Greenpeace has warned that large international companies Siemens, GE, Voith and Andritz, which it believes are lining up to participate in the construction of a gigantic 7.6 km wide hydropower dam on the Tapajós river in Brazil, should step away from the project because of the hugely destructive flooding of the rainforest it will involve and in order to avoid corporate financial and reputational damage.
Activists from Greenpeace Germany gathered at the global headquarters of Siemens AG in Munich, Germany in March to spotlight the company's potential involvement in the new dam and to publicise its own report on the project..
The dam, it says, would not only flood huge parts of the rainforest, but also threaten the cultural survival of the 12 000 indigenous Munduruku people who have lived along the Tapajós river for centuries.
Companies that participate in the construction of the dam the company 'can expect to be tied to a project with human rights violations, corruption scandals, animal and plant species extinction and the destruction of the culture of the Munduruku Indigenous People' says Greenpeace. These companies should instead 'focus their efforts on developing genuinely sustainable energy sources'. Others companies, such as the Italian electricity utility company Enel, have already communicated that they will not be involved.
The Greenpeace report "Damning the Amazon" details what it says is the risky business of hydropower in the Amazon rainforest and how international companies face serious financial and reputational risks with their involvement in these projects. Despite the green credentials of such schemes, it says, in reality the construction of these dams causes a considerable amount of greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide and the much more potent methane, as a result of the decay of flooded vegetation and soil.
Also, as a result of climate change, rivers in the region are predicted to undergo dramatic reductions in flow, making new dams unlikely to attain the expected energy output. For the Tapajós River, a governmental study predicted a fall in water flow of up to 30 % in the vicinity of the projected dam site. The report shows the best alternative is a combination of wind, solar and biomass generation - but they would only be feasible if the government were to allow a 50 % increase in number of contracts auctioned each year for renewable energy sources.