Archive for Friends of the Earth
www.bbc.co.uk 11th October 2012
Quoted from source:
‘Oil giant Shell is due to appear in a Dutch court to face charges of polluting Nigerian villages in the Niger Delta region. The case is being brought by four Nigerian farmers and the Dutch branch of campaigners Friends of the Earth. It is the first time a Dutch multinational is being put on trial in a civil court at home in connection with damage caused abroad. Shell insists it has been unable to clean up the spills due to insecurity. The Anglo-Dutch firm also says that more than half of the leaks are caused by theft and sabotage. The case is linked to spills in the Ogoniland region of southern Nigeria. The farmers say that oil spills from the oil firm’s pipelines have destroyed their livelihoods by damaging crops and fish-farms. One of the plaintiffs, Friday Alfred Akpan from the village of Ikot Ada Udo, told the BBC the oil leaks in his village had badly damaged his 47 fish ponds.’
Read the rest of the report on the BBC news website.
www.telegraph.co.uk 2nd November 2011
The main company exploring for shale gas in the UK have admitted that small earthquakes that hit the Lancashire coast in April and May were caused by hydraulic fracturing, the process whereby water, sand and chemicals are blasted at high pressure underground to release trapped gas from rocks. The company, Cuadrilla Resources, insist the tremors were not dangerous and that ‘fracking’, as hydraulic fracturing is more commonly know, is a safe process. However, there is growing concern that this may not be true, particularly in light of stories from across the pond of fracking causing flammable tap water and people becoming ill from contaminated water. Protests are on the rise in the UK where one drilling operation in Lancashire has already been brought to a standstill and a meeting of industry investors was stormed. James Barnes, a member of Frack Off (the group responsible), said, “We hear a lot about energy shortages, and we really need to be investing in researching sustainable energy sources, rather than finding tiny pockets of non-renewable gas and destroying our planet in order to get to them.” Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, also warned against mass use of shale gas by saying not enough was known about it to “bet the farm on it”. Charities, including Friends of the Earth and WWF, are attempting to implement a moratorium on fracking until more evidence on its safety can be collected.
www.independent.co.uk 13th October 2011
BP has come under heavy criticism from four of the UK’s leading conservation charities due to their plans to drill a new deep-water oil well off the coast of Scotland. In the BP’s own worst case scenario, the well could leak 75,000 barrels of oil for 140 days from the platform situated offshore from the island of North Uist. Such a leak would make it the worst oil spill in history and more than twice the size of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have all written to energy secretary Chris Huhne to try to get him to stop the drilling, citing a “significant risk to wildlife”. They also complained that not one of the charities were made aware of BP’s “public consultation exercise”, which ended last week without a single response from the public. None of the charities knew about the exercise until the Independent broke the story yesterday (pictured).
www.guardian.co.uk 7th May 2011
When the UK Prime Minister David Cameron took power he promised the coalition would be the “greenest government ever.” However, after a year in power, his comments are looking increasingly hollow following a series of law repeals and intended sell-offs. Now a new report adds more pressure on Mr Cameron with claims that many environmental pledges have been watered down, delayed or even abandoned. The report was commissioned by the Friends of the Earth and it describes how 75% of the 77 environmental or sustainability policies open to discussion since the coalition took power have made no progress at all. Jonathon Porritt, a former government advisor who helped develop the report, commented that the “bad and the positively ugly indisputably outweighed the good” in the issue of green issues under the present government. Environmental concerns were put aside for ‘growth at all costs’ with the Prime Minister not being at all visible in championing such issues and the Treasury being positively hostile to environmental policies. Mr Porritt had been chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission, which was meant to hold the government accountable on its sustainability policies, but was scrapped by the government in the so-called ‘Bonfire of the Quangos’ last year.
www.independent.co.uk 16th January 2011
BP have signed an agreement with state-run Russian oil company Rosneft to begin exploration of the Kara Sea, north of Siberia. BP is, so far, responsible for the world’s worst off-shore oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last April. Friends of the Earth, in response to the news of the deal, branded BP “environmental villain number one” and Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Greenpeace have both promised to confront the new BP chief, Bob Dudley. The Kara Sea is one of the few untouched refuges left for a number of species including the Polar Bear, Beluga Whales, Halibut and Arctic Cod. BP has already got in trouble with conservationists over Russian drilling due to their constant seismic surveying, which WWF’s claims has caused harm to the only remaining 130 Western Grey Whales. Of this number, only 30 are female. Following the explosion on board the Deepwater Horizon rig in April 2010, Greenland was the first to ban BP from drilling in its Arctic waters. Evidently, the Russians aren’t quite so squeamish about environmental disasters.
www.guardian.co.uk 28th November 2010
A new report from the Friends of the Earth has assessed the UN’s Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) pilot schemes. The paper, the first of its kind, has revealed that ‘banks, airlines, charitable foundations, carbon traders, conservation groups, gas companies and palm plantation companies have also scrambled into forestry protection’. The release of the document has been timed to coincide with the UN sponsored climate talks taking place in Cancun, Mexico, today. Although few governments believe that a binding resolution to reduce emissions will be created at the summit, Chris Huhne, the UK’s climate change secretary, has expressed optimism that efforts will be made to curb deforestation. Although REDD is the biggest effort yet to halt the destruction of the world’s forests, critics say that it amounts to privatisation of natural resources. For example, the Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell, the Russian gas giant Gazprom, and the Clinton Foundation have united to invest in a 100,000ha area of peat swamp in Indonesia that will prevent 75 million tons of carbon being released over 30 years. Similarly, an investment of $10 million will secure Merrill Lynch , the conservation group Fauna and Flora International, and the Australian carbon trading company an area of 750,000ha of forest in Aceh province, Indonesia. This will generate around $430 million over 30 years. It is predicted that, if an agreement over carbon off-setting and deforestation is achieved in Cancun, a REDD rush could see as much as $30 billion a year flowing from wealthy nations to poorer ones who have large areas of forest left.
www.telegraph.co.uk 11th November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Six of Britain’s top ten restaurants are calling for the law to be changed so that dairy and beef farmers are forced to improve welfare standards and the public are encouraged to eat less meat. The proposed legislation, that will be debated by MPs this week, is designed to transform the nation’s diet. At the moment most livestock and dairy farms feed animals soy from South America that environmentalists fear is destroying the rainforest. The Sustainable Livestock Bill would reform subsidies so that farmers who graze animals outside and grow their own feed are rewarded, rather than factory farms that source their feed from abroad. It will also promote a more vegetarian diet by educating children to eat less meat and providing less meat in schools, hospitals and prisons. Friends of the Earth, who are backing the Bill, insist it is not a “charter for vegetarianism” but a call for “less and better meat” for the health of the nation and the planet. Celebrity chef Raymond Blanc, of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, said good cooks prefer to work with sustainably produced meat. “All my working life I have encouraged my own chefs to reconnect with ones sense of place and land and to rediscover our own crafts. It is common sense.” Five other restaurants from the Good Food Guide also back the bill: L’Enclume in Cumbria, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw in Cornwall, Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham, Pied-à-Terre in London and The Square in London. The legislation, that is being proposed by Labour MP Rob Flello, needs the support of 100 MPs to be seriously considered by Parliament.’
www.guardian.co.uk 5th October 2010
A vast reservoir of toxic sludge, produced as a byproduct of Aluminium production, has burst through its dam following heavy rains in western Hungary. The alkaline red sludge swept through nearby villages killing 4 and injuring as many as 120 others. 6 others are still missing. Around 1 million cubic metres of the corrosive substance escaped causing the environmental affairs state secretary, Zoltan Illes, to describe the disaster as an ‘ecological catastrophe’. The operators of the nearby Alluminium factory, MAL Zrt, shunned responsibility however issuing this statement: “Management could not have noticed the signs of the natural catastrophe nor done anything to prevent it, even while carefully respecting technological procedures.” The Hungarian government has declared a state of emergency in the three effected province of Veszprem, Gyor-Moson-Sopron and Vas just South-West of Budapest. Up to 7,000 people are believed to have been directly affected. Robert Fidrich, of Friends of the Earth in Hungary, has stated that the problem won’t be short-lived however as the villages will be uninhabitable for ten years or more. It is also feared that the sludge will reach the nearby Marcal river further causing environmental damage. Hundreds of tonnes of plaster are being pumped into the water way in an attempt to prevent this from happening.
‘The national disaster unit defined the sludge as “a byproduct of alumina production”, stating: “The thick, highly alkaline substance has a caustic effect on the skin. The sludge contains heavy metals, such as lead, and is slightly radioactive. Inhaling its dust can cause lung cancer.”‘
Sources: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment 8th September 2010
The environmental group Friends of the Earth have reported that in the first six months of 2010, Hong Kong’s air quality has reached record lows. The quality hit ‘unhealthy’ around 10% of the time between January to June. Health experts have stated that the poor quality of the city’s air has resulted in 3.8 million visits to the doctor this year alone as well as £99 million in lost productivity and doctor’s bills. The government has warned people with respiratory problems to stay away from traffic hot-spots where the air is more likely to fall into the ‘unhealthy’ category. Sandstorms from Northern China exaggerated the problem in March causing air quality to soar off the charts. Air pollution has contributed in Hong Kong’s relatively low position in city quality of life standings. A recent survey by Mercer Consulting put the city at 71st out of 221 compared to Singapore at 28th. However, officials noted that although roadside pollution was experiencing record highs, overall air pollution had actually declined in the past 6 months.
www.foe.co.uk 16 July 2010
On the 7th July 2010, the European Parliament voted for a directive that should reduce the amount of illegal timber sold on European markets. The vote followed ten years of campaigning by Friends of the Earth to clean up the timber industry. The directive, when it comes into force, will force timber companies to be more transparent about where their wood comes from. They will have to prove where the wood was bought and sold as well as assess the likelihood of any illegal actions in the process.