Inside Climate News: A growing movement looks to end oil drilling in the Amazon
When leaders of eight Amazon nations gathered recently in Brazil for a summit on deforestation, they also played host to a growing movement by civil society groups to phase out oil and gas development within the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Reported by Nicholas Kusnetz for Inside Climate News.
In a nutshell:
As oil companies and governments aim to counter declining production, they've sought to expand drilling in the region, with existing or planned development covering vast swaths of undisturbed forest. Indigenous groups and activists are leveraging recent events to oppose this expansion, such as Colombian President Gustavo Petro's call to phase out Amazon oil development and Brazil's environmental agency blocking offshore drilling.
The focus of the movement is on Indigenous rights and the Amazon's crucial role in regulating the global climate, which has prompted calls for a "fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty" to halt production in the region. The results of Ecuador's referendum this week, which halts oil field development within a ecologically important national park, will likely play a pivotal role in this movement, as activists and Indigenous leaders work to protect the Amazon and shift toward a sustainable bioeconomy.
“The movement is saying, if we need to stop fossil fuels globally, then the Amazon should be the place where we start,” said Alex Rafalowicz, global director for a coalition of environmental groups campaigning for a “fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty” that would commit nations to phasing out production. “It’s the lungs of the world. It is this unique source of biodiversity for the whole planet.”
The big picture:
It's a justice issue as well as a climate issue. Indigenous communities in the Amazon face an array of health consequences due to the combined effects of oil and gas development and rampant deforestation. Toxic emissions from oil drilling and the destruction of vast forested areas contribute to respiratory illnesses, skin disorders and infections among the Indigenous population, while contamination of water sources jeopardizes their access to clean drinking water, leading to waterborne diseases that further endanger their well-being. Indigenous peoples have led the charge to protect their lands.
Read the article at Inside Climate News.
What happens in the Amazon certainly doesn't stay in the Amazon: Large ecosystems crucial to planetary health—such as the Amazon rainforest or Caribbean coral reefs—could collapse in just a few decades, EHN senior editor Brian Bienkowski reports.