For decades the incinerator industry has been plaguing environmental justice communities worldwide. Now, rebranded as so-called “waste-to-energy,” this dirty industry is trying to position itself as a source of clean power. The US government, and many others, are using COP 21 to push for incineration as a solution to climate change. However, incinerators create very little energy— and a lot of climate and toxic pollution. To produce the same amount of energy, incinerators release even more carbon dioxide than coal plants. At the same time, the toxic air pollution from these facilities greatly harms local communities.
In the United States, in cities such as Detroit in the state of Michigan, residents suffer from the health and environmental consequences of incineration. Community leaders like Siwatu Salama-Ra of the It Takes Roots delegation became involved in the fight against incineration out of love for her family, community, and city. In Detroit, asthma rates are three times the state average, and many members of Siwatu’s family suffer from this preventable disease. These rates are only exacerbated with every year that the incinerator remains open.
After 23 years of climate negotiations, governments are no closer to meaningful action on climate change.
“GAIA (Global Alliance of Incinerator Alternatives) will not stand for corporations pushing their agenda of greenwashing (false solutions) to combat climate change during these negotiations, the only solution is a zero waste solution” said GAIA delegate Mahyar Sorour from Minnesota Public Interest Research Group.
To call out false solutions such as incineration, It Takes Roots and GAIA delegates protested on Wednesday, December 9th at the Ivry incinerator in Paris. We stood in solidarity with local community organizations – Collectif 3R and Zero Waste France – who are pushing for zero waste alternatives to incineration. The Ivry incinerator and others like it in the Paris region, are responsible for burning the majority of Paris’ waste. In fact, much of the waste currently being generated at COP 21 will be burned in nearby incinerators, leaving local communities to bear the burden of toxic and climate pollution.
In addition to pushing back against false solutions via direct action, GAIA members from around the world demanded that our government leaders and the COP21 delegation confront industry lies and promote community-based solutions.
Some highlights of these demands:
- We highlight the negative health impacts that incinerators impose on host communities and the environmental injustice this represents.
- We welcome the global consensus that carbon based pollution is driving dangerous climate change that cannot be ignored.
- We call for an end to climate finance for incineration.
- We urge all governments to remove the eligibility criteria for biomass burning in all renewable energy credits, benefits and subsidies.
- We call for investment in zero waste solutions to address impending climate threats.
Co-Written by Molly Greenberg from Ironbound Community Corporation and New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance and Ahmina Maxey from GAIA.
Molly, Ahmina and Siwatu are also It Takes Roots delegates.
To read the full GAIA declaration visit www.no-burn.org.