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The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: Controlling the Narrative [Volume II, Act II]

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: Controlling the Narrative [Volume II, Act II]

September 14, 2019

By Cory Morningstar

 

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent series has been written in two volumes.

[Volume I: ACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT VACT VIAddenda I] [Book form]

[Volume II: An Object Lesson In SpectacleACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT V] [ACTS VI & VII forthcoming]

 

 

ClimateWorks, European Climate Foundation, the Global Strategic Communications Council & the Global Call for Climate Action

 

 

“On March 15, there was a global protest under “Fridays For Future” which saw demonstrations in Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Guwahati. Students from over 1,300 towns and cities went on planned strikes across the world on Friday, according to a statement from the Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC).”

 

March 16, 2019, The Asian Age, City Youth Protest Climate Change

 

“I can’t breathe. Should I stop going to school?” “Kids need clean air”. “No more excuses”. These were some of the phrases on placards Delhi-NCR students carried as they joined the global “Fridays for Future” protest against climate change, urging governments and authorities to tackle the problem. The protests were started by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg in August 2018, becoming a regular event on the 15th of every month. Students from over 1,300 towns and cities went on planned strikes across the world Friday, a statement from the Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC) said.”

 

March 17, 2019, Over 500 Delhi-NCR Students Join ‘Fridays For Future’ Climate Change Protest

Above: The European Climate Foundation Funders [Source]

In Volume II, ACT I, we explored the origins of US ClimateWorks and its core system in Europe, the European Climate Foundation (ECF).

As “the core of the ClimateWorks system in Europe“, the ECF constitutes an integral part of the regional global network created by the San Francisco-based ClimateWorks. ClimateWorks works to oversee and shape climate-related policy work worldwide. Launched in 2008 – the same year as ClimateWorks) – the ECF is a regranting foundation like its US counterpart.

Hewlett Foundation President Larry Kramer explains: “And here, too, the solution was ingenious. To begin, they proposed to create a central hub—the ClimateWorks Foundation—which would serve as grantor of funds to a coordinated global network… To work on transportation in Europe, then, ClimateWorks would simply channel money to ECF and ICCT [International Council on Clean Transportation] to work together on the problem.”

As discussed in Volume II, Act I, ClimateWorks is the largest recipient of climate philanthropy in the world having received over 1.3 billion USD since its inception. [March 1, 2018, Source]

“In September 2018, in the largest-ever philanthropic investment focused on climate change mitigation, 29 philanthropists pledged USD 4 billion over five years to combat climate change.” [Source]

[Further reading on ClimateWorks and the ECF: The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg For Consent – A Design To Win: A Multi-Billion Dollar Investment, Volume II, ACT I]

Serving as media director for both the European Climate Foundation (ECF) and the Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC) is Daniel Donner.

Donner also presides over media relations and events for Greta Thunberg and family. [Source] [Source]

“Based in Brussels, Daniel works with media strategy and outreach as part of the ECF’s Strategic Communications team, focusing on both news media and digital platforms. He maintains relationships with key media correspondents and keeps them informed about international stories on energy and climate change, with the aim to raise the media narrative of EU climate ambition.” [Source]

As an example of Donner’s experience in climate change policy, in relation to governments and municipalities, one can read his July 5, 2017 C40 cities press release for the C40 Cities and Climate Action Network:

“Hundreds of cities, states and regions, businesses, investors, and civil society are moving to implement the Paris Agreement ahead of G20 meeting in Hamburg.”

Funders of the ECF include ClimateWorks (created by the Hewlett, Packard and McKnight foundations), the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the KR Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Oak Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ikea Foundation, along with many more identified in the Climate Finance Partnership and Blended Finance Taskforce such as the Government of France, the Government of Germany, BlackRock and Grantham. The Climate Finance Partnership was established by French President Emmanuel Macron at the September 2018 One Planet Summit as a vehicle to tap into and mobilize institutional capital – by leveraging public funds. [Further reading: Volume I, Acts IV and VI of the Manufacturing for Consent series]

ClimateWorks receives funding for specific programs from foundations including the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the Ford FoundationThe Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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The Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC) is a global communications network, set up by the ECF. Its purpose “is to plan and deliver strategic communications in the climate and energy fields at both the international and national levels.” [Source, p. 106]

“The network brings together communications specialists from around the world, each focusing on a particular country or region. They collaborate with and assist a wide range of actors: corporate, government, institutional, media, NGO, think tanks. Part of their work involves identifying high-potential campaigns and individuals, and helping them to plan their actions, target the right audiences and formulate their baseline messages, making sure along the way that each campaign bolsters an overarching narrative. Through the combination of behind-the-scenes (GSCC) and public communications activities, the ESC sought to shape the public debate around climate change.” [Source, p. 107] [Emphasis added]

Countries with GSCC-affiliated experts are growing. States represented thus far include as Australia, Poland, China, India, Brazil, France, Germany, Turkey, the EU, the UK, and the US.[Source] [Source]

As the Manufacturing Greta Thunberg For Consent series has demonstrated, the Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA) has played a leading and critical role as lead organizer and behavioural change agent in the climate “movement” realm over the last decade. In ACT VI of the series, we touched upon three other instrumental actors who have shaped present and future climate policies to reflect the desires of the ruling classes: the European Climate Foundation’s Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC), the Climate Briefing Service (CBS), and the International Policies and Politics Initiative (IPPI).

Funders of the Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA) include ClimateWorks, the European Climate Foundation, International Policy and Politics Initiative (IPPI), the Oak Foundation, Foundation of Prince Albert II of Monaco, the Government of France, Purpose (Avaaz), the Government of Québec, The Rockefeller Foundation, the UNFCCC Secretariat, and the VK Rasmussen Foundation. [1] [Source] In 2017, GCCA secured new funding from the Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC), the Waterloo Foundation, and the Institute for Climate and Society. [Source]

Jennifer Morgan, current executive director of Greenpeace International, (instrumental in the formation, launching and management of the GCCA) was also in charge of coordinating the International Policies and Politics Initiative (IPPI) formed in 2013. Leading up to COP15, IPPI worked closely with the European Climate Foundation’s (ECF) strategic communications team. [Further reading: A Decade of Strategic and Methodical Social Engineering, Volume I, ACT VI, Crescendo]

“IPPI was initially intended as a “discrete ECF programme” whose role was to “work behind the scenes.” While the ECF had given rise to the original idea and while it housed its dedicated staff, IPPI was very much presented as an autonomous and “unbranded” initiative (“unbranded” as in not linked to any particular organization). Jennifer Morgan from the WRI was appointed as its coordinator.”[Source, p. 101][Emphasis added]

The overlap between the Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA) and the European Climate Foundation’s Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC) is extensive. As is the overlap between GCCA, GSCC, the CBS, and the IPPI. Yet, whereas GCCA played the lead role in the public realm, GSCC, like CBS and IPPI, would work behind the scenes as a largely invisible entity. [2]

“Secondly, whereas the GCCA pushed its partners to adopt, publicize and rally behind a common brand—TckTckTck—CBS and IPPI adopted a behind-the-scenes, unbranded approach, supplying partners with information and suggested key messaging but without ever appearing as the source of that information and messaging. CBS briefing recipients were systematically reminded that they were ‘confidential and not for public circulation.'” [Source, p. 111][Emphasis added]

This overlap extended to Climate Nexus [3], a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and organizer of the 2014 People’s Climate March in collaboration with with foundations and GCCA NGOs.

“The underlying idea was to ‘nurture and engage influential constituencies (industry alliances, ambassadors, foreign affairs think tanks, mayors, states and regions, security officials, humanitarian organisations) with a view of aligning organisations around political interventions as agreed with the relevant national communications capacity of the region.’ At the national and regional levels, this required identifying key narratives and spokespeople. To do this, CBS built up a team of country leads or ‘relationship managers.’ There again, there was an overlap between CBS, the GSCC and other associated communications outfits (Climate Nexus, [The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit] ECIU, etc.).” [Source, p. 112][Emphasis added]

By 2015, following the GCCA and the Climate Action Network (CAN-International) inaugural meeting in Paris the year prior, the groups had morphed into the “tightly focused, unbranded, Global Strategic Communications Committee (GSCC+) aimed at delivering powerful, positive messages ahead of the Paris COP21”:

Close integration among GSCC+ partners meant that, by Paris, coordination reached unprecedented levels, allowing us to operate in multiple languages worldwide before, during and after the COP. Work included media and policy analysis, pitching proactive stories, and a reactive strategy for unforeseeable threats and opportunities, involving a team including op-ed writers, graphic designers, social media campaigners, photographers and videographers. GCCA staff held key roles in this team, taking joint responsibility for overall coordination and rapid response, and leading the visual media crew, including the production of daily video newscasts broadcast via GreenTV. As part of this initiative, more than 350 participants from 107 different countries languages and 70 countries. Together, we framed the Paris Summit as a vital stepping stone in the ongoing and inevitable transition from fossil fuels to renewables and greater climate resilience, and our ‘Road Through Paris’ message had a huge impact on media coverage at and after COP21 – aligning and amplifying the ‘good news’ story that the transition is both necessary and desirable.” [Source: Global Call for Climate Action Annual Report 2015–2016, p. 4][Emphasis added] [4]

Among CAN International funders in 2015 were Avaaz, ClimateWorks, European Climate Foundation, Greenpeace, GSCC, Res Publica (co-founder of Avaaz), and WWF. [For the full list, see CAN’s 2015 Annual Report.]

“Within the climate community gravitating around the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) space, one group in particular was especially satisfied with the Paris outcome. The members of this group were not just satisfied with the agreement but with themselves. They were convinced that they had played a pivotal role in the Paris success. Cutting across a variety of organizations and interests, this group of activists, consultants, business representatives, policy analysts, public figures, climate experts, communications and media specialists, and data analysts worked together—and often in collaboration with the UNFCCC and Parties to the negotiation—in the months and years leading up to COP21 to create the conditions for a “successful” Paris outcome. Late into the evening of December 12, at the Climate Action Network (CAN) International celebratory event in central Paris, members of this highly qualified and experienced network of individuals were celebrating not only the agreement but also their contribution to its realization. As they sang along to Queen’s “We are the Champions!” they had themselves in mind. This was their moment. This was their agreement.”

 

The Price of Climate Action: Philanthropic Foundations in the International Climate Debate, 2016, Edouard Morena] [p. 3] [Emphasis added]

Those who served on the GCCA Board of Directors in 2015-2016 include GCCA Board Vice-Chair Phil Ireland (Purpose), Online Progressive Engagement Network), Hoda Baraka (350.org), Fatima Denton (WWF International), Lo Sze Ping (WWF China), and Farhana Yamin, Associate Fellow, Chatham House, and recognized by the Financial Times as “one of the movement’s leading voices” in Extinction Rebellion.

“Over the next two years, GCCA aims to grow its new entrant network to 4,000+ members.”

 

Global Call for Climate Action Annual Report, 2015–2016 [Source]

The interlocking directorate between those serving ClimateWorks/EFC and the foundations, institutions and leading NGOs with “designs to win”, can be illustrated in the following brief examples:

  • Tim Nuthall serves as the international communications director at the European Climate Foundation. During 2016 Nuthall served as the communications director of the Christiana Figueres’ campaign to become the new secretary general of the United Nations. [Source] Nuthall was also short-listed for the 2014-2016 International Council for Science (ICSU) Road to Paris top “20 people we want to hear more from in the climate change debate.” [Source] [5]
  •  

  • Tom Brookes is executive director, strategic communications, and a member of the ECF Executive Management Team. Based in Brussels, Brookes works to advance the policy response to climate change, and has responsibility for external communications, public affairs, and political communications strategy for the ECF, its affiliates, and network. [Source] Having joined the ECF in 2009, Brookes is also senior advisor on international strategic communications for the ClimateWorks Foundation and executive director of the Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC). [Source]
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  • Christian Teriete is part of the ECF’s Strategic Communications unit working as the network director to coordinate the activities of an international team of communications specialists. Prior to joining the ECF in 2016, Teriete served as communications director for the Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA). Prior to joining the GCCA in 2010, Teriete spent seven years working for WWF. From 2004 to 2006, he managed communications for the global PowerSwitch campaign. From 2007 to 2010, he coordinated WWF’s climate and energy campaigns in the Asia-Pacific region. [Source]
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  • Andrew Schenkel “works primarily with the Global Strategic Communications Council, a global network of communications professionals in the field of climate and energy.” Prior to this role, Schenkel served as both communications Director and managing editor and director of special projects for Global Call for Climate Action – GCCA. [Source]
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  • James Lorenz serves as Southeast Asia manager for the Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC). “The role has required diplomacy, tact and leadership to forge relationships with a broad range of stakeholders – from investors at Vietnam Holdings, to Mission2020, led by former Executive Director of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres.” Prior to this Lorenz served as Australia lead to the GSCC. Prior to his work at GSCC, Lorenz served as senior media advisor, media manager, head of communications for Greenpeace Australia Pacific. [Source: Lorenz CV]
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  • Aarti Khosla is director of Climate Trends. Prior to this position, Khosla was climate and energy communications specialist for Global Strategic Communications Council India for four years. Prior to this position, Khosla served WWF for seven years. [Source]
  •  

    As an example of the collaborative efforts between GSCC and affiliates, one can observe the Social Media Communications hybrid capacity-training program led by GSCC and assisted by GCCA co-founder Avaaz. [“Social Media Communications Skill Share (SMC) is a hybrid capacity building training organized by GSCC,Bankwatch and European Beyond Coal Campaign.] SMC aims to address the needs of the civil society organizations in Central Eastern Europe and Balkans Region”.] All online learning modules, weeks one to four were led by GSCC affiliates. Week 1 was led by GSCC’s Devin Bahceci (climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace) and Greg McNevin (communications director for Europe Beyond Coal, former strategic communications directors for GCCA, and former media relations specialist for Greenpeace). Week 2 was led by Daniel Donner (Thunberg media manager) and Paul Batty, both of GSCC, while the social media campaigning and engagement webinar was to be conducted by Iain Keith of Avaaz. The webinars were open to all interested people from the Europe Beyond Coal network and partner organizations. A day camp to “focus building skills together on concrete case of social media campaigning” was also organized. [Source]

    The ECF is the leading partner of the Beyond Coal campaign in Europe. Bloomberg Philanthropies is a major funder of ECF:

    “November 9 2017, New York, NY— Just after announcing a renewed commitment of $64 million to the Beyond Coal campaign in the United States and during this year’s UN Climate Conference COP 23 in Bonn, Germany, Michael R. Bloomberg, U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, announced a $50 million-dollar commitment to partners worldwide to catalyze a global effort to move nations away from coal dependence. European Climate Foundation will be the leading partner in Europe.”

     

    Michael R. Bloomberg Commits $50 Million to International Effort to Move Beyond Coal, Reinforcing Leadership on Global Climate Action, ECF website

    As coal was phased out, natural gas moved in to take its place with energy corporations planning to add at least 150 new gas plants and thousands of miles of pipelines in the years ahead, in the US alone. [June 26, 2019: “As Coal Fades in the U.S., Natural Gas Becomes the Climate Battleground”] It’s par for the course that Willett Advisors, the investment arm for the personal and philanthropic assets of Michael Bloomberg, specializes in oil and gas. Here, we can note that the lead at the environment program at Bloomberg Philanthropies sits on the ECF supervisory board. [Further reading: Volume II, ACT I]

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    A pivotal role in foundation funding, is hegemonic control and further colonization over states struggling to achieve or maintain their right to sovereignty. The protection and expansion of imperial foreign policies and economic interests is paramount. Consider that from 2015 to 2016, the Oak Foundation provided funding to the ECF in order to “expand and improve the public discourse on climate change and energy issues in India”. Not the Netherlands, where the project is based, but India. [“Starting with a focus on COP21, GSCC is working across a diverse set of partnerships including civil society groups, policy makers and the informed public to mainstream the discussions on climate change and energy in India.”] This is nothing more egregious than continued colonization under the guise of climate protection. [Source]

    Whereas 20th century missionaries carried out their conquests in servitude to colonial states, in the 21st century it has been international NGOs for the most part fulfilling this endeavour. A transition is underway, however. Whereas the NGOs comprising the non-profit industrial complex are this century’s primary force multipliers, today, in an avant-garde brave new world – meets society of spectacle, the new improved, modern weapon of choice has become the citizenry of a targeted demographic, who can be made to demand a camouflaged destruction of their own shared futures. Consumers have been shaped into prosumers – product and brand advocates –  who now take the lead in demanding products and/or change/reform. This new role is encouraged, nurtured, and repurposed by corporations as leverage to bolster their profits, growth and credibility under the guise of capitulation and benevolence. Unwittingly, the collective can be made to demand their own further servitude and enslavement under the guise of empowerment. Made both invisible and irrelevant is the labourer, now recognized as human capital, who with little to no disposable income, has become largely disposable.

    +++

    The European Climate Foundation (ECF) has provided the GSCC millions in funding since its inception. More recently, and notably, on August 9, 2018, the ECF granted the GSCC and the Philanthropy Task Force just over one million dollars:

    “This grant will support the European Climate Foundation’s Philanthropy Task Force. This was inspired by French President Emmanuel Macron to catalyze both private donors and development agencies to support climate mitigation in Southeast Asia, clean energy innovation, global clean air campaigns, and efforts to protect land-based carbon sinks. The second part of the grant will support ECF’s Global Strategic Climate Communications program. This grant will fund the GSCC’s core program and its India program. The key focus in this grant period is to create narratives of climate ambition at key moments throughout the year, both at international and national levels, in order to help turn sectors and governments from a simple commitment to the Paris Agreement to implementing its measures in earnest.” [Source][Emphasis added]

    The ECF grant exemplifies the cohesion between the European Climate Foundation’s Philanthropy Task Force with the European Climate Foundation’s Global Strategic Climate Communications program. Hence, the Philanthropy Task Force and the Global Strategic Climate Communications program can be considered shared/joint endeavours. Both endeavours belonging to the European Climate Foundation, “the core of the ClimateWorks system in Europe”.

    The Natural Capital Summit led by ClimateWorks Australia took place from June 6-7, 2019, as part of Climate Week Queensland 2019. A Natural Capital Roadmap was developed which will provide a framework for accelerating “natural capital thinking” in Australia. “The program is contributing to and benefiting from participation in the global Food and Land Use Coalition, led by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the World Resources Institute and others.” [Source]

    Rebrand: From Corporate Sycophant to Corporate Activist

    Both the Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC) and Christiana Figueres are slowly being introduced and embedded into the public “activism” realm. The May 2, 2019 article “United Zero Emission Union until 2050 – recommends the Climate Change Committee” reports, “After the protests of Extinction Rebellion, climate strikes involving Greta Thunberg and the announcement of a climate threat by the parliaments of Scotland, Wales and the United Kingdom, climate change is at the top of the political agenda in the UK, even removing Brexit.” The article, which quotes both Christiana Figueres (highlighting her leadership position with Mission2020 as well as her past position as the executive secretary of the UNFCCC) and WWF, is published by Wojciech Makowski, Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC).

    Another recent example of the Figueres rebranding from elite and corporate strategist to activist can be explored in the April 12, 2019 op-ed written by Figueres with 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben. This follows an op-ed written by Figueres with Greta Thunberg in January 2019 as touched upon in this Volume of this series.

    On June 18, 2019, an additional case in point of Figueres being brought into the mainstream fold of manufactured activism can be identified in the form of an Extinction Rebellion podcast. A description of the Extinction Rebellion Podcast Episode 4 – Looking Forwards reads: “In our first episode since April’s International Rebellion, the Extinction Rebellion Podcast discusses the future.” The interview was highlighted in the June 26, 2019 XR newsletter. The episode also features The Guardian’s George Monbiot.

    L-R: Aarti Khosla (GSCC India), Christiana Figueres (Mission 2020 Convenor and former head of the UNFCCC), Dr. Arvind Kumar (Founder and Trustee, Lung Care Foundation), and Shweta Narayan (Healthy Energy Initiative India Coordinator) November 8, 2018 [Source]

    Within this series, we will spend a brief moment highlighting the close-knit relationship between Christiana Figueres and GCCA co-founder Avaaz. Avaaz’s for-profit sister org, Purpose, is a New York public relations firm specializing in behavioural change for clients. As the material demonstrates, Avaaz promotes and assists Figueres. Figueres, in turn, promotes Avaaz.

    We also need to highlight the relationship between Farhana Yamin (Extinction Rebellion) and Avaaz. The Avaaz branding and campaigns are heavily promoted through Yamin’s NGO “Track 0” website and affiliated Twitter account. Yamin, an “invitation only CBS participant” with others such as Iain Keith (Avaaz) and Jamie Henn (350.org) – also attended the 2015 Avaaz retreat with those such as Rajiv Joshi, Managing Director of Richard Branson’s The B Team. The B Team, is co-founder of We Mean Business. B Team leader and experts include Christiana Figueres and Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans. The B Team is managed by Purpose. Both Purpose and Greenpeace assisted in the creation of We Mean Business. [Volume 1, ACT ]

    We Have A Plan – M2020

    The Nature (“international weekly journal of science”), June 28, 2017 paper “Three Years to Safeguard Our Climate” [Christiana Figueres et al – Christiana Figueres, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Gail Whiteman, Professor in-Residence at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Johan Rockström, Chief Scientist of Conservation International, co-chair of the Future Earth Advisory Committee, Anthony Hobley, CEO of Carbon Tracker, and Stefan Rahmstorf oceanographer and climatologist at the Potsdam Institute] outlines a “six-point plan for turning the tide of the world’s carbon dioxide by 2020.”

    An excerpt from the Nature paper highlights the imperative, with a concession for the global economy:

    “After roughly 1°C of global warming driven by human activity, ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are already losing mass at an increasing rate. Summer sea ice is disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs are dying from heat stress — entire ecosystems are starting to collapse… The magnitude of the challenge can be grasped by computing a budget for CO2emissions — the maximum amount of the gas that can be released before the temperature limit is breached… If the current rate of annual emissions stays at this level, we would have to drop them almost immediately to zero once we exhaust the budget. Such a ‘jump to distress’ is in no one’s interest. A more gradual descent would allow the global economy time to adapt smoothly.” [Emphasis added]

    Here, we must note three things: 1) The global temperature not to exceed has always been 1°C (UNAGG, 1998). It was adjusted to 2°C by economist William Nordhaus in order to allow for continued global economic growth. 2) Even if emissions stopped tomorrow, the world will still be locked in to 2-4+°C (V. Ramanathan and Y. Feng, 2008), and 3) There is no remaining carbon budget, which should be obvious by the ecological devastation that has already taken place, as highlighted by authors.

    From the paper:

    The fossil-free economy is already profitable and creating jobs (www.clean200.org). A report this year by the International Renewable Energy Agency and the IEA shows that efforts to stop climate change could boost the global economy by $19 trillion. The IEA has also said that implementing the Paris agreement will unlock $13.5 trillion or more before 2050.”

    One wonders how a global economy enhanced by 19 trillion dollars, and the unlocking of trillions more, has anything to do with nature – in a scientific nature journal or otherwise (aside from contributing to nature’s further obliteration).

    The paper identifies six milestones in six sectors to prioritize actions developed by many of the NGOs and institutions laid out in the Manufacturing for Consent series: “Developed with knowledge leaders, these were reviewed and refined in collaboration with analysts at Yale University, the Climate Action Tracker consortium, Carbon Tracker, the low-carbon coalition We Mean Business, the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT), advisory firm SYSTEMIQ [explored in Volume II], the New Climate Economy project and Conservation International.”

    And although carbon-intensive industries (iron, steel, cement, chemicals, oil, gas, etc.) are identified in the paper as emitting “more than one-fifth of the world’s CO2, excluding their electricity and heat demands”, neither the scientists Rockström, Schellnhuber, nor the signatories of the paper who now declare a global “climate emergency” deem it essential that we put the brakes on industrialization as quickly as possible. Rather, the goal is to accelerate it.

    The Signatories to the paper are most, if not all, those explored in this series, including World Resources Institute, the European Climate Foundation, ClimateWorks, Generation Investment, New Climate Economy, SystemIQ, Grantham Institute, The B Team, the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, C40 Cities, CERES, We Mean Business, Unilever, Carbon Disclosure Project, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Conservation International, Sustainable Energy for All, International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary, and Climate Action Network. [The full list of co-signatories are identified in the paper’s supplementary information.] [6]

    These six sectors and milestones then form Christiana Figueres Mission2020 campaign, an initiative of Figueres’ Global Optimism project: The Climate Turning Point report published in April 2017 states: “These six milestones provide a vision for where we need to be by 2020 in order to successfully meet the climate turning point.”[Source]

    The Tracking Progress of the 2020 Climate Turning Point report was published by World Resources Institute in February 2019:

     The research shows that we are not yet on track. Despite encouraging progress in some areas such as the uptake of renewable energy, in many other areas, extraordinary action is necessary to meet the milestones. Encouragingly WRI analysis points to tremendous, untapped opportunities to scale up and accelerate action across all sectors.” [Source] [Emphasis in original]

    If the populace followed these institutions rather than NGOs such as Greenpeace, 350.org et al, we would not be easy fodder for such manipulation, as we are at present.

    M2020: Be A Part of It

    Echoing the sentiment and support for the September 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit is Figueres’ M2020 NGO:

    “BE A PART OF IT – Sept 23, 2019, | New York City”

    The call for further mobilization can be found under the “#2020 Don’t Be Late” section, on the Mission2020 website:

    The heartbeat moments below represent a few of the key opportunities to step up and engage in accelerating climate action so that we can meet the 2020 climate turning point.”

    This “activism” sought by Figueres, We Mean Business, et al., poses zero threat to the system destroying our world, or to those that oversee it. Rather, the “activism” eagerly bolstered by the ruling classes, has been identified as the strategic apparatus which can save the very system itself.

    The two “heartbeat moments” identified by M2020 are the #FridaysForFuture global climate strikes, “an opportunity for school children and adults alike to raise the voice of urgency for climate action and urge leaders to follow the Paris Agreement”, and The UN Secretary-General’s Summit in September 2019: “UN Secretary-General António Guterres is bringing world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to the UN Climate Summit on 23 September 2019. All relevant stakeholders who demonstrate the highest level of ambition and action will be invited to profile their efforts.” [Emphasis added]

    “The Paris Agreement signifies commitment to sustained industrial growth, risk management over disaster prevention, and future inventions and technology as saviour. The primary commitment of the international community is to maintain the current social and economic system. The result is denial that tackling GHG emissions is incompatible with sustained economic growth. The reality is that Nation States and international corporations are engaged in an unremitting and ongoing expansion of fossil fuel energy exploration, extraction and combustion, and the construction of related infrastructure for production and consumption. The targets and promises of the Paris Agreement bear no relationship to biophysical or social and economic reality.”

     

    Clive Spash, This Changes Nothing – The Paris Agreement to Ignore Reality, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria, 2016

    Organizations contributing to the “2020 Climate Turning Point” report highlighted by Mission2020, what is best described as a continuum of the June 28, 2017 paper “Three Years to Safeguard Our Climate“, again include the same “leaders”, institutions and many of those identified in the Manufacturing Consent series. These include The New Climate Economy, SYSTEMIQ, We Mean Business, Conservation International, and World Resources Institute. [Full list] In section four, addressing global industrial processes, the need to accelerate the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) is highlighted.

    The Age of Storytelling

    In 2015, Laurence Tubiana represented France as French ambassador and the lead negotiator for COP 21. In 2018, French president Macron appointed Tubiana to France’s High Council on Climate Change. Like Figueres, Tubiana is recognized as a leading architect of the Paris Agreement.

    Leading up to COP21 Tubiana, Figueres (in her role as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), and members of the Climate Group attended the July 2015 World Summit Climate & Territories–Lyon (France). A pivotal focus of the meeting was the implementation if the carbon market, “a Tool for Green Economic Development”. [Press release, July 10, 2015]

    “Neoliberal language is rife across their reports and policy recommendations and their adoption of natural capital, ecosystems services, offsetting and market trading. These new environmental pragmatists believe, without justification, that the financialisation of Nature will help prevent its destruction. Thus, environmentalists promote carbon emissions trading but pay little attention to its dangers and failures (Spash, 2010). For example, Nat Keohane of the Environmental Defence Fund has noted on their website how they pushed in the corridors of Paris for ‘an opening for markets’. The right-wing government of New Zealand, leading an 18-country lobby, also had its negotiators pushing for the same international carbon markets. However, you will not find emissions trading, markets, cap and trade or offsets, mentioned in the doublespeak of the Agreement, but rather the term ‘internationally transferred mitigation outcomes’ (clause 108 and Article 6), something Keohane applauds.”

     

    Clive Spash, This Changes Nothing – The Paris Agreement to Ignore Reality, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria, 2016

    Today, as touched upon on this series, Tubiana serves as CEO to ECF alongside serving high-level appointments (One Planet Climate Lab, Energy Transitions Commission, etc.).

    On March 20, 2019, the ECF website highlighted the fact that “Laurence Tubiana, ECF CEO, and key leading architect of the landmark Paris Agreement listed in the World’s 100 most influential people in Climate Policy in 2019”.

    Also highlighted by the ECF were Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, “the youngest ever US congresswoman and lead advocate of the Green New Deal”, and David Attenborough. Attenborough serves as an influencer for the financialization of nature under the guise of “New Deal For Nature” as well as a voice for a population control that exclusively targets the Global South.

    More and more, members of the ruling class, and those they appoint, or accept, are believed to the 21st century saviours. Saviours for a planet we are fully prepared and willing to sacrifice, on the promise (fantasies and outright falsehoods) that green technology will save our Western privilege.

    The transition, and normalization, of a fully commodified activism is now a fait accompli. Collectively, the Western populace has been socially conditioned to the concept, and has fully accepted (if not embraced) a 21st century corporate “activism”.

    +++

    October 24, 2016, We Could Be At The Dawn of Climate Friendly Air Travel:

    “With 30,000 new large aircraft taking off in the near future, Christiana Figueres and Laurence Tubiana say now is the time to decouple increased CO2 emissions from aviation growth. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, demand for air travel is growing, with more than 30,000 new large aircraft expected to take to the skies in the next few years. But if we are to sustain growth in air travel without aggravating global warming, we must quickly reduce aviation-related CO2 emissions, which are substantial and not covered by the Paris climate agreement that more than 190 countries agreed to last December. Fortunately, now is the perfect time to decouple aviation emissions from air-travel growth…”

    The delusion and oxymoron behind the concept of “carbon-smart flying” inspired by Figueres and Tubiana masks the grim fact that 50% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are created by a mere 1% of the population – that is, anyone that can afford to get on a plane. [Further reading: Volume II, Act I] Yet, such fictions are brazenly told as the Western citizenry is hungry to hear them, and more importantly to believe in them. This is the age of storytelling.

    An integral part of the global “green growth” fairytale is the concept of “decoupling”. [Ecological Indicators, December 2018: “When emissions grow less rapidly than GDP environmental economists speak of relative decoupling; if emissions even decrease relative to the pace of economic growth, then decoupling is absolute.”] [7]

    “Despite all the green-growth nonsense, decoupling in line with 1.5-2°C carbon budgets is a pipedream.”

     

    Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, November 13, 2018

    In response to a question put forward by a journalist, if peak emissions by 2020 is “mission impossible”, Christiana Figueres, responds as follows, referencing a decoupling of emissions:

    “The fact is that now we now have confirmation from different sources, independent sources that we are on for the third year in a row we have actually flattened out in emissions. So for the three years in a row we’ve had flat GHG emissions, greenhouse gas emissions, and we have an increasing GDP. So we could already be beginning to decouple greenhouse gas emissions from GDP. The fact is we are already walking in the right direction. Now what we’re trying to do actually is just increase the pace and the scale.”

    Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research sheds some much needed light on such fantasy: ” Taking account of UK CO2 from aviation & shipping & from its imports & exports & the UK’s CO2 emissions in 2016 were virtually unchanged from 1990. Real decoupling at a level even approaching what Paris requires has not yet occurred within any nation.” [Anderson, August 24, 2018]. Anderson adds: “I would add that no nation is even approaching doing what “they feasibly can” – & will continue to fail whilst we worship the God of mammon, ephemeral economics, & green-growth (i.e. decoupling) the unholy trinity.” [Anderson: November 18, 2018]

    It is of interest to note that in a largely positive framing of decoupling published by The Guardian, [April 14, 2016: “Is it possible to reduce CO2 emissions and grow the global economy?”] Anderson’s thoughtful and critical commentary was largely disregarded. Anderson’s comment: “In the absence of the huge uptake of highly speculative negative emissions technologies, the concept of green growth within the wealthier industrialized nations is very misleading – all the more once allowance is made for the equity considerations enshrined in the agreement” – was shortened to – “The concept of green growth is very misleading.” Further, Anderson was cited in the article as “an avowed pessimist” for offering a response based on reality rather than one based on wishful thinking – 21st century parables that pay allegiance to the current neoliberal paradigm. [Anderson’s full commentary, April 16, 2016]

    The journalist submits a second, very straightforward question to Figueres: “Emissions from aviation are rising as people want to fly more. Should we just fly less?”

    Incredibly, yet par for the (growth) course, Figueres does not agree unequivocally that “yes, we should fly less”, rather she responds that flying less is the wrong approach:

    “The fact is that you cannot exempt any sector of the economy from these efforts. So you can’t say okay we’re not going to fly because aviation is too high emitting. No that’s the wrong approach.”

    Figueres then shifts the topic to two recent announcements from a “very small start-up as well as from Siemens that they foresee that ten years from now they will be having airplanes that are fully electric with clean energy and that have a thousand kilometer range.” Here again, we have decision-making and legislation (or lack of) being based and dependent upon technologies not yet invented. Technologies that may or may not be realized decades into the future.

    Figueres then concedes, if only slightly: “But [for] the time being if you want to be responsible, yes definitely go for the mobility with the low submissions, but that cannot exempt any sector. Every sector needs to bring down to the submissions. And aviation is coming.”

    [Full interview: published April 12, 2017]

    Yes. Aviation is certainly coming. Consider the recent announcement that Leonardo DiCaprio is joining with billionaire investors and philanthropists Laurene Powell Jobs and Brian Sheth to create Earth Alliance, “a new non-profit environmental powerhouse.” Sheth is the co-founder and president of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. Powell Jobs, widow of former Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, over the last year, has helped fund Boom Supersonic, a project to create an “economically-viable supersonic airliner” via her Emerson Collective. Yes, these are the people that are going to “tackle climate change”.

    “The Emerson Collective —an org. headed by Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs —is one of a number of investors to take part in a $100 million round of funding for Boom…a 55-seat aircraft that is touted to fly at speeds of up to match 2.2 once completed.”

     

    January 8, 2019, Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective contributing to $100M funding round for Boom Supersonic

    On another note, consider Conservation International (leading the implementation of the financialization of nature) reports in 2017 that its chairman [2017 earnings: 616,343.00 USD] and CEO [2017 earnings: 442,606.00 USD] “may travel first class due to the frequency and length of the trips required.” [2017 990, p. 124] The Nature Conservancy has similar guidelines. The travel budget for Conservation International came in at just under 11 million dollars in 2017.

    According to the WWF, unregulated carbon pollution from aviation is the fastest-growing source of the greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change. Current expansion plans for the aviation industry could lead to emissions from this sector tripling by 2040. [Source] Of course, WWF does not address militarism nor the US pentagon, nor does any other entity or “leader” in a position of power or influence. Regardless, the concept of “environmentally sustainable aviation” put forward by Figueres and Tubiana flies in the face of Figueres’ “Every Breath Matters” campaign. Every breath matters, but the necessity for aviation profits and economic growth matters far more.

    “What the Paris Agreement tells is a bizarrely unreal story. Apparently, the cause of climate change is not fossil fuel combustion or energy sources but inadequate technology and the solution is sustainable development (i.e. economic growth and industrialisation) and poverty alleviation. As far as the current production and consumption systems are concerned, little needs to change. There are no elites consuming the vast majority of the world’s resources, no multinational corporations or fossil fuel industry needing to be controlled, no capital accumulating competitive systems promoting trade and fighting over resources and emitting vast amounts of GHGs through military expenditure and wars, and no governments expanding fossil fuel use and dependency.”

    Every Breath Matters

    According to Greta Thunberg’s father, Svante Thunberg, Greta is assisted by various climate organizations. This includes the “Every Breath Matters” group that arranged for Greta’s presence in Davos where she was publicly accompanied by Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International. Every Breath Matters was unveiled to the public on October 30, 2018 by its co-chair Christiana Figueres. The Every Breath Matters campaign is a collaboration between the Berggruen Institute, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, and Figueres’ Global Optimism.

    The Every Breath Matters group of “clean air champions” includes:

  • Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Convenor of Mission 2020
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Chairman of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation
  • Greta Thunberg, Climate Activist
  • Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organization
  • [Full list]

    All inquiries for Every Breath Matters were directed to Callum Grieve, the communications specialist for “Every Breath Matters“. Grieve is the former communications director for We Mean Business, The Climate Group (co-founder of We Mean Business), and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) [8]. He has coordinated high-level climate change communications campaigns and interventions for the United Nations, the World Bank Group, and several Fortune 500 companies. [“Led communications for a coalition of the world’s most influential business leaders and investors to help secure the most ambitious global climate agreement possible at COP21.”] In addition to the aforementioned roles, Grieve created and led Climate Week NYC. He is a co-founder and director of Counter Culture, a for-profit brand development firm specializing in behavioural change campaigns and storytelling, still in its initial stages. [Source]

    Callum Grieve tweets to Greta Thunberg on the very first day of her now infamous strike. Others who tweeted to or about Greta on the first day of her strike (August 20, 2018) include Sasja Beslik, Head of Sustainable Finance at Nordea Bank who would later write Thunberg a personal letter in the virtues of capitalism, publicizing it via Twitter. [The Thunberg Twitter account created in June, 2018 also follows Beslik.]

    “Nordea boss says climate protests are ‘just the beginning'” — BBC, April 17, 2019

     

    At this juncture we should reflect upon the following information disclosed by Bloomberg on August 10, 2019 in the article “Climate Changed – Greta Thunberg and ‘Flight Shame’ Are Fueling a Carbon Offset Boom”:

    “Campaigning by climate activist Greta Thunberg and filmmaker-naturalist David Attenborough is persuading pollution-conscious fliers to try and mitigate the environmental damage caused by their flights.

     

    Sales of so-called carbon offsets are soaring: Myclimate, a Swiss nonprofit whose clients include Deutsche Lufthansa AG, reported a five-fold uptake in its credits in a year. At Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest discount carrier, the number of customers making voluntary offset payments has almost doubled in 18 months.”

    From “Activist” for Capital to Influencer

    On the sample list of participants from the We Mean Business, Leaders’ Quest and Mission 2020 [All explored within Volume II] document outlining the “Pathfinders and Deep Practitioners Programs” from 2017, recognizable names include 350.org’s Henn. The term “Deep Practitioners” is applied to a cohort of “30 senior leaders of influential private, public and civil society organizations, who are willing to collaborate across sectors and change their own patterns of behavior.” “Global Influencers will create public and private opportunities for influential leaders to join the collective movement. Committed leaders will increase pressure on their peers to engage – establishing a new norm.” [Source] [Further reading: Volume II]

    The shaping and moulding of our increasing corporatized planet is being carried out by a select group of meticulously groomed people in servitude to a ruling class founded on white supremacist values and American exceptionalism.

    April 1, 2019 From left: Greta Thunberg and Luisa Neubauer, *ONE youth ambassador with Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research directors Ottmar Edenhofer and Johan Rockström. Source: Detlev Scheerbarth. *ONE was co-founded in 2004 by Bono in partnership with eleven non-profits/NGOs including GCCA co-founder and Purpose partner Oxfam. Funding was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    Here, we can reflect upon the “Pathfinders and Deep Practitioners” as shaped, moulded, imagined and desired by We Mean Business and partner NGOs founded by Figueres. In this regard, young Thunberg has exceeded all expectations. Consider Thunberg’s May 2019 interview by Brandon Hurlbut for Political Climate (presented/funded by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation) when asked for her advice for US climate activists:

    “I think just to stick to your message and don’t come with any demands, any specific demands. Leave that to the scientists because we don’t have the proper education to do that. Now we should only [be] focusing on speaking on behalf of the scientists and telling people to listen to them. And that is what I’m trying to do. And to not have opinions yourself, but always refer to science.”

    “Activism” with no demands – is “establishing a new norm”. A dream for corporate power and ruling classes – a nightmare for the working class and those in the Global South who do not have the luxury to afford such lax dissent.

    The mantra (talking point), put forward by young Thunberg, that we (collective society) should “not have opinions, but always refer to science” is an incredibly dangerous proposal. Consider such unequivocal support by society for scientist Johan Rockström, chief scientist of the corporate NGO powerhouse Conservation International, a leading advocate behind the implementation of the financialization of nature.

    Peter Kareiva is the former chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy and co-founder of the Natural Capital Project. Kareiva states that “money can buy you nature”. And this, of course, inadvertently reveals the other side of the equation – that those with no money cannot buy nature. And we are all aware of who has the money. This single ideology alone, now held by many scientists (see the excellent work by ecological economist Clive Spash) is more than enough to demonstrate that scientists are not deities to be obeyed without question. In fact, with Western science playing a leading role in the destruction of the natural world and all life she sustains, while biodiversity that remains intact is under the care and protection of Indigenous populations, this really begs the question of who should be in charge of our multiple ecological crises. Those who have demonstrated they can destroy it – or those who have demonstrated they can protect it. The answer is obvious, yet power will never be given. It must be taken.

    “But remember, this power of the people on top depends on the obedience of the people below. When people stop obeying, they have no power.”

     

    Howard Zinn

    Unite Behind the Science

    We are subjected to the branding term “Unite Behind the Science” pushed hard by the UN-WEF Partnership. This is coupled with a heavy emphasis from the exploited Thunberg, who serves as the face and voice of the movement, to “listen to the science”. The sentiment, which is a subtle yet direct directive, is reverberated throughout international media outlets.

    The slogan “Unite Behind the Science” is not meant to be a call to protect Earth. Here, we have science being used as a tool, and even a weapon, to privatize the commons under the guise of protecting nature, climate and biodiversity. It is meant to unleash a new era of privatization and plunder. All aboard the New Deals for Nature train: New Deal For Nature, Voice for the Planet, New Deal for Nature and People, and Global Deal For Nature (“© Copyright Global Deal for Nature, a project of Sustainable Markets Foundation”).

    Also trending is the “Natural Climate Solutions” terminology, being rolled out by The Nature Conservancy project “Nature4Climate” in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN-REDD, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Conservation International (CI), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Woods Hole Research Center, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), World Resources Institute (WRI), We Mean Business (WMB), and WWF (the dirty dozen). The new term providing a holistic cover for carbon offsets – a rebranding exercise for the carbon market mechanism UN-REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).

    Above: James Lloyd, project lead at Nature4Climate and Natural Climate Solutions stakeholder manager at The Nature Conservancy, Twitter

    Above: One of the first institutions to highlight Monbiot’s Natural Climate Solutions launch (April 3, 2019) was the Food and Land Use Coalition. This coalition was initiated under Business and Sustainable Development Commission leadership led by former Unilever CEO Paul Polman and Mark Malloch-Brown, recently appointed to the UN Foundation board. Member foundations include ClimateWorks, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, Ford Foundation, Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, Good Energies, and Margaret Cargill. 

    The Planetary Boundaries Are Not Intended to Limit Growth

    “The failure to put the issue of imperialism in the Anthropocene at the center of its analysis is the greatest weakness of the Western ecological movement. It is often acknowledged that the effects of climate change and the crossing of planetary boundaries in general are having their greatest effects on the global South, where millions are already suffering from climate change… Nevertheless, there is very little consciousness at present that imperialism, representing the global rift inherent in the world capitalist system, is an active force organized against ecological revolution, seeking to lock in the fossil fuel system and the current regime of maximal environmental degradation and human exploitation. Twenty-first-century imperialism is, in this sense, the exterminist phase of capitalism.”

     

    — Imperialism in the Anthropocene, July 1, 2019

     

    At the 2015 WEF annual gathering in Davos, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Stockholm Resilience Centre held a press conference titled “Planetary Boundaries: Blueprint for Managing Systemic Global Risk” in order to highlight the “New Global Context for the Planet”. Speakers on the panel included Georg Schmitt, head of corporate affairs, World Economic Forum, Johan Rockström, director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Marco Lambertini, director-general, WWF International, Jan Eliasson, deputy secretary-general, United Nations, and Hans Vestberg, chief executive officer, Verizon Communications. [Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2019: Verizon Ventures Prepares for 5G Startup Wave]

    Rockström declared:

    I represent the global community of earth system scientists, that today stand on a vast mountain of empirical evidence, to conclude from a scientific perspective, that the new global context is really about recognizing that humanity has become a global force of change at the planetary scale. We can today unfortunately envisage the global world economy itself disrupting the stability of the earth system.

     

    Science has now finally been able to translate this into a constructive new paradigm for world development. Shedding off the old sustainable development paradigm which as you are all aware is about economic growth and minimizing environmental impacts to recognize that the economy must operate within the safe operating space of the planetary boundaries.”

    As the press conference comes to a close, Rockström assures his audience that “using planetary boundaries is not a way to hamper development. It is rather a way to put the incentives in place, to guide the kind of incentives and innovations that Hans in talking about. So it is about a transformation of abundance within a safe operating space. So it is not limited growth – but growth within limits.”

    In the age of storytelling, we call this convenient doublespeak – the utilization of language to disguise the truth. In a planet under siege by a global corporatocracy, what should be absolute partition between science and corporate power, is instead, shattered, blurred and enmeshed.

    “The scaling of solutions is the biggest challenge we have.”

     

    Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon Communications, WEF, 2015 press conference, Planetary Boundaries: Blueprint for Managing Systemic Global Risk

    +++

    In addition to his position as director designate of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and chief scientist at Conservation International Johan Rockström serves as co-chair of the Future Earth Advisory Committee.

    In the July 16, 2019 article “Three steps to meeting the climate and nature emergency”, Rockström articulates how society must move from incremental to exponential action.

    In the first major step identified by Rockström, he divulges a new commission: “First, the scientific community needs urgently to explore targets and set scientific boundaries for the entire Earth system, beyond those set to combat climate change. As part of a new global commons alliance, the first Earth Commission, to be announced later this year, will do just that.”

    Outlining the second step, Rockström states the imperative to “go beyond GDP as a measure of economic and social wellbeing“. What Rockström is actually speaking to is the assigning of monetary value to nature’s “goods and services”. That is, the financialization of nature via the coming “New Deal For Nature”. This ties into the third major step articulated by Rockström:

    “And, finally, we need to take full advantage of 2020, a super-year for international policy on the environment, with three big milestones in the journey to build global co-operation. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity will meet to agree new targets. On climate, nations must submit more ambitious targets for the Paris Agreement. And a UN ocean summit may reshape marine policy for the next generation.” [Emphasis added]

    Again, this is emotive holistic linguistics framing for the very ugly monetization of nature.

    “This leads to an intriguing possibility. In 2020, the UN will 75 years old. Following the lead of the UK and Ireland, is it now time for the UN to declare a climate and nature emergency?”

     

    Johan Rockström, director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, chief scientist, Conservation International, July 16, 2019

    Rockström ends his article stating: “The next decade must bring the fastest economic transition in history to prosperity that protects the planet. This is necessary, achievable and desirable. But the work must start now.” [Emphasis added]

    Here again, we must pay close attention to the language, framing and repetition. The phrase “this is necessary, achievable and desirable” is one echoed by partner “climate leaders” and faux environmental groups:

    “Bending the emissions curve by 2020. Net zero by 2050. Necessary, desirable and achievable.”

     

    Christina Figueres, Twitter

     

    “2020: the necessary, desirable and achievable turning point to safeguard our climate.”

     

    Leonardo DiCaprio website

     

    “Corporate climate action: what’s necessary, desirable and achievable.”

     

    Natural Capital Partners

     

    “Within the next three decades, the Fourth Industrial Revolution — driven by digitalization such as mobile internet, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things — will transform everyone’s lives and every business on the planet… With the goal of catalyzing broad and rapid progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This is necessary, desirable and achievable.”

     

    Step Up Declaration, Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution

    Other institutions, NGOs and declarations reverberating the terminology and/or sharing articles attributed to Figueres (containing the “desirable” phrase), include the Grantham Institute, Futerra, The B Team, the UNFCC, and so on.

    +++

    In May 2016, the map “Indigenous Peoples, Protected Areas and Natural Ecosystems in Central America,” released by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is the most comprehensive map of its kind ever produced for the region. The map details that “approximately 51 percent of Central America’s current forest cover is either inside or adjacent to indigenous territory”. [Source]

    Upon release of the map, Grethel Aguilar, Regional Director of the IUCN Office for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean stated: “You cannot talk about conservation without speaking of indigenous peoples and their role as the guardians of our most delicate lands and waters. This map shows that where indigenous people live, you will find the best preserved natural resources. They depend on those natural resources to survive, and the rest of society depends on their role in safeguarding those resources for the well-being of us all.” [Source]

    Actions speak louder than words, however, with IUCN a leading partner in the Natural Capital Coalition tasked with the financialization of nature. That is, the corporate coup of the Earth’s commons. [“IUCN’s Global Business and Biodiversity Programme, along with World Business Council for Sustainable Development and a consortium of organisations, has led the business outreach on the new Natural Capital Protocol (the Protocol)”.] [Source]

    In addition, IUCN is a co-founder of “Business for Nature” and “We Value Nature”. [Both to be explored in this Volume.]

    If we are to listen to the science, we must come to the conclusion that the stolen lands we occupy must be returned to the Indigenous peoples – with zero strings attached. We reach the inevitable conclusion that those who stole the land, those who carried out genocide against Indigenous peoples (which continues to this day), those who have destroyed our natural world, those who create global institutions to which they appoint themselves, have no authority whatsoever to “lead” the global citizenry in any way, shape, or form.

    Global Commons Alliance – “A Plan For the Planet”

    “What we need—and urgently—is a radical shift in perception by the private sector to view the global goals as the greatest economic opportunity any generation has had, rather than a burden and constraint to growth.”

     

    — Mark Malloch-Brown, Chair of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, The Opportunity of the Commons, Global Environment Facility (GEF), IUCN, Global Commons Alliance, July 19, 2018, p. 4

    “Davos, Switzerland – Standing outside in the pitch-black cold at the World Economic Forum on January 23, 2019, a panel including Future Earth and partners announced to a live audience their intent to launch an Earth Commission.”

     

    Future Earth website, January 31, 2019

     

    “The Global Commons Alliance is a massive collaboration developed by world leading institutions.”

     

    Global Commons Alliance website

    In January 2019, the “Why our Planet needs an Earth Commission” lecture was hosted by Arctic Basecamp with long-standing partner Christiana Figueres. Moderated by Gail Whiteman (professor in-residence at WBCSD and co-founder of the Davos Arctic Basecamp), the panel included Rockström, Amy Luers, executive director of Future Earth, Nigel Topping, CEO of We Mean Business, and Greta Thunberg. The Earth Commission would be led by Future Earth and the International Union on the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). [Source]

    Future Earth, launched at Rio+20 (2012) is funded extensively by foundations, governments and institutions including ClimateWorks, The European Climate Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and the Skoll Foundation. [Full list] It is governed by institutions including the United Nations Environment Programme. [Full list of Governing Councils] Partners include IPCC, the UN and IPBES. [Partners] The Future Earth Twitter account was created in December 2012. The Climate Group and GCCA/TckTckTck are included within the first 22 chosen accounts chosen to follow out of 883.

    The Global Commons Alliance brands itself as a new 21st century platform to transform the global economy under the pretense that doing so will benefit society and “sustain the natural systems of Earth”.

    Many of the names found under the heading of “Systems Change” are those now well-recognized within this series:

  • Naoko Ishii: CEO and chair of the Global Environment Facility and co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy, co-chair of the Advisory Network of the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. [9]
  • Johan Rockström: Conservation International chief scientist, director designate of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, co-chair of the Future Earth Advisory Committee
  • Christiana Figueres: former executive secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), B Team Leader, Global Covenant of Mayors
  • Dominic Waughray: managing director, head of the Centre for Global Public Goods, World Economic Forum
  • Andrew Steer: president and chief executive officer, World Resources Institute, former Special Envoy for Climate Change, World Bank
  • Amy Luers: executive director, Future Earth
  • Nigel Topping: CEO, We Mean Business
  • Sunny Verghese: WBCSD chair, co-founder, CEO of Olam International, (to be explored in Volume II)
  • Inger Anderson: UNEP executive director, former director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  •  

    The organizations and institutions comprising the Global Commons Alliance include the World Economic Forum, We Mean Business Coalition, the World Resources Institute, the Natural Capital Coalition, CDP, Conservation International, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the WBCSD, WWF, the Potsdam Institute and the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

    The Global Commons Alliance partners [accessed September 13, 2019]:

  • BSR™ (Business for Social Responsibility™)
  • CDP
  • Ceres
  • Circle of Blue
  • Conservation International
  • EAT
  • Future Earth
  • Globaïa
  • Global Environment Facility
  • International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
  • Natural Capital Coalition
  • Ocean Unite
  • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
  • Stockholm Resilience Centre
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • UN Global Compact
  • UNEP-WCMC
  • WBCSD
  • We Mean Business Coalition
  • World Benchmarking Alliance
  • World Economic Forum
  • World Resources Institute
  • WWF
  • “In July 2016, the world took a giant step towards natural capital accounting by officially launching the Natural Capital Protocol— opening a new pathway for companies… The combination of systems transformation at the industry and business level, and economic restructuring on the financial and reporting level, will push the world in the right direction. But we need to abandon incrementalism in favour of complete transformation.

     

    — Peter Bakker, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Transformative change to safeguard the global commons could mobilise investment, The Opportunity of the Commons, Global Environment Facility (GEF), IUCN, Global Commons Alliance, July 19, 2018, p. 29 [Emphasis added]

     

     

    “Large reductions in the rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon—80% between 2004 and 2014—open up opportunities for an alternative model based on seeing the Amazon as a global public good of biological assets for creating high-value products and ecosystem services… We are rapidly gaining understanding of how things are created in nature, how organisms sense their surroundings, how they move in their environment and how they behave and function. This is bringing within reach a third pathway where we aggressively research, develop, and scale up a new high-tech approach that sees the Amazon as a global public good of biological assets that can enable the creation of innovative high value products, services and platforms for current, and entirely new, markets.”

     

    — The Amazon’s new industrial revolution, Carlos Nobre, Member of the UN Scientific Advisory Board for Global Sustainability and Juan Carlos Castilla-Rubio, Chairman of Space Time Ventures and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Environment and Resource Security, The Opportunity of the Commons, Global Environment Facility (GEF), IUCN, Global Commons Alliance, July 19, 2018, p. 42 [Emphasis added]

     

    A Plan For the Planet – The First Earth Commission

    The Earth Commission (to be announced later this year according to Rockström) is to comprise a select team of scientists. Future Earth will host the Earth Commission’s scientific secretariat in collaboration with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). The Commission will be “part of an extensive network which is complementary to and builds on existing assessments, such as the IPCC, IPBES and GEO [Global Environment Outlook] reports.”

    The insights of the Earth Commission will be central for informing the work of the new Science Based Targets network. This network will consist of a group of international NGOs that will create “practical applications”, and scalable solutions for corporations and cities. In addition, the NGO network will develop methodologies for corporations and municipalities “to set specific science-based targets to guide policies and practice.”

    The Earth Commission structure is set up very much like ClimateWorks:

    Again, we bear witness to the global mobilization of hundreds of millions, even billions, of citizens by a small yet powerful set of hegemonic institutions.

    +++

    Today we can learn more from the inspirational words and sound guidance left behind by Indigenous peoples and murdered revolutionaries, than all the scientists and experts in servitude to Western ideology combined. Thomas Sankara:

    “Colonial plunder has decimated our forests without the slightest thought of replenishing them for our tomorrows. The unpunished disruption of the biosphere by savage and murderous forays on the land and in the air continues.

     

    As Karl Marx said, those who live in a palace do not think about the same things, nor in the same way, as those who live in a hut. This struggle to defend the trees and forests is above all a struggle against imperialism. Because imperialism is the arsonist setting fire to our forests and our savannas…

     

    We can win this struggle if we choose to be architects and not simply bees. It will be the victory of consciousness over instinct. The bee and the architect, yes! If the author of these lines will allow me, I will extend this twofold analogy to a threefold one: the bee, the architect, and the revolutionary architect.”

     

    [Thomas Sankara: Imperialism is the Arsonist of our Forests and Savannas, at the International Conference on Trees and Forests, Paris, February 5, 1986]

    The solutions to our multiple ecological crises will not be discovered by Mission Innovation, Google, nor Verizon. The knowledge to live in harmony with the Earth already exists. The knowledge is retained and understood by the planet’s Indigenous peoples struggling to maintain their existence in the Earth’s remaining forests and natural spaces, protecting what remains of the Earth’s living natural communities.

    The fact that WWF, at the helm of the “new climate economy” being propelled forward by the UN-WEF Partnership, bears responsibility for the mass displacement, torture, murder and rape of Indigenous peoples with no public outcry from the Western citizenry, sheds an ugly light on white supremacist values that infect Western science, Western academia and Western society as a whole.

    The revolutionary architects are not to be found in the ivory towers of the West. We continue to indulge in willful blindness at our own peril.

     

     

    End Notes:

    [1] Other funders include the Compton Foundation, Instituto Arapyaú, Instituto Ekos Brasil, Kendeda Foundation, The Minor Foundation for Major Challenges, and the Stichting Global Climate Action.

    [2] “CBS’s emphasis on information sharing and coordination between stakeholders mirrors the GCCA’s own capacity-building approach. The fact that Jennifer Morgan, who had played an instrumental role in launching the GCCA, was now in charge of IPPI and was actively involved in the CBS project supports this idea. A number of those who were active in CBS had also been involved in the GCCA. Like the GCCA’s nerve centre, the CBS’s “global team” brought together members of the international climate community representing a wide array of both insider and outsider organizations—environmental and development NGOs, climate networks, campaign groups, think tanks and research organizations, as well as foundations. While some NGOs were initially reluctant to join, arguing that there was a risk of overlap between their activities and those of CBS, the global team ultimately brought together representatives from the most prominent and active organizations in the international climate arena. As with the GCCA, among those who were not represented were groups associated with the climate justice movement. Members of the “global team” regularly took part in conference calls, strategy sessions, workshops and conferences to share views, information and intelligence on policy-related issues, and collectively establish strategic priorities.” [Source: The Price of Climate Action-Philanthropic Foundations in the International Climate Debate, published in 2016 by Edouard Morena, p. 110]

    [3] On November 15, 2018, the Climate Markets and Investment Association reported that the parties that comprise the Climate Finance Partnership would “work together to finalize the design and structure of what we anticipate will be a flagship blended capital investment vehicle by the end of the first quarter, 2019.” All media inquiries pertaining to this announcement were to be directed to Climate Nexus (People’s Climate March) or the European Climate Foundation.

    [4] GCCA’s multi-lingual digital publishing stream, The Tree, rose to meet the needs of this historic year, putting its network-based approach to good use keeping thousands of influencers informed and intervening in key climate debates. By the end of 2015, The Tree counted more than 2,500 actively engaged influencers (977 in Europe, 803 in North America, 493 in Australasia, and the remaining 293 in Latin America) – a rise of nearly 1,000 since 2014 – and had a cumulative potential Twitter reach of over 26 million. The Tree was also GCCA’s primary vehicle for circulating the ‘Road Through Paris’ narrative, working in five languages across nine countries and regions during COP21, with seven Tree editors on the ground in Paris to support the GSCC+ communications efforts and deliver special daily Tree Alerts for the network. [Source: Global Call for Climate Action Annual Report 2015–2016, p. 5]

    [5] “Thanks to all our judges for their nominations, and apologies that a lot of their excellent recommendations didn’t make it to the final fifteen: Alice Bows-Larkin, Max Boycoff, Simon Buckle, Mike Childs, Tan Copsey, Susannah Eliott, Sam Geall, Will Grant, Fiona Fox, Leo Hickman, Brendan Montague, Tim Nuthall, James Painter, Chris Rapley, John Timmer, James Wilsdon.” [Source]

    [6] Three years to safeguard our climate (Nature 546, 593–595; 2017), co-signatories:

  • Andrew Steer, president and CEO, World Resources Institute
  •  

  • Caio Koch-Weser, chairman, European Climate Foundation
  •  

  • Charlotte Pera, president and CEO, ClimateWorks
  •  

  • Daniela Saltzman, director, Generation Investment Management
  •  

  • David Blood, senior partner, Generation Investment Management
  •  

  • Helen Mountford, programme director, New Climate Economy
  •  

  • Jeremy Oppenheim, partner, SystemIQ
  •  

  • Joanna Haigh, co-director, Grantham Institute for Climate Change & Environment
  •  

  • Keith Tuffley, managing partner and CEO, B Team
  •  

  • Laurence Tubiana, CEO, European Climate Foundation (ECF)
  •  

  • Mark Malloch-Brown, chair, Business and Sustainable Development Commission
  •  

  • Mark Watts, executive director, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
  •  

  • Mary Robinson, president and chair of the board of trustees, the Mary Robinson Foundation
  •  

  • Mindy Lubber, president, CERES
  •  

  • Nigel Topping, CEO, We Mean Business
  •  

  • Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever
  •  

  • Paul Simpson, CEO, Carbon Disclosure Project
  •  

  • Peter Bakker, president and CEO, World Business Council for Sustainable Development
  •  

  • Peter Seligmann, chairman, CEO and co-founder, Conservation International
  •  

  • Rachel Kyte, CEO, Sustainable Energy for All
  •  

  • Sharan Burrow, International Trade Union Confederation, general secretary
  •  

  • Tom Brookes, executive director, strategic communications, European Climate Foundation
  •  

  • Tomas Insua, executive director, Global Catholic Climate Movement
  •  

  • Wael Hmaidan, international director, Climate Action Network (CAN)
  •  

  • Yacob Mulugetta, professor of Energy and Development
  •  

    [Source]

    [7] “The environmental devastation this would entail is meant to be addressed by the ‘endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation’, which is meaningless unless undertaken in absolute terms and that is simply impossible for the industrial economy being promoted in Goal 9. Yet, hoping for technological miracles fits well with faith in a never-ending economic expansion of material and energy throughput.” Source: Clive Spash, This Changes Nothing – The Paris Agreement to Ignore Reality, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria, 2016

    [8] “Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) is yet another striking example of the emerging trend of gradually shifting (“outsourcing”) activities from the UN to a multi-stakeholder body positioned outside the UN system, while still using the name and reputation of the UN… In addition to participating in the deliberations of the High-Level Group, the business actors also provided financial support. As the Report of the Co-Chairs from September 2012 pointed out, “(t)he Sustainable Energy for All initiative has depended on generous contributions from its sup-porters,” including, in addition to a few government donors, the UN Foundation, Masdar (the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company), the Bank of America, First Solar, Johnson Controls, Veolia Environment, and the International Copper Association. In addition, the consulting firm Accenture and the Norwegian oil company Statoil seconded senior man-agers to the Sustainable Energy for All secretariat, and Statoil designed the Sustainable Energy for All logo.” [Source: Fit for whose purpose? Private funding and corporate influence in the United Nations, 2015]

    [9] Naoko Ishii, elected as CEO and Chair of the Global Environment Facility in 2012. Before Joining the GEF, Naoko was Japan Deputy Vice Minister of Finance, and represented the Japanese Government during the design of the Green Climate Fund. She worked as a Country Director for the World Bank, and has held positions at the IMF and Harvard Institute for International Development. Naoko is co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy, and co-chair of the Advisory Network of the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. She is a special advisor to the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, a Commissioner for the Global Adaptation Commission, Member of the Leadership Council of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and of the Advisory Committee of Future Earth. [Source]

    Nature is Being Renamed ‘Natural Capital’ – But is it Really the Planet that Will Profit?

    The Conversation

    September 13, 2016

    by Sian Sullivan

     

    China’s Jiangxi mountains: now just an asset? Shutterstock

    The four-yearly World Conservation Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has just taken place in Hawai’i. The congress is the largest global meeting on nature’s conservation. This year a controversial motion was debated regarding incorporating the language and mechanisms of “natural capital” into IUCN policy.

    But what is “natural capital”? And why use it to refer to “nature”?

    Motion 63 on “Natural Capital”, adopted at the congress, proposes the development of a “natural capital charter” as a framework “for the application of natural capital approaches and mechanisms”. In “noting that concepts and language of natural capital are becoming widespread within conservation circles and IUCN”, the motion reflects IUCN’s adoption of “a substantial policy position” on natural capital. Eleven programmed sessions scheduled for the congress included “natural capital” in the title. Many are associated with the recent launch of the global Natural Capital Protocol, which brings together business leaders to create a world where business both enhances and conserves nature.

    At least one congress session discussed possible “unforeseen impacts of natural capital on broader issues of equitability, ethics, values, rights and social justice”. This draws on widespreadconcerns around the metaphor that nature-is-as-capital-is. Critics worry about the emphasis on economic, as opposed to ecological, language and models, and a corresponding marginalisation of non-economic values that elicit care for the natural world.

    image-90160912-19269-1r24dco

    Naming nature … but at what cost? Shutterstock

    Naturalising ‘natural capital’

    The use of “natural capital” as a noun is becoming increasingly normalised in environmental governance. Recent natural capital initiatives include the World Forum on Natural Capital, described as “the world’s leading natural capital event”, the Natural Capital Declaration, which commits the financial sector to mainstreaming “natural capital considerations” into all financial products and services, and the Natural Capital Financing Facility, a financial instrument of the European Investment Bank and the European Commission that aims “to prove to the market and to potential investors the attractiveness of biodiversity and climate adaptation operations in order to promote sustainable investments from the private sector”.

    All these initiatives share the UK Natural Capital Committee’s view that “natural capital” consists of “our natural assets including forests, rivers, land, minerals and oceans”. People used to talk about “nature” or “the natural environment” – now they speak of “natural capital”.

    image-80160912-19222-1a7ha8x

    Growing profits. Shutterstock

    So what does the word “capital” do to “nature” when they are linked? And should nature be seen in terms of capital at all? One controversial aspect, backed by IUCN’s Business and Biodiversity Programme, is receiving particular attention. This is the possibility of securing debt-based conservation finance from major institutions and the super-super-rich based on the value of income generated from so-called natural capital assets conserved in situ.

    Capitalising natures

    At the IUCN’s conservation congress a Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation was launched. Led by financial services company Credit Suisse, and backed by the IUCN and the World Wide Fund for Nature, the coalition builds on a series of recent reports proposing capitalising conservation in exactly this way.

    In 2016, and following a 2014 report, Credit Suisse and collaborators published two documents outlining proposals for debt-based, return-seeking conservation finance. The most recent is called Levering Ecosystems: A Business-focused Perspective on how Debt Supports Investment in Ecosystem Services. In this, the CEO of Credit Suisse states that not only is saving ecosystems affordable, but it is also profitable, if turned “into an asset treasured by the mainstream investment market”.

    The report proposes a number of mechanisms whereby “businesses can utilise debt as a tool to restore, rehabilitate, and conserve the environment while creating financial value”. The idea is that as “environmental footprints move closer to being recognised as assets and liabilities by companies, debt can be used to fund specific investments in ecosystems that lead to net-positive financial outcomes”. Debt-based financing – for example, through tradeable securities such as bonds – is framed as attractive in part because interest received by investors is “usually tax-deductible”.

    The Levering Ecosystems report followed quickly from Conservation Finance: From Niche to Mainstream, steered by a small group including the director of IUCN’s Global Business and Biodiversity Programme. This report estimated the investment potential for conservation finance to be roughly US$200-400 billion by 2020.

    Of course, investors loaning finance to projects associated with conservation also expect market-rate returns to compensate for investments considered to conserve, restore or rehabilitate ecosystems.

    In the documents above, financial returns are projected as coming in part from new markets in payments for ecosystem services and sales of carbon credits. These new markets will supply the potentially monetisable “dividends” of conserved and restored habitats as “standing natural capitals”. Investor risk is proposed to be reduced through mobilising these assets, as well as the “land or usage rights” from which they derive, as underlying collateral.

    image-70160912-19262-znlcdj

    Two redrawn graphs representing the design of debt-based conservation finance, as per Credit Suisse reports in 2014 and 2016.

    The graphs above present two schematic diagrams redrawn from the Credit Suisse texts to indicate how these flows of financial value may be leveraged from areas capitalised as investable natural capital. The models are based in part on expectations that recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change support for international carbon compensation mechanisms will release new long-term sources of public funding to “balance anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases”, thereby boosting possibilities for financial flows from forest carbon.

    Such financialising moves, nascent and clunky as they are, may yet have significant implications if applied to countries in the global south with remaining high levels of “standing natural capital”. Caution is needed regarding the possibility that forest-rich but least developed countries may become indebted to ultra high-net-worth investors who access returns on their investments from new income streams arising from conserved tropical natures in these countries.

    What’s in a name?

    image-60160912-19228-kul098

    Pandas: sending a powerful message. Shutterstock

    In 1986, the central secretariat of the WWF decided to change the name of the organisation from the World Wildlife Fund to the World Wide Fund for Nature. The thinking was that an emphasis on “wildlife”, borne of a concern for endangered species, no longer reflected the organisation’s scope of work for the conservation of the diversity of life on earth. It was considered that overall the organisation would be better served by the term “nature”. In other words, it seems that naming and framing “nature” matters.

    Given the conversations and debates at IUCN’s World Conservation Congress, it seems important to ask: how exactly does the conservation of natural capital equate with the conservation of nature? Do these terms in fact invoke different things? If they do, then it is worth clarifying whether the conservation of natural capital is always good for the conservation of nature. If they don’t, then it remains worth querying why exactly “nature” needs to be renamed as “natural capital”.

     

     

    [Sian Sullivan is Professor of Environment and Culture, Bath Spa University.]

    The Resolution Copper Land Grab: How Environmental NGOs Expand Green Capitalism

    Desert Water Grab

    January 28, 2017

     

    kareiva_pes_small

    People were outraged at the way the Resolution Copper Mining (RCM) finally achieved their land exchange in Arizona. It was the underhanded way Senator John McCain got the legislation passed that fueled the anger, but what many are not aware of is that the swap may not have been possible without the efforts of certain environmental groups. Conservation efforts functioned as currency for Resolution’s access to land, so the land grab could also be called a green grab. Green grabs are taking place in Arizona and beyond, especially around water. The Resolution Copper land exchange provides us with a way to understand the utility of the partnerships corporations forge to gain access to coveted resources.

    The land swap is not yet a done deal. An appraisal to determine the equivalence of the parcels to be exchanged is due to be completed this year, according to the Arizona Daily Sun.

    “It’s a big ripoff,” Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club said in an interview last year. “The American public is getting chump change in return for this ecological treasure. The lands that are offered aren’t comparable.”

    McCain’s website tells a different story:

    Under the bill, the Resolution Copper company would give the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management about 5,500 acres of land identified by the Department of the Interior as ‘important’ for conservation, including property near the San Pedro River, an important migratory bird corridor and wetland habitat for endangered species. In exchange for these lands, Resolution Copper would receive about 2,400 acres of Forest Service land for the exploration and development of our nation’s top copper asset.

    While the Sierra Club does not back up the claims about how important the lands are for conservation, a few other organizations did. Arguably, the land exchange may not have been possible without the help of some of these big, more corporate-friendly environmental organizations like The Nature Conservancy and Audubon Arizona, who were involved in affirming, and even contributing to the value of the land to be exchanged for Resolution’s intended mine site. This is something Rio Tinto (majority owner of RCM) had learned from in partnering with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Utah and Madagascar to arrange access to land a few years before. Multinational mining companies, Rio Tinto in particular, in partnership with NGOs, have been networking to improve the reputation and legitimacy of global mining activities since the ‘90s.

    It’s clear that the quantity of land is disproportionate in the exchange. The acreage offered up to the feds for the trade (see map) is more than double Resolution’s desired area. However, McCain needed to sneak the exchange through in the National Defense Authorization Act to get it passed because the status and importance of the Chi’chil Bildagoteel/Oak Flat area resulted in nearly a decade of failed attempts to get the land exchange accepted prior to December 2014. Clearly, the conservation claims never swayed those with strong opposition to the mine, but they do count for something.

    The appraiser is required to use nationally recognized standards to come up with the value of the parcels. But not only does Resolution actually have a voice in who gets the job to appraise the properties, the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions’ directive is that the appraiser determine only a market value (defined within the document) for the land. This does not seem to take into consideration the cultural, spiritual, historical, and environmental values such as those attributed by opponents of the mining in the Oak Flat/Apache Leap area.

    Monetarily, while Rio Tinto spent “more than $18 million buying up” the parcels to exchange, the land to which Resolution Copper gained access could be worth around 7,000 times more – over $130 billion based on copper prices as of early 2015, as a former Florida Representative pointed out in The Nation. Copper prices had fallen, but the current price is back up to near where it was then. There are many other factors to enter into the equation, however. One is that Resolution Copper has directed hundreds of thousands of dollars towards the conservation activities that may have increased the value, even if not the market value, of the exchange lands.

    While the promise of jobs seems to play a bigger role in Resolution Copper’s narrative, the exchange may have been unacceptable without the purportedly valuable conservation land tracts. And now that the legislation passed, whether it is truly an equitable exchange or not is irrelevant in some ways because if the appraisal sees those lands as insufficiently valuable, RCM will just have to add more land or cash to the deal.

    Yet, the conservation values of the parcels offered up by RCM were necessary, and thusly emphasized, for public and federal acceptance. In addition to meeting the equal value requirement, land exchanges are required to serve the public interest, which includes “protection of fish and wildlife habitats, cultural resources, watersheds, and wilderness and aesthetic values,” and the Forest Service gets the final say.

    Some of these NGOs have consulted with Rio Tinto to contribute to an accounting method to rate the quality of land, using something they call “quality hectares” as a metric based on various values such as biodiversity to frame as offsets the land parcels they intended to “donate“.

    resolution-copper-offset-chart

    Although the factors, which some refer to as “ecosystem services,” used for this type of valuation, are currently considered nonmarket values not likely to be used in the appraisal, they clearly were important to RCM in determining the value of their land parcels. “Ecosystem services” is an increasingly popular economic construct used to refer to the benefits ecosystems provide to humans.

    It doesn’t seem coincidental that law firm Perkins Coie, who has worked for Resolution Copper, wrote a paper in which they made the following argument:

    Over the longer term—and to the extent that appropriate methodology is developed and adopted—the BLM could also use the requirement that it obtain fair market value for use of public lands to ensure consideration of ecosystem services in determining land values and rentals.

    Both the Forest Service and the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) have attributed legitimacy to recognizing ecosystem services within policy. Multinational mining companies (especially Rio Tinto) and the involved NGOs have been major players on a global scale in market valuation of ecosystem services as well as ways to profit from them.

    Valuation of ecosystem services, even if incorporated into the appraisal process, would likely benefit RCM. Even while “cultural,” and more rarely, “spiritual” ecosystem services can be incorporated into the value of land tracts, the fact that the Oak Flat area is not part of a reservation and is not officially recognized as sacred or culturally important works against those who have a connection with the land such as the San Carlos Apache and others.

    RCM and certain NGOs’ preferred approach to environmental problems is through market-based “solutions”, which result in transferring resources into private hands. While this is a land grab, the conservation aspect is significant. RCM will gain ownership of the Oak Flat area (unless stopped) by using as currency the parcels obtained and cultivated as conservation projects. The land swap could therefore be considered a green grab. The book (and article) entitled Green Grabbing defines the process as “the appropriation of land and resources for environmental ends” where “‘Appropriation’ implies the transfer of ownership, use rights and control over resources that were once publicly or privately owned – or not even the subject of ownership – from the poor (or everyone including the poor) into the hands of the powerful.”

    Why does all this matter? Aside from having more understanding about why this land exchange is not justified, we can learn from how some NGOs partner with private interests to engage in more green grabbing. The Nature Conservancy facilitates the sale of water offsets to companies such as Coca Cola, for example, based on conservation projects in Arizona. They are also supporting the efforts of big housing developments to legitimize construction where aquifers and the rivers like the San Pedro are at risk. Since Rio Tinto has been so central to the development of payments for ecosystem services programs such as offsets, the early stages of this Resolution Copper land exchange effort may have been the foray of the concept of ecosystem services into Arizona.

    San Pedro River and Conflicts of Interest

    Although the land exchange involved properties in various areas of Arizona, the one in the San Pedro River basin, the 7B Ranch, is the most relevant here, partly because early legislative support for the exchange related to this river. It is also the largest parcel offered by RCM.

    Water conservation at the San Pedro River was made central to the land exchange idea when Rick Renzi, US Congressman from Arizona at the time, drew Resolution Copper into a scandal. Renzi was convicted in 2013 of conspiring with the owner of a piece of land in the San Pedro River basin, “to extort and bribe individuals seeking a federal land exchange…” A combination of his connections with Fort Huachuca, an army installation  near the San Pedro, and his desire to have Resolution Copper purchase his friend’s property in the area caused Renzi to assert in 2005, according to Wall Street Journal, that his support of the land exchange

    …would hinge in part on whether it helped fulfill a goal to cut water consumption along the San Pedro River… participants in the deal say. Fort Huachuca, a big U.S. Army base nearby, was under court order to cut water consumption, and it had been seeking help to retire farmland near the river. Mr. Renzi has longstanding ties to the base, the economic engine of the area… Resolution proposed buying and handing over to the government thousands of acres of bird and wildlife habitat along the banks of the San Pedro, which would further the water-conservation goal.

    Due to the high price, Resolution Copper did not buy this property, but the land was sold to someone else. A different parcel in the San Pedro River basin became part of the exchange, a choice likely influenced by the water conservation needs of Ft. Huachuca, as emphasized by Renzi.

    Renzi’s father was a retired army general who had served at Ft. Huachuca and his company (one of the congressman’s top campaign donors) has had major contracts with Ft. Huachuca. In 2003, Renzi had proposed “an amendment to the defense authorization bill, [that] would exempt Ft. Huachuca from responsibility for maintaining water levels in the San Pedro River as called for in an agreement made last year with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.” Backed by McCain, it passed in November that year, despite media pointing to the conflict of interest.

    Dropping groundwater levels have directly impacted the San Pedro base flow. Ft. Huachuca has faced multiple lawsuits for their impact on the riparian environment due to their groundwater pumping.

    McCain has shown that he has invested as well in the fate of Ft. Huachuca in relation to the river. His relationship with Renzi likely had a lot to do with it, but he’s continued his support of the fort in recent years. The state of the San Pedro River makes at least an image of water conservation important to the land exchange even with Renzi’s interests out of the picture.

    Various partnerships have developed to address, or more likely greenwash the fort’s impact on the environment. The Department of Defense and Ft. Huachuca had already been working with The Nature Conservancy since at least 1998. Significantly, one of the more recent projects is the Upper San Pedro Partnership (USPP) also involving Audubon Arizona. This came out Renzi’s legislative amendment in 2003 which shifted responsibility for water use away from the fort and onto this broader coalition of the USPP.

    Shaping the land swap was a combination of these NGOs’ relationships with Ft. Huachuca specifically around the San Pedro River Basin, and Rio Tinto’s relationships with these NGOs through Rio Tinto’s Kennecott Copper mine in Utah where they partnered with NGOs like The Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society in the late ‘90s on a wetland offset program required due to the pollution of mining tailings.

    Partnerships and Payments

    Of course it makes sense that environmental groups be consulted about ecologically important issues. There’s a difference, however, between consultation and granting green credentials to mining companies for dubious conservation efforts when they’ll do more damage in the long run. Taken into consideration, additionally, should be the NGOs’ actions and the financial relationship between NGOs and corporations.

    One role NGOs play is in acquiescing to the claim that there is no alternative to a particular mine or other development. Then somehow their pragmatism produces “win-win solutions” to supposedly mitigate mines’ damage (this is giving them the undeserved benefit of the doubt about their own financial interests in partnering with corporations). The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Arizona Audubon, even while denying that they took a position on the land exchange, played integral roles in confirming and even generating some of the value of the various parcels RCM obtained and worked to glorify.

    An International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) report described one way NGOs supported RCM (see chart above):

    In consultation with conservation specialists, especially the Arizona Audubon Society, RCM rated the conservation value of the parcels in terms of ecosystem condition and priority for conservation in Arizona. In doing so, RCM was able to take a semi-quantitative approach using Rio Tinto’s quality hectares method, to determine whether the parcels represented equivalent or better conservation benefits than the government land.

    According to Rio Tinto,

    Quality Hectares are Rio Tinto’s current metric for tracking progress towards the [Net Positive Impact (NPI)] target at the global and site levels. A wide range of biodiversity values, including threatened species, rare habitats or non-timber forest products, may be expressed in terms of their quantity and quality.

    It could be argued that RCM bought access to the copper ore in Oak Flat by funding NGOs’ conservation attribution of value to the land that RCM had accumulated. NGOs acted as consultants in choosing land parcels and quantifying their value, managed some of those parcels, wrote letters confirming their value, and thereby contributed to legitimizing the exchange.

    Rio Tinto/Resolution Copper started funding Arizona Audubon Society in 2003. The mining subsidiary began lobbying for a land exchange in 2005 and in the same year contracted with TNC to manage the land parcel owned by BHP Billiton called the 7B Ranch.

    The 7B Ranch was the piece of land in the San Pedro River basin that ultimately became part of the land exchange. Copper companies in Arizona have purchased land not only for mining, but BHP Billiton already owned some land near the San Pedro River prior to the idea for the land exchange, likely for the water rights.

    The Superior Sun reported,

    Resolution purchased 7B from BHP in 2007 with the intention of including it in an eventual land exchange… David Salisbury, Resolution Copper CEO, said that the company spoke to organizations such as Arizona Audubon and The Nature Conservancy to determine conservation targets that a number of agencies might be interested in…

    Although Audubon hasn’t taken a position on the proposed land exchange, they have been on record since 2005 saying that 7B is an ecologically important piece of property…

    With the plan in place, Resolution and its conservation partners hope to make 7B a ready-to-use asset for the [Department of the Interior] and the public.

    The Tucson Sentinel reported in 2011, “7B Ranch, which contains one of oldest mesquite forests in Arizona, lies near the fragile San Pedro River. In 2007, Resolution Copper agreed to pay The Nature Conservancy $45,000 a year to manage the property.” They also noted the, “$250,000 in grants and donations that Resolution Copper and Rio Tinto have given to the Audubon Arizona since 2003.” Their coverage stated that the Sonoran Institute (SI) was also involved in identifying parcels that would be of value in the exchange.

    RCM also supported SI for at least two years (2007 and 2008) and hired SI’s Dave Richins after, as The New Times revealed, he’d been doing work for RCM for a while prior to official employment. Luther Propst of SI authored an opinion column in the Arizona Republic in 2010 in favor of the Resolution Copper mine.

    News outlets such as the Tucson Citizen reported in 2005 that, “the Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy and the Sonoran Institute have all sent [Bruno Hegner, Resolution’s general manager] letters of support.” The Tucson Sentinel wrote that “Leaders of Audubon Arizona and The Nature Conservancy have said they neither support nor oppose the overall plan. But each group has formally attested to the conservation value of the Appleton-Whittell and 7B Ranch parcels, something that Resolution Copper has noted prominently in letters and testimony to Congress.” In 2011, 2012 and 2013, the Arizona chapter of TNC sent letters to legislators reiterating their neutrality on the legislation, but elaborating on the value of the 7B Ranch property. Audubon Arizona had been managing the Appleton-Whittell ranch since the 1980’s. Notably, other Arizona-based Audubon groups (Maricopa and Tucson) have been openly opposed to the mine.

    Resolution Copper partnered with Audubon Arizona, TNC, Birdlife International, along with the Salt River Project and others on the Lower San Pedro and Queen Creek Project, described by Birdlife International:

    A two-year programme (2006–2007) undertook the development of a bird conservation strategy… It assisted in the provision of detailed biodiversity assessments of the land exchange parcel on the Lower San Pedro River for Resolution Copper Company and with the establishment of baseline data for the mine’s operational biodiversity action planning.

    Thanks to the project, the Lower San Pedro River, from “The Narrows” north to the confluence with the Gila River, has been surveyed, nominated and recognised as a state [Important Bird Area (IBA)]. During 2006–2007, existing and newly collected data were compiled and submitted to the Arizona IBA Science Committee, in support of the IBA nomination of the Lower San Pedro River, and the nomination was accepted.

    Birdlife International, which Rio Tinto has been working with since 2001 is described as “a global alliance of conservation organisations working together for the world’s birds and people.” One of Birdlife’s main partners is the Audubon Society, a group with which they’ve had overlapping board members.

    It is not so difficult to imagine that an “environmental” group, such as Birdlife or TNC would accommodate a mining project considering TNC participated in drilling oil on a property they were supposed to have retired from oil production. Kierán Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity said that TNC “has shown over and over again its willingness to take corporate money in return for stealing, destroying, or polluting indigenous and poor human communities.” TNC has partnered with many of the most notorious corporations like Exxon, BP, Dow Chemical, and Monsanto along with Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton. Birdlife had also partnered with BP, which may have been a factor in Rio Tinto partnering with the NGO in 2001.

    From Greenwashing to Green Markets

    Mines have pock-marked the earth, poisoned the land, water, and living beings, displaced communities, and left other destruction in their wake. One of the most notorious mining conflicts forced Rio Tinto to shut down their mine on Bougainville Island of Papua New Guinea in 1989 due to an uprising largely in response to the environmental damage caused by the mine. A lawsuit was filed against Rio Tinto over “racial discrimination and environmental harm, as well as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity,” arising from the mine and the military response as part of the decade-long civil war instigated by the company. Throughout the 1990’s major tailings containments collapsed each year around the world. Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton have both faced various strikes over working conditions. It’s no wonder they had to fix their reputation in order to do business.

    While the Bougainville civil war was still raging, a study that Rio Tinto conducted in 1996 showed that the mining companies could benefit from addressing concern for biodiversity as part of their medium-to long-term business strategy. This may have played a part in the Rio Tinto chairman’s launch of the Global Mining Initiative (GMI) with nine of the largest global mining corporations in 1999. “The drivers for GMI were clear recognition that mining companies had problems of access to land, and access to markets, and cost of capital. The fundamental underlying reason was the reputation of the industry,” said Dr. John Groom, of mining company Anglo American.

    Sarah Benabou writes that in 2000,

    the GMI started a process of consultation and research known as the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD) project to determine the fundamental orientations that would shape the future of the industry. This project led to the creation of the [The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM)] in 2002. A few months later, at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, the ICMM and the [International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)] started a joint dialogue on mining and biodiversity ‘to provide a platform for communities, corporations, NGOs and governments to engage in a dialogue to seek the best balance between the protection of important ecosystems and the social and economic importance of mining’ (IUCN 2003: 1).

    Benabou’s Making up for lost nature? A critical review of the international development of voluntary biodiversity offsets also describes how mining companies and NGOs at an IUCN/ICMM jointly-organized workshop in 2003 could draw upon each others’ experiences regarding ways to apply a biodiversity offset approach even if it couldn’t be “transposed term-for-term” in other situations. IUCN is one of the oldest and biggest environmental NGOs.

    The relationship with Birdlife, initiated by Rio Tinto in 2001 was an early venture into partnerships with such NGOs. According to Rio Tinto, “the partnership has enabled both organisations to deliver outcomes that neither could have achieved as effectively when working alone.”

    It would be a mistake to frame this simply as examples of greenwashing in attempt to solve mining companies’ public relations problems and access to land. In the context of the earth’s welfare and diminishing finite resources, the extractive industry and their partners have developed market-based tools like offsets to create new financial strategies. “In this zeitgeist of crisis capitalism, the environmental crisis itself has become a major new frontier of value creation and capitalist accumulation,” writes Sian Sullivan, Professor of Environment and Culture in the UK. The commodification and financialization of so-called natural capital and ecosystem services are central to this process.

    19-ecoservices_balancedThe concept of ecosystem services originates with some in the field of Ecological Economics who argued that if destructive practices are unavoidable, then corporations should pay for the damage they have done (or will do) to that which we take for granted but can’t live without: the environment. Yet, if companies compensate for their externalities, a whole host of other problems arise with pricing, quantifying, simplifying and appropriating natural resources.

    The introduction to Nature, Inc. spells it out: “Capitalism now endeavors to accumulate not merely in spite of but rather precisely through the negation of its own negative impacts on both physical environments and the people who inhabit them, proposing itself as the solution to the very problems it creates.” Similarly, co-editor of Nature, Inc., Bram Büscher posited elsewhere, “To believe that nature can be conserved by increasing the intensity, reach and depth of capital circulation is arguably one of the biggest contradictions of our times.”

    IUCN, along with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was involved in the early 1990’s in advancing the concept of ecosystem services, aka environmental services, beginning with their Global Biodiversity Strategy. This was a predecessor to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) completed in 2005, to which IUCN and UNEP also contributed. MA has been considered a game-changer in the way it endeavored to apply a monetary value to ecosystem services; the wide variety of beneficial (to humans) functions deriving from ecosystems, like carbon sequestration and water purification.

    One of the biggest payments for ecosystem services (PES) program currently is REDD or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (the latest version is called REDD+) which Tom B. K. Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said could lead to “the biggest land grab of all time.” REDD is a project of IUCN, supported by Rio Tinto (including in its early development). Rio Tinto claims that REDD+ allows them to offset their carbon footprint. The Nature Conservancy, and Birdlife International are proponents of REDD+.

    REDD and the carbon trade in general have meant further financialization of nature, involving hedge funds, derivatives, and “a new generation of ‘commercial conservation asset managers’ required to broker these exchanges and revenues,” according to Sian Sullivan. “Conservation investing experienced dramatic growth after 2013, as total committed private capital climbed 62% in just two years from $5.1B to $8.2B,” reported Ecosystem Marketplace recently.

    NGOs and negotiations have enabled and structured “new green market opportunities and practices as they orchestrate the social and political relations among various state and non-state actors through which the mechanisms, incentives and legitimating conditions for green grabs are established,” as is argued in Enclosing the global commons: the convention on biological diversity and green grabbing.

    Experts from the big NGOs are called upon to design, implement, and/or verify such mechanisms as offsets. While carbon offsets are the most notoriously dubious, mining companies are involved in a variety of other offsets, both voluntary and regulatory.

    Buying, Banking, Trading Offsets

    In Utah, a land tract Kennecott wanted for storage of their tailings (materials left over from processing of mined substance) was designated as wetlands, which are regulated. So according to a case report put out by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB),

    Kennecott was thus required by U.S. law to offset, or mitigate, the loss of wetlands by the creation of an agreed number and value of habitat units… In 1996, Kennecott Utah Copper Company undertook the cleanup and construction of the 1,011 ha Inland Sea Shorebird Reserve (ISSR) in conjunction with a project to expand its tailings storage.

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    Kennecott Utah Copper Mine (Rio Tinto)

    In addition to the required wetlands offset, Rio Tinto established a “bank” of restored surplus habitat land which, as TEEB explained, referencing an unpublished study, “could be used to offset future impacts on wetlands (584 ha) adjacent to the mitigation site… Credits from the bank can be used by Kennecott or sold to others for wetlands mitigation in accordance with the terms of the Bank Agreement with the US government.” Banking converts wetland habitat properties into assets. Rio Tinto wrote in 2011 that they have, “successfully developed and then sold wetland credits” as part of the ISSR.

    Essentially, companies can profit from ostensibly going above and beyond their responsibilities (or having a “net positive impact”) for mitigating the damage they cause through mining. In many cases, profit-driven wetlands banking has been shown to result in a net loss, however.

    TNC and National Audubon Society were involved in developing this wetland mitigation plan. The ISSR also became an IBA in 2004 and is part of BirdLife International’s IBA Program.

    BirdLife International also endorsed Rio Tinto’s activities across the world in Madagascar. Rio Tinto owns 80% of the QMM (QIT Madagascar Minerals) ilmenite (titanium dioxide) mine in Southeastern Madagascar which started mining in 2005. The mining activities “will remove more than half of a particular type of unique coastal forest.” BirdLife described the benefits of a project implemented by a BirdLife affiliate and supported by Rio Tinto:

    The direct payments [for conservation] project aims to strengthen the conservation of Tsitongambarika’s unique and threatened biodiversity, enhance water security for QMM’s mining operations… and maintain ecosystem services essential for regional development.

    Rio Tinto is partnered with this affiliate in a biodiversity offset program. Note that other than biodiversity, the benefits of the project are for the mine and/or “regional development” but are subsumed into conservation as well. The biodiversity offsets involve “the financing of, or provision of land for, biodiversity conservation outside of mining zones,” explains PhD candidate in Anthropology, Caroline Seagle. The idea is that aspects of biodiversity are exchangeable (or fungible) with others, so damage to this particular type of forest can be made up for elsewhere.

    For aspects of ecosystems to be treated as fungible commodities, their uniqueness and complexity needs to be erased for the sake of market exchange. This “offset ideology” is “premised upon the monetization of nature and market rationality,” writes Seagle, in “Inverting the impacts: Mining, conservation and sustainability claims near the Rio Tinto/QMM ilmenite mine in Southeast Madagascar” (for a similar more accessible version, see “The mining-conservation nexus“).

    “Through the paradigm of conservation finance and payments for environmental services (PES), the ‘offset ideology’ is less mitigatory and more compensatory – making up for local damage through land allocation or financial support of nature conservation,” criticizes Seagle.

    Similar to Rio Tinto’s wetland banking, these mechanisms are not only intended to compensate for damage, but to create revenue. IUCN wrote in 2011 of Rio Tinto’s further steps in Madagascar to gain from conservation:

    Rio Tinto is using established relationships with its biodiversity partners and specifically its relationship with IUCN to explore how ecosystem services can be accurately valued and the implications for corporate risks and opportunities.

    For companies like Rio Tinto, robust methods of valuing ecosystem services and the development of well functioning markets for ecosystem services could provide an opportunity to use large non-operational land holdings to create new income streams for Rio Tinto and for local stakeholders and communities, through the sale of ecosystem service credits.

    Biodiversity offsets became a primary tool to make headway into areas they wanted to mine. An IUCN document reiterated,

    [For some] Multinational companies, whose operations have an impact on biodiversity and for whom license to operate – both formal concessions from governments and social license from communities – are key to business success. Their view of biodiversity offsets is that best practice on biodiversity – possibly including offsets, whether mandatory or voluntary – is important to access land, maintain reputation… and the avoidance of interference and disruption from NGOs and local communities.

    The wetlands offsets in Utah and the biodiversity offsets in Madagascar are just two experiences the mining companies could learn from leading up to the Arizona land exchange. While Rio Tinto was mandated to buy wetlands offsets for their Kennecott Utah mine, in the Arizona case, RCM had to do a land exchange to access the Forest Service land, and there seem to be no other mandatory mitigatory steps required of RCM. But they did use ecosystem services to attribute value to the conservation lands, which seemed to have some utility for them.

    The land exchange was framed in terms of offsets because it of its purported mitigatory function. In his testimony before the U.S. Senate Sub-Committee on Forests and Public Lands, the President of Resolution stated in 2009, “we believe the exceptional quality and quantity of the non-federal lands that will be conveyed into Federal ownership more than off-set any expected surface impacts to the lands acquired by Resolution Copper” (my emphasis).

    The ICMM featured the Arizona land exchange in a 2010 Mining and Biodiversity case studies report, framing it as an offset as well:

    Given Rio Tinto’s commitment to a net positive impact to biodiversity, the land exchange presents a unique opportunity to exceed the requirements of trading land of equivalent economic value by ensuring that the land parcels offered in the trade are also of equivalent or greater value for the conservation of biodiversity and provision of environmental services – a biodiversity offset (my emphasis).

    The chart from this report (see above) shows the various parcels in Arizona Rio Tinto offered up as “offsets,” along with the their quality valuation, based on consultation with Audubon Arizona and other NGOs.

    Again, the biodiversity and environmental services would likely not be accounted for in the official appraisal. However, Resolution’s claim of these voluntary offsets may have contributed to an attempt to prove that the swap is in the public interest.

    Conservation Value

    “The American public is getting ripped off,” Silver said. “The only land that is of value is the research center’s because it hasn’t been overgrazed, but it’s of no value to the general public because it wouldn’t be open to them, unlike Oak Flat that offers recreational opportunities to the public and is of cultural value to Native Americans,” Silver said.

    Many, like Robin Silver, co-founder of the Center of Biological Diversity, as quoted by the Arizona Daily Sun disagree with TNC and Audubon Arizona’s opinions of the exchange parcels. Several environmental groups opposed to the mine detailed the damage the RCM would cause, as well as the poor quality of the exchange sites in their Scoping Comments for the Resolution Copper Mine DEIS.

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    “The San Pedro is not free-flowing at the 7B Ranch,” Witzeman wrote.

    Bob Witzeman, an environmentalist who spent several of his final years fighting against the Resolution Copper mine, commented that the 7B Ranch owned by BHP Billiton was likely purchased for its water rights and “is under no duress for need of protection… There is no danger of mining here, or developing homes here, because it is in a flood plain.”

    In earning credit for offsets, protecting a site only counts for something if the site is under threat. This is called additionality. Some states and institutions require additionality as part of offset programs. The “counterfactual,” or what otherwise would have happened without a conservation project such as an offset program, is often difficult to ascertain. As far as the land exchange in Arizona goes, not only do many of the parcels seem of poor quality, especially compared to Oak Flat, it’s likely that there was no imminent threat to the largest parcel, 7B Ranch, nor the Appleton-Whittell parcel which was converted into a research facility in 1968.

    This is not to say that conservation efforts are for naught (though there’s evidence that many of the projects, especially when profit-driven are not even effective), or that there is any legal weight to this point, but this needs to be considered. For example, regarding the 7B Ranch, Witzeman wrote, “BHP does own another riverside parcel with riparian habitat. BHP does plan to develop homes in that area, some 35,000 units. As of this time, they have made no commitment to protect this riparian habitat.” The land was still being preserved in 2013 (I was unable to find anything more recent) but the reason given that the real estate development plan didn’t come to fruition was the economic downturn in 2007.

    This brings up another problem with offset programs called leakage. “Leakage occurs when environmentally destructive activities… are shifted from the places targeted for conservation to other sites,” explains Kathleen McAfee in Green economy and carbon markets for conservation and development: A critical view. Just one relevant example of leakage is when TNC purchased 500 acres along the San Pedro to retire it from agricultural irrigation only to have the seller begin irrigating a nearby 500 acre plot soon after.

    Resolution’s protection of the 7B Ranch at the expense of nearby land can be shown in the case when the Sunzia transmission line project was in the planning stages, and two of the potential routes could have impacted the conservation value of the 7B Ranch. Resolution Copper sent a letter opposing those routes. The Final Environmental Impact Statement shows a somewhat different but nearby route as the BLM preferred alternative. RCM did not comment on other routes that would also affect the region. This not only shows that conservation is only important when it benefits the company, but it also points to another issue that comes up when profit factors into conservation. Scarcity, caused by development, increases the value of conservation products (such as offsets), thereby incentivizing conservation, but also more development.

    Sian Sullivan argues that conservation banking is development-dependent. “Indeed, development that produces transformation of habitats is required for conservation credits to attain the prices that will encourage establishment of conservation banks and bankers, thereby generating trade in conservation credits as a funding strategy for conservation management.”

    Seagle pointed out that as part of a strategy of sustainability in Madagascar – though applicable in other cases – Rio Tinto is paradoxically creating scarcity of biodiversity while claiming to save it.

    Here and Now

    The Nature Conservancy’s legitimization of development is not isolated to Resolution Copper, even in Arizona. Water is particularly vulnerable to green grabbing, as water is integral to ecosystem services as well as a necessary resource for industry. Aside from the partnerships with Ft. Huachuca noted above, TNC is also working with Castle & Cooke’s housing development called Tribute in Sierra Vista, as well as El Dorado Holdings’ Vigneto Villages housing development in Bensen, the latter involving a “mitigation parcel” as an offset. Both could be serious threats to the San Pedro and nearby aquifers, and require proof of assured water supplies.

    A major threat to aquifers and other surface water in Arizona relates to what’s happening with the Central Arizona Project (CAP) water Arizona has come to depend on (though destructive). Arizona is taking voluntary Colorado River water reductions to delay an official shortage declaration triggered by Lake Mead’s water level. Water officials have been meeting with various leaders in different sectors to arrange voluntary cuts, with a plan to compensate water users (this may involve more market-based “solutions”) for 400,000 AF per year. Resolution Copper has secured a portion of Arizona’s stored water in the form of storage credits, which brings up more issues regarding recovery. RCM expects to also be able to access large quantities of CAP water, but this allocation is in a low priority category, and therefore is subject to cuts. Farmers, tribes, and others are subject to having to forego their share of CAP water, essentially to secure water for the mine (and other mining operations and water bottling, etc). As CAP reductions go into effect, stress on other sources of surface and ground water will increase.

    What may be most troubling to readers is that an NGO has been selling water offsets based on watershed restoration projects, to companies like Coca Cola and Intel Corp. While they continue to use massive amounts of water, companies’ “water footprints” are allegedly reduced by voluntarily buying Water Restoration Certificates (WRC) from Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF). WRCs supposedly help restore a watershed in partnership with local landowners and big environmental groups like TNC. BEF also sells carbon offsets.

    One such project involving TNC and BEF (supported by Walmart heirs’ Walton Family Foundation) is the relatively new Verde River Exchange Water Offset Program. Reading media coverage on this project, you wouldn’t gather that this is part of TNC’s efforts in developing water markets across the globe. Their 2016 report called Water Share: Using water markets and impact investment to drive sustainability says a lot more, revealing that their hypothetical model involves reallocating (selling or leasing) the majority of the “conserved” water from farming (that would otherwise contribute to the aquifer or river but is considered “lost”) to another sector in order to raise revenue to compensate farmers and to profit investors. These small-scale pilot projects may have much bigger implications in the future.

    A few recently published papers (funded by the Walton Family Foundation) apply monetary value to and promote payments for ecosystem services of the Colorado River Basin, and suggest unbundling water rights to create a water market in the Western US. Water-marketing may be central to addressing the main obstacle to finalizing a Lower Colorado River basin Drought Contingency Plan – California’s Salton Sea. Arizona aims to resolve remaining tribal water rights claims on the state’s terms and facilitate water marketing. A major US/Mexico water agreement makes water marketing central to multiple aspects of the current and future versions. The Bureau of Reclamation has become involved in water marketing, and things may become even worse under Trump’s administration.

    It is concerning that seemingly necessary feel-good projects in water conservation will actually serve capitalism. But there is no denying that there are many examples of this across the world. NGO/corporate partnerships have served to contribute to learning experiences, provide green credentials for mining companies and other development to influence media and decision-makers, and create new mechanisms for access to resources and financial gain.

    Standing Rock water protectors’ efforts were evoked in an article on the Ecosystem Marketplace website in which the author declared that 2016 was a year for learning the value of water. The article promoted market-based mechanisms like those developed by TNC. The real lesson to be learned is not that the value of water should be translated into market terms, but instead many have learned that resource appropriation (when not invisible) is backed up by state violence or the threat of it. Those who physically obstruct the Resolution Copper mine, or in any other case, in protest may be treated similarly to the water protectors fighting against DAPL.

     

    See an accompanying page on the San Pedro River for more on that.

    The Greenwashing of Wars by NGOs & the US Military

    Consortium News

    September 9, 2016

    By Ann Wright

     

    avaaz-hypocrisy

    “The 21st century NGO is becoming, more and more, a key tool serving the imperialist quest of absolute global dominance and exploitation. Global society has been, and continues to be, manipulated to believe that NGOs are representative of “civil society” (a concept promoted by corporations in the first place). This misplaced trust has allowed the “humanitarian industrial complex” to ascend to the highest position: the missionaries of deity – the deity of the empire.” [Source: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part I] Image design: Luke Orsborne

    A recent congress of major conservation groups soft-pedaled criticism of the U.S. military and other war-makers despite the massive damage they inflict on humans, animals, plants, cultural sites and the environment, reports retired Col. Ann Wright.

    The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has come in for criticism due to its lack of attention to the detrimental effects of wars and military operations on nature. Considering the degree of harm to the environment coming from these human activities, one would think that the organization might have set aside some time at its World Conservation Congress this past week in Hawaii to specifically address these concerns.

    Yet, of the more than 1,300 workshops crammed into the six-day marathon environmental meeting in Honolulu, followed by four days of discussion about internal resolutions, nothing specifically addressed the destruction of the environment by military operations and wars.

    Protest signs urging global conservation meeting to address the environmental damage from U.S. military bases. (Photo by Ann Wright)

    Protest sign urging global conservation meeting to address the environmental damage from U.S. military bases. (Photo by Ann Wright)

    The heavy funding the IUCN gets from governments is undoubtedly the rationale for not addressing this “elephant in the room” at a conference for the protection of the endangered planet – a tragic commentary on a powerful organization that should acknowledge all anti-environmental pressures.

    At a presentation at the USA Pavilion during the conference, senior representatives of the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy regaled the IUCN audience of conservationists with tales about caring for the environment, including protecting endangered species, on hundreds of U.S. military bases in the United States.

    The presenters did not mention what is done on the over 800 U.S. military bases outside of the United States. In the one-hour military style briefing, the speakers failed to mention the incredible amounts of fossil fuels used by military aircraft, ships and land vehicles that leave mammoth carbon footprints around the world. Also not mentioned were wars that kill humans, animals and plants; military exercise bombing of entire islands and large swaths of land; and the harmful effects of the burn pits which have incinerated the debris of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Each military service representative focused on the need for training areas to prepare the U.S. military to “keep peace in the world.”  Of course, no mention was made of “keeping the peace” through wars of choice that have killed hundreds of thousands of persons, animals and plants, and the bombing of the cultural heritage in many areas around the world including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

    jeremy-heimans-meme

    Miranda Ballentine, Air Force Assistant Secretary for Installations, the Environment and Energy, said the U.S. Air Force has over 5,000 aircraft, more than all the airlines in the United States — yet she never mentioned how many gallons of jet fuel are used by these aircraft, nor how many people, animals and cultural sites the aircraft have bombed.

    To give one some idea of the scale of the footprint of U.S. military bases, Ballentine said Air Force has over 160 installations, including 70 major installation covering over 9 million square miles of land, larger than the country of Switzerland, plus 200 miles of coastland.

    Incredibly, Ballentine said that due to commercial development around military bases, military bases have become “islands of conservation” — conservation takes place inside the protected base while there are larger conservation issues outside the fence lines of the bases.

    Adding to the mammoth size of the military base footprint, Dr. Christine Altendorf, the regional director of the U.S. Army’s Installation Management Command of the Pacific, said U.S. Army bases have 12.4 million acres of land, including 1.3 million acres of wetlands, 82,605 archeological sites, 58,887 National Historical Landmarks and 223 endangered species on 118 installations.

    The U.S. Navy’s briefer, a Navy Commander, added to the inventory of military equipment, saying the Navy has 3,700 aircraft; 276 ships, including 10 aircraft carriers; 72 submarines. Seventy naval installations in the United States have 4 million acres of land and 500 miles of coastline. The Navy presenter said the Navy has never heard of a marine mammal that has been harmed by U.S. Naval vessels or acoustic experiments in the past ten years.

    Only One Question

    At the end of the three presentations, there was time for only one question — and luckily, my intense hand waving paid off and I got to ask: “How can you conserve nature when you are bombing nature in wars of choice around the world, practicing military operations in areas that have endangered species like on the islands of Oahu, Big Island of Hawaii, Pagan, Tinian, Okinawa and bombing islands into wastelands like the Hawaiian island of Koho’olawe and the Puerto Rican island of Vieques  and now you want to use the North Marianas ‘Pagan’ Island as a bombing target. And how does the construction of the new South Korean naval base in pristine marine areas of Jeju Island that will be used by the U.S. Navy and the proposed construction at Henoko of the runways into the pristine Oura Bay in Okinawa fit into conservation of nature?”

    A crater that was created on the Hawaiian island of Koho’olawe from massive explosions of TNT in 1965. (Photo from Hawaii Archive)

    A crater that was created on the Hawaiian island of Koho’olawe from massive explosions of TNT in 1965. (Photo from Hawaii Archive)

    Interestingly, in the large audience of approximately 100 people, not one of them applauded the question indicating that either audience was composed primarily of Department of Defense employees, or that the conservationists are uneasy about confronting the U.S. government and particularly the U.S. military about its responsibility for its large role in the destruction of much of the planet’s environment.

    The Navy representative was the only person to respond to my question. He reiterated the national security necessity for military exercises to practice to “defend peace around the world.” To his credit, he acknowledged the role the public has in commenting on the possible impact of military exercises. He said that over 32,000 comments from the public have been made on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the possibility of artillery firing and aircraft bombing of the Northern Marianas island of Tinian — that has only 2,300 inhabitants.

    Despite all odds, someone in Hawaii was able to get an exhibit of photographs of the cleanup of Koho’olawe placed on the third floor of the Hawaii Convention Center. There was no sign announcing the exhibition, just a series of photos with some explanation. In five days of attending the conference, I observed that 95 percent of the conference attendees who walked past the exhibition did not stop to look at it – until I stopped them and explained what it was about. Then, they were very interested.

    From 1941 to 1990, the island of Koho’olawe was used as a bombing range for U.S. military aircraft and naval vessels. One photograph in the exhibition showed the crater called “Sailor’s Hat” which was made by several massive explosions of TNT in 1965 to recreate and study the effects of large explosions on nearby ships and personnel to simulate in some manner the effects of a nuclear explosion. The crater affected the island’s fresh water aquifer and now no artesian water remains on the island.

    After Hawaiians stopped the bombing through their protests and by staying on the island during bombings from the 1970s, the U.S. Navy returned Koho’olawe to the State of Hawaii in 2004 after a 10-year clean-up process. But only 66 percent of the surface has been cleared of unexploded ordnance (UXO), and only 10 percent cleared to a depth of 4 feet. Twenty-three percent of the surface remains uncleared and 100 percent of the waters surrounding the island have not been cleared of UXO, putting divers and ships at risk. 

    Okinawan Environmental Activists

    Environmental activists from Okinawa had a booth at the IUCN at which they told about the attempt of the U.S. military and the national Japanese government to construct a runway complex into Oura Bay, a pristine marine area that that is the home of the protected species of marine mammal, the dugong.

    The Deputy Governor of Okinawa and the Mayor of Nago city, Okinawa, both of whom have been key figures in the grassroots campaign to stop the construction of the runways and the lawsuits filed by the provincial government of Okinawa against the federal Japanese government, gave presentations about the citizens’ struggle against the construction of the runways.

    However, there was no mention of the environmental effects on the marine environment from the construction of a huge new naval base on Jeju Island, South Korea, the site of the previous IUCN conference four years ago. At that conference, IUCN, no doubt at the request of the South Korean government, refused to allow citizen activists to have a booth inside the convention or make presentations like the Okinawans did this year. As a result, the Jeju Island campaigners were forced to stay outside the conference site.

    Four years later in the 2016 WCC conference in Hawaii, the Government of Japan and the Province of Jeju Island sponsored a large multi-media pavilion about Jeju island which did not mention the construction of the new naval base and the destruction of the cultural heritage of the site nor the displacement of women divers who had dived at the location for generations.

    On Sept. 3, local groups in Honolulu came to the Hawaii Convention Center with signs to remind the IUCN of the U.S. militarization of Asia and the Pacific. Signs and posters from local environmentalists cited the environmental impact from the huge 108,863-acre Pohakuloa bombing range on the Big Island of Hawaii, the largest U.S. military installation in the Pacific; the Aegis missile test center on the island of Kauai; and the four large U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine bases on the island of Oahu.

    Other signs referenced the extensive number of U.S. military bases in Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, Guam and new U.S. military installations in the Philippines and Australia.

     

     

    [Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She also served 16 years as a US diplomat in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia.  She was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December 2001.  She resigned from the US Department of State in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq.]

     

     

    Why Is Environmental Damage Of War Considered A Taboo Subject?

    Activist Post

    September 22, 2016

    By Diane Mantzaris

     

    “What the imperialist warlords don’t understand is that no one nation or elite class can survive the climate catastrophe without saving the planet as a whole, given the multitude of interconnectedness of the earth’s eco- and geophysical/chemical/climate systems. In fact, allowing massive suffering in ‘unimportant’ regions will logically lead to further decimation of ecosystems and the transfer of their biomass carbon into the atmosphere, as people will be driven to seeking out the last of water and sustenance amid crop failures, droughts and wildfires… We are literally one people, sharing one fate. Human rights is not only a moral issue, it has very sound physical and existential basis.” – Maggie Zhou [Source]

     

    syria_on_fire-777

    While Australia’s so called progressive left has been hollering about the environmental damage caused to our planet and lamenting the impact of climate change, they still find it “too difficult” to make a call for an end to Australia’s participation in the US/allied dirty war on Syria.

    This resistance to speak out occurs even after the RAAF bombing massacre of a few days ago.

    Those who remain silent continue to use the excuse of war complexities and “regime change” propaganda in the disinformation spread that travels from the US/UK to Australia – the disinformation shoved under our noses every day.

    At least Ann Wright of Consortium News has the courage to ask these questions. As Wright reports in her article, “Greenwashing Wars And The U.S. Military,

    The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has come in for criticism due to its lack of attention to the detrimental effects of wars and military operations on nature. Considering the degree of harm to the environment coming from these human activities, one would think that the organization might have set aside some time at its World Conservation Congress this past week in Hawaii to specifically address these concerns.

    Yet, of the more than 1,300 workshops crammed into the six-day marathon environmental meeting in Honolulu, followed by four days of discussion about internal resolutions, nothing specifically addressed the destruction of the environment by military operations and wars.

    At a presentation at the USA Pavilion during the conference, senior representatives of the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy regaled the IUCN audience of conservationists with tales about caring for the environment, including protecting endangered species, on hundreds of U.S. military bases in the United States.The heavy funding the IUCN gets from governments is undoubtedly the rationale for not addressing this “elephant in the room” at a conference for the protection of the endangered planet – a tragic commentary on a powerful organization that should acknowledge all anti-environmental pressures.The presenters did not mention what is done on the over 800 U.S. military bases outside of the United States. In the one-hour military style briefing, the speakers failed to mention the incredible amounts of fossil fuels used by military aircraft, ships and land vehicles that leave mammoth carbon footprints around the world. Also not mentioned were wars that kill humans, animals and plants; military exercise bombing of entire islands and large swaths of land; and the harmful effects of the burn pits which have incinerated the debris of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.Each military service representative focused on the need for training areas to prepare the U.S. military to “keep peace in the world.” Of course, no mention was made of “keeping the peace” through wars of choice that have killed hundreds of thousands of persons, animals and plants, and the bombing of the cultural heritage in many areas around the world including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

    Such terrible human suffering and genocide is inflicted upon Syrians by an Australia purporting to be at war with ISIS.

    I can only respond in this manner: I swear most people do not have a pulse.

    Did it ever occur to you that war, climate change and the refugee crisis are linked?

    It is thus very highly ironic that it is too taboo to discuss the ongoing displacement of people caused by war while being so concerned about refugees at the same time.

    And yes it was the Australian Greens (Christine Milne) that pushed through cruel sanctions on Syria during Labour’s term in Australia: the same party purporting to care for refugees and the environment today.

    Apparently it is also taboo to discuss the massive environmental devastation caused by war and imperialism.

     

    [Diane Mantzaris is an Australian artist known for her pioneering application of digital imaging to printmaking and for her unconventional approach to image making, which is often both personal and political in content. Mantzaris pioneered the use of computers as a printmaking and art-making tool in the early to mid-1980s, exhibiting widely, nationally and throughout Asia in touring exhibitions, to considerable acclaim. Her practice now crosses into several fields associated with the visual arts, printmaking, drawing, photography, sculpture, performance and public art. She is represented in most state and public collections throughout Australia and significant private collections throughout Asia and Europe. She was was drawn into action over Syria while watching the events unfold with colleagues in Aleppo.]

    diane-mantzaris

    Diane Mantzaris ©
    ‘Garden of Eve: the Ages of Inhumanity’ 2012 
    206cm (Height) x 120cm (Width) 
    C-Type Photograph