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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le chœur des anti-gaz de schiste fait boum

by Marie-Noëlle Bertrand

The No-Shale-Gas Choir Goes Boom

Translated Wednesday 26 September 2012, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Henry Crapo

Following a decision made last June at the last Peoples’ Summit in Rio, the first co-ordinated global action against non-conventional hydro-carbons is due on September 22nd.

Hell is about to break loose. The launching of the first global action against shale gas has been planned for Saturday, with nearly 150 initiatives in a score of countries, France included. A first in the series of battles against non-conventional hydrocarbons which have so far, at various times, been sought or extracted on the five continents.

On this occasion, all the organizations will demand - exactly at the same time, despite the various time zones – an end to drilling, whether planned or already extant. The organizations in the Northern hemisphere also mean to impose the instant opening of a debate on energy transition.

But September 22 is already, in itself, the achievement of a Peoples’ Summit remarkable for the convergence of movements opposed to the extraction of hydro-carbons and other streak ores - in actual fact the spearhead of a battle against multi-national companies. Organized, it will be remembered, parallel to the UN Earth Summit last June, the Cupula dos Povos gathered hundreds of international organizations that sought to define an alternative line to "green capitalism".

Not without difficulty – the organization being somewhat chaotic and the meeting monopolized by debates specific to the Brazilian organizations - but the end-result was a political resolution on the health, environmental, or social rights to be fought for that basically implied struggling against the big private companies, these being criticized as much for their actions as for the part they play in the growth of financial speculation on resources.

This declaration moreover partly echoed the European social movements’ stand. “This summit will have moved towards the denunciation of austerity policies in that they contribute to the liberalization of common goods. “As in Greece with the on-going privatization of forests, or ways of access to the sea, of some islands or the water supply,” observed Maxime Combes, a member of Attac and Aitec [1].”The summit also rejected mock solutions such as growth policies that imply forging ahead with grand infrastructure projects.” Or exploitation of shale gas, which is promoted in Europe as a means to boost the economy. In fine, the anti-extraction movements that had gathered in Rio set the date of September 22 to give worldwide publicity to their struggle.

The gathering is sure to be largely echoed. More or less ambiguous political statements on the issue have been made lately, which have fuelled an anxiety that the announcement of a conference on the environment has not entirely dispelled, no more than the announcement by François Hollande of the rejection of seven requests of permits for shale-hydro-carbon test-drills or his renewed public statement on the government’s opposition to fracking. “His speech was subtle,” Greenpeace observes. “He did not close the door to shale gas, he simply – just now - did not open it.” Friends of the Earth for their part expressed their surprise, in view of a bill brought in by the Socialist party in 2011 that banned shale gas exploitation whatever the technique used.
Following the oil companies’ bolder demands on the subject in the summer, organizations and committees are now on the alert. As Saturday’s gatherings [2] will no doubt show.

[1An international association of technicians, experts, and researchers.

[2In Saint-Christol-lès-Alès (Gard), Tournan-en-Brie (Seine-et-Marne) and Aix-les-Bains (Savoie).

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