The Carbon Connection
Review by Penny Cole
This innovative film brings together two communities on opposite sides of the world, in every way, to explore the impact of one global corporation – BP – on each others' lives and livelihoods.
At Grangemouth on the bleak grey East coast of Scotland, the refineries flare and burn, filling the air with smog that can turn your washing line sooty and your dog green. In Sao Jose di Buriti, in Brazil's Felixlandia province, BP is offsetting that smog with plantations of monoculture non-native eucalyptus trees.
The two communities made films to share their experiences with one another, and these community videos are brought together in the film.
The trees were planted by Plantar, a company supported by the World Bank’s Carbon Investment Fund. This fund has facilitated the development of the carbon market, and projects that generate massive profits, destroy eco-systems and livelihoods – and no reductions in emissions.
Plantar even managed to get the project registered under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, in spite of the fact that the alien trees are drying up springs and wells and destroying people’s farming livelihoods. They are also destroying areas of unique plants with medical qualities that ought to be preserved and researched.
In Scotland it is children’s lungs that are most at risk, with lives shortened by emphesema and other illnesses. And now as BP plans to close parts of its vast plant, they will leave unemployment and polluted wasteland as their legacy.
The campaigners in Sao Jose have received death threats, and the company have tried to buy off opposition. The local authorities entirely support the Plantar, and as one of the campaigners says: “Everybody is co-opted in, everybody is complicit.” And the same point comes across in Scotland, where a local man explains that the local authority have allowed almost unlimited expansion by BP, leaving people living with noise and filth in the middle of housing areas.
The film brilliantly illustrates the complicity of local states with global corporations in every country. Together they actively prevent action on climate change, and to try to breathe new life into the crumbling capitalist system with a carbon market that profits from destruction.