Saturday, August 15, 2015

To BP or not BP?

Campaigners will stage a theatrical protest against BP’s sponsorship of the Edinburgh International Festival on Sunday. They argue cultural institutions across the UK are offering a veil of legitimacy to the firm as it continues to drive climate change and cause environmental destruction. The performance group will stage a street theatre performance to highlight what it says is the festival's "unethical" choice of sponsor. Performers will be joined by Friends of the Earth Scotland, staff and students from the University of Edinburgh. Artists scheduled to take part in the festival are also expected to make an appearance. Protesters attending the demonstration have been instructed to dress in black, and arrive at a yet-to-be disclosed venue in Edinburgh at noon.

Environmentalists, academics and artists will gather in the heart of Edinburgh to highlight BP’s monopolisation of Britain’s cultural landscape. In particular, they are criticizing Edinburgh International Festival's choice of sponsor.

The protest's organisers say that BP’s funding of the event is an attempt to distract attention from its role in exacerbating climate change. The demonstration has been organized by activist theatre group ‘BP or not BP?’ which has campaigned extensively against BP's practices across the globe. Among the energy extraction techniques BP has been criticized for are fracking and deepwater Arctic drilling. BP or not BP? warn the energy firm continues to draw unsustainable levels of fossil fuels from the earth, while using its influence to lobby against progressive forms of climate action.

Ric Lander, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, told RT BP’s ethical and environmental legacy is scandalous.
“BP has been involved in some of the world’s biggest environmental disasters and actively lobbies against meaningful action against climate change,” he said. “World class performers haven’t come to Edinburgh this August to make the oil industry look good. Let’s clean up the Edinburgh International Festival and stop BP buying prestige at the expense of Scotland’s treasured public arts.”

Edinburgh People & Planet campaigner and medical student Eleanor Dow said the oil giant's role in greenwashing must be exposed.

“We need to expose this absurd and dangerous act of greenwashing by a company that is contributing to catastrophic climate change,” she said. “With the triumph of our occupation this year, which forced Edinburgh University to drop its investments in three major fossil fuel companies, it is clear the fossil fuel divestment movement is winning. The EIF needs to get its act together instead of remaining complicit in the destruction of our planet.”

Jess Worth of the “BP or not BP?” group decried the festival's acceptance of funding from BP.
“BP has a business plan for the end of the world, and the Edinburgh International Festival is endorsing it through this sponsorship deal,” she said.

As emphasis on the urgency of dealing with climate change a new report has recently been published.

Global food shortages will become three times more likely as a result of climate change according to a report by a joint US-British taskforce, which warned that the international community needs to be ready to respond to potentially dramatic future rises in prices. Food shortages, market volatility and price spikes are likely to occur at an exponentially higher rate of every 30 years by 2040, said the Taskforce on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Resilience.

Climate-linked market disruptions could lead to civil unrest. "In fragile political contexts where household food insecurity is high, civil unrest might spill over into violence or conflict," the report said. "The Middle East and North Africa region is of particular systemic concern, given its exposure to international price volatility and risk of instability, its vulnerability to import disruption and the potential for interruption of energy exports."

Global food production is likely to be most impacted by extreme weather events in North and South America and Asia which produce most of the world's four major crops - maize, soybean, wheat and rice, the report found. Such shocks in production or price hikes are likely to hit some of the world's poorest nations hardest such as import dependent countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the report found.

While we can all share the campaigners sincerity in trying to do something to halt global warming, they must offer real solutions to the problems and that means understand the cause and removing that cause. It is not a matter of smoothing off the unwanted bit of capitalism or protesting against one or two corporations. It means re-casting capitalism into another type of economic system - socialism. This needs to be said over and over again until it sinks into peoples understanding.

On the issue of climate change, capitalism is hopelessly ill-equipped to deal with it. Human and environmental needs come a poor second whenever the needs of capital dictate. The history of sincere but failed attempts to correct a system which cannot meet needs leads to the conclusion that a new social system should be tried. A system without money and the profit motive in which the interests and needs of all are paramount. In such a system the challenge of the human impact on the environment can be seriously addressed for the first time. People, and not money, will control their lives and the direction of social progress.

A choice has to be made. It is no longer a matter of ‘socialism or capitalism’ or even ‘socialism or barbarism’. The choice now is between world socialism and global catastrophe.

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