While the Brazilian government fights for its political survival, European companies risk being caught up in the fall-out as it’s revealed that major energy firms plan to build and run a controversial mega-dam project in the heart of the Amazon.
French utilities EDF and Engie are among the group of companies – which also includes Brazilian firms linked to the ongoing corruption investigation – that may bid to win contracts for the Tapajos river project.
A joint venture between German firms Siemens and Voith is also thought likely to manufacture the turbines used in the dam.
The news comes as President Dilma Rousseff and other political figures are engulfed by a corruption scandal at the nearby Belo Monte dam and as new Greenpeace research shows the country’s Amazon region is under attack by uncontrolled exploitation.
Economic activities – including dams – have already seen 750,000 km² of forest cleared, risking the region’s biodiversity, driving traditional forest communities from their land and threatening the world’s climate.
- Brazil does not need more dams in the Amazon. Rapid expansion of hydropower has brought profound impacts on the world’s largest remaining area of rainforest, while leaving energy supply at the mercy of increasing drought. The projects have been shrouded in controversy including attacks on human rights and traditional communities, violation of international laws and allegations of widespread corruption – as seen from the testimonies of Operation Lava Jet over the Belo Monte on the Xingu River.
- Climate destructive energy choices are no longer an option. Dams in the Amazon can emit the same amount of greenhouse gases as fossil fuels plants, and like coal, oil and gas, campaigners are calling for large-scale hydropower to be abandoned. As EU leaders move to put their pledge to end the fossil fuel era into action, investors and companies continuing to pump money into destructive energy choiceswill have to face the consequences and the damage they inflict on economies and communities.
- Renewables and efficiency are the keys to implementing the Paris Agreement. This week, Europe will join 130 countries in New York for the largest UN signing ceremony in history, a positive sign that they have not forgotten the urgency of climate change. As leaders look to deliver on their promises, national policies that support clean energy choices and efficiency will put the Paris goals within reach, while securing energy supply and bringing huge economic, employment and health benefits.