Protests against Canada's Tar Sands took place in Berlin. Demonstrators chanted "Keep Canada Green! Stop the Tar Sands" in front of the Canadian Embassy and informed passers-by about oil made from Canada's tar sands. Berlin, Germany. 18 June 2011
"It's bottom-of-the-barrel oil, like sucking up the beer spilled on your rug at last night's party," says organizer of Berlin's demo-festival on International Stop the Tar Sands Day.
SLUG: Berlin and Tar Sands
DATE: June 18 2011
"Keep Canada Green! Stop the Tar Sands" yelled Berliners at a 'demonstration-festival' in front of the Canadian Embassy in Berlin Saturday June 18 on the second annual International Stop the Tar Sands Day. It was just one of 50 cities on four continents where groups of people and passers-by played games and learned about the impacts of what many call the world's largest industrial project.
Oil made from Canada’s tar sands has “two-to-three times the global warming pollution of conventional oil," according to James Hansen, Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "But the process also diminishes one of the best carbon-reduction tools on the planet: Canada's Boreal Forest."
Hansen, in his submission on the giant Keystone Pipeline proposal to carry tar sands oil (about 830,000 barrels per day) to Texas refineries, makes the point that only “if unconventional fossil fuels are left in the ground, it is conceivable to stabilize climate”.
In Berlin this afternoon dozens of people played games like "tar sands twister" and "tars sands kubb (an old German game of blocks)", watched stand-up comedy and street theatre while hundreds of tourists and Berliners passing by busy Postdamer Platz learned about the environmental impacts of the tar sands.
"I believe in Canadians. They will make the right choice to shut down the Tar Sands, the worst environmental disaster on the planet," said Canadian Derek Leahy, a freelance historical tour guide and European organizer who started the protest movement one year ago.
Similar playful demo-fests involving music, dancing, costumes, handing out flowers and postcards were at Canadian embassies in Lisbon, London, Copenhagen, Den Hague, and Brussels along with 25 protests in the US, 12 in Canada and others in Australia, New Zealand and Nigeria.
“The Canadian government has no right to tell citizens of the EU how to shape their own environmental policies,” says local Berliner and Berlin protest co-organizer Jendrik Terasa.
The Canadian government is actively undermining the European Union (EU) efforts to decrease its carbon emissions Terasa says. The Canadian government has been lobbying the EU to remove all reference to tar sands oil having a higher carbon footprint than conventional oil from the latest draft of the EU Fuel Quality Directive (FQD). The FQD is Europe's way of getting fuel suppliers to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of energy supplied for road transport.
In 2009 the Canadian government launched “a pan-European oil sands advocacy strategy...to protect and advance Canadian interests related to oil sands,” according to documents released under the Canadian Access to Information Act. The EU FQD has been the main target of this strategy. The directive is to be finalized this year and the pressure from Canada is expected to increase.
“For us in the EU, the tar sands are no longer just an environmental issue or an issue of unethical investments by European banks and oil companies like BP, Statoil, Shell, and France’s Total,” says Terasa at today's demo-fest.
"I love Canada's beautiful nature. It is terrible what is going on there," said Terasa who has lived in Canada.
“Very little tar sands oil is sold to Europe, so the tar sands industry is not in danger of losing a customer.” says Leahy. “The Canadian government fears if the EU bars tar sands oil because of its extremely high carbon footprint, other countries may follow this precedent.
“The US may even think twice about the tar sands.”