Climate debt news
UK-funded wind farms violate indigenous rights
As campaigners focusing on climate justice, we tend to think wind energy is a good thing. And so it can be – but not when it robs indigenous people of their land.
Last year, the World Development Movement’s climate campaigner Kirsty Wright went to the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, and met indigenous activist Bettina Cruz Velazquez. Bettina told Kirsty how wind farms run by multinational corporations are being built without the consent of the indigenous people who own the land.
In October, Bettina and others were attacked and received death threats during a protest against one of the wind farms. Amnesty is concerned that the death of a man in unclear circumstances during the protest is being used to ‘unfairly prosecute protestors and to deter future protests,’ and it is asking people to write to the Mexican authorities expressing their concern.
Incredibly, one of the other wind farms in the area, also being opposed by local people, is being part financed from the UK’s overseas aid budget. It produces enough electricity to power 160,000 homes. So at the very least, it must be providing energy for the people of Oaxaca, seven per cent of whom have no access to electricity, right? Wrong. All the electricity produced by the La Mata and La Ventosa wind park is being sold at a discounted rate to Walmart.
Yes, UK aid money is being used to produce electricity for a US multinational, which also owns the Asda supermarket chain in the UK. Our report ‘Power to the people?’, launched today details how this is happening. The UK government has given £385 million from its overseas aid budget to the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund, which is supposed to help developing countries in their transition to renewable energy. Yet fossil fuel energy production is growing faster in Mexico than wind power – so it’s questionable whether this project actually reduces Mexico’s emissions.
Kirsty Wright, who visited Bettina in Oaxaca last year, is now at the UN climate talks in Durban, lobbying hard alongside hundreds of campaigners from around the world for a fair deal. A new ‘Green Climate Fund’ is to be discussed at Durban, and under current proposals it will have a ‘dedicated private sector arm’ – which means it would be likely to finance more disastrous projects like La Mata and La Ventosa wind farm which do nothing to address the energy access needs of local people. The World Development Movement and its allies are trying to make sure the new fund instead supports people in developing countries in their efforts to combat climate change.
Miriam is media officer at WDM, and works to generate as much coverage as possible for our campaigns.