News in brief - July

15 July 2015

Deadly stakes: Too often we report the same story: someone killed for defending the peace and integrity of his home. In late June, Erasio Vieda Ponce became the fifth murder victim from his small Honduran community, besieged by illegal logging and mining interests. Murder of environmental activists and individuals defending their rights to their lands continue to rise, too often with impunity. In 2014, some 116 environmental activists were murdered, almost double the number of journalists murdered the same year.

In June 2015, officials from more than 190 nations gathered in Bonn to prepare the ground for a future global climate agreement to be decided in Paris in December 2015. Launched at the same time, Fern and Third World Network’s new briefing, Who takes the credit, revealed the complexities about deciding who will be able to claim emissions reductions when industrialised countries pay tropical forested countries to reduce emissions from deforestation. The briefing outlines three double-counting loopholes that must be closed. Its author, Jutta Kill, explained, “The only way to avoid the knotty issue of ‘double-counting’ is to rule out trading of emissions reductions, in particular from REDD+.”

On 10 June 2015, Fern released “EU Investors, Land Grabs and Deforestation,” a briefing that gives examples of how EU financiers are involved in “land grabs.” It details a small sample from a very long list of occasions when European banks and investors have helped finance large-scale destructive agriculture, forestry, and pulp and paper projects. These often lead to forest loss, displacement, impoverishment, and violations of the rights of local communities.

The European Commission has recently launched a public consultation on the Circular Economy, open for all to respond to before 20 August 2015. The consultation provides an opportunity to highlight the environmental footprint of certain products, going back to the extraction of raw materials (as indicated in the circular economy roadmap). The circular economy agenda can set the stage for how to reduce demand for commodities, for instance, by promoting a resource-efficient use of natural resources. From the perspective of protecting forests, it is crucial to tackle the problem of food waste (which leads to increased deforestation for agricultural use) and to ban subsidies for the use of wood for energy, which is the antipathy of the circular economy.

FERN works to achieve environmental and social justice with a focus on forests and forest peoples' rights in the policies and practices of the European Union.

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