350.org – “The Amazon represents life worldwide but the oil extraction there may lead to death”

At a direct action on December 4th, in front of the Sheraton Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Indigenous leaders, fishermen and activists from 350.org called for an end to oil and gas extraction in the Amazon.

The action was carried out at the same time that, inside the hotel, the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP) promoted a public session for the announcement of proposals for the oil and gas blocks available in the 2nd Permanent Offer Cycle, including areas in the Amazon

“In defense of the fishers’ territory”: much of the oil exploration in Brazil is offshore and may lead to disasters to the marine life. Photo by Lucas Landau.

The auctions of the Permanent Offer Cycle have been organized since 2019 by the Brazilian government with the objective of allowing companies in the fossil fuel sector to make offers for areas with potential for oil and gas exploration. The companies that present the best proposals for each block earn the right to prospect that area. If their exploration projects are approved by the environmental licensing authorities, they will start to extract oil and gas.

More than 200 blocks were available for auction this Friday, of which 16 are located in the Amazon Basin. The license to prospect and potentially explore three of these blocks was bought by the Brazilian company Eneva. This means that the fossil fuel industry is one step closer to expanding its activities in the largest rainforest in the world.

This is very concerning for traditional communities and anybody who defends the global climate, biodiversity and environmental justice. An unprecedented study by 350.org showed that oil and gas production in these 16 blocks may cause or aggravate considerable socio-environmental impacts, such as deforestation, invasions and conflicts, in 47 Indigenous Lands and 22 Conservation Units in the surrounding area.

Ninawá Huni Kui, a leader of the Huni Kui people in Acre, Brazil sings traditional songs and prays during the action in Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Lucas Landau.

“The Amazon represents life for Indigenous Peoples and the planet, but oil can bring the death of animals, forests and people. We are united to fight and overcome this threat”, says Ninawá Huni Kui, president of the Federation of Huni Kui People from the State of Acre, present at the demonstration in Rio.

Blocks were also auctioned in nine other basins spread across the Brazilian territory, with potential impacts on terrestrial biomes and on marine life. Fishermen from Rio de Janeiro, who participated in the action, spoke in defense of these at-risk territories.

“In the last decades, we have seen the damage that oil exploration has brought to the environment, for women and for families in the Guanabara Bay, where we live. Therefore, we have come to show our support for the fight to protect the Amazon and all of Brazil from the impacts of this industry “, says Daize Menezes de Souza, director of the fishers’ association Ahomar and coordinator of the National Articulation of Fisherwomen.

Ilan Zugman, Director of 350.org in Latin America, emphasized that the populations most affected by the climate crisis, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, are those who contributed the least to the warming of the planet.

“The companies participating in this auction and the ANP itself are aggravating the climate injustice, by putting traditional communities at risk and concentrating money in the hands of a few, since not even the economic gains reach the residents of the region. The companies that make offers in these auctions earn the profits, while to the communities from the Amazon only fear of leaks, environmental destruction and invasions remain”, he said.

This Friday’s demonstration was the first initiative of the Amazon Resistance campaign, coordinated by 350.org and indigenous leaders, to amplify the voices and enhance the actions of traditional communities in defense of their lands and the global climate, in the face of the threats posed by the sectors of oil and gas in the Amazon.

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