• Celebrating the life and legacy of Thomas Berry

ojuso: For a Just Transition

What do we hope for from the global transition to renewable energy? Most of us hope this transition will help us prevent runaway climate change, take us beyond the polluting influence of the fossil fuel industry and usher in an energy system, perhaps even a new economic system, that is more equal and fair for all. But this is not a given…

 

Wind turbines- part of the controversial Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, Kenya. Borgen Magazine.

 

A disturbingly large number of green energy projects boast a negative record, including land grabs, displacement of vulnerable communities, indigenous rights violations, violence against human rights defenders, and the destruction of unique ecosystems and sites of cultural and spiritual significance. Similar problems occur in the supply chain of some elements critical for the renewable energy economy, like cobalt, iron ore and lithium.

The practices employed by many companies and states in an attempt to build renewable energy systems closely resemble the aggressive tactics used by the fossil fuel industries to establish their projects. They replicate many of the injustices of the fossil fuel economy.

One of the reasons these practices happen is because of the lack of effective community engagement in the renewable energy sector. FPIC (Free, Prior and Informed Consent) processes are typically limited and inadequate. If the renewable energy sector fails to address and reverse this situation, it will face growing resistance, widespread criticism and more risk. This would result in higher costs, erosion of public support and a slower energy transition. Impacted communities and society at large would suffer dire consequences.

There is no doubt we urgently need to transition to renewable energy, as well as democratising and redistributing energy demand globally. But as long as communities are not meaningfully involved in giving or withholding their consent and we remain reliant on mining ‘new’ minerals and metals through destructive means, this transition, and our hopes for it, are at risk.

 

The Alliance of Solwara Warriors are opposing experimental deep sea mining, which is being pursued to provide metals for the ‘green economy’. Ramu Mine.

 

The ojuso project is an effort to get community engagement right and to strengthen socio-environmental standards and accountability in the renewable energy economy. It will bring together communities, ethical market players (investors, banks, project developers, energy companies, equipment manufacturers), and concerned civil society (NGOs and academia) in a collective effort to:

  1. Provide information on the socio-economic impacts of renewable energy projects, with the goal of fostering best practices and preventing investment in destructive projects.
  2. Establish a direct channel for dialogue between communities and investors.
  3. Compile information on the cumulative impacts in the supply chain of renewable energy equipment and incentivize further research and innovation.
  4. Strengthen regulation and public pressure to sanction irresponsible practices.
  5. Foster collaborative models of renewable energy generation based on community leadership and positive socio-environmental outcomes.

The ojuso online platform will foster constructive solutions through collaboration, and expose unscrupulous market players. It is being developed by Yansa and the Gaia Foundation with support from the Swift Foundation and partners from indigenous communities, impact investment, philanthropy, academia and the renewable energy sector.

We are looking for additional partners to launch the platform in late-2017.

Contact tom[at]ojuso.org for more information. 

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We live in a time of multiple, complex crises. There are no easy answers. Working to uphold the health and diversity of our living planet is always rewarding, but we think you’ll agree it can sometimes feel like swimming against the stream. And yet like salmon we leap, and more often than you might expect, we make it. We invite you to make the next leap with us by making a donation of any size. Thank you for your solidarity.

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