About our Cause
The world is sliding into climate crisis. Now attempts to avert it are being threatened by a single, massive project in the Canadian wilderness – the Tar Sands.
The campaign to shut down the Tar Sands has recently spread to the UK, due to the heavy involvement of UK companies and banks in the project. The UK Tar Sands Network is a new grouping of UK-based individuals and organisations who have begun to work together on this issue. We include: New Internationalist, People & Planet, Ethical Consumer and Platform, as well as many activists involved in the Climate Camp, and some other random individuals who just really care!
We are committed to standing in solidarity and working in partnership with First Nations in Canada whose health, livelihoods and future are being directly threatened by the Tar Sands. In 2009 we have organised two visits by First Nations representatives, jointly with the Indigenous Environmental Network: to the climate camp in August and a 10-day speaker tour around the UK in November.
WHAT ARE THE TAR SANDS?
‘We are seeing a terrifyingly high rate of cancer in Fort Chipewyan where I live. We are convinced that these cancers are linked to the Tar Sands development on our doorstep. It is shortening our lives. That’s why we no longer call it “dirty oil” but “bloody oil”.’
– George Poitras, a former chief of Mikisew Cree First Nation
The Tar Sands are a vast reserve of oil in Alberta, Canada – the second largest in the world. As other sources of oil dry up, major oil companies, banks and investors are pouring billions of dollars into Tar Sands extraction.
The tar sands development in Alberta, Canada, is being called ‘the biggest environmental crime in history’:
- Millions of barrels of oil a day are now being extracted from what is currently the largest industrial development in the world.
- It covers an area the size of England, and the toxic tailing ponds are so huge they are visible from space.
- Extracting oil from these sludgy deposits in the heart of Canada’s ancient forests produces three to five times as much greenhouse gas as conventional oil.
- indigenous communities, on whose land Tar Sands extraction has been imposed, are seeing high rates of rare forms of cancer and respiratory disease.
- Tar Sands extraction is extremely resource intensive, using enough natural gas every day to heat 3.2 million Canadian homes
- The Canadian Government is blocking progress in international talks to curb greenhouse gas emissions because it wants to dramatically expand Tar Sands production over the coming decades.
HOW IS THE UK INVOLVED?
While all this is happening in Canada, decisions are being driven from London’s financial Square Mile. Shell is heavily involved. BP is about to go into its first Tar Sands extraction project, ‘Sunrise’ – in partnership with the parent company of Superdrug. Both Shell and BP are financially backed by most major UK pension funds.
Meanwhile, London’s investment banks have helped finance a wide range of Tar Sands projects, with RBS, HSBC and Barclays being amongst the world’s fifteen biggest Tar Sands investors. RBS is a particular target because it is now 84% owned by the UK taxpayer.
WHAT CAN I DO?
- Please join the UK Tar Sands campaign UK Tar Sands Network Facebook group which we’ve just set up, and invite your friends. We’ll keep you posted with everything that’s going on in the UK.
- If you are coming to Copenhagen, please get involved in the Tar Sands actions that will be taking place over there. Email us to let us know you’re interested and we’ll let you know the details firstname.lastname@example.org
- Think about ways you can put pressure on BP in the next few weeks. They’re going to make the decision as to whether to go into their first Tar Sands extraction project, ‘Sunrise’, pretty soon, they say. Anything you can do that could point out to them what a bad idea this would be WILL have an impact, from a letter to your pension fund, to full-on direct action.
- Show H2Oil at your local cinema/student union/community centre. Email us to find out how to get hold of a copy, email@example.com