MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Letter No 5.

Published by MAC on 2004-08-15

Letter No 5.

Dear Marcus,

You are missing the point. It's time for a reality check.

The Baku-Ceyhan pipeline route was partly chosen to stop the environmental risk of a major increase in tankers through the Bosphorus. Multiple governments are planning their national economies around this venture - and public demand is driving it. Don't kid yourself. Neither FPP nor any other pressure groups can stop it. Neither can we. What we can do, however, is work with BP (who, thanks to NGO partnerships, have a corporate biodiversity strategy which will be implemented across the project) to minimise the negative impact. Force BP out, and you won't stop the pipeline, you'll just get someone else, less accountable.

You don't believe me? To bring you up to date on Grasberg, Rio Tinto have just sold their equity share in Freeport - partly due to constant pressure from environmental groups. But the mine hasn't been closed and won't be. Do you consider this a success? Even if you've now lost the one point of leverage that was making a difference? Who does it help more - the Kamoro people or the lobbyists' public profile?

Where are our studies of deforestation due to fuelwood consumption for tobacco curing? Well, they're taking place with Makerere University, Uganda. As part of our partnership with BAT, blocks of forest degraded under government 'stewardship' are being given stronger protection, retaining both the forests and their social value for traditional harvesting of honey, etc, at sustainable levels. We're also stimulating the use of targeted fuelwood grown specifically for that purpose and, by diversifying plantations, are growing native tree species with better social and ecological value. Greenwash? Not by my definition.

It is because companies have major environmental impact we have a dialogue with them. Recognising those problems and trying to address them is the point of partnership.

Mark

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