Corporate monopolies 'may dominate green economy'

Paul Mobbs mobbsey at
Fri Dec 30 14:35:19 GMT 2011

Hash: SHA1

Basically, when the fossilised plants have run out, they're going to annex the 
live ones and burn those instead! :-(

Further details from

ETCGroup report is at


Corporate monopolies 'may dominate green economy'

T.V. Padma, SciDev, 29th December 2011

The global push towards a 'green economy' risks being hijacked by large 
corporate monopolies trying to gain control over natural resources, a report has 

There is a growing emphasis on the concept of a green economy in the run-up to 
the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), in June 2012, in Brazil. 
A green economy is widely seen as a way of tackling environmental challenges 
including climate change, failing fisheries and water security.

But a report released earlier this month (14 December) has warned that global 
companies, positioning themselves for a post-petrochemical future, may use the 
idea as a pretext for gaining control over biomass resources, which would 
eventually replace petroleum as the feedstock for energy and for industrial 

The report, published by an international nongovernmental organisation Action 
Group on Erosion, Technology and Conservation (ETC Group), in Canada, says that 
most of this biomass is in developing countries, where it is managed by poor 
peasants, forest dwellers, fishing communities and livestock-owners whose 
livelihoods depend on them.

The report urges developing countries to craft policies that will protect them 
from such encroachments.

If they do not, they risk being "seduced" by the promise of quick green techno-
fixes, which appear as "a politically expedient" alternative plan to save the 
climate, the report says, because "techno fixes are not capable of addressing 
systemic problems of poverty, hunger and environmental crises".

"In the absence of effective and socially responsive governance and government 
oversight, the bio-based economy will result in further environmental 
degradation, unprecedented loss of biodiversity and the loss of remaining 
commons," it says.

The report's authors said they were not rejecting the concept of green economy, 
but that countries should build sustainable economies based on using new, more 
socially and ecologically sustainable economic models.

Hoysala Chanakya, principal research scientist, at the centre for sustainable 
technologies at the Indian Institute of Science, said that the report was right 
to highlight that there was potential for corporate take-overs in the absence of 
adequate policy support and that developing countries need to have policies to 
ensure that public resources do not get monopolised.

He added that the assumption that technological advances in algal or plant-based 
biofuel systems, for example, would solve environmental problems, is based 
partly on hype.

"The [biomass-based] technologies are still in a stage of infancy," Chanakya 
said. They also leave lots of organic waste which can be polluting, he added.

Other sustainable development policy experts in India suggested that a solution 
to some of the problems forecast by ETC Group was to decentralise food and 
energy security programmes and push for small, farmer-centred agriculture.

Instead of the "overarching generalised programmes involving blanket application 
of solar or hydrogen power" developing countries should move towards 
decentralised, locally-managed food and energy security programmes that are 
rooted in their unique local environments, said Rajeswari Raina, scientist at 
National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies.

Ambuj Sagar, professor of policy studies at the Indian Institute of Technology, 
agreed: "We need a different narrative that places value on the livelihoods of 
small farmers in developing countries rather than on food production at lowest 
cost and protecting interests of farmers in industrialised countries through 

"Private-sector and market-oriented food and agriculture systems are unlikely to 
deliver this kind of outcome since that is not the primary objective of these 
actors and institutions."

- -- 


"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burrough, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')

Paul's book, "Energy Beyond Oil", is out now!
For details see

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Paul Mobbs, Mobbs' Environmental Investigations
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