'Greenwash' Tag Archive

Mar 14 2006

‘Pure Iceland’ Exhibition Hit with Pure Truth!


On Tuesday 14th March 2006 in solidarity of the ‘Day of action against dams’, the ‘Pure Iceland’ exhibition at the Science Museum in London was the focus of activists highlighting the heavy industrialisation and destruction of Iceland’s natural resources. Saving Iceland stickers were plastered around the exhibition of “pure” lies, especially focussing on Landsvirkjun the Icelandic National Power Company’s sponsorship plaques at the exhibition. Information boards and leaflets were subverted with a few “pure” truths about the Icelandic government’s sell out to the international aluminium industry. A Saving Iceland poster also managed to find its way up onto the huge billboard sized map of Iceland in the centre of the exhibition, marking the place where the Behemoth and environmental catastrophe, Karahnjukar dams is being constructed. Saving Iceland leaflets were handed out and many people were interested in discussing the issues of Icelandic Government’s and corporations lies and corruption.

Many people shoved support for the action and some expressed interest in coming to this years’ summer camp.

Mar 09 2006

‘Youth Against Heavy Industry’ Invade Offices of National Power Company


The Reykjavík offices of the much loathed Landsvirkjun, the Icelandic National Power Company, were gatecrashed by over thirty angry young people who banged drums, shouted and blew whistles in defiance against Landsvirkjun, heavy industry and ecocidal dams in the Icelandic highlands. Some held a banner with the by now famous subversion of the company name: ILLVIRKJUN (Evil energy.)

Although Landsvirkjun officials called the cops the cops restrained themselves and did not repeat last week’s much criticised violence against the youths. The Killers of Nature just had to bear the bad vibes.

A Landsvirkjun PR man complained there was no interest from the group of protesters to enter into dialogue with him. Seems like he and his bosses need a few more visits like this to get the point that by now it’s too late for any friendly “dialogue.” One of the youths stated they had had: “Enough of spins and propaganda based on greenwash, lies and manipulated information.”

It is unlikely that Landsvirkjun’s crimes against the Icelandic environment and against democracy will be forgiven by coming generations. “We demand an independent investigation into the affairs of Landsvirkjun and ultimately its utter annihilation as a company.” Read More

Mar 01 2006

Alcoa Add Fuel to the Fire and Announce Plans for a New Aluminium Smelter in Northern Iceland


“Jubilation” in ALCOA’s Reykjavik offices on the day of the announcement

Alcoa announced today that they would possibly want to build a $1-billion aluminum smelter in North Iceland. The proposed site is about 2 kilometers outside the town of Húsavík. An area famed for strong earthquakes. (See ‘A letter to ALCOA…‘)

The decision comes after an examination of three potential locations in Iceland, including sites near Skagafjördur and Akureyri. The Husavík location was chosen in part because of the area’s potential to use geothermal activity to supply energy for the smelter, according to Alcoa representative Jake Siewert. This is clearly a greenwashing opportunity ALCOA just can’t miss.

“We don’t think there’s another aluminum plant in the world that’s powered exclusively by geothermal,” says Siewert. “And that would make this really a first of its kind.”

He added that ALCOA felt very “welcome” in Iceland and that in spite of the fact that the majority of the nation do not want to see more heavy industry in their country and half the nation think that the Karahnjukar dams are a terrible mistake.

If approved, ground would be broken outside Husavík around 2010. The smelter would generate 250,000 metric tons per year, smaller than Alcoa’s 340,000 metric ton smelter being built today in east Iceland.

The disregard for environmental considerations and low cost of energy (the price is kept secret) offered by the Icelandic government make the country very attractive for global corporations such as Alcoa, Alcan, Century and R&D Carbon to set up mega-projects.

Last week, Alcoa also entered into an agreement with the government of Trinidad and Tobago to build a $1.5-billion aluminum smelter. See ‘Alcoa facing growing protests over proposed Trinidad Smelter’ in News.

Perhaps this feeling of being so “welcome” in Iceland had something to do with the decision of the ALCOA directors not to come to Iceland this time around to make their announcement. Just in case many Icelandic people would take to the streets yet again to protest against ALCOA’s pressence and tell them to to go to hell.

Feb 28 2006
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ALCOA Runcorn Factory in UK Blocked by Environmental Activists


At the time of writing around thirty protesters are blockading the entrance to the Runcorn Alcoa factory near Manchester. Seven people have locked onto each other with armtubes and for nearly three hours all traffic to and from the factory has been blockaded.

Alcoa are being targeted because of their involvement in the Karahnjukar dam projects. The campaign is growing and intensifying as the Icelandic government and Alcoa’s plans for devastation of the Icelandic landscape expand. Tomorrow Alcoa will announce whether they intend to build another smelter in the North of Iceland, a decision we feel should be made by the people of Iceland rather than a foreign corporation.

Recently a third of the workers at the Runcorn factory have been made redundant, according to them to get cheaper labour. Workers passing by our protest have all been very polite and many have wished us luck. The protest has been peaceful.

Interview with one of the protesters, footage and more still photographs from the protest is available. Please contact: Email deleted[Ed.]

Feb 15 2006

14 March Day of Action against Dams, and for Rivers, Water and Life


From International Rivers Network

14 March is the International Day of Action against Dams, and for Rivers, Water and Life.

Inspire better stewardship of our rivers by taking bold action. Every year on at this time, people around the world lift their voices to celebrate victories such as dam removal and river restoration; to demand improvement in policies and practices of decision makers; and to teach others about issues threatening rivers and communities. Join us for the International Day of Action. The rivers cannot speak for themselves.

Take action for Rivers, Water and Life!!

For more information see: www.irn.org

Feb 01 2006

Young Icelandic Activists Storm the Ministry of Industry


Twenty teenage activists stormed the offices of the Icelandic Ministry of Industry and staged a sitdown and noise demo inside the ministry for about an hour. This was to demonstrate against the international aluminium invasion into pristine Iceland.

The message was tainted more than little by irony: “We want more pollution, more smelters, more destruction of nature, only jobs in smelters, more Alzheimer, fuck nature, fuck the future”

Suddenly the teenagers sat down on the floor and produced tubs of ‘skyr’ (in symbolic support of the activists who drenched delegates at the 10th International Aluminium Conference with the yoghurt like substance) and proceeded to “eat their own words”.

The staff of the ministry called the police, who were well and truly ignored by the vigorous youngsters, and gave up sowing their usual brand of disorder.

This was a very cheerful protest and a total success. Most of the press and all TV stations turned up for the edifying spectacle and no one was arrested.

The action coincided most conveniently with a news release from the Ministry of Industry about four spanking new aluminium smelters that are to be built or extended (ALCAN and Century) in the south-west and north (ALCOA) of Iceland, promising amongst other horrors, according to scientists, to make the bay of Faxafloi the most heavily polluted area in Northern Europe.

Arms manufacturers ALCOA are deliberating a smelter in the north (possibly in Húsavík) on top of the monster 360.000 tons smelter war-profiteers Bechtel are already building for them in Reydarfjordur in the east of Iceland. Europe’s last great untouched wilderness is to be sacrificed to generate bogus “green” electricity for the ALCOA smelter.

Jan 24 2006

Stop the Dams Concert a Massive Success


The Stop the Dams mega concert, featuring a once in a lifetime collection of artists, was a huge success. At the concert the dates to the next protest camp at the Kárahnjúkar project were announced, 21st July. Hundreds if not thousands of Icelanders are expected to attend. The destruction will be stopped!

Almost 6,000 people partied in protest against the devastation of Iceland’s wildernesses on January the 7th.

The lineup included KK, Björk and Zeena, Múm, Sigur Rós, Magga Stína, Rass and Dr. Spock, Damien Rice, Mugison, Lisa Hannigan, Hjálmar, Ghostigital, Damon Albarn (from Blur), Ham, and Egó. Performance artists and film-makers were also among the nearly two hundred artists that contributed to the event.

In an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian (13 Feb ’06), Björk had this to say about politics and the dam: Read More

Jan 18 2006

Icelandic ‘Skyr’ Activists Sentenced


Two of the activists who took part in the June 2005 Hotel Nordica ‘skyr’ action at the International Aluminium Conference, have recently been sentenced in Reykjavik municipal court to two months in prison suspended for two years and a £6000 “cleaning up bill”, fines and expences.

Hotel Nordica is frequently host to international heavy industry conferences. According to the owners of Hotel Nordica it cost over £5000 to hire a carpet cleaner for two hours! The original claim of Hotel Nordica (owned by Icelandair) was £55.000. ‘Skyr’ is a perfectly harmless jogurt like substance and nobody was hurt during the incident.

The action was a prelude to the Saving Iceland international protest camp which took place in the Icelandic higlands near the building site of Kárahnjúkar dams. The Kárahnjúkar dams are being built to provide bogus “green energy” for a 360.000 tons ALCOA owned aluminium smelter which is now being built by war profiteers Bechtel in the east of Iceland. This project alone threatens to destroy the largest pristine wilderness of Europe.

The protest camp was heavily persecuted by the Icelandic police through out the summer and exposed the repressive nature of the Icelandic government. The actions invigorated the Icelandic environmentalist movement and the opposition to the Kárahnjúkar dams and numerous other similar dam projects planned all over the Icelandic highlands, just to create energy for foreign aluminium corporations. These “developments” will destroy some of the most ecologically sensitive and beautifully preserved wildernesses in Europe. Read More

Jan 16 2006

‘Damned Iceland’


Peace News, Issue 2470

Over the summer of 2005, about a hundred activists from around the world got together to protest against overwhelming environmental destruction and corporate greed. No, not the “pop Muppets” in Hyde Park, this was a gathering of international protesters — who trooped into the Arctic Circle to show much-needed support and solidarity to the Saving Iceland campaign.

The Saving Iceland campaign began in 2004, when the Icelandic government had bypassed a series of laws in order to allow the national power company, Landsvirkjun, to build a gigantic hydroelectric dam, now being constructed in the country’s eastern highlands.

The National Planning Agency originally refused to grant permission to the first proposal in 2001 due to the irreversible negative environmental impact the dam would have.

Incredibly, the then environment minister (whose only qualification is a GNVQ in physiotherapy) announced that the project was actually environmentally sound, and overturned the NPA decision — even though the dam will be of no benefit to her country or its inhabitants.
Power will not be generated for the Icelandic people, but for a smelter for US aluminium giant Alcoa: they are building their metal furnace in a pristine fjord at Reydarfjordur. With abulging back-pocket of cash, this hugely costly project — both financially (it will ultimately cost $1 billion) and of course ecologically — was set to begin. Interestingly, Alcoa is also facing massive criticism over a proposed 340,000 metric ton smelter plant in Cap De Ville in the Caribbean Island of Trinidad.

A hellish creation

Karahnjukar, the location chosen for the dam, offers a stunning landscape of jagged black mountains and sweeping green hills which frame the ferocious glacial river, Jokulsa Bru. It is this river which is being diverted into another large river — Jokulsa iFljotsdal — and dammed to power the hydro-electric plant. Not only is a glacial river being manipulated, but the construction of the plant also involves dynamiting a dormant volcano, and the entire hellish creation rests on a cluster of active geological fissures.
Sound dodgy yet? Well, the environmental vandalism doesn’t stop at Karahnjukar, as most of Lansvirkjun’s other plans envisage the harnessing of several rivers formed at Europe’s largest ever glacier Vatnajokul and the creation of reservoirs in surrounding areas. The biggest reservoir, Halson, will reach 57 square kilometres in area and be created by the highest rock-fill dam in Europe — covering three percent of breathtaking Icelandic beauty in murky water. All to generate power for a long queue of salivating multinationals.
People living in towns and farms near the dam-affected areas have been persuaded by the promise of employment — even though there is virtually no unemployment in Iceland and most people interviewed said that they would not work in an aluminium smelter in any case. But once the natural resources have been exhausted, employment in these regions will probably be lower than ever, because all that will be left for bored teenagers to hang out on — and for visitors to marvel at — will be a barren corpse of nature.

Greenwashing, skyr style

Unsurprisingly, the announcement that Europe’s least polluted country (a virtue the government has used to lure tourists onto the island for years) is to be given an industrial makeover has been met with outrage from most of the people who live there.
Icelanders have stood for hours in silent vigils outside the commons and Bjork’s mother did a three-week hunger strike. However, fluffy protest seemed to have little effect.
Direct action finally arrived in Iceland when three activists chucked green skyr (Icelandic yoghurt) over delegates at an international aluminium conference, drawing attention to the greenwashing that has been used to cover up the real cost to the environment of aluminium smelters and the dams that power them.
The meeting was completely disrupted and the three activists were arrested and later charged with trespass and cleaning bills of up to #320,000. Their case returned to court in January, with two of the activists sen tenced in a Reykjavik municipal court to two months in prison (suspended), a #6,000 “cleaning up bill”, plus a fine and court costs. The owners of Hotel Nordica reckoned it cost more than #5000 to hire a carpet cleaner for two hours.

Time for more action

The support and attention generated by the yoghurt incident suggested that more spiky actions were the way forward. When environmentalists from the UK, US, Poland, Sweden, Spain, Germany and France landed in Karahnjukar during the summer, Icelanders were treated to a fireworks show of direct action with the area seeing the nation’s first ever protest camp!
The hills of moss mattresses decorated with fairy-sized flowers of the most vibrant colours became beds for six weeks, and the delicate streams that laced them, washing facilities. Here, in excellent proximity to the dam (the entrances to the site were five minutes’ walk along the stream) they were able to reccie, plot and carry out a succession of actions. As more protesters arrived in Iceland after the G8, sufficient numbers were gathered to carry out an effective blockade.
On the anniversary of the signing of contracts with Alcoa — 19 July — activists decided this was an appropriate date to lock-on to road vehicles at one of the main road intersections of the site.
Baffled policemen stood scratching their heads for three hours whilst work on the entire site was halted: people were arrested but not charged.
Although the police and security responded peacefully on this occasion, on a second blockade — where protesters were locked onto the front of vehicles by their necks — officers instructed drivers (many of whom are Chinese or Portuguese and do not speak Icelandic) to turn on their engines, risking people’s lives. Fortunately no one was hurt, but three people were piled into a bus by specially flown-in riot police (the “Viking Squad”!) and one young man was reportedly held down and repeatedly punched in the stomach by the poice.
Due to pressure from the authorities, the owners of the land where the camp was based withdrew their permission to let people stay. The camp relocated nearby and, despite heavy police surveillance, more actions were successfully carried out. During one action a group of protesters entered the construction site and unravelled a long banner down the dam wall displaying a massive jagged black line. This drew attention to a newly-developed crack in the dam area which, geologists fear, is just the first of many to come. If the dam bursts the results will be catastrophic, killing thousands and wrecking the viable farmland in the east.
In a separate action three cranes were also occupied at the aluminium smelter, stopping work for five hours! The police nervously climbed the cranes to remove protesters and arrested them when back on the ground.

Catalysing support

Although much more Icelandic support had been gained as a result of last summer’s events, the international network of support for the campaign also represents a global struggle. The conversion of powerful, living and beautiful nature into heavy industry in Iceland is a microscopic example of what’s taking place all over the world — from the Narmada Dam in central India to the Three Gorges Dam in China.
In January there was a big environmental benefit gig, held to draw attention to the situation in Iceland. Acts included Bjork, Damon Albarn, Damien Rice and Sigur Ros. It tookplace in Reykjavik and all proceeds will go to “ecological resistance”. We don’t know if it will go to Saving Iceland but if it does then it will fund this summer’s protest camp. Two more benefit gigs will also take place — one in Sheffield [held as PN went to press], followed by one in London in spring.
Over the next few months, Saving Iceland campaigners will also be spreading the word in a European Tour and preparing for the next protest camp — due to start on 21 July 2006. The flooding of Karanhjukar is scheduled to start at the beginning of September — so we will need all the help we can get!
Although we can sometimes feel small as activists, if we can stop what will only be an environmental tragedy in Iceland, we can send a powerful message to the other corporate monsters — to wrench their filthy claws out of our planet.

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For more info see the “Join the Fight” section at http://www.savingiceland.org.
Support actions are very welcome – anywhere in the world. Email  savingiceland at riseup.net.

Sep 17 2005

Reindeer Revenge on Barclays


Barclaysbrella 

On Tuesday the 17/09/2005 the Students Union of the University of Sussex held their annual freshers fair, where new students are given freebies that no-one needs in exchange for custom. During this event, about 6 students dressed in reindeer-like costumes merrily surrounded the Barclaycard stall. Read More

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