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A statement from Climate Justice London, Ontario -

Members of our group took to the streets around the G20 Summit in Toronto with concerns about climate change, the Alberta tar sands, assaults on native sovereignty, and other environmental injustices. The Summit police in Toronto threatened, searched, arrested, and detained Climate Justice London activists, while other local climate justice activists stayed away from Toronto to avoid the G20 police regime. Our dissent was not permitted at the Summit. In fact, anyone who was outdoors in downtown Toronto was a potential target for the snatch squads, the riot cops, the mounted horse brigades, and thousands of other police at the Summit.  Our allies and our friends were pulled into this ‘security’ sweep, and all of us are left wondering which of the local police officers we encounter have brought their G20 summit training and hostility back to our cities.

Because we condemn this trampling of civil liberties, and because we always will call for democracy and social justice, members of our group have taken on leading roles in preparing a statement about police conduct and detention conditions at the G20 summit in Toronto.  People for Peace (London) activists helped to develop that London-specific version of the original statement from Toronto.  We hope that more Londoners will sign on to communicate their support.

Threats to our civil liberties will make it even more difficult to continue campaigning against environmental injustices — in a non-violent manner, without destructive sabotage tactics.

More than anyone, the people who need more freedom and more capacity to resist are residents of the front lines of water pollution, oil refineries, and other unjust environmental devastation — in native communities near the Alberta tar sands, in Sarnia, in Nanticoke, in southwest Detroit, and elsewhere, in far too many other areas of the world.  The rest of us also will need more (not less) ways and more resources to support those victims, by challenging the industries, policies, and oppression behind the Alberta tar sands, and other fossil fuel systems.

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Steve D’Arcy and Syrah Canyon in The Bullet

“Respect Indigenous Rights” banner at this year's May Day rally in Toronto.

Across Canada, activists have been reacting to the May 18 arson attack on a bank in Ottawa by a group claiming to be politically motivated. The group – calling itself FFFC – set off a fire bomb inside a Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) branch in the Glebe residential neighbourhood near the city’s downtown, and then posted a video of the attack on the internet.

Along with the video, the group issued a ‘communiqué’ in which they suggested that RBC was targeted because of its sponsorship of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver earlier this year, on stolen Indigenous land, and the bank’s role as the leading financier of the environmentally destructive Tar Sands megaproject in Alberta, which has led to elevated cancer and death rates in First Nation communities living downstream along the Athabasca River, while contributing massively to climate change.

Few amongst the Left could disagree, of course, with a strong condemnation of RBC, Canada’s most profitable and most notoriously immoral financial institution. RBC fully deserves to be challenged, with determination and militancy, whenever possible. However, there is debate on the action taken by the FFFC against RBC. The crux of this debate turns on questions of tactics and strategy.

Political Arson?

Many people have been sharply critical of the arsonists’ use of a tactic that endangered the lives of both nearby residents and the emergency workers who had to deal with the fire (there was also the possibility of there being night workers in the bank cleaning). The actions of the arsonists were irresponsible and reckless. Anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of being in a fire, fighting a fire or treating a fire victim can tell you just how dangerous a fire can be. Fire is very powerful and unpredictable and, even if it was not the intention of the arsonists to do so, it was within the realm of possibility that people could have been seriously injured and/or killed (as occurred in the Greek anti-austerity protests when a bank was firebombed, workers killed, and a huge setback to the momentum to the protests followed). We expect such disregard for human life from the major corporations themselves, not those who oppose them. It is delusional to think that any pain brought on by this action would be borne by the system of capitalism, the state, or even the RBC. You can’t burn those things down. It is business as usual for all of them. In fact, this action has served their interests.
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Mainstream enviros, timber industry shut First Nations out of “historic” deal

Dawn Paley on the Vancouver Media Co-Op

Timber companies and environmental organizations came together Tuesday to announce the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, which they say could protect a swath of boreal forest twice the size of Germany, and maintain forestry jobs across the country.

“This is an agreement between the two principle combatants over logging,” said Steve Kallick, director of the Boreal Conservation campaign of the Pew Environment Group.

But Indigenous peoples have been left out of the agreement, and grassroots environmentalists are concerned that the proposal represents a move towards more corporate control over forests in Canada.

“Name a forest struggle in Canada that hasn’t been spearheaded by First Nations from the beginning,” said Clayton Thomas-Muller, who is the tar sands campaigner with the Indigenous Environmental Network.

“A lot of First Nations groups, in Haida Gwaii, in the Boreal forest, and places like Grassy Narrows, Barrier Lake and Temagami, I think they would have a much different analysis and memory then Mr. Kallick.”

The three-year agreement is the largest of its kind anywhere on the planet, according to a representative from Greenpeace. Twenty one forestry companies have signed on, as have nine environmental organzations.

But for some, like Thomas-Muller, today’s announcement is reminiscent of a another deal, signed in British Columbia in 2006.

Read the rest of this entry »

Day of Action Night of Mourning

Day of Action, Night of Mourning
Against Offshore Drilling

Once again the fossil fuel industry has brought crisis to the Gulf Coast. Devastation of untold proportions spews non-stop from BP’s oil well as politicians try to save face with empty promises, and oil companies preserve their profits with PR campaigns. This catastrophic spill comes on the heels of Obama’s plan to expand offshore drilling. The price of burning fossil fuels is too high. From combustion to extraction the oil industry poisons our communities, destroys ecosystems, and destabilizes the climate. Now is the time to stop offshore drilling dead in its tracks and drive another nail into the fossil fuel industry’s coffin.

DAY OF ACTION FLIER[DOWNLOAD FLIER JPG | PDF ]

Map of actions up soon.  Let us know about your action here!

Take action Friday May 14 to demand:

-An immediate ban on all offshore drilling

-A rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels

-No bailouts for the oil industry. All recovery costs must be paid for by BP, Halliburton, Transocean and other implicated companies.

-The federal government must remove any caps on liability for oil companies.

-BP provides full compensation for impacted communities and small businesses.

-BP provides full funding for long-term ecosystem restoration for impacted areas.

-Oil companies operating in the Gulf fully fund restoration of coastal ecosystems damaged by canals, pipelines, and other industry activities.

Take action at:

-BP gas stations and offices

-Halliburton and Transocean offices

-Federal buildings

-Offices of members of Congress

-State government officials in states affected by Obama’s offshore drilling proposal.

-Critical Mass bike rides

-Vigils to mourn the unspeakable loss brought by this spill

-Get creative!

Please report your actions to oilspill@risingtidenorthamerica.org

Andy Rowell on the Oil Change blog

Whilst the media have been focussing on the untested nature of the 4 story dome or “cofferdam” that is going to be lowered over BP’s spill at the sea bed, its use of dispersant is also coming under scrutiny.

Alarmingly, according to the dispersant manufacturer, no toxicity tests have been conducted on this product.

The New York Times reports this morning that BP has sprayed some 160,000 gallons of chemical dispersant on the water’s surface and pumped an additional 6,000 gallons directly onto the leak, a mile beneath the surface.

When he gave his interview to the BBC the other day, Tony Hayward the CEO of BP was at pains to stress how the use of dispersants at such depths had never been tried before.

What he did not mention was that these dispersants are highly toxic and the ecological impact of doing it is completely unknown.

The NYT reports that the main dispersants applied so far, from a product line called Corexit, are so toxic they had their approval rescinded in Britain a decade ago “because laboratory tests found them harmful to sea life that inhabits rocky shores, like limpets”.

I should point out that, whilst the dispersant failed the “limpet test” it passed an offshore safety test.

Read the rest of this entry »

The oil major BP spends aggressively to influence US regulatory insight, and many would argue this has bought it leniency

Antonia Juhasz in The Observor

While the explosion of BP/Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was a horrific event, it was neither surprising nor unexpected.

BP is one of the most powerful corporations operating in the United States. Its 2009 revenues of $327bn are enough to rank BP as the third-largest corporation in the country. It spends aggressively to influence US policy and regulatory oversight.

In 2009, the company spent nearly $16m on lobbying the federal government, ranking it among the 20 highest spenders that year, and shattering its own previous record of $10.4m set in 2008. In 2008, it also spent more than $530,000 on federal elections, placing it among the oil industry’s top 10 political spenders.

This money has bought BP great access and, many would argue, leniency. “I personally believe that BP, with its corporate culture of greed over profits, murdered my parents,” Eva Rowe testified before Congress in 2007. The Congress was investigating the worst workplace accident in the US in more than 15 years, a massive explosion at BP’s Texas City Refinery in March 2005 that killed 15 workers, including Rowe’s parents, and injured 180.

The US Chemical Safety Board, an independent federal agency, investigated the blast and released a devastating indictment of BP. “The Texas City disaster was caused by organisational and safety deficiencies at all levels of the BP corporation,” the 2007 report found. “The combination of cost-cutting, production pressures and failure to invest caused a progressive deterioration of safety at the refinery.”

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Andy Rowell on the Oil Change blog


If you have never been to an oil company AGM it is worth going to watch two parallel words colliding for a few hours.

On the one side are the protestors arguing passionately for the company to listen to how their activities are destroying someone’s homeland or are polluting the earth.

Up on the top table sit the company’s top brass, who go through the motions of this annual public inconvenience.

They bat the questions away like an experienced cricketer annoyed to be outside in the mid day sun. In the middle are the shareholders who shuffle in, listen and then shuffle out.

In the early nineties, I routinely attended both BP’s and Shell’s AGMs, as a whole host of environmental and social concerns was put to their boards and raised before shareholders.

But questions about corporate pollution or human rights abuses would be dismissed by the board and booed from the floor.

The shareholders were there for their day out, that included a free lunch and as much free wine they could drink in the proscribed time limit.

Any questions from the floor were an inconvenience that ate into the amount of time they had to scoff their free wine. But scoff they did.

So if they were doddery before they came in, they were certainly doddery on the way out.

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Action in the UK -

An excellent day of action, including the closure of three BP petrol stations!

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BP hit by tar sands protests in London, Brighton, Oxford and Cambridge

Oil company targeted by nationwide protests in advance of crucial AGM vote

Protesters demand BP pulls out of “the most destructive project on Earth” – the Canadian tar sands

For photos, see http://www.flickr.com/photos/no-tar-sands and http://www.no-tar-sands.org. Brief reports of the London and Oxford actions can be seen at http://www.demotix.com/news/297925/bp-party-pumps and http://www.demotix.com/news/298075/bp-tar-sands-protest-oxford.

Today, oil giant BP was struck by multiple protests over its controversial plans to extract oil from the Canadian tar sands (1). Hundreds of climate activists in London, Brighton, Oxford and Cambridge (2) targeted the company with simultaneous demonstrations and street parties, including forecourt invasions which closed three BP petrol stations in London and Brighton (3), (4).

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SAN FRANCISCO- Rising Tide North America released the following statement on the influence of corporate polluters on Big “Greens” groups:

“For far too long Big Green groups like the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Conservation International (CI), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and many others have allowed their financial and political relationships with Corporate America to compromise their positions on the biggest ecological crises in history. These groups, ostensibly fighting on our behalf, have chosen to ally themselves with the very corporations that we must stop to avert catastrophic climate chaos. Rising Tide North America opposes the influential hold that corporate polluters have held on the Big “Green” groups for decades and calls on those groups to sever these relationships.

“We think transparency from environmental organizations is important. While some of these organizations happily accept monetary donations from corporations, some do have public policies that appear to limit such direct contributions. However, just as corporations and politicians have learned to circumvent campaign-finance and donations laws – a similar shell game is often played in the philanthropic world. Direct corporate monies may not always appear in organizational operating budgets – money and influence from corporations dramatically influence and sway the priorities, politics, and agendas of these organizations.

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Fossil ‘Fools Day Protests Set for 30 Cities; Target Coal, Oil, Natural Gas and Big Banks

SAN FRANCISCO—More than 30 cities throughout North America have organized demonstrations against the fossil fuel industry, corporate banks and big environmental organizations for April 1’st national Fossil ‘Fools’ Day. Demonstrations are being coordinated by Rising Tide North America , which has also launched an online campaign targeting “Big Green” groups that have taken money from the worst corporate polluters. Key targets of the campaign include Conservation International, National Wildlife Federation and Environmental Defense.

http://bit.ly/8XDk09

The National Day of Action – organized by Rising Tide North America, Mountain Justice, a coalition of Canadian climate activists and others – will feature clownish parades, flyering, subversive advertising, creative street theater, and non-violent direct actions targeting the coal, oil, natural gas and banking sectors. Cities where actions will take place include Asheville, Boulder, Chicago, Edmonton, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Ottawa, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Washington D.C. Corporations targeted will include Chevron, JPMorgan Chase, NW Natural Gas, Pepco and Shell. Read the rest of this entry »

Climate Camp pranks the carbon traders.

Don’t be fooled by Carbon Trading!

Newmarket, Auckland: 1st April 2010

Camp for Climate Action Auckland has visited the offices of OMFinancial to present them with this year’s Fossil Fools day award for helping New Zealand’s biggest polluters cheat their way out of dealing with climate change

April 1st, Fossil Fools day is an international day of action against the fossil fuel industry with pranks being pulled on key players of the fossil fuel industry.

“Climate change is no laughing matter, but carbon trading is a sick joke that won’t do anything to stop New Zealand from being dug up to get even more fossil fuels out of the ground. We’re here to turn the tables on these fossil fools and give them what they deserve. The 2010 New Zealand Fossil Fools day award.” says climate camp participant Gary Cranston.

“Carbon markets are geared towards prolonging the fossil fuel economy for as long as possible rather than developing strategies for a rapid, just transition away from carbon-based fuels. The complex system of carbon credits and offsets allows polluters to continue the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure rather than forcing them to abandon these projects. The only thing your average New Zealander will get out of this charade is rising electricity bills and rising sea levels.” says Gary Cranston.

“Last December in Copenhagen, the politicians sold us out to the fossil fools and corporate lobbyists like the International Emissions Trading Association. Instead of 350 parts per million (ppm) of carbon in the atmosphere as ‘required by science’, the Copenhagen Accord signatories’ promised 15% emissions cuts from 1990 levels to 2020 could in reality translate into a 10% increase once carbon trading and offset loopholes are factored in. We’ve been left with nothing but carbon market shenanigans designed to distract us from the truth. Stopping runaway climate change means leaving fossil fuels in the ground.” Read the rest of this entry »

Denver, CO – On April Fools’ Day – as part of the international ‘Fossil Fools Day’ – Colorado activists pulled an elaborate prank on Xcel Energy, the largest utility company in the state. With a farce website (www.xcelresponsiblebynature.com), a satirical press release, and a letter to Colorado ratepayers, activists helped Xcel Energy become a renewable energy leader. The announcement said that Xcel Energy would switch to 100% renewable electricity in Colorado by phasing out all coal plants and abandoning plans to convert existing coal plants to natural gas.

In the spoof initiative, Xcel Energy agreed to pay for the transition to renewable energy out of its own deep pockets. The letter assured Colorado ratepayers: “While, over the past several years, we have raised rates for our customers numerous times, our new approach will put the burden on Xcel’s executives rather than our loyal and hardworking customers. And, rest assured, we can afford it. With an annual profit of nearly $700 million and CEO pay in the millions each year, our ‘responsible by nature’ executives are volunteering to take pay cuts to ensure the success of our plan.”

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Pepco announces plan to shift all power facilities to wind and solar energy, may cancel planned rate hikes Pepco notifies its customers that it wishes “to serve the energy needs of our customers for generations to come.”

Washington DC – In an unprecedented move this morning, Pepco Holdings Inc. executives announced plans to shift all of their energy facilities to wind and solar energy by the year 2020. The DC-area power giant has already delivered the news of its green energy transition to thousands of its customers in the DC area through door-to-door flyers distributed this morning. Pepco is an innovative power company serving 1.9 million customers in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and New Jersey.

Pepco is now reconsidering proposed rate hikes that would have raised the cost of electricity bills to its customers. In letters to their customers this morning, company executives implied the planned rate hikes may not be necessary after the shift to alternative energy sources. The company may also cancel rate increases to many of its customers. Customers can call (202) 833-7500 to find out if they apply for a Pepco rate adjustment. Read the rest of this entry »

by Rachel Smolker

This week, California will host the Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies. The conference follows hearings last week in the US House of Representatives and a report from the UK Committee on Science and Technology, as well as a recent report from the Government Accounting Office, all following on the heels of earlier reports from the Royal Society.  In short, there is a lot of high level interest in the topic.

Given the failure of Copenhagen, the sellout of US Congress to special interests and the stalemated international negotiations, the “last resort” of geoengineering is gaining support. This is especially true as many are either in a state of panic or paralysis following recent announcements of methane seeping from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, on top of the ongoing reports of emissions rising, ice melting, and temperatures reaching all time highs.

There are good reasons to be quite worried. But there may be good reasons to be even MORE worried by the climate geoengineering proponents and what is going on at Asilomar this week. Read the rest of this entry »

A Green Left editorial

“Earth Hour” will be held around the world on March 27. The event is organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and involves participants switching off their lights for the hour as a symbolic declaration of support for environmental action.

The Earth Hour website is sponsored by, among others, Woolworths Limited, the giant supermarket and retail corporation. With the amount of waste and pollution associated with the retail industry in frivolous consumption, built-in obsolescence and so on, this would seem an odd choice for sponsor.

WWF has a shocking record for quite uncritically accepting sponsorship from polluting industries. Back in 2002, Counterpunch co-editor Jeffrey St. Clair exposed WWF’s links with logging corporation Weyerhaeuser, writing on Dissidentvoice.org that WWF “rakes in millions from corporations, including Alcoa, Citigroup, the Bank of America, Kodak, J.P. Morgan, the Bank of Tokyo, Philip Morris, Waste Management and DuPont”.

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