Fishermen, anti-tar sands activists and trade union campaigners all plan to mount noisy demonstrations outside the BP and Rio Tinto annual meetings in London before putting formal questions to the company boards inside the shareholder meetings.
Critics of BP argue that livelihoods linked to the fishing industry are still suffering because of continuing problems in the US Gulf following the Deepwater Horizon blowout despite claims by the company of a successful cleanup.
On Wednesday, six protesters were arrested at BP’s US headquarters in Houston after breaking into the lobby. Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Cherri Foytlin, a mother of six from the Louisiana Coast, said wildlife was still badly hit by the spill. “Our dolphins and turtles are still dying at unprecedented rates. Our fisheries still struggle to recover. Our hardworking fishing families still suffer economic losses,” she argued.
Tar sands campaigners say that BP’s willingness to accept an annual meeting resolution from the Church of England and other large investors on improving its carbon performance is worthless as long as they continue with controversial oil extraction methods in Canada. “BP continues to rush headlong into the tar sands, which is devastating communities, cultures, [and] ecosystems,” said Suzanne Dhaliwal, director of the UK Tar Sands Network. “Extracting the CO2 contained in the Alberta tar sands projects alone is enough to take the entire planet past the two-degree increase that scientists agree is safe.”
Meanwhile the mining group Rio Tinto will be accused of polluting the air and water surrounding their operations from West Papua to Wisconsin by activists from the Unite and the IndustriALL Global Union. Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL, said: “Among the many bad offenders of workers’ rights in the mining industry, Rio Tinto has been picked out for its anti-worker arrogance, as well as its damage to local communities and the environment,” he said. “The company systematically fails on environmental, social and governance factors and our campaign will continue until Rio Tinto becomes the social actor it describes itself to be.”
Both BP and Rio can be expected to argue that they take their social and environmental performances very seriously. BP says that a 2014 study by the independent energy consultant IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates found that crude produced from Canada’s oil sands was only 8% more greenhouse gas-intensive than the average crude refined in the US.
Rio Tinto says it works closely with all its local communities and stakeholders: “As well as managing the financial and technical risks that our organisation faces, we are committed to managing the sustainable development risks we face at every stage of our businesses’ life cycles.”
This article was written by Terry Macalister, for theguardian.com on Thursday 16th April 2015 07.39 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010