Blog Posts: Europe

January 21st, 2016

Fracking: How Bad Is It?

By Geert Decock

CouldGoWrongFoodWaterEuropeBanFracking

Fracking is a bad idea. But how bad is fracking? Pretty awful, particularly if you are confronted with dozens of rigs, fracking equipment, trucks and spills, … But exactly how bad is fracking? Stubborn scientists are digging deep to find out more about the dirty secrets of the fracking industry. The scientists that advised the US Environmental Protection Agency about the impacts of fracking on water rejected the greenwashing communication about their report, which “does not reflect the uncertainties and data limitations described in the body of the Report”. Just before Christmas, other scientists published an article confirming that oil and gas operations in Texas leak almost twice as much gas as has been estimated. That gas, so-called fugitive methane, is a very powerful greenhouse gas and even a little bit of leakage calls into question the status of gas as low-carbon or a transition fuel. To top it off, researchers at Yale University found that many of the fluids used in and created by fracking have been linked to reproductive and developmental health problems.

Read the full article…

January 20th, 2016

Nitrogen On The Table, Nitrates In The Tap

By David Sánchez

FoodandWaterEuropeDangerousNitrogenFactoryFarmsNitrogen is a basic component of our food and a vital nutrient for plants and crops to grow. But high concentrations are harmful to people and nature. Last week, the presentation of a scientific report in the European Parliament, “Nitrogen on the Table”, tried to call attention to this problem. In this report, the authors considered the major benefits of reduced meat and dairy consumption in Europe, since so far more focus has been put on the supply side, developing technological solutions. And I fully agree; we need to reduce European consumption of meat and dairy, and we need to look beyond those “miraculous” technological solutions.

But I always have some concerns when the political debate focuses too much on individual solutions, like reducing meat consumption. For me, that means we are missing one key question: Who is really causing the mess?

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January 4th, 2016

To a New Year Full of Victories for Our Food and Water!

By Geert Decock

FoodandWaterEuropeRomaniaFrackdownHere at Food & Water Europe, we’re not only celebrating the New Year, but also the 10th anniversary of our sister organisation, Food & Water Watch.

Together we have grown into a powerful advocate for healthy food and clean water for all, with nearly 1 million supporters in the US and thousands here in Europe demanding that our democracy work to improve people’s lives and protect the environment. Thanks to YOU, our allies, activists and grassroots partners, we’re proving that when we bring people together, we can overcome even the most powerful corporations.

You are a wonderful part of our celebrations, and I want to share just some of the important victories you made happen right here in Europe:

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December 18th, 2015

European Parliament Asks: Can Fracking “Be A Viable Technology” in The EU?

By Geert Decock

Admittedly, political processes move slowly. But when it comes to the position of the European Parliament on plans to turn the European Union into an Energy Union, it was worth the wait, all ten months of it.

After the European Commission announced its ideas for an Energy Union, the Parliament decided to respond to these plans. We were all holding our breath, when we learned that a conservative right-wing Member of the European Parliament, Marek Józef Gróbarczyk, got appointed in March as a rapporteur and the pro-business Industry, Energy and Research Committee was going to handle the file. In the European Parliament, it is standard procedure for rapporteurs to write a first initial draft. After that, other Committee members can submit their amendments.

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December 17th, 2015

Looking Back at the Paris Agreement: A Ban on Fracking Was Never More Urgent

By Geert Decock

The Paris agreement on climate change is less than a week old, yet its contents have already been intensely analysed. Below, we want to share the top five analyses that we have read so far.

The Paris agreement and the promises by 196 governments do not offer any guarantee that the world will limit global warming to a safe level: Even if all parties kept their promises, “the planet would warm by an estimated […] 3.5 degrees Celsius, above preindustrial levels. And that is way, way too much,” says Bill McKibben of 350.org in the New York Times.

The Paris agreement offers too little, too late. “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster. […} In fairness, the failure does not belong to the Paris talks, but to the whole process. […] The talks in Paris are the best there have ever been. And that is a terrible indictment,” says George Monbiot in The Guardian.

One of the main reasons why we remain deeply critical of the Paris agreement is one glaring omission in the text, as Food & Water Watch pointed out in its statement (also pointed out by Naomi Klein on her Twitter feed). How is it – after 21 years of climate summits – that we STILL cannot name the elephant in the room?

FoodandWaterEuropeNaomiKleinTwitterCop21

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December 14th, 2015

You Say, “Commitment.” I Say, “Convince Me.” – UK Fracking Policy Failure

By Eve Mitchell

Ban Fracking

I’m one of those women who doesn’t like fracking. I’m pretty sure my gender has nothing to do with it, and I’m irked by the dismissal of my considered objection as some frail, fearful failure to understand (and the rest of the bogus lines trotted out by vested interests, which are pretty insulting to men, too).

I’m not daunted by “an awful lot of facts”, but it is true that “more facts are not going to make any difference” to my views on fracking.

It’s quite simple really.

Fact: In January 2015, hot on the heels “streamlining” UK planning policy for infrastructure projects that promised to “make it fairer and faster for communities and applicants alike”, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announced a “commitment to an outright ban on fracking in National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty”.

Hooray! (Ish – that leaves a lot of other places to go “all out for shale”.)

Fact: Days later, DECC Minister Amber Rudd wobbled: “[I]t might not be practical to guarantee that fracking will not take place under them [protected areas] in all cases without unduly constraining the industry.”

By July the DECC confirmed it would be “impractical” to honour its January commitment. Instead there’s a new “clear commitment to ensure that fracking cannot be conducted from wells that are drilled in the surface”, but drilling under them is just fine, and the definition of protected area excludes SSSIs altogether.

Read the full article…

December 10th, 2015

Science Fiction in a Fish – GM Salmon Is NOT Food

FoodandWaterEuropeObamaCANStopGMSalmonBy Eve Mitchell

You’d be forgiven for missing the news, but the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved AquaBounty’s genetically modified (GM) salmon for human consumption few days ago.

We’re fighting to get that decision revoked. You can help. In case natural revulsion isn’t enough of a prompt, a few reminders:

It’s a serious environmental hazard

Read the full article…

December 4th, 2015

Paris By Night – But Then Different

By Geert Decock

Global Frackdown to ParisI arrived on Thursday afternoon in Paris. As a tourist to Paris, you are faced with the impossible decision about which places to visit first: Eiffel tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees… the list is endless and well-known. With the terrorist attacks fresh in my memory, my first visit was to the Bataclan club in the lively 11th district of Paris to pay my respect to the victims. I also biked past Place de la République where a lot of political demonstrations in France start, as the statues on the square symbolize the three key principles – liberty, equality and fraternity – of the French republic. As you can see from the pictures, the memory of the attacks is still very fresh… thousands of flowers and candles commemorate the victims.

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November 24th, 2015

Give Us a Fracking Break

By Eve Mitchell

Who thinks creating earthquakes is a good ideaIt’s not just me. People all over Europe are getting really fed up with fracking. We know, because we asked you what you think, and boy did the message come back loud and clear.

Teofan from Romania is worried about families forced to try to live near fracking wells. “I feel sorry for them, as their most basic of human rights has been infringed upon.” Jonathan from the UK says, “I feel great sympathy with families who have fracking forced upon them.” Lionel, Leslie and Diana, all from the UK, feel sorry for families facing fracking, too, and they’re joined by Helena from Germany and Sérgio from Portugal.

People have a lot to tell us, but mostly they feel bad for those caught up in the fracking whirlwind. Angela from Germany even says, “If I could, I would take them to a safe land, without fracking neighbours.”

Read the full article…

November 18th, 2015

No Water in the Land of Plenty

By Marek Szilvasi, European Roma Rights Centre

Water Is a Human RightThe Human Right to Water and Sanitation is still not a reality in Europe. All across the continent there are people living without access to clean water, and many of them are Roma. Europe is home to 10-12 million Roma people.

Since 2014 the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) – an international public interest organisation working to combat anti-Romani racism and human rights abuse of Roma – has been conducting research on access to safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation in Romani neighbourhoods in seven countries. We have focused on analysing problems with accessibility, affordability, and quality of drinking water resources, as well as with sanitation in Romani neighbourhoods and settlements. The research has also examined potential cases of ethnic discrimination in the distribution and availability of these public utilities.

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