Anti-fracking activists all over the world turned up their megaphones and took to the streets of their communities on Saturday to partipate in the "Global Frackdown" as they demanded an end to the destructive practice of hydraulic-fracture drilling that the oil and gas industries are aggressively trying to expand in regions across the planet.
“Across the globe a powerful movement is emerging that rejects policies incentivizing fracked natural gas as a bridge fuel to as sustainable future. Any initiative claiming to promote sustainable energy for all must stimulate energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, not foster fracking for oil and gas,” said Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of U.S.-based Food & Water Watch, which spear-headed the day of action.
Across the world, other events were being tracked via Twitter under the hashtag #GlobalFrackdown:
In a mission statement signed by the international anti-fracking movement, more than 200 groups from over 40 nations declared:
Fracking for oil and gas is inherently unsafe and the harms of this industry cannot be fully mitigated by regulation. We reject the multi-million dollar public relations campaign by big oil and gas companies and urge our local, state, and national officials to reject fracking. We stand united as a global movement in calling on governmental officials at all levels to pursue a renewable energy future and not allow fracking or any of the associated infrastructure in our communities or any communities. We are communities fighting fracking, frac sand mining, pipelines, compressor stations, LNG terminals, exports of natural gas, coal seam gas, coal bed methane and more. Fracking is not part of our vision for a clean energy future and should be banned.
As part of the effort, many of those same groups on Friday sent a joint letter (pdf) to United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon urging him and other world leaders to reject inclusion of fracking in any international effort to combat climate change. In part, the letter stated:
Mounting scientific evidence shows that fracking is not only inherently unsafe for both public health and ecosystems, but that fracking may actually drive global warming more than conventional fossil fuels due to methane leakage from oil and gas drilling operations and their attendant infrastructure. According to the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Synthesis report, methane from oil and gas is 87 times as powerful at trapping heat as carbon dioxide, pound for pound, over a 20-year period and 36 times more so over 100 years. So, while natural gas may burn relatively cleaner than oil or coal, the cumulative effect of extracting gas and building the necessary transport infrastructure is a greater threat to the planet. net. What’s more, such short-sighted investments only serve to delay the mandatory transition to truly renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
From New York, where activists and community members have been pushing to make a state moratorium on fracking permanent, Sandra Steingraber, a professor of biology at Ithaca College and scientific advisor to the group New Yorkers Against Fracking, said: "As a biologist, I know the adverse health and environmental effects of fracking, but I’m also fighting this accident-prone, methane-leaking, carcinogen-dependent industry as a mother, for the sake of my own children and the world I’m leaving to them. Banning fracking in New York will show my young son and daughter—as well as the nation and the world–that the oil and gas industry Goliath can be beaten with a slingshot made of science, love, and political power, and renewable energy solutions."
Across the Atlantic Ocean, in Wales on Saturday, hundreds of people turned out to declare their opposition to a fracking push by the gas industry in the U.K.
As Wales Online reports:
Protestors from Neath, Pembrokeshire, Torfaen and as far afield as Wrexham descended on Cardiff Bay on Saturday to demand a moratorium be implemented by the Welsh Government.
Speakers included Gareth Clubb, director of organisers Friends of the Earth Cymru, along with Assembly Members Bethan Jenkins, William Powell and Mick Antoniw.
Former leader of Plaid Cymru Lord Dafydd Wigley and leader of the Wales Green Party Pippa Bartolotti joined them.
Campaigners arrived with flags, banners and plaques – with some dressed in hard hats and hi-visibility jackets – while campaigning choirs Cor Gobaith and Cor Cochion led the demonstrations against fracking, the controversial process of pumping water and chemicals into the ground to release gas.
Speaking to the crowd, FOE's Gareth Clubb demanded that Wales First Minister Carywn Jones implement a national moratorium of fracking and declared: "The time has come and we need to take a stand."
“The issue of fracking has been high-profile recently – all the leases given out are in heavily, diversely populated areas of Wales. I am confident politicians will have to listen," he said. "If the Welsh Government does not act you will see lots of protests and agitation across Wales.”
In conjunction with the Global Frackdown, there was also major day of action against international trade agreements in Europe on Saturday. Across the continent, a number of groups who work against fracking participated in this event as a way to show the way in which international trade deals—including import/export regulations—are deeply tied to the expansion of destructive extraction processes like gas drilling, off-shore drilling, and tar sands mining.
Opponents cite three trade deals—the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP); the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA); and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA)—as very real threats to already weakened democracies around the planet that will further pave the way for a corporate attack—including from the global fossil fuel industry—on the environment, health systems, food, jobs, public services, digital rights and much more.