A group of environmental activists, public health professionals and campaigners are fighting fracking, climate change, petrochemicals and plastic pollution.
Activists from Mexico, Ireland and Germany joined frontline residents and campaigners from Pennsylvania and New York in a meeting with Satya Tripathi, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Head of New York Office at UN Environment.
The group met with the United Nations to discuss the harms and threats of gas drilling and petrochemical expansion in their communities. They argued that we must stop further extraction to combat the global climate crisis.
The meeting was the result of an open letter sent to the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres last September.
That letter was organized by Food & Water Action, its European arm Food & Water Europe and the Breathe Project in Pittsburgh. It was signed by nearly 460 grassroots groups, faith communities, celebrities, activists and organizations, including actors Mark Ruffalo, Emma Thompson and Amber Heard, authors and activists Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, fashion icon Vivienne Westwood and her son Joe Corré as well as iconic children's singer Raffi.
The group stated that the “continued production, trade and use of fracked hydrocarbons for energy, petrochemicals and plastics torpedoes our global efforts to tackle climate change and violates basic human rights.”
Campaigners appealed to the United Nations to consider the critical findings it has issued over the years. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESR) and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) have expressed concern that fracking will make it all but impossible to achieve emissions reductions targets outlined by the Paris Agreement, as well as the impacts of fossil fuel drilling on human rights.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) issued a “Global Alert” on fracking in 2012, and concluded that it may have adverse environmental impacts under any circumstances.
All speakers will appear at an evening event “Global Impacts of Fracking: From Pennsylvania to Europe and Back,” at the CUNY School of Law in Long Island City on the evening following the UN meeting.
They will be joined by Rolling Stone journalist Justin Nobel, who will discuss his bombshell article on fracking and radioactivity.
Dr. Sandra Steingraber, from Concerned Health Professionals of New York, together with Dr. Ned Ketyer, from Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania, said: “Fracking has been linked to radioactive brine, higher rates of cancer and nervous, immune, and cardiovascular system problems.
“The scientific evidence shows that women, industry workers, communities of color, and the poor are especially vulnerable to environmental injustices and harm to health and safety from fracking.”
Eddie Mitchell, from Love Letirim in Ireland, added: “Now that we have stopped fracking in Ireland, we’re also forced to fight the fracking industry from infiltrating our energy markets through import pipelines and LNG terminals - undermining all our efforts to move forward towards a clean energy future.”
Scott Edwards and Andy Gheorghiu, fromFood & Water Action US and EU, said: “After over four years of evidence gathering, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal judges on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change recommended in 2019 that fracking be banned.
“In addition, they recommended that the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment be asked to investigate the violations of the rights of humans and nature by the Unconventional Oil and Gas Extraction industry.
“It’s time for the UN take action and finally recommend a global ban on fracking to tackle one of the worst crises in human history.”
Marianne Brooker is The Ecologist’s content editor. This article is based on a press release from Food and Water Europe.