Awards Will Target Multinational Company
The predominant focus of Pinocchio Awards will be one the multinational companies. We make it a point to recognize exceptional work.
Impacts Of Multinational Companies
An Environmental Destroy
Transition To Climate Chaos
As one of the top international banks involved in lucrative coal finance deals around the world, BNP Paribas is directly responsible for fuelling the expansion of an energy source that is both wrecking the climate and destroying local communities. BNP Paribas, as the top financer of coal in France, and the 9th largest backer of the coal sector in the world, is among the most controversial corporate sponsors of the international climate talks to be held in Paris this year. Between 2005 and April 2014, the French bank has contributed no less than 15.6 billion euros to the coal sector (mines and coal-fired power plants).
Coal is not only the main source of global greenhouse gas emissions; coal mines and coal-fired power plants are also a major source of air and water pollution, resource depletion, and social disruptions for neighbouring communities. Despite this, coal use has been growing at an exponential rate in the past decade.
Beyond the obvious villains, the mining and power companies, the global banking sector plays a key role in bankrolling the coal industry and making the continuation of coal extraction possible in spite of its climate footprint and its disastrous impacts. Every year, through project and corporate loans, or bond and share underwriting, international banks such as BNP Paribas have been handing out billions of euros to fund the operations of coal mining or coal-based power companies, and provide crucial assistance to the development of new large-scale coal projects.
A key player in controversial coal projects throughout the world
BNP Paribas’ financing of the coal sector include some of the most controversial projects in the world. In South Africa the bank is involved in the construction of two new huge coal-fired power plants, Medupi and Kusile. Together, they will emit 60 million tonnes of carbon every year, increasing South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions by 17% and further exacerbating the devastating impacts of climate change on poor communities.
In India, BNP Paribas is the only international bank involved in the infamous Tata Mundra power plant, on the coast of Gujarat, through a 327 million dollar loan. The 4150 MW plant, which became fully operational in 2013, has been mired in controversy ever since construction began. It has all but ruined the livelihood of local communities. It spits massive amounts of hot water into the marine environment, destroying mangroves and fish breeding grounds. As a result, fish catches have declined dramatically. Coal dust and fly ash falling from the sky contaminates farmlands and fish left out to dry in the sun. Increased saltwater intrusions in local groundwater bodies have jeopardised irrigation and access to freshwater, in an area where this resource was already scarce. Local people complain that chest pains and respiratory problems are on the rise. The excuse for building Tata Mundra was that it would provide cheap electricity to millions of Indians, but it turned out to be far less economically viable than originally claimed: the company has already had to ask for an electricity price hike.
The internal auditing bodies of two of the plant’s main financial backers, the International Finance Corporation (World Bank) and the Asian Development Bank, have issued scathing reports about the Tata Mundra project and the lack of adequate consideration of its impacts and of proper compensation for affected communities.
Last April, local fishermen and farmers turned to the US courts and initiated a lawsuit against the International Finance Corporation for its role in the destruction of their livelihoods . Although it claims to be ‘tracking’ the Tata Mundra Project, BNP Paribas has kept almost totally silent about the allegations concerning the plant’s impacts and about its own responsibility.
Talk is cheap
These last years, BNP Paribas has stepped up its communication on climate change, but it has not changed significantly its funding practices. In 2011, BNP Paribas adopted a new ‘policy’ to guide its funding of the coal sector and, allegedly, minimise the environmental and climate impacts of its financing. But the bank’s coal funding has actually steadily increased since the adoption of this new policy! Despite their claims to fight climate change , its annual investments in coal more than tripled between 2005 and 2013. In 2015, BNP Paribas boasts itself about its energy mix that is ahead of the global energy mix in terms of carbon emissions, despite the fact that fossil fuels still represents 59,5 of its energy mix (23,5% of coal), while renewables represent only 7,8% of it (versus 68% and 5% in the global energy mix).
Today, because of growing evidence of its disastrous impacts and of civil society pressure, dozens of investors and institutions have chosen a more effective and straightforward path, by moving totally away from the coal sector. In France, Crédit agricole is already building its own dynamic to phase-out coal investments, and announced in May 2015 it would no longer finance coal mining projects or companies specialized in coal mining. BNP Paribas has announced it will publish a new climate strategy but to this day, it hasn’t put an end to its massive support to the coal industry.
Banks such as BNP Paribas will be a pivotal player for the survival or the demise of the coal industry – a demise which would not only be good for stabilizing the global climate, but would also deliver huge benefits for the health and livelihood of countless communities across the world.
Who forms the society? It’s us, you and me, and countless other individuals who together form the society we all live in. And when it comes to changing the society, it isn’t possible to change the entire society just like that – the society changes when the individuals take it in their hands to change. But what exactly are the burning issues which we have to consider? Let’s have a look at the urgently required changes in the society, the responsibility of which has to be shouldered by us all:
The shape, size of any person, is not any other person’s concern. We need to learn to accept each other irrespective of judging. We need to learn to erase from our minds criteria we set for us to love people – let the criteria be purely value-based, personality-based and not physically based. It’s not going to help anyone, being all judgemental on the way someone looks. It not only upsets the victim but also makes you a spiteful person. So stop, right away.
Diversity in culture:
Every culture has something unique – when it comes to traditions, culture, dressing sense or cuisine. And instead of being excited about the variety we have to experiment and explore, all we do is find out flaws and defects to put each other down. How about changing this mindset? Won’t it be fun if you attempt to learn and imbibe what you love from different cultures? It will help you to understand and accept these cultures in a better manner.
Why should equality be restricted only to males and females? Shouldn’t the transgenders be included too? We need to go beyond feminism and understand that we’re all humans, after all, we have the same needs, the same requirement of love and affection from others. The moment we realize and accept that we’re all humans, life will be a lot easier and sorted. And this change is the need of the hour – the earlier it happens, the better it will be for us all.
We all live these super-fast paced lives, with each one entangled in a rat race. So much so that we don’t have time for ourselves, forget helping or even looking at someone else in need. We need to know that we have to apply the brakes and learn to live in the moment too. Most of us are either bogged down by the past or worried about the future and what we don’t realize is that we’re losing out on the present. Take that digital detox, wander away in the arms of nature and bring yourself to the terms with your own self, Watch how remarkably your life will change!
As the 20th anniversary of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s death in Nigeria approaches – the devastating environmental and social legacy of Shell’s behaviour continues unpunished, and Shell remain unrepentant. Shell’s destructive influence knows no bounds – from Canadian tar sands, to Argentinian shale gas, from the lobbies of Brussels institutions, to offshore Arctic drilling and Nigerian blood oil. As it undermines action on climate change, it cripples communities and remains committed to fossil fuels. Yet little is done to punish Shell, and it remains unapologetic.
November 10th will mark the 20th anniversary of the execution of Nigerian poet and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 others –killings connected to Shell’s operations and political influence in Nigeria. Saro-Wiwa’s case remains a tragic reminder that the impacts of Shell’s operations go far beyond global greenhouse gas emissions and environmental destruction.
Victims of the oil industry
Ken Saro-Wiwa’s case and Shell’s operations in Nigeria are archetypal examples of the destructive social and environmental impact of oil and gas exploration in Nigeria. Oil multinationals have been present in the Niger delta region for several decades. Although it represents only about 7% of the landmass of Nigeria, the delta region is home to about 30 million people – as well as thousands of drilling platforms and tens of thousands of kilometres of pipelines, which are often old and poorly maintained.
Oil and gas spills are a feature of everyday life. The oil industry’s operations contaminate the water, soil and air, and destroy the livelihoods of farming and fishing communities. Pollution, and the resulting health impacts, along with conflicts and violence caused by the presence of the oil industry, has taken a heavy toll on communities in the Niger Delta. The people of the Niger delta experience poverty and desolation, while Western multinationals reap profits from oil production, with the complicity of local politicians.
In the 1990s, after decades of oil operations and countless spills and accidents, Ken Saro-Wiwa led a non-violent campaign to save the Ogoni people, and their land. As leader of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), he campaigned to remove Shell and other oil multinationals from Ogoni land.
In 1993, in the face of local protests,Shell was forced to stop extracting oil in Ogoniland. In 1995 Ken Saro-Wiwa, who had already been arrested several times, was tried at a military tribunal, and hanged by the Nigerian military, alongside other Ogoni activists. The deaths of the Ogoni 9 are widely acknowledged to be the consequence of MOSOP’s peaceful protests against Royal/Dutch Shell.Their deaths triggered a global backlash against the company .
Oil pollution continues unabated
Shell has repeatedly denied or underplayed the oil spills and impacts resulting from its activities in Nigeria; whatever oil pollution it has acknowledged, it has blamed this mostly on sabotage and oil thefts. And despite numerous laws passed in Nigeria over the last decades to ban the practice, Shell continues to flare gas in its operations. Gas flaring – burning the gas that is released from oil wells instead of retrieving it – is both wasteful and a cause of severe air, climate and noise pollution.
Over four years ago, a UNEP scientific study into the impacts of oil pollution in Ogoniland, Nigeria, exposed large-scale pollution of water and soil, and highlighted the serious threat posed to human health. Today, little has changed: Shell has systematically failed to properly clean up its mess in Nigeria, whilst the people of Ogoniland and the wider Niger Delta are forced to live with the devastating effects of oil pollution . Meanwhile, hundreds of new oil spills are reported every year in Nigeria: last year Shell’s own reports mention 204 oil pollution incidents in the country.
Following Ken Saro-Wiwa’s killing, several lawsuits were launched in the US against Shell for its involvement in human rights abuse in Nigeria. In 2009, Shell finally settled with some Ogoni activists and relatives of the executed activists, agreeing to pay more than 15 million dollars (13.4 million euros) in compensation.The company did not admit any liability but the judgement was widely seen as a significant step in ending impunity for human rights abuses. Another attempt to achieve justice, in relation to Ogoniland, was quashed by the US Supreme Court in 2013, which ruled, after heavy lobbying by Shell, business lobbies and even the UK and Dutch government, that US courts did not have jurisdiction over the case i.e. that they could not rule on activities which happened in another country .
Lawsuits against Shell continue in the Netherlands, and a British lawsuit resulted in 55 million pounds (76 million euros) compensation for the farmers and fisherman of the Bodo area, in Ogoniland, whose livelihoods were destroyed by two oil spills. Shell’s initial offer of compensation was 4,000 British pounds (5,500 euros) .
Overall, Shell remains largely unpunished and unrepentant for the environmental and social havoc it has caused. The UNEP report concluded that environmental reparation in Ogoniland would require an initial investment USD 1 billion (893 million euros) and take up to 30 years. For the entire Niger delta, the cost would be at least a hundred times more . In comparison, legally-enforced financial compensation is a drop in the ocean.
French energy company EDF is using its controversial sponsorship of the international climate talks in Paris to launch a large-scale public relations campaign to brand nuclear power as a ‘carbon-free’ and ‘clean’ energy source. In fact, nuclear is everything but clean, and escalating costs and subsidies are better spent on genuine solutions.
French energy company EDF is stepping up its greenwashing efforts with newfound zeal ahead of this year’s international climate talks in Paris. As an official sponsor of COP21, EDF presents itself as ‘the official partner of a low-carbon world’. In the run-up to the conference, the company is planning a series of conferences and symposia to promote the ‘role of electricity in decarbonising the world’. It is also funding a “call for projects” for non-profit organisations with green projects with a positive impact for the climate. EDF has also hired an important communication agency, Havas, to launch a new advertising offensive: “Discover the true face of low-carbon energy”, staging workers from one of its nuclear power plant, published in plain page of national newspapers.
But beyond the spin, EDF is not in fact planning to shed any of its considerable global investments in coal and other fossil fuels, nor is it preparing any significant strategic shift towards energy efficiency or renewables. Its main concern is propping up its increasingly compromised nuclear business.
Strong on nuclear and fossil energy, weak on renewables
EDF, still 84% owned by the French state, has expanded its operations in Europe, particularly in the UK, and worldwide since the 1990s. On its website, it claims that 87% of the electricity it produces in the world is‘CO2-free’. In France, according to EDF, this figure even rises to 98%. But that is not because the company ever was a pioneer of green energy. Renewable energy sources are still very marginal in its global electricity mix, at about 2%. In France, it is only 0.2% (excluding large dams. The main basis for EDF’s claim is its huge stake in nuclear power, of which it is the top global producer, with plants not only in France, but also in the UK, the US, Belgium and China.
And, very far from the ‘CO2-free’ image it is trying to conjure up ahead of the climate conference, EDF is also heavily involved in all types of fossil fuels, including through subsidiaries such as Edison (involved in oil and gas exploration and production) or EDF Trading (a leading global shipper of oil and coal). EDF itself runs a fleet of 16 coal power plants globally, including some of the dirtiest in Europe. In 2013, it was rated among the top 20 global multinational emitters of greenhouse gases.
Nuclear: neither nor carbon-free
In reality, nuclear power itself is far from carbon-free. It has a dark, dirty secret: uranium mining. Like mining in general, uranium mining requires enormous amounts of energy and thus contributes to significant greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to huge local environmental and health impacts for surrounding communities.
Most emissions from nuclear power are therefore outsourced to the countries where uranium is mined – mostly Niger, Kazakhstan and Canada in the case of EDF’s supplier Areva. Transport and processing of both uranium fuel and of the resulting nuclear waste also create significant greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, the carbon footprint of nuclear in some cases can even be higher than some fossil fuels, and well above wind and solar .
Nuclear energy also entails a whole host of other environmental impacts and hazards: radiation, waste management and disposal, nuclear proliferation, escalating production costs, and the huge consequences associated with potential nuclear accidents.
After a complaint made by the French antinuclear network “Sortir du nucléaire” and some local groups, these arguments were recognised by an official advertisement ethics body: it recently issued a damning opinion on a public advertising campaign launched by EDF in Alsace, the French region where the company is fighting against the planned closure of its 37 years old Fessenheim nuclear plant, the oldest running in France. The adverts said that the electricity provided by EDF in Alsace was ‘100% without CO2 emissions’ – which the ethics body found was deliberately misleading consumers about the true nature of nuclear energy and its environmental impacts.
Sortir du nucléaire and its partners have now lodged a second complaint, taking aim at EDF’s claim that it is providing 98% carbon-free electricity in France.
The escalating cost of nuclear power, a direct threat for renewables
The escalating costs of nuclear are well known to EDF. The company has no new nuclear projects planned, even in France, except for the Hinkley C plant in the UK, the future of which is questioned due to high costs. The project has been challenged by other European countries and renewable energy producers, who point out the massive public subsidies required in order to bring the new nuclear reactor into existence, which could otherwise be spent on the shift towards a genuinely clean energy system of renewables.
So what does EDF really want? In France, its current agenda is to extend the lifetime of its existing plants – most of them approaching 40 years old and plagued with recurring safety issues. This could cost up to a hundred billion euro. That money should be invested in building the long-term sustainable energy system that France needs, which would be both cheaper and better for the climate, people and the environment – both in France and in the countries where uranium is mined.
Between its huge stakes in fossil fuels and its investment in false solutions such as nuclear, EDF can hardly claim to be an official partner of a “low-carbon world”. If it had its way, France and the world would remain stuck in a future of climate chaos, nuclear risk and escalating energy costs.
Oil giant Chevron has embarked on a global push for fracking, often with the support of US diplomats. In Argentina, Chevron has used lobbying, political connections and intolerable tactics to push its fracking agenda and protect its interests in its only unconventional exploitation project outside of North America.
Eager to expand its shale gas and shale oil operations outside of North America, oil giant Chevron has been working hard to convince governments in Europe and South America to give it free rein to frack. But fracking has been linked to ground-water contamination, serious health impacts, seismic instability, and increased methane leakages leading to significantly higher carbon emissions overall than other fossil fuels, including coal.
In Eastern Europe, Chevron was able to call on Hilary Clinton and the US network of foreign embassies to ramp up domestic political pressure and push fracking at the highest level . Despite the introduction of local moratoriums and huge public opposition, the US stuck by Chevron. In Bulgaria, where Chevron had signed a $68m deal for concessions before public protest led to a ban, Hillary Clinton herself flew in to convince local politicians to overturn it. According to a Bulgarian diplomat, she offered to send in the best specialists to present “the benefits to the Bulgarian people.” It didn’t work, with opposition spreading to Romania. So special envoy for energy in Eurasia, Richard Morningstar, was sent in to push back. Private lobbying and public claims of massive cost savings saw the bans in both countries relaxed. Yet even with the US behind it, local resistance and disappointing findings have since seen Chevron abandon all Eastern European operations (Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine) – although it is still actively lobbying against fracking regulation at the EU level.
In Argentina, however, Chevron has found a much more malleable ground for its fracking push. It is a key partner of the government’s and state-controlled firm YPF’s relentless efforts to develop unconventional oil and gas in Patagonia at any cost.
Government bowing down to Big Oil
With the 3rd largest shale gas and oil potential in the world according to US Energy Information Agency, Argentina, and particularly the Vaca Muerta formation in the Neuquén province (Patagonia) is being invaded by global majors, with Chevron emerging a clear frontrunner. Thanks to an agreement with YPF signed in 2013 – the exact contents of which still remains secret to this day despite several judicial demands – Chevron was able to grab some of the most promising shale concessions in the Vaca Muerta formation.
In parallel, Chevron asked the Argentinean government for a range of policy changes that were in total contradiction with existing laws, which it presented as conditions for investing in the country . After months of aggressive lobbying, these demands were eventually met in 2013 through a presidential decree, nicknamed the “Chevron decree”, as it was tailor-made for Chevron, and the agreement with YPF was signed just the day after its publication.
The decree among other policies included a higher guaranteed price for gas and fuels, a lift of taxes on imported equipment, public subsidies for infrastructure, a more favourable tax regime and longer concessions, among others. Chevron also demanded the introduction of a business-friendly dispute settlement mechanism (at the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce), similar to the ISDS mechanisms included in many free trade agreements in order to protect itself against any attempt to change this policy framework. In the Neuquén province, legislative changes were also introduced to serve the interests of oil companies, such as the suppression of public consultations and the weakening of environmental controls.
Obtaining such favourable conditions for its operations in Argentina was not enough for Chevron; it also wanted impunity for its environmental devastation it has caused elsewhere. In 2013, it had been sentenced to a multi-billion fine by the top Ecuadorian court for its toxic legacy of oil pollution in the country’s Amazon region. The Ecuadorian parties had turned to Argentinean courts to have Chevron’s assets in the country frozen, so as to ensure the execution of the sentence, and had won in first and second instances.
When the case went to the Supreme Court in Buenos Aires however, Chevron threatened to give up its projected investments in shale oil and gas developments in Argentina, which it said would amount to several billion US dollars. Chevron vice-president said “the deal could not move forward so long as [the asset freeze] remained outstanding”. Even YPF’s CEO weighed in, condemning the Ecuadorian suit and its “negative effect on employment and investment in the country” and so did the National General Prosecutor. The Argentinean Supreme Court eventually ruled in favour of Chevron. A few weeks later, the Chairman and CEO of Chevron John Watson, the CEO of YPF and the President of Argentina Cristina Kirchner finally signed the agreement for the development of their joint shale project.
This chain of events triggered a wave of protests in Patagonia. Chevron’s project with YPF covers an area of almost 400 km2. The concession overlaps the traditional land of indigenous Mapuche communities, which, needless to say, were never consulted about the project, even though around 1500 wells are to be drilled there.
Because of the direct threat for local water sources and loss of sovereignty, among other issues, a wide coalition of indigenous people, local communities, unions and farmers came together in opposition to Chevron and to fracking in general. In August 2013, the day the agreement was approved by the provincial parliament, the protests were violently suppressed by the police. Some Mapuche homes were burnt down as part of the repression and a teacher was shot in the chest.
All through 2014 and 2015, even though no other shale project entered exploitation phase, Chevron and other oil giants were able to extract even more concessions from the Argentinean government. A reform of the Hydrocarbons law adopted in October 2014 included a host of new measures favourable to their interests. Earlier the same year, as yet another sign of the close alignment between the US administration and the interests of the country’s oil industry, the US and Argentina signed an agreement to extend bilateral cooperation on energy issues, including shale gas. “Both countries have been blessed with abundant natural resources and our interests are aligned”, said the US deputy Secretary for Energy at this occasion. Chevron is getting ready to reap the benefits.