Over two weeks ago members of the Anti-Chevron Committee Canada have attended Zone d’Action pour le Climat (ZAC) in Paris. ZAC was one of the alternative summits organized by Coalition Climat 21, as a counter response to COP21, during the last week of negotiations. Coalition Climat 21 is a group comprising over 130 civil society organizations, including labour unions, environmental NGOs and human rights associations.
ZAC unfolded in Stalingrad, a multicultural Parisian neighborhood, between the dates of December 7 and December 11 at Centquatre -- the headquarters of Coalition Climat 21.
The Anti-Chevron Committee members joined the summit on December 9 and December 10. In the afternoon of December 10 they staged a creative action to demand a focus on transnational accountability over the environmental crisis created by Chevron in Ecuador but also to draw attention on the impact the resource extraction industry has on climate change. Anti-Chevron members have asked people to collectively paint and sign a 5 meters long banner. The black paint was used to sketch a ‘dirty oil hand’, which metaphorically symbolized the negative effects of Chevron’s oil exploitation in Ecuador.
COP21 negotiations mainly focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and left largely unaddressed the influence of transnational corporations on climate change. Yet 63 percent of emissions are released by about 90 percent of multinational companies. The U.S. based oil company Chevron (former Texaco), is responsible for about 3.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, followed by Exxon, with 3.2 percent and British Petroleum with 2.5 percent.
Chevron is the third largest corporation in the U.S. Its revenue for 2013 totaled $26.2 billion -- amount larger than the GDP of 138 nations. Chevron has been conducting its operations transnationally without having to answer to neither national nor international frameworks of corporate responsibility. It is facing backlash against irresponsible actions in Ecuador, Argentina, Romania, Nigeria, Angola, Burma, Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, the Phillipines, Peru, Thailand, Turkmenistan, U.K., U.S. and Australia.
In Ecuador, the Texaco/Chevron oil exploitation took place between 1964 and 1990 and contaminated the Amazonian rainforest. It polluted the drinking water in the area, destroyed wildlife and negatively affected the local agriculture. Two decades of long legal battles followed: a) In 2011 Chevron was sentenced by an Ecuadorian court to pay damages totaling 9.5 billon dollars to the affected Indigenous communities, however Chevron liquidated all its assets in Ecuador and the judgment could not be enforced. The Chevron – Ecuadorian plaintiffs litigation issue is currently being disputed in Canada, where the Supreme Court has unanimously voted (in September 2015) that Ecuador’s Indigenous communities have the right to pursue the 2011 judgment at the Ontario Court of Appeal; b) In 2009, Chevron filed a demand against Ecuador at Hague for private arbitration, although this private tribunal does not have the jurisdictional power to hear the case.
The Anti-Chevron Committee members gathered inside ZAC to spread awareness on the Ecuadorian case, to distribute some informational pamphlets about Chevron’s attack on Ecuador, and to ask people for support in holding accountable transnational oil corporations such as Chevron.
Chevron cannot just simply extract oil, make money, and leave. People of Ecuador will not pay nor take the responsibility for the crimes committed by this company. Negotiations on climate change need to take into consideration the environmental crimes produced by global companies and to also move towards developing and implementing a system of transnational corporate responsibility.
*This action was organized by the Anti Chevron Committee Canada on December 10 inside the Zone d’Action pour le Climat alternative summit in Paris, France.