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article imageUK protesters target Canadian oil sands developments & BP, Shell

By Stephanie Dearing     Apr 10, 2010 in Environment
Activists and investors in the UK are upset to learn that investments meant to enhance retirement years are being used to fund oil sands development.
Protesters held simultaneous protests in Oxford, Brighton, Cambridge and London, England Saturday to send a message to giant petroleum company, BP. The UK, they said, would rather have clean energy from Canada, not the dirtiest oil available. The protests were spurred by an announcement made by British Petroleum (BP) that it was planning to set up in Alberta to extract oil. The protesters managed to shut down three BP gas stations for the day, celebrating their success.
The protests follow on the heels of a report from the World Wildlife Fund issued in March that advocated UK investors should spend the money being invested in the Canadian tar sands on clean energy instead. The WWF challenged petroleum companies saying “If Canada extracts its probable reserves of oil from tar sands, this will almost single-handedly commit the world to dangerous levels of CO2 in the atmosphere – contributing to dangerous climate change, destroying ecosystems and habitats around the world. We cannot afford for this to happen.
“The $379bn question is: will the oil companies listen? For the planet’s sake, they have to.”
At around the same time, in a report released to address some of the protests from UK investors, Shell announced it would was seeking to increase its oil sands production from around 100,000 barrels a day up to 150,000 barrels.
The UK protests are a prelude to upcoming investor's meetings, where it is expected that BP and Shell will "... face hostile resolutions condemning their companies’ investments in Canadian oil sands projects, which environmentalists claim contribute to global pollution." BP's annual general meeting (AGM) is slated for May 18 while Shell's AGM will be held April 15th. BP already has one resolution on the table asking for a full accounting of the risks of the plan to extract oil from Canada's tar sands.
Protests against BP and Shell in the UK have been ongoing for weeks, but have not undermined profits. In late March, Shell said it had earned more from the tar sands than any of its other operations. Shell also anticipates the future market for energy will increase.
According to the BBC not many UK citizens knew about the oil sands developments as late as last year. A campaign protesting tar sands development held outside BP headquarters drew attention to the subject last fall. The message about the destructiveness of oil sands developments has met a receptive audience in Great Britain, with people readily embracing the rationale for opposing the developments.
Last February, Alberta's Beaver Lake Cree received financial support for their court case from a UK bank. While only a few Canadian indigenous communities are taking legal action to fight the oil sands, there is an Indigenous movement working to stop the tar sands development.
Two more Alberta First Nations communities have launched court cases to try to halt the tar sands. Duncan's First Nation was joined by Horse Lake First Nation. Duncan's First Nation Chief Don Testawich said they were launching the court case because "Our traditional territory is being overrun and cut to pieces by oil sands, major pipelines, gas fields and major power projects. Companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Trans Canada Pipelines and Bruce Power are proposing massive projects that will fuel unsustainable oil sands growth. Development on this scale will is making our Treaty Rights meaningless and threatens our traditional way of life."
There is a Facebook page to protest BP's intent on staking out its share of black gold.
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