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Climate Activists Tell Canada: Don’t Cop Out On COP 15!

December 14, 2009

On Monday 14th of December, campaigners from the UK Tar Sands Network and Camp for Climate Action protested outside Canada House in London and shut down Pall Mall Street in Trafalgar Square to protest against Canada’s attempts to derail the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen.

Canada is one of the biggest current stumbling blocks to an ambitious and binding climate deal – because it continues extracting oil from the most destructive project on earth, the Tar Sands. [1] This protest will take place in solidarity with similar protests in Copenhagen itself and several Canadian cities.

The Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada, are one of the world’s most polluting projects and are having a devastating effect on the lives of Indigenous communities and fuelling global climate change. Currently in Copenhagen, Canada is proposing an inadequate target for reducing greenhouse emissions by only 3% by 2020 ignoring world scientists’ recommendations to commit to over 40% reductions below 1990 levels in order to avoid dangerous runaway climate change. As a result, international criticism of Canada is mounting. Last week, a group of 11 Members of the European Parliament called on the leaders of BP, Shell, Statoil and Total companies to halt production of oil from the tar sands. [2]

“Canada has already spectacularly failed to meet its Kyoto Protocol targets and has shown no signs of changing its priorities in Copenhagen. Instead of making the necessary shift to a low carbon economy, the Canadian government continues to approve new Tar Sands leases and is refusing to co-operate with international efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change. This affects the whole world,” says Suzanne Dhaliwal of the UK Tar Sands Network, who will be at the London protest.

“The Canadian government continues to ignore its own laws, which state they must consult with Indigenous Peoples who have been trying to convey concerns about Tar Sands development. Tar Sands are killing our communities and trampling over our rights. Furthermore, the environmental destruction wreaked by the Tar Sands is directly threatening thousands of lives now and is driving our climate into chaos. The world has woken up to the fact that Canada is now Public Climate Enemy Number One. It’s time Canada did its global duty and shut down the Tar Sands,” says Clayton Thomas-Muller, an Indigenous activist with the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), who is participating in the parallel Tar Sands protest in Copenhagen.

UK campaigning against the Tar Sands, in solidarity with IEN, has focused on BP which plans to enter the Tar Sands through the massive ‘Sunrise Project’ and the Royal Bank of Scotland, now 84% state-owned, which has invested £8.3 billion in the Tar Sands since 2007 according to new research by the Rainforest Action Network.

The “Canada:Don’t Cop out on COP” action will start in Trafalgar Square, which has been occupied by the Camp for Climate Action [3]  for the duration of the Copenhagen negotiations as a base for UK based solidarity actions. Campaigners will then move onto Canada House to deliver their message to the Canadian government.

[1] See the Indigenous Environmental Network’s Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign,


[3] The Camp for Climate Action is a growing grass-roots movement of diverse people taking action on climate change.


December 13, 2009


Call for Solidarity!

December 11, 2009

In solidarity with indigenous activists in Copenhagen, there will be an open action taking place on Monday December 14th.

Canada is taking UK action against Tar Sands seriously, with recent activities hitting widespread national Canadian news. While Tar Sands are being discussed at the Copenhagen Summit it is vital that we in the UK continue to step up our response.

Come and see you us Saturday morning at 11am for our final planning meeting, at Climate Camp in Trafalgar Square. If you can’t make it, we can let you know details of the action the day before as it will be an early action on Monday December 14th.

Send us an email to, if you want an update.

See you there!

Climate Camp Trafalgar Square and the UK Tar Sands Network

UK taxpayers are funding the destruction of my homeland

November 30, 2009

The tar sands industry is trampling on the rights of Canada’s First Nation communities. And RBS is among its biggest backers

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger

The treaty signed between Queen Victoria and my ancestors in 1899 covered an area of northern Canada three-and-a-half times the size of Great Britain. It guaranteed that my people “shall have right to pursue their usual vocations of hunting, trapping and fishing throughout the tract”. Today, however, hunters stay away from the few moose that still roam the forests near our small community, afraid that the meat will poison their children. I remember drinking from the lake as a small child. Now, when I return to my homeland with my own young daughter, we’re told not to swim because it’s too toxic. This is the legacy of Canada’s tar sands development in a place where my people have always lived and which is home to dozens of other First Nation communities living downstream from the sprawling tar pits. And while our people may be among the first to pay for the excesses of squeezing our earth for its last drops of oil, we won’t be the last.

Global financiers betting on the tar sands are killing our last, best chance at maintaining a livable climate for everybody. As cheaper, more conventional global crude oil supplies continue to decline, an unprecedented glut of investment dollars is sloshing into the tar sands. Industry analysts expect more than $100bn (£60bn) to be invested in doubling tar sands oil production by 2020.

Fully developing these sticky oil deposits will require clear-cutting or degrading largely intact primary boreal forests covering an area the size of England. Extracting and processing just one barrel of tar sands oil requires the energy equivalent of three barrels of natural gas and two to four barrels of water, and results in a carbon footprint up to five times greater than conventional crude.So who’s behind the unprecedented expansion in the tar sands? Who are the ruthless business people throwing money at the dead-end industry poisoning our planet and trampling the rights of my community and others? Look no further than the mirror.

UK taxpayers can count themselves among the biggest financial backers of the planet’s most polluting industrial projects due to their majority ownership of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Since UK taxpayers bailed out RBS after it imploded one year ago, it has underwritten more than £1.6bn in debt for companies operating in the tar sands.Today, on the anniversary of RBS becoming majority-owned by the public, 40 public figures from the UK have signed a letter to Alistair Darling, the chancellor, urging him to stop the bank from using public money to finance tar sands development, and other fossil fuel projects around the world that are having devastating impacts on the climate, local habitats and communities.

Proceeds from these deals are funding some of the most aggressive and controversial expansion projects in the tar sands. Backed by £1bn in debt underwritten by RBS this year, ConocoPhillips aims to expand production from its three tar sands projects eightfold by 2015. These are the same projects at issue in a lawsuit brought by the Beaver Lake Cree Nation seeking an injunction to end the wholesale destruction of their ancestral lands, and citing more than 17,000 infringements of the community’s constitutionally protected treaty rights.

RBS also underwrote $378m (£299m) in debt issued by Norway’s Statoil in March of this year, just two months before the Norwegian parliament considered a motion to suspend the company’s tar sands projects due to climate concerns. As world leaders come together two weeks from now in Copenhagen, we all should take a moment to consider the way ahead. Do we go the well-worn path of big oil, ever further into the last pristine corners of the earth for our last fossil-fuel fix? Or do we forge a new path, towards a future that honours the land and the legacy of our ancestors? I hope the UK will put its money where its mouth is by pulling RBS’s business out of the tar sands.

Speaker Tour Follow Up

November 27, 2009

Well, the dust has settled, we’ve all got some sweet, sweet sleep, and now we’ve got our brains back sufficiently to let you know that the Tar Sands speaker tour was a massive success! So we wanted to tell you about what we achieved, what we’re doing next, and how you can get involved.

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, Heather Milton Lightening and Melina Laboucan-Massimo spent from 13th to 22nd November traveling all over the country to build the UK movement to shut down the Tar Sands. They were interviewed by the Financial Times, spoke to a packed auditorium at the Bristol Arnolfini organised by Platform, sold out the Oxford venue for the New Internationalist speaker event, and Heather found time in between to hop over to Ireland to link up with the Rossport Solidarity Campaign.

Next, they addressed MPs in Parliament – and Simon Hughes (Lib Dem Spokesman for Energy and Climate Change) pledged to make this a major issue for his party. RBS (the world’s 11th biggest investor in the Tar Sands, using OUR money) were clearly rattled – so much so, they turned up at the Parliamentary meeting in person to invite Eriel, Heather and Melina to have a meeting with them! They were probably hoping to head off our plans to have a protest outside their London HQ that afternoon.

It didn’t work.

We still had the protest – a noisy die-in with People & Planet students right outside their front door. Then the three women, plus Kevin from Platform, swanned into the building to challenge them face to face on their dodgy investment practices. Meanwhile, simultaneous protests by P&P groups had taken place outside RBS’s Scotland HQ and outside RBS offices in three other Scottish cities!!!

That evening the gang spoke at two separate events in London, and spent the next day in meetings with Greenpeace and doing interviews, before speaking on a Climate Justice panel at SOAS. Except for super-Heather (does she ever stop?) who nipped over to Copenhagen to make some plans for some conference or other that’s apparently coming up over there quite soon.

Then it was Thursday, and Eriel and Melina (accompanied by Sue, their fiendishly efficient tour manager), chugged up to Wales, to the Centre for Alternative Technology. They spoke at a community meeting in Machynlleth, had an inspiring tour round CAT and took tea and cake with the Great Monbiot himself.

Final stop was Manchester, where Heather rejoined the gang, and they pretty much took over Shared Planet, People & Planet’s national conference – delivering the keynote speech, a workshop, a screening of H2Oil and a Climate Justice panel discussion. All this whilst making a film, planning actions for Copenhagen, and being a bit ill (well, poor Melina was anyway).

The grand finale took place on Sunday evening in Manchester’s Dancehall Theatre, at a screening of H2Oil organised by Leonie from Ethical Consumer. Then we sobbed our goodbyes, and bid them farewell.

So. What happens next?

Well, the reaction we got up and down the country was pretty much unanimous: ‘this is unbelievably awful, what can I do about it?!’ So we now have a large and growing group of people up for taking action on the Tar Sands here in the UK. But what are those actions?

1. Please join the UK Tar Sands campaign 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:
UK Tar Sands Campaign Facebook Group

2. 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

3. 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.

4. Show H2Oil at your local cinema/student union/community centre. Email us to find out how to get hold of a copy.

It’s looking like our big campaign focus after Copenhagen is going to be BP and Shell’s Annual General Meetings, which are taking place in April and May. Both will have Tar Sands-related shareholder resolutions shining a spotlight on their dirty business. We are likely to have another Indigenous Environmental Network delegation coming over in April to help pile the pressure on to BP, and we’ll want to be building momentum for this from January onwards, so join the Facebook group and we’ll keep you posted.

Thanks to all of you who came along to the events, made such a lot of noise at the protest, or were just with us in spirit. Based on the last two weeks, I’ve got the feeling the Tar Sands are going to be THE big issue of 2010. I hope you can continue being part of this crazy adventure, right up to the point where we shut the fxxker down!

Jess Worth, on behalf of the UK Tar Sands Network

See why the Tar Sands Blow! and sign the petition!!!

November 26, 2009

Shut the fucker down!


November 25, 2009

The Canadian government has and continues to fail to address the climate crisis. They continue to wait while millions are dying or becoming displaced due to the climate crisis and have prioritized destructive projects like that tar sands over the fate of humanity. The time for inaction has passed. We can no longer allow our government to wait, stall, or block progress instead we must pressure them to act and push for a just, ambitious, and binding deal that listens to science and is led by the voices of Indigenous communities and those most directly impacted by the climate crisis.

Here is an organizing guide to help you plan your own direct action to stand up for climate justice:

CTV: Protests in Britain target Canada’s oilsands

November 25, 2009

News of UK Bloody Oil Protests this Summer hits Canadian media

Ian Munroe, News

Sat. Sep. 5 2009 12:47 PM ET

“A handful of First Nations activists returned home last week after grabbing national headlines in England for protesting Alberta’s oilsands developments.”

Clayton Thomas-Muller is interviewed via phone on CTV news about the Climate camp in the UK and the protest against British funding to the Canadian Oil Sands.

Canadian protest over RBS oil sands role

November 24, 2009

Financial Times: Canadian Protest

By Ed Crooks, Energy Editor

Published: November 16 2009 01:50 | Last updated: November 16 2009 01:50

Royal Bank of Scotland and the government, which holds 70 per cent of the bank’s shares, will be targeted by protests this week from Canadian aboriginal groups aiming to stop RBS lending to companies that invest in oil sands extraction in western Canada.

A meeting in Parliament on Tuesday with representatives of the First Nations, as the native Canadians are known, will highlight calculations by campaigners that since the start of 2007, RBS has extended $13.9bn (£8.3bn) in loan guarantees or debt and equity underwriting to companies linked to oil sands.

“Well funded” dirty oil campaigns in Europe and the US are starting to hurt Canada’s energy companies financially.

November 23, 2009

Province blasted for not sticking up for oilsands

Alberta’s government and energy industry must step up their listless defence of the oilsands and better fund their PR battle against environmental groups, says the president of the Alberta Enterprise Group.

“If we’re serious about defending this asset, we need to spend some money on it,” Tim Shipton told an industry conference yesterday.

“I don’t see enough effort being made to position this as Canada’s energy project.”

Environmental groups, he said, are well funded and their campaigns in the United States and Europe are starting to hurt Canada’s energy companies financially.

Shipton’s criticism comes more than 10 months after David Collyer, head of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, admitted the oilsands industry has so far been losing the battle of public perception against environmental groups.

To illustrate his point, Shipton mentioned a conversation with an unnamed Conservative MP.

The MP, Shipton said, was puzzled that over the past year, only one industry representative gave a presentation to a House of Commons committee examining the environmental impact of the oilsands. During the same time, various environmental groups had given 20 presentations.

“The private sector needs to become more active,” Shipton said.

The government, too, must step up its efforts to defend the source of much of this country’s wealth by increasing the budget of Alberta’s office in the U.S. capital, he said.

The Washington, D.C. office, with its staff of four, had a budget of $1.4 million (expenses actually were $1.6 million) during the last fiscal year.

Shipton declined to say what he’d consider a more adequate budget, noting, however, that the $25 million the government is spending on developing a new brand for the province would have been better spent promoting Alberta’s interests south of the border and fighting the “dirty oil” label environmental groups stuck to the oilsands.

Mike Deising, spokesman for Alberta International and Intergovernmental Relations, said budgets for the province’s international offices are reviewed annually.

He said the Washington office is a “key component in our strategy to engage our U.S. stakeholders,” and pointed out that Premier Ed Stelmach and cabinet ministers try to promote the oilsands whenever they are travelling to the U.S. or Europe.