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.
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.
This 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!
- Tall Tales from Spain, by James Heintz and Andrew Light
- The Real Spanish Experience, letter from Spanish thought leaders
Those of us who play the outside game must increasingly learn to be like ninjas – using exactly as much force as required to reach our objectives, but not more. We must be surgical in our interventions and have a strategic plan for how it helps shape the inside game. As such, movement strategy looks a lot more like a game of chess than one of checkers. Checkers are black and white (or black and red, as it were), and lend themselves to homogenous plowing forward without forethought. Chess is not just a game of strategy, but one that has a team of players each with differentiated roles and abilities. This is our current political moment. Moving forward Our political landscape is shifting, as is the nature of the “environmental” movement. Three out of the four White House environmental “heavy hitters” are people of color. Environmental leaders with racial justice organizing backgrounds like Van Jones are becoming Obama’s advisors. This signals a meaningful opening. Until now, struggles against the coal industry have primarily centered on preventing the construction of new coal-burning plants. We now need to go after existing coal plants across the country. Here, lessons from the Anti-Nuclear movement are instructive. Direct actions at plants across the country did not decommission individual nuclear facilities, but cumulatively helped create moratorium on nuclear plant construction that lasted decades. The seeds are planted for decentralized actions against coal across the United States, integrated with varied campaigning tactics on multiple fronts. Should we be successful at networking efforts, this network must weave itself into a broader Climate Justice movement (whether or not it uses that name). If we hope to win, the movement must be relevant enough to relate to, and help create, a broad-based progressive majority that is unafraid to build unlikely alliances across the political spectrum, while maintaining a principled anchor of its left wing. Groups helping anchor the left wing of this formation are tying conditions to participation. These conditions currently center around economic empowerment and social uplift for communities of color and other impacted peoples, led by a compelling, if potentially co-opt-able, call for green jobs. Climate Justice organizers can build their leverage in this new political terrain through increased demonstrations of power. The Capitol Climate Action sought to test our limits, and found that we’re ready for more. So let’s push further. For photos, video, and other multimedia from the Capitol Climate Action, see www.capitolclimateaction.org. Joshua Kahn Russell is the Grassroots Actions Manager at Rainforest Action Network and was a lead organizer on the Capitol Climate Action.
I thought that Monday's Climate Change Action was full of vitality and presence. What I realized however, as the day wore on, was that this was really about energizing, engaging, and empowering the students. They were so strong and thoughtful in their gestures. Many were willing to risk arrest. Others were willing to be of support. The students I spoke with were determined and dedicated to making a statement by their presence that the path we have been on is not the path to the future. Their lives are committed to acts of conscience and consequence. This is what moved me most. Jessie Carrier stood for hours in the cold blocking one of the side entrances. In those hours, she considered her actions, the course of her life, and what she wanted to commit her talents toward -- "My heart was quivering." she told me. "I became scared. And then, in time, I became calm and clear on what I was doing and why." A young woman began to dance for her. "She gave me energy," she said. "I joined her." Both young women danced. Movement. "I realized we are growing a movement." And then I think about what Wendell Berry said, when asked why he was there. "To begin a new kind of conversation." Yes. A new kind of conversation. A new kind of movement. We are now realizing that economic issues are environmental issues are social issues that are issues of social justice. This is my hope and faith as a citizen, that this kind of reflective activism can move us collectively, one person at a time toward an open space of democracy that inspires a different kind of relationship to community in the largest sense, both human and wild. Direct Action is not an abstraction. Monday's action was spirited and real. Empathy is a word that comes to mind as we walked arm in arm in solidarity. Climate Change.Kathy Mattea & Terry Tempest Williams For four hours all five entrance gates to the plant were blocked. An impressive number of law enforcement many with riot gear stood by and watched. No arrests were made, to the great disappointment of many including my brave friend Daryl Hannah who has been arrested before standing up for the environment, or sitting in a tree. Closed: The Main Gate Gus Speth said to the audience "There's nothing wrong with the Holocene, it's ending it that is crazy." We were all amazed by the energy of the young people and as Kathy Mattea said, "I love it that we can now support them." More actions in the form of civil disobedience directed against coal power plants are planned in the near future. As the world prepares for the UN COP15 Conference in Copenhagen this December, it is a critical year for, as Bill McKibben said, "creating a political space for a climate treaty to be finalized." Time's up.