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Wind power in Oaxaca, Mexico
Violence and death threats have been used against local indigenous community members resisting the construction of Latin America’s largest wind farm, the San Dionisio del Mar project. A corporate wind energy consortium consisting of FEMSA/Coca-Cola, Heineken, Mitsubishi, Macquarie, Vestas, PGGM (a Dutch pensions fund) and others, and financed by the Inter-American Development Bank, formed paramilitary shock troops with the intention of invading the ancestral lands of the Mexican indigenous Ikojts/Huave people to clear land for the wind farm, which is intended to produce power for both FEMSA, the Coca-Cola bottling company in Mexico, and for Heineken.
Solar power in the Sahara, Morocco
In Morocco, the government is advancing proposals for the construction of a mega solar power plant with the purpose of exporting electricity to Europe. Major concerns have been raised about the proposed Ouarzazate solar project – part funded by the World Bank’s so-called Clean Technology Fund – including that it would likely lead to an increase in electricity costs for ordinary people in Morocco, as well as the depletion of much-needed water resources and the displacement of indigenous nomadic farmers.
Geothermal power in Bedugul, Indonesia
Friends of the Earth Indonesia is campaigning against a proposed geothermal project in the Dasong forest conservation area in Bedugul in Bali, Indonesia. The area is considered a sacred space by Balinese Hindus and is an important water catchment areas for traditional farmers. According to its environmental impact assessment the project would have severe impacts on water and biodiversity. The project was initially proposed under the Soeharto regime and has involved no community consultation or participation, as well as bribery and intimidation of community members critical of the project.
Wind power in Trøndelag, Norway
The development of renewable energy is much debated within and between environmental organisations in Norway, especially how to balance the need for more renewable energy with the consequences some projects will have for vulnerable nature. Friends of the Earth Norway is resisting the construction of an industrial area hosting eight large wind power plants in Trøndelag in the middle of Norway. Construction would cause habitat loss for many species and pose a serious threat to bird populations, including white-tailed eagles. It could also have significant detrimental impacts on the lives and livelihoods of the local indigenous Sami people, who have launched legal action to try to stop or delay the construction of the plants and transmission lines. Instead of this new energy production, Friends of the Earth Norway is campaigning for energy efficiency and savings to reduce overall energy demand.
Mitigating the risks: reducing energy dependence
If we are to create a sustainable, just and climate-safe energy system, it is essential to mitigate the above risks to the greatest degree possible. We need to focus not just on stopping climate change and avoiding the trap of runaway climate breakdown, but on ensuring that decarbonisation of the energy system does not come at the cost of other social and environmental outcomes. This in turn requires two things.
First, it necessitates that we reduce energy dependence so that the renewable infrastructure needed is minimised. In advanced industrialised countries this means prioritising reduction of energy dependence and excessive energy consumption, increases in energy efficiency, and meeting the reduced energy demand with renewable energy. This doesn’t mean that we should delay the transition to renewable energy until we have reduced energy dependence –the dual aims of energy policy should be to reduce unnecessary and excessive energy use and to meet the remaining essential demand with renewable technologies. In the global South, where energy consumption is far lower, it means increasing energy access and meeting basic energy needs via the roll-out of renewable energy, while avoiding the unsustainable, high-energy consumption models of the industrialised world.
Second, it requires us to minimise corporate influence over the energy transition and exert democratic control over energy policy and the energy system, minimising negative social and environmental outcomes and maximising positive outcomes. How we do this is more difficult, and is explored in the final chapter.