United, citizens of Peruíbe knocked down the power plant projected to be one of the 50 largest in the world and blocked future mega-polluting projects.
The city of Peruíbe, in the Southeast of Brazil, has been struggling for months against the installation of a thermoelectric power plant, which could be one of the largest of its type in an urban area in the world. Citizens have organized themselves, pressured city councilors, and finally have approved an amendment to the municipal law that would prevent other mega-polluting projects from being built in the city.
The rare conquest can not be considered unprecedented only because 30 years ago, the same municipality won a similar battle against the construction of a nuclear power plant in the region.
“My parents fought against the nuclear power plant and today, with this arduous achievement, Peruíbe kept this history of victory. Over a month ago we did not have all the necessary votes, but we were able to reverse the scenario thanks to the people who knew how to demonstrate their will to the councilmen,” says the lawyer Enio Pestana, a member of the Raízes group, one of the movements that started the fight against the thermoelectric.
This achievement was only possible thanks to the union of residents and various local groups, who pressured rulers and articulate a Parliamentary Front of city councilors to bar the construction of the 1.7 gigawatt/hour thermoelectric, projected by Gastrading company to be one of the 50 largest of the world, in a region that is one of the last reserves of continuous Atlantic Forest in the world.
“The approval of this amendment is the guarantee to safeguard our quality of life and our socio-environmental patrimony for the next generations. We have to act now. Humanity no longer needs highly polluting industries, which use fossil fuels,” says André Ichikawa, a member of the Ernesto Zwarg Institute and the Sustainable Coastal Activist Collective.
The community of Peruíbe remained mobilized for months. The fight has resulted in the passage of a bill that prevents the installation of polluting industries that cause acid rain – and now in approving the amendment to the organic law with similar content. Prior to this, in December, The Environmental Company of the State of São Paulo (Cetesb) denied Gastrading’s license application and cited in its opinion the popular resistance to the venture.
“It was an intense fight, where the participation of the population was fundamental to the victory. Peruíbe can be proud of its citizens, as well as the Mocan can be proud of its members, who were active throughout this process and was one of the articulators of the conquest. Our love and respect for nature united us,” says Mari Polachini, leader of the Movement Against Nature’s Aggression (Mocan, in Portuguese).
Peruíbe has an unquestionable tourist and ecological potential. The construction of the thermoelectric power plant would affect not only the beaches and their tourist potential. Terrestrial and marine biodiversity, air quality, water availability and dozens of indigenous communities and fishermen would be also put at risk.
“Peruíbe will be an inspiration to many communities fighting in defense of their territories around the world and especially now in defense of water. We cannot ignore that battles like this also strengthen the global Fossil Free movement, that aims for a world without climate chaos, ” says Nicole Figueiredo de Oliveira, director of 350.org Brazil and Latin America, organization that actively supported the local mobilization.
Juliano Bueno de Araujo, campaigner for 350.org Brazil, warns the population to remain alert and active since other polluting projects such this can be implemented in other areas of the Santos basin. “We congratulate the people of Peruíbe for their exemplary resistance in defense of a development with social justice and environmental sustainability. The fight does not end here, the neighboring municipalities must also fight for protection, ” explains Juliano.
350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. For more information, visit 350.org.
Source: Lindsay Meiman, 350.org