Seventy-Thousand People Ask Shell to Clean up Its Mess in Nigeria
On the eve of the annual general meeting of oil giant Shell, Friends of the Earth International announced that it will deliver to Shell CEO Peter Voser some 70,000 signatures of people who want Shell to start cleaning up its mess in the oil-rich and highly polluted Niger delta in Nigeria.
The signatories believe that Shell must take responsibility for its pollution and provide a U.S. $1 billion emergency fund needed to start cleaning up the Niger Delta.
Friends of the Earth International Corporates campaigner Paul de Clerk will deliver the signatures at the Shell meeting in The Hague on May 22.
The signatures were collected by the organization SumOfUs in close cooperation with Friends of the Earth and Amnesty International.
Nnimmo Bassey, director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria and chair of Friends of the Earth International, said:
“Shell continues to reap obscene profits from the oil fields of Nigeria at the expense of the lives and the livelihoods of the poor people. As we speak Shell is intensifying its poisoning of the environment and the peoples of the region. By our records, Shell had over 200 oil spills in 2011 alone and the 2012 tally is rising already. Shell must stop the poisoning and start cleaning up its mess right now.”
Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth International corporate campaign coordinator, said:
"Almost one year has passed since the UN presented its report on Shell's pollution of Ogoniland. But we are still waiting for a comprehensive plan from Shell to clean up its mess. The first step recommended by the UN was a U.S. $1 billion emergency fund for clean up. We want Shell to commit to that today."
Friends of the Earth Netherlands campaigners will stand outside the May 22 Shell meeting and offer to Shell shareholders the opportunity to taste a sip of contaminated water from the Niger Delta: water with hydrocarbons such as benzene, but also other hazardous chemicals such as barium. This is the only 'drinking' water which many residents of the Niger Delta can drink.
Over the past decades Shell let tens of millions of liters of oil stream into the Niger Delta by refusing to properly maintain the pipeline network. Moreover, the AngloDutch multinational still does not comply with the Nigerian ban on gas flaring.
Because Shell is doing so little, Friends of the Earth Netherlands / Milieudefensie started an international campaign which members of the public can support by clicking here.
For instance, three people will win the opportunity to go with Friends of the Earth Netherlands / Milieudefensie on a mission to Nigeria and see with their own eyes what Shell has done.
In August 2011, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) launched a report about oil pollution in Ogoniland, in the Niger Delta. UNEP’s report was harsh on Shell—for instance, it reported on the inadequacy of Shell’s previous halfhearted clean-up efforts, stating that “the difference between a cleaned-up site and a site awaiting clean-up was not always obvious.”
UNEP concluded that the maintenance of the Shell infrastructure “has been and remains inadequate” and calls for a $1 billion starter fund for clean-up in the Ogoniland region to be contributed.
For more information, click here.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.