Joe Shirley Jr, President of the Navajo Nation, when signing the Dine Natural Resources Protection Act of 2005 stated, “certain substances in the Earth (doo nal yee dah) that are harmful to people should not be disturbed, and the people now know that uranium is one such substance, and therefore that its extraction should be avoided#.”

On November 26, 2006, when addressing the Indigenous World Uranium Summit, President Shirley articulated our collective demand that nuclear energy be ruled out and nuclear weapons be eliminated. “We are here to talk about what we can do to save the world from nuclear proliferation…in my way of life, the Dine way of life, [and in the ways of Latino and African American communities], we believe that there are no impossibilities. ..It all starts when we come from all corners of the world, like we are doing here this week.”

Nuclear accidents have and will continue to occur
As we join the climate change debate, we call on the world to remember April 26, 1986 when the nuclear industry was brought to a standstill by the Chernobyl accident. According to reports, Chernobyl emitted an unstoppable and deadly plume of radioactivity that impacted the world community and its effects can still be measured

According to Dr. Jim Green of Friends of the Earth Australia, “applying the standard risk estimate to IAEA’s (1996) estimate of human exposure to radiation from the Chernobyl disaster gives a figure of 24,000 fatal cancers…the permanent relocation of 220,000 people from Belarus, the Russian Federation, and the Ukraine.” He further states that the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency (2002) notes, Chernobyl had serious radiological, health and socio-economic consequences for the populations which still suffer from these consequences#. Greenpeace also remind us that, “in the US, the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979 triggered a clean-up effort that ultimately lasted for nearly 15 years, and topped more than one billion dollars in cost#.”

As we prepared to come to Copenhagen, the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania again experienced problems. Officials are still trying to determine how workers cutting a pipe stirred up radioactive dust at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. Plant spokesman Ralph DeSantis said on Monday, November 30th, 2009 that the public was not endangered when a dozen workers were exposed to radiation#. The central Pennsylvania plant has two reactors. One suffered a partial meltdown in 1979 and is mothballed. The other is still in use, but has been shut down since October 2009 so steam generators could be replaced. DeSantis says the radioactive dust emanated from reactor cooling system pipes the workers were cutting.

The Los Angeles Times in a 2007 editorial wrote that the “Union of Concerned Scientists cites 51 cases at 41 U.S. nuclear plants in which reactors have been shut down for more than a year as evidence of serious and widespread safety problems.” The cost of cleaning up after one of these disasters is simply too great, in both dollars and human cost#.”

Climate change and the conditions of global warming will increase the risk of accidents
According to David Kraft, Director of the Nuclear Energy Information Service, the summer heat wave in 2006 created problems for the Exelon and Dresden reactors in Illinois, and they were forced to curtail power output because the hot water discharged into the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers exceeded the EPA’s heat discharge regulations#. Michigan’s Donald C. Cook Unit 1 reactor overheated on July 29th of the same year resulting in an automatic reactor shutdown.

According to Kraft, Europe also experienced shutdowns in Spain, and the French and German governments gave permission for their plants to exceed heat discharge and safety standards. Nuclear power plants require the intake of river water to create the steam needed to drive the turbines to generate electricity and cool the reactors. They then discharge enormous quantities of hot water back into cooling lakes and ponds, and ultimately the rivers themselves.

Kraft cautions that the warming world will result in lower water volumes with hotter water temperatures and greater concentrations of harmful toxins in the water, which will have serious implications for public health and safety as well as reactor operation. All these systems are bathed in water, either for heat transfer or reactor cooling. Kraft cautions that the scenarios based on global warming trends make clear that “there will not be the volumes of water to dilute the radionuclides nor will the water move fast enough to swirl the radioactive effluents downstream. These are the same rivers our communities depend on as a water source… Chemical and radiological alteration of the waters flowing downstream from reactors may have unforeseen health effects on these communities.”

Nuclear energy is not carbon neutral
The nuclear industry and its proponents argue that nuclear energy is a clean technology and does not add to the carbon footprint. However, our communities know this is misleading. According to the Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), “uranium enrichment accounts for huge percentages of some CFCs released in this country (USA). US enrichment activities in 1999 released the equivalent of 3,920,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. In addition to global warming, CFC’s in the atmosphere cause another problem. They destroy the ozone layer. CFC-114 is one of the worst substances known to man in terms of ozone destruction#.”

Al Gedicks, a professor of sociology and archaeology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, wrote, “At each stage of the nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining, milling, enrichment to construction, decommissioning and waste storage, nuclear power uses fossil fuels and contributes greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate global climate change. Compared to renewable energy, nuclear power releases four to five times the CO2 per unit of energy produced.” He cited a recent study of solutions to global warming by Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson of Stanford University who also concluded, “that over its entire lifecycle, nuclear electricity emits between 68 and 180 grams of CO2-equivalent emissions per kilowatt hour, compared to 3 to 11 grams for wind and concentrated solar.#”

According to Greenpeace, “Research carried out for the European Union concluded that when looking at the whole cycle of nuclear generation, from mining the uranium to decommissioning the plants, nuclear power stations would produce around 50% more greenhouse gas emissions than wind power.#”

Nuclear energy could contribute to nuclear proliferation and terrorism
According to the LA Times “the same labs that enrich uranium for nuclear fuel can be used to create weapons grade uranium.” The LA Times also reported that risks of proliferation and terrorism increase when spent nuclear fuel is recycled because it separates plutonium from other materials to create new fuel. Plutonium is “an excellent bomb material and could be carried out of a processing center in one’s pocket.

“In Japan in 2007, 200 kilograms of plutonium from a waste recycling plant have gone missing; in Britain 30 kilograms can’t be accounted for…The bomb dropped on Nagasaki contained six kilograms.#”

According to Greenpeace, “nuclear power provides the basic ingredients for nuclear weapons, dirty bombs and provides an obvious target for terrorists. A global nuclear power construction program large enough to achieve drastic greenhouse gas reductions would entail construction in all areas of the world, whether stable or not.

“Renewable energy installations on the other hand are flexible, cheap to construct and pose no terrorist or proliferation threat….. Nuclear technology will always carry the risk that it will be used to construct weapons of mass destruction.”

Nuclear energy is not cost effective
While the nuclear industry argues that it can produce low cost energy, independent energy analysts estimate efficiency and renewable energy costs at an average of 6 cents per kilowatt hour, compared with 12 to 20 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity from nuclear reactors. Further, the BASE communities know from the legacy of the nuclear production cycle that this short-sighted comparison does not include the additional costs for disposing of nuclear waste, insuring plants against an accident and decommissioning the plants at the end of their lives.

Investment in nuclear plants would divert scarce capital from less costly renewable energy projects that can reduce carbon emissions in one or two years rather than 10 years. According to Public Citizen, from 1947 through 1999 the nuclear industry in the US was given over $115 billion in direct taxpayer subsidies and when including Price Anderson limitations on nuclear liability, the federal subsidies reach $145.4 billion. To put this in perspective, the federal government spent on $5.7 billion over the same period for subsidies for wind and solar. Further, Public Citizen reports the Energy Policy Act of 2005 contains over $13 billion in new subsidies and tax breaks and other incentives including:
§ More than $1 billion for research and development of new reactor designs and reprocessing technologies
§ Reauthorization of the Price-Anderson Act, which limits industry liability in case of a severe accident; the rest of the tab would be picked up by taxpayers – possibly over $500 billion.
§ Authorization of $2 billion in “risk insurance” to pay the industry for delays in construction and operation licensing for 6 new reactors, including delays due to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or litigation#.

The 2007 LA Times report also stated that the “US government spends more on nuclear power than it does on renewables and efficiency. Taxpayer subsidies to the nuclear industry amounted to $9 billion in 2006, according to Doug Koplow, a researcher based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, whose Earth Track consultancy monitors energy spending#.” Renewable power sources received $6 billion and only $2 billion went to conservation efforts, according to the report.

There is no safe and clean process for waste disposal
The Hanford site around which many of our communities live has massive disposal safety issues. According to the Hanford’s own website, “the physical challenges at the Hanford Site include more than 50 million gallons of high-level liquid waste in 177 underground storage tanks, 2,300 tons (2,100 metric tons) of spent nuclear fuel, 12 tons (11 metric tons) of plutonium in various forms, about 25 million cubic feet (750,000 cubic meters) of buried or stored solid waste, and about 270 billion gallons (a trillion liters) of groundwater contaminated above drinking water standards, spread out over about 80 square miles (208 square kilometers), more than 1,700 waste sites, and about 500 contaminated facilities#.”

For members of the BASE community, the designation of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump is the highest of insults for the culture and sovereignty of indigenous people, for it is a sacred site and this designation is a violation of the rights of indigenous people as defined by the United Nations. Al

Gedicks goes further to state that, “after spending more than $10 billion over the past 25 years studying a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, President Obama wisely called for an end to the project and cut off all the project's funding.” Gedicks concludes that a Yucca Mountain style dump would be required to be built every four years if new nuclear power plants were to be built. According to Gedicks, “nuclear power produces radioactive waste, which remains toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. No country in the world has been able to develop a successful geologic repository to handle all the nuclear waste we've already produced#.”

Nuclear energy cannot be brought online in time to impact climate change
Tackling climate change effectively means reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% by 2050. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other studies estimate that for nuclear power to have any effect on global warming, we would need to build a minimum of 1,000 reactors worldwide.

According to energy analyst Amory Lovins, nuclear plants take as long as 10 years to come online#. Lovins states that the international community has only about 10 years to mount a global effort against climate change. It simply isn’t possible to build all the nuclear plants that would be necessary to reduce global carbon emissions in this time.

In The Current Debate, The BASE Communities Call For

An ethical and just foundation to frame decision making
We believe unequivocally in the need to set ethical standards as the foundation for making choices among the action options to bring climate change under control. We are the stewards for future generations, the evolution of our own species and the preservation of an earth that can sustain all of its biodiversity. The energy generation choices made today will affect the future of the planet’s climate, the health, safety and livelihoods of billions of the world’s people.

We recommend the following ethical tenets be considered when debating the options designed to stabilize (cap) and reduce the causes of climate change and determining which energy production methods are too dangerous for current and future consideration:

§ That the chosen methods to produce energy tackle the inequity of fuel poverty afflicting one in three people on the planet who have neither light nor heat.
§ That the legacy of nuclear fuel production on the environment and people living near nuclear facilities be collected, reviewed and presented to the International Human Rights Commission by a UN supervised body.

In addition, we draw on the following Principles of Climate Justice drawn from the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change#:

§ Ensure that the carbon reduction strategies do not negatively impact public health and do not further exacerbate existing health disparities among communities. This includes crafting strategies that prevent the creation of pollution hotspots, eliminate existing emissions hotspots in vulnerable communities, and reduce the emissions of greenhouse gas co-pollutants in and near communities of color, Indigenous, and low income communities;
§ Require those most responsible for creating the impacts that arise from climate change to bear the proportionate cost of responding to the resulting economic, social and environmental crisis. In setting the proportionate cost of climate impacting activity, the full environmental, health, social and economic cost of energy use from extraction to disposal must be included to accurately reflect the cost that energy use has on our environment, our health and our communities.
§ Create the opportunity for all Americans, especially people-of-color, Indigenous Peoples, and low-income Americans to experience a just transition as well as participate in the creation and operation of a new economy by creating a workforce development program to grow living wage, clean, safe, green jobs in the energy sector and beyond;
§ Ensure that people-of-color, Indigenous and low-income communities, who are and continue to be disproportionately impacted by climate change, have the inalienable right to have our voices shape what is the most significant policy debate of the 21st Century.

Ensure an official venue to include the voices of communities that bear the greatest burden of past and current pollution
Working under an equitable and just framework means providing spaces for BASE communities and others who have lived with the direct impact of these harmful industries to have their voices and concerns heard and their issues addressed and redressed. Without understanding the impact and true legacy of the nuclear industry, we may very well be exchanging one problem for another.

The international indigenous people’s movements have led the way for all of us in calling for “governance (that) must transcend state-governments' negotiations, to recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples which includes the full and effective participation in all negotiations by Indigenous Peoples' traditional governments, institutions and organizations. It must also embrace diverse contributions and inter-cultural collaboration, recognizing distinct and valuable contributions from children and youth, women, indigenous peoples and local communities.”

Hold polluters accountable for contaminating the shared birthright of all peoples
The climate change debate must include protocols that address inadequate reporting systems, which would make it impossible for the public and regulatory agencies to monitor current energy producers and exact meaningful penalties for failure to comply.

And lastly, Communities have the right to create and implement new renewable green technologies at the local community level
Indigenous knowledge, the experiences of communities of color in the developed world and the developing world’s non-governmental organizations must be given the opportunity to join with scientists and governments in constructing a new system for producing renewable sources of energy that restores ecological balance and contributes to healthy vibrant communities globally.

We join with the 2009 Anchorage Declaration of Indigenous People# in asserting that:
§ Climate change, in the light of the current global financial, economic, environmental and food crises, represents an unprecedented challenge and opportunity for humanity to transform global economic, political, social, cultural relations to live in balance with Mother Earth. Reaching climate equilibrium and justice is inseparable from acknowledging the historical responsibilities of developed countries while promoting social equity between and within nations, maintaining ecological integrity, addressing the climate and ecological debt, and pursuing an effective transition away from fossil fuel dependency towards a green economy. It requires honoring international commitments to poverty eradication, sustainable development, biodiversity, and human rights. The full and effective participation of indigenous peoples, local communities and vulnerable groups is key to achieve a just and equitable outcome of the climate negotiations.
§ Only when indigenous and the traditional knowledge of communities of color is combined with climate science can we find solutions that balance the needs of human beings and balance with Nature’s ecosystems. Indigenous Peoples are Rights-holders and we call for the rights of Communities of Color in the US to also be recognized due to the violation of our human rights due to centuries of racial discrimination and exploitation.
§ UN system honor its obligations to “uphold regional and international human rights commitments and standards, especially the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The provisions of the UNDRIP articulate rights which must be respected and safeguarded in all climate decision-making and actions.”

We call on the United Nations to protect these rights and also strengthen the capacity and resilience of indigenous peoples and local communities to respond to climate change. In the US, we the members of the BASE community have suffered the damage of the mining, milling and transportation of “yellow cake” that have left our lands with contamination and radioactive “hot spots” all along the transportation route. All of the BASE communities are connected by the transport of radioactive wastes which threaten the life of our communities and the ecosystems upon which we must depend for our livelihoods.

The empowerment of the BASE communities, which include Indigenous peoples and communities of color, is critical to successful adaptation strategies to climate change. The climate change challenge is an opportunity for our communities to voice our concern regarding the development of strategies in the name of humanity, solidarity and respect for Mother Earth.

We, the BASE communities remember the words of Chief Seattle (1786-1866):


“We do not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”


The Peoples Climate March, Ben Powless Photos

Photos by Ben Powless, Mohawk, 23, from Six Nations Ontario: The Peoples Climate March in Copenhagen, Dec. 12, 2009.

Forgotten People: Cobell settlement overlooks US breaches of trust for Navajos


TUBA CITY, Navajo Nation, Ariz. -- The United States recently announced a comprehensive settlement in the Cobell trust fund case, but that overlooks other breaches of trust to American Indians and violations of the human rights of the survivors of one of the most massive breaches of Indian trust — the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute.
There have been many pronouncements on the need to rehabilitate the former Bennett Freeze lands of Arizona, and to help the people who were victimized by a policy of a fourty-year freeze on all improvements on those lands, but while there is a lot of talk, there is no action. While the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe signed a settlement agreement dated November 3, 2006, fee monies accumulated during the Bennett Freeze to be distributed to those tribes have not been paid out. Other trust funds were set up to benefit people affected by the case that divided Navajo and Hopi lands in the former “Joint Use Area” and allocations to both tribes, the set-aside of an exclusive Hopi Reservation and Navajo-Hopi land dispute legislation, but where is the money?
More specifically, Congress established the Navajo Rehabilitation Trust fund for the “improvement of the economic, educational, and social condition of families, and Navajo communities” affected by the Healing decision, the collection of monies for the fund and establishment of Hopi Reservation boundaries. The law makes the Secretary of the Interior the trustee of the Navajo Rehabilitation Trust Fund. It is composed of money collected from leasing of New Mexico lands called the “Paragon Ranch” that is distributed to the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission of the Navajo Nation and spent by it. The Secretary has a trust responsibility to oversee spending those monies “solely” for the benefit of Navajo families and communities, but they have not seen any benefit from the trust.
Similarly, they have not seen any of the money from the settlement of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute and no funds have been dedicated to helping the victims of U.S. energy policy as it was used to victimize individual Navajos and Hopis.
The Forgotten People, a grassroots of those affected by these policies, announces a new campaign to go after the money that belongs to the people. The organization is launching a new campaign in light of the Cobell settlement to make the Secretary of the Interior, the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission and others live up to their trust responsibilities and to finally do something about the mess the United States created in northeastern Arizona. The campaign will include demands on the Secretary, use of the Freedom of Information Act under the Obama FOIA policy, complaints to the Inspector General, and any other legal means to get action.
For more information, contact Forgotten People and James W. Zion, Esq. (505) 839-9549.
Thank you,
Don Yellowman, President
Marsha Monestersky, Program Manager
Forgotten People
(928) 401-1777

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Indigenous Peoples in Copenhagen Concerned About REDD

By Rebecca Sommer

UNFCCC, COP15: Indigenous Delegates at Climate Conference "REDD Not Fixable Nor Reformable - Don’t Greenwash REDD"

At the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Indigenous participants are increasingly concerned about REDD.

REDD stands for “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation”. The idea, as agreed by United Nations climate negotiators in Bali in 2007, is that because preserving forests is good for the climate, governments, companies or forest owners in the South should be rewarded for keeping them standing instead of cutting them down.

However, many Indigenous Peoples representatives say that REDD is bad for people, and bad for climate. They call REDD “CO2lonialism of forests.”

Most human rights and environmental groups say that REDD will inevitably give more control over Indigenous Peoples’ forests to state forest departments, loggers, miners, plantation companies, traders, lawyers, speculators, brokers, Washington conservation organizations and Wall Street, resulting in violations of rights, loss of livelihood – and, ultimately, more forest loss.

The newspaper The Australian calls it a “classic 21st century scam emerging from the global climate change industry.”

credit: SAY NO! TO FOREST FRAUD: Photo Van Waarden

"The reasons are simple. Industrialized-country governments and corporations will pay for the preservation of Indigenous Peoples’ forests only if they get something in return. What they want is rights over the carbon in those forests. They need those rights because they want to use them as licenses to continue burning fossil fuels – and thus to continue mining fossil fuels at locations like the Albertan Tar Sands in Canada, the Ecuadorian Amazon, the Niger Delta and Appalachian mountaintops in the United States. They will get those rights by making deals with – and reinforcing the power of – the people that they regard as having “authority” over the forests, or whoever is willing and able to steal forests or take them over using legal means. These people are the very governments, corporations and gangsters who have time and again proved their contempt for the rights and knowledge of Indigenous Peoples. The result is bound to be new and more extensive forms of elite appropriation of Indigenous and other territories." Said Tom Goldtooth, director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN).

"Existing REDD projects have already set in motion this transfer of power. Nor is there any way that REDD can be “fixed” to alter these political realities. It can only reinforce them. For well-meaning environmentalists to deny this is to indulge in a very dangerous naiveté." Goldtooth added.

REDD Can’t Be Fixed by Attempts to Detach it from the Carbon Markets

First and foremost, REDD is – and always will be – a component of carbon markets. While many of the details of REDD are being worked out by well-intentioned economists, lawyers and forest conservationists and technicians with no particular commitment to carbon markets, the money behind it was always going to come mainly from industrialized countries and large corporations looking for more pollution licenses to enable them to delay action on climate change. Even among the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, the consensus is already clear: finance for REDD projects will come from carbon markets.[i] If REDD plans go forward, billions of tonnes of demand for tradable REDD pollution licenses will be generated by the Kyoto Protocol carbon markets and the European Union (EU) Emissions Trading Scheme. If the US’s Waxman-Markey or the Kerry-Boxer climate carbon trading bills are enacted, billions of tonnes more demand will follow; indeed, the mere prospect of Waxman-Markey has already touched off a REDD land grab in central Africa.[ii] According to the Business Spectator, US President Barack Obama is supporting a carbon trading scheme that would allow “half of a nation’s carbon reduction targets to be sourced internationally, such as through REDD.”[iii]

Even the technical structure of REDD reflects its market orientation: REDD posits a numerical climatic equivalence between saving forests and reducing the burning of fossil fuels. This equation is indefensible scientifically;[iv] its only function is to make different things tradable in order to generate fossil fuel pollution licenses. A non-market REDD would not need to claim this false equivalence between biotic and fossil carbon.

Thus while some delegates from a few small developing countries have tentatively proposed a hypothetical REDD that is not connected with the carbon markets, their interests are certain to be pushed aside by the more powerful actors with a stake in developing this prospective trillion-dollar market.[v] To act as if REDD might someday be financed by a repayment of the ecological debt the North owes the South, or by a benevolent fund, is naïve. Support for REDD, of any kind, as well as any attempt to “fix” REDD, inevitably means support for the carbon markets.

Assuming REDD is irretrievably linked with carbon markets, then at least three important conclusions follow.

(1) There is no way to stop REDD from dividing Indigenous communities from each other. Every time a forest dependent community signs a contract to provide pollution licenses for fossil fuel-dependent corporations, it will be potentially harming communities elsewhere who are suffering from the fossil fuel extraction or pollution for which those corporations are responsible. No possible reform or regulation of REDD could prevent this; it is built into its structure as a carbon market instrument. Of course, it would be theoretically possible, with great effort, for Indigenous communities who wish to sign REDD contracts to secure the free prior informed consent of all the other communities elsewhere who would be harmed. But unless this consent is obtained in every case – and the list of communities across the globe who would need to be consulted would be huge with many REDD projects – REDD is bound to pit community against community. Already, a project using aboriginal North Australian Indigenous knowledge of fire management practices to generate pollution licenses for ConocoPhillips has provoked the following reaction from Casey Camp-Horinek, a tribal member of the Ponca indigenous nation in the US, which suffers from the actions of the company in North America: “Indigenous Peoples who participate in carbon trading are giving ConocoPhillips a bullet to kill my people.”[vi]

(2) There is no way to stop REDD from dividing Indigenous communities who sign REDD contracts from other communities for whom climate change is a concern. As part of carbon markets, REDD will inevitably slow action on global warming; that is what carbon markets are structured to do.[vii] REDD will thus heighten climate dangers for Arctic and low-lying communities, as well as, eventually, everyone else. Again, no possible reform of REDD could prevent the damage it would do to the climate cause, as long as it is linked to carbon trading. Pretending that such reforms are possible only perpetuates the damage. The very structure of REDD makes it impossible that it could ever be made “Indigenous-friendly”.

(3) There is no way to stop REDD from being a speculative plaything of the financial markets – to the detriment of the climate and human rights alike. Already, the biggest investors in carbon credits are not companies that need them in order to meet their government-regulated pollution targets, but Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs who intend to use them in global gambling.[viii]

Just Say NO!! to REDD

Don’t be an accomplice to putting forests in the carbon markets

Don’t greenwash REDD

Don’t Indigenous-wash REDD either

REDD is not fixable nor reformable

Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) at the UNFCCC, COP 15.

Credit: Photo Ben Powless

REDD Can’t Be Fixed by Trying to Ensure that the Money “Goes to the Right Place”

REDD proponents often assert that, even though REDD may be bad for the climate, at least it will be good for forests because it will channel large sums of money to nature conservation. Leaving aside, for the moment, the difficulty that any program that accelerates global warming will also accelerate forest destruction, this is to overlook the historical lesson that every proposal to solve the problem of deforestation and forest degradation through large sums of money has failed.[ix]

This failure is due to at least three reasons. First, the problem of deforestation is not caused by too little money. It is caused by too much money – money in the wrong hands. More specifically, it is caused by the disproportionate political power and global political organizational capabilities of forest destroyers. What is needed to stop deforestation is not well-funded forest global conservation schemes or new markets for ecosystem services, but, rather – for example – a restructuring of trade, finance and consumption, moratoriums on oil extraction and large infrastructure projects in forests, curbs on logging, agrofuels and commercial plantations, and an increase in the political power of those with the deepest interest in saving forests: the communities that depend directly on them. Making supplementary sums of money available – no matter to whom, and no matter in what amounts – will not help forest conservation unless the underlying causes of deforestation are both understood and addressed. There is no evidence that any major supporter of REDD – for example, The Nature Conservancy, the World Bank, Merrill Lynch, Environmental Defense, Dow Chemical, the International Timber Trading Organization, Climate Focus, the Chicago Climate Exchange, plantation industries, Conservation International, Baker & MacKenzie, various United Nations organizations, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Van Ness Feldman, John Kerry, National Resources Defense Council, Al Gore, the Government of Norway – has the slightest inclination to tackle these underlying causes, although they are well known. Quite the reverse – all of these actors support the forces that have been most responsible for deforestation in the first place.

Second, even if REDD could be reformulated as a plan to make available huge financial rewards for the Indigenous protectors of forests, it does not follow that Indigenous peoples would be able to collect and use the rewards. As anthropologist Michael Dove has observed, “whenever a resource at the periphery acquires value to the centre, the centre assumes control of it (e.g., by restricting local exploitation, granting exclusive licenses to corporate concessionaires, and establishing restrictive trade associations). The pattern is aptly expressed by a peasant homily from Kalimantan, which states that whenever a ‘little’ man chances upon a ‘big’ fortune, he finds only trouble. He is in trouble because his political resources are not commensurate with his new-found economic resources. He does not have the power to protect and exploit great wealth and so, inevitably, it is taken from him.”[x]

The truth of Dove’s words are borne out by the record of recent schemes to reward Indigenous and other communities for “traditional knowledge” used in corporate drug development. In the end, the communities that were originally pictured as beneficiaries turned out to be inconvenient entities for buyers and bio-prospectors to deal with, leading to their replacement by ranchers (Argentina), governments (Chile), urban plant merchants (Mexico), or state land agencies and universities (Mexico). Planners were unable to find sites that contained “in one neat package the plants, knowledge, people, territory and decision-making authority, all congealed in the name of [a] participating community” that would receive funds for community development and conservation. Troubled researchers at the US National Institutes of Health concluded that, in Mexico, treating plant collection as a commodity transaction “breaks the link” among people, plants and territory that the whole deal was supposed to encourage. Anthropologist Cori Hayden observes: “offers of market-mediated inclusion also contain within them the conditions for ever-greater forms of exclusion and stratification.”[xi]

An even more brutal kind of evolution has taken place in the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – of which REDD could soon become a part. In the beginning, sellers of CDM carbon credits were supposed to be local developers of renewable energy, community-friendly tree-planters and other actors who could help the South move toward a low fossil-fuel development path while defending local rights. Given the realities of buyers, developers, lawyers, brokers, bankers and consultants, this turned out to be unworkable. Transaction costs and the exigencies of political bargaining, measurement, contracting, investment, cost control, “risk management” and regulation meant that the sellers turned out instead to be the big-corporate Jindals, Rhodias, Tatas and Votorantims of this world, collecting a premium for activities that on the whole thwarted the struggle to moderate climate change. Nor was it usually possible in practice for carbon money to be used to benefit local people. Instead, carbon money has harmed them and rewarded their oppressors.[xii]

The pattern is already being repeated in REDD. Out of 100 pilot projects – almost all of them connected with carbon trading – many are already stained with the blood of the Indigenous and other peoples they claim to benefit, involving land grabs, evictions, human rights violations, fraud and militarization. In Kenya, the Mau forest is being made “ready” for a UNEP-funded carbon offset project by forceful and often violent eviction of its inhabitants, including the Indigenous Ogiek People.[xiii] In Papua New Guinea, carbon traders are accused of coercing villagers to “to sign over the rights to their forests” for REDD.[xiv] The International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) was explicit at the Bali climate negotiations in 2007:

“REDD will not benefit Indigenous Peoples, but in fact will result in more violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights. It will increase the violation of our human rights, our rights to our lands, territories and resources, steal our land, cause forced evictions, prevent access and threaten indigenous agricultural practices, destroy biodiversity and cultural diversity and cause social conflicts. Under REDD, states and carbon traders will take more control over our forests.”

The IIPFCC followed up this message in Poznan in 2008 by standing by “our demand for an immediate suspension of all REDD initiatives and carbon market schemes,” citing “human rights violations caused by the CDM and other carbon trading and offset regimes.”

Third, REDD’s very design ensures that money will flow to forest destroyers, not to forest protectors. To create a REDD commodity, precise measurements of how much deforestation REDD projects prevent is necessary. That market requirement automatically produces a perverse incentive for countries with low levels of deforestation to cut more trees now in order to be able to claim later that they are sharply reducing deforestation and thus deserve more REDD finance.[xv] These perverse incentives are already at work in Guyana, where President Jagdeo has launched an “avoided threatened deforestation” scheme. An editorial in Guyana’s Kaieteur News in May 2009 argued that Guyana “should precede full steam ahead with the exploitation of our forestry resources. In addition to placing our future development more firmly in our own hands, it will ironically make our arguments for REDD even stronger.”[xvi] Adding to the likelihood of REDD money flowing to the worst forest destroyers is the definition of “forests” used by the UNFCCC, which includes monoculture tree plantations and clearcuts (euphemistically referred to as “temporarily unstocked areas”). Under this definition, the Brazilian government’s plans to replace part of the Amazonian forest with oil palm plantations would not count as deforestation.[xvii] Industrial loggers could also benefit from REDD by claiming to be practicing “sustainable forest management,” while criminalizing Indigenous agricultural and forest practices.

REDD Can’t Be Fixed by Saying that Efforts are Being Made for REDD Projects to Require the “Free Prior Informed Consent” (FPIC) of Affected Communities or Compliance with the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) or other Codes or Principles

To act as if REDD’s structural dangers could be “controlled” by pressing for principles such as FPIC, UNDRIP or World Commission on Dams standards to be applied is to indulge corporations and governments in a fantasy that could damage millions of people’s lives. First, many countries do not even recognize the existence of Indigenous Peoples, let alone their rights, so neither the principle of FPIC nor UNDRIP will protect them. Neither FPIC nor UNDRIP are considered legally binding by the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC[xviii] nor by any state except Bolivia. During the Nairobi climate negotiations, the President of the Executive Board of the CDM stated publicly that the “Clean Development Mechanism has nothing to do with human rights.” The right to FPIC has already been violated in REDD pilot projects and in preparatory plans in several countries.[xix] Other internationally-recognized principles such as the standards urged by the World Commission on Dams have similar limitations.

Credit: Indigenous Statement to UN SBSTA Meeting. Photo Ben Powless

Second, even if FPIC and UDRIP magically became enforceable law across the world within the next few years, they would have to be applied to all the communities affected by each REDD project, not just the one hosting the project. For example, to get the free prior informed consent of Indigenous communities affected by the Northern Australia fire management offset project, the consent of Indigenous communities affected by ConocoPhillips operations in North America would also need to be obtained, as well as other communities damaged by ConocoPhillips practices elsewhere. This would obviously make REDD commercially unviable: either REDD or FPIC would have to be scrapped. Hence, to avoid delay, it would be more practical to oppose REDD straightforwardly, at the outset.

Third, whatever the merits of FPIC and UNDRIP, they are, again, incapable of forcing REDD projects to address the underlying causes of deforestation. Even if it were possible to make compliance with the principles of FPIC and UNDRIP a condition for every REDD project, REDD would remain a contributor to both deforestation and global warming, as well as an additional piece of artillery for the use of the corporate and state forces that oppose Indigenous rights. To proceed as if FPIC and UNDRIP could “fix” REDD, therefore, is ironically ultimately to endorse the violation of the rights of Indigenous people as well as those of all others who value climatic stability.


[i] Business Green, 9 August 2009.

[ii] Point Carbon, “Firm Targets US Buyers with African REDD Credits,” 20 July 2009,

[iii] “The Green Gold Rush,”

[iv] Larry Lohmann, “Toward a Different Debate in Environmental Accounting: The Cases of Carbon and Cost-Benefit’, Accounting, Organizations and Society Vol. 34, Issues 3-4 (April/May 2009), pp. 499–534, available

[v] These countries were not even able to ensure that a reference to the Conference on Biological Diversity was included in the REDD methodology text at the meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice of June 2008 in Bonn.

[vi] See National Indian Education Association

[vii] See, e.g., Larry Lohmann, ed., Carbon Trading: A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatization and Power (Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, 2006), available at

[viii] “When Markets Are Poison: Learning about Climate Policy from the Financial Crisis”, Corner House Briefing No. 40,

[ix] The Tropical Forest Action Plan of the late 1980s and 1990s is only one example.

[x] Michael Dove, “Centre, Periphery and Biodiversity: A Paradox of Governance and a Developmental

Challenge,” in Stephen B. Brush and Doreen Stabinsky, Valuing Local Knowledge: Indigenous People and Intellectual Property Rights (Island Press 1996), pp. 41–67.

[xi] Hayden, Cori, “Bioprospecting: The ‘Promise’ and Threat of the Market”, NACLA Report on the Americas 39 (5) (2006), pp. 26-31. See also “Chronicles of a Disaster Foretold: REDD with Carbon Trading”,

[xii] See, for example, Carbon Trading, op. cit. supra note 7, and Mausam (Indian journal on climate), both available at

[xiii] REDD Monitor,

[xiv] Sydney Morning Herald, 3 September 2009,

[xv] REDD Monitor, “World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility would Reward Forest Destroyers in Indonesia,”; and New York Times, 22 August 2009,

[xvi] REDD Monitor, 24 June 2009,

[xvii] Global Forest Coalition, REDD without Rules: Another Disaster in the Making,; REDD Monitor, “REDD will Fail with the Current Definition of Forests,” See also UNFCCC Decision 11/CP.7 Annex 1 (a),

[xviii] In response to a question from an Indigenous representative of the Assembly of First Nations, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Yvo de Boer, in a meeting with civil society in June 2009 in Bonn, read a previously prepared statement that stated that the UNFCCC Copenhagen deal will not be bound by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples because it is not a legally binding instrument.

[xix] REDD Monitor, “Lack of Meaningful Consultation on R-PINs in Suriname, Indonesia, Liberia and Panama,”

Censored News Special Edition

Censored News Blog Radio

Donate to Censored News

. Censored News is free of advertising and has no sponsors.

Censored News Homepage

About Censored News

Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
COPYRIGHTS All material is copyrighted by the author or photographer. Please contact each contributor for reprint permission.
Audios may not be sold or used for commercial purposes.

"O FRIEND! In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love, and from the nightingale of affection and desire loosen not thy hold." --Baha'u'llah, Baha'i Faith