Study finds high rates of criminalization of defenders, Canadian companies involved in environmental conflicts

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This chart from the new report suggests that “climate and energy” (480) is the second largest category of environmental conflicts after “mining” (573).

Montreal-based ecological economist Leah Temper is a co-author of a new report titled Environmental conflicts and defenders: A global overview.

Radio Canada International reports: “Activists defending their communities and the surrounding environment against development of extractive industries and land grabs for agrarian use face high rates of criminalization, physical violence and murder around the world, according to a study published this month in the journal Global Environmental Change.”

Grist adds: “The researchers analyzed nearly 2,800 social conflicts related to the environment using the Environmental Justice Atlas database, which they created in 2011 to monitor environmental conflicts around the world.”

“The study found that 20 percent of environmental defenders faced criminal charges or were imprisoned, 18 percent were victims of physical violence, and 13 percent were killed between 2011 and 2019.”

That Grist article also notes: “The likelihood of these consequences increased significantly for indigenous environmental defenders: 27 percent faced criminalization, 25 percent were victims of physical violence, and 19 percent were murdered.”

Significantly, highlights: “After the U.S., Canada is in second place when it comes to companies involved in environmental conflicts, Temper said.”

In February of this year, the environmental organization released this report that highlighted: “Some of the most severe corporate human rights abuses worldwide may be attributed directly or indirectly to the operations of fossil fuel companies.”

The following month a Business & Human Rights Resource Centre report further noted that the second largest number of attacks against defenders in Colombia between 2015 and 2019 was in the category of oil, gas and coal.

The full 12-page report co-authored by Leah Temper and ten others can be read at Environmental conflicts and defenders: A global overview.

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