Tar Sands, Riot Police & Hope in Copenhagen

By Stephen Leahy

COPENHAGEN, Dec 12 (IPS/TerraViva)

A small group of protesters stood outside the Canadian Embassy in the cold Saturday night in Copenhagen to  shine a small spotlight of attention on the fact that Canada is home to the Alberta tar sands, the world’s largest and possibly most
polluting industrial project on the planet.

“It’s not just the huge CO2 emissions, it’s the water pollution, destruction of the forests, impacts on the food supply and all of the cancers the native people are getting,” said Janet Payne, an activist from the United Kingdom. “It’s dirty, toxic and huge.

Thousands of square kilometers of tar-laden soil and sands underlying Canada’s boreal forests are being mined, and then boiled with millions of liters of steaming water to extract the tar to produce 2.7 million barrels a day, mostly to feed the insatiable appetite for oil in the US.

“I feel strongly Canada is getting away with this Payne had participated in the day’s big march saying it was like a music festival but with a strong message to the world. “Everyone should be here. Climate change is affecting everything in the world; we all should be standing up.”

At the end of the interview three vans of Danish riot police pulled up and surrounded the group of eight protesters who were simply shivering on the sidewalk holding two small banners. The group was surrounded by police in full riot gear demanding to know what was going on.

Assuming this reporter was the leader, they asked me to explain what the protest was about, and I told them about the tar sands project. After the mandatory ID checks, permission was given to continue the protest and two officers said they’d join in once their shift was finished.

Maybe there is hope in Copenhagen.

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