May 27, 2022 News
… Int’l activists launch global campaign ahead of Liza 1 permit renewal
By Zena Henry
Kaieteur News – With about 5000 signatures within a matter of hours, global non-profit organisation, Avaaz has joined the fight for a better oil deal between Guyana and petroleum giant ExxonMobil.
Given that the operating permit for Exxon’s first oil field Liza 1 expires next week, May 31, 2022, international advocates and environmental activists have increased momentum to support Guyana in its call for a better financial deal from its oil endowments, as well as adequate protection from environmental and other negatives arriving from the country’s offshore operations.
During an important Avaaz hosted webinar on Tuesday last, representative, Martyna Dominiak said that organisation had launched a campaign 48 hours earlier asking its members globally to send in messages directly addressed to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA’)s Executive Director, Kemraj Parsram, to ensure more benefits for Guyana through the bargaining of the Lisa 1 permit’s renewal.
Dominiak said on Tuesday that since the campaign was launched (on Sunday), Guyana had received support with some 4,600 signatures coming in from countries as far as Uganda, Qatar and Guyanese in the Diaspora. The signatures have since increased.
These messages will be delivered directly to Parsram’s office. Dominiak said that the campaign supporting Guyana is a global one.
“We decided at Avaaz to launch it because it is very difficult for the people in Guyana to stand against Exxon alone. People are afraid of that and that’s why we want to support them with the power of our global movements.”
Avaaz is a U.S-based organisation launched in 2007 that promotes global activism on issues such as climate change, human rights, animal rights, corruption, poverty, and conflict. Avaaz has been referred to as “the globe’s largest and most powerful online activist-network with more than 70 million members.The petition, which takes direct aim at the EPA head, says, “You can stop Exxon’s oil bomb. Mr. Parsram, thousands of people around the world ask you not to grant Exxon a new environmental permit. Don’t sacrifice the future of the people of Guyana and all of us for the profits of a billion dollar company.”
The campaign also notes to its signatories that, “Kemraj Parsram, head of the Guyanese environmental body, will decide soon whether to grant Exxon a new permit to continue this devastating operation. With thousands of messages from all around the world, we can encourage him to stand up for our planet. Write your encouraging, personal message to Kemraj Parsram now and Avaaz will deliver it directly to his office and social media he’s using.”
Among the messages from signatories, Hart Feuer an associate Professor and researcher in Kyoto University, Japan urged Guyana to “reject any unnecessary and overly optimistic claims by Exxon.” He said fossil fuel projects are no longer necessary at the global level. Margaret D. from the United Kingdom said she was born and raised in Guyana, “…and I am proud of my country. Please don’t endanger Guyanese and the world by granting Exxon this permit. Don’t sacrifice the future of the people of Guyana and all of us for the profits of a billion dollar company.”
Art R. from the United States said that he spent decades drilling in oceans around the world. “Drilled in neighbours Venezuela & Trinidad and Tobago and I have witnessed the pollution Exxon leaves in its wake. I am ashamed of having been part of it. Offshore drilling produces massive amounts of greenhouse gas and ocean pollution. PLEASE resist the siren call Exxon is whispering to you; for your own sake and the planets!” Tracy P. from South Africa said to the EPA executive, “You are in a powerful position right now as you hold the future of your country’s marine life in your hands. I’m asking you to be courageous and do the right thing. Exxon don’t need to pump this oil at such a cost to your country. You can be a champion of clean energy, which will encourage future generations to do the same.”
Sunday’s call against ExxonMobil is Avaaz’s third online petition regarding Guyana, having launched one in February and March of this year. The February petition highlighted that drilling offshore Guyana threatens the country, the Atlantic Ocean and the entire Caribbean. Apart from the damage oil from Guyana can contribute, Avaaz noted that Guyana needed a better oil contract for its people, adding, “A ‘favorable’ contract benefits ExxonMobil and its partners while burdening the Guyanese people with financial costs and environmental danger.” For the sake of Guyana, the Caribbean and the rest of the world, Avaaz demands, “a pause on oil and gas operations until ExxonMobil guarantees that proper environmental safeguards are in place to protect our lands, ocean and climate. We demand a pause on oil and gas operations until ExxonMobil provides evidence that they have stopped flaring and stopped using faulty equipment.”
Avaaz is also calling for a pause of oil operations until ExxonMobil guarantees that they will pay for all environmental, social and economic damage across Guyana and the Caribbean as a result of any well blow-out or oil spill from their operations. They advocate for a pause in local operation until the Government of Guyana provides independent evidence that the benefits to the Guyanese people outweigh the costs and until the Government invests in solar energy jobs in Guyana in light of its conditional undertaking under the Paris Agreement to go 100 percent renewable by 2025.
The body called for Government to make public a full, independent audit of pre-contract costs and all other costs claimed by ExxonMobil and its partners in Guyana as well as putting in place an independently controlled escrow account for the billions of United States dollars necessary to pay for the safe and permanent shut down of ExxonMobil’s deep-water wells at the end of oil/gas production. The petitioner also sounded their voices in support of the ailing fish industry.
Avaaz said Kemraj Parsram is the only one who can stop Exxon in its tracks right now. “We only have few weeks to make sure he stands strong against Exxon.” The plan is to have enough persons join the petition. “Avaaz will help expose in the local media how bad the project is for Guyana, support brave opposition and work hand in hand with experts until the pressure is impossible for Mr. Parsram to ignore. For the sake of life on Earth and future generations, we have to stop Exxon’s oil bomb — sign now and tell everyone, the petition concluded. Use the link to access the Avaaz petition https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/exxon_sam_letters_to_mr_parsram/”
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