Week of Action on Agrofuels : 26th January to 2nd February 2008

EVENTS:

Click for:
Aberdeen Axminster Brighton Bromborough (including video) Cambridge Cheltenham Edinburgh Epsom London – Greenergy offices Manchester Norwich (including video) Oxford Stroud Teesside/Yarm York

Axminster

A banner protest and leafletting happened outside Tesco, Shand Park, Axminster on Thursday, 31st January. The story below was in several local papers – Ottery Advertiser, Honiton Advertiser and Axminster Weekly.

Brighton

Climate campaigners in Brighton held a banner protest outside Brighton train station against Virgin Trains using biodiesel in their trains. They then distributed leaflets on a Virgin Train. Virgin Trains use Greenergy biodiesel, made from palm oil, soya and rapeseed oil.

Bromborough

20 climate activists from Manchester and Liverpool
went to the D1 Oils refinery at Bromborough, Chesire
and erected a 16 metre banner saying “Biofuels cause
Climate Chaos” and a smaller banner saying “Biofuels +
Big Business = Disaster”. Some activists entered the
plant and spent an hour speaking to staff and local
residents.

Click arrow to play video

Click here for further details.

Cambridge

A dozen or so protesters braved the cold, the sun, and stroppy Tesco managers to draw attention to the increasing use of biofuels that wreck the environment and drive up food prices, most often in the developing world. The protest came at the end of a week of action called by biofuelwatch.org.uk.
Police were in attendance, but soon left, leaving Tesco staff so concerned about protester’s safety that they repeatedly threatened to call the police when they stepped onto the forecourt. They finally got so fed up that just as we were about to leave they asked us to leave, in the process delaying our departure.


Indymedia: Food Not (Bio)fuel protest Cambridge

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Cheltenham

Cheltenham Friends of the Earth organised a peaceful good-natured banner protest at Tescos, on 26th January to coincide with the World Social Forum’s “Global Day of Action”. Campaigners in America were protesting against agribusiness, including large agrofuel refineries. Since regency Cheltenham Spa is lacking in large scale industrial carbuncles converting the globes biosphere into liquid transport fuels Tesco was the natural choice to highlight biofuels role in increasing climate change. Tesco wasn’t chosen because of their pernicious takeover of clonetown UK-plc (although that would be a good enough reason) but because they are the UK market leader in biofuels and own a 25% stake in Greenergy, who import palm oil, soya and sugar cane from the tropics.

Indymedia: Every Little Helps Expose Tesco Biofuelling Global Warming


Gloucester Echo: PROTEST ATTACKS BIOFUELS

Edinburgh

Thursday 31st January, 1-3pm, Greenergy Bioenergy Ltd, 18b Liberton Brae, Edinburgh, EH16 6AE,
See map

15-20 protesters braved the snow blizzard on Thursday afternoon and headed to Greenergy’s Edinburgh office. We held banners reading “Biofuels fuel climate change”, “The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV tank would feed a person for a year” and “estimated number of biofuel refugees: 60 million”.

Ben Miller, 21, a politics student at Edinburgh University and member of the group People and Planet, handed a letter to a member of Greenergy staff outlining the protesters’ objections to growing crops for fuel. “The biofuel industry is actually leading us down the path towards a climate disaster,” he said. “Biofuels are not green and consumers need to realise that this is not a green fix to our transport problem.”

Julia Brownlow, one of the Edinburgh protest organisers, said: “Lots of people think that biofuels are the answer to climate change and they are a viable solution but we want to get the message out that they are making the situation far worse.

“People think using biofuels can help against climate change, but they don’t realise the damaging effect it has in terms of deforestation, peatland destruction, throwing people off their land and killing lots of species.”

We later went to the students union centre at King’s Buildings, one of the University of Edinburgh campuses and gave out leaflets to students. Despite the snow, hail and rain, it was an interesting and enjoyable afternoon with lots of drumming and percussion… We are keen to follow this up with more awareness raising and campaigning against the devastation to be caused by the EU’s biofuel targets.


Indymedia: Edinburgh Protest against Greenergy, UK’s biggest supplier of biofuels


Carrick Gazzette : Campaigners stage biofuel protest


The Herald: Protesters dismiss biofuel while warning of “climate disaster”


The Buteman: Campaigners stage biofuel protest


Edinburgh Evening News: Green demo outside office

Epsom

Epsom Energy Group questions the wisdom of the biofuel bandwagon

A demonstration exposing the harmful effects of the production of biofuels on food supplies and climate change was held at the Ebisham Centre by the Epsom Energy Group last Thursday, January 31st.

Biofuels such as palm oil and soya bean oil used as subsitutes for diesel, and ethanol produced from sugar, maize or wheat as a replacement for petrol are claimed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and global warming. In fact, when the effects of the destruction of tropical forests with the spread of palm oil plantations is taken into account, and the effects of nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizers is considered, it transpires that the use of biofuels actually increases global warming.

The exhibition in the foyer of Epsom Library showed that biofuel cultivation will reduce the amount of land available for growing food crops and exacerbate the looming world food shortage. In South Africa 4 million square killometres of land will be used to grow biofuels. 20% of the Mexican maize crop was used to make ethanol last year and one-fifth of all world wheat production will be used for the same purpose. The OECD esimates a 50% increase in world food prices within the next decade. This will cause massive starvation among the 850 million undernourished people worldwide.

On April 15th this year it will be obligatory for 2.5% of biofuel to be added to petrol and diesel in the UK. At the Epsom Energy Group presentation a petition to the Prime minister was circulated among visitors to the library asking for a suspension of the law governing the addition of biofuels to fossil fuels. It was well received. The group, Biofuelwatch, is working hard to raise awareness of the problems caused by biofuels, and to lobby against their increased production. Their website is at www.biofuelwatch.org.uk

A futher series of talks by the Epsom Energy Group at the Town Hall is planned.


www.epsom-ewellenergy.org.uk

London

There was a peaceful banner protest on Wednesday 30th January, 12.30 – 2.30 pm, outside the Greenergy office at 198 High Holburn, WC1V 7BD. Greenergy are one of the largest agrofuel companies in the UK and
use sugar cane ethanol from Brazil, palm oil and soya as well as rapeseed oil.


Indymedia : London Protesters target UK’s largest biofuel supplier, Greenergy

Deepak Rughani of Biofuelwatch, one of the organisers of this protest, says: “Across the global South, tens of millions of hectares are being converted to vast monocultures to grow fuel for our cars. This is a disaster for communities, for forests and for the global climate.

Over 200 organisations from North and South have called for an EU moratorium on agrofuels from large-scale monocultures, and there have been many similar calls, including from a large number of civil society organisations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Right of Food has described current biofuel production ‘a crime against humanity’ and demands a 5 year moratorium. The UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee also supports a moratorium on biofuel targets and warns that current ‘sustainability standards’ will not prevent serious negative impacts from biofuels.”

In the UK, mandatory blending of petrol and diesel with biofuels will be introduced on 15th April, under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation. Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch states: “From April, people will have no choice but to contribute to the destruction of forests, the eviction of small farmers and rising food prices which will mean more hunger. More and more people now realise the need for a strong movement to stop the destruction caused by the biofuel industry and the legislation which encourages it.”

Manchester

As part of a week of local actions against Bio-fuels
Rhythms of Resistance Manchester
played Samba and gave out leaflets outside Tesco on Upper Brook Street, around rush hour, on the 25th January.


Indymedia : Big Business + Biofuels = Disaster

Norwich

A colourful banner protest organised by a coalition of local Norwich branches of the environmental groups Friends of the Earth, Rising Tide and Campaign against Climate Change was held outside the Tesco Metro, Guildhall Hill in central Norwich. Lunchtime shoppers were leafleted and warned about Tesco’s greenwash on biofuels.

Video of Norwich Friends of the Earth, Jenn Parkhouse, at the Protest

Councillor Andrew Boswell, Norwich Green Party and one of the organisers of this protest said “Last week a committee of MPs published a report ‘Are Biofuels Sustainable?’. Their answer was a resounding ‘No!’. Ruth Kelly, Transport Minister would like this report to quietly disappear. It won’t, and it is now time that Ruth Kelly go to the House of Commons and respond to the report – not hide away and hope the report will be forgotten. Her only credible response is to drop the UK biofuel / biofool targets immediately.”

Indymedia coverage


Norwich Evening News : coverage


Norfolk Eastern Daily Press: coverage

Oxford

Members of the Free West Papua Campaign had a really good response to their Oxford West Papua Solidarity Day on 26th January to coincide with the World Social Forum’s “Global Day of Action”. West Papuan ukelele freedom songs in the heart of Oxford certainly got people’s attention away from shopping …even if only temporarily!

Hundreds of leaflets were given out on the plight of West Papua, which has been occupied by Indonesia since 1969. An estimated 400,000 people have died from the occupation that has seized the West Papuans land. The latest beneficiaries of this land grab are palm oil companies as West Papua’s pristine ecosystems are the next big frontier in the shameful agrofuels march. West Papuans are denied human rights and yet people still talk about sustainable biofuels.

Stroud

Read report of first Stroud protest

Stroud second protest

On 2nd February, five hardy souls from Greenpeace, The One Tonners and Camp Hope joined a Gorilla in chilly Stroud to protest against Tescos involvement in the destruction of our carbon sinks. The temperature was almost as cool as the reception from the store manager who bluntly refused to allow screening of a laptop power point, highlighting the dangers of agrofuels to be shown to shoppers. Tesco customers were encouraged to email the presentation to Sir Terry. The manager did allow leafleting and over a hundred were distributed. He refuted in no uncertain terms that Tesco chopped down rainforests. Whilst it is true to say that Sir Terry doesn’t physically wield a chainsaw, protestors felt that such abdication of responsibility was irresponsible.

Many young shoppers were pleased to see the gorilla, who was not only warm, (unlike the other campaigners), but highlighted the plight of Africa’s rainforest from the Congo to Uganda and the land grab in places like Ghana to grow jatropha, or what industry would like us to think is the good biofuel, when it is anything but. It is interesting to note a week earlier, The Guardian reported that Greenergy (whose boss describes the company as the ‘good guys’) who supply Tesco are looking to Africa to supply sugar cane, due to high demand for Brazilian sugar cane.

One surreal encounter with the general public was with a man who said he had spent two years in the trees that once stood where the Tesco filling station now dispenses biofuel. Over two decades earlier he had been part of a protest that had tried to stop the supermarket being built. He was against biofuels, but not now apparently averse to filling his shopping trolley up.

Teesside

Thursday, 31st January, 12.30,
A banner protest was held outside the office of biofuel company Ensus, The Granary, 17a High Street, Yarm. This is easily reachable from Allens West station on the D’ton to M’bro line. Organised by Cleveland and Whitby Rising Tide


Orang utang in protest outside Ensus H.Q.

Factsheet about Ensus:

Click here.

The Ensus Group are a bioethanol company set up to manufacture ethanol in different European countries. Their first refinery is the Wilton plant which is currently being built at Seal Sands, near Middlesborough. It is expected to be fully operational by March 2009. The Ensus Group states that this will be Europe’s largest ethanol refinery. Other refineries of approximately the same size, owned by other companies, will start production in 2009, too.

York

Friends of the Earth York and Ryedale organised a protest with placards and a cardboard car eating forests and food outside a York Tesco store on Saturday, 26th February.

Aberdeen

On 26th January, 10 members of Aberdeen Campaign Against Climate Change held a banner protest outside Aberdeen’s largest Tesco store and forecourt, highlighting the link between Tesco’s biofuels, deforestation, climate change and human rights abuses. They handed more than 400 leaflets to shoppers.


Original 106 FM : biofuel protest in aberdeen