Blog Posts: Europe

August 7th, 2012

Are You Down With the Global Frackdown?

By Mark Schlosberg

On September 22, people across the world will be coming together for a day of action — a Global Frackdown — to call for a ban on fracking to protect our communities. Will you join us?

Drilling and fracking for natural gas and oil poses a direct and immediate threat to our drinking water, air, health and communities. Over the past couple of years as our movement has grown, the oil and gas industry has been ramping up its massive multi-million dollar PR campaign to convince the public and elected officials that its dirty energy is clean. Its time to fight back with a Global Frackdown!

As a movement to ban fracking, we have collectively achieved a tremendous amount. Working together just in the past year, we have: passed over 200 local measures across the United States to ban fracking, stopped fracking in Bulgaria, France and the state of Vermont, pushed for moratoriums in multiple regions in Europe, obtained a moratorium on fracking in South Africa, defeated state legislation that would have expanded fracking (like stopping plans to open the Delaware River Basin to fracking) and worked to stop pipelines and facilities to export fracked gas from coast to coast.

This fall, the oil and gas industry will be escalating its pro-fracking propaganda even further and our elected officials — some of whom are running scared — need to hear the truth in a powerful way from their constituents. It’s time to expose the oil and gas industry’s propaganda for what it is. It’s time to hold our elected officials accountable. It’s time for a Global Frackdown!

Communities are already coming together to organize actions as part of the Global Frackdown. From New Mexico to North Carolina and California to New York, events are being organized across the United States. In Europe, actions are already being planned in France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden and Belgium. They’ll include flash mobs, rallies, human signs calling for a ban on fracking and screenings of Gasland. In the coming weeks, these events will be put on a map at www.globalfrackdown.org, but in the meantime, you can go here to sign up an event in your community.

The Global Frackdown is supported by Food & Water Watch, Environment America, Democracy for America, 350.org, Friends of the Earth US, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace USA, Global Exchange, Ecologistas en Acción, Council of Canadians, Josh Fox (whose film Gasland has fueled the movement), and a host of other organizations across the world. Organizations large and small can add their name to the growing list of partners here.

Building on the powerful Stop the Frack Attack action in Washington, D.C. last weekend, three major events are happening in the U.S. over the next two months. From August 25-27, people will gather in New York to urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to not allow fracking in New York. On September 20 and 21, our friends at Protecting our Waters are organizing Shale Gas Outrage to protest a major industry conference in Philadelphia. And the Global Frackdown will follow on September 22.

Our opponents get their power from their deep financial resources and their ability to divide us. We have the power of our voices, our communities and our collective action. The next couple of months promise to be a powerful, unifying and exciting time for our movement against fracking. Add your voice to this effort and Get Down with the Frackdown — take action to ban fracking on September 22.

May 7th, 2012

You’re Invited…To Occupy the World Water Forum

By Walker Foley

With the clock ticking down to the sixth World Water Forum in France, Food & Water Watch encourages you to Occupy this shameless marriage of corporate water lobbyists and our global leaders.

We are dealing with a global water crisis due to the mishandling of our resources, which has left one in eight around the globe without access to clean water.  Water is necessary for life – it is a basic human right – but organizations like Veolia and Suez don’t see it that way.  Instead, water is a commodity, ready to package and sell.  All over the globe these organizations are manipulating the debate and using their influence to rewrite government policy on access to clean water.  The World Water Forum is just another means for these corporations to sit down with our politicians behind closed doors.   Read the full article…

Food & Water Watch Europe: What We’re Working On

By Gabriella Zanzanaini

Just days before the opening of the World Water Forum in Marseille, campaigners are getting read to attend the Alternative event taking place in parallel during the corporate Forum.

The European Coordination of the Alternative World Water Forum (FAME) — including Food and Water Europe – EPSU – AQUATTAC, Belgian Social Forum and CNCD — organized a public hearing at the European Parliament in light of the Resolution that the European Parliament is debating on March 15th regarding the World Water Forum. Meanwhile, the Alternative event today has more than 1500 registered participants while the corporate event struggles to arrive go over the 2000 participants despite the huge corporate and government funding. Read the full article…

April 27th, 2012

5 Reasons a “Global Cattle Drive” to China Is a Bad Idea

By Wenonah Hauter

The Wall Street Journal reports that China is importing 100,000 heifers — 25 ships’ worth — to boost domestic dairy production in the wake of melamine and other milk-powder scandals that have decimated China’s relatively small dairy industry since 2008.

Where to begin? There are so many problems with this scenario, but here are just five reasons why this is a terribly bad idea:

1) The cows are destined for factory farms. China may be importing the cattle from Uruguay, Australia and New Zealand, but they are importing the model for factory farming from the U.S. The animals’ long nightmare starts on a harrowing journey overseas in ships, where they are confined tightly and face multiple health issues that may result in death. Those buried at sea might be the luckiest cattle, because once the animals get through the 45-day quarantine, they will continue their confinement in “football-field-size sheds” that resemble electronics factories more than farms and are milked three times a day on “bovine merry-go-rounds,” according to Wall Street Journal reporter Alex Frangos. Read the full article…

March 20th, 2012

Why the Water Justice Movement Was Denied Equal Press Access at the World Water Forum

By Wenonah Hauter

Last week, we sent a letter to World Water Forum organizers asking to hold a press conference there about the fact that Veolia, Suez and Saur—among the biggest private water corporations globally—are being investigated for price fixing in the EU. After all, the forum organizers claimed that their space is open to all opinions. We believe that it’s important the attendees know that Veolia, Suez and Saur have longstanding ties with the World Water Council, the force behind the Forum. And after all, AquaFed, the lobbying group for private water companies, along with dozens of other economic interests at the forum held official press conferences.

Of course, it’s no big surprise that we were denied access to the forum infrastructure for our press conference.

Their answer as to why our request was denied was somewhat entertaining. They said it was “unethical”.

At the end of his letter, Mr. Benedito Braga, President of the International Forum Committee, called our attempt to use the Forum’s  “infrastructure” “unethical” on the grounds that Maude Barlow and I refused to participate in the debate on public/private involvement in the provision of water services. It’s true that we declined to debate, telling them that they needed to hear from someone representing the Global South whose community had been impacted by privatization first hand, and we suggested an activist from the Philippines, Maria Theresa N. Lauron (who did a great job at the debate).

As expected, the forum turned us down because they are not a legitimate or participatory body on global water policy. They have an agenda, and our message undermines their plans to profit from water services.

If our effort to show the forum’s true colors was “unethical”, then the water industry’s use of the forum to make profit off of the billion people that lack access to clean water is a downright travesty.

March 8th, 2012

Why Will Activists Be Protesting the World Water Forum?

By Darcey Rakestraw

The United Nations recently reported that a key UN goal of halving the proportion of people lacking access to clean drinking water has been achieved five years early. This news comes on the eve of the 6th World Water Forum next week in Marseille, France with the theme, “Time for Solutions.” Despite the rosy outlook the UN report suggests, activists are sounding the alarm that we’re not on the right path—and that no one should be confused about the dangers of letting corporations guide water policy.

Certainly, activists and the corporate-backed World Water Forum don’t agree on solutions to address the nearly one billion people without access to clean water and 2.6 billion who lack proper sanitation. The forum was conceived by the World Water Council, which promotes itself as an “international, multi stakeholder forum”. Its web site touts the tagline, “A global water movement for a secure world”. 

But the World Water Council’s strong ties to large multinational water companies like Suez and Veolia, who are currently under investigation in the EU for price fixing, have led activists to view the Council and it’s tri-annual World Water Forum as a means of furthering the industry’s influence over the development agenda. This includes promoting market-based tools like water markets, pollution trading, and other schemes by which corporations can both profit off of—and keep polluting—an increasing scarcity of clean water. Read the full article…

March 7th, 2012

Food & Water Watch Europe: What We’re Working On

By Gabriella Zanzanaini

Just days before the opening of the World Water Forum in Marseille, campaigners are getting read to attend the Alternative event taking place in parallel during the corporate Forum.

The European Coordination of the Alternative World Water Forum (FAME) — including Food and Water Europe – EPSU – AQUATTAC, Belgian Social Forum and CNCD — organized a public hearing at the European Parliament in light of the Resolution that the European Parliament is debating on March 15th regarding the World Water Forum. Meanwhile, the Alternative event today has more than 1500 registered participants while the corporate event struggles to arrive go over the 2000 participants despite the huge corporate and government funding. Read the full article…

February 10th, 2012

Europe Has Every Right to Be Emotional About Fracking

Ban Fracking!By Anna Witowska

As if he were employing the pop psychology Mars-versus-Venus framework on the issue, Shell Chief Executive Peter Voser called for a less “emotional” response to fracking in Europe. He stated that the European discussion on shale gas exploration is not factual but fuelled by emotions. So, can we thus infer that Mars — embodied by oil and gas corporations — must be focused on profits and is ready to drill? No matter who gets hurt in the process?

European opponents of fracking, including Food & Water Europe, are somewhat surprised by such a facile characterization as they have always based their case against fracking on facts— such as the water intensity of fracking operations. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 70 to 140 billion gallons of water are pumped into 35 thousand of fracking wells annually. What the gas industry is not admitting is that hydraulic fracturing uses water to an extent that ought to strike fear in countries that are counting on a shale gas boom, particularly as water becomes an increasingly scarce resource. Well contamination is also an issue to be considered. In January 2012, a Calgary-based company injected fluids at such a high pressure into a 1,800-metre-deep oil formation that they travelled more than 1.4 kilometres underground and ruptured an oil well near Innisfail, Alberta. There are also the documented facts of roads being destroyed through heavy machinery use and real estate prices dropping to ridiculous levels.  Read the full article…

February 8th, 2012

BASF and Monsanto European Retreat

By Eve Mitchell

The new year has brought two significant developments for GM crops in the EU. BASF has pulled all R&D aimed at European markets and moved their operations to the U.S., and Monsanto has pulled sales of their GM MON810 maize from France.

BASF’s GM crop prospects in Europe suffered a serious blow in 2010 when the first ever planting of its flagship Amflora GM potato, designed to produce industrial starch, had to be destroyed when it emerged the seed stock was contaminated with an unauthorised GM potato. Caching up with what Europeans have known all along, a BASF spokesperson was reported to say, “It does not make business sense to continue investing in products exclusively for cultivation in this market.” The company clearly thinks it will have better luck selling its GM food in the U.S. — where there are no labels to tell consumers what they are buying.

Monsanto’s withdrawal of MON810 was more of a surprise. After all, the company had recently won a case at the EU Court of Justice against the ongoing French ban on cultivation. The French Government vowed to correct its administrative oversights and reinstate the ban, and Monsanto must have felt it wasn’t worth the fight – or perhaps didn’t want the renewed scrutiny of the crop the French would ignite so decided on a tactical retreat.

Either way Europeans are a step or two closer to the GM-free food and farming we want. Now all we have to do is clean up the problems the limited GM crops we’ve already grown and still causing for people like beekeepers.

Learn more about GMOs in Europe.

December 7th, 2011

The Nexus and Why We Should Be Worried About the Green Economy

By Gabriella Zanzanaini

Since coming back from the Bonn Conference on the water, food and energy nexus, where I met up with fellow civil society activists, I have been trying to figure out how we can stand against the corporate machine building up towards RIO+20.

The Bonn conference organized by the German government in November 2011 aims to influence Rio+20 (United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development) outcomes while using transformation to a Green Economy as a framework. The follow-up conference will be organized by the World Economic Forum in January 2012 and its policy recommendations will also go through a “test” at a Ministerial Round Table at the 6th World Water Forum in mid-March 2012.

What stood out at Bonn was how increasingly aware of its image the corporate machine is and how it has learned to package its message in a more palatable way, while trying to get civil society “participation” to legitimize its decisions. This new, softer rhetoric means that it is harder to see what truly lies behind seemingly well-intentioned speeches. Most of the outcomes of the conference were decided beforehand, but the dominant rhetoric repeatedly placed emphasis on poverty eradication and inclusive growth – how to make resource efficiency work for the “bottom billion” (flagged up by many of us at the conference as a term that should stop being used). Yet the essence of what the Green Economy actually is – turning the financial, environmental and climate crisis into an economical gain was largely absent.

In a Green Economy world, the financialization of nature will take place through new technologies, focusing on innovations funded by public money to profit private companies in the name of resource efficiency. Among the nexus solutions are the promotion of desalination based on renewable energy, genetic engineering/breeding for food security and large dams. Read the full article…

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