UK is blocking Tar Sands progress – take action on 18th June

Dear Tar Sands truth-tellers,

We are so excited to see that cities around the world are mobilising for an international day of action against the Tar Sands this month!

It couldn’t come at a better time as the UK government has apparently given in to Canada’s attempts to stop an important piece of European climate legislation going through parliament, which could see Tar Sands banned from Europe.

1.    International ‘Stop the Tar Sands’ day

2.   UK bends to Canada’s bullying

3.   Tar-iffic Triathlon!

Love and resistance,

Emily, Sue and Jess

1.  International ‘Stop the Tar Sands’ day

There is an incredible array of marches, protests, critical masses, subverted sports and installations being planned for Saturday, June 18th, as international ‘Stop the Tar Sands’ day hits cities all over Europe and North America. If you are in London, join us at the Canadian High Commission at noon, with sombre messages and flowers as we mark the sacrifice of life that has already taken place for Tar Sands extraction. Bring banners, cameras, flowers and messages, and prepare to create a giant petition to the UK government. Entertaining speakers, music and a game of oily volleyball will follow.

In other parts of the UK you can team up with your local People & Planet group who have some ‘Tarred and Feathered’ shenanigans planned. Find out more here and contact [email protected] to get involved.

You can also attend a screening of Dirty Oil at the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth, organised by the Co-op.

2. UK bends to Canada’s bullying!

If you have been following us lately you may know that Canada has been on an all-out offensive to try and stop European legislation from going ahead which would effectively ban Tar Sands imports into Europe, known as the Fuel Quality Directive. Some good news is that today a resolution was passed in the European Parliament which stated that the EU should not bow to this pressure. Although the EU is currently in trade talks with Canada, MEPs have expressed commitment to addressing the concerns we all have with emissions and environmental destruction from the Tar Sands.

Unfortunately the UK government has been much more swayed by  Canada’s Tar Sands PR and is now standing in the way of the Fuel Quality Directive.

At our protest on June 18th people will sign onto a creative petition to Norman Baker, Transport Minister, urging the UK not to bow down to crude Canadian lobbying. We will hand-deliver the petition to the Department for Transport at lunchtime on Monday 20th June.

Let us know if you can come along by emailing [email protected]

3. Tar-iffic Triathlon

To raise some much-needed funds to help the UK Tar Sands Network keep doing what we do, the amazing Ellie Smith is going to be doing a 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and a 10km run. Incredible!  So if you fancy helping us out and egging Ellie on, take a look at her Facebook page and sponsor her.

Spill Baby Spill

Hi Tar Sands Fighters,

The last few weeks have seen pipeline spills, forest fires and continued denial from the world’s most powerful corporations of any problems with tar sands. Luckily we have a united front of activists around the world working together to stop corporations and governments getting away unnoticed with such massive destruction.

1. Tar Sands Tour continues across Europe

2. Pipeline spills raise alarm bells

3. Events diary

4. New! resources webpage

Love and resistance,

Emily, Jess & Sue

1. Tar Sands Tour continues across Europe

The European leg of the Tar Sands Tour has brought activists from both Canada and Madagascar to make some noise at the Total AGM. Total is currently operating in the Alberta tar sands and investigating opportunities in Madagascar. See the Indigenous Environmental Network press release, and footage of Eriel Deranger from Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation challenging Total inside their AGM. Next, the tour continues to the Netherlands to target the Shell AGM.

2. Pipeline spills raise alarm bells

A series of devastating oil spills from tar sands pipelines have caused havoc in Alberta and North Dakota. The community of Little Buffalo has been evacuated, the local school is closed and forest fires are now raging in the area. Meanwhile the spills have called into question the safety of tar sands pipelines, fuelling the campaign against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline that is proposed to cross Alberta and British Columbia.  See coverage from the recent Enbridge AGM, which drew protests from First Nations.

3. Events Diary

There are many excellent tar sands-related events coming up: (see also the Events page of our website)

  • Stop Tar Sands going global! Holly Rakotondralambo, toxic pollution & health researcher for VOARISOA Observatoire, Madagascar.
    • 23 May – Public talk.  Boyd Orr Building, Glasgow University, with the Glasgow Centre for International Development, 6-8pm, free
    • 24 May – Public talk and Petropolis film screening.  Augustine United Church Edinburgh EH1 1EL, with Take One Action, 6-8pm, entry by donation for film.
    • 25 May – Public talk and Petropolis film screening. Malet Suite, University of London Union WC1E 7HY, 6-8:30pm, entry by donation for film.
  • Pete the Temp verses Climate Change
    Our favourite anti-tar-sands poet, songwriter and all-round activist entertainer Pete the Temp has put together an amazing stage show all about climate change and what we can do about it. If we were reviewers we’d give it five stars, and not just because it supports our campaign! Catch it if you can next week:
    25th and 26th May, Brighton Komedia, 7pm £6/£5,
  • International Stop the Tar Sands Day:
    18th June: outside Canadian High Commission in Grosvenor Square, London (time tbc).
    Join in with solidarity actions all over the world to bring the message loud and clear to the Canadian government that people will not sit by and watch the tar sands be exploited. This is a great chance to take part in organising an action that will gain worldwide coverage. Contact Pete ([email protected]) if you’d like to help out.

4. New! resources webpage

We have uploaded all of our briefings into one place: so you can read about the tar sands implications of BP and Shell’s operations, RBS’s financing, the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, and the impacts on indigenous rights. For printed copies contact [email protected]

Stop Tar Sands going global!

Dear Oily Bankers,

The spring 2011 tar sands tour has come to an end. We are exhausted but still completely excited by the incredible turn-out, the brilliant media coverage and the amazing outcome of everyone’s efforts! We’re now having a bit of a holiday before gearing up to tackle the next challenge – stopping Tar Sands going global (boo!!!)

1. What a week!
2. Help stop Tar Sands going global
3. Do you want a Tar Sands speaker?

Love and sunshine,

Jess, Sue and Emily
UK Tar Sands Network


1. What a week!

So we have come to the end of an incredible week of Tar Sands resistance! We certainly made sure BP and RBS know that their involvement with the filthiest fuel on the planet will continue to be a blemish on their already mired reputations. In the midst of all the excitement we did manage to put together a report-back – take a peek for all the juicy details.

2. Help stop Tar Sands going global

A terrifying and little-known fact is that Canada is not the only country to have massive Tar Sands deposits. They are also found in abundance in Congo-Brazzaville, Venezuela, Jordan, Trinidad and Tobago and the US to name just a few, and the oil companies are starting to try and exploit them.

Right now, thousands of lives are under threat from French oil giant Total’s plans to mine Tar Sands in Melaky, Madagascar. In a few weeks time, Holly Rakotondralambo will be visiting the UK from Madagascar to talk about the campaign to stop this polluting industry and ask for our support and solidarity.

The impacts in Madagascar would be truly devastating. Over 120,000 people who live within the Bemolanga oil field will have their water supply disrupted and their land poisoned. Total is being financed using UK taxpayers’ money, through the bailed-out Royal Bank of Scotland.

If you can, come along to one of these events organised by the World Development Movement and hear directly from Holly about the campaign to stop Tar Sands in one of the world’s poorest counties and greatest biodiversity hotspots, and how we in the UK can help.

  • 23 May – Boyd Orr Building, Glasgow University, with the Glasgow Centre for International Development, 6-8pm, free.

  • 24 May – Talk and Petropolis film screening.  Augustine United Church Edinburgh EH1 1EL, with Take One Action, 6-8pm, entry by donation.

  • 25 May – Talk and Petropolis film screening. Malet Suite, University of London Union WC1E 7HY, 6-8:30pm, entry by donation.

More details here: http://www.wdm.org.uk/events/madagascar-stop-tar-sands-going-global

3. Do you want a Tar Sands speaker?

Are you a member of a group who might be interested in having a meeting about the Tar Sands and how you can get involved in the campaign? If so, the UK Tar Sands Network can help. We can send a speaker along to your group, and also send you a pack of free materials, including films, stickers and Tar Sands briefings on BP, RBS, CETA and indigenous rights. If you would like a campaign pack or to book a speaker, please email [email protected]

Tar Sands Tour is go!

Dear Tar Sands tourists,

Our big week (and a bit) has begun! Tomorrow, the Tar Sands Tour kicks off at Rich Mix with a huge public event all about BP, Tar Sands, Deepwater Horizon and how to hold the oil giant to account for its destructive activities across the world. We have an amazing set of speakers lined up, from First Nations directly impacted by the Tar Sands, to oyster fishers and shrimpers from the Gulf of Mexico whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the BP spill, to the leader of the West Papuan resistance, to major shareholders in BP, all of whom are not happy!

Then we’ll be going to the AGM itself on Thursday, to make our voices heard. Watch this space (and the media) for some major fireworks.

This week is also a week of action against BP sponsorship of the arts, involving some audacious and creative actions at some of our best-known cultural institutions.

Then on Sunday we’re heading up to Edinburgh to do that same again, this time targeting RBS for its dirty investments. WDM have an online photo petition for you that you can join in with to tell RBS to stay out of the tar sands.

Get all the details here: http://www.no-tar-sands.org/tar-sands-tour-2011/

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for up-to-the-minute news.

Hope to see you somewhere on the road!

Love not big oil,

Jess, Emily and Sue xxx

Climate Week, and big BP and RBS events

Dear Greenwash Guerrillas,

We’re very excited to be able to invite you along to two major events as part of our First Nations speaker’s tour in April. If you only come to one tar sands event this year, make it one of these! But first, a word about someone else’s sponsors…

1.  Climate Week ‘tar’-getted over RBS sponsorship

2.  BP meeting and plans for the AGM

3.  RBS and the ‘People’s AGM’

Love and sunshine,

Sue, Jess and Emily

1.  Climate Week ‘tar’-getted over RBS sponsorship

On Monday we, and some like-minded friends, turned up at the launch of RBS-sponsored Climate Week. We were there to warn people about the dangerously high levels of greenwash spewing from the plush venue. We flyered every single person who attended the event (apart from a few grumpy folk who wouldn’t take one), talked to many about our concerns with RBS, and did some singing and dancing.


Our protest – and a report released by Platform on the same day that found that, since being bailed out by taxpayers, RBS has financed £8 billion (!) of coal investments – meant that RBS’s dirty portfolio is now firmly back in the public eye.

You can read the whole story here: Climate Week ‘Tar’-Getted by Anti Greenwash Protest

2.  BP meeting and plans for the AGM

We would like to invite you to ‘Calling BP to account – Tar Sands, Deepwater Horizon and beyond…’ This event, part of our First Nations’ speaker tour, will take place on 12th April 2011, 7pm, at Rich Mix in London, just before BP’s AGM on the 14th. It will bring together a diverse coalition of individuals and organisations who are working together to call BP to account for the social and environmental impacts of their activities around the world. Join First Nations from Canada, fishermen and women from the Gulf of Mexico, shareholders, NGOs, lawyers and activists for an evening of information sharing and strategising. It should be an amazing event!

More information here. Please please please RSVP to [email protected] so we know how many people are coming. Check out the Facebook event and invite people along!

Also, we need more people to help with our presence outside the BP AGM on the 14th. If you’re able to come to the Excel Centre in London Docklands for a couple of hours around 10ish on Thursday 14th April, please let us know!

3.  RBS and the ‘People’s AGM’

After we’ve hit BP’s AGM we’re travelling with our First Nations friends up to Scotland for RBS’s AGM on the 19th April. The evening before (Monday 18th), there will be an alternative ‘People’s AGM’ in Edinburgh with an opportunity to hear from the First Nations representatives directly about the terrible impact of RBS’s investments. The event is being organised by WDM Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland, People & Planet and SEAD.

Email us at [email protected] for more information, or keep an eye on our website and we will post details when they become available, as well as details of other events happening as part of the tour.

‘Climate Week’, sponsored by… RBS?!

Dear greenwash-detectors,

We’re spending a lot of time gearing up for the BP and RBS AGMs next month, liaising with First Nations in Canada and those affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill, planning public events, working with a whole range of different groups, and figuring out what we can do at the two AGMs to really hold those responsible for such wanton destruction to account.

But we keep getting distracted. Because next week (21st March) is Climate Week. And it’s being sponsored by RBS. Which we think is absolutely outrageous. So here’s a short message with info about all these things:

1. Climate Week: vote for the Greenwash Coup of the Year!
2. BP & RBS AGMs – events and activities
3. CETA still needs beating – take action now

Also, we’ve finally sorted out a way to donate through our website (thanks to Daniel, our wily web wizard). If you like what the UK Tar Sands Network is doing and want to support us, please consider giving us a donation, however small. We promise to make every penny we get go an extremely long way!

Love not corporate sponsorship,

Emily, Sue and Jess

1. Climate Week: vote for the Greenwash Coup of the Year!

Having a week in which everyone takes climate action is of course a Good Thing. Every week should be like that. But if you invite RBS, Tesco and EDF to sponsor it and then plaster their logos over every piece of material you send into schools, businesses and communities, what kind of message does that send about the causes of and solutions to climate change?

A confusing one, at the very least. A misleading one, definitely. A dangerous one? We think so. RBS is responsible for more carbon emissions than any other UK bank. It is one of the leading financers of fossil fuel projects around the world, and is the 7th largest global financer of tar sands companies. As a result, its reputation has taken a bit of a battering lately. So Climate Week is the ideal way for it to buy itself a better green rep whilst still continuing to destroy the planet.

Well, we’ve noticed this audacious move, and so have lots of other people. Here’s a Guardian article which quotes us, a blistering blog from Danny Chivers, a spot-on statement from Artists Project Earth, and an awesome, slightly tongue-in-cheek poll from People & Planet. We wouldn’t presume to tell you who you should vote for in P&P’s ‘Greenwash Coup of the Year 2011’ awards (such a strong field, after all), but you can probably guess who we went for!

2. BP & RBS AGMs – events and activities

April sees both BP’s and RBS’s Annual General Meetings, and we plan to be at both, with some of our First Nations partners from Canada. More info soon on a whole series of events and actions you can get involved in, but here are a few definite dates for your diaries:

19th March (next Saturday) – Shareholder activism training day

Check it out on Facebook! It will feature a planning session for the BP AGM. There are still spaces and we would love to see you there. RSVP to [email protected] or 020 7403 7800.

12th April – BP event and First Nations speaker tour launch

Big public meeting in London, an opportunity to hear from a wide range of critics of BP, and to meet our First Nations visitors in advance of the BP AGM. If you would like to help us publicise it or can help on the night, please email [email protected] and we will love you forever.

14th April – BP AGM, Excel Centre, London

Lots of us have bought shares and are planning what we’re going to be doing inside. It’s not too late for you to join us! If you want to buy a share, email [email protected] and we’ll connect you with our broker…There will be a London Rising Tide presence outside the AGM – so also let us know if you don’t have a share but would like to join us there.

15th April – CETA International Day of Action

We will be taking action in London (sorry, non-Londoners) simultaneously with actions in Canada and, we hope, Brussels, to stop the tar sands trade talks. Keep the day free if you can and watch this space for more info.

19th April – RBS AGM, Edinburgh

We are working with a group of organisations including WDM Scotland and Friends of the Earth Scotland to organise a ‘people’s AGM’ in advance of the official AGM. Get in touch if you can help organise things up in
Edinburgh.

3. CETA still needs beating – take action now

We really need to multitask at the moment, because tar sands threats are rearing up from many different directions. If you haven’t taken our e-action to keep Europe out of the Tar Sands, please do so now. It only takes a minute and it’s really important. Thank you!

Lush get messy, we get active

Dear molasses-messers,

This week we have been mainly trying to keep tar sands oil out of Europe. You can help!

1. Lush launch campaign in sticky style

Last Thursday saw every Lush shop across the UK launch a tar sands campaign by covering a member of staff in molasses! The stunningly sticky stunts have got the campaign onto at least three local front pages, and gained a wealth of media coverage across the UK. Amazing!!! Here’s an example.

Lush are asking people who come into their shops to sign a postcard to their MEPs, to keep tar sands oil out of Europe. Find out more about the campaign here. They have also created a special molasses-based shower gel, called ‘Sweet and Shower’. Some of the money raised will come to the UK Tar Sands Network, so please visit your local shop, sign the postcard and buy the gloriously gloopy gel. We promise to use the money to kick even more ass!

And while we’re on the topic, here’s a great little film that Lush made about us:

2. New e-action!

The lovely folk at call4.org have created an e-action for us, so now you can email all your MEPs (we each have several, lucky us) and ask them to take action on CETA – the Canada-EU free trade agreement currently being negotiated – to make sure it doesn’t increase Europe’s involvement in the dirty tar sands industry. Find out more about CETA and the tar sands here, and take action!

Pressure on MEPs is crucial right now. Europe could be on the verge of banning tar sands, but it’s by no means a done deal, and meanwhile, the trade negotiations are speeding ahead.

3. BP in trouble for basing its business model on the end of the world

We’re also very busy gearing up for the BP AGM in April. More about that soon, but meanwhile, the fantastic activist lawyers at Client Earth have made a formal complaint about the fact that BP is basing its rationale for going into the tar sands and drilling in the Arctic on a future scenario that involves temperature rises of 6 degrees and the end of life as we know it. Busted!


Love and a multitude of molassesy showers,

Sue, Jess and Emily

P.s. Reminder – Please join us on 19th March for a shareholder activism training day. Check it out on Facebook! It will feature a planning session for the BP AGM.  There are still spaces and we would love to see you there! RSVP to [email protected] or 020 7403 7800.

Is the EU about to ban Tar Sands?

Dear Tarsandsisters and Brothers,

We’ve (almost) got some amazing news… It’s looking increasingly like the EU might be on the verge of banning tar sands from Europe! But it’s not a done deal yet.

We know that Canada and Big Oil have been lobbying furiously behind the scenes to try and water down the key piece of EU climate legislation in question, known as the Fuel Quality Directive. But ever since we invaded the Department for Trade [link] to insist that current Canada-EU trade negotiations should not get in the way of EU climate policy, and then kicked up a stink in Brussels with our Indigenous, Canadian and European partners,[link] things have been moving pretty quickly.

Here’s the latest we’ve heard [link]. We’ve never got excited about an EU Directive before but the implications of this are so huge that we guess there’s a first time for everything. As soon as there are any further developments we’ll tweet and Facebook it, so if you’re not already our friend, liker or follower, please do join our virtual gang! No Tar Sands on Facebook and No Tar Sands Tweets .

In the meantime, if you haven’t already signed the Tarnished Earth petition to keep tar sands oil out of Europe you can do so here: www.tarnishedearth.co.uk/sayno We need to keep the pressure on until the decision is done and dusted.

While we’re watching and waiting, we’re not twiddling our thumbs. Ohhoho no. We’re getting revved up for the BP AGM, and another First Nations speaker tour in April – woohoo! Below are some dates for your diaries. Please email us at [email protected] to let us know which you would like to be involved in.

Love and momentous EU bans,

Jess, Sue and Emily


Cool stuff coming up:

19th March – Become a Shareholder Activist

The wonderful FairPensions are organising a training day for anyone wanting to attend a company AGM, come face to face with its top directors, and call them to account. Sessions include: ‘What does it mean to be an activist shareholder?’, ‘Why is this form of campaigning so effective?’, and a specific planning session for the BP AGM, run by us! To book a place please RSVP to [email protected] or 020 7403 7800.

13th-20th April – First Nations Speaker Tour

We are currently laying plans to bring representatives from two First Nations communities directly affected by the tar sands over to the UK for a week. We have got lots of plans up our sleeves, and are also looking for suggestions and offers as to where they could visit and what they could do while they’re here, so please let us know if you would like them to come to you and whether you can help organise an event.

There are two dates that are fixed so far:

14th April – BP AGM

Going into the tar sands. Spreading oil across the Gulf of Mexico. Drilling in the Arctic. Being best mates with Gaddafi. There are just so many reasons to be mad at BP. At the AGM, the BP board will finally come face to face with their many critics. If you want to be involved, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

20th April – Day of Action against Extraction

To mark the anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill, Rising Tide North America have called a day of action: April 20th 2011 – Rising Tide – Day of Action Against Extraction

Stick it in your diaries and start planning what you’re going to do! More info will follow.

The Tar Sands Trade Deal You’ve Never Heard of…

Dear CETA-beaters,

It’s been a busy UK Tar Sands Network fortnight. We have invaded a government office, been to Brussels to bother some trade negotiators, and launched a flashy (for us) new website, to keep you up to date with everything going on in the world of Tar Sands campaigning!

  1. Keep Europe Out of the Tar Sands! Part One: invading the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  2. Keep Europe Out of the Tar Sands! Part Two: taking our muscles to Brussels
  3. Vote BP!
  4. A shiny new No Tar Sands site!

Love and Belgian beer,

Sue, Jess and Emily.

1. Keep Europe Out of the Tar Sands! Part One: invading the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

The Canadian government and the European Union are currently ploughing ahead with one of the most ambitious free trade deals ever. Known as CETA, it threatens to make European oil companies like BP and Shell even more powerful, and could open up the European market to Tar Sands oil for the first time.  Boo! Yet no-one’s even heard of it…

So on Friday 14th January – just before the next round of trade talks kicked off in Brussels – the UK Tar Sands Network and our friends from London Rising Tide joined together as the “Big Society Trade Negotiators”, to advise the newly appointed Trade Minister (and former CEO of HSBC) to put the CETA negotiations on hold.

We invaded the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and demanded a meeting with Lord Green, holding a noisy teach-in about CETA in the lobby while we waited. He rather swiftly agreed to meet us at a later date. You can watch it all in glorious technicolour here.

2. Keep Europe Out of the Tar Sands! Part Two: taking our muscles to Brussels

Then we hopped on a Eurostar and went to the belly of the beast – the trade negotiations themselves. In Brussels on Monday 17th January we joined with a variety of groups including the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Council of Canadians, Friends of the Earth Europe, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Canadian National Farmers Association outside the CETA talks to voice a wide range of concerns – about tar sands, the privatisation of public services, water, agriculture, corporate power and democracy.

Some of our allies then spent the whole of last week in Brussels and Strasbourg, meeting MEPs and trade negotiators and making sure they were fully aware of the problems with CETA. It seems to have worked. Follow the story and see the media coverage on the Council of Canadians website.

3. Vote BP!

BP are currently in the running for a Worst Corporation of the Year award. Considering what they’ve been up to lately – Deepwater Horizon, going into the Tar Sands, deciding to drill in the Arctic – we think they thoroughly deserve it. But they’re currently in second place! So please vote now and show them what you think of them. You Can Vote Here!

4. A shiny new No Tar Sands site!

We have a new website www.no-tar-sands.org that we are really happy to have up! Check in regularly for campaign updates and stay tuned for the amazing short films, from our recent trip to the Tar Sands, that will keep popping up from our friends at You and I Films.