A report launched this week by the World Development Movement reveals that UK climate aid is being used to produce cheap electricity for the US multinational Walmart, through a project that violates the rights of indigenous people in Mexico.
UK foreign aid spent on powering Walmart in Mexico
By Maximilian Clarke
The report, ‘Power to the people?’, details how money taken from the UK aid budget has been used by the World Bank to finance wind farms in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, built without the consent of the indigenous people who own the land. The project produces enough electricity to power 160,000 homes, but is instead being sold at a discounted rate to Walmart. The project is 99 per cent controlled by French electricity giant EDF.
The La Mata and La Ventosa wind park is part funded the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund, which receives 14 per cent of its money - or £385 million — from the UK overseas aid budget. The fund’s objectives include poverty reduction, but the wind park has done nothing to increase energy access among the seven per cent of Oaxaca’s population who have no electricity.
Local indigenous woman Bettina Cruz Velazquez told the World Development Movement, “With the pretext of advancing renewable energy, big corporations are occupying our land with windmills. Agriculture, particularly corn plantations, is the essence of our region, and will be completely displaced by the wind farm projects. The companies come and they say, yes, we consulted, but here there has not been any consultation.“
The report launch coincides with the UN climate talks currently underway in Durban, South Africa, where a new global ‘Green Climate Fund’, intended to replace temporary arrangements such the Clean Technology Fund, is expected to be agreed. The World Development Movement and 162 other organisations are calling for the new fund to prioritise projects that tackle poverty and aid transition to a low carbon economy, rather than financing multinationals through a proposed dedicated private sector arm.
“Developing countries urgently need finance to help them transition to a low carbon economy, but projects like the La Mata and La Ventosa wind park show the dangers of throwing public finance at multinational companies like EDF and Walmart," commented The World Development Movement’s policy officer Murray Worthy.
"The park violates indigenous land rights, does nothing to increase energy access, and does little to help reduce Mexico’s carbon emissions since fossil fuel power development is still set to outstrip growth in wind capacity. Projects like this do not need and should not receive aid money — yet developed countries are pushing for the new climate fund to have an arm dedicated to funding this kind of development disaster.”
From WDM: UK-funded wind farms violate indigenous rights
2 December 2011
As campaigners focusing on climate justice, we tend to think wind energy is a good thing. And so it can be – but not when it robs indigenous people of their land.
Last year, the World Development Movement’s climate campaigner Kirsty Wright went to the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, and met indigenous activist Bettina Cruz Velazquez. Bettina told Kirsty how wind farms run by multinational corporations are being built without the consent of the indigenous people who own the land.
In October, Bettina and others were attacked and received death threats during a protest against one of the wind farms. Amnesty is concerned that the death of a man in unclear circumstances during the protest is being used to ‘unfairly prosecute protestors and to deter future protests,’ and it is asking people to write to the Mexican authorities expressing their concern.
Incredibly, one of the other wind farms in the area, also being opposed by local people, is being part financed from the UK’s overseas aid budget. It produces enough electricity to power 160,000 homes. So at the very least, it must be providing energy for the people of Oaxaca, seven per cent of whom have no access to electricity, right? Wrong. All the electricity produced by the La Mata and La Ventosa wind park is being sold at a discounted rate to Walmart.
Yes, UK aid money is being used to produce electricity for a US multinational, which also owns the Asda supermarket chain in the UK. Our report ‘Power to the people?’, launched today details how this is happening. The UK government has given £385 million from its overseas aid budget to the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund, which is supposed to help developing countries in their transition to renewable energy. Yet fossil fuel energy production is growing faster in Mexico than wind power – so it’s questionable whether this project actually reduces Mexico’s emissions.
Kirsty Wright, who visited Bettina in Oaxaca last year, is now at the UN climate talks in Durban, lobbying hard alongside hundreds of campaigners from around the world for a fair deal. A new ‘Green Climate Fund’ is to be discussed at Durban, and under current proposals it will have a ‘dedicated private sector arm’ – which means it would be likely to finance more disastrous projects like La Mata and La Ventosa wind farm which do nothing to address the energy access needs of local people. The World Development Movement and its allies are trying to make sure the new fund instead supports people in developing countries in their efforts to combat climate change.