Friday, May 14, 2010

Forget aid: just stop robbing us!

British oil company Tullow & UK Embassy push disputed deal that could cut Congo's revenues by $10 billion

Confidential oil contracts held by UK companies Tullow and Heritage in the Democratic Republic of Congo were leaked today, revealing the danger of economic rip-off and rights abuses in one of Africa's most unstable countries.

The Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) are accompanied by a legal analysis,

''A Lake of Oil - Congo's controversial contracts compromise rights, environment
& safety''

published by oil watchdog PLATFORM in partnership with the African Institute for Energy Governance (Afiego). [1]

As the dispute between Tullow/Heritage and the South African-led Divine Inspiration consortium over lucrative oil licences on Lake Albert comes to a head [2], the contract terms have been released for the first time.

[3] PLATFORM's analysis compares revenues delivered by two competing contracts, revealing that:

  • Both Tullow/Heritage & Divine/H Oil's contracts guarantee excessive profits, at the expense of Congo's poor

  • Tullow's contract terms reduce the Congolese take by around 15%, compared to Divine's.

  • If recognised, Tullow's contract will cut Congolese government revenues by over $10 billion - a figure equivalent to the country's entire national debt.

  • Tullow and the British Embassy in Kinshasa have been lobbying hard for these contract terms.

  • This represents a significant transfer of wealth from some of Africa's poorest to British and Irish investors.

In ''A Lake of Oil", PLATFORM also raises concerns about:

  • Co-operation between oil companies and military groups and the likelihood of escalating resource-driven war in eastern Congo. (p26 & 33)

  • The legal rights granted to flare natural gas (p.24)

  • The complete absence of penalties for environmental damage (p.21),

  • The 'stabilisation clause', which will restrict DRC's ability to improve its environmental protection and human rights standards in the future (p.27)

Alfred Buju, head of the Justice and Peace Commission in Ituri, DRC, at the heart of Exploration Block 2, said:

''This report reveals the contracts that will affect our communities and raises
serious concerns about who will benefit from oil extraction in Ituri. We need
the government and international companies to be honest and clear - will our
environment be protected? The history of natural resources in eastern DRC makes
us worry that oil will lead to more conflict.''

PLATFORM Campaigner Mika Minio said,

''The reality is that extracting Congolese crude will escalate resource wars,
transfer wealth from Congo's poorest to London's richest, create new health
problems for local communities, increase corruption and pollute the land, water
and air. It is up to social movements and civil society to create the pressure
to defend rights, livelihoods and Uganda's rich environment."

The analysis was carried out by PLATFORM, in partnership with the African Institute for Energy Governance
The report is available at

The Congolese blocks on Lake Albert are widely assumed to hold large reserves of crude oil, following Tullow and Heritage's major discoveries on the adjoining blocks on the Ugandan side of the border. See

PLATFORM has obtained and released copies of Tullow/Heritage’s 2006 PSA for Blocks 1 & 2 and Divine Inspiration/H Oil's 2008 PSA for Block 1, on Lake Albert. The 2006 contract is disputed by both sides since the Congolese Ministry of Energy appeared to annul it in October 2007, prior to reassigning Block 1 to the Divine Inspiration consortium in 2008. The Congolese government has expressed a desire to finalise the status of contracts and begin exploration during 2010.

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Climate Change Action

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Climate Justice Action: Join the planning, support the day.

Climate Justice Action
  • Planning meeting: Bonn, Germany, 29-31 May 2010
  • Climate Justice Action : Call for a day of action October 2010

Human-induced and capitalist-driven climate change caused by CO2 and other green house gases is an imminent threat to the planet as we know it. It is happening now and it is happening fast. Centuries of exploitation and destruction have passed. It is the world's poor, who did not cause the problem, who will suffer the most and do not have the means to implement solutions.

Fifteen years of empty governmental chatter and false corporate solutions reached a climactic breakdown in Copenhagen. Their outrageous farce demonstrated one thing above all: the currently dominant approaches to tackling climate change are not only ineffective, they are also unjust. The liberal consensus is incapable of delivering any serious solutions to the triple crises of environment, economy and governance. It is time to stop relying on governments and orporations to solve the problem. Only collective action from below can save us —"we are the ones we have been waiting for."

The social movements met in Copenhagen to call for a day of action to fight for system change, not climate change in the autumn of 2010. Climate Justice Action is taking up this call to propose direct actions for climate justice around the week of October 12 to 16, to coincide with the “Global Minga (Mobilization) In Defense of Mother Earth” that was announced by the 4th Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples of Abya Yala (the Americas).

An open international meeting to organize and coordinate this day of action will be held in Bonn on 29-31 May 2010, where we will be able to reach out to the many people and movements that are increasingly disaffected with the official UN process and the apolitical NGO lobbying.





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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change: Chris Huhne

Chris Huhne (1,2) is the new Department for Energy and Climate Change head.

8th of May 2007 (url)

Chris Huhne proposes several climate change policies:

  1. That this House calls on the Government to set targets for carbon emissions informed by science and not political convenience which will help to hold global warming to within two degrees of pre-industrial levels; recognises that the best current estimate is that this requires stabilisation at between 400 and 450 parts per million of carbon dioxide equivalent in the atmosphere.

  2. and urges Ministers to inject a new sense of urgency into efforts at home by setting out an annual action plan to curb the UK’s own carbon emissions, establishing a climate change committee of the Cabinet to ensure joined up government,

  3. tackling quickly the most rapidly growing emissions in the transport sector by a more steeply graduated vehicle excise duty and a rebasing of air passenger duty onto the emissions of each flight, offset by other tax cuts,

  4. speeding up the effort to curb the waste of energy and the high emissions from buildings not just by raising thermal efficiency requirements in new homes but also by renovating existing homes, changing the incentives on energy companies so that they make more money by saving and not selling more energy, providing comprehensive insulation packages funded mainly by energy mortgages repayable through utility bills and

  5. setting an example by ensuring that all future buildings on the Government’s own estate are built to the highest energy efficiency standards.

Chris Huhne arguing with Shadow Environment Secretary Gregory Barker

Chris Huhne: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Gregory Barker: It was a great shame that the hon. Gentleman tore up the cross-party agreement that was so meticulously put together by the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Ainsworth) and the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), and I hope that when he intervenes, he will confirm that he will be more constructive in his politics in future.

Chris Huhne: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for finally giving way. He will know very well that when we suspended our participation in our agreement with the Conservative party it was because the Conservatives were unwilling to bring forward any specific policies whatever on the subject, and that continues to be the case. Before he gives us any lectures about following in his wake, or about the efforts of the right hon. Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron), he should be aware that the latter’s local authority, West Oxfordshire, has just cut its recycling budget. That will have an effect on global warming, through the effects on landfill and methane. When the right hon. Member for Witney is able to show that he has some influence over his own—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that interventions
must be brief.

Gregory Barker: We have had 25 minutes of listening to the dirge of the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Chris Huhne); that is quite enough, and I do not intend to take many more interventions from him. It is a shame that he could not be a little more constructive. Obviously, the new politics of climate change have yet to infect the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrat motion contains many good ideas, several of which have been championed by Conservative Members, but the motion is nevertheless uncosted, broad-brush and loosely worded, which is fine for a party facing perpetual opposition, but somewhat more problematic for a party clearly focused on forming the next

Chris Huhne Supported EDM 592, it would be nice to see him act on that now that he is in power.

That this House believes that it is vitally important to involve, rather than simply
instruct, people and communities and local authorities in efforts to combat
climate change; notes that the Sustainable Energy (Local Action) Bill,
introduced by a cross-party group of hon. Members, will set in motion that
process by giving councils and citizens a co-operative role in drawing up and
implementing sustainable energy plans whose objectives would be to help combat
climate change, protect energy security and alleviate fuel poverty; further
notes that the bottom-up mechanisms in the Bill are based on those in the
Sustainable Communities Act 2007, which was warmly supported on all sides of the
House; and therefore supports the measures in the Bill and hopes they will be
enacted soon.
Chris Huhne worked with Labour MP's to try and introduce sectoral climate change targets. Nice idea, will he try again?

1. Youtube:
2. They Work for You page:

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