Pages tagged "carbon"

Eco Business: NGOs see clear next steps on High Carbon Stock forests

"Greenpeace, WWF, the Forest People’s Programme and Rainforest Action Network laud commitments by some companies to protect forest areas classified as ‘High Carbon Stock’, but say challenges still remain."


The Coal Industry is Getting Desperate

Kelly.pngThe coal industry’s mouthpieces in Washington are getting desperate.

This week, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) had this to say about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon pollution standards for power plants:

“You talk about terrorism — you can do it in a lot of different ways.”1

Here’s a good rule of thumb in political debate: when someone invokes terrorism out of the blue, you know they’ve lost the argument.  

Because the environmental movement has it right — pollution from coal-fired power plants kills communities and cooks our climate. That’s why the EPA’s long-overdue carbon standards, announced last month, are so important.

This new rule is a welcome step, but we need more. Tell the EPA to strengthen its limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

We already limit arsenic, mercury, soot and other air pollution from power plants—but, until now, not carbon pollution. Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Setting the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution is an essential step to address global warming and here at RAN we absolutely support a national carbon pollution standard.

No matter what the fossil fuel industry-funded politicians like Mike Kelly may say, communities across the nation are already seeing and feeling the impacts of global warming, from increased health risks like asthma attacks and lung disease, to devastating extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy and wildfires across the American West. The science is clear: inaction will only increase these deadly and costly threats.

This is exactly why communities from Chicago to North Carolina, from New England to New Mexico, have spent years fighting to shut down the polluting power plants in their neighborhoods.

The EPA is now accepting public comments on its proposed rule. Write the EPA today—say we need a stronger rule for a stable climate! 

To be clear, the proposed carbon pollution standard is just one step. To keep our climate stable, we must rapidly shift our energy production away from the highest-polluting fossil fuels and accelerate our transition to truly clean, renewable energy generation.

The proposed rule is not yet enough to slow global warming and not yet enough to inspire the world to make the necessary deep cuts in climate pollution. That is why we will be working hard next year to include much deeper cuts in the final rule.

We know that the coal industry and the politicians it funds will work to undermine this rule and doom communities to years of future pollution.

Please urge the EPA to ignore the naysaying polluters and do even more to address global warming and set limits on carbon pollution from power plants. 

Together, we can meet our obligation to protect our climate for our children and future generations.


1. “Congressman Compares EPA’s New Climate Rule To Terrorism”, ThinkProgress, July 28, 2014. 

Closing Chicago's Toxic Cloud Factories

Last month I was in Chicago to attend the U.S. Climate Action Network’s national meeting. The keynote speaker was Gina McCarthy, head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Her speech focused on the agency's recently proposed carbon pollution standards, the first-ever rule to limit carbon pollution from power plants. 

Gina made her presentation standing alongside this image, which made me smile:  

It’s an image I know well because it depicts a protest that Rainforest Action Network organized in 2011, along with our friends at Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and some bold Chicago activists. 

One morning, very early, we showed up at the Crawford Power Plant and climbed on top of a giant pile of coal to display a giant banner that reads "CLOSE CHICAGO’S TOXIC COAL PLANTS":

Our direct action that cold April morning was part of a multi-year campaign involving a huge coalition of Chicagoans to put pressure on the city of Chicago and the utility company, Midwest Generation, to retire their deadly "cloud factories".

Crawford was one of the last two remaining urban coal-fired power plants in the United States and their pollution was responsible for more than 40 deaths, 720 asthma attacks and 66 heart attacks annually.

I use the past tense because, thankfully, this coal plant has now been retired. And there is even better news: an exciting plan being formulated by a community/city partnership to regenerate the coal plant site with businesses that will offer good jobs to the local community in Little Village.

It is an inspiring example of what can happen when communities organize for a better future. But we still have more to do. We need to retire the remaining 356 coal plants in the United States, reduce our energy demands through efficiency measures and rapidly accelerate our transition to clean, renewable energy generation.

Please help make this a reality by taking action today! Send your comment to the EPA to demand a strengthened carbon emissions rule.

APRIL Makes A Mockery Of Its Own "Sustainable" Forest Policy


Almost six months after the release of its Sustainable Forest Management Policy, Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL)—the second-largest Indonesian pulp & paper company—continues business-as-usual rainforest destruction, betraying the spirit and substance of its policy.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported in May that APRIL-owned PT RAPP cleared massive swaths of carbon-rich peatlands on Pulau Padang, an island off the Sumatran coast that APRIL promised to help restore. Members of island community Desa Bagan Melibur have called on APRIL to terminate operations on their community land, and Desa Bagan Melibur’s May 17 protest is the most recent clash in a stark legacy of land disputes between APRIL and Padang’s thirteen villages since 2009.

Pulau Padang’s peatlands store millions of tons of carbon and are home to endangered species and communities that depend on these forests for their livelihoods. You could also say the island itself is endangered: decaying peat causes the low-lying island to subside, and scientists warn that if no action is taken, Padang may very well be under sea level and useless for any type of cultivation by 2050.

APRIL’s forest policy itself is rife with loopholes and allows APRIL to continue slashing natural forests in its concessions through December and source rainforest fiber until 2020. Yet the company’s refusal to uphold even its weak policy commitments brings APRIL’s intentions entirely into doubt. In addition to the Pulau Padang case, earlier this year, APRIL suppliers were caught clearing natural forests on legally protected peat land in Borneo and high conservation value forest on peat land in Riau. In the latter case, not only were internationally protected ramin trees cut down, but APRIL supplier PT Triomas allegedly attempted to hide the evidence by burying the contraband logs.

There is mounting recognition that APRIL’s policy and actions are insufficient and not credible. Last Friday, RAN and an international collation of allies co-authored a letter highlighting the severe shortcomings in APRIL’s policies, such as the lack of a moratorium on natural forest and peat land conversion, unclear commitments on resolving social conflicts, and the policy’s narrow scope, which does not extend to cover APRIL’s sister companies within owner Sukanto Tanoto’s rogue cartel of companies, such as Toba Pulp Lestari, Sateri, and Asian Agri. The letter also points to the inadequacy and questionable credibility of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) APRIL set up to help develop, implement, and monitor the forest policy in a transparent and independent manner.

APRIL’s new policy and the SAC risk being nothing but a parade of environmental lip service built on teetering scaffolds of environmental destruction, social conflict, and corruption. Customers and financiers must cut ties with APRIL and other companies owned by Sukanto Tanoto and pressure APRIL to end rainforest clearing and respect community rights.

TAKE ACTION: Tell APRIL owner Sukanto Tanoto to stop pulping Pulau Padang’s rainforests.

Communities Speak Out Against Coal Plants

This morning, the EPA announced limits on carbon pollution from power plants. That's a welcome step in fighting climate change—and it wouldn't have happened without communities speaking out against coal plants. Here at RAN, we're proud of the role our network of friends and activists has played in building pressure over the last several years.


Stop TXU! Activists stage protests against financial institutions linked to Texas utility company TXU’s controversial plans to build 11 new coal-fired power plants as part of an expansion strategy that would make it the single largest corporate greenhouse gas emitter in the Unites States. Winter 2007. Photo: Andrew Stern.



University of Kentucky Fossil Fools Day. Students raise a wind turbine atop a coal mound as part of an action for Fossil Fools Day at University of Kentucky. April 1, 2008.



Wise Coal Action. Virginia residents and anti-coal activists form a blockade to disrupt the construction of Dominion's Wise County Coal-Fired Power Plant. September 2008.



Capitol Climate Action. Thousands of activists surround the Capitol Coal Plant in Washington DC to demand its retirement. March 2009.



Duke Energy's Cliffside Coal Plant. RAN activists holding a banner in front of Duke Energy's Cliffside coal plant in Cliffside, North Carolina. The banner action coincided with the release a new report, The Principle Matter: Banks, Climate & The Carbon Principles. January 2011.



Crawford Coal Plant Banner. Six activists with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), Rising Tide North America, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the Backbone Campaign climbed the fence to Midwest Generation’s controversial Crawford coal plant in Little Village. The activists unfurled a 7' x 30' banner atop a 20-foot tall sprawling coal pile that feeds the power plant, which reads: "Close Chicago's Toxic Coal Plants." April 2011.



Stand with Pat: Tell BofA to Stop Funding Coal. Grandmothers Pat Moore and Beth Henry and seven others were arrested outside of four different Bank of America branches in Charlotte, NC delivering a simple yet urgent message to the bank: they must STOP funding coal. November 2012. Photo: © Paul Corbit Brown.

EPA Announces Rules to Limit Carbon Pollution: RAN Responds

This morning, Gina McCarthy, head of the EPA, announced new carbon pollution standards for power plants, the centerpiece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

We welcome the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to limit carbon pollution from power plants.

Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Setting the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution is an essential and long overdue step to address global warming.

Communities across the nation are already seeing and feeling the impacts of global warming, from increased health risks like asthma attacks and lung disease, to devastating extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy and wildfires across the American West. The science is clear: inaction will only increase these deadly and costly threats.

Coal FumesThis is exactly why communities from Chicago to North Carolina, from New England to New Mexico, are fighting to shut down the polluting power plants in their neighborhoods.

To be clear, the proposed carbon pollution standard is just one step. To keep our climate stable, we must rapidly shift our energy production away from the highest-polluting fossil fuels and accelerate our transition to truly clean, renewable energy generation.

The proposed rule is not yet enough to slow global warming and not yet enough to inspire the world to make the necessary deep cuts in climate pollution. That is why we will be working hard the next year to include much deeper cuts in the final rule.

We stand with the majority of Americans who want to see strong action from the government to address global warming and set limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

RAN fights climate change by taking fast, impactful action against dirty energy. Join us by becoming a Dirty Energy Rapid Responder!

Did You Hear The One About The Bank That Couldn't Count?

BoA_ActionLast week, Bank of America (BofA) admitted a huge accounting error—for several years, it claimed a whopping $4 billion more in capital than it actually has. The day BofA announced its blunder, its shares closed down more than six percent, the stock’s biggest drop in two years.

But BofA had to come clean. Regulators, shareholders and consumers need an accurate picture of banks' balance sheets.

BofA’s admission gives us a rare chance to raise a far bigger question: What else are they hiding?

It's time for BofA to be transparent about something much more vital to the future of the planet: just how much its investments contribute to climate change.

Tell Bank of America: Come clean on funding climate change!

I'm writing to you from BofA's Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I'm about to speak in support of a crucial shareholder resolution. The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility—backed by investors worth almost $35 billion—is pushing the bank to report on how much carbon pollution gets spewed into the atmosphere by the companies it funds.

BofA is a top funder of the biggest drivers of climate change: coal, oil, and gas corporations, as well as carbon–intensive electricity producers. But it's refusing to report on its financed carbon emissions. BofA knows that opening its books will create pressure to cut emissions by moving away from fossil fuels.

Now is the time to push BofA on climate change. Last week's accounting revelations were a big black eye, and at today's AGM, the bank needs to reassure its shareholders and customers that it doesn't have billions of dollars of climate liabilities on its books.

We need you to add your voice: Tell Bank of America to come clean on climate accounting!

Pushing for transparency is just the first step. We're also calling on BofA to cut its carbon pollution by stopping funding coal, the top contributor to climate change. I'll be making that call here at the AGM in just a few minutes, and ally organizations will speak to coal's cost beyond climate: mountains with their tops blown off in West Virginia, rivers wrecked by coal ash here in North Carolina, and human rights abuses by coal company security forces in Colombia.

Will you stand with us? Tell BofA that today's the day to come clean on funding climate change—and to cut its emissions by ending coal financing.

Fruit Pollutes More Than Coal?

[caption id="attachment_11256" align="alignright" width="300" caption="A palm oil mill effluent pond in West Kalimantan, Borneo. RAN’s Rainforest Agribusiness team spent three weeks last fall visiting some of Indonesia’s most controversial palm oil plantations. Click the photo to see more pics from the trip."]Borneo destruction[/caption] It may seem like a silly question: Can fruit cause more pollution than coal? But from the perspective of Indonesian waterways, the answer is most certainly yes. According to Mukri Friatna, head of advocacy for WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia), “Oil palm plantations ranked first as producers of pollutants, followed by mining companies.” WALHI released a report detailing its findings this past December. This isn’t the first time that palm plantations and mining corporations have been in competition for the top spot on the list of environmental wrongdoers. As we witnessed while traveling through Borneo, palm and mining joint ventures join hands to plow down rainforests. Any jungle that has the misfortune of growing atop coal, gold, and boxite reserves is liable to be “removed” to make room for massive mining operations. Once the valuable materials have been extracted, the dusty and nutrient-depleted soil is filled in and palm monocultures begin to expand across great expanses that were once tropical rainforests. None of which excuses the coal mining industry for anything. WALHI’s findings reveal that while oil palm plantations are responsible for having polluted 31 of Indonesia’s rivers, coal companies dumped toxic waste and other dangerous waste products in 19 more. So even though palm plantations are the undisputed champion of poisoning Indonesia’s watercourses, coal mining is still a serious contender.

Chevron And The Bittersweet California Election Results

[caption id="attachment_1448" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Have you voted for your favorite spoof Chevron ad yet?"]Chevron spoof poster: Oil companies should respect democratic institutions, not run them[/caption] November 3rd was a bittersweet day. The day after the midterm elections, we found out that Prop 23 — the so-called “Dirty Energy Proposition” that was funded by Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro along with the billionaire oilmen Koch brothers — had gone down in flames, which was most certainly good news. But Prop 26, Chevron’s stealth attack against California’s environmental regulations, had snuck through. There’s room for debate about what Prop 26 will mean for California’s global warming law, AB32. There was some fear before the election that it could be even more damaging than Prop 23, which would have suspended implementation of the state’s landmark climate bill indefinitely. On the other hand, Mary Nichols of the California Air Resources Board has since said that all plans and regulations under AB32 are “on track” despite passage of Prop 26. But one thing is indisputable: Prop 26 will make it harder to hold California’s biggest polluters accountable in the future — and that’s exactly what Chevron was counting on when donating $4 million to help pass it. The company’s California refineries in Richmond and El Segundo are two of the top ten biggest emitters of industrial carbon pollution in the state. Currently, these types of dirty, polluting operations are charged fees by the government in order to pay for the social and environmental damage they cause. Prop 26 reclassified all those fees as taxes, however, so they now require a two-thirds vote in the state Senate in order to be passed. And as we all know, there is no getting certain legislators to vote for anything called a “tax” no matter how necessary it may be to ensure clean air, drinkable water, and healthy communities. This is exactly the reason why Chevron tried to keep its support for Prop 26 quiet — the company knew damn well that Californians would reject its attempt to evade paying its fair share for its pollution. Because not only does Prop 26 make it harder for the state to hold Chevron accountable for its pollution, it also ensures that the taxpayers of California are now going to have to foot the bill Chevron refuses to pay. For the record, this is a company that made $167 billion in profits last year. Of course, the company also pollutes. A LOT. Its Richmond and El Segundo refineries emitted nearly 4.8 and 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution in 2008, respectively, making them the 6th and 9th biggest industrial sources of emissions in the state. The Richmond refinery emits the equivalent of the carbon emitted annually by 926,725 cars, the El Segundo refinery the equivalent of 696,863.0324 cars (based on this conversion rate). And the fine people of California will now be paying for the impacts those emissions have on the environment, because Chevron refuses to clean up after itself in California, just as it refuses to clean up its mess in Ecuador. But there is still reason to find some comfort in the election results. Defeating Prop 23 wasn’t the only victory on November 2nd: Richmond’s Green Party mayor, Gayle McGlaughlin, was returned to office despite a million-dollar smear campaign run against her by — you guessed it! — Chevron. Given the amount of pollution Chevron’s Richmond refinery is responsible for, it’s probably no wonder that McGlaughlin, the Richmond Progressive Alliance, and other allies were able to beat back the Big Oil behemoth. The election results were most definitely a mixed bag. But we can all take heart from the successful mobilizations against Big Oil’s attempts to railroad California’s energy and environmental policies. The local mobilization against Chevron in Richmond and the statewide mobilization against Prop 23 show that the people still have the power when they choose to exercise it. Chevron’s $4 million support for Prop 26 really puts the lie to their bogus new greenwash campaign. The company thinks we’re stupid enough to believe it’s a responsible corporate citizen even while it refuses to take responsibility for its pollution in Richmond and Ecuador and is actively seeking to forestall any attempts to make the company pay for the environmental damage it has done. Luckily we have just the place for you to vent your frustration with Chevron’s greenwash.

Will Cargill Fall for the Great Sinar Mas Greenwash?

[caption id="attachment_8001" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="RAN Activists Take Over Cargill Headquarters: Photo by David Gilbert/RAN"][/caption] After months of waiting for the results of the Sinar Mas "audit," the controversial findings are finally public and it's now up to Cargill executives to decide how they will proceed, i. e. whether or not to sever ties with the company known for its rainforest destruction and unsustainable palm oil practices. Read our open letter to Cargill below:
August 10, 2010 Mark Murphy Assistant Vice President, Cargill Corporate Affairs Mark, As you know, Sinar Mas released the controversial findings of their PT Smart audit today, with hopes of using it to clear their name of rainforest destruction and social conflict associated with their palm oil plantation operations.  Rainforest Action Network stands with Greenpeace, Unilever, and many others in rejecting this audit as being neither comprehensive nor representative of PT SMART’s palm oil operations.  We hope that you’ll view this attempted greenwash by Sinar Mas as another sign that the company is not moving forward in good faith towards more sustainable palm oil production. Problems with the Sinar Mas “audit” that merit immediate action:
  • Although the official complaint against Sinar Mas  filed at the RSPO put into question the company’s violations of RSPO principles and criteria, this audit is an initiative of PT SMART and is too limited in scope to provide an accurate assessment of the Sinar Mas Group
  • Further, this “audit” only looks at three PT SMART concessions covering 40% of its plantations area; it does not assess the rest of PT SMART’s concessions including those in Papua or the larger holdings of Golden Agri Resources (GAR), and is therefore not comprehensive enough to provide an adequate   assessment of its palm oil plantation practices
  • The audit shows that PT Smart has destroyed carbon rich peatlands and cleared rainforests for conversion to palm oil plantations
  • The audit  is not based on RSPO Principles and Criteria nor Sinar Mas’ adherence to them
In sum, the “Independent Verification Report” that PT Smart paid for and just released is being used by Sinar Mas as a smokescreen to distract attention from what we know to be the many real negative impacts on the ground from their operations on the Islands of Sumatra, Borneo and upcoming threats in New Guinea.  This strongly reinforces the widely held view that U.S. based companies like Cargill cannot rely on Sinar Mas’ misleading claims of sustainability and should reject them. We are aware that Cargill is “reviewing the results and discussing them with PT SMART in the next few days to decide how [you] wish to proceed.” We urge you to make a formal response to our concerns and to take proactive action now and cancel all direct and indirect contracts with Sinar Mas. Sincerely, Bill Barclay Corporate Communications & Interim Program Director Rainforest Action Network
[caption id="attachment_8005" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Threatened Peat Swamp Forest. Photo: Leonard Freitas."][/caption] So what does this mean for U.S. companies that have palm oil in their supply chain? Well, for starters, it serves as strong proof that palm oil is an increasingly controversial and risky commodity due to its negative impacts on tropical rainforests, the climate, critical habitat for endangered species, as well as diverse communities of people that rely on healthy forests for their livelihoods. Market leader companies like Unilever, Nestle and Kraft have already distanced themselves from Sinar Mas to disassociate their brand from rainforest destruction, and all but Kraft have adopted strong policies to ensure they are not a part of the problem but rather part of the solution. Will General Mills and Cargill follow suit? It's time that all U.S. companies get out of this problem and embark upon the pathway to change.

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