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BP Destroys savannah and Threatens Rainforests in Brazil

September 14th, 2009

During its centenary year, BP is reaping more profits than ever before. The world’s third biggest oil company has long been responsible for crimes against people and the environment in Colombia and other countries. They have no scruples against investing in Canadian tar sands or agrofuels, which destroy the habitats of animals and plants and people’s livelihoods.

The consequences of the agrofuel boom are particularly marked in Brazil: The Brazilian President Lula da Silva has called the country “the green Saudi Arabia of the South”. Businesses are offered ideal conditions for investing in vast mono cultures and refineries for agrofuels. Rain-forests, precious water resources, soils and local people, whose livelihoods are being destroyed are paying the price. All this is happening under the pretence of ‘climate change mitigation’, even though fossil-fuel intensive mono cultures at the expense of ecosystems are one of the quickest ways of making global warming worse. BP plans to invest 4 billion Euros, in order to produce sugar cane ethanol in Brazil. Their plans include two large ethanol refineries with an annual capacity of 435 million litres each.

BP has just acquired the Brazilian company Tropical Bioenergia in the state of Goiás, southwest of the capital Brasilia. The companies activities are located in the heart of the Cerrado, the world’s most bio-diverse savannah. Sugar cane plantations are mushrooming across Goiás, mostly at the expense of food production. This pushes the agricultural frontier, particularly cattle ranching and soya production, further north into the Cerrado and into rain forests. Already, sugar cane plantations cover 458,000 hectares of land in Goiás. Some 60,000 hectares of those supply BP’s ethanol refineries. No end of this displacement is in sight.

BP is heavily lobbying for more sugar cane expansion in Brazil. In Europe and the US, the company is pushing for tariffs on Brazilian ethanol to be scrapped. The Brazilian Sugar Cane Industry Association, UNICA, has long been putting pressure on the European Commission and the European Parliament, in order to lift all obstacles to ever greater sugar cane imports. In Germany and Sweden, those efforts were successful, with a bilateral energy agreement between Germany and Brazil, and a decision by Sweden to abolish ethanol import tariffs. In the UK, BP was able to shape biofuel legislation, the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, which mandates biofuel blending into all road transport fuel. BP is also at the forefront of the push for agrofuels for aviation.

Due in part to BP’s activities, the Brazilian Cerrado savannah and rainforests are going up in flames.

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