Carbon Web Newsletter Issue 10 2008
Contents below, or download the newsletter as a pdf from here:
Under the pristine boreal forest in Northern Alberta lie the Canadian tar sands, a vast carbon time bomb that if ignited will dramatically increase the chance of passing a climate change tipping point. Over the past decade Shell, and then BP, have dramatically ramped up investment in the province. However, calls are growing for the shareholders of these companies to halt the tar sands expansion, and a new report by Greenpeace and PLATFORM is adding to this chorus.
As national controversy grows over proposals for a set of seven coal-fired power stations, UK banks are fuelling the global coal boom – the ‘roll to coal’. PLATFORM’s recent report, Cashing in on Coal, finds Barclays and HSBC trailing behind the UK leader in fossil fuel investments, RBS-Natwest.
CAUCASUS SPECIAL FEATURE
Manana Kochladze describes how media narratives covering the conflict miss that the Great Game is old. The players, and likely winners, are primarily G8-based multinational corporations and politicians that claim success in pursuing ‘energy security’, while the perennial losers are local communities and the environment.
As in 1919, UK and US diplomatic muscle is being exerted to maintain the flow of Azeri oil to the West. While there was no direct military intervention during the Georgia-Russia conflict, Western policies are focused on maintaining control of export routes for Caspian oil.
The South Ossetia conflict could easily have been foreseen. But British taxpayers' money was spent on the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline with eyes firmly closed to its impacts on regional conflict. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that concerns over human rights, conflict and militarisation were ignored.
On 5 August, a major explosion ruptured the BTC pipeline near Yurtbashi village in Turkey’s eastern Erzincan province. Claimed by the PKK, the blast created flames 160 ft high. The legal agreements behind BTC incentivise repression by the Turkish state - reports have been received that Kurds are already facing increased restrictions.
In an essay emerging from Climate Camp, James Marriott explores how the Hoo Peninsula's landscape was shaped by BP's decision to build an enormous refinery there, backed by the British government in response to a panic about "energy security" in the 1950s. The struggle to chart a new energy future must learn from the history that created both Kingsnorth Power Station and a gas pipeline feeding off Algeria's civil war.
The US government and foreign oil companies have suffered set-backs in attempts to secure control of Iraq's oil reserves, as talks collapsed due to the greed of the companies. However, Iraq remains on course to sign contracts with no transparency and far more generous terms than its neighbours, despite the Oil Law not passing yet.
As BP and its rival shareholders in Russian oil company TNK-BP have sparred for control, both sides have pulled in powerful state actors as back-up. With the oligarchs supported by the Russian Intelligence Agency, BP countered by drafting in not only British ministers but European Union officialdom as well.
The battle between Shell and community activists in Rossport, Ireland, intensified in September. The world's largest pipe-laying vessel, the Solitaire, arrived to install the offshore section of the pipeline. A protest flotilla of kayaks, dinghies and rafts was met by Police boats, Shell support craft and Irish Navy warships.
Someone from BP visited the Russian Ministry of Defence to complain about the 50 craters alongside the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline in Georgia, left by a Russian bomber. And then there were meetings between BP & Russia over using the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline. What we would have given to be a fly-on-the wall at those meetings.