A monthly summary of climate impacts, insights and resistance

[Keeping temperatures below 2°C will require] a fundamental change in our norms and paradigms, a rewriting of status, a reframing of equity, and a new interpretation of what constitutes “progress”. But ultimately, such far-reaching change would likely be much less than that associated with seven to nine billion people battling to survive in the climatic mess accompanying a 4°C or more temperature rise. I’m not suggesting that any of the above is likely. I am increasingly of the view that we will continue to choose to fail — knowingly. Collective delusion and cognitive dissonance will superficially salve our conscience — but as time passes our explicit choice to fail our own children will become inescapably apparent — but by then it’ll likely be too late.

— Kevin Anderson, February 20

Residents wade through a flooded corn field after Typhoon Haima hit northern Philippines. Photo Credit: International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent

The View from Above

The numbers that most often appear in climate change coverage are 350 (parts per million) and 1.5 (degrees celsius). Both figures come with deadly implications. Lesser known but just as important to climate change is the number 170. Researchers have honed a mathematical equation which can describe the degree of human impact on the Earth; human beings are causing the climate to change 170 times faster than the forces of nature. The extent of the human footprint of the planet is so profound that pollutants and garbage can even be found in the dark abyss of the Mariana trench.

Meanwhile, new research is also highlighting the importance of water cycles and forests in the struggle to tackle climate change, urging us to refine our frequently one-dimensional focus on carbon sources. Forests play crucial roles in global carbon storage, the cooling of terrestrial surfaces and the distribution of water resources. Yet since 1990, forest loss has contributed to about 1.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Palm oil plantations are mushrooming throughout the tropics, spelling trouble for local populations and efforts to combat deforestation. But community initiatives the world-over are illuminating how deforestation could be effectively combated: through the granting of land rights. In Guatemala, community forestry concessions have achieved an astonishing near-zero deforestation rate in the past 20 years. Stopping land grabs is therefore crucial to any efforts to tackle climate change.

Wind turbines in Romania. Photo Credit: World Bank (Note: not an endorsement)

While we should not naively assume technological advances alone will ‘save’ us, there are encouraging signs in the automotive and energy sectors. For example, a new study by Carbon Tracker has indicated that the boom of electric cars and cheap solar could stop the growth in fossil fuels by 2020. If such technological developments are accompanied by strong policy efforts from governments pushed by social movements, they could give us at least an opportunity to stay below 2C (still a highly dangerous level of warming). Dramatic reductions in the cost of renewable technology mean solar and wind are becoming financially palatable. Recent auctions in India and the Middle East have shown that in some settings, solar is already the cheapest form of energy available.

A Danish school has installed the world’s largest solar facade. A new technology launched in Dubai creates a high-tech canopy that provides both shade and solar energy. Innovative technologies such as fog catchers and graphene filters are also encouraging access in water-scarce areas.

A new report by Lloyd’s Register has concluded that low-carbon technologies are now cost-competitive with fossil fuels, and a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal noted that “a new era of low crude prices and stricter regulations on climate change is pushing energy companies and resource-rich governments to confront the possibility that some fossil-fuel resources will remain in the ground indefinitely.”

In the oil industry, new discoveries have hit a 60-year low, as companies hold off on exploration and larger profitable fields are becoming harder to find. A number of oil companies have started exiting high-carbon, tar sands projects in Canada due to high costs and lagging demand.

Utility companies are also already facing demand destruction from renewable energy — RWE, one of Germany’s largest power producers, announced a whopping €5.7 billion loss, after it had to write down its power-plant portfolio.

As governments implement travel bans and raise more border walls, climate activists are increasingly drawing the links between migration, racist extremism, and climate change. Photo Credit: Teresa Anderson.

In spite of the advance of renewable energy and the decline of fossil fuels, climate-induced migration continues, with thousands fleeing every day from the ravages of environmental degradation and deprivation. Women are bearing the brunt of this burden.

But analysis shows that climate change will not just displace populations, it will also trap them. Migration typically requires a certain degree of affluence or assembled income; but by wrecking livelihoods, climate change can help strip families of the ability to even flee — essentially a death sentence.

To make matters worse, a new study has shown that methane emissions in the oil and gas industry have been strongly undercounted over the last three decades. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, the second most important contributor to climate change, and dozens of times more effective in trapping heat than CO2.

In the Arctic, temperatures have skyrocketed for the third time this winter, with massive heat storms blowing abnormally warm air over the ice fields. In Antarctica, temperatures reached 17.5C, the highest known temperature in the region. The extent of Antarctic sea ice hit a record low and a crack in the Antarctic ice shelf grew seventeen miles in the last two months. This unprecedented collapse of land and sea ice at the poles is hinting at devastating “worst-case scenarios” for climate change. Such jaw-dropping shifts have left glaciologists and atmospheric scientists in disbelief, struggling to explain the pace of change. But the site of such alarming change is also the site of intensive oil extraction, with Arctic drilling off the coast of Norway set for a record.

To add insult to injury, new research has revealed that our planet’s oceans have lost 2% of their dissolved oxygen since 1960, and we’re heading for a 7% loss by 2100. The reduction in oxygen poses severe threats to marine habitats and wildlife.

The 20th century saw a 23-fold increase in natural resources used for building. Cities are becoming increasingly crucial in the transition to a safer world. That’s because the way we design transport systems, buildings and urban infrastructure today will be pivotal in determining future CO2 emissions. Already urban areas are being transformed. From Madrid to Oslo to Chengdu, cities are already starting to go car-free. China is set to build vertical forest buildings and forested cities, as it seeks to tackle its own air pollution crisis and draw down emissions. In New York, residents are re-imagining local, public infrastructure as the foundation for a fairer society in an era of climate change.

But false solutions — solutions that mask rather than confront the problem — are also being proposed. Radical geoengineering plans are being developed, including plans to refreeze the Arctic. New research has also exposed how bioenergy, despite being widely registered and celebrated as a renewable source of energy, helps to speed up global warming rather than slowing it down.

Photo Credit: Karen Eliot

Carbon capture and storage is another trumpeted solution — but two new carbon capture and storage projects are going online in the US this month, and both are using capture carbon to recover oil, and emit more.

But the struggle to prevent false solutions has been complicated by the reality: our emissions are not falling fasting enough to give us the privilege of ignoring them. A newly-published study by the Center for International Climate Research has shown that staying below 2C is still possible, but it will require deep and sustained reductions in the carbon intensity of energy. It also however suggests the need for intensive investment in diverse low-carbon technologies, including carbon dioxide removal techniques. These however must be a last resort. We should invest in research assuming they will never work, and reduce our emissions assuming that no “saviour” technologies will come to our rescue.

The impact climate change is having on on human health are reaching emergency levels. Fossil fuel pollution is causing six million yearly deaths, yet the industry is still receiving at least $444 billion a year. Air pollution is now linked to 2.7 million premature births a year, 18% of the global total.

Air pollution in Taiwan. Photo Credit: 君勇 林

Killer infectious diseases are on the rise. Over the past century, the number of new infectious diseases emerging each year has nearly quadrupled. The number of annual outbreaks has more than tripled. This happens as people push into the forest, and animal-human transmission intensifies. New viruses in Latin America, such as the machupo virus, have also been linked to a surge in climate change and deforestation. Recent data has also traced a clear link between deforestation and the outbreak of ebola in West and Central Africa, as findings suggest that felled forest areas were hotspots for the disease. In areas of central China, warmer temperatures and increased precipitation have led to the reemergence of malaria.

At the same time, the links between mental health and climate change are becoming more apparent, as environmental stress translates into psychological stress and augmented risks of psychiatric problems. Nutrition is also under threat, as changing weather patterns and agricultural shifts jeopardize humankind’s ability to feed itself.

We need a vision of prosperity that is ambitious, bold, accessible and attentive to local concerns. Climate justice movements have always known that to address the climate crisis would require addressing inequality. Now Harvard research supports our long-held position, saying that “technological approaches must be accompanied by efforts to reduce those inequalities [not only economic inequalities], create strong, long-lasting neighborhood social networks, and foster greater citizen interaction with government.”

Africa

Potent and widely-ignored droughts continue to lash much of eastern and southern Africa for a third consecutive year, with indescribable human implications. Described as the worst drought in decades, it has catalysed failed harvests, displaced communities, decimated livestock populations, and driven up food prices. Somalia’s maize and sorghum harvests are down 75% from their usual level. In Tanzania, maize prices have almost doubled over the last year, while in Kenya, the cost of maize has risen by 30%. In South Sudan, food prices are now two to four times higher than in early 2016. Tens of millions of families are under threat. In Ethiopia alone, government estimates suggest that 7.5 million farmers and herders need immediate support to resume production.

In South Africa’s Western Cape, previously fertile lands are now scorched, dried of moisture, and home to only desiccated crops. Irrigation canals have dried, and dams are down to around a fourth of their capacity. Scientists have warned that such extreme weather is now to be expected.

In Swaziland, water scarcity has brought misery to small-scale sugar farmers. The country’s average temperature has already risen 3°C since pre-industrial times, three times the world average. Scientists forecast that the country’s river flows will drop 40% this century due to climatic changes.

In Kenya, famine is nearing, with over two million people set to be at risk. In some areas of Kenya, shepherds have lost between 60 and 70% of their livestock in the last couple of years. In particularly vulnerable villages, where children are too hungry to play, citizens have had to turn to wild fruits, toxic tubers and insects for nourishment.

In Somaliland, 40% of livestock have died following two years of ‘unprecedented’ drought. People are dying of drought in wider Somalia, as the UN issues an alert that the country is facing its second famine in six years. In a statement released earlier in the month, the UN said that, “In the worst affected areas inadequate rainfall and lack of water has wiped out crops and killed livestock….communities are being forced to sell their assets and borrow food and money to survive.”

As the drought deepens, better thinking about solutions is needed. It is clear that tackling drought with emergency aid is not the answer. New analysis calls for extending land rights, improving cross-organisational cooperation, to prevent recurring droughts.

Droughts are not the only climate challenge facing Africa. Just this month in Mozambique four people, including a young child, died in the wake of tropical cyclone Dineo. (Despite the country’s vulnerability to climate change, the government in Maputo has embarked on the expansion of the country’s main coal terminal. The country has also faced the expansion of large-scale animal agriculture and soy agribusiness, with deleterious impacts on land and food rights). The same tropical storm Dineo also hit Zimbabwe, leaving hundreds homeless, while Morocco was also hit by torrential rains. However, Moroccan farmers are implementing climate-responsive agriculture to adapt to a warming planet, proving yet again that communities have the solutions.

Similarly, in Uganda, farmer field schools are helping increase climate adaptation, share knowledge of climate-resistant agriculture and reduce gender inequalities.

Across the continent, the land grabbing required for both hydrocarbon extraction and plantation agriculture is displacing communities and generating conflicts. In Cameroon, forest defenders are taking on illegal loggers using mobile technology, but it remains risky.

Though the continent is extremely vulnerable to climate change, there is also great potential to tackle the crisis. African solar energy potential is immense, and up to 60 million Africans may already be using off-grid renewables. Solar energy is already taking hold in Nigeria, where off-grid solar-powered kits are rapidly electrifying rural homes and powering small appliances. Wider renewable energy generation could offer major benefits to a country with a 42% rate of youth unemployment, and help reduce pollution in areas devastated by oil contamination — Nigerian government data recently found Italy’s Agip company responsible for 2,418 oil spills in 7 years.

Asia & Pacific

Devastating avalanches swept across Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing over 156 people along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Continuous flooding and snowfall also caused severe difficulties in the Pakistani province of Balochistan.

Mongolia is experiencing a profound winter emergency, with the country’s herders struggling to feed livestock given reduced hay and fodder supplies from a drought-ridden summer. This adds to the country’s mounting air pollution crisis; in capital city Ulaanbaatar, pollution rates are among the highest in the world. In the country’s rural steppes, thousands of antelope have been killed by a devastating plague.

A farmer harvests damaged crops in Cagayan, northern Philippines. Photo Credit: International Federation of Red Cross/Crescent

Plagued by constant blackouts, Pakistan’s largest public park has turned to solar energy.

In Laos, institutions are pushing ahead with a dangerous hydropower project, despite alarm raised by communities and scientists.

The Pacific, already vulnerable to storms, salinity and rising sea levels, is set to face major alterations of rainfall related to climate change.

In China’s Ningxia province, water scarcity has become so severe that the government has had to forcibly relocate thousands of local residents.

In Bangladesh, coastal fishing villages in the Bay of Bengal are disappearing, shaved by rising tides. “The ocean is torturing us. We can’t stop it. Water enters my house in every high tide, especially in the rainy season”, said Pushpo Rani Das, a mother of three forced to move her home four times to escape the surge. Yet the Bangladeshi government, despite public resistance, is continuing its coal development plans, with a slew of mega-projects slated for the next years. The construction of the Rampal coal plant, widely-opposed by local communities, is set to begin next month. An underreported consequence of climate change in Bangladesh has been the increase in child marriage as families marry off their young daughters in order to make up for loss of income resulting from crop failure.

In India, women are leading a solar initiative at mosques. Over 20% of India’s population has no access to electricity, but the richest 40% of the population gets highly subsidised power. Small-scale solar initiatives are challenging energy inequality, extending access to some of the 237 million Indians who live in energy poverty. As well as energy poverty, air pollution continues to blight Northern India — the lives of Delhi residents are shortened an average of 6.3 years by air pollution.

Protests are continuing against the slated Teesta mega-dam in the Himalayan state of Sikkim, with Indigenous Lepcha communities hopeful of blocking the project, after raising concerns around the environmental, demographic and cultural impacts of the project.

The Gaza Strip has experienced heavy rains and flooding, forcing evacuations.

In Bali landslides triggered by intense precipitation cost the lives of 12 people, while further torrential rain would hit Jakarta later in the month.

The Indonesian government continues with its commit to expand its use of coal with 117 new coal-fired power plants by 2019. But with financial institutions shedding coal investments, Indonesia’s coal industry, which is looking to expand its extraction Kalimantan, is experiencing difficulties. On the other hand, Indonesian villages like Reno on Flores Island are extending clean energy access by installing small-scale, sustainable hydropower.

Even though the record-breaking Indonesian fires of 2015 may have led to the deaths of 100,000 people, the victims of pollution are yet to see justice, and perpetrators yet to face accountability.

In China, the government’s welcome decision to cancel the construction of over one hundred new coal-fired power stations, the growth of coal-to-gas plants (also known as coal gasification) provides cause for concern.

In Taiwan, bitingly cold weather caused 150 deaths in five days.

India has used nearly $2bn collected from the nation’s coal tax to fund renewable energy projects. The country is planning an almost nine-fold increase in solar energy by 2020.

In Kashmir, lakes and water bodies are dying out, dried by deforestation and urbanisation. In the Himalayas, home to over a fourth of the planet’s glaciers, a new study of 32 glaciers around Mount Everest has detected dangerous losses of ice mass.

Darwin, Australia — in wake of a monsoon. Photo Credit: Geoff Whalan.

Australia has faced gruelling, record-breaking temperatures after a potent heatwave. The heatwave has brought further misery and bleaching to the already-beleaguered Great Barrier Reef. Nearly 100 bushfires have raged in Australia’s New South Wales state; in New Zealand, bushfires in Christchurch led to the evacuation of over 1,000 people.

The Australian HCF private health fund divested from fossil fuels, citing the impacts of the industry on the health and wellbeing of its members. Indigenous elders from the Wangan and Jagalingou people “have put mining company Adani — and Australia’s governments — on notice to quit the Carmichael mine project over native title claims.”

Saudi Arabia’s Asir region was beset by fatal floods. Meanwhile, the Saudi government launched a $50 billion renewable energy plan to cut oil use and boost economic development.

Central & South America

In Mexico, the province of Oaxaca has been particularly affected by drought; some areas have not received major rain in years, and farmers are having to turn to alternative practices to salvage fertility. Climate change, coupled with unsustainable consumption, is physically sinking Mexico City and leaving the city in a major water crisis. In the province of Yucatan, Mayan communities that have relied on agro-ecology for generations, are struggling to maintain their traditional rainfed practices in a new climate defined by erratic rainfall.

The blue pine, a conifer species endemic to Mexico, is in danger of disappearing due to the disruptive impact of climate change and erratic weather patterns. Mexico is also showing us the crude reality of what happens when renewable energy technologies are unrolled, but with little regard to climate justice principles. In southern Yucatán province, new solar and wind projects have contributed to land dispossession, human rights violations, and energy poverty.

In the Colombian province of La Guajira, already reeling from the impacts of drought and coal mining, new hydrocarbon projects are on the horizon.

In Guatemala, climate change impacts are displacing communities, and forcing people to flee to the United States. The region has experienced crop losses of between 50 and 90 percent over the last years. But movements in the region are resisting; most recently, Indigenous communities brought the country to stand still demanding the legal recognition of Indigenous justice. In a municipal referendum in Cinquera, El Salvador, 98% of participating registered voters voted against new mining projects in the local area, becoming the country’s fifth mining-free territory.

In Brazil’s northeastern region of Amapá, the country’s least-developed state, is under threat from the expansion of the soya and oil frontier. BP and Total are looking to drill in the mouth of the Amazon river, threatening a unique, newly-discovered coral reef.

In Peru, severe droughts have given way to destructive downpours. Six miners were buried under a landslide in southern Peru, whereas burst river banks clogged water treatment plants and restricted water use in Lima and Arequipa. The country, which has lost a million hectares of Amazonian rainforest in the last fifteen years, however is finally seeing the first steps towards justice for communities in the Northern Peruvian Amazon, affected by four decades of oil extraction.

Mayan Keq’chis from Cahabon in Guatemala are resisting a hydroelectric mega-dam being built by a Spanish company owned by Real Madrid owner Florentino Perez.

In Argentina, new multinational investments in Vaca Muerta — the second largest shale field in the world, mapping over swathes of Mapuche territory — have been announced.

Chile continues to experience one of its worst ever natural disasters, as forest fires burn destroying dozens of homes. The country is still recovering from a wave of landmark wildfires and record-obliterating temperatures, yet has been warned that it will face even greater vulnerability as the reality of climate change materialises. Drought has also hit the region of Patagonia, lowering rivers, and delivering heavy losses to local livestock-breeders.

Drought continues to afflict Bolivia, exacerbated by large agro-industrial projects and poor government policies. It’s capital city La Paz, heavily affected by water scarcity and melting glaciers, has now entered a “post-water age.” New mega-dam projects El Chepete and El Bala, supported by the state as key energy initiatives for the Brazilian Amazon, are also being resisted by over a dozen Indigenous communities. Concerns have also arisen around the country’s increasing oil exploration. Over the last decade, the area of oil extraction in Bolivia has expanded from three million hectares to over thirty million. With new exploration threatening the Tacana, Toromona and Araona peoples in the Amazon, institutions have called on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for protection.

But while extractivist initiatives are pervasive, Latin American states are also leading the way in renewable energy expansion. In Ecuador, Shuar women are resisting mining. In Colombia, the Embera Chamí have secured a groundbreaking victory, with the Constitutional Court ruling to delimit and title the community with their land. Communities in Putumayo, in the Colombian Amazon, have also been successful in stalling petroleum projects on their land.

Europe

In the UK, offshore wind has taken up nearly half of all construction contracts in the power sector, and 21% of all infrastructure contracts. In fact, new renewable generation in the EU is booming, with renewables making up almost 90% of new power sources in Europe in 2016.

Protestors gather in London to demand an end to coal. Each clay figure represents one of the 2,900 excess deaths attributed to air pollution as a result of coal. Photo Credit: Ron F.

In Norway, 37% of Norway’s new cars are now electric, and this number is expected to rise to 100% in just 8 years.

After concerted pressure from campaigners, Europe’s largest bank HSBC published a new “‘No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation’ policy. HSBC had faced major pressure for major financing of Indonesian palm oil companies, responsible for gross deforestation in pristine Indonesian rainforests.

The Trans-Adriatic pipeline, an enormous fossil fuel pipeline being built to transport gas from the Caspian Sea to Southern Europe, will scar the land of farmers of Greece — you can listen to their story here. The development of the mega-pipeline comes as news that new European gas infrastructure could be stranded by European Union climate policy. The EU’s own climate policy however remains deeply insufficient to meet the EU’s fair share of climate action: implementing a bold and ambitious renewable energy and energy efficiency programme.

In Sweden, the country’s recycling programme has become so revolutionary the country has run out of garbage. In Denmark, towns like Samsø have rapidly transformed from carbon-dependent to energy-positive communities. A Danish wind turbine has broken the world record for the most power generated in one day. Finland could be carbon-neutral by 2045 according to its environment minister.

In the Netherlands, communities in Groningen are continuing to resist gas extraction. In Austria, a local court has rejected plans for the expansion of Vienna airport on climate grounds. The decision affirmed the constitutional rights of Austrians to clean and safe environment, protected from climate change impacts.

In Spain, more than 160,000 people took to the streets in Barcelona to say Refugees Welcome. In Turkey, the Izdemir coal-fired power station has been stripped of its environmental licence, in a major victory for campaigners. Communities have been fighting local coal power projects in the area for over thirty years.

North America

Trump’s evisceration of environmetal standards continue at full pace, as he names industry lobbyist and climate science denier Mike Catanzaro as top White House energy aide. The US Congress has also allowed oil companies to make secret payments to foreign government officials

Protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, San Fransisco. Photo Credit: Peg Hunter

While the US government flouts all decency and logic, the Pentagon has pushed ahead with plans to protect its assets from sea-level rise & the impacts of climate change.

Climate change continues to affect the United States, with Oklahoma experiencing heat waves in mid-winter. The country’s own coastal areas are already trying to manage their own vulnerability — in Delaware, communities are already bracing and preparing for sea level rise. Estimates show that by 2045 some East Coast cities could flood 3 times a week. The city of Boston is already mulling plans for a massive sea barrier across Boston Harbour. Alaskan tribes, decades-long victims of coastal erosion, are fearing how Trump’s climate denialism will affect their efforts to adapt and adjust to climate change.

But while the US executive runs roughshod over rights and reason, local campaigns are accumulating successes. In a major victory for campaigners, Seattle City Council voted to cut ties with Wells Fargo Bank over its loans to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The movement to divest from DAPL’s investors and financiers is growing, with the Californian city of Davis divesting from Wells Fargo, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio confirming he was considering similar action. In addition to violating Indigenous rights, land rights, and rights to water and health, the Dakota Access Pipeline will lock in the emissions of 30 coal plants.

While the US government’s full-out assault on rights makes for grim reading, strands of resistance are weaving together. Hundreds of scientists rallied against Trump policies in a Stand for Science protest. Environmental Protection Agency workers have tried to block their new head Scott Pruitt in a show of defiance. Native Nations have called a collective march and tipi gathering in Washington. A new report published by the Labor Network for Sustainability makes it clear that the threat of the Trump administration to “workers, the earth’s climate, and society as a whole make cooperation against them imperative for both organized labor and the climate protection movement.” The transformative potential of climate movements and labour movements combined is being cemented by economic trends: one in every 50 new US jobs is being created by the solar industry. Over the past 6 years, the number of solar jobs has tripled.

In California, newly proposed legislation aims for the state to source 100 percent of its energy from renewables by 2045; if passed, the bill would make California the second state to commit to a carbon-free electricity grid. This comes as welcome news in a state which has recently experienced the the wettest start to a rainy season in history, California is now experiencing its worst storm yet. As meteorologist Eric Holthaus writes, “California has transitioned from millennial-scale drought to a millennial-scale deluge. Welcome to climate change.” In a familiar global pattern, droughts are now alternating with catastrophic downpours.

But in California’s Sierras, ecologists are also pioneering climate-adaptive restoration being the ecological healing of a future place.

In Canada, Justin Trudeau, having served for over 500 days, has failed to deliver on the vast majority of promises related to land rights and the environment. Lawsuits are piling up as the opponents of the Kinder Morgan pipeline continue to confront the project. Meanwhile, a new study has documented the catastrophic thaw of thousands of square miles of Canadian permafrost, portending a huge release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Loss of Comrades

Every month we remember the inestimable sacrifice made by countless individuals and communities, in silence and in voice.

In Cambodia and Brazil, forest defenders like Leng Ouch, Diana Rios and Meas Mon are continuing to monitor forests and prevent deforestation, despite major risks to their lives. Tep Vanny, prominent Cambodian land rights activist, has been sentenced to prison. Abelino Chub Caal, a Guatemalan rights defender accompanying communities in Sierra Santa Cruz whose rights are threatened by diverse mining interests, has been detained. Miller Dusan, community leader, professor and president of ASOQUIMBO (Association of Those Affected by the Quimbo dam), is facing charges for conducting non-violent protest. Organisations have called on Italian multinational ENEL, whose subsidiary owns the dam, to drop the charges.

Juan Ontiveros, Raramuri defender

But the familiar metabolism of death also endures. Rights defender Luz Herminia Olarte, the 5th social leader to be killed in Antioquia this year, has been murdered. Just two weeks after murder of Isidro Baldenegro, Juan Ontiveros, another Rarámuri rights defender was murdered. Renato Anglao, Indigenous Lumad leader who defended ancestral land against agribusiness, was murdered in the Philippines. Edilberto Cantillo, a Colombian rights defender, was murdered in Cesar. In Honduras, Jose de los Santos Sevilla, professor and Tolupan community leader has been murdered. Faiver Cerón Gómez, Colombian environmentalist and social leader has been murdered in Cauca.

Renato Anglao, murdered in the Phillipines. Photo Source: Frontline Defenders.

As we mark the first anniversary of Berta Caceres’ murder, a new Global Witness report on Honduras illustrates what life is like in the most dangerous country in the world for environmentalists. Since 2010, over 120 people have been killed for “standing up to companies that grab land and trash the environment.” The report investigates the root of the killings, exposing the powerful elites and corrupt impunity that allows for such bloodshed to take place.