A group of around 70 climate activists met in London on 11 April, as the US Secretary of State John Kerry joined a G8 foreign ministers’ meeting at Lancaster House.
Campaigners from People & Planet, 350.org, Platform, UK Tars Sands Network, UKYCC, Campaign against Climate Change, Rising Tide North America and even Gulf Coast activists from Houston, Texas were there to greet Kerry at 8.00 am and send him the clear message: ‘We don’t want your tar sands!’
Kerry, and President Obama, will soon be deciding on the future of the Keystone XL pipeline. If given the go-ahead, it will run through the heart of the US, transporting tar sands from their source in Canada to refineries in Houston, Texas. This could pave the way for this unconventional, dirty fuel to come to Europe.
Ruthi Brandt from the UK Tar Sands Network warned that the Keystone XL pipeline is intended for export: ‘The reality of tar sands oil coming to the UK is not far off, with a refinery in Pembrokeshire [Wales] lined up by Valero to bring imports of tar sands from the Gulf of Mexico.
‘In the EU we are pushing for legislation to make sure that tar sands imports are strongly discouraged due to their high emissions. We hope other countries will follow suit.’
‘The KXL Pipeline is set to deliver a toxic slurry of dirty oil to communities across the US,’ explained Bryan Parras, who lives in Houston, Texas joined the British campaigners in London. ‘As we have seen from all the pipeline spills in the last two weeks, the delivery of tar sands is too risky and too costly for the communities in harm’s way.’
‘It was really exciting to see young people from organizations all over Britain, coming together to call for action,’ said Izzy Braithwaite, medical student and National Coordinator for Healthy Planet UK.
Rob Abrams, People & Planet activist from Swansea left the protest feeling invigorated and ready to put pressure on his university to stop investing in the fossil fuel industry: ‘It’s time to cut our ties with an industry that cares more about it’s profits than the lives of millions living in zones vulnerable to climate change,’ he said.
In the US, Kerry and President Obama have been met by Canadian First Nation’s communities, including people living on the path of the pipeline. They want to see an end to tar sands extraction and the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. On 17 February, over 40,000 people travelled to the White House to demand that Obama rejects the pipeline.
At the London protest, we stood in solidarity with our allies in Canada and the US to tell Kerry: reject the Keystone XL, keep tar sands out of Europe and address climate change.
A version of this post was originally published on Tara’s Eco Science Blog. Crossposted with the writer’s permission.