Native Americans to Join London Climate Camp Protest over Tar Sands

Published on
by
The Guardian/UK

Native Americans to Join London Climate Camp Protest over Tar Sands

Canadian First Nations seek to highlight UK's 'criminal' role in CO2-heavy oil schemes

by
Terry Macalister

A worker walks between huge trucks in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The oil sands extraction process requires top soil to be removed, is highly energy-intensive and releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide. (Photograph: Orjan F. Ellingvag/Dagens Naringsliv/Corbis)

Native Americans are to join the Climate Camp protests
in the City of London this week in an attempt to draw attention to
corporate Britain's "criminal" involvement in the tar sands of Canada.

Five
representatives from the Cree First Nations are coming to co-ordinate
their campaign against key players in the carbon-heavy energy sector with British environmentalists.

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, from Fort Chipewyan, a centre of Alberta's tar sands schemes, said: "British companies such as BP and Royal Bank of Scotland
in partnership with dozens of other companies are driving this project,
which is having such devastating effects on our environment and
communities.

"It is destroying the ancient boreal forest,
spreading open-pit mining across our territories, contaminating our
food and water with toxins, disrupting local wildlife and threatening
our way of life," she said.

It showed British companies were
complicit in "the biggest environmental crime on the planet" and yet
very few people in Britain even knew it was happening, said Deranger.
She was speaking ahead of an annual Climate Camp that will be held for
one week somewhere in Greater London from this Thursday.

The
exact site of the camp has not been revealed as green organisers are
worried that the police might move to thwart their plans if they are
notified in advance.

BP and Shell are two of the major oil
companies extracting oil from the tar sands. The thick and sticky oil
can only be removed from the sands by using a lot of water and power as
well as producing far heavier CO2 emissions.

RBS, now
partly owned by the British government after its financial rescue, is
also a target of environmentalists and aboriginals because it is seen
as a major funder of such schemes.

The Climate Camp concept
started with a protest outside the Drax coal-fired power station in
North Yorkshire and was followed up by similar protests at Heathrow -
against the proposed third runway - and Kingsnorth in Kent, where E.ON
wants to construct a new coal-fired power station.

There was also a Climate Camp in April at Bishopsgate inside the City of London, which became linked with bad policing after a bystander died following a clash with a constable.

The
tar sands are seen by many as a particularly dangerous project
providing enough carbon to be released in total to tip the world into
unstoppable climate change.
Shell was the first major European oil company to invest in the
Canadian-based operations but BP followed under its chief executive,
Tony Hayward.

The oil companies both dispute the amount of
pollution caused by tar sands and insist they must be exploited if the
world is not going to run out of oil.

But George Poitras, a
former chief of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, said the so-called heavy
oil schemes were violating treaty rights and putting the lives of
locals at risk. He said: "We are seeing a terrifyingly high rate of
cancer in Fort Chipewyan, where I live. We are convinced these cancers
are linked to the tar sands development on our doorstep."

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