A monoculture tree plantation in Uganda caused violence and damaged local communities – whilst providing offset credits to the Swedish government. (Photo: REDD Monitor)
Friends of the Earth | 17 April 20223
The “net zero” squeeze on peasants’ rights and land
On 17th April each year, we mark the International Day of Peasant Struggles, to remember 19 landless farm workers killed by Brazil’s military police in 1996, for defending their right to settle on unused land. In 2023, now 27 years on from the Eldorado do Carajás massacre, the repression of rural workers, along with peasants, Indigenous Peoples, and especially women in these groups, only continues to worsen. In the past decade, a land and environmental defender was killed every two days worldwide, most often in Brazil, Colombia, Philippines, and Mexico.
Rural repression on the rise
There are many reasons for this rise in repression, criminalisation and violence against rural peoples. Our economic system and the super profits of many corporations depend on grabbing natural resources. This brings them into direct conflict with the approximately 2.5 billion peasants, Indigenous Peoples and other communities living in rural or forested areas.
Industrial food corporations, or “agribusiness”, want land for intensive agriculture. Along with mining and logging companies, they are the most responsible for documented killings of environmental defenders. Their large-scale beef, soy and palm oil plantations are sites of frequent human rights violations – and they thrive on the impunity provided by increasingly authoritarian and fascist leaders.
Now, a new rush for “carbon removals” and “offsets” from land, forests and oceans is ramping up repression under the guise of providing “nature based solutions” to the ecological crises. Fossil fuel corporations, along with banks, tech companies, agribusiness, and even many governments, are claiming they can invest in removals and offsets instead of stopping emissions at source. This is a fallacy. Scientists have shown that rapid and deep emissions cuts are the only way to keep us under 1.5°C of warming.
Relying on offsetting is risky and dangerous, for the climate and for people in the first line of defence against destructive projects. To counter repression and tackle the climate crisis systemically, we need governments to implement the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) and on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). We also need public policies to scale-up peoples’ climate solutions.
Women living near the #Socapalm oil palm plantation in Edéa, Cameroon, are struggling for their land, autonomy and livelihoods. Please read their account and sign in support before 15 December: https://forms.gle/gBKbFCv2Bizzpfbt7