On Saturday, 13 February at 12 noon, UK and Canadian environmental activists opened the ‘Oil-ympics’ at Canada House in Trafalgar Square. The event, timed to coincide with the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, highlighted the role of British companies in the single biggest industrial project on earth, the Canadian Tar Sands (1).
The Oil-ympics event saw activists divided into three teams: BP, Shell and RBS, all ready to ‘Race to the Tar Sands’. Traditional winter sports were subverted to illustrate the irony of Canada portraying the Vancouver Winter Olympics as an event which celebrates Canadian indigenous culture and environmental sustainability, while in the neighbouring province of Alberta, Canadian First Nations are finding that their lands, communities and health are being devastated by the Tar Sands (2).
BP received special attention after it recently unveiled plans to embark on its first Tar Sands extraction project. BP had previously sold its potential stake in Alberta in 1999, when BP’s chief executive at the time, Lord Browne, deemed Tar Sands extraction to be economically unviable and environmentally unpleasant. However, BP’s new chief executive, Tony Hayward, is now set to make BP a major player in the Tar Sands with a partnership with Canada’s Husky Energy – a venture that is facing sharp criticism from BP’s own shareholders (3,4).
Alice Hargreaves, of the UK Tar Sands Network, said: “BP has been trying to prove that they are ‘Beyond Petroleum’ for years, but with their entry into the Tar Sands project, we can see the truth: Beyond Petroleum is nothing more than a Broken Promise.(5) BP shareholders are rebelling over this betrayal, and so are we. Over the next two months, we’ll be putting the pressure on to make sure BP get the message – stay out of the Tar Sands!”
Shell has been singled out as it is already a major operator in the Tar Sands, and RBS as it is the 7th biggest global investor in the Tar Sands. (6)
(1) Deposits of Tar Sands are spread out over 54,000 square miles of prime forest in northern Alberta, an area the size of England and Wales combined. Producing crude oil from the Tar Sands generates up to five times more carbon dioxide, the principal global warming gas, than conventional drilling: see Environment Canada, 2007, National Inventory Report Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks in Canada 1990–2005, http://www.ec.gc.ca/pdb/ghg/inventory_report/2006_report/som-sum_eng.cfm
(2) This action is in solidarity with Canadian First Nations who have called for a moratorium on the Tar Sands. For more information see the Indigenous Environmental Network: http://www.ienearth.org/cits.html
(3) BP has entered a joint venture with Husky Energy to develop a Tar Sands facility which will be capable of producing 200,000 barrels of crude a day by 2020. In return for a half share of Husky’s Sunrise field in the Athabasca region of Alberta, the epicentre of the Tar Sands industry, BP has sold its partner a 50 per cent stake in its Toledo oil refinery in Ohio. The companies plan to invest $10 billion in the project, making BP a major player in Tar Sands extraction. The final investment decision will be made in the next few months.
(4) A coalition of shareholders has tabled a resolution for BP’s AGM on April 15 highlighting the environmental and social risks of Tar Sands extraction. http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/natural_resources/article7018483.ece
(6) For Shell Investments see http://www.foei.org/en/resources/publications/pdfs-members/economic-justice/shells-big-dirty-secret/view?searchterm=shell%27s%20big%20dirty%20secret
For RBS investments see http://understory.ran.org/2010/01/31/banks-ranked-and-spanked-on-tar-sands/
Climate Camp Invades BP Petrol Stations Over Tar Sands
On Saturday 13th February activists from the South Coast neighbourhood of the Camp for Climate Action invaded the three BP petrol stations in Brighton, on the Lewes Rd, Ditchling Rd and London Rd, to protest at BP's plans to invest in the Alberta Tar Sands in Canada. Moving by bicycle 8 activists carried a banner reading 'Tar Sands Oil Is Blood Oil'. They handed out information on the Canadian tar sands and BP's plans to invest in it to customers and urged them to boycott BP.
Many of BP's customers where shocked to hear about BP's proposed involvement in one of the dirtiest businesses on earth, especially in the light of its past attend to project a green image, and in some cases left immediately left to get their fuel somewhere else. This action is the start of a campaign, which is hoped will spread across the UK. A one of the Brighton activists said: "We hope that other concerned local people across the UK will follow our example and begin putting the pressure on BP in their areas. Tar sands are an appalling example of placing insane greed ahead of the whole planet and everyone on it."
Tar sands are deposits of tar, sand and clay under the forests of Alberta in western Canada. Tar sands extraction is an ecological disaster, sometimes referred to as 'The biggest environmental crime in history'. Oil produced from tar sands is the filthiest most carbon intensive oil (over 3 times as much CO2 to produce as conventional oil). The Athabasca tar sands operations are the largest single industrial emitter of CO2 on the planet. Enough natural gas is used every day extracting this oil to heat 3.2 million Canadian homes.
Tar sands extraction involves the wholesale destruction of vast tracts of ancient forest over an area the size of England and Wales and the use of huge amounts of water that is left so contaminated that it must be stored in giant ponds. The toxic tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from space. Leaks for these ponds are poisoning local rivers and the indigenous peoples that live there. The rush to extract oil from tar sands is also trampling on the rights of the local indigenous peoples.
While the tar sands are in Canada, much of the financing is coming from UK companies. BP which once tried to rebrand itself as `Beyond Petroleum' to give itself a green image is planning on investing $10billion in the Sunrise Project a tar sands extraction project in Alberta. This week a number BP's shareholders have started a revolt and are pressuring BP to stop. Other UK companies that are involved in tar sands include Shell, RBS and Barcalys.
Submitted by Steve Dowding on Tue, 16/02/2010 - 13:59.
Democracy Now reports on protests by up to 3000 demonstrators in Vancouver, largely ignored by the mainstream media.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Tue, 16/02/2010 - 01:02.
In a long running story already reported on Games Monitor the green credentials of the 2012 Olympics have come under further strain as the Olympic Delivery Authority continues to refuse to fit polluting non road mobile machinery (NRMM) with exhaust after treatment. While the rest of the UK has complied with European air quality standards London has failed to do so.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Wed, 10/02/2010 - 03:02.
No to Greenwich Olympic Equestrian Events
17 City Business Centre, Lower Road, London SE16 2XB
Submitted by Charles Batsworth on Thu, 04/02/2010 - 17:48.
In mid 2009 IWW members produced a report on health and safety at Stratford City. Regrettably, it seems their concerns about the nature of working practices on the site have proved well-founded. On 16th December 2009, Shaun Scurry, an employee of Firesafe Installations, died after suffering serious injuries in a lift accident on 9th December 2009 at the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre site. Shaun from Kirkby, Liverpool, was 39, the father of two sons and engaged to be married. He was reportedly trapped between a steel beam and an industrial lift when he was installing lagging to ductwork. The accident is being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive. In January 2010, the IWW members updated their report, which is attached.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Mon, 01/02/2010 - 03:11.
Submitted by Martin Slavin on Wed, 27/01/2010 - 20:13.
The 2012 blog continues to churn out the same misleading information. A recent posting by a local resident reminded me of the experience of going through the compulsory purchase inquiry and having our estate and community dismissed by the LDA. I tried to post a comment but, not for the first time, that was disallowed. Like a true colonialist operation the ODA claims to listen to ordinary people and to practise inclusion, but its own publicly funded website refuses to allow a proper debate.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Mon, 11/01/2010 - 02:58.
Local food suppliers and health and animal welfare campaigners have criticised LOCOG’s recently issued Food Vision. LOCOG claims it will 'showcase the best of British food in 2012'. However, Compassion in World Farming and the RSPCA disagree. Rowen West-Henzell, Compassion in World Farming’s Head of Food Business said: "The resulting food vision is conspicuous - not for being visionary, but for being completely out of touch with the growing food culture in Britain and what, as a nation, we might wish to eat at our Games." The British Heart Foundation complain that about 3 million of the 14 million meals will be served by McDonalds. Ruairi O'Connor, head of policy at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Health does not seem to be high on the agenda."
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Fri, 18/12/2009 - 03:06.
From: Alex Hundert, Narrative Resistance
It was not out of place for us to protest the Olympics today, as one might potentially suggest, on the Global Day of Action against Climate Change. For one thing, the City of Kitchener was holding a pre-torch Olympic celebration yesterday on public property at City Hall. Second, because Olympic sponsor RBC and the country of Canada are using the Olympics as a greenwashing campaign, to cover up their true record on climate change and the environment.
Submitted by Martin Slavin on Mon, 14/12/2009 - 01:04.
While traveling to Vancouver, Canada to speak at the Vancouver Public Library at a benefit for community radio stations, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and her two colleagues were detained by Canadian authorities. The armed interrogators were particularly interested in whether she would be speaking about the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Amy was questioned extensively about the speech she intended to give; their car was gone through by armed border guards, and their papers and laptop computers were scoured.
Submitted by Martin Slavin on Tue, 01/12/2009 - 00:59.