The burning of trees and animal deaths is only the first stage of a vicious cycle that marks the relationship between Belo Monte and the surrounding forest. Authorized to devastate thousands of hectares, the plant should use the timber for its own purpose or donate it for external use. The entry of large volumes of timber into the local market would help reduce the pressure on the forest. This was the plan, and one of the conditions, for the project's approval. In practice, things turned out very differently.
A Brazilian court has suspended the operating licence for the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, one of the world's largest, just weeks before its owner, Norte Energia, planned to start electricity generation.
World’s fourth largest hydropower plant’s license was suspended weeks before testing turbines because operators failed to compensate local communitiesJanuary 15, 2016The Guardian
"This case sets an important precedent for the defence of indigenous rights in the Amazon at a time when the government is set to repeat the Belo Monte disaster by building dozens of dams on the Tapajós River."
Projects' true costs are being inadequately assessed, say scientistsJanuary 7, 2016Earth Island Journal
Brazil's massive Belo Monte dam, which is due to be completed this year, "may set a record for biodiversity loss" owing to its siting at a location with an exceptional number of endemic species.
The final agreement from the Paris climate talks has been the subject of much controversy regarding the language in the document pertaining to indigenous rights. Any semblance of a legally binding measure pertaining to these rights was omitted from the final agreement that was signed by the governments of 190 countries. The agreement concluded a two-week long process that brought together some of the world's largest corporations, and environmental and human rights organizations, to agree on international energy standards, goals and applications.
Among the cases heard by this tribunal, several dealt with oil exploitation in Ecuador – a country that, ironically, was the first to include the rights of nature into its 2008 constitution. One of these cases focused on Yasuní National Park.December 10, 2015Mongabay
Last weekend, while the official COP21 negotiations were going on north of Paris at a site called Le Bourget, leaders of indigenous nations in North and South America were in Paris calling for justice for what they say are ongoing violations of the rights of the earth itself.
"Our struggle is large and dangerous, but we know we shall win. I've been to Belo Monte so I know what these dams represent: if they are built on the Tapajós they will flood our lands, and destroy our fish and hunting. We've come to put an end to this madness," Munduruku Chief Suberanino Saw told Amazon Watch in 2104.
As negotiators butt heads in Paris over the fine print of a new United Nations climate treaty, one issue they will need to address urgently is the fate of the Amazon.
A coalition of more than three hundred civil society organisations from 53 countries has launched a manifesto calling on government leaders and financiers at the Paris climate talks to keep large hydropower projects out of climate initiatives.
The declaration makes several demands of governments: the end of subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, that the wealthier countries of the world promise to fund a "just transition to a clean and renewable energy economy for all" and, most importantly, that fossil fuels be kept in the ground by ending exploration and new extraction. The goal, explains Andrew Miller of the San Francisco–based Amazon Watch, is to change the discourse at the COP – most of the climate-related commitments countries have made to date have focused largely on the consumption side of the fossil fuel problem, continuing to ignore the critical production and supply sides.