Oil giants Eni and Shell have both recently announced plans to use trees to offset some of their ever increasing carbon emissions. Yesterday, NGOs put out a statement opposing the oil industry’s attempts to avoid its responsibility for climate breakdown. The statement is signed by six organisations (Friends of the Earth Mozambique and South Africa; Centre for Natural Resource Governance, Zimbabwe; No REDD in Africa Network; Re:Common, Italy; and Friends of the Earth International). The statement is endorsed by a further 109 organisations.
In October 2018, Shell’s CEO Ben van Beurden talked about the need for “massive reforestation” and “another Brazil in terms of rainforest” to keep global warming below 1.5°C. In April 2019, Shell launched a Natural Climate Solutions carbon offsetting scheme – motorists buying Shell petrol in the Netherlands will also be buying carbon credits.
In March 2019, Eni announced plans to establish plantations over an area of 8.1 million hectares in Africa. Last week, Bloomberg reported that while some tree planting would be involved in the company’s offsetting plans, the focus would be on REDD:
The oil and gas explorer said it will develop forestry projects through REDD+, a program to reduce emissions stemming from deforestation or forest degradation. The company has formed partnerships with Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Mexico and Brazil. Talks are underway to develop new initiatives in Congo, Indonesia, Mozambique and Ghana.
Addressing climate breakdown requires keeping fossil fuels underground. Carbon colonisation through industrial tree plantations or REDD makes the situation worse by greenwashing the oil industry’s continuing pollution.
CLIMATE CRIMINALS: ENI and Shell, keep the fossil fuels in the ground!
We don’t want your false forests!
13 May 2019
A new strategy put forward by fossil fuel corporations to plant trees as ‘compensation’ for climate change is not only a greenwashing gimmick, but a dangerous tactic that could exacerbate the problems caused by fossil fuel exploitation.
Fossil fuel giants ENI (Italy) and Shell (the Netherlands) have announced reforestation programmes as compensation for carbon emissions, in a push to greenwash a corporate model that has caused widespread environmental devastation, land grabbing and the destruction of livelihoods. The two companies are responsible for environmental disasters and crimes as a result of their fossil fuel activities in Nigeria and many other places across the globe.
ENI is currently undergoing a massive operation to exploit new gas reserves in northern Mozambique. For years, the company has engaged in extremely damaging gas flaring in the Niger delta – a practice which is still underway, long after ENI promised to quit gas flaring at its 2011 Annual General Meeting. Only last year, the Nigerian Ikebiri community took ENI to court for pollution of their lands and water. The company is also on trial in Basilicata – a small region of southern Italy nicknamed the Italian Texas because of its oil activities – where ENI stands accused of illegally dumping hazardous waste into the environment.
Shell is one of the world’s top 10 climate polluters, and since the 1980s has operated in the knowledge that burning oil and gas would have disastrous consequences for the climate (i). Yet the company continues to spend billions of dollars seeking out new oil and gas fields, and spends a further $49 million each year lobbying for fossil-fuel friendly policies (ii). Shell has been involved in, and their executives were probably aware of, numerous murders, tortures and rapes carried out by paramilitary organisations in Nigeria during the 1990s. Its current activities in Groningen, the Netherlands, are the cause of earthquakes that are destroying peoples’ homes (iii).
Now, ENI and Shell are pushing a new and dangerous tactic. ENI has announced plans to plant 8.1 million hectares of trees in Mozambique, South Africa, Ghana, and Zimbabwe (iv). CEO Claudio Descalzi announced ENI’s objective “to achieve net zero emissions in our upstream business by 2030,” in the company’s strategy update on 15 March 2019. Meanwhile, Shell has presented its plan, launching in 2019, to reduce its “net carbon footprint by 2%-3%”. The plan will include reforestation of false forests, with the company offering carbon credits to its customers so that they may offset their emissions (v). Shell is also pushing controversial schemes such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), which not only fail to reduce greenhouse emissions, but lead to the violation of environmental and human rights, the exacerbation of corruption and the corporate capture of vital climate funds. REDD+ projects reduce nature to a commodity to be bought and sold, and local communities are either expelled from their land in the name of ‘preservation’ or employed as private conservationists, while traditional land management practices disappear. Meanwhile, by focusing on the community’s responsibility for deforestation, the central role of large corporations and the state as the primary actors in environmental destruction is underplayed.
The protection of critical natural ecosystems such as mangroves, forests, dunes, wetlands is crucial, and will help the planet to naturally absorb carbon emissions, while also providing livelihoods to local communities and warding off extreme weather events. However, strategies put forward by Shell and ENI will do nothing to contribute to these aims – far from it.
Solving the climate crisis requires deep, urgent and immediate emissions cuts, meaning that dirty and harmful energy must be stopped at source, and cannot simply be ‘compensated’ elsewhere in the world. Fossil fuels must be left in the ground, but instead, ENI and Shell do not even pretend to deal with this reality so far, investing billions in the quest to find further reserves.
We write this statement as the impacts of Cyclone Idai are still being felt. The cyclone and related flooding in the last few weeks has devastated huge parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, claiming thousands of lives and affecting millions more. Those impacted are people who did not create the climate crisis, while ENI and Shell are among the perpetrators of the crisis. The people of the world, especially the poorest and most vulnerable who suffer the worst effects of climate change, cannot afford any further fossil fuel expansion.
Truly addressing the climate crisis means achieving ‘zero emissions’ NOT ‘net zero’ emissions. A ‘net zero’ goal allows polluters such as ENI and Shell to keep polluting on the pretext that they may use artificial plantations to ‘suck’ carbon out of the air in other parts of the world. From a climate justice perspective, this strategy is completely flawed. There is no guarantee that tree plantations can secure carbon offsetting in the long term. Plantations do not and can never compensate for the destruction of the natural world: they reduce biodiversity, lead to exhausted soils and absorb only a fraction of the CO2 taken in by real forests.
Furthermore, through this plan, ENI and Shell intend to introduce tree plantations to an area larger than the whole of Northern Italy, ENI’s homeland – or double the size of the Netherlands, from where Shell hails. This raises serious questions. Where on Earth will ENI plant these 8.1 million hectares of fake forests? Where is the land to do so, and whose land will they grab to do this planting? What would ENI say if the tables were turned, and Africans wanted all of Northern Italy to plant trees?
There is no unused land available at this scale, which means millions more people will be affected, through the loss of their land, homes and forests. Areas teeming with biodiversity will become monoculture plantations. This will undoubtedly have calamitous impacts on the food sovereignty and rights of people across Africa.
Neither ENI nor Shell have the right to impose such tree plantations on the lands of local communities and indigenous peoples. For generations, communities have taken care of their forests, often fighting off their own governments to retain ownership and control. Many communities are already resisting dirty energy, agro-commodities, infrastructure and large commercial projects that drive deforestation. The new spectre of corporate climate ‘compensation’ schemes headed by the dirtiest fossil fuel corporations is a ludicrous affront, and one which will be fought wherever it rears its head.
Climate justice requires that ENI and Shell immediately cut their emissions at source. Since the industrial revolution, the fossil fuel industry has grown rich through the exploitation of people and nature, leading to large-scale and irreversible destruction of the atmosphere. As such, ENI and Shell owe a colossal climate debt to those bearing the brunt of the impacts of climate change. At the same time, deforestation poses a grievous risk to people and the planet. If we are to stand any chance of halting the inter-related crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, fossil fuels and deforestation must both come to an end.
To stop causing the climate crisis, ENI and Shell MUST stop fossil fuels and harmful energy at source. No more land grabs in Africa or anywhere!
No fossil fuels! No dirty and harmful energy! No to false forests! Yes to real reductions, No to net zero! ENI and Shell, Stop your emissions at source!
1. Anabela Lemos, Justiça Ambiental / Friends of the Earth Mozambique
2. Bobby Peek, groundwork / Friends of the Earth South Africa
3. Farai Maguwu, Centre for Natural Resource Governance, Zimbabwe
4. Nnimmo Bassey and Anabela Lemos, No REDD in Africa Network (NRAN)
5. Giulia Franchi, Re:Common, Italy
6. Karin Nansen, Chair, Friends of the Earth International
STATEMENT ENDORSED BY:
1. Ricardo Navarro, CESTA/ Friends of the Earth El Salvador
2. Maggie Mapondera, WoMin African Alliance
3. Martin Galea De Giovanni, Friends of the Earth Malta
4. Helen La Trobe, Friends of the Earth Ghana
5. Richard Dixon, Friends of the Earth Scotland
6. Víctor Barro, Amigos de la Tierra (España)
7. Janet Solomon, Oceans Not Oil
8. Desmond Dsa, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
9. Nanna Clifforth, NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark
10. Tom BK Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network
11. Frank Muramuzi, Friends of the Earth Uganda / NAPE
12. Kureeba David, Regional Coordinator Friends the Earth Africa
13. Maria Selva Ortiz, REDES – FoE Uruguay
14. Camila Rolando Mazzuca, EnvJustice
15. Sam Mucunguzi, Coordinator- Citizens’ Concern Africa -(CICOA) Uganda
16. Michelle Pressend, Environmental Humanities South (EHS), UCT
17. Ivonne Yanez, Accion Ecologica, Ecuador
18. Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch, UK/US
19. Martin Vilela, Bolivian Platform on Climate Change
20. Cindy Wiesner, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (US)
21. Pennie Opal Plant, Idle No More SF Bay
22. Hemantha Withanage, Centre for Environmental Justice / Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka
23. Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory
24. Yago Martínez Álvarez, Ecologistas en Acción, Spain
25. Alejandro Aleman, Centro Humboldt, Nicaragua
26. Mercia Andrews, Rural Women’s Assembly (southern Africa)
27. Lungisa Huna, Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE) (South Africa)
28. Larry Lohmann, The Corner House, UK
29. Antonio Zambrano, Movimiento Ciudadano frente al Cambio Climático – MOCICC, Perú
30. Choony Kim, Korea Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM / FoE Korea)
31. Juan Pablo Orrego, ONG Ecosistemas – Chile
32. Edwin Mumbere Fanta, Kasese youth and women clean energy club, Uganda
33. Logan Moodley, KZNSFF
34. Ayumi Fukakusa, FoE Japan
35. Bori Yordanova, Za Zemiata – Friends of the Earth Bulgaria
36. Luca Saltalamacchia, Studio Legale Saltalamacchia
37. Simon Taylor, Global Witness
38. Simon Counsell, Rainforest Foundation UK
39. Cadmus Atake-Enade, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Nigeria
40. Marija Mileta, Zelena akcija / FoE Croatia
41. Dickens Kamugisha, Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), Uganda
42. Anna Barkered, Latinamerikagrupperna / Solidarity Sweden-Latin America
43. Teresa Perez, World Rainforest Movement
44. Yoram Banyenzaki, Guild Presidents Forum on Governance (GPFOG), Uganda
45. Eriel Deranger, Indigenous Climate Action, Canada & member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
46. Khalid Mather, WildoceansSA
47. Judy Bell, FrackFreeSA
48. Alejandra Porras, COECOCEIBA – Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica
49. Eduardo Giesen, Colectivo VientoSur – Chile
50. Opio Christopher, Oil Refinery Residents Association, ORRA – Uganda
51. Ana Maria R. Nemenzo, WomanHealth Philippines
52. Alnoor Ladha, The Rules Foundation
53. Maxime Combes, Attac France
54. Niko van Rensburg, Animalia Learning Center, Assagay, KZN, SA
55. Ncobile Nkosi, South African Youth Climate Change Coalition, South Africa, NWU, MP
56. Wolfgang Kuhlmann, ARA, Germany
57. Godwin Ojo, Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria
58. Bishop Geoff Davies / Vainola Makan, SAFCEI – Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute
59. Evelyn Schönheit, Forum Ökologie & Papier, Germany
60. Louise Lindfors / Anna Ushamba, Afrikagrupperna
61. Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group
62. Khulekani Magwaza, South African Youth Climate Change Coalition (SAYCCC)
63. Alphonse Maindo, Tropenbos DRC
64. Stella Jegher, Pro Natura / Friends of the Earth Switzerland
65. Natalia Salvatico, Amigos de la Tierra Argentina
66. Robert Anderson, Noordhoek Environmental Action Group, South Africa
67. Kwami Kpondzo, Global Forest Coalition
68. Amegadze Kokou, Les Amis de la Terre-Togo
69. Mikael Sundström, Chair, Jordens Vänner – Friends of the Earth Sweden
70. Dorothy Guerrero, Global Justice Now (UK)
71. Rose Williams, Biowatch South Africa
72. Glen Tyler-Davies, 350Africa.org
73. Fernando Campos Costa, FoE Brasil
74. Vanessa Black, Earthlife Africa Durban branch
75. Ernst-Christoph Stolper, BUND – Friends of the Earth Germany
76. Robert Jereski, New York Climate Action Group
77. Olga Senova, Russian Social Ecological Union – Friends of the Earth Russia
78. Howard Wood OBE, COAST, 2015 Goldman Award Recipient Scotland
79. Ka Hsaw Wa, EarthRights International
80. Rossano Ercolini, Zero Waste europe-Zero Waste Italy
81. Àlex Guillamón, Entrepueblos/ Entrepobles/ Entrepobos/ Herriarte
82. Jorge Varela Márquez, Ambiente, Desarrollo y Capacitación
83. Louise Colvin, Ward Environmental Affairs Bluff South Africa
84. Ode Rakhman, WALHI / FoE Indonesia
85. Syeda Rizwana Hasan, BELA / FoE Bangladesh
86. Kirant Kamal Samarung, Kirant Indigenous Samarung Sangpang, Indigenous Knowledge and Peoples Network SWBC Nepal
87. Sviatoslav Zabelin, Socio-ecological union international
88. Ikal Angelei, Friends of Lake Turkana (FoLT)
89. Meena Raman, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth Malaysia)
90. Juliette Renaud, Amis de la Terre France (Friends of the Earth France)
91. Sylvain Angerand, Canopée Forêts Vivantes – France
92. Christophe Murroccu, Mouvement Ecologique (FoELux)
93. Živa Kavka Gobbo, Focus Association for Sustainable Development, Slovenia
94. Bruno van PETEGHEM, Association Toxicologie-Chimie – FRANCE
95. Laura greco, A Sud, Italy
96. Prafulla Samantara, Lokshakti Abhiyan, India
97. Wendy Flannery, Friends of the Earth Brisbane, Australia
98. Katharine Lu / Karen Orenstein, Friends of the Earth U.S.
99. Karen Pickett, Earth First!, Calif., B.A. Coalition for Headwaters
100. Mary de Haas, KZN Monitor
101. Kristina Salmi / Jarrah Kollei, Friends of the Earth Finland
102. Jennifer Redner, American Jewish World Service (AJWS)
103. Beatriz Felipe Pérez, Enginyeria Sense Fronteres
104. James Whitehead, Forest Peoples Programme
105. Joan Deare, Amnesty International Durban, South Africa
106. Andrew Bennie, Sustaining the Wild Coast
107. Makoma Lekalakala, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg
108. Ivonne Ramos, Saramanta Warmikuna Women’s Network
109. Helena Paul, EcoNexus