Why GE’s Support of Mega Dams in the Amazon Is Bad Business

by Daniel Brindis

April 27, 2016

Today Munduruku Indigenous leaders and activists journeyed from the Brazilian Amazon to attend General Electric’s (GE) Annual General Meeting. We are calling on CEO Jeffrey Immelt to end the company’s potential involvement in the proposed São Luiz do Tapajós (SLT) mega dam in the Amazon and other similar projects.

This aerial image exposes the massive construction and considerable environmental destruction.

© Daniel Beltrá / Greenpeace

Read Greenpeace’s recent report Damming the Amazon: The Risky Business of Hydropower in the Amazon.

GE staff, board members, and investors can email us for more information.

GE has publicly committed to respect human rights and champion sustainability. However, the recently-acquired hydropower business of Alstom violates these principles. Alstom’s dirty legacy involves the destructive Belo Monte mega dam that displaced locals, including Indigenous Peoples against their will. Prior to the merger, Alstom reportedly began negotiations to supply the similarly risky SLT.

The investigation around the current corruption scandal in Brazil, the same that has led to the impeachment of President Rousseff, revealed that Belo Monte was propelled into fruition through corruption and that there was political pressure to bring the turbine supply contracts to Alstom. Alstom also has a record of corruption- In December 2014, Alstom pleaded guilty to charges that it had spent tens of millions of dollars bribing government officials around the world, and was handed criminal penalties of US$772 million by the US Department of Justice. In a separate controversy in 2015, a Brazilian court ordered the freezing of more than US$104 million of Alstom’s assets in response to allegations that Alstom made illegal payments to officials in São Paulo to build transmission substations.

One can read more about the risks related to SLT in Greenpeace’s recent report Damming the Amazon: The Risky Business of Hydropower in the Amazon, which documents human rights violations, displacement of Indigenous Peoples, rainforest destruction, and large greenhouse gas emissions. Page 52 focuses on GE’s role.

Last week the Brazilian Indigenous Affairs agency, FUNAI, recognized that an area that would be flooded by the SLT should be recognized as Indigenous Lands, and the Brazilian Environmental Agency, IBAMA, subsequently put the environmental licensing process on hold. GE, nonetheless has yet to rule out the project, despite further that the project would displace Indigenous People without their consent.

GE is at crossroads, not only as the new head of this hydropower business arm involved in these suspicious controversial projects, but also as the largest supplier of Wind in brazil. GE is able to not contribute further to these destructive wasteful mega dam projects and still contribute to the growth of Brazil’s energy mix.

GE staff, board members, and investors can email us for more information.

Daniel Brindis

By Daniel Brindis

Daniel is the Forests Campaign Director, based in San Francisco. His portfolio includes the Amazon, the Canadian Boreal, and environmental certification schemes like the Forest Stewardship Council. He splits his time between the San Francisco and Manaus offices.

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