Environmental Groups Call for APEC Accountability on Climate, Human Rights

(San Francisco, CA) — A growing chorus of activists are calling for greater urgency and realism in tackling our climate crisis and protecting human rights as heads of state and corporate decision makers gather at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in San Francisco. The United States and thirteen other countries are preparing to meet and consider the adoption of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). Despite including a ‘clean economy’ pillar within the framework, IPEF members are bringing no meaningful plan to reach agreed upon climate goals, such as the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015. And there is little discussion to protect human rights or labor standards.

“The Biden administration and participant nations are failing a critical test right now,” said Njambi Good, Deputy Executive Director at Rainforest Action Network. “We need a clear, time bound and actionable plan to break free of the disastrous fossil fuel economy — and so far there is nothing in the proposed economic framework that takes that challenge seriously. Instead, the member nations of APEC are prioritizing corporate profits rather than confronting the reality of increasing extreme weather disasters and increasing human rights violations driven by a myopic focus on increasing corporate profits.”

“Once again, politicians and corporate CEOs are meeting behind closed doors to determine what is best for huge portions of the population with no input from those most affected,” said Jeff Ordower of 350.org. “This will result in the continuation of the business as usual causing the climate crisis, human rights abuses, and economic injustice for many. Outside the APEC summit, we’re coming together to say ‘No to exploitation of the planet and its people.’”

“Despite the well-known fact that the world must immediately begin a rapid and just transition from fossil fuels, extractive corporations and their financial backers and government allies are investing in ongoing extraction and destruction in the Amazon and the violations of the rights of Indigenous and frontline communities,” said Paul Paz y Miño, Associate Director at Amazon Watch. “The Amazon rainforest is vital to regulating our global weather system, and it is already at its ecological tipping point. Yet these communities are shut out of the APEC summit. There are no corporate-led solutions to the climate crisis, and APEC is perpetuating the same flawed process that has led the world to the brink of environmental collapse.”

“We demand that the Biden administration and the heads of state attending the APEC conference end the fossil fuel era, advance a circular economy, and say no to mining that destroys ecosystems and ignores the rights of Indigenous communities,” said Jennifer Krill, Executive Director of Earthworks. “We are here today because while the earth is roiling with climate change, a select group of trade ministers are proposing an economic framework that lines the pockets of giant companies at the expense of mining-affected communities throughout the Pacific region. Mining for the so-called clean energy transition risks undermining our climate goals by polluting water, increasing climate emissions from coal power for mining, and violating the rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Activists are also flagging potential stark encroachments on the right to protest as local and federal security forces prepare for the international gathering. The summit has been designated a “National Special Security Event” which empowers the Secret Service as the lead agency. This raises the possibility of not just mass surveillance but the creation of exclusion zones which could severely limit the public from exercising their First Amendment right to protest on issues that will have direct bearing on their future within sight and sound of the participants.