FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BP faces nationwide tar sands protests in advance of crucial AGM vote
Oil company targeted by campaigners and shareholders for involvement in “the most destructive project on Earth” - the Canadian tar sands
Oil giant BP is braced for a day of protests tomorrow (Saturday 10th April) over its controversial plans to extract oil from the Canadian tar sands (1). Climate activists in London, Brighton, Oxford and Bristol will be targeting BP’s petrol stations, offices and financial backers with simultaneous demonstrations and street parties (2), (3). They aim to raise public awareness of the destructive nature of tar sands extraction, and pile pressure on the company and its funders in advance of its Annual General Meeting in London on April 15th (4). A shareholder resolution questioning BP’s role in the tar sands which has already generated widespread interest in the financial press is due to be discussed and voted on at the AGM (5).
Sheila Laughlin of the UK Tar Sands Network, said:
“BP once claimed to have gone ‘Beyond Petroleum’ – but their interest in the dirtiest oil on the planet shows that they’ve gone well and truly ‘Back to Black’. Tar sands extraction is having a horrific impact on the global climate as well as the forests and waterways of Canada, while also trampling over the rights of local Indigenous communities. We won’t let BP go into the tar sands without a fight.”
George Poitras, a former chief of Mikisew Cree First Nation who will be attending the BP AGM, said:
“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'. The blood of Fort Chipewyan people is on these companies' hands.”
BP was the only major oil company not to be in the tar sands, until in 2007 it purchased a stake in the 'Sunrise Project', an extraction project that could produce 200,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day. Earlier this year it announced its potential involvement in two other, similar developments, although a final decision as to whether or not to go ahead with them has yet to be made. Over the last six months, an unprecedented coalition of UK climate activists, NGOs and Indigenous Canadian activists has come together to stop BP’s plans (6).
Updates from the protests will appear on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NoTarSands and pictures will be posted at http://www.flickr.com/photos/no-tar-sands
Notes to Editors
1) Tar sands are a type of oily soil, which requires large amounts of energy, water, and industrial processing to extract and transform into crude oil. Tar sands extraction in Alberta, Canada is already the world’s largest industrial project, requiring the removal of vast areas of ancient forest and consuming enough natural gas per day to heat 3.2 million Canadian homes. The extraction process emits 3 to 5 times as much carbon dioxide as conventional oil drilling, the lakes of toxic waste it produces are so large they are visible from space, and the pollution from the project is harming the health of the Indigenous people who live in its shadow.
See http://www.ec.gc.ca/pdb/ghg/inventory_report/2006_report/som-sum_eng.cfm and http://www.ienearth.org/cits.html
2) A brief summary of each of the planned actions:
London: London Rising Tide, UK Tar Sands Network, and the Climate Camp London Neighbourhood are holding a “Party at the Pumps” – a loud, colourful protest against tar sands extraction at a mystery BP location. Protestors are meeting at Oxford Circus at 1pm and are being told to bring a Zones 1&2 travel card
Oxford: “TARmageddon” on Cornmarket! The Thames Valley Climate Action group will be reconstructing the Canadian tar sands on Oxford’s central shopping parade. Expect music, banners, street theatre, singing, dancing, the gathering of anti-BP messages from the public, and visits to BP’s friends and funders in Oxford…from noon to 4pm, Cornmarket, OX1.
Brighton: A "Rainbow Coalition" of groups, including the local Camp for Climate Action group, is planning a street party outside one of the BP petrol stations in the city. Protesters are meeting at noon at Lewes Community Garden, Lewes Road, and have been asked to bring food, bunting, musical instruments and pop-up tents.
Cambridge: Local activists from the Cambridge Tar Sands Network will be leading a “tour” of companies in the city which are linked to BP and the Canadian tar sands. The campaigners will be meeting members of the press at 10:00am in front of Trinity College on Trinity Street, before embarking on a packed itinerary which includes the Trinity Street Royal Bank of Scotland, the Senate House, the Sidney Street Superdrug, and the Cambridge Department of Engineering.
Details of the Bristol action are still being confirmed.
3) This day of action falls near the end of a full two weeks of action against BP and the tar sands, dubbed the “BP Fortnight of Shame”. Other actions since April 1st have included:
• 22,000 “rebranded” BP logos were delivered to BP HQ – video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNLzN3zld7o
• A BP petrol station was blockaded in Plymouth, with protesters chaining themselves to petrol pumps. The station was closed for an hour and a half, and there were two arrests: http://www.thisisplymouth.co.uk/news/Greens-protest-closes-petrol-station/article-1992261-detail/article.html
• A demonstration by Youth Against Climate Change in St. Albans, targeting RBS, who are one of BP’s key funders in the tar sands: http://www.stalbansreview.co.uk/news/6646160.St_Albans_demo_targets__RBS/
• RBS cash machines were rendered temporarily out of order by Brighton Against Tar Sands (BATS): http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/04/448446.html
• A walking tree from Alberta, Canada, turned up at BP HQ (and other key London locations) to complain about tar sands deforestation – video here: http://vimeo.com/10630598
• “Free money” stained with oil was given out at a Natwest (owned by RBS) branch in Norwich: http://felixinnorwich.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/fossil-fools-day-in-norwich-tar-sand-protest-at-natwest/
4) BP’s Annual General Meeting will take place at 11.30am on April 15th 2010 at the Excel Centre, London. Campaigners will be speaking to shareholders outside the meeting, and challenging BP inside the meeting.
5) See http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/04/bp-investors-row-tar-sands
6) The April 10th day of action is supported by the UK Tar Sands Network ( http://www.no-tar-sands.org), Rising Tide UK ( http://risingtide.org.uk), the Camp for Climate Action ( http://www.climatecamp.org.uk) and the Indigenous Environmental Network ( http://www.ienearth.org)