‘Tar Sands Oil Orgy’ blockades Canada House in London

Canada House blocked by tar sands 'oil orgy'. By David Hoffman.Canada House blocked by tar sands 'oil orgy'. By David Hoffman.

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

This 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.

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.”

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.”

Protestors blockade entrance to Canada Europe Energy Summit, with ironic pro-oil slogans. By David Hoffman.Protestors blockade entrance to Canada Europe Energy Summit, with ironic pro-oil slogans. By David Hoffman.

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.”

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).