Blog Posts

July 3rd, 2017

How Our Fossil Fuel Addiction is Ruining Our Oceans

By Taylor Avery of Food & Water Watch

Across the globe, people purchase about 20,000 plastic bottles every second. The vast majority of these bottles are not recycled and end up in landfills or in the ocean. It’s escalating into a major environmental crisis, and the fossil fuel industry is partially to blame.

While many of these bottles are made out of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a highly recyclable material, efforts to recycle fail to keep up with the growing rate at which people use plastic bottles. Moreover, major food corporations continue to manufacture demand for soda and bottled water, packaged mainly in plastic, which takes hundreds of years to decompose.

In 2010, nearly 200 coastal countries generated over 275 million tons of plastic waste. In 2016, 480 billion tons of plastic drinking bottles were sold across the world. A report conducted by the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) found only about 30 percent of PET bottles in the U.S. (most bottled water bottles) were recycled in 2015. Major drink brands like Coca-Cola produce the greatest number of plastic bottles, but the top six beverage companies package their products in bottles that use very little recycled PET. That mostly unrecycled plastic ends up in the ocean where it is consumed by wildlife.

Another recent study found that 59 percent of seabird species have ingested plastic and have plastic debris in their organs, and it’s projected that 99 percent of all seabird species will have ingested plastic by 2050. Plymouth University conducted a study that found one third of UK-caught fish contained plastic. This means plastic is not only polluting our environment, but it is also putting human health in danger.

Fracked Gas’s Role in Plastics

The pollution caused by plastic doesn’t just come from the drink industry. INEOS is a chemical company that ships fracked hydrocarbons from the U.S. across the Atlantic to be converted into plastics. Wall Street investor-funded US fracking produced an oversupply of cheap gas and ethane in the past few years. Ethane is a hydrocarbon present in gas and a primary raw material for petrochemical manufacturing. Most of the plastic created from ethane is used in packaging such as beverage bottles.

That means it’s not just major food and beverage corporations that profit from the destruction of the planet brought on by plastics pollution. Companies like INEOS are financially gaining from destroying our environment through fracking and manufacturing plastic. We are already aware of the danger of fracking but that danger also flows into plastic manufacturing, further damaging our water, land, and air. In order to preserve our oceans and our planet, major corporations need to stop exploiting our natural resources for profit, and that means putting an end to fracking and bottled water for good.

Taylor Avery is a summer communications intern at Food & Water Watch.

June 26th, 2017

Tour d’Europe: 6 Particularly Unnecessary Gas Projects in the EU

In this week’s blog, Frida Kieninger from Food & Water Europe takes you on a tour across Europe, examining six of a host of unnecessary planned gas projects. All of these projects currently try to get on the EU Commission’s “Projects of Common Interest” list (PCI list). Here’s why we find these infrastructure plans are far from being in the common interest:

  1. Italy – More Algerian Pipeline Gas?

Italy, the EU’s third biggest gas consumer, has big ambitions concerning the expansion of its already very dense and interconnected infrastructure. Besides plans to build more LNG terminals (import terminals able to regasify liquefied gas shipped to Italy from all over the world), there is also a host of pipeline projects planned. An especially daring one is the Galsi Pipeline, aiming at connecting Algeria and Italy, running through Sardinia. The problem? While Galsi’s construction will be complex and costly, planning to be the deepest underwater pipeline ever built, it’s hard to see the need for this pipeline: Two pipelines that aren’t fully used already connect Italy to North Africa, Tunisia and Algeria. Italy even announced recently it would stop importing Algerian gas via pipeline. Additionally, the country has a number of LNG terminals that are far from being used at full capacity. To be more precise, two of Italy’s three existing LNG terminals were only used at 7% and 3% capacity respectively in the last years.

This infrastructure development comes at a time when gas usage in Italy has decreased by around 19% between 2010 and 2015. Algeria, however, relies  almost 100% on gas for electricity generation while its own resources are more and more depleted. Building a pipeline from Algeria, which relies on gas, to Italy, which doesn’t need Algerian gas, makes no sense.

Read the full article…

May 31st, 2017

Trump About to Withdraw from Paris Agreement While Ireland Passes Fracking Ban

It is a historic day on which one nation passes a ban on onshore fracking, while another nation intends to walk away from the Paris climate agreement.

Paris agreement withdrawal makes U.S. a rogue nation

In her statement, Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe, roundly condemns Trumps withdrawal from the global climate agreement:

The Paris accord falls far short of the bold, decisive action needed to avert the most serious impacts of impending climate chaos – but it is certainly better than nothing. By choosing to walk away from the table, the United States effectively becomes a rogue nation when it comes to matters of climate change, human rights and global leadership in general. Mr. Trump’s foolish, belligerent decision to abdicate responsibility at the federal level now makes real action on climate at the state and local levels even more critical. For the sake of our planet and future generations, it is imperative that elected leaders at every rung of government – from the smallest town halls to the halls of Congress – do everything in their power to resist fossil fuels and help enable a clean energy revolution.”

Americans must do everything in their power to counteract Trump’s destructive plans, but action in other countries is now more important than ever. It might be a silver lining that on the very day the U.S. president disregards the first global accord to combat climate change, the Irish Dáil decides to forbid the production of hydrocarbons by fracking.

Read the full article…

May 23rd, 2017

No Trump in Brussels, No Fracked U.S. Gas in Europe

By Frida Kieninger

On 24 and 25 May, U.S. president Donald Trump will travel to Brussels to take part in the NATO summit. We’ll be at a big anti-Trump march in the capital of Europe on the afternoon of 24 May, where we will show Trump that Europeans do not welcome the man whose policies threaten American and European communities as well as our global environment and climate.

We must stop fracked U.S. gas already heating (up) Europe

As much as most Europeans despise the new president of the United States, some of them are already using fossil gas from the U.S. for their energy needs or for petrochemical production. A total number of eight gas cargoes from Sabine Pass Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in the Gulf of Mexico have already been shipped to Europe, namely Portugal, Spain and Italy.

While there is no free trade agreement between the EU and the U.S., gas exports are possible, albeit with longer waiting times and only if deemed “in public interest”. This alleged public interest is not properly defined and the fact that all over America, communities suffer from the effects of gas extraction shows that claiming gas exports are in the public interest is highly cynical.

Read the full article…

May 17th, 2017

Frackopoly Tour: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland & Ireland

By Andy Gheorghiu

In many ways, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) looms as the environmental issue of our time. It touches every aspect of our lives—the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the health of our communities—as it ominously threatens our global climate. It pits the largest corporate giants—international energy and financial corporations—against people and the environment in a long-term struggle for survival.

Fracking has, through the construction of a network of thousands of wells, a significant impact on communities and culturally or environmentally sensitive zones in England, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales, among other areas in Europe. Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland have already recognized the need to act against this corporate assault and have prepared the first steps towards fracking bans. Sadly, up until now, the UK government has done little to confront the devastating environmental and public health impacts of fracking.

In a historic vote at the beginning of this year, Ireland opted in favour of a law that will make the green island the world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuels. On Europe Day, 9 May 2017, the committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment passed the bill banning oil and gas extraction through fracking in Ireland, paving the way for a final vote later this year. The Scottish Government is currently holding a public consultation until the end of May and hopes are that the overwhelming evidence of the negative impacts caused by fracking will also finally lead to a ban in Scotland. People can still support the “Take Action to Ban Fracking Now!” campaign by FoE Scotland.

Read the full article…

May 3rd, 2017

Another Step Towards a Global Ban on Fracking: Argentina Wins First Victory

By Frida Kieninger

The vibrant movement to ban fracking worldwide can celebrate another victory: On 25 April, the Chamber of Deputies in the Argentinian province Entre Ríos unanimously approved a law prohibiting fracking. Unconventional exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons, including fracking, will be forbidden following the new law, making Entre Ríos the first Argentinian province to ban the risky practice.

Behind this remarkable victory, there is a long, stony path that different organizations and social movements walked together, working hard across the country, notably in Río Negro, Santa Fe, Buenos Aires and Neuquén. The decision in Entre Ríos should also be a wake-up call for regions beyond the Argentinian border like Bolivia, Mexico, Colombia, Paraguay and Chile. There have been many successful initiatives in different Latin American countries: for example, several Brazilian cities banned fracking and five Departments in Uruguay prohibited the dangerous technique.

Read the full article…

April 25th, 2017

The Food & Water Europe Team Grows!

By Tina Callebaut

I recently started an internship of six months at Food & Water Europe and I am the newest addition to the small international Brussels-based team. During my first week I got to know the team a little better, I was given a tour around the ecologically renovated office building Mundo-B (which we share with 60 other NGOs) and I was introduced to the many issues Food & Water Europe is working and campaigning on. There was (and still is) a lot of information to take in, not to mention the many acronyms involved: PCI’s, RES, CEF, SGC, TAP, ECI, etc.… But I can only be very grateful for the warm welcome I’ve received in this small Spanish-Austrian-German working family.

Read the full article…

March 21st, 2017

Spain, A Country Full of Manure

 

By David Sánchez

Over the last few decades, small- and medium-scale farms raising livestock have given way to factory farms that confine thousands of cows, pigs and chickens in tightly packed facilities. Uncontrolled agribusiness power and misguided public policies have pressed livestock producers to become significantly larger and to adopt more intensive practices, which come with a host of environmental and public health impacts that are borne by consumers and communities.

Spain and its pork meat industry is a clear example, as we expose in a new report released today. Spain is the third largest exporter of pork after China and the United States and has the largest pig population in the EU—over 28 million animals. Production and exports are growing as a result of high industry consolidation and low production costs. But that means that the industry is getting concentrated in just a few hands, with the number of farms diminishing rapidly and farmers getting squeezed in the process. Between 1999 and 2013, 180,000 pig farms disappeared in the country, with a massive impact in rural communities.

Read the full article…

March 6th, 2017

Blog: Celts Oppose Fracking While Dragon Ships Bring U.S. Fracked Gas

By Andy Gheorghiu

In a historic vote at the beginning of this year, Ireland opted in favour of a law that will make the green island the world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuels. This goes even further than the decision by the 2015 decision of Norwegian parliament to divest the country’s sovereign wealth fund from dozens of coal-related investments.

And it’s not the only clear movement of the Celtic Tiger towards a much needed post-fossil future. On October 27, a bill calling for a fracking ban passed its first hurdle in the Irish House of Representatives (Dáil Éireann). In the meantime, Irish officials have also decided to undertake a public consultation on the provisions of this bill together with the Joint Research Programme on the Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on the Environment and Human Health, led by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency.

Read the full article…

February 27th, 2017

How the EU Is Supporting European Dependence on Gas

By Frida Kieninger

On 17 February, the EU Commission published the outcome of the call for funding under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), a financing tool with the aim of supporting “the development of high performing, sustainable and efficiently interconnected trans-European networks in the fields of transport, energy and digital services.” We had a deeper look into the funding instrument’s impact on energy infrastructure and found that the CEF fails to ensure efficient, and even more so, sustainable interconnections.

Since its creation in 2014, the CEF has provided €1billion to support gas projects, while electricity projects received only around €532million. These numbers are contrary to the declared CEF objectives of allocating the majority of its funds to electricity projects, and the EU-Commission’s own perceived need for Europe to invest further €140billion in electricity and “only” €70billion in gas infrastructure

Read the full article…

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