Protesters condemn ‘dirty oil’ at World Energy Congress

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in the streets of Montreal Sunday, calling for an end to “dirty, risky” oil exploration, ahead of a global gathering of energy experts.

A dozen protesters covered in molasses staged a “Black Tide Beach Party,” while dozens of others carried banners that read “Too dirty, too risky, go beyond oil.”

A blond baby boy smeared in brown sticky molasses wailed in his activist father’s arms, while protesters used megaphones to slam the provincial Quebec government of Jean Charest for inviting oil companies to the five-day World Energy Congress at the sprawling Palais de Congres.

Some 5,000 participants from industry, government and academia, were expected to attend the conference, slated to officially open Sunday evening.

The event is expected to tackle global energy issues, such as improving access to energy in the world’s poorer regions and the role of new technologies in ensuring a sustainable energy future.

Many protesters directed their anger at BP over a devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.

But Julien Vincent, a campaigner for Greenpeace International, said BP was only part of the problem.

“British Petroleum is one part of a big industry that’s got an abysmal safety record and an abysmal record in terms of its obligations toward protecting communities,” he told AFP.

“You also have oil from Shell dripping out over Nigeria right now. You have oil spills that have taken place in China that have flooded ports,” he added.

“The entire industry needs to be told to sit back and listen up.”

Vincent was nonetheless planning to speak at the conference, along with executives from companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Gazprom, Total, EDF, Vattenfall, Suncor, Alstom, and Siemens.

Other participants included Lester Brown from the Earth Policy Institute, and Helene Pelosse from the International Renewable Energy Agency.

“Obviously, any opportunity I get to talk directly to industry and government, I’m going to,” Vincent said.

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