British Government and Human Rights: Carbon offset plans linked to murders in Honduras


Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Alan Wyper, UK DNA team

John Rittenhouse
Chief Executive EDF Trading

Dear Mr Huhne,

I am deeply concerned about the UK Government's authorisation for two proposed Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects under which EDF Trading would earn carbon offsets from biogas production at two palm oil mills in Honduras, owned by Grupo Dinant's subsidiary Exportadora de Atlantico. The projects in question are called "Aguan biogas recovery from Palm Oil Mill Effluent ponds and biogas utilisation" and Lean Biogas recovery from Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME) ponds and biogas / biomass utilisation”.

In 2010 alone, between 16 and 25 peasants were assassinated in land conflicts involving Grupo Dinant, in the Bajo Aguan region. Human rights abuses have continued in the first quarter of this year, with violent attacks and the kidnapping of a peasant activist and journalist. Paramilitaries hired and armed by Grupo Dinant's owner, Miguel Facusse, as well as police and military have been involved in the attacks and assassinations and have been acting with complete impunity since the military coup in 2009. The site of one of the proposed CDM projects is a palm oil mill used last April as a site where paramilitaries, military and police forces were stationed and from which they reportedly intimidated local communities and even fired bullets at a ten year old girl. Those human rights abuses have been documented by several national and international organisations.

The CDM Board states that, under CDM rules, they cannot take human rights impacts of projects into account, which seems scandalous.

Yet, as the authorising authority, the UK Government can stop both projects by withdrawing their authorisation, in accordance with their international human rights obligations. 76 organisations worldwide called on the Government to do so in an Open Letter submitted on 4th February: Yet the Government has not acted on this request and every day that the authorisations are not withdrawn makes CDM funding for Grupo Dinant more likely. Such CDM funding would further increase the profits of a company known to use their funds to hire and arm paramilitaries, almost certainly including death squads previously involved in murders in Colombia.

I would therefore ask you to ensure that authorisation for those projects is withdrawn. We also call on EDF Trading to withdraw from the project immediately. Many thanks in advance.

Yours sincerely,