DTE activities Update 2013

Representatives from WALHI, DTE, Sawit Watch in Europe campaign

Snapshots from a year of campaigns

DTE 98, March 2014

Focusing public attention on the devastating impacts on communities, environment and climate of coal mining and agrofuels featured prominently in DTE’s work over the last year.

In June, DTE visited East and Central Kalimantan with members of another UK NGO, World Development Movement. The trip included trekking to the site of BHP-Billiton’s planned Haju coal mine – an area rich in rainforest biodiversity. We also spoke to local community members who don’t want to see any more land turned into a massive open-pit mine (they have seen what these mines are like in neighbouring areas).

A few months later, we co-hosted JATAM coordinator Hendrik Siregar in the UK. He spoke about the impacts of coal mining at WDM-organised public meetings around the UK, and at BHP Billiton’s London AGM he asked the company’s board why it was persisting in dirty energy exploitation in Kalimantan. DTE  informed company shareholders at the AGM how local people are against the Haju mine and how it will ruin local livelihoods. BHP Billiton claims it “isn’t like other companies”, and that it is treading carefully in Kalimantan. But is it possible for a coal company to tread carefully? How about doing what people really want and not treading there at all?

Other companies involved in coal-mining in Kalimantan include Bumi plc. Bumi’s boardroom splits and ongoing financial scandals have overshadowed news of human rights abuse and planned relocation of local people. The vast Kaltim Prima Coal mine is expanding further (it is already Indonesia’s biggest coal mine, producing over 40 million tonnes per year). DTE challenged Bumi’s board about these on-the-ground impacts at the company’s AGM in June.

As an active member of the London Mining Network, we supported the campaign to secure tighter rules and supervision of companies like Bumi listing on London’s Stock Exchange.

Bakrie in muddy waters

During a visit to East Java hosted by the mining advocacy network JATAM, DTE witnessed an astounding piece of action-theatre. This featured an effigy of Aburizal Bakrie (a candidate in this year's Presidential elections) being pelted with mud on the shore of the vast Lapindo mud lake in Sidoardjo. The mudflow has spread over thousands of hectares, forcing villagers out of their homes and swamping their farmland.

Bakrie leads one of Indonesia's most powerful business families, which has major investments in coal (including in Bumi), oil palm, land, and property, and is widely held responsible for the mudflow. He has never been held to account and has long since sold the oil drilling company that is accused of triggering the disaster.

The poster in the picture says: “Danger don’t vote for me”. Bakrie is the presidential candidate for Golkar, and is currently lagging far behind the most popular candidate Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi, who is standing for the PDI-P (Indonesian Democratic Party - Struggle) . The Presidential elections are on July 9th while parliamentary elections are on the April 9th 2014.


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Turning to agrofuels, we worked closely with other European NGOs as well as WALHI and Sawit Watch in Indonesia, to scrutinise the fast-developing world of biofuels policy-making in the European Union, watching out for opportunities to highlight the negative impacts of current policies and push for improvements. A key European Parliament vote was scheduled for September. So, we worked hard with visiting activists from Indonesia to campaign for a phasing out of land-based crops being used as biofuels in Europe under its 2020 fuel and energy targets.

The vote was a close-run thing: we helped limit the ambitions of the industry lobbyists who were pushing for unrestricted use in Europe of land-based agrofuel crops like palm oil and MEPs voted to set a cap on the usage of land-based biofuel crops - although slightly higher than we were pushing for. Now, much more work needs to be done to ensure that community livelihoods in Indonesia are no longer negatively affected by EU policies. We reported in full about the campaign and the key questions in the current agrofuels debates in our dual language special edition newsletter, published in December.

Apart from agrofuels, publications focused on indigenous peoples and climate change. We published the Indonesian version of our joint book with AMAN, Forests for the Future (Hutan untuk Masa Depan), shortly after the Constitutional Court’s landmark decision on customary forests.

We also ensured that more independent information about REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) - provided by the widely read REDD-Monitor website -  was available in the Indonesian language. Working with the Indigenous Peoples Network in Aceh - JKMA, we ensured that the information was made available to communities whose forests are being targeted for REDD.

For more snapshots, and the bigger picture, browse the English or Indonesian homepage of our website (everything we post appears on the homepage), find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. If you would like to help support our work, please consider donating to DTE by hitting the new Donate button coming soon on our website.