On the Eve of Global Climate Strikes and Summit, Celebrities, Advocates and Grassroots Groups Call on UN to Endorse Worldwide Fracking Ban

Prominent activists, hundreds of groups urge U.N. to champion a global ban, call fracking a climate and human rights disaster

New York, NY – On the eve of international youth-led climate strikes and next week’s United Nations Climate Change Summit, nearly 460 grassroots groups, faith communities, celebrities, activists and organizations from across the world are calling on the United Nations to endorse a worldwide ban on fracking.

Actors Mark Ruffalo, Emma Thompson and Amber Heard, authors and activists Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Karenna Gore and Wenonah Hauter, fashion icons Vivienne Westwood and Joe Corré, human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson, iconic childrens’ singer Raffi, climate experts Dr. Robert Howarth and Dr. Sandra Steingraber, and nearly 460 grassroots groups sent an open letter to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres stating that the “continued production, trade and use of fracked hydrocarbons for energy, petrochemicals and plastics torpedoes our global efforts to tackle climate change and violates basic human rights.”

The letter was organized by the American advocacy organization Food & Water Action (FWA) and its European arm, Food & Water Europe (FWE), as well as the Breathe Project, a Pittsburgh-based clearinghouse for information on air quality in Pennsylvania. 

Wenonah Hauter, founder and executive director of Food & Water Action and Food & Water Europe, said: “In more than a decade of fighting fracking in the U.S., we’ve banned it in multiple states and made great progress elevating the issue globally. But there is much more work to do. The fracking surge in the U.S. has been a boon for the polluting petrochemical industry, which turns fracked gas into plastics. Our planet and our oceans are drowning in plastic and fracking companies are profiting. This needs to stop once and for all. We need a global ban on fracking.”

Banning fracking has been an urgent priority of climate activists for years. But it has recently moved onto the political stage as a key issue in the U.S. Democratic presidential race, with many top-tier candidates embracing the urgent call for a total ban.

“The climate emergency is a casting call for heroes, and we need everyone to show up. Step one is to stand up and say, loudly and clearly, that there is no place for fracking on a climate-destabilized planet,” said actor and longtime fracking activist Mark Ruffalo.

“Every well and every pipeline adds more methane and carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and pushes us closer to the edge of the climate cliff.  The science demands, and our children demand, a global ban on fracking,” said actress and U.N. Human Rights Champion Amber Heard.

The signatories to the letter — including the Break Free From Plastic Movement, Friends of the Earth, Concerned Health Professionals of New York, European Environmental Bureau, Oil Change International, Heinrich-Böll-Foundation, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Alianza Mexicana contra el Fracking, Support Centre for Land Change South Africa, Frack Free United, SumOfUs, Women Engage for a Common Future — point to the overwhelming scientific documenting the significant negative climate impacts of fossil gas and the environmental and disastrous public health implications of fracking.

“Fracking sounds nearly as ugly as it actually is. For the sake of the climate we need this obscenity to end right now!” said renowned author and 350.org founder Bill McKibben.

The letter also draws a direct line between fracking and the global plastic pollution crisis. As Food & Water Watch recently documented, a substantial amount of the gas drilling and related infrastructure being proposed is intended to use cheap fracked hydrocarbons to make plastic.

“Over the past decade, methane levels have been rising rapidly in the atmosphere, contributing significantly to the unprecedented global climate disruption seen in recent years,” said Cornell Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology Robert Howarth, whose research on methane leaks has shed considerable light on the climate impacts of fracking. “Over 60 percent of the increased global methane emissions are from the oil and gas industry, and shale gas development in North America is responsible for one-third of the increased emissions from all sources. Fracking for shale gas is a climate disaster.”

A number of United Nations bodies have weighed in over the years on the dangers of fracking. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESR) and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) have expressed concerns regarding the threat fracking represents for achieving the climate targets under the Paris Agreement and its impacts on human rights. And as early as 2012, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) issued a “Global Alert” on fracking, concluding that it may have adverse environmental impacts even if done properly

As fashion icon Vivienne Westwood and environmental campaigner Joe Corré said: “Because fracking causes birth defects, in March 2019, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) took the harmful environmental and climate change impacts of fracking seriously enough to strongly urge the British Government to completely ban fracking. It speaks for itself that this highly respected U.N. body saw this legislative measure as the only solution to protect the human rights of women in rural areas in Britain”.

“A decade ago, when there were only nine scientific studies on the impacts of fracking, some political leaders suggested that fracking might serve as a bridge to a stable climate. Now there are 1,800 studies, and the science is clear. Fracking is making the climate crisis worse,” said Sandra Steingraber, PhD, biologist, co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York. “Fracking is destroying drinking water and undermining human rights around the world. Fracking is harming health through toxic air pollution and supporting a polluting plastics industry that is killing our oceans. Our planet is on fire, but fracking is not an evacuation bridge nor a fire extinguisher. Fracking is an arsonist that needs to be stopped everywhere and right now.”

Prominent actress and activist Emma Thompson said: “Fracking is the fossil fuel world’s worst idea to date. It’s pointless, expensive, doesn’t create jobs that will serve a community, but it does pollute, damage and contribute to wrecking the climate. Its poisonous presence in our green and pleasant land is an affront to common sense, common health and the safety of the planet as a whole.”

“The climate crisis is the greatest ever threat to human rights. As the recent UN report on climate change and poverty makes clear, fossil fuel companies are the main driver of climate change and over-reliance on profit-driven actors in mitigating this crisis will almost guarantee massive human rights violations,” said human rights lawyer and barrister with Doughty Chamber Streets Jennifer Robinson. “What we really need is a global ban.”

The letter concludes by referring to the final advisory opinion of the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change, which recommended that fracking be banned, and that “the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment be asked to investigate the violations of the rights of humans and nature by the Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction industry.”

Open Letter


Andy Gheorghiu, Food & Water Europe: [email protected], 0049 160 20 30 974

Peter Hart, Food & Water Action: [email protected], 732-839-0871

Chemical Billionaire’s Bid for Fossil Fuel Empire: Ineos Corporate Profile


Common Resources

For the past decade, the United States has pursued a failed experiment in natural gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The fossil fuel industry touts fracking as a revolutionary technology that could deliver huge volumes of cheap, clean energy. But the fracking boom has been an environmental catastrophe in the United States.


The private and secretive chemical company Ineos has been leading the charge to bring this environmentally destructive method to the United Kingdom (UK) and mainland Europe.

However, the fracking “revolution” that Ineos promotes is a return to the past, where corporate executives profit from environmentally destructive extraction and the generation of dirty energy. In reality, fracked gas is incompatible with European Union (EU) and United Kingdom (UK) climate objectives, the Paris Agreement obligations and the need to act quickly to tackle climate change.

Find out more in, ‘Chemical Billionaire’s Bid for Fossil Fuel Empire: Ineos Corporate Profile.

European Parliament Votes on New Security of Gas Supply Regulation

Brussels, 12 September 2017 – Today, the European Parliament voted for a new regulation that provides a set of cross-border measures to deal with supply shortages, which includes the elimination of barriers for gas flow.

Food & Water Europe is disappointed that the final text of the regulation fails to see the bigger picture and does not contain a long-term view on how to tackle the problems around gas supply; specifically, it does not question the problems of Europe’s dependence on gas itself.

“The text barely mentions demand side measures crucial to reducing peak demand or energy efficiency measures capable of significantly reducing our gas use,” says Frida Kieninger, campaign officer at Food & Water Europe. “Considering the known impact of fossil fuels on climate change, it is crucial that investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure is limited as much as possible, if not completely ceased.”

With every 1% in gas demand reduction, the EU can decrease its import dependence by 2.6%. The European gas network is already prepared for a range of disruption scenarios, with only parts of South-Eastern Europe lacking supply security measures.

“Instead of focussing on new interconnections and expanding bi-directional capacity, the EU Parliament must open its eyes to real solutions and not implement a mere treatment of symptoms. Industry has been given a big role in assessing the needed measures to secure European gas supply, so it is not a big surprise that the construction of more gas infrastructure is seen as a main approach to enhance energy security. We clearly see an issue of conflict of interest here,” says Kieninger.

Europe does not need more pipelines, locking us into fossil gas with its devastating impact on the climate and the safety, health and environment of supply countries. All efforts need to be directed towards real, long-term solutions, including aggressive investment in distributed renewable energy generation and energy efficiency measures.


Frida Kieninger, Food & Water Europe, Campaign Officer, Rue d’Edimbourg 26, Brussels 1050, Belgium, +32 487 24 99 05, fkieninger(at)fweurope.org

UK Court Injunction Won’t Stop Anti-Fracking Movement

Washington, D.C. and Brussels – On July 31, petrochemical giant Ineos Corporation won a High Court injunction intended to stifle protest against the company’s plans to frack sites in the UK.

In response, Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe Executive Director Wenonah Hauter issued the following statement:

“The public knows the dangers fracking poses to our clean air and water, and that’s why activists in England are taking bold action to protect their communities against these threats. Ineos would like to stifle this movement, and unfortunately this High Court injunction has given the company a potentially powerful tool to threaten those advocating for a healthy climate and a livable world. If Ineos thinks an interim court injunction will stop the movement to protect our water, climate and communities from fracking, they are in for a surprise.”

“The critical struggle to pull back from the climate precipice is too important to allow temporary setbacks like this court ruling to stop the anti-fracking movement. Fracked gas and all fossil fuels must be replaced with clean, renewable energy immediately if we’re going to secure a safe, livable future for coming generations.”

Petition rejected – EU Commission wants to let ExxonMobil get away with climate change denial

Brussels, 20 June 2017 — Despite the evidence of the ExxonMobil’s active role in the funding of climate change deniers which has deliberately prevented far more consequent and comprehensive political efforts against climate change, the EU Commission says it does not plan to take action.

The Commission’s statement is in response to a Food & Water Europe petition from July 2016, asking Members of the European Parliament to hold ExxonMobil accountable for its climate cover-up – which will be discussed in the Petition Committee of the EU tomorrow.

There is increasing evidence that in the 1980s, and maybe even much earlier, oil and gas giant ExxonMobil knew about the existence of climate change and the role of fossil fuels. And while carefully keeping the facts to themselves, ExxonMobil started a denial campaign covering up the certainty that climate change and fossil fuel extraction are closely linked. Its former CEO Rex Tillerson is Secretary of State in the Trump administration, which announced the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on June 1.

To this day, ExxonMobil has not taken proper action and hasn’t suffered liability for its actions. Instead of acknowledging its wrongdoing, ExxonMobil continues to push for fracking projects in Europe that will cause even more methane emissions and increase global warming. Moreover, the company violates the precautionary and polluter pays principle (article 191 AEUV) and works deliberately against the fundamental rights of EU citizens (in particular article 35 of EU Charter of Fundamental Rights).

This statement from the Commission comes at a time when the same EU Commission – together with the Council of the EU – deeply regrets the unilateral decision by the United States Administration to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and reaffirms that the European Union and its Member States remain united and absolutely committed to full and swift implementation of the Paris Agreement.

“It’s disappointing to see that the EU Commission presents itself as a defender of the Paris Agreement while refusing to hold ExxonMobil accountable for its role in the crisis,” says Andy Gheorghiu of Food & Water Europe. “But we all know that the time for talk is over. What we need now is swift and concrete action to tackle the already visible impacts of global warming.”


Andy Gheorghiu, Food & Water Europe, Fracking Policy Advisor, +49 5631 50 69 507 (land), +49 160 20 30 974 (mobile), agheorghiu(at)fweurope.org

Fracking in Pennsylvania to Make Plastics in Scotland? New report shines light on Trans-Atlantic link between US drilling and European petrochemical manufacturing

Brussels: Monday, May 8, 2017 – A new report from Food & Water Watch and its sister organization, Food & Water Europe, traces the links between fracking and pipelines in Pennsylvania and a Scottish energy billionaire’s elaborate and dangerous plan to ship gas liquids across the Atlantic.

The report, “The Trans-Atlantic Plastics Pipeline: How Pennsylvania’s fracking boom crosses the Atlantic,” tracks how the fracking boom in the United States has spawned a resurgence in petrochemical and plastics manufacturing, which presents environmental hazards apart from those associated with drilling. Ineos, Britain’s largest privately-held company, has contracted with US-based drilling companies to supply it with ethane, a gas liquid used to make plastics. Over the last few years, the company has rolled out a fleet of ‘dragon ships’ to supply plants in Norway and Scotland, with the first shipment of shale gas arriving in late 2016. Recently it was reported that the company’s Grangemouth plant was rated as ‘poor’ by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, which pointed to nine separate incidents in 2016, including several major discharges of sulphur.

“Fracking is creating a public health and climate disaster while propping the highly polluting plastics industry,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe. “People on both sides of the Atlantic are suffering the costs, with extremely detrimental effects to our global environment – everything from air pollution and climate altering emissions to the proliferation of plastic waste can be tied to the companies benefiting from this poisonous process.”

The report shows how this ‘virtual pipeline’ poses serious threats to health and public safety on both sides of the Atlantic. The Ineos export strategy will drive more fracking in Pennsylvania, with all the accompanying water and air pollution that has been well-documented over the last several years of drilling in the state. This project requires the building of an additional pipeline, Mariner East 2. Communities along the 350-mile route of the pipeline, concerned about public safety threats posed by leaks and explosions, are fighting against the pipeline’s construction through a mix of municipally-oriented strategies and nonviolent direct action tactics. And in Scotland, Ineos will be ‘cracking’ the ethane to make ethylene, an industrial process that causes air pollution and creates additional plastic litter, like the small pellets called nurdles that are littering shorelines across the United Kingdom.

Earlier this month, the Ineos petrochemical facility in Grangemouth, Scotland had a substantial ethylene leak that forced the evacuation of employees. The resurgent plastics production fueled by Pennsylvania fracked gas could put even more communities at risk of industrial accidents.

All of the companies involved in the trans-Atlantic pipeline, the report shows, have poor environmental records. The Grangemouth facility has been repeatedly cited by Scottish authorities for emissions and pollutions violations, along with workplace safety violations. Ineos CEO James Ratcliffe once likened pollution to getting a flat tire: “It is like a puncture in your car — occasionally you get a puncture and occasionally we have an accident in chemicals.” One of the drilling companies in Pennsylvania, Range Resources — perhaps best known for a water contamination incident in Texas — has been fined almost USD $21 million (€19 million) by state regulators. The company has been charged with over 500 health and safety violations between 2005 and 2016.

Sunoco, the company behind the new Mariner East pipelines, had a higher rate of oil spills than any of its competitors in the United States. It recently completed a merger with Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the highly controversial Dakota Access pipeline. Communities along the pipeline route are seeking ways to halt construction of Mariner East 2; the company eventually plans to construct an additional parallel pipeline to carry more gas liquids for export.

“It’s time to stop this absurdity once and for all. We don’t need more plastics, petrochemicals or fracked hydrocarbons. What we do need is fresh air, clear drinking water and an intact environment,” said Andy Gheorghiu, policy advisor for Food & Water Europe.

“People on both sides of the Atlantic have already started realizing that we need to act in unity, expanded over sea and land borders. And united, we will have the power to make the necessary difference and stop companies like Ineos and Sunoco from further polluting our planet. The time is right and the time is now.”

Food & Water Watch offers several recommendations to communities and political leaders both sides of the Atlantic, starting with a complete ban on fracking everywhere, a ban on fossil fuel imports, and ending fossil fuel infrastructure projects that are harming the environment and contributing to the mounting threats posed by climate change.

Contact: Andy Gheorghiu, Food & Water Europe, Fracking Policy Advisor, Food & Water Europe, +49 (0) 5631 50 69 507 (land), +49 (0) 160 20 30 974 (mobile), agheorghiu(at)fweurope.org