Climate ChangeRecent Post

Every election is now a climate election

Despite that, environmental issues aren’t featuring in political
campaigning. That’s justifiable. These three countries have contributed little
to the climate crisis, ranking low in cumulative per capita emissions. Adding
to that injustice, their natural resources were looted by European nations
during the colonial era, and despite the crucial role they play in global
ecosystems, multinational corporations continue to recklessly reap big profits from
indigenous minerals, forests, and water resources. Global Witness
investigations have repeatedly shown the terrible impact of corporate abuse on
both the environment and human rights
in all three nations and across the
Global South.

This combination of environmental degradation and human exploitation
has consequences. Over the past decade, these three nations have been a hotbed
for violence against land and climate activists: our data shows that at least 317
defenders were murdered
in Brazil, 290 in Colombia, and 250 in the Philippines.
Altogether that accounts for well over half of all recorded murders globally in
the past decade. 

All of this means that the outcome of these upcoming elections
matters far beyond these three countries. The governments which emerge from
these elections will take on stewardship of a vast swathe of the world’s
remaining rainforest and biodiversity. Brazil and Colombia rank first and fifth
in remaining forest cover globally. Beyond deforestation, how these governments
protect the rights of people while satisfying a growing demand for energy is
also crucial to global emission reduction targets. In the Philippines, the
Duterte administration
has in the past two years lifted bans on oil exploration
in the South China Sea, and reinstated open-pit mining and locked the nation
into new long-term fossil fuel agreements, including on coal.   

Populist authoritarian leaders have tested democratic
guardrails in these three nations in recent years, especially in Brazil and the
Philippines. Jair Bolsonaro, who has presided over the destruction of 10,000
square miles of Brazilian rainforest, recently asserted that “only God can take
me from the presidency”. Voters may disagree. President Duterte’s drugs war,
his hounding of enemies and his court packing have undermined Filipino
institutions more than at any time since the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.
And in Colombia, Ivan Duque has cracked down violently on historic protests,
spurred in part by his failure to implement the 2016 peace accords. 

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