As like last year, the prestigious oil event was disrupted by protestors angered at Canada’s aggressive lobbying to undermine European legislation.
The event was hosted by Canadian High Commissioner Gordon Campbell and featured top officials from Shell, Total and Enbridge, along with a “networking lunch” with a keynote speech by John Hayes, a Conservative energy Minister in the Department of Energy and Climate Change, who is known for his anti-wind views.
The aim of the event was to promote Canada’s tar sands in Europe and examine “emerging market and public policy risks, including the EU Fuel Quality Directive.”
The event came just a day World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim said: “Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest.”
But the World Bank’s warning had been completely ignored by the Canadian and British governments and its oil industry allies. So seizing that moral responsibility at 8.30am, 30 protesters blocked entrance with their bodies and a huge banner saying ‘Stop tar sands’.
Copying a protest theme from last year they then held a tongue-in-cheek ‘oil orgy’, featuring dancing shadowy representatives of the oil industry, and speech bubbles with ironic pro-oil statements such as ‘Destroy the Fuel Quality Directive’, ‘Canada: emerging energy supervillain’, and ‘Gag climate scientists’. The protests forced delegates to use the back door.
The protest at Canada House was organised by UK Tar Sands Network amongst others, as part of a global week of climate action which included actions against the KXL pipeline in Washington DC and Texas.
“London has become a hotbed of collusion for the Canadian Government’s ‘dirty diplomats’ to schmooze with oil giants and promote tar sands in Europe,” said Suzanne Dhaliwal, from the UK Tar Sands Network. “With Europe negotiating new climate legislation which would threaten the highly carbon-intensive tar sands industry, Canada’s lobbying has become increasingly aggressive.”
The worrying issue for protestors is that some influential analysts are arguing that they are losing the battle to stop the tar sands. Writing in the Financial Times on Monday, Ed Crooks notes that Alberta’s tar sands are set to increase from about 1.47m barrels per day in 2010 to 3.17m b/d by 2020 and argues that the “industry is winning” the argument over tar sands.
Ironically, he argues that “It is economics, not politics, that has had the best shot at derailing that expansion. When the oil price collapsed as the world slid into recession in the second half of 2008, the economics of the oil sands seemed precarious.”