The morning of Friday the 14th of January saw a few of us from London Rising Tide join the Big Society Trade Negotiators (aka UK Tar Sands Network) as they took over a coffee shop in Victoria station (to buy coffee), and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. We were there to voice our concerns about CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) and try to get a meeting with Stephen Green, the new Minister for Trade. And we achieved both of these, which is way more than we expected from this early morning escapade.
These trade negotiations, currently taking place between Canada and the EU, could bring tar sands oil into the EU, increase EU investment in the tar sands, and enable tar sand polluters to sue governments for loss of earnings if new regulations force them to reduce their environmental/social impacts, and we don't like the sound of any of this. Stephen Green, leading these negotiations, is a former Chairman of HSBC, the 13th largest investor in the tar sands. We reckon he isn’t the best placed person to make sensible decisions about CETA.
We occupied the lobby and greeted many a civil servant with a leaflet and a good morning. Banners unfurled, we held a teach-in for the benefit of bemused visitors waiting in reception and a line of security staff. Mixed reactions ranged from studiously ignoring us, to excitement and whispered well-dones. After half an hour the police showed up and we were ever so politely asked to leave. Since we'd got what we came for, that's just what we did – off to a local caff for a stand up cooked breakfast!