Dodgy trade deals, royally oily hats & an exorcism

Dear Euro-stars,

We’re off to Brussels next week, as the latest EU-Canada trade talks kick off. We’ve got a hectic schedule planned, including meetings with MEPs and a protest tour of corporate lobbyists. Then when we get back we are going to attempt an exorcism of the Tate Modern, to expel the beast that is BP, with our good friend and spiritual leader Reverend Billy.

The past week has seen the UKTSN in every major Canadian newspaper as we co-launched a range of very cheeky tar-themed haute couture hats to coincide with Will and Kate’s first state visit to Canada.

Meanwhile, some positive news on the international tar sands front – it looks like Total’s attempts to start destroying Madagascar in the name of dirty oil has had a major set-back. Hurrah! More on all this below…

Earthalujah to you all!

Jess, Sue and Emily x

PS. Petroleum Economist website recently published an article that misrepresented our campaign on the Fuel Quality Directive quite spectacularly. Our rebuttal has been published by them today

1. Stop the Tar Sands Trade Talks

On Monday 11th July, the latest round of shady negotiations between the EU and Canada for a free trade deal (CETA) begin in Brussels. We are concerned that these negotiations could greatly increase Europe’s involvement in the tar sands industry,  giving more power to oil companies like BP, Shell and Total to overturn social and environmental regulations in their quest for the nasty black stuff, and threatening EU climate policy such as the Fuel Quality Directive. So we are going there, with our friends Jasmine Thomas from the Indigenous Environmental Network and Stuart Trew from the Council of Canadians, to raise these issues in a variety of ways, including:

− a protest outside the negotiations themselves
− a ‘Tar Sands Lobbytour’, visiting the offices of those who’ve been lobbying so hard to get tar sands into Europe, including the Canadian government, oil companies and industry associations
− a meeting inside the European Parliament, hosted by supportive MEPs, to highlight the ways in which CETA could affect Europe’s ability to curb environmentally damaging industries like the tar sands

2. Exorcise your right to protest

Brothers and sisters, a dark beast lurks within the bosom of one of our most cherished cultural institutions. While good-hearted, god-fearing gallery-goers glory in the miracle of art, the beast below is encircling the planet with its oily tentacles, destroying righteous communities, poisoning God’s beauteous creations, and bringing us all ever closer to the climate apocalypse.

And the name of that beast is BP.

For 20 long years, BP has embedded its foulness deep within the Tate, using the fair face of the arts to mask the stench of its true nature. On Monday 18 July,  @ 5:30 pm join Reverend Billy and the Church of Earthalujah, along with UK Tar Sands Network, Liberate Tate, Rising Tide, Climate Rush and Art Not Oil as we lay hands on the Tate Modern, and cast out the evil demon of BP’s oil sponsorship.

The Reverend Billy & The Church of Earthalujah will also be performing in London the previous evening (17th July) at Conway Hall. UK Tar Sands Network will be there and can promise you an amazing evening that is part theatre piece, part performance art and wholly inspirational. Join us!

Info here:

3. Haute Couture Tar and Feathering!

Last week we teamed up with Environmental Defence to make sure that royal newlyweds Will and Kate didn’t get a one-sided view of Canada on their current Royal Tour. A snazzy website and Grazia banner ads launched a range of Haute Couture hats for Kate. With a cheeky and fun nod to Canadiana, they highlighted how – in the pursuit of becoming a petro-powerhouse – Canada is no longer the peace-loving, green nation it used to be. Hats for Kate was lots of fun and we managed to reach some suprising new audiences. We were in nearly every Canadian newspaper and even got interviewed by Canadian TV!

4. Oil giant Total pauses Madagascar tar sands plans

Our friends at the World Development Movement have some good news: French oil company Total has paused its plans to mine tar sands in Madagascar! It will, however, continue its exploratory work in one of the country’s poorest regions.

Almost 1,300 people emailed Total’s CEO Christophe de Margerie in June, aiming to influence Total’s decision on mining in Madagascar. Total began to test-mine tar sands in the Melaky area of Madagascar in 2008, but this June the company’s licence to drill was due to end. It had to decide whether to move on to full scale mining of the tar sands or to abandon the project.

We now know the mining has been put on hold.

Total’s business partner, Houston-based Madagascar Oil, announced last week that the two companies would not start full-scale mining, but will continue to test for the viability of both conventional oil and tar sands extraction.

Madagascan campaigners fear that that the tar sands would disrupt and poison the water supply of up to 120,000 people in the country’s Melaky area and threaten its unique biodiversity. Campaigner Holly Ratokondralambo visited Europe from Madagascar in May to gather support for her campaign against the project, speaking to politicians, journalists and campaigners. ‘International support gives us strength,’ she said.

The Madagascar tar sands are safe in the ground – for now. Madagascar Oil has admitted the economics just don’t stack up. But Holly will need more international support to ensure that Total abandons its mining project, permanently.

Help keep the pressure on by emailing Total.

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