Who's Online

We have 334 guests online

Popular

3729 readings
Campaign to End Production in the Canadian Oil Sands: Environment Must Supersede Corporate Profits PDF Print E-mail
Earth News
Thursday, 05 June 2008 03:03

Campaign to End Production in the Canadian Oil Sands: Environment Must Supersede Corporate Profits. PEJ News - Joan Russow - Global Compliance Research Project - The following has been argued by a trade lawyer:

COMMITMENTS MADE BY ALL STATES VIS-A- VIS CONTROL OF TRANSNATIONALS
All member states of the United Nations made a commitment to do the following:
 
ORIGINAL ARTICLE IS REPOSTED
 

2008 June 5

Campaign to End Production in the Canadian Oil Sands: Environment Must Supersede Corporate Profits. PEJ News -Joan Russow - Global Compliance Research Project - The following has been argued by a trade lawyer: “On the question of justifying restrictions of water taking on environmental grounds, trade-agreement-based environmental exceptions are notoriously weak and have failed most nations that have relied upon them. More importantly, even these modest green safeguards don’t apply to NAFTA investment disputes. Under these trade rules, conservation is no excuse for offending foreign investor rights ..." (Steve Shrybman, piece distributed on e-mail list, June 2008). There are principles enunciated in various international instruments that could be used against corporations that sue Canada or Alberta for enacting restrictions of water use in the oil sands.

Canadian govern

ments have options to counter corporations who may sue governments for establishing regulations related to water restrictions in the oil sands.
www.PEJ.org

 

COMMITMENTS MADE BY ALL STATES VIS-A- VIS CONTROL OF TRANSNATIONALS
All member states of the United Nations made a commitment to do the following:
“Every State has the sovereign right to rule and exercise effective control over foreign investments, including the transnational corporations - within its national jurisdiction, which affect directly or indirectly the human settlements programme” (II 17, Habitat I, 1976). In the Platform of Action from the UN Conference on Women: Equality, Development and Peace (1995): all member states made the following commitment “to ensure that corporations, including transnational corporations, comply with national laws and codes, social security regulations, applicable international agreements and conventions, including those related to the environment and other relevant laws” (Article 167).In Habitat II Agenda, all member states reaffirmed the above statement and then extended it to include the undertaking by states to ensure that the “private sector” also comply (Article 148).

OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
Canada, along with most of the members of the United Nations, signed and ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity. [The US has signed but not ratified]. Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, there is an obligation to conserve biodiversity and carbon sinks and to invoke the precautionary principle: "...where there is a threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimize such a threat" (Convention on Biological Diversity). The continued production of the oil sands not only impacts on water, but also on all biodiversity.

CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER NAFTA
In October 1992, the Mulroney Conservative government carried out an environmental review of NAFTA and, in that review, declared that all international environmental agreements ratified by Canada would take precedence over NAFTA. Yet Canada has never been willing to invoke provisions in the Biodiversity Convention or the Framework Convention on Climate Change, to which Canada is a signatory, to address egregious actions of corporations suing the Federal government under NAFTA.

FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER NAFTA
This Convention was signed and ratified by almost all member states of the United Nations, even the United States. The purpose of this Convention was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to conserve carbon sinks. Under this Convention, all signatories incurred an obligation to invoke the precautionary principle. The continued production in the oil sands not only impacts on water and biodiversity, but on the greenhouse gas emissions.

NAFTA ITSELF ALLOWS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT TO TAKE PRECEDENCE
Article 1114: Environmental Measures reads:

1. Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to prevent a Party from adopting, maintaining or enforcing any measure otherwise consistent with this Chapter that it considers appropriate to ensure that investment activity in its territory is undertaken in a manner sensitive to environmental concerns. The Parties recognize that it is inappropriate to encourage investment by relaxing domestic health, safety or environmental measures. Accordingly, a Party should not waive or otherwise derogate from, or offer to waive or otherwise derogate from, such measures as an encouragement for the establishment, acquisition, expansion or retention in its territory of an investment of an investor. If a Party considers that another Party has offered such an encouragement, it may request consultations with the other Party and the two Parties shall consult with a view to avoiding any such encouragement.

INTERNATIONAL COMMITMENT TO RECOGNIZING THE RIGHT TO WATER
Over the years, member states have made commitments to recognize the right to water:
In 1977, in Mar del Plata an international action plan was developed and member states of the United Nations agreed that "all peoples, whatever their stage of development and their social and economic conditions, have the right to have access to drinking water in quantities and of a quality equal to their basic needs". As a result of this conference, in 1981 the United Nations launched the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade. The target of the decade was to provide safe drinking-water and sanitation to underserved urban and rural areas by 1990.
 

This Commitment was reaffirmed in 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Chapter 18 of Agenda 21.
• ... The most outstanding of these efforts was the launching in 1981 of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade, which resulted from the Mar del Plata Action Plan adopted by the United Nations Water Conference in 1977. The commonly agreed premise was that "all peoples, whatever their stage of development and their social and economic conditions, have the right to have access to drinking water in quantities and of a quality equal to their basic needs". The target of the Decade was to provide safe drinking water and sanitation to underserved urban and rural areas by 1990, but even the unprecedented progress achieved during the Decade was not enough. One in three people in the developing world still lacks these two most basic requirements for health and dignity (Chapter 18: Protection of the Quality and Supply of Freshwater Resources:18.4).

Every member state of the United Nations makes commitments to provide safe drinking-water and sanitation in not only Chapter 18 (Fresh Water) of Agenda 21, but also in the following Chapters, such as “Combating Poverty”; “Protection and Promotion of Human Health,” 6.41. I) etc.

CAMPAIGN TO END PRODUCTION IN THE CANADIAN OIL SANDS
The Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) calls for ensuring a “Reliable Source of Energy”; in other words oil sands development and PEMEX privatization to satisfy the wants of the US. To counteract the SPP, there should be a campaign to end the production in the Canadian oil sands on the grounds that the continued production undermines the right to water, destroys biodiversity and contributes to climate change. Part of the campaign must be the institution of a fair and just transition program for affected workers and communities. 
 
As part of the campaign, there could be a call for the revoking of charters and licences of the corporations for contributing to the violation of international law. (drawn from Richard Grossman’s campaign, “Taking Care of Business”).
The practice, by environmental groups, of issuing "offsets" is unconscionable and should be discontinued. In a recent spoof at the Golden Corporate Piggy Awards, this practice was compared to "indulgences".

In addition, the proposal by the Hon. Gary Lunn to use nuclear energy in the oil sands to counter concerns about climate change, contravenes a long-standing fundamental principle of common sense that a proposed solution should never be worse than the problem it is intended to solve. 

 
Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 July 2015 09:42
 

Latest News