Record turnout but the battle is not won!
International Stop the Tar Sands Day saw unprecedented numbers of tar sands protests taking place simultaneously in cities across the globe. In London we gathered by the Canadian High Commission, to shame the Canadian government for its aggressive lobbying against Europe’s Fuel Quality Directive.
In between poking leaflets into open taxi windows and stopping our banners flying into the traffic, we heard from a selection of incredible speakers. Malaika Aleba from Alberta, Canada, shared her personal horror story of visiting the tar sands. Danny Chivers likened the tar sands industry to a nicotine addict stowed away on someone else’s spaceship using up the last of their oxygen supply to fuel his dirty habit. Our own Jess Worth gave us hope by explaining the EU’s current opportunity to ban tar sands, coining the new, if not quite so catchy, chant ‘If I say Fuel Quality, you say Directive!’
A sombre procession across the street saw dying flowers laid on the steps to acknowledge the lives lost and landscapes damaged from Canada’s reckless action. People and Planet activists also performed ‘tarring and feathering,’ where an ‘investor’ covered an activist with molasses and feathers, for daring to challenge the tar sands industry.
Owing to the concern that the UK is one of only two member states blocking the move to ban tar sands from Europe, a giant petition was signed declaring ‘You’ve taken Canada’s brown envelope, now take ours!’
While the day was cut short by a hail storm, the mood remained lively, and the action continued into Monday, when the petition was hand-delivered to the Department for Transport. While we were unable to meet with Norman Baker personally, we were assured the petition would be passed on. Since then an Avaaz online petition has been set up, which already has over 40,000 signatories.
More excellent photos of the day are available here, thanks to our friends at demotix, and here, thanks to Pete Riches. See also Nancy Boulicault’s video of the day and Pete Speller’s video of tarring and feathering.
Thanks to everyone who came, and especially to Pete Barker for all his hard work in the run-up and on the day itself. The battle to keep tar sands oil out of Europe is not going to be an easy one but there is hope and we will keep you updated!