[From the #ShakeTheSystem team][1]

It’s 2020 and we’re celebrating 10 years of Voices that Shake![2] with an anthology, toolkits, workshops, showcases and more.

This is #ShakeTheSystem: A Decade of Shaping Change

Over 200 marginalised and underrepresented young people have directly been part of the deep personal and community transformation that the unique space of Shake! offers. Many of us have gone on to start our own collective projects, social change action, art initiatives. 

We have influenced 1000s of people, in and beyond the UK, through our politics, artworks, short films, poetry, critical writing, events, trainings, actions, talks, activism, and community support. From our family, our friends, to people in youth work, education, youth policy, funders, arts/culture, community and social movements – we have made an impact.

For the major 10 year anniversary, Shake! celebrates with our family and supporters by: 

  • sharing the bigger picture: the breadth and depth of ten years of Shake!rs’ creativity
  • distilling and communicating Shake!’s impact
  • creating workshops, trainings and showcases to amplify, upskill, provoke, inspire, sow seeds, deepen legacy, influence change. 

What will we make and do?

  • an Anthology of Voices That Shake! movements 2010-2020. Creative writing, poetry, artwork, photography, zine pages, and essays, conceptualised and designed by young people, guided by Art Directors – Sai Murray and Shake! alumna Tiff Webster. Publication and launch, Autumn 2020
  • Showcases of Shaker!s creativity through live performance, also promoting the Anthology, across four cities in England – London, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Autumn and Winter 2020/21
  • Commissioned youth-led research into how and why Shake! makes its impacts modelling new non-extractive methods. During 2020.
  • Youth-led workshops and training with young people, NGOs and relevant sectors, including youth work, education, youth policy, funders, arts/culture, community and social movements. During 2020/21.
  • a Toolkit of Voices that Shake! Methods and Interventions. Youth-written report Toolkits for Transformation, launched and workshopped, sharing the research to create structural change. Winter 2020/21

The Team

#ShakeTheSystem is being led Rose Ziaei – Producer; Tiffany Webster – Associate Art Director; Sai Murray – Art Director and Strategic Mentor; and Farzana Khan – Strategic Consultant and Mentor. Rose and Tiff were participants on the Shake! programme, and bring their insider experience and high-level skills to the project. Farzana was the pioneering Director of Shake! from 2012 – 2018, working alongside Sai as Co-Artistic Director. Sai was in the founding team of Shake! from 2010.

Funders

The #ShakeTheSystem programme has been honoured with financial support from Arts Council England for the anthology and showcases. Also from the Act for Change Fund (Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and #IWill Fund) for Toolkits for Transformation.

Also we are very grateful to Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation, and other loyal private supporters. We are always looking for new funders to show their support for Shake!’s work. Get in touch – [email protected]

***

Voices that Shake! is a project that was initiated by Platform in 2010. It was founded by our colleague Ben Amunwa and team, coming from a burning desire to make a space where young black and brown, working class people could explore and act on the connection between environmental injustice on a global level, with systemic injustices at home. Shake! also aimed to develop a fertile place from which a new generation of powerful creative activists could grow together, to sidestep but also disrupt exclusionary mainstream white-dominated activism.

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Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2020/03/09/shakethesystem-legacies-futures-with-voices-that-shake/shake-the-system-icon-colour-02/
  2. Voices that Shake!: https://www.voicesthatshake.org/
  3. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2020/03/09/shakethesystem-legacies-futures-with-voices-that-shake/new-logo-lockup/
  4. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2020/03/09/shakethesystem-legacies-futures-with-voices-that-shake/screen-shot-2020-03-05-at-07-13-55/

27.02.2020 For immediate release 

For further information and media requests: 

Contact: Kennedy Walker E: [email protected]

Plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport have been ruled illegal as not in line with the government’s climate change commitments

This comes after charity, Plan B and others brought the challenge. The ruling is a world first to be based on the Paris agreement and could open the doors to further challenges to other high carbon projects in the UK and beyond. 

Heathrow is already one of the busiest airports in the world, with 80 million passengers a year. This new runway would bring more than 700 more planes per day and lead to a huge rise in carbon emissions. This comes at a time with the government’s commitments to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and public awareness of climate emergency. 

Rob Noyes, Divest Campaigner at Platform said: 

“This is bad news for big oil businesses and investors in the oil economy and great news for the rest of us. It comes at a time where the public is becoming more aware of the climate emergency and we know we have to move to a carbon-neutral economy in the next decade. This is a win. The Prime Minister should do the right thing and draw a line under these plans”.

–END–

Notes to Editors:

Platform combines art, activism, education, and research in one organisation. This approach enables us to create unique projects driven by the need for social and ecological justice.

Platform’s current campaigns focus on the social, economic and environmental impacts of the global oil industry. Our pioneering education courses, exhibitions, art events, and book projects promote radical new ideas that inspire change.

For further information and media requests: 

Contact: Kennedy Walker E: [email protected]

Author: Gabrielle Jeliazkov (Just Transition, Lead Campaigner) 

Boué’s forensic analysis of the UK’s North Sea oil tax regime[1] explains how tax arrangements have redefined the economic frontiers of the State, handed super-profits to international oil companies and left the taxpayer footing the bill for decommissioning.

The report starts in the 1970s, endeavouring to understand how the quest to break the power of OPEC shaped the British tax regime. The new status quo, built on a liberalisation of petroleum and company profits as the exclusive centre of attention, would “seek to redefine the manner in which states approached the exercise of their private property rights over the hydrocarbon resources within their territories, above all at the level of the fiscal regime applicable to upstream oil and gas activities.”

There are a few important takeaways from Boué’s analysis of British financing decisions. For one, the government’s departure from a proprietary understanding of resource extraction means that they believe that the value of oil and gas resources can only be realized through investment. In doing so, the government casts themselves as consumers of capital, rather than holding ownership over the resources within their land. The sovereignty over Crown resources is then reduced to bargains struck while inducing investment. 

Boué finds that the result, which is essentially the government propping up industry, does not translate into increased exploratory drilling activity or higher rates of profit reinvestment than other places with higher taxation. From 2002-2015, the difference between the hydrocarbon taxes actually levied by the UK government and the fiscal yield if the UK had achieved the same effective tax ratios as Norway was a staggering 324 billion dollars. The UK reduced its sovereignty over Crown resources and does not benefit from the taxing of industry, but does not experience the expected higher investment they used to justify this decision. 

The other takeaway is how important government intention is in energy production. The government has pushed the development of North Sea oil with absolutely no regard for the financial future of taxpayers contractually bound to pay decommissioning costs or the profitability of government subsidising industry exploration. If this entire revolution of the fiscal regime and redefinition of state sovereignty is possible in the name of oil exploration, then a concerted effort by the British government to transition to renewable energy immediately, and do so justly through worker consultation and oversight, is an easily achievable task in comparison. 

Boué’s report is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how the British oil industry came into existence and why its fiscal policies have developed the way they have. 

Endnotes:
  1. Boué’s forensic analysis of the UK’s North Sea oil tax regime: https://scote3.net/north-sea-oil-and-gas/

Today is 10th November 2019, 24th anniversary of the judicial murders of the Ogoni 9.

Due to unstoppable widows of the Ogoni 9, new evidence has come to light on Shell’s complicity in their arrest and corruption of their trial.

[1]

Ogoni 9

The nine men were elders and community leaders from the Niger Delta who had been successfully protesting against the devastation of Ogoniland’s fertile lands and rivers by international oil companies. The men, including outspoken, acclaimed writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, were tried on false charges and hung by the Nigerian military government.

That Shell was complicit in human rights violations in the oil-rich Niger Delta we knew from Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni people’s own Bill of Rights,[2] their irrefutable testimony, their successful peaceful protest, the Ogoni 9’s appalling murders. We knew it from our own research such as Counting the Cost[3] on Shell’s abuses of human rights in the Delta (2012) and Dirty Work[4] on Shell & the military (2013). We knew it from the assiduous work of many others before us, and after us, including investigative journalist Andy Rowel[5]l and the still tireless Amnesty International.[6]

But how much more damning evidence is out there? It seems there is no end to the uncovering of Shell’s crimes when unceasing demands for justice keep calling Shell to account.

We steer you to a blog by Andy Rowell of Oil Change International. It tells of October 2019’s latest shock revelations.

These prove Shell’s intentional corruption of the Ogoni 9 trial, via bribery and witness coaching.

These prove Shell was hell-bent on ensuring a guilty verdict for the men.

The new facts have been forced into the open due to the Kiobel vs Shell case currently being heard at The Hague. After over twenty years of demanding the truth, Esther Kiobel and three other widows of Ogoni 9 – Victoria Bera, Blessing Eawo and Charity Levula – are determined to get justice through The Hague, accusing Shell of being complicit in the unlawful arrest, detention and execution of their husbands.

Andy Rowell’s piece [7]tracks through the sustained work to bring Shell to justice…

…and then comes the lightning strike: live tweets from witnesses on Shell’s bribery and corruption, at The Hague on 8th October 2019. Keep reading.

Esther Kiobel vs Shell, we salute you

[8]

Esther Kiobel. Photo: Amnesty International

Justice for the Ogoni 9 – Justice for Ogoniland

Baribor Bera, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Barinem Kiobel,

John Kpuine, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Ken Saro-Wiwa

 

Thanks to Andy Rowell and Steve Kretzmann of Oil Change International, and an ongoing tribute to Lazarus Tamana, European Coordinator of MOSOP (Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People).

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2019/11/10/yes-shell-bribed-me/screen-shot-2019-11-09-at-17-12-35/
  2. Bill of Rights,: http://www.bebor.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Ogoni-Bill-of-Rights.pdf
  3. Counting the Cost: https://platformlondon.org/2011/10/03/counting-the-cost-corporations-and-human-rights-abuses-in-the-niger-delta/
  4. Dirty Work: https://platformlondon.org/2012/08/19/data-leak-reveals-shell%E2%80%99s-deep-financial-links-to-human-rights-abusers-in-nigeria/
  5. Andy Rowel: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/ken-saro-wiwa-was-framed-secret-evidence-shows-2151577.html
  6. Amnesty International.: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/03/nigeria-amnesty-activists-uncover-serious-negligence-by-oil-giants-shell-and-eni/
  7. Andy Rowell’s piece : http://priceofoil.org/2019/10/11/ogoni-9-24-years-after-their-execution-court-told-by-key-witness-yes-shell-bribed-me/
  8. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2019/11/10/yes-shell-bribed-me/screen-shot-2019-11-09-at-17-19-32/

This blog is a version of our presentation of the report Sea Change: Climate Emergency, Jobs, and Managing the Phase-Out of UK Oil and Gas Extraction, at its launch event in Edinburgh on 11 September 2019. An abridged version has appeared in the Herald on Sunday[1]. 

 

We know that tackling the climate emergency means quickly scaling back the amount of oil, gas and coal that we take out of the ground and burn. This means oil-extracting countries have a choice: Option A: start scaling back the drilling now, in a gradual way, with time to build up alternative industries and take care of the communities that depend on oil now. Option B: wait until later and face a much quicker, chaotic shutdown. I know which option I’d choose, but what does it look like?

Scotland’s potential for clean energy industries is huge, with an estimated 46GW viable fixed offshore wind resource (with only 5 GW already planned), and an even bigger potential for floating offshore windfarms (over 120 GW), not to mention pioneering centres for tidal and wave energy. And offshore renewable energy is a viable pathway for firms and workers in the oil and gas supply chains. Many Scottish specialist scaffolding and construction firms as well as marine crews already work interchangeably on oil rigs and offshore windfarms. Other oil and gas supply companies will find applications in advanced water or waste treatment and innovative heat networks, according to research by Arup. Undoubtedly, workers and supply chain firms need support and guarantees to make the leap from old industries to new securely.

Two big questions remain. First, can there be enough jobs in the clean energy economy?

The Methil Offshore Wind Turbine in Fife is the only wind installation currently in UK public ownership. Photo: William Starkey / Fife coast at Buckhaven / CC BY-SA 2.0

We modelled how many jobs could be created over time in some of the most compatible clean energy industries – wind, wave, tidal, and energy efficiency retrofits – in three possible futures (see graph below). In the first future, neither the Scottish nor UK governments do anything else to help the industries grow. In this case, the number of jobs in wind energy is similar to the number of oil and gas workers potentially affected by the transition, but nowhere near enough to actually replace oil and gas employment.

But in the second future, if Scotland and the rest of the UK build as many new windfarms and tidal and wave energy generators as industry and politicians currently say is possible to aim for, and retrofit their housing stock to boot, over three new clean energy jobs can be created per oil worker affected. And in the third, ‘fully renewable’ future (i.e. enough clean energy sources to fully replace oil and gas), job creation over the next three decades is even greater.

For more detail, see Sea Change: Climate emergency, jobs and managing the phase-out of UK oil & gas extraction[2]

So it’s possible to fully replace the economic contribution of the oil and gas industry by betting on renewable energy – if government does its job right. This brings me to the second question: how to make sure jobs appear in the places where they’re needed, and are secure, well-paid, and unionised?

Let’s face it, the offshore wind industry at the moment has a patchy track record as an employer. Hundreds of workers at two construction yards in Fife were left without contracts that EDF Energy promised them (look up the Ready for Renewal campaign if you haven’t heard of it). On the other hand, the Siemens wind turbine blade factory in Hull has provided over 500 stable unionised jobs since 2016.

There’s a lot governments can do to make sure that the transition creates enough good jobs (more like the latter example, less like the former). In countries from France to Taiwan, governments impose conditions on energy companies bidding for contracts to create manufacturing jobs locally. In Germany and Canada, national investment banks work to help new industries set up – exactly the job that the Scottish National Investment Bank could be taking on, and a useful instrument to influence the industry by setting requirements on job conditions, pay and union recognition. Over on STUC’s blog, Francis Stuart suggests several other tools[3] the Scottish government could use.

That’s why we need our governments to change direction, and fast. Instead of doing everything they can to keep the oil industry clinging on, they can make sure that the clean jobs of the future arrive, and are good, fulfilling, secure jobs.

Endnotes:
  1. appeared in the Herald on Sunday: https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/17903559.fifty-years-ago-struck-first-north-sea-oil-now-time-turn-tap-off/
  2. Sea Change: Climate emergency, jobs and managing the phase-out of UK oil & gas extraction: https://platformlondon.org/p-publications/sea-change-climate-emergency-jobs-north-sea-oil/
  3. suggests several other tools: https://scottishtuc.blog/2019/09/11/with-scottish-government-intervention-wind-power-can-be-a-powerful-turbine-for-scotlands-economy/

The US development finance corporation OPIC has just loaned $450 million to a large fracking project in Argentinian Patagonia – despite objections from eight US senators, Indigenous rights concerns, and the climate crisis. The two loans will fund Vista Oil & Gas and Aleph Midstream (respectively sister company and subsidiary to London-listed Riverstone Energy) to frack 110 oil wells and build processing plants for the oil.

Our new research shows: OPIC’s loans are only part of efforts by US public agencies and branches of government to push ahead fracking in Argentina.[1]

OPIC’s Board made the loan decision at its last-ever meeting: the agency will soon merge into the US International Development Finance Corporation, incorporating USAID and other agencies. On the eve of the decision eight US senators published a letter objecting to the loans:

What has OPIC just funded?

According to an analysis conducted by FARN (Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales) [6]with Friends of the Earth US and CIEL, Vista Oil and Gas’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project, as submitted to OPIC,

  • Fails to explain how Vista plans to control oil or drilling mud spills, despite these already being a common occurrence in Vaca Muerta operations;
  • Fails to disclose what contractor company will be managing and treating solid waste, and evaluate the risks and impacts of waste treatment. Waste site Treater Neuquén S.A., just three miles outside the town of Añelo, is the subject of a lawsuit led by the Mapuche Confederation of Neuquen. According to Greenpeace analysis cited in the lawsuit, the waste treatment plant has been dumping industrial waste containing hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and radioactive elements directly on the ground in violation of provincial and national environmental laws.
  • Professes incomplete information on some of the most serious local environmental risks: “it is not possible to assess” compliance of the levels of hexavalent chromium, cadmium and arsenic in processed treated water with guidelines; it is “difficult to prove” whether or not Vista’s activities lead to earthqukes; and “details on specific air emission sources are not yet available”.

As FARN points out, Vista negates the need to consult indigenous communities, on the basis that no indigenous populations have been identified within or near the Projects’ sites. However, the Convention ILO 169, signed and ratified by Argentina, indicates that all indigenous communities not only in the directly affected area by the project but also the ones that could be indirectly affected by it (in this case, for example, by transportation, silica mining, or waste treatment) should be consulted.

Although Vista claims to have held a public consultation on the project, the Neuquén Environmental Under-secretary advertised this consultation as only referring to an oil pipeline, not the drilling of 110 wells and construction of pipelines.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry meets with Argentina Minister of Energy & Mines, Juan Jose Aranguren on April 27, 2017 at the Department of Energy. Credit: DOE photographer Ken Shipp

What else are US public agencies doing in Argentina’s oil and gas sector?

OPIC’s newly approved loans are only one of a variety of ways US public agencies and government branches are pushing for fracking in Patagonia.

More Like Texas: US state involvement in the Vaca Muerta mega-project in Argentina. Briefing cover.[7]

Read the briefing (pdf)[8]

Exchanges between US and Argentinian energy officials – at least ten official visits over two years, six of them at ministerial level – have focused on maximising US oil company and investor presence in Patagonia.

The US State Department has taken a strategic interest in promoting shale gas drilling in Argentina, with a multi-year capacity-building programme where US-based academics and officials make recommendations on fiscal regimes, negotiating with communities, and environmental safety to their Argentinian counterparts. There is no public information on the legislative and fiscal proposals the State Department is promoting to Neuquen Province, and whether the province is adopting these.

And OPIC is still considering another $350 million loan to a pipeline to bring fracked gas from Patagonia closer to export terminals.

Read more in our new briefing, More Like Texas: US state involvement in the Vaca Muerta mega-project in Argentina.[9]

Endnotes:
  1. Our new research shows: OPIC’s loans are only part of efforts by US public agencies and branches of government to push ahead fracking in Argentina.: https://platformlondon.org/p-publications/more-like-texas-us-fracking-argentina-opic/
  2. @SenJeffMerkley: https://twitter.com/SenJeffMerkley?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
  3. @opicgov: https://twitter.com/opicgov?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
  4. pic.twitter.com/8cELkdNEg2: https://t.co/8cELkdNEg2
  5. September 10, 2019: https://twitter.com/foe_us/status/1171453994788519938?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
  6. analysis conducted by FARN (Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales) : https://pages.devex.com/rs/685-KBL-765/images/2019.8.26-comments-re.-ESIA-Vista-Oil-Gas-Aleph-Midstream_FARN-CIEL-FOE.pdf
  7. [Image]: https://platformlondon-org.exactdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/more-like-texas-08-19-ENG-.pdf
  8. Read the briefing (pdf): https://platformlondon-org.exactdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/more-like-texas-08-19-ENG-.pdf
  9. More Like Texas: US state involvement in the Vaca Muerta mega-project in Argentina.: https://platformlondon.org/p-publications/more-like-texas-us-fracking-argentina-opic/

New data shows: last year the UK government supported oil, gas and coal projects in other countries to a tune of £1.8 billion – through UK Export Finance (UKEF), a government department that purports to support UK businesses operating elsewhere. We’ve analysed UKEF’s annual list of loans and financial guarantees, and here’s some of the things this public money will support:

  • Singareni Collieries, a coal mining company in India. This at a time when the UK government has been proudly declaring[1] its ambition to “power past coal”;
  • Subsea equipment for Petrobras – the third part of a line of credit to the Brazilian oil company at the centre of a huge corruption and money laundering scandal[2];
  • Several tranches of direct loans to GE and Siemens to build or upgrade gas power stations in Iraq.[3]

To make matters worse, right after publishing this data, UKEF also confirmed another $500 million insurance package for an oil refinery in Bahrain. In its announcement[4], the agency explains that it considered various environmental and social risks associated with the project. The greenhouse gas emissions, astonishingly, were not one of the risks considered.

These loans and guarantees made up nearly a quarter of UKEF’s overall commitments for the year. How much did the agency support renewable energy projects, in comparison?

0.01% of UKEF’s commitments, or under £0.75 million.

“Stop Backing Fossil Fuels” – projection by Feral X on UK Export Credit HQ, December 2018. Credit Alban Grosdidier

That’s right: renewable energy received less than 0.0005 of the support that went to oil, gas, and coal. While Big Oil walks off with government handouts worth in the hundreds of millions of pounds, the biggest deal in renewables – to a provider of cables to an offshore windfarm – is worth just over £200 thousand.

But there was one fascinating U-turn in UKEF’s investments. You may remember[5] that two years ago the UK government announced a new £1 billion credit line for UK businesses operating in Argentina, and then invited BP and Shell to a meeting in Buenos Aires to encourage them to apply.

What did UKEF support in Argentina in the following year (2017-18)? One oil drilling services company working for Pan American Energy (i.e. BP’s Argentinian arm).

Activists re-enact UKEF’s deals with BP outside UKEF HQ in December 2018. Credit Alban Grosdidier.

In the same year, we showed up at UKEF’s headquarters with a fake fracking rig[6], leafletted every single person working in the building, hundreds of people signed our letter[7] to UKEF calling to redirect this investment, a prominent MP wrote an article[8] criticising UKEF’s approach to fossil fuels in general and to the Argentina credit line in particular, and two different Parliamentary enquiries challenged UKEF on fossil fuels.

What did UKEF support in Argentina in the year after that (2018-19)?

Two projects in road construction, and two exporters of magnets for research uses.

It may just be that public pressure is starting to work.

The parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee recently called[9] on UKEF to end its fossil fuel investments altogether. Now is the time to end these dirty deals once and for all.

PS You can review the full dataset of UKEF’s investments and our analysis here[10].

Endnotes:
  1. proudly declaring: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/powering-past-coal-alliance-declaration
  2. at the centre of a huge corruption and money laundering scandal: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/20/petrobras-scandal-project-received-hundreds-of-millions-from-uk-taxpayers
  3. build or upgrade gas power stations in Iraq.: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ukef-helps-ge-global-services-uk-secure-landmark-turbine-contract-in-iraq
  4. announcement: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/category-a-project-supported-bapco-modernisation-programme/category-a-project-supported-bapco-oil-refinery-modernisation-programme
  5. You may remember: https://platformlondon.org/ukef/
  6. showed up at UKEF’s headquarters with a fake fracking rig: https://platformlondon.org/p-pressreleases/ukef-g20-argentina-protest/
  7. letter: https://platformlondon.org/ukef/
  8. wrote an article: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/this-government-does-not-practice-what-it-preaches-on-fossil-fuels-bd69x6n3p
  9. called: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/news-parliament-2017/uk-export-finance-report-published-17-19/
  10. You can review the full dataset of UKEF’s investments and our analysis here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1suOIiaN97jSGk7h-9Kr-a_s_NHFXMnW5uDQZ9vvPrcg/edit#gid=0
Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2019/06/12/of-turmeric-and-truth-fuel-for-thought-and-the-struggle-in-ogoni/laztamana_turmeric/
  2. Fuel for Action: Activism & Climate Change’: http://www.artexchange.org.uk/event/fuel-for-action-activism-climate-change/
  3. ‘Fuel for Thought’ : http://www.artexchange.org.uk/exhibition/fuel-for-thought/
  4. Sokari Douglas Camp: http://sokari.co.uk/
  5. Nnenna Okore: https://nnennaokore.com/
  6. Alfredo Jaar: http://www.alfredojaar.net/
  7. Ed Kashi: https://edkashi.com/project/curse-of-the-black-gold/
  8. Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou,: https://www.jackbellgallery.com/artists/25-leonce-raphael-agbodjelou/overview/
  9. ‘Ken Saro-Wiwa Lives on!’: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxJtnP2OALHeWtfCJ5W22dw
  10. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2019/06/12/of-turmeric-and-truth-fuel-for-thought-and-the-struggle-in-ogoni/fuelforthought_window/
  11. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2019/06/12/of-turmeric-and-truth-fuel-for-thought-and-the-struggle-in-ogoni/fuelforthought_sdc_front/
  12. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2019/06/12/of-turmeric-and-truth-fuel-for-thought-and-the-struggle-in-ogoni/fuelforthought_sdc_behind/
  13. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2019/06/12/of-turmeric-and-truth-fuel-for-thought-and-the-struggle-in-ogoni/fuelforthought_edassoler_video/
  14. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2019/06/12/of-turmeric-and-truth-fuel-for-thought-and-the-struggle-in-ogoni/screen-shot-2019-06-07-at-17-52-39-2/
  15. https://platformlondon-org.exactdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/VID-20190517-WA0007.mp4: https://platformlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/VID-20190517-WA0007.mp4
  16. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2019/06/12/of-turmeric-and-truth-fuel-for-thought-and-the-struggle-in-ogoni/img-20190517-wa0002/
  17. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2015/11/05/release-living-memorial-to-ken-saro-wiwa-seized-by-nigerian-customs/free_the_bus_2/
  18. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2019/06/12/of-turmeric-and-truth-fuel-for-thought-and-the-struggle-in-ogoni/img-20190517-wa0011/
  19. Esther Kiobel, and three other widows: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/may/01/dutch-court-will-hear-widows-case-against-shell-over-deaths-of-ogoni-nine-esther-kiobel-victoria-bera-hague
  20. court documents have revealed: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/ken-saro-wiwa-was-framed-secret-evidence-shows-2151577.html
  21. report published two years ago, Amnesty International: https://www.amnesty.lu/uploads/media/NIGERIA_IN_THE_DOCK_EN.pdf
  22. a previous legal deposition,: https://www.scribd.com/document/409061190/Mark-Moody-Stuart-OCR-Part-1
  23. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2019/06/12/of-turmeric-and-truth-fuel-for-thought-and-the-struggle-in-ogoni/img-20190517-wa0010/

Everywhere is the city. And everywhere is not the city.

[1]

The tent at Stave Hill Ecological Park, 2019. Photos: Platform

A small congregation, just a dozen of us, are guided in careful-footed silence along the central path through the cathedral of Russia Dock Woodland in London’s former Docklands. It is 04.30 am on 5th May. Our guides, John Cadera and Richard Page-Jones, draw our attention to the calls of Blackcaps, Wrens, Blackbirds, Robins and Great Tits. There is a gentle atmosphere of quiet reverence on this Dawn Chorus Walk around the woods and ponds of the old Surrey Commercial Docks.

I am struck by how the walk reminds me of a religious service. We the attendees are expected to be quiet. John and Richard, binoculars denoting their office, are the priests, intercessors between us and the birds. They interpret, they explain, they guide us through the time they have been allotted. And we? We pay attention. We put aside our daily cares and attend to the world around us, to these companion species, to ‘Nature.’

The walk is part of Soundcamp 2019[2], the sixth in a series of extraordinary twenty-four hour long art & nature events, held with Stave Hill Ecological Park[3], London. The heart of the festival is a day spent listening to creatures of the Earth through a continuous dawn chorus. Around the globe are at least 75 participating groups – ranging from individual ‘streamers’, to a cluster of ‘amateurs’ or a university research project – who ‘live stream’ the sound of the dawn chorus as it begins to unfold in their woods or forest, their mountains or beaches. Sitting in The Shed at Stave Hill, Grant Smith, Maria Papadomanolaki and Hannah Kemp-Welch, co-ordinate the 24-hour broadcast on the internet, fading in a live stream from Queensland Australia as they fade out one from the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan, fading in Kathmandu as they fade out the sounds of dawn in Kolkata, India. And so on, hour after hour, as the sound moves around the Earth.

On the laptop screens arrayed on a table in The Shed, we see the locations of the different live streamers dotted around the Earth like stars in the firmament. The sound from each one floods into this small room as the suns rays opens up the day in Santiago, Chile or Tower Hamlets, London. The map on the screen shows a gently arcing band of darkness and light, this is the blissful curve of the sun’s light, the ‘grey line’ that comes just before the dawn and opens up this singing planet.

Screengrab of Locustream Soundmap during Soundcamp ‘Reveil’ – with Goodluck George live streaming from Mtwara, Tanzania

The event is titled ‘Reveil’ – meaning ‘wake up or alarm clock’ in French – but what is also taking place here is ‘reverie’, a reverie for the Earth. An extraordinary act of celebration, an act of listening to, paying attention to, a beautiful planet. And this ‘planet’ that is being listened to are the calls of birds and animals, the sounds of trees and insects, that are audible to the human ear. These are the songs of the ‘more-than-human’, the voices of our companion species, around the world who we co-inhabit the planet with on this day, in these hours. (Only occasionally are their voices disturbed by, or accompanied, by the low rumble of ships engines, the dull roar of road traffic or the distant drone of a jet.)

Soundcamp coordinates this global event, and central to the initiative are sound artists Grant Smith and Dawn Scarfe. Dawn researches and coordinates Reveil. This remarkable project is tracked across the globe not from some research lab or some arts centre, but from a gem of an ecological park in South London. Soundcamp’s Reveil is in itself a celebration of Stave Hill’s pioneering vision and extraordinary resilience as an urban nature refuge over many years.

In the UK of the late 1970s there was a growing movement for Urban Ecology, which lead to the Trust for Urban Ecology[4] (TRUE), pioneered by Max Nicholson. This gathering of activists argued that ‘Nature’ should not be seen as existing solely in the realm beyond the metropolis, in the ‘Countryside’. But rather it does, and could, exist within the City. That although the urban environment is predominately the space of the human, we are not alone, that we live in these places together with a myriad of other species, from House Spiders to Wasps, from Carrion Crows to Blackbirds, from Plane Trees to Buddleia. That we should see these creatures not as encumbrances to be removed (witness the felling of trees in Sheffield or Walthamstow), nor as sources of anxiety or vectors of disease (as with House Spiders and Feral Pigeons), but these are fellow inhabitants of the city, fellow citizens, companion species and together we make this place that we call London.

 

Donna Harraway, inspirational biologist and thinker on the ‘more than human’ and ‘companion species’.

Arising from this movement came initiatives for ecological parks, areas of land and water, woods and meadows, set aside to create havens for ‘wildlife’ as it was known then, but which forty years later we might now refer to (in the shadow of the thinker Donna Haraway) as the ‘more-than-human’.

‘Wild in London’ – David Goode’s pioneering book on Urban Ecology published in 1986, with an image of William Curtis Park on the cover. Note too, that it was sponsored by Shell – A Shell Book.

 

The first park was established in 1976 by TRUE on the land of former dockside next to Tower Bridge and was named ‘William Curtis Ecological Park’ after the 18th London botanist William Curtis. The area of a few acres combined ponds and reed beds, grass meadow and some young trees. But it did not last long. The land once owned by the Port of London Authority, came under the control of the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) when it was established by Thatcher’s Conservative Government in 1981, and directly managed by the Minister for the Environment, Michael Hesseltine MP.

The park was closed down in 1985 and when Platform came to be based around the corner at 7 Horselydown Lane five years later, I remember it as an area of ‘wasteland’ hidden behind plywood hoardings and beloved by Foxes. Now the land is the site of the GLA’s City Hall, the Bridge Theatre and a block of many stories of luxury flats. The land itself, and the whole of London Bridge City stretching between Tower Bridge and London Bridge, is now in the ownership of St Martins Property Group, an arm of the Kuwait Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of Kuwait. Oil underpinned the ‘development’ of this land and the owners of that oil-derived capital now generate returns on it through rental. Land which had been abandoned by capital, disregarded as ‘wasteland’ that could be set aside for an ecological park, was now a generator of returns and had ‘value’, indeed today it is said to be some of the most ‘valuable’ real estate in the world.

But all was not lost. TRUE cut a deal with LDDC, and in early 1984 the latter gave over another area of ‘wasteland’ on the site of the former Russia Dock in Surrey Commercial Docks near Rotherhithe. Here was established the Stave Hill Ecological Park.[5] The ‘gift’ of this land by the LDDC took place in the midst of a ferocious battle between the Development Corporation and the communities that were long established throughout the docklands, central among those campaigning against LDDC was the Docklands Community Poster Project, driven by Loraine Leeson and Peter Dunn[6] and involving others such as the artist Sonia Boyce. The powerful resistance doubtless encouraged the LDDC to set aside at least some things for the local community, amenities such as the land for the ecological park. (During Soundcamp, Charlie Fox of Inspiral London[7] created a walk from William Curtis Park to Stave Hill, taking attendees through the streets of South London.)

Four years later Platform sited ‘The Tree of Life, City of Life’ Tent on Greenland Dock only five minutes walk from the Ecological Park. John Jordan, Jens Storch, Ana Sarginson, Pete Durgerian and myself all worked around the tent and across the neighbouring area for two weeks as we endeavoured to explore the ‘metabolism of the city’, inspired by a concept evolved by Herbert Girardet. We were visited by some other members of the project team, which included Herbert, Rodney Mace, Teresa Hayter and Nick Robins. On one if these visits Rodney was interviewed on the top of Stave Hill and as he discussed the past and future of the area Pete’s camera panned over the saplings and scrub that covered the infant ecological park, the dock-infill of rubble that had been landscaped and handed over to TRUE.

Now, thirty years on, the Tent returned to the area, invited by Soundcamp 2019 to pitch at Stave Hill Ecological Park (now run by TCV) and hold an intergenerational discussion between three original participants Herbert Girardet, myself, John Jordan, with two younger interlocutors Will Essilfie and Hajra Gulamrassul. The aim was to make a place to reflect on what has happened in the past thirty years and what might happen in the next thirty, to reflect on the period 1989 to 2049.

 

‘Vision’ by Jessie Brennan. Installation on Stave Hill, spring 2019, overlooking Stave Hill Ecological Park. Photograph: Jessie Brennan 2019; Original photograph: Rebeka Clark, 1986.

Among the audience tightly packed into the Tent, was Jessie Brennan who had also been commissioned by Soundcamp 2019 to produce an artwork. Jessie’s piece was in two parts, one a sound installation in London Bridge Station and the other on the crest of Stave Hill. This latter, an artificial mound, created by the LDDC in the early 1980s, overlooks the Surrey Docks area. (It was from here that Rodney had looked out across the fledgling ecological park.) Jessie had installed a billboard-sized blow up of a photo taken from Stave Hill in 1986 allowing the viewer today to juxtapose the image of bare earth and fences with the woodland that now covers the park.

The piece is, like the Soundcamp, a hymn of praise to the resilience of the ecological park. It has survived, it has resisted and survived. For the land all around has sky-rocketed in capital ‘value’, mirroring the rise in the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf just across the river on the Isle of Dogs. The park has been under constant pressure, from developers who want to obtain the site, and from others who’ve committed arson or stolen equipment from the park compound. But it has survived, and now it has official nature reserve status so its future is legally secure. Far more important it has survived because it has become loved by the community that lives around it, loved by children and parents, by dog walkers and volunteers, by those who look out for it, and by those that feel they ‘possess’ it and indeed are ‘possessed’ by it – including the organisers of Soundcamp. Without doubt fundamental to the park’s survival and flourishing, has been the indefatigable determination of its committed site warden, Rebeka Clark who has fought for and developed the project since the mid 1980s.

Its survival is all the more remarkable because it stands in the lee of Canary Wharf, in the shadow of one the most intense concentrations of finance capital on Earth. There is something hypnotic about the contrast between those well-known towers of glass and steel and the densely packed woodland of Alder, Hawthorn and other trees. These species seem to stand in defiance of the skyscrapers of corporate offices, these other species speak of an other way of being, they speak of another way in which the city could be.

The structures of Canary Wharf and the ceaseless building upon Docklands appears to drive out the other, drive out other species, and suggest that the city is a purely human space. However  Stave Hill Ecological Park suggests that this is not the case, suggests that we can live with the other, we can live with other species, indeed the joy in our lives is enhanced when we do live in companion with other species.  Soundcamp’s Reveil proclaims the same reality, that we live on this Earth with a multitude of other creatures and we can, and shall, revere them.

This way of being, distinct from the world described by Canary Wharf, becomes evermore important in the light of the UN Report of Biodiversity published on the 6th May 2019 and revealing that over 1 million species of plants and animals are threatened with extinction in the coming decades if we continue with ‘business as usual’, or rather continue to have business, or capital, determine what is a ‘usual’ way to live.

In the 1989 ‘Tree of Life’ project, the Tent had been located at the Mouth of the River Wandle in Wandsworth just prior to coming to Greenland Dock. There we had erected a banner, many meters long, across a stretch of ‘wasteland’ (or rather of land with little value to speculative capital). On the banner were the lines that seem as relevant as ever:

‘The Measure of the New Days is a Love of the Surface of the Earth like the skin of a Lover’

 

[8]

Platform banner – Measure of the New Days, 1989, Mouth of the Wandle. Photograph: Jens Storch

Thanks to Grant Smith, Dawn Scarfe, Rebeka Clark, Jessie Brennan, Charlie Fox, Jane Trowell

 

 

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2019/05/10/compelled-to-be-wise-in-the-tent-that-can-hear/20190504_tent_front/
  2. Soundcamp 2019: http://soundtent.org/2019/soundcamp_london_2019_program.html
  3. Stave Hill Ecological Park: https://www.tcv.org.uk/urbanecology/stave-hill-ecological-park
  4. Trust for Urban Ecology: https://www.tcv.org.uk/urbanecology
  5. Stave Hill Ecological Park.: https://www.tcv.org.uk/urbanecology/stave-hill-ecological-park
  6. Docklands Community Poster Project, driven by Loraine Leeson and Peter Dunn: https://platformlondon.org/2015/03/25/walking-among-the-ruins-of-the-future-thinking-of-a-city-beyond-neoliberalism/
  7. Inspiral London: https://www.facebook.com/InspirallingLondon/
  8. [Image]: https://platformlondon.org/2019/05/25/singing-planet-soundcamp-2019-and-the-platform-tree-of-life-tent/measure_crop/

En el día de hoy, una delegación de representantes del gobierno y del sector empresarial argentino se encuentra en Londres para tratar inversiones en fracking. Argentina Solidarity Campaign, Reclaim the Power y Fossil Free London se reúnen para oponerse a la expansión del fracking en Argentina, y al rol de las empresas y el gobierno Británico en la expansión y el financiamiento de esta industria.

Desde Lancashire hasta Sussex, comunidades a lo largo del Reino Unido se encuentran en este momento luchando contra la amenaza del fracking. Experiencias de distintos puntos del mundo han demostrado que el fracking causa sismos y contaminación, y que es una técnica que consume volúmenes descomunales de agua, un recurso muy preciado. Mientras algunas compañías locales impulsan el fracking en el Reino Unido, las grandes petroleras como BP y Shell prefieren no fracturar en su territorio local, con el fin de ‘evitar el tipo equivocado de atención’, en las palabras del CEO de BP, Bob Dudley. En cambio, tratan de explotar una de las reservas más grandes de gas de esquisto, Vaca Muerta, en la Patagonia Argentina.

Oposición al fracking en Lancashire, Inglaterra. Foto por Frack Free Lancashire

 

El fracking en la Patagonia es una expresión descarada del modelo extractivista que atraviesa a América Latina. A la vez que la frontera extractiva se expande hacia nuevas áreas en búsqueda de más hidrocarburos y minerales, y se empiezan a implementar nuevas técnicas de alto riesgo en la extracción, las industrias extractivas generan más daños ambientales, más problemas de salud para las poblaciones locales, y se debilitan enormemente las otras economías regionales, como es el caso de la agricultura familiar. Los inversores extranjeros colectan las ganancias, y lo que queda en la región son daños irreversibles. El modelo extractivista no da lugar a desarrollo sustentable y a una redistribución de la riqueza, como muchos proclaman, sino que conlleva a economías inequitativas que son vulnerables a los precios de los commodities, y en las que la riqueza se concentra en las manos de unos pocos.

En la Norpatagonia, comunidades originarias como Lof Campo Maripe ya han enfrentado situaciones de represión violenta por ejercer sus derechos territoriales y defender el territorio ante la extracción. El gobierno provincial de Neuquén ha prometido destinar 400 oficiales de gendarmería para proteger las operaciones de fracking.

Bloqueo de basurero petrolero. Foto por Confederación Mapuche de Neuquén.

Sin embargo, comunidades rurales y originarias en la Norpatagonia como la municipalidad de Vista Alegre y el Lof Campo Maripe se han organizado para detener el avance del fracking en sus tierras. Su resistencia al fracking resalta la amenaza a los ecosistemas locales y fuentes de trabajo y sustento, y reivindica los derechos territoriales de pueblos originarios y la defensa de la vida humana y no-humana.

El gobierno británico ha anunciado una línea de crédito de 1.000 millones de dólares para realizar negocios en Argentina, y BP y Shell han sido invitados, entre otros, a ofertar. Esto es lo que representantes del sector empresarial y de los gobiernos argentino y británico están tratando en Londres en el día de hoy.

Estamos aquí reunides en solidaridad con comunidades en la Patagonia argentina que están luchando contra el fracking.

Estamos reunides para decir NO a las empresas británicas que quieren hacer fracking en Argentina, y NO al financiamiento de esta actividad por parte del gobierno británico.

Decimos juntes, en Argentina y en el Reino Unido: No al fracking!

 

Argentina Solidarity Campaign

Platform

Reclaim the Power

Fossil Free London

Today a delegation of Argentinian officials and businesses is in London to talk about fracking investments. Argentina Solidarity Campaign, Reclaim the Power, and Fossil Free London are coming together[1] to protest the expansion of fracking in Argentina and the role of the UK Government and British companies in this venture.

BP – Pan American Energy gas processing plant. Credit Martin Alvarez Mulally

From Lancashire to Sussex communities in the UK are already fighting the menace of fracking. Experiences from across the world have demonstrated that fracking causes earthquakes and pollution, in addition to consuming high volumes of water. While some companies push for fracking in the UK, Big Oil companies like BP and Shell prefer not to frack near home – “to avoid the wrong kind of attention”, in the words of BP’s CEO Bob Dudley. Instead, they are trying to exploit one of the world’s biggest shale gas reserves, Vaca Muerta, in Argentinian Patagonia.

Fracking in Patagonia is a blatant expression of the extractivist model that is dominant across Latin America. As the frontier of extraction expands to new areas in search for more fossil fuels and minerals, and new, hazardous techniques are implemented, the extractive industries generate more environmental damage, health problems for local inhabitants, and the demise of other regional economies. On many occasions extractive projects overlap with ancestral indigenous land, leading to violent repression of protest. The provincial government of Neuquen has promised to deploy 400 militarised police to protect fracking operations. Profits are collected by foreign investors, and what is left behind is irreversible damage.

In response, indigenous and farming communities in north Patagonia like the municipality of Vista Alegre and the Mapuche community Campo Maripe are organising to stop fracking in their land. Their resistance to fracking highlights the threat to local ecosystems and livelihoods, and upholds indigenous land rights and the defense of human and non-human life.

The UK government has announced a taxpayer-backed credit line of £1bn for business in Argentina and invited BP and Shell among others to bid. This is what the business leaders and officials from Argentina and the UK are discussing in London today.

We are gathered in solidarity with Patagonian communities who are fighting fracking on their land.

We are gathered to say NO to UK companies fracking in Patagonia and NO to UK government financing this exploitation.

We say together, in Argentina and in the UK: No to fracking!  No al fracking!

 

 

Argentina Solidarity Campaign

Reclaim the Power

Fossil Free London

Platform

22 May 2019

Endnotes:
  1. are coming together: https://platformlondon.org/p-pressreleases/uk-argentina-fracking-talks-targeted-by-protest/

We’re in a climate emergency – so why is the UK aiming to extract 20 more billions of barrels of oil?! Our research[1], out today, shows just how far out of touch with reality this plan is – and what the UK needs to do instead, not only to protect the climate, but also workers’ rights and industry.

The climate emergency, acknowledged last week by UK and Scottish parliaments, means we have to rapidly come off fossil fuels. The government’s Committee on Climate Change recommends a fully ‘net zero emissions’ economy by 2050, and arguably, as a nation that’s reaped its wealth in large part from other countries’ resources including fossil fuels, the UK should go fully fossil fuel free even earlier.

And yet.

The UK government is planning a 32nd round of oil and gas licences – opening up plots where oil companies could drill for over 30 years – all the way to 2050.

For 15 successive years, oil companies have paid less and less tax to the UK government. For two successive years (2015-2017) ten oil companies together not only paid no tax but received over £2 billion from the UK Treasury.

The UK government has promised to pay for decommissioning (taking down) old oil rigs in perpetuity to a scale of an estimated £30 billion or more – while companies responsible walk away.

And both government and industry talk about a target of 20 billion barrels of oil yet to extract from the North Sea.

How does all this compare to climate limits?

Together with Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth Scotland, we did the maths[2] and it’s not looking good.

The UK’s 5.5 billion barrels of oil and gas in already operating oil and gas fields will exceed the Paris climate goals. And recent subsidies for oil and gas extraction will add twice as much carbon to the atmosphere as UK’s phase-out of coal power saves.

At the same time, at least 100,000 people in the UK work in oil and gas extraction (directly and in the domestic supply chain). Places like Aberdeen,  Norfolk, and increasingly the Shetland Islands to a greater or lesser extent depend on the industry for jobs and regional prosperity.

What does this mean? The UK is headed for a “no-deal exit” from oil and gas drilling, with no plan to phase out and none to protect the workers and communities who currently depend on the oil industry.

We have to plan our way out of this. We analysed what jobs industries like offshore wind, tidal energy and energy efficiency retrofits could provide, and found out that with the right policies, these can sustain over three new jobs per oil worker potentially affected by the transition.

This won’t happen by itself. Right now, there’s few opportunities for new onshore wind farms, and virtually no government support for tidal energy or to retrofit our housing stock. Wind turbine manufactures have opened few factories in the UK, with Siemens’s Hull facility a notable exception. And some offshore windfarm developers are notorious for employing crews on less than minimum wage, in dangerous conditions. With business as usual, “green jobs” will not materialise.

Affected workers and trade unions have to have a say in the transition to clean energy will happen, and UK and Scottish governments should step in to safeguard energy workers’ rights and livelihoods: ensure trade union recognition and sectoral bargaining in “green” industries, protect wages and pensions, and offer free time off and training for those workers who need it in order to switch away from oil and gas extraction.

And our governments have to be bold and use all the tools at their disposal to actively build clean industry. National Investment Banks, like in Germany or Denmark, can help new industries set up. “Hire local” or “buy local” legislation, like in Taiwan and France, can make sure UK factories and shipyards build the renewable energy economy. And direct public ownership of energy resources by cities, regions or nationally can reap a host of other benefits. These are only some of the examples – but to meet the climate emergency and create decent jobs, every possible tool has to be put in use.

Read and share the report[3].

Sign our open letter to the UK and Scottish Governments below.


Endnotes:
  1. Our research: https://platformlondon.org/p-publications/sea-change-climate-emergency-jobs-north-sea-oil
  2. did the maths: https://platformlondon.org/p-publications/sea-change-climate-emergency-jobs-north-sea-oil
  3. Read and share the report: https://platformlondon.org/p-publications/sea-change-climate-emergency-jobs-north-sea-oil