December 4, 2020

Amazon Resists campaign will strengthen the fight of Amazon communities against the impacts of fossil fuels

As oil and gas sectors try to dominate new areas in the largest rainforest of the world, Indigenous leaders and join efforts to amplify the voices of traditional communities in defense of their lands and the global climate

At a time when the fossil fuel industry is trying to expand in the Brazilian Amazon, Indigenous leaders and activists from in the South American country will launch, on December 4, the campaign Amazon Resists, which aims to amplify the voices and enhance the actions of traditional peoples in defense of their rights, in the face of attacks by the oil and gas sectors.

The campaign will reaffirm the power and legitimacy of Indigenous peoples to make decisions about their territories and ways of life. It will also draw society’s attention to the urgency of an energy transition in Brazil, which would enable the country to guarantee the conservation of life in the largest tropical forest in the world and achieve its nationally determined emission reduction goals, while meeting the demand of communities for clean, safe and affordable energy.

“We cannot see the Amazon biome as a product for big business. The forest is so important that it represents life worldwide, and it is not acceptable that oil and gas projects have a higher value than life,” says the chief Ninawá Huni Kui, president of the Huni Kui People’s Federation of the State of Acre, in the western portion of the Brazilian Amazon.

The first action of the Amazon Resists campaign will be a mobilization against the auctions for oil and gas exploration in the Amazon by the National Agency of Oil, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP). On December 4, this federal agency will announce, in a public session in Rio de Janeiro, the offers made by some of the largest oil and gas companies in the world for the blocks of the 2nd Permanent Supply Cycle, which may include 16 blocks in the Amazon Basin.

A new study by shows that the production of oil and gas in these 16 blocks may lead to considerable socio-environmental impacts, such as deforestation and harms to the health of the communities, in 47 surrounding Indigenous Lands and 22 Conservation Units. Several of these territories border the auctioned blocks and, in one of the Conversation Units, the Nhamund State Park, the area offered for exploration even overlaps with the conservation area.

The report warns that oil and gas prospecting and exploration activities, if they go ahead, will bring deforestation not only by carrying out these activities themselves, but because they would stimulate the opening of roads, the formation of new precarious urban centers and land grabbing in the region of the enterprises.

Attempts to expand the activity of the fossil industry in these blocks also violate the right of Indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consultation on activities that impact their territories. Also, these attempts bring threats to the security, health and culture of communities, by encouraging conflicts with groups of invaders.

In addition to the in-person and online actions that climate activists and Indigenous leaders will hold in Brazil on December 4, will mobilize its teams across the world. The goal is to pressure multinational companies participating in the oil and gas auctions in Brazil to refrain from fossil fuel exploration in the Amazon, as a key factor to stop climate colonialism.

Ilan Zugman, Latin America Managing Director, said:

“The aggressions against the forest and its communities have been coming from so many fronts in Brazil, in the last few years, that they end up camouflaging the negative impacts that the fossil fuel industry can have on the Amazon, but it is a very urgent and concrete threat. The time to stop this additional factor of destruction of the environment and the climate is now.”

“Brazil needs to combat the exploitation of fossil fuels in the Amazon in conjunction with other problems, such as the disordered expansion of agriculture and ranching, illegal mining and uncontrolled lumber activity. All of these activities eliminate real wealth such as cultural and biological diversity, in exchange for profits concentrated in the hands of small groups of people, who often do not even live in the region”.

“The fossil fuel sector has left a trail of socio environmental destruction in countries that have already undergone its expansion in the Amazon, such as Peru and Ecuador. Several indigenous communities in these countries suffered from deaths, health problems and contamination of their lands because of the oil leaks. Brazil needs to go the other way now before it is too late”. 

“It comes across as hypocritical from European and North American governments to correctly pressure the Brazilian government to stop illegal deforestation resulting from sectors such as soy and beef in the Amazon and to announce emissions reduction plans while they turn a blind eye to the threats posed by the oil and gas companies from their own countries. We need policies to prevent fossil fuels multinationals from doing in other territories what they have been pushed not to do in their headquarters. This means  stopping climate colonialism”.