London to Boston: the road to trial

19 May 2009 admin

Shellguilty at the Shell AGM in London, 19 May

Fuming shareholders who voted down Shell’s excessive pay packages at the Shell AGM on Tuesday got to see CEOs getting truly hot under the collar, as activists and performers from the ShellGuilty coalition turned up the heat on Shell. Fire-throwing jugglers dressed up as Shell CEOs brought the corporation’s ongoing gas flaring to shareholders attention on the streets of London.

Meanwhile, here in Boston, Massachusetts I have one week left before heading down to New York to cover the first week of the Wiwa v Shell trial. It feels like a milestone in human rights history is fast approaching, and with it, a decisive moment in the struggle for corporate accountability. I will be blogging, tweeting and sending video from the trial to keep you updated on this timely visit to the States.

If there was ever a time to talk green in America, that time is now. Today, President Obama announced tighter restrictions on auto emissions and raised the national auto standard 35.5 miles per gallon, promoting the manufacture of more fuel efficient cars from 2012. The Safe Climate Campaign called this the ‘single biggest step the American government has ever taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions’. The profound economic shake-up provides opportunities to re-assess our way of life, to question the status quo. Isn’t there enough public will to end gas flaring in Nigeria?

While I’ve burned more carbon on this trip than I have done in the last few years, (not to mention the spike in my landfill waste and water use over here), my carbon footprint is microscopic in comparison to Shell’s carbon intensity, as revealed in ShellGuilty’s new report available here. Shell is one of the corporations driving climate change, and making a huge profit in the process.Children collect water from beside several gas flares at a flow station in the Niger Delta

The purpose of my trip is to shine a spotlight on Shell’s daily abuses, to demand an end to the injustices at the root of the Niger Delta crisis- the ecological crimes that over the past four decades, Shell is guilty of. Activists died for demanding their rights, and a thousand innocent people are killed each year because their legitimate grievances are neglected, their voices are ignored. Since last week the Nigerian military have massacred hundreds of innocent civilians in Gbaramatu in the Niger Delta- according to reports from the local and international media. The conflict between armed insurgents and the military is escalating into outright warfare, and Shell continue to collaborate with the Nigerian authorities, to keep the oil flowing at the cost of human lives and human rights.

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