After two years of impressive mobilisation by UNISON grassroots members across England, Scotland and Wales, the trade union has officially taken on fossil fuel divestment policy[1].

Yesterday the union’s National Delegate Conference voted unanimously to

seek divestment of Local Government Pension Schemes from fossil fuels over five years giving due regard to fiduciary duty

UNISON is one of the two largest trade unions in the UK, with over 1.3 million members, and the first to adopt formal divest policy. It is the primary representative for local government workers – whose pension funds are collectively worth over £200 billion – and UNISON representatives sit on boards of local government pension funds.[2]

The divest motion clearly had widespread support – but it was a knife-edge whether it would make it onto a packed agenda of over 100 motions. Branches from across the country lobbied to give it priority – making it the last item debated on Thursday’s agenda.

Stephen Smellie, Deputy Convenor in UNISON Scotland, who brought the motion to conference, said

Our priority always needs to be to ensure our member’s pensions are protected. We are increasingly aware that investments in fossil fuels are not only harmful to the environment but put the sustainable future of our pensions at risk. Unison will now extend our campaigns to develop alternative investment strategies to enable pension funds to divest from fossil fuels over a number of years.

Local trade union branches across the UK have been promoting divestment. This specific motion was proposed by UNISON Scotland, Norfolk County, Camden and Southwark branches, with amendments from Hastings and Eastbourne Healthcare branches as well as the union’s National Executive Council.

Local government pensions in the UK are worth over £200 billion and are heavily exposed to fossil fuel companies. Our investigation in 2015 showed £14 billion invested in fossil fuels[3] across local government pensions, with Greater Manchester’s pensions the most exposed with £1.3 billion invested (9.8% of its holdings).

Image credit: Fossil Free Scotland[4]

We at Platform are thrilled to see UNISON joining the divestment movement. UNISON’s decision to divest shows that Exxon and Shell have no place in our future. Stranded fossil fuel assets threaten our pensions. And investing instead into clean energy, public transport, and social housing can kickstart our economy.

Local government pension funds have already started moving towards divestment from oil, coal, and gas. In 2016 Waltham Forest passed divestment policy[5], quickly followed by Southwark. Full and partial divest commitments already total £10 billion worth of local government pensions. Global divestment commitments total over $5 trillion.

Jonathan Dunning from Norfolk County Branch, who chaired a fringe meeting on Tuesday, also said

This issue was raised by a UNISON member as a matter of concern, so it’s great to see that individual concern debated and then agreed by the national union. Much work will now be needed to turn the fine words of the motion into real change.

Kev Allsop is UNISON representative to Greater Manchester Pension Fund – largest local government pension fund in the UK. He brought a motion to last year’s 2016 conference, when it wasn’t debated. He said,

UNISON’s National Delegate Conference, the trade union’s sovereign body, has today accepted that we should be making our pension funds carbon neutral. We have  a very real opportunity to move £ billions out of Fossil Fuel extraction. UNISON now has the foresight to support investment into Sustainable Energy and Council Housing, creating jobs and much needed homes benefitting generations to come whilst reducing the cost of pensions to the taxpayer.

[6]

Stephen Smellie speaking about the motion at UNISON’s National Delegate Conference.

Endnotes:
  1. divestment policy: http://platformlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Divest_motion_UNISON_2017-National-Delegate-Conference_Composite_Booklet_Final4-1.pdf
  2. [Image]: http://platformlondon.org/?attachment_id=32844
  3. Our investigation in 2015 showed £14 billion invested in fossil fuels: https://gofossilfree.org/uk/pensions/
  4. Fossil Free Scotland: http://fossilfree.scot/move-the-money/
  5. Waltham Forest passed divestment policy: http://platformlondon.org/2016/09/28/32504/
  6. [Image]: http://platformlondon.org/p-pressreleases/council-workers-largest-union-commits-to-divesting-pensions-from-fossil-fuels/stephen_smellie_ndc17/

Gas will solve the climate crisis. This was the main message that BP’s CEO Bob Dudley wanted to get across at today’s annual general shareholder meeting. And it’s dangerous…

Coal is the heaviest polluter of the fossil fuels, gas the lightest, and on Carbon Brief’s data[2], coal is the biggest difference between where we are going now and the path to 2 degrees’ warming. If we replaced all the coal being burnt for electricity with gas, sounds like we’d make a massive saving. So why wouldn’t we want to swap coal power plants for gas ones ASAP?

The thing is. If gas were really a transition fuel, BP wouldn’t be promoting it. That is, when BP talks of replacing demand for coal with demand for gas, this does not mean just using gas for enough time to transition to renewable energy sources.

What it has in mind is projects like the Euro-Caspian Mega Pipeline[3] that would secure gas extraction not for the next five, ten, twenty years – but 40 or 50. This pipeline alone would secure pumping 2 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, and lock us into using fossil fuels for 40 to 50 years. Now that doesn’t fit into any 2-degree scenario carbon budget.

[4]

BP’s CEO Bob Dudley speaking at the AGM today.

Moreover, recent data shows that greenhouse gas emissions of gas extraction are vastly underestimated[5]. The main component of gas is methane – a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 – and its leakage into the atmosphere while pumping gas out of the ground is hard to measure and harder to stop.

And we’re not just talking about one pipeline. From massive gas fields in the Caspian Sea to the huge Vaca Muerta deposit in Argentina[6], BP is pushing for opening new gas deposits and constructing new infrastructure.

To make these plays pay off, BP needs decades and decades more of burning more and more gas, instead of a rapid shift to renewables. And that’s why we can’t let Bob Dudley get away with his soundbite.

 

 

PS. Here’s my personal favourite moment of the AGM. You may remember Mitt Romney’s ‘Binders Full Of Women’[7]? Well, BP has claimed it has pipelines. Pipelines full of women.

 

 

 

 

Endnotes:
  1. May 17, 2017: https://twitter.com/emilygosden/status/864828417954516992
  2. on Carbon Brief’s data: https://twitter.com/DrSimEvans/status/864833193177907202
  3. Euro-Caspian Mega Pipeline: http://platformlondon.org/p-publications/europes-gas-grab-the-euro-caspian-mega-pipeline/
  4. [Image]: http://platformlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/DACrCKFXsAAndex.jpg-large-1.jpeg
  5. vastly underestimated: https://phys.org/news/2015-02-methane-emissions-natural-gas-industry.html
  6. Argentina: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2016-09-13/bp-ceo-argentina-s-vaca-muerta-has-enormous-potential
  7. ‘Binders Full Of Women’: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/mitt-romney-republican-binders-full-of-women-were-real-boston-globe-massachusetts-a7679241.html
  8. #BPAGM: https://twitter.com/hashtag/BPAGM?src=hash
  9. May 17, 2017: https://twitter.com/ShareActionUK/status/864805176523325440

 

[1]I’ve recently returned from a visit to my friend and mentor, Suzi Gablik, in Virginia, USA.

She has been an inspiration to so many over the past 33 years since the publication of ‘Has Modernism Failed’[2], and later her book ‘Conversations Before The End of Time[3]‘. Her work harnessed an ecological sensibility in the arts and culture, and has been key for Platform and numerous others. Into her eighty-second year, her sight is failing now, but her mind is crystal clear and her soul is as bold as ever.

We spent eight days discussing the nature of these times, the conversation twisting this way and that as we delved deeper into the bleakness of the American political scene and the possibilities of hope. Again and again we came back to the sense that we are at a paradigm shift, in the manner that Thomas Kuhn[4] proposed.

A paradigm shift is a point where the entire culture goes through a pivot, and all that was once certain becomes uncertain. A point that calls into question every level of life, from the economic sphere to the political sphere, from the ecological sphere to the personal sphere. We asked: how should we ‘be’ in days like these? What does a ‘good life’ mean? What does ‘virtue’, mean in days like these?

Suzi rails against Trump and all that he represents. The actions of his Administration are volatile and unpredictable, at times even contradictory and self-defeating. They have the common thread of sowing chaos at every turn. They seem to echo the much-reported views of Trump’s Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, who embraces disruption and the threat of war. (He may have been demoted, but his presence surely remains.)

We discuss how the chaos in the political realm echoes the chaos in the realm of the climate. The ever-escalating reports of climatic change, from Arctic ice melt to East African famine and floods in Chile, illustrate that the weather systems are out of balance. We know that this energetic unpredictability is the product of the atmosphere being supercharged by carbon dioxide emissions. The more fossil fuels burnt, the greater the climate chaos. Yet these fossil fuels are the foundation of the current economy, the current order of industrial society. This contradiction brings to mind the line by the ruthless French revolutionary, Saint-Just:

‘The present order is the disorder of the future’.

Suzi and I speculate that perhaps the current chaos could be seen as a midwife to something new? That out of the social and political turmoil, maybe a new balance will arise? Indeed if the old balance, the order in which we’ve lived our lives, has created the chaos in the climate, then maybe the only chance of finding a way of being that ceases to destroy the atmosphere is to go through this current turmoil?

The thought of recognising the necessity of the political chaos, of embracing it, can fill us with anxiety. But does it make us any less anxious than remaining on board a ship that is being steadily broken up by the storm?

Andrew Breitbart, Stephen Bannon’s collaborator in right-wing tabloid journalism and the founder of Breitbart News, summed up his position in his 2011 memoir: “The Left wins because it controls the narrative. The narrative is controlled by the media… I am at war to gain back control of the American narrative”.

His lines stand out as a concise summary of the intentions of much of the US Right. They are at war, and they have been so for a long time. Some say it started under the Reagan Administration, some under Clinton, some after 9/11, some under Obama, but nowhere is there any doubt that it is happening. Time and again, as we sat talking, I was struck by the sense that the USA is in a civil war.

The battalions of police at Standing Rock

On the back of our conversations I found myself later heading towards a number of observations.

It seems that a curious aspect of this war is that until recently a whole sector of the public had been blind to the realisation that it too was the target of the Right-wing movement centered on ‘Guns, god and gynaecology’.  This largely falls out along race lines, the US’s oldest struggle, over which the official Civil War was ostensibly fought. From 2012, the Black Lives Matter[5] movement rose up to confront once more the enduring and deathly racism at the heart of the US body politic, at the time under President Obama. It seems that however outraged and active White allies have been, it was possible that some couldn’t imagine that the onslaught from the Right was being waged not just on Black and Brown ‘others’  but also upon them. The ‘Liberal press’ – The New Yorker, the New York Times, The Washington Post and others – seemed only truly to have understood that they too were ‘at war’ in the months leading up to the Presidential Election last November. After the election they awoke to find their house was being shelled. The guns of the Right were up on the ridge, positioned on the Washington heights, aiming at the Liberal centre ground.

The Right has also campaigned on the C Words[6] of ‘Carbon, climate and capital’. This too has been bound up with race.  For decades many in the dominantly White environmental movement responded by saying the forces who promote fossil fuels and attack climate science could be persuaded by rational dialogue, by data, and by expertise. So many of us have worked on the assumption that corporate executives and politicians could be argued out of their ways, that they would see that accepting the science was good for international politics, that there could be a seamless switch to solar and wind with a return on capital guaranteed.

One of of a number of adverts utilised in BP’s ‘Beyond Petroleum’ campaign in 2000

At times it has looked as though this was correct: in 2000, BP announced it was going ‘Beyond Petroleum’ and, like Shell and others, invested in renewables. But since the mid 2000s that phase has faded away. Meanwhile, for over three decades, activists of colour have been consistently organising for just transition in places of oil extraction and refining, such as Movement Generation[7] based in Richmond, California. In parallel, indigenous activists and communities such as those at Standing Rock[8] have put their bodies on the line under the harshest of circumstances, against new oil pipelines that cross sacred land. They have endured freezing weather, violence and abuse from security forces in defence of water, land, spiritual integrity and our climate.

The current US Administration has a fundamental belief in the rightness of its views on White privilege, immigration, abortion and guns. And it holds a similar belief in the sanctity of oil, gas and coal. Behind this article of faith stands the fossil fuels industry. We are well acquainted with the role of the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil – illustrated by the appointment of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State – but no less powerful, despite being further into the shadows, is the presence of others like BP and Shell. The CEOs of a number of corporations, particularly in the Tech industries, have spoken out against the Trump Administration, whereas Bob Dudley, CEO of BP, and Ben van Beurden, CEO of Shell, have been conspicuous in their silence. Shell and BP have much to gain from an Administration that has shown that it is at war with the ecological justice movement, and that dismisses anthropogenic climate change. Trump has fired the first salvos in that battle with the granting of permission for the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines; with the attack on US climate science research and the UN process; and with the steps to reopen the Alaskan Arctic ocean for oil drilling.

On returning to England, my experience in the States helps me understand more how the war is taking place here. Even with the culture-shock of Brexit, it is easy for some of us to feel that we are set apart from the excessive measures of the Trump Administration. But we’ve been in the American sphere of influence for over a century now, and when that ship of state changes course, we are caught in its wake. What happens there matters here. We should remember that the third largest UK corporation, BP, has more US shareholders than British ones, its CEO is American, and it takes its bearings from Washington far more than from London. Meanwhile, the British Right takes inspiration from its US counterparts, as it does from the Right across Europe. John Redwood MP has described the battle over Brexit as ‘the English Civil War without muskets.’ Aaron Banks, until recently the financier behind UKIP, declared “We won the war”.

If part of the civil war in the USA is over the future of fossil fuels then the same is true for the UK. The struggle that many of us have been involved in since the 1990s is becoming more intense, the battle lines more visible. The war is naked.

With deep thanks to Suzi Gablik and Jane Trowell.

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: http://platformlondon.org/2017/04/29/conversations-with-suzi-gablik-living-in-wartime/suzi_gablik/
  2. ‘Has Modernism Failed’: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1121319.Has_Modernism_Failed_
  3. Conversations Before The End of Time: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1058783.Conversations_Before_the_End_of_Time
  4. Thomas Kuhn: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Kuhn
  5. Black Lives Matter: http://blacklivesmatter.com/about/
  6. C Words: http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/platform-c-words-carbon-climate-capital-culture-how-did-you-get-here-and-where-are-we-going
  7. Movement Generation: http://movementgeneration.org
  8. Standing Rock: http://sacredstonecamp.org

The Argentinian municipality of Vista Alegre is fighting to keep in place a fracking ban on top of some of the biggest tight oil and gas fields in the country.

The municipal council of Vista Alegre banned fracking by a unanimous decision in January. But right after the ban was officially published, the state attorney of the province of Neuquen Raul Gaitán lodged an appeal with the provincial High Court to stop the ban coming into effect.

Earlier this month Vista Alegre residents blocked the local highway to protest this attack, to defend their farms and livelihoods, saying in their statement[1]:

Caring for the river is of great importance for us. Water is vital to our life, and threatened by [fracking]. This is why we passed the ban: to care for our community, and the others who live downstream.

[2]

Image credit: Vista alegre libre de fracking y en defensa de la vida

The ban affects two oilfields: firstly, Río Neuquen, where the Argentinian state oil company YPF (with Petrobras and Pampa) have already drilled some conventional wells. According to a statement from Pampa, there is “high potential” for gas drilling in this field. Secondly, the municipality also covers a corner of the Lindero Atravesado gas field, operated by Pan American Energy, a 60% subsidiary of BP.

If Neuquen province successfully overturns the ban, this may mean not only contamination on Vista Alegre’s pear farms, but also bad news for other Argentinian communities that have tried, or will try, to use municipal powers to ban dangerous gas infrastructure.

How Europe promotes fracking in Argentina

Two years ago, the governor of Neuquen Jorge Sapag was invited to dinner with members of the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EuroLat) – the “parliamentary arm” of European – Latin American bi-regional collaboration. The topic: a draft EuroLat report on fracking. The discussion was later summarised by another attendee, a Colombian parliamentarian, in the following way:

the chemicals used in fracking can be found on any family dinner table; that fracking is safe; and that fracking would take place in a desert region.

In this way, EuroLat has been promoting the idea that the fruit farms of Vista Alegre are “a desert region” to be fracked – not unlike the infamous “desolate North East” of England according to Lord Howell of Guildford[3]. But EuroLat’s report also attracted opposition[4] from EU parliamentarians as well as movements across Latin America.

What EuroLat lobbied for has now become the official position of the Neuquen provincial government, and Vista Alegre residents are fighting to keep their river and farms safe.

You can follow their campaign and send a message of solidarity on Facebook[5].

[6]

Image credit: Vista alegre libre de fracking y en defensa de la vida

 

Endnotes:
  1. in their statement: http://www.opsur.org.ar/blog/2017/03/14/vista-alegre-en-defensa-de-la-ordenanza-que-prohibe-el-fracking/
  2. [Image]: http://platformlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/IMG_4018-768x432.jpg
  3. according to Lord Howell of Guildford: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/07/top-10-most-desolate-places-north-east
  4. attracted opposition: http://nacla.org/news/2015/10/28/how-europe-promotes-fracking-latin-america
  5. follow their campaign and send a message of solidarity on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Vista-alegre-libre-de-fracking-y-en-defensa-de-la-vida-1049234681788784/
  6. [Image]: http://platformlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/IMG_4015-768x432.jpg

[1]On 9 March 2017, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an initiative set up to promote transparency and good governance in oil, gas and mining industries, suspended Azerbaijan for failing to lift restrictions on civil society freedoms and address human rights concerns.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are currently considering loans totally in value of €4.5 billion to different sections of BP – led Euro Caspian Mega Pipeline (ECMP), Europe’s largest gas pipeline under construction which begins in Azerbaijan and will carry Azeri mined gas across 7 countries to Europe. Both banks say that they support transparency and good governance and are official stakeholder partners of the EITI.[2] However, so far they have refused to rule out the loans. Wouldn’t it be hypocritical if these banks went ahead with these loans, effectively ignoring the EITI’s decision?

For those who follow affairs in Azerbaijan, the suspension will come as no surprise. Freedom of speech and basic civil rights have been a concern in Azerbaijan for several years. Ilham Aliyev’s corrupt and repressive regime has ruled the oil and gas rich Azerbaijan for 23 years and in that time the regime has siphoned $48 billion of $135 billion in state revenues from fossil fuel extraction to offshore tax havens[3], fueled ethnic cleansing in Nagorno Karabakh, a disputed independent territory within Azerbaijan home to 150,000 Armenian people, cracked down heavily on civil society activities, may have bribed European state officials to look the other way[4], prevented foreign campaigners from entering the country to monitor human rights concerns[5], and jailed dissenters – journalists, writers, lawyers, and activists – who dared to question Aliyev’s authority. There are currently about 100 prisoners of conscience, including Bayram Mammadov[6] and Qiyas Ibrahimov[7], N!DA youth movement activists[8], and journalists Ikram Rahimov[9] and Afgan Sadigov[10].

The suspension tells us that the situation is not improving. Just days before EITI’s decision, Mehman Huseynov, a prominent blogger and chairperson of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, was sentenced for two years in jail[11] on defamation charges. Civil society spokespeople, however, believe this sentencing is linked, among others, to the organisation’s activist work regarding the EITI.

Oil and gas, two key extractive industries the EITI monitors, is a very big deal in Azerbaijan. Aliyev’s regime would not exist without fossil fuels revenues and especially would not exist without BP’s support. Aliyev and BP have been bound together since 1994, when they signed the “Contract of the Century” to extract oil from the Caspian Sea.

The BP-led Euro Caspian Mega Pipeline is hugely controversial. Europe’s own Keystone XL risks locking Europe into 40 years of fossil fuel use, trashing climate change targets. The ECMP traverses 7 countries and is opposed nearly everywhere. In Turkey, it crosses Kurdish regions that are currently affected by an escalation of violence following the breakdown of peace talks in July 2015 and in Italy there is a fierce local opposition as the pipeline will rip up productive farmlands and destroy 1000 year old trees that generations have depended upon. In 2016 we walked the pipeline and spoke to communities in Azerbaijan and along the pipeline route. You can watch our web documentary here[12].

For the construction to proceed, the pipeline needs an injection of substantial public funds. The question now is will governments and banks around the world take seriously EITI board’s decision to suspend Azerbaijan? After all, these same banks are “partners” of the EITI. Taking the decision seriously would, mean cancelling all previous loans to pipeline, such as the World Bank’s recent  $400 million loan granted in December 2016 and suspending all current loan considerations such as EIB and EBRD’s loans. Any revenues from the pipeline will only serve to further entrench Aliyev’s repressive regime.

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Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: http://platformlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-16-at-15.21.31.png
  2. official stakeholder partners of the EITI.: https://eiti.org/supporters/partner-organisations
  3. offshore tax havens: http://www.rai.it/dl/docs/1481650085978caviar_democracyOKOK.pdf
  4. may have bribed European state officials to look the other way: https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/jo-ram/principles-down-pipeline
  5. prevented foreign campaigners from entering the country to monitor human rights concerns: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/09/azerbaijan-holds-activist-who-attacked-european-games-as-bps-games
  6. Bayram Mammadov: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/10/azerbaijan-ten-years-in-jail-for-youth-activist-who-sprayed-graffiti-is-a-travesty-of-justice/
  7. Qiyas Ibrahimov: http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2016/10/25/490683/Azerbaijan-Baku-Giyas-Ibrahimov
  8. N!DA youth movement activists: https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/arzu-geybulla/exclamation-mark-that-terrified-azerbaijani-authorities
  9. Ikram Rahimov: https://www.irfs.org/news-feed/journalist-and-citizen-whose-problems-he-publicised-convicted-on-defamation-charges/
  10. Afgan Sadigov: http://iphronline.org/azerbaijan-stop-crackdown-freedom-expression-20161206.html
  11. sentenced for two years in jail: http://www.rferl.org/a/azerbaijan-blogger-sentenced-two-years-prison/28345204.html
  12. here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/emma-hughes/walking-line

BP has built a reputation for itself as a LGBTQ-friendly employer, with Pride floats, a Stonewall top employer badge, and recruitment events for LGBTQ students. But BP’s donations and deals also keep in office notoriously homophobic politicians[1], from US Congressman John Culberson to Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. We started this open letter to call on LGBTQ+ people working at BP to stop these donations.

Open letter to LGBTQ people working at BP

[signature]

68 signatures

Share this with your friends:

   

Signed

Latest Signatures
68MARK JACKSONMar 25, 2017
67Jess WorthMar 03, 2017
66amanda christieMar 01, 2017
65Susan FrancisFeb 27, 2017
64Simon TreenFeb 26, 2017
63Fangzhou LiuFeb 25, 2017
62George PetrouFeb 25, 2017
61Mick McMahonFeb 25, 2017
60Alan TheasbyFeb 25, 2017
59Nikki RayFeb 24, 2017
58Fiona BanhamFeb 24, 2017
57Barry DalgleishFeb 24, 2017
56Jilly SharpeFeb 24, 2017
55Denise BristowFeb 24, 2017
54Meredith AlexanderFeb 24, 2017
53Robert ElliottFeb 24, 2017
52Adeleke GbajumoFeb 24, 2017
51Raymond StaceyFeb 24, 2017
50harry carterFeb 24, 2017
49Rev Hazel BarkhamFeb 24, 2017
48Anthony LambFeb 24, 2017
47Ceiteag SinclairFeb 24, 2017
46Lesley LettsFeb 24, 2017
45chris wlliamsFeb 24, 2017
44Hugh FitzpatrickFeb 24, 2017
43Liz CarltonFeb 24, 2017
42Vwede OkorefeFeb 24, 2017
41Rosalind KentFeb 24, 2017
40Marion HershFeb 24, 2017
39Martin OliverFeb 23, 2017
38Helen HartFeb 23, 2017
37Laura Macdonald Feb 23, 2017
36jeff slominskiFeb 23, 2017
35Callie GauntlettFeb 23, 2017
34Tom MilburnFeb 23, 2017
33Naeem YarFeb 23, 2017
32Michele SeymourFeb 23, 2017
31John McCleanFeb 23, 2017
30Bill CarrollFeb 23, 2017
29Julie WrefordFeb 23, 2017
28James BlakeFeb 23, 2017
27Anthony StathersFeb 23, 2017
26Paul ReddyFeb 23, 2017
25Brendan McAtarsneyFeb 23, 2017
24Oscar ForeroFeb 23, 2017
23Mika Minio-PaluelloFeb 23, 2017
22Aled PickardFeb 23, 2017
21Rebecca WarrenFeb 23, 2017
20Miranda ShawFeb 23, 2017
19Sophie GainsleyFeb 23, 2017
Endnotes:
  1. keep in office notoriously homophobic politicians: http://platformlondon.org/p-publications/fight-bp-pinkwashing-briefing/

UK people. Are you angry about Trump’s attempts to deport people from the US? Did you perhaps go to the Women’s March, or sign that oddly-worded petition about cancelling Trump’s visit? Well, we’ve got more work to do (join a protest against the #MuslimBan this week[1]), and more importantly, more work to do at home.

[2]

Bridges Not Walls protest at London Bridge. Credit: Eda Seyhan on Twitter.

Muslim lives, the lives of Black and Brown people, the lives of migrants are under attack in the UK too. Many in these communities are fighting for survival amid racist policing and surveillance, gentrification, violence in prison and mental health institutions.

So, if you joined the protests against Trump, great, but don’t stop there. Let’s take our anger and put it to work. Support, and be led by, those whom racism and islamophobia hit the hardest.

Below are some suggestions of things to do, groups and campaigns to support. We started this list and we can’t have thought of everything – so please leave a comment here, tweet to us[3] or comment on our Facebook page[4] if you have a suggestion or correction.

 

1. Help end detention of migrants

[8]Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary is fighting to have UK’s racist immigration prisons shut down.

We march today, we march tomorrow, and we keep marching to build a new Britain: diverse, integrated and equal. We aim to win.

You can

  • come to Surround Yarls Wood[9] demonstration in May
  • follow Movement for Justice on Twitter[10] and Facebook[11]
  • donate[12].

2. Support refugees in your community

How to do it and who to do it with:

  • Look for a local detainee support group (check out SOAS Detainee Support [13]in London) or volunteer through Detention Action[14]
  • Join an asylum seeker hospitality network[15]
  • Support women’s refugee groups[16]
  • More suggestions[17]

3. Prevent Prevent

[18]Prevent is a racist, islamophobic UK government programme of surveillance billed as “tackling extremism” – in fact obliging teachers, lecturers, social workers to spy on their students and service users, and call the police on Muslim schoolkids for drawings, toys, and spelling mistakes[19].

  • If you work in higher education – join ‘Educators Not Informants’ and put up a poster[20]
  • If you’re in a union, pass a motion against Prevent[21]. More guidance from UCU here[22].
  • If you’re at school or in university, write to your teachers, professors, and management using the resources above, and get them to resist Prevent.
  • Other actions you can take[23], courtesy of NetPol.
  • And many more resources[24], courtesy of Together Against Prevent & Islamic Human Rights Commission.

4. Help stop immigration raids and deportations

Last year Byron (the burger chain) took their staff to a training that turned out to be a trap[25], where immigration officials snatched and detained anyone who they deemed to not have the correct documents on them. The Home Office raids homes, workplaces and even marriage ceremonies every day, and sometimes charters flights to deport people it has detained. You can join a local group who help protect people against these racist attacks.

  • What you can do if you spot an immigration raid[26]
  • Getting involved in the Anti-Raids network[27]
  • Putting pressure on an airline through phone-calls or emails can stop a person from getting deported, and buy invaluable time for someone’s asylum claim. Check for updates on deportations here[28], and email [email protected][29] to sign up to receive alerts about them. 

5. Parents – boycott the school census

The Home Office has said that it will “create a hostile environment” for migrant children using data from the obligatory UK school kid census. But parents can refuse to enter their kid’s nationality in the census.

  • Join the boycott here[30]

Got suggestions or corrections? Please tweet to us[3] or comment on our Facebook page[4].

 

Endnotes:
  1. join a protest against the #MuslimBan this week: https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/trump-muslim-ban-protests-around-uk-full-list-events/
  2. [Image]: http://platformlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/london-bridge.jpg
  3. tweet to us: http:[email protected]%20
  4. comment on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/platformlondon/?fref=ts
  5. @followMFJ: https://twitter.com/followMFJ
  6. @sdetsup: https://twitter.com/sdetsup
  7. January 29, 2017: https://twitter.com/jinanRN/status/825677457533628417
  8. [Image]: http://platformlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/yarlswood.jpg
  9. Surround Yarls Wood: https://www.facebook.com/events/1397760473581688/
  10. Twitter: https://twitter.com/followmfj
  11. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/movementforjustice/
  12. donate: https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/106/movement-for-justice
  13. SOAS Detainee Support : https://soasdetaineesupport.wordpress.com
  14. Detention Action: http://detentionaction.org.uk/volunteering
  15. Join an asylum seeker hospitality network: http://www.refugeesathome.org/
  16. Support women’s refugee groups: http://www.refugeewomen.co.uk/
  17. More suggestions: http://www.refugeesathome.org/
  18. [Image]: http://platformlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/spyglass-text.jpg
  19. spelling mistakes: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2016/01/20/muslim-child-terrorist-house-spelling-error_n_9025336.html
  20. put up a poster: https://educatorsnotinformants.wordpress.com
  21. pass a motion against Prevent: http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/winning-for-students/resources/model-motion-boycott-prevent
  22. here: http://uculeft.org/2015/09/challenging-the-prevent-agenda/
  23. Other actions you can take: https://netpol.org/2016/07/13/resisting-prevent-activists-guide/
  24. many more resources: http://togetheragainstprevent.org/resources/
  25. turned out to be a trap: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-36910950
  26. What you can do if you spot an immigration raid: https://network23.org/antiraids/what-to-do-if-you-see-a-raid/
  27. Getting involved in the Anti-Raids network: https://network23.org/antiraids/getting-involved/
  28. here: https://enddeportations.wordpress.com/
  29. [email protected]: mailto:[email protected]
  30. Join the boycott here: http://www.schoolsabc.net
News just in: UK’s High Court has blocked a court case by 42,000 people in the Niger Delta seeking justice for Shell’s oil spills poisoning their land.
The ruling could create a dangerous precedent, showing that communities subjected to abuses by UK corporations cannot seek compensation through the legal system here. Shell has gone to great lengths to avoid this case ever coming to court. In 2015, it paid out £55m in[1] settlement to the Bodo community in the Niger Delta to avoid a similar UK High Court case.
King Okpabi, paramount ruler of the Ogale community in the Niger delta said today that the communities will appeal the decision at the Court of Appeal.
Royal Dutch Shell makes billions of dollars of profit each year from Nigerian oil but our communities which host its’ infrastructure have been left environmentally devastated. Shell underestimate us if they think this judgment will affect our resolve. There is no hope of justice in the Nigerian courts. We still very much believe in the British justice system and so we are going to appeal this decision.
[2]

Ogoni protesters demand that Shell cleans up its oil pollution

Shell’s oil drilling is responsible for a toxic legacy in the Niger Delta. The UN’s Environment Programme UNEP researched the destruction and published a report in 2011, concluding that Shell had not taken sufficient action to clean up and set out initial steps to rectify the damage.

Years later, Shell’s spills are still evident in Ogoniland.[3] We witnessed creeks and soil reeking of oil, in areas that Shell claims to have remediated. Communities report oil crusts on their land, rotten crops and poisoned fish. Emergency water supplies had not been delivered, forcing local residents to drink oil-polluted water.

In response, Ogoni people issued an ultimatum to Shell and the Nigerian government, and mobilised thousands to shut down oil operations in a series of direct actions[4]. Platform, alongside other international and Nigerian groups, has been supporting this push for clean-up. Together we have had some success. Shell has finally agreed to pay [5]a contribution towards the Ogoni clean-up and last year the Nigerian Government put the legislative frameworks in place[6] for the process to begin and this year a project coordinator was appointed.

But Niger Delta communities are yet to see reparations, and the High Court’s ruling appears to be another dead end on the long road to justice.

In the words of Ken Henshaw from Social Action,[7]
We are calling for [the cleanup] to be transparent; how will that money promised so far be utilised? We demand to be informed about how the clean up is going to happen over the next 30 years. We must be central to this process as we […] will be here feeling the impacts for years to come.

Save

Endnotes:
  1. £55m in: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/07/shell-announces-55m-payout-for-nigeria-oil-spills
  2. [Image]: http://platformlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/MOSOP-UNEP-protest.jpg
  3. Years later, Shell’s spills are still evident in Ogoniland.: http://platformlondon.org/p-publications/polluted-promises-how-shell-failed-to-clean-up-ogoniland/
  4. shut down oil operations in a series of direct actions: http://platformlondon.org/2013/12/11/ogoni-protests-escalate-in-nigeria-as-shell-fails-to-implement-unep-report/
  5. Shell has finally agreed to pay : https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/07/nigerian-government-finally-sets-up-fund-to-clean-up-ogoniland-oil-spills
  6. Nigerian Government put the legislative frameworks in place: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/default.aspx?DocumentID=27076&ArticleID=36199
  7. Social Action,: http://saction.org/home/

[1]Hackney Council is voting tonight on its investment policy regarding fossil fuels and climate change. After years of campaigning by Divest Hackney[2] and lots of media attention[3], this Tuesday is the big day for the Pensions Committee. But despite the hype and the repeated delays, the proposals are pretty disappointing.

Hackney Council has £42 million in fossil fuel shares[4] in 22 companies including Exxon and Shell. We met with them last Thursday to discuss their new draft investment strategy.

Council staff are very proud of their plan. They claimed that they are “the most ambitious in London. We’re the only one that’s come out with a target. We’re at the vanguard with this.” 

 Which is odd, as Hackney is planning to :

 Reduce the Fund’s relative exposure to future emissions from fossil fuel reserves (measured in MtCO2e – million tonnes of CO2 emissions) by 50% over 2 valuation cycles (6 years) 

That means they’re going to shrink their fossil fuel investments by 50% – measured in CO2 emissions from reserves.

So instead of divesting from 100% of its fossil fuel investments – like Waltham Forest have committed to over next 5 years – Hackney is divesting 50% over 6 years. That’s a step in the right direction – but it’s too little, too late – and definitely not leading in the vanguard!

When pressed on where the 50% target came from, Hackney Council admitted that it wasn’t connected to any scientific measures. It’s weaker than we need to meet the Paris targets of either 1.5 C or 2C warming.

But they’re decarbonising right? Isn’t that even better than divesting?

Hackney Council has talked a lot about decarbonising, and reducing their exposure to carbon-intensive sectors other than fossil fuel extraction. Like power generation, agriculture, steel.
But in the end – they’ve decided to focus only on shares that have fossil fuel reserves. In our meeting, Hackney stated that they’ve stepped away from decarbonisation.

This means their target is directly comparable to Waltham Forests. The metric used is slightly different – Hackney are cutting 50% of their fossil fuel investments, measured by the future CO2 emissions from current reserves. Whereas Waltham Forest is cutting 100% of its fossil fuel holdings.

 

But didn’t Hackney do thorough assessments of their carbon exposure?

Yes – and credit to Hackney Council for this. When pressure from campaigners grew, Hackney Council brought in Trucost to do an analysis of the climate risk in their portfolio. Trucost scoped out Hackney’s investments and examined where the risks from climate change lay.

It’s great that Hackney Council has examined and debated the issue.

But when it came to action – the decision made was pretty weak.

It’s taken a long time to get here, with delay after delay. And when you hype what you’re doing and claim leadership, there’s a risk it starts to sound like greenwash.

Hackney says it’s the vanguard on the pensions and climate – but there’s a risk they’re turning into a laggard.

 

 

 

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: http://platformlondon.org/2017/01/24/hackney-council-as-the-climate-vanguard-or-is-it-just-a-laggard/divest-hackney-town-hall-620-1/
  2. Divest Hackney: http://www.divesthackney.org/
  3. media attention: https://www.hackneycitizen.co.uk/2015/09/07/council-should-divest-from-fossil-fuels/
  4. £42 million in fossil fuel shares: http://www.hackneygazette.co.uk/news/politics/42m_channelled_into_dirty_energy_by_hackney_council_1_4009780