Tar Monster caught by climate campaigners on the streets of Oxford

Tar Monster caught by climate campaigners on the streets of Oxford

Oxford Joins Global Demonstration to “Connect the Dots” Between Extreme Weather and Extreme Energy

Today, May 5th 2012 a Tar Monster was on the loose in Cornmarket Street as part of an international day of action on climate change. The tar monster was caught by a dozen campaigners who called to stop the extraction of Canadian Tar Sands and connected the dots between extreme energy projects and extreme weather events.

“Tar sands fuel releases three to five more greenhouse emissions that conventional oil and is driving the planet to irreversible climate change.” said Pete Barker, one of the organisers of the Oxford event said, “Rather than making the transition to renewable forms of energy we are seeing more and more extreme energy in the mix like tar sands, which is creating extreme weather and is already impacting on communities globally.”

The creative demonstration was a combination of “Climate Impacts Day,” an effort led by international climate which has brought together over 1,000 events in 150 countries [1], and International Stop the Tar Sands Day, a grassroots initiative raising awareness about the dangers of tar sands exploitation [2]. It was organised by local and tar sands activists in collaboration with Lush store in Oxford, and was supported by the UK Tar Sands Network [3], who is calling on Oxford to become one of the first Tar Free Towns in the UK [4].

“People have got to realise that climate change is happening right now, and if we don’t rapidly transition from away from extreme forms of energy extraction like mining tar sands or drilling in the Arctic, soon it will be too late to avoid runaway climate change” said tar sands and climate campaigner Ruthi Brandt


[1] Climate Impacts Day is hosted by, an international grassroots climate campaign. Today, over 1,000 events in 150 countries “connect the dots” between local changes, like extreme weather events, and the broader climate crisis. Visit for more information about Climate Impacts Day.

[2] International Stop the Tar Sands Day is highlighting how industry is going to more and more extreme lengths to get fuel for the world’s fossil fuel addiction by drilling deeper and deeper for more and more difficult to extract oil and gas resources. Growing from 9 events in 2010 to fifty in 2011, today was the 3rd ISTSDay, organised by a group of everyday citizens from around the world.

[3] The UK Tar Sands Network campaigns in partnership with Indigenous communities affected by the Tar Sands oil developments in Canada. They target the UK and EU governments, UK companies (such as BP and Shell), and banks and investors (such as RBS) operating in the Alberta Tar Sands. It is based in Oxford.

[4] A Tar-Free Town is a community that is working towards a vision of clean energy, and is setting out to actively make the positive transition away from dirty oil. The idea came from a desire to connect people in the UK with communities fighting Tar Sands in Canada. Similar initiatives in the US were successful in blocking tar sands oil entirely from individual municipalities. Although Tar Sands oil hasn’t yet arrived in the UK in significant quantities, its large-scale import is potentially very close and the battle to shut Tar Sands out of the UK market is taking place right now.

[5] More about the tar sands in Alberta, Canada –

It is the biggest energy project in the world and extracting oil from the sand is an incredibly damaging process, both to the natural environment and the people that live there. Tar sands have such high carbon intensity that if extraction continues, all attempts to hold global temperature below 2 degrees to avoid the most severe climate change impacts will be inevitable. Although at this stage very few tons of tar sands get shipped over to Europe the issue cannot be ignored as the EU has to decide if they will allow for more and more dirty tar sands to be shipped to Europe. EU countries recently voted on the Fuel Quality Directive, which would classify tar sands to be more environmentally damaging than conventional fuels. If passed this policy would have kept tar sands oil out of Europe. But, the vote resulted in a stalemate. The decision is now delayed until 2013 as the European Commission will conduct an impact assessment for the proposal, asked by European oil corporations, which are heavily lobbying EU member states along with Canada.


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