‘Tar Sands Oil Orgy’ blockades Canada House in London

Canada-EU Energy Summit disrupted as Canada’s aggressive lobbying threatens EU climate legislation

Yesterday morning an ‘oil orgy’ performance-protest disrupted the Canada Europe Energy Summit, at Canada House, in London. The annual energy summit was hosted by Canadian High Commissioner Gordon Campbell and featured top officials from Shell, Total and Enbridge, along with Conservative Energy and Climate Minister John Hayes (who has recently received media attention for an alleged plot to promote the anti-wind farm agenda in the Coalition Government). The aim of the event was to promote Canada’s tar sands in Europe, and discussions included how to deal with ‘public policy risks’ such as impending European transport legislation which would discourage imports of highly-polluting fuels like tar sands into the EU market.

Canada House blockaded by tar sands ‘oil orgy’. Photo by David Hoffman.

At 8.30am, half an hour before the event was due to start, 30 protesters rushed to the steps of Canada House and blocked the entrance with their bodies and a huge banner saying ‘Stop tar sands’. They then held a tongue-in-cheek ‘oil orgy’, featuring dancing shadowy representatives of the oil industry, and speech bubbles with ironic pro-oil statements such as ‘Destroy the Fuel Quality Directive’, ‘Canada: emerging energy supervillain’, and ‘Gag climate scientists’. The main entrance was blockaded until after the event was due to start, forcing delegates to be diverted around the protest through a back door.

Tar sands extraction is devastating ecosystems and trampling on Indigenous rights. Worryingly, London has become a hotbed of collusion for the Canadian Government’s ‘dirty diplomats’ to schmooze with oil giants and promote tar sands in Europe,” said Suzanne Dhaliwal, from the UK Tar Sands Network. “With Europe negotiating new climate legislation which would threaten the highly carbon-intensive tar sands industry, Canada’s lobbying has become increasingly aggressive.”

Canada accused of being an ’emerging energy supervillain.’ Photo by, David Hoffman.

The Canadian Government has recently been exposed as mounting an unprecedented lobbying campaign to undermine the EU Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), which aims to reduce emissions from transport fuel by 6% by 2020, and would label tar sands-derived fuel as highly polluting. “The Canadian Government is working overtime to undermine climate policies in Europe so that they can barrel forward with unfettered tar sands expansion,” said Hannah McKinnon of Climate Action Network Canada (see Dirty Oil Diplomacy: The Canadian Government’s Global Push to Sell the Tar Sands). “There is no doubt that the tar sands are standing in the way of Canada’s climate promises, but they shouldn’t stand in the way of Europe’s as well.”

The UK Coalition Government has been documented as supporting these attempts by the Canadian Government and British oil giants BP and Shell to undermine the FQD.

We are already seeing the impacts of climate change around the world, and want to see the kind of leadership the European Union is taking to reducing emissions from transport fuels. But the UK Government is cosying up to Canada to sabotage key climate legislation,” said Philippa de Boissière from People & Planet. “We need to see the UK Coalition Government take action on reducing emissions rather than staying tangled in their twisted love affair with big oil.”

‘Tar Sands Oil Orgy’ performance calls for an end to Canadian lobbying against the Fuel Quality Directive. Photo by David Hoffman.

The protest at Canada House was organised by UK Tar Sands Network, London Rising Tide, People & Planet, Climate Justice Collective, Climate Rush, Occupy Energy, Environment and Equity Group, and Corporate Watch, as part of a global week of climate action which included actions against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in Washington DC and Texas.

Today’s performance-protest follows a mass action by People & Planet two weeks ago, which saw 400 students call on Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg from his Sheffield Hallam constituency, to support the FQD (‘No more sorries Nick’ mass action and e-action).
Find out more:
The Fuel Quality Directive
The lowdown on dirty diplomacy»

  1. I’d like to invite you to consider using the award winning documentary film; WHITE WATER BLACK GOLD to help raise public awareness about the Tar Sands and build greater opposition to the Keystone Pipeline. WWBG exposes the environmental costs of Canada’s oilsands project & the impact it is having on the third largest watershed in the world. Click on the WWBG icon at http://www.specialtystudios.com.


  2. We need to stop the harper government from killing our planet.We need to kick up our protests.I have already been to five protests against Bitmen being shipped of our coast. I will continue protesting until sense takes place not greed.


  3. Here in BC, many of us have been working away on the Oil Free Coast campaign in part because the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline from Alberta to BC will wreak havoc in the pristine Great Bear Rainforest. A cornerstone of the Oil Free Coast campaign is the fabulous traveling art exhibit “Art for an Oil-Free Coast” featuring the work of some of Canada’s finest artists, Native and non-Native alike. The art (all donated by the artists for an online auction) is also presented in a beautifully designed art book: Canada’s Raincoast at Risk. The book sells for $45 (Canadian). But you can download the eBook version for FREE to your iPad from iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/canadas-raincoast-at-risk/id580416644?ls=1 It’s really worth a look. (This message is not spam or some bogus virus thing.)


  4. Here in BC many of us have been working on the Oil Free Coast campaign, not just because Alberta tar sands are a terrible idea but because the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline from Alberta to BC will wreak havoc on the pristine Great Bear Rainforest. The centerpiece of the Oil Free Coast campaign is the fabulous travelling art show “Art for an Oil-Free Coast” featuring the work of 50 Canadian artists, both Native and non-Native. The artists have donated their work to raise funds for the campaign through an online auction. Their work is also beautifully presented in an art book called “Canada’s Raincoast at Risk”. The book sells for $45 (Canadian). But the eBook version (with complete contents of print book plus video) is available for FREE download to your iPad from the Apple iTunes store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/canadas-raincoast-at-risk/id580416644?ls=1 Really worth a look! (This message is not spam or some bogus virus thing. I am one of nine poets also included in the book.)


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