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COP25: Activists condemn oil contamination, fossil fuel industry in Brazil

To draw attention to the oil leak that has been polluting the beaches and contaminating sea life across 11 states in Brazil for the past three months, Indigenous representatives from five different peoples and activists from 350.org held a protest on Sunday, December 8, 2019 in front of the headquarters of REPSOL in Madrid, Spain. 

Anti-REPSOL protesters  COP25: Activists condemn oil contamination, fossil fuel industry in Brazil DSC09422
Anti-REPSOL protesters

REPSOL as global company operating in all areas of the oil and gas industry, and Spain’s largest, is said to be iconic to the fossil fuel industry that has been wreaking havoc worldwide.

“Whether through oil spill disasters or through the end use of the fossil fuels they extract and commercialise, companies like REPSOL are the main culprits of the climate crisis. Their operations threaten ecosystems, livelihoods and the very health of indigenous communities worldwide, as shared by the indigenous leaders who led today’s action,” said officials of 350.org.

As the government of Brazil insists on expanding the oil frontier, Brazil faces one of its worst environmental disasters in the last decades, provoked by an oil spill of unknown origin, say observers.

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According to them, over, over  60,000 artisanal fishermen and fisherwomen across the Northeast and parts of the Southeast coast of Brazil are struggling to sell their catch because of the contamination of the marine life in the region. After three months since first noticing the oil spill on the coast, Brazil seems unaware where the oil came from,

Andreia Takua, Frontline Organiser with Indigenous Communities for 350.org and President of the National Council of Indigenous Health – CONDISI, said: “We indigenous people feel that fossil fuels expansion needs to be stopped. Fossil fuels pollute the soil, the water, the air. They turn nature into a commodity.

“For us indigenous people, our environment is sacred, it cannot be sold. So, when a part of our land or our ocean is auctioned off to the highest bidder, it feels as if a part of us was removed. It feels as if we had lost part of our spirit.

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“We need our #MarSemPetroleo, we need our oceans clean and our forests intact. We want fossil fuel companies to stop drilling off the coasts of Brazil and we want the Brazilian government to immediately stop auctioning off new oil fields for exploration.”

Ninawa Huni Kui, spiritual leader, President of the Huni Kui Peoples Federation and member of the Council of the Indigenous peoples of the Brazilian Amazon – COIAB: “Oil drilling contaminates groundwater. In the state of Acre, like in many other regions where people live on the riverbanks or close to them, the contamination of fish ends up making people sick. Water becomes undrinkable, not only for people, but for animals as well. But even if you didn’t eat fish or drink water, in the Amazon, because of the humidity, the air itself brings down the contaminated water through the rain. Over the past three months only, 12 children died of water contamination.

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“The same way they pollute the environment, fossil fuels are also a source of corruption for communities everywhere they are found. When oil companies start drilling, the first thing that happens is that members of the community are co-opted. Fossil fuel companies try to get the support of our communities, saying they will create jobs for young people, with support from the state administration. This creates conflict in the community. Its what fossil fuels do, they disarticulate communities.”

Nicole Oliveira, Managing Director of 350.org Latin America: “Indigenous leaders and young activists from Latin America are present in Madrid to remind governments of the world that our fight for climate justice is stronger and more urgent than ever.

“As the momentum for a transition to socially fair energies keeps growing, it becomes harder and harder for politicians and fossil fuel companies to ignore the pressure. COP25 needs to be another important milestone on this journey.”

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