Climate protesters converge on London ahead of G8 meeting

Protesters congregated in London on Thursday morning to apply pressure on G8 foreign ministers for more action on climate change.

The protests singled out US Secretary of State John Kerry and called on him to block the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.

The project to transport oil from Canada’s tar sands to refineries on the US Gulf Coast requires approval from the State Department as it crosses an international border. The outcome is currently finely balanced.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is the focus of protests as G8 foreign ministers meet (Source: Flickr/StateDept)

Secretary Kerry’s credentials as an advocate of climate action had raised hopes among environmentalists that he would block the controversial plans. A report on the impacts of the pipeline released last month claimed that the climate impacts of Keystone XL would be negligible.

Climate scientist James Hansen has described the exploitation of the Canadian tar sands as “game over for the climate”. Only the proven oil reserves of Venezuela and Saudi Arabia are larger.

Climate blocked

Last month RTCC reported that climate change had been blocked from the agenda of this year’s G8 meeting by an advisor to UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Britain is the host and chair of this year’s talks that will take place in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland.

Protesters from several UK groups were joined by residents from Texas whose land has been seized for the construction of the southern leg of the project, which does not require State Department approval.

They have travelled to the UK to appear at the BP AGM. BP has significant operations in the oil sands.

Canada hopes to export the oil, which begins life as a thick bitumen like substance that must undergo “upgrading” to make it suitable for refining into usable products.

The EU’s proposed Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) would classify Canadian tar sands products in a higher emitting category ensuring that existing carbon regulations would make it unlikely to be imported to Europe.

Despite previous discussions on climate change and reforming fossil fuel subsidies, the meeting of Foreign Ministers will focus on Somalia, cybersecurity and Burma.

A protest in Washington DC meanwhile will focus on the failure of new sources of climate finance such as a ‘Robin Hood tax’ on financial transactions at the same time that public money has been spent on bank bailouts.

Polar bears, walruses, students, and Robin Hood will play tug-of-war against Wall Street bankers over a giant halfpenny to illustrate their point.

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