'Greenwash' Tag Archive

Mar 20 2009

The Dreamland – A Documentary by Andri Snær Magnason




From Draumalandið website – Dreamland is a truly epic film about a nation standing at cross-roads. Leading up to the country’s greatest economic crisis, the government started the largest mega project in the history of Iceland, to build the biggest dam in Europe to provide Alcoa cheap electricity for an aluminum smelter in the rugged east fjords of Iceland. The mantra was economic growth. Today Iceland is left holding a huge dept and an uncertain future

Dreamland is a film about exploitation of natural resources and as Icelanders have learned clean energy does not come without consequence. Iceland is a country blessed with an abundance of clean, renewable, hydro-electric and geothermal energy. Clean energy brings in polluting industry and international corporations. Read More

Mar 05 2009

History Repeated – Skyr Thrown on Greenwashing PR Managers


Yesterday three black dressed individuals, masked with aluminium foil, threw green Skyr (traditional Icelandic dairy product) on representatives of Icelandic energy companies during a greenwash presentation in the University of Iceland. In June 2005 Saving Iceland threw Skyr on representatives of Alcoa and Bechtel during an international aluminium conference in Reykjavík.

Gaia – the student association of Master students in Environment and Natural Resources, had organized a “Green Week” in the university. Among activities was this particular presentation by e.g. Landsvirkjun (Iceland’s national energy company), O.R. (Reykjavík Energy) and Geysir Green Energy; all companies who are involved in the development of the aluminium industry in Iceland. Read More

Feb 09 2009

Iceland’s Ecological Crisis: Large Scale Renewable Energy and Wilderness Destruction


From New Renaissance Magazine

By Miriam Rose

The economic issues currently causing mass demonstrations in Iceland have a less publicised ecological cousin, and one which the IMF has recently identified as part of the economic collapse. In 1995 the Ministry of Industry and Landsvirkjun, the national power company, began to advertise Iceland’s huge hydropower and geothermal energy potential. In a brochure titled “Lowest energy prices!!” they offered the cheapest, most hard working and healthiest labour force in the world, the cleanest air and purest water – as well as the cheapest energy and “a minimum of environmental red tape” to some of the world’s most well known polluting industries and corporations (such as Rio Tinto and Alcoa). This campaigning has led to the development of an ‘Energy Master Plan’ aimed at damming almost all of the major glacial rivers in Iceland, and exploiting all of the geothermal energy, for the power intensive aluminium industry. The loans taken by the Icelandic state to build large scale energy projects, and the minimal payback they have received from the industry, has been a considerable contributing factor to the economic crisis, while at the same time creating a European ecological crisis that is little heard of.

The Largest Wilderness in Europe
I first visited Iceland in 2006 and spent a week with activists from the environmental campaign Saving Iceland, a network of individuals from around Europe and Iceland who decry the fragmentation of Europe’s largest wilderness in favour of heavy industry. From these informed and passionate folk I learned of the 690 MW Kárahnjúkar dam complex being built in the untouched Eastern Central Highlands to power one Alcoa aluminium smelter in a small fishing village called Reydarfjörður. The dams formed the largest hydro-power complex in Europe, and were set to drown 57 km2 of beautiful and virtually unstudied wilderness, the most fertile area in the surrounding highlands. Ultimately it would affect 3% of Iceland’s landmass with soil erosion and river silt deprivation. They also explained how materials in the glacial silt transported to the oceans bonds with atmospheric CO2, sinking carbon. The damming of Iceland’s glacial rivers not only decreases food supply for fish stocks in the North Atlantic, but also negatively impacts oceanic carbon absorption, a significant climatic effect. After taking part in demonstrations at the construction site of the Alcoa smelter (being built by famous Iraq war profiteers Bechtel), I went to see the area for myself. Read More

Sep 29 2008

Hypocrisy?


By Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson, orignally published in Morgunblaðið

“Do you know that your wheelchair is made out of aluminium?” said a police officer to one of those who stopped work in Helguvík this summer. Thereby he swamped all the arguments of the opposition to aluminium for good, didn’t he? Shortly after the publication of Jakob Björnsson’s (former director of energy affairs) article about the singer Björk Guðmundsdóttir and her usage of aluminium, the editors of Morgunblaðið got ready and wrote an editorial where it says that the opposers of aluminium are probably not self-consistent most of the time. Most of them use aluminium everyday and even Saving Iceland cooks in aluminium pots and uses aluminium polse to hold up their tents. “Hypocrisy” said Morgunblaðið.

This critique is far from being new. It has systematically been used against those who object to the further build-up of heavy industry here in Iceland, the destruction of Iceland’s nature for energy production, the destruction of ecosystems worldwide because of bauxite mining, and energy realization to a company that prides itself of its collaboration with the U.S. millitary. In addition to when aluminium opposers are all said to be wanting to move the Icelandic society back to the turf huts and build the country’s economy on picking mountain grass, this has been the main criticism.

No matter how many times it has been pointed out that at least 30% of all produced aluminium is used for the arms industry; no matter how many times it has been pointed out how much aluminium ends as a land-filling after having functions as single use drinking facilities; no matter that the context between low energy prices and the fact how easy it is for us to produce aluminium, use it once, throw it away and produce more – still we are being told that we are not self-consistent.

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Sep 25 2008

Saving Iceland Disrupts International Aluminium Conference in Germany


Today, the 11th International Conference on Aluminium Aloys (ICAA) met with angry protests. Activists from the environmentalist network Saving Iceland disrupted the proceedings at the University in Aachen. Early this morning, during one of Rio Tinto Alcan’s lectures, the fire alarms in the building were put on. Later today – again during Rio Tinto Alcan’s lecture – stink bombs were thrown and a high volume rape alarm was put on and suspended out of reach by green and black helium baloons. The auditorium was also strewn with information leaflets. The aim was to call attention to the industry’s singular involvement in ecological destruction in Iceland, as well as on a global scale.

The ICAA conference is a weeklong event held at a different international location every 2 years. This is its first appearance in Germany and as such is run in parallel to the Aluminium trade fair in Essen, about 80 km away. This double event is sure to call together all major players of an industry that still tries to present itself as having a green conscience, and with some success: Alcoa has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, for the 7th year running. [1] Environmentalists dispute this depiction in the strongest terms.

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Sep 18 2008
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Solidarity Actions in Copenhagen – No More Dams; No More Smelters!


Today we received a letter from Denmark:

This morning, big banners were hanged on a building in Copenhagen saying: ,,Aluminium Industry is destroying all major Icelandic rivers!” A big advertisment from Icelandair Airline Company, showing Icelandic rivers, was hanging on this same wall last week.

The construction of the planned new Century aluminium smelter in Helguvík and Alcoa’s smelter in Húsavík, will lead to damming of more glacial rivers and geothermal areas. Today it looks like dams will be built in Þjórsá River, Tungnaá, Skjálfandafljót and Jökulsá á Fjöllum; only for further heavy industry projects.

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Sep 17 2008

Greenwash Emissions on the Nose


Olga Galacho, The Herald Sun, Victoria, Australia– Aluminium titan Alcoa may pump more carbon into the state’s lungs than most companies. But it would have Victorians believe they can start breathing easy again after yesterday’s announcement that it has been recognised as a sustainability leader in its home country, the United States. The opening of its first new smelter in 20 years, in Iceland and powered by hydro-electricity, has cemented Alcoa’s position in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, it seems.

The index tracks the financial prowess of “leading sustainability-driven” companies, and this year is the seventh in a row that the highly energy-intensive Alcoa has been included.

The news might be a relief to those who were considering investing in portable oxygen tanks after the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) last week named and shamed Alcoa as one of 11 power generation owners doing “zero to reduce their emissions”. Read More

Aug 10 2008

The Aluminium Industry’s Image Game


By Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson, originally published in Morgunblaðið – Árni Sigfússon, the major of Reykjanesbær, wrote an article in Morgunblaðið July 24th, where he highly underestimates the real effects of aluminium production; environmental and social as well as global. The timing of his writings is interesting because a day earlier Saving Iceland’s conference took place in the Reykjavík Academia, where Samarendra Das and Andri Snær Magnason talked about the global effects of the aluminium industry, bauxite mining and cultural genocides in the third world. The conference lead to quite a discussion about the issues in the media. Read More

Jul 23 2008
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Picture Report of Samarendra & Andri Snaer Discussion


About 90 people attended the Saving Iceland conference with the Indian writer, scientist and aluminium expert Samarendra Das and ‘Dreamland’ author Andri Snær Magnusson, on the influence of the aluminium industry in the third world. It took place at Reykjavikurakademian. The concept of aluminium as a ‘green’ product will was examined. A video of the talks is currently being prepared and will be available shortly.
On the 21st, there was also a talk by Das in the Peace House and on the 24th Das will speak in Keflavik. Read More

Jul 23 2008

Aluminium Production in its Global Context


By Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson, originally published in Morgunblaðið.

In a brochure named “Norðurál and the Community” [Norðurál is Century Aluminum], published by the company, one can e.g. read about the global process of aluminium production. Century Aluminium has its bauxite mines in Jamaica and now plans to open up one in West Congo, in cooperation with one of the world’s corrupt regimé.

It immediately catch one’s eyes that in Norðurál’s brochure, the word bauxite is not menitoned once and according to an explination picture, which is supposed to show the aluminium process from beginning to end, the production starts when alumina is unshipped in to a huge harbour silo.

How can it be? Is Norðurál such an environmentally friendly company that it does not even have to mine bauxite to be able to smelt aluminium? Does Norðurál have any different methods than other aluminium producers? No, this is what we call greenwashing!

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