Durban environmental activists Patrick Bond, left, and Shepard Zvavanhu, both from the Centre for Civil Society, were part of a protest against the tar sand oil pipeline proposed to run from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The protest took place outside the US consulate in Dr Pixely ka Seme (West) Street yesterday afternoon.


THE Durban CBD was the unlikely venue for a protest against creating a tar sand pipeline from Canada to the US.

Twelve environmental activitists, including Patrick Bond of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Civil Society, picketed yesterday during rush hour outside the US consulate in the Old Mutual Building on Dr Pixely ka Seme (West) Street.

The activists, who carried placards bearing messages like “USA – say no to pipe Canada. Leave the tar in the sand”, also voiced their disquiet over the international climate change conference in Durban later this year.

The picket against the proposed tar sand oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico was part of a bigger international protest against the pipeline, which US President Barack Obama is expected to rule on.

Environmental activist Mary Galvin said mining oil from tar sands was disruptive to the environment.

She said it impacted on global climate change.

“It would cause pollution and waste energy.

Tar sand oil is very crude. If the pipe leaks it could affect the health of people living in those areas, contaminate water, affect the wetlands and grain supply.

“Tar sands are so difficult and use intensive water and energy to extract oil,” she said.

This picket is part of a build up to the Conference of the Parties (COP17) conference, scheduled to take place in Durban in November and will address issues of climate change.

“This is where leaders from different countries would have to take decisions that would affect people globally,” said Galvin, who wore a mask resembling Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of the state.

Bond described the tar sand oil as the “most polluting kind of energy”.

“When dug up, it could even cause an erosion,” he said.

Shepard Zvavanhu, also of the Centre for Civil Society, said climate change was causing the planet to deteriorate.

“If the sea continues to rise, people are going to leave their countries. We are going to climate migrate,” he said.

Alex Todd, a Canadian graduate doing his internship at the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, said:

“The same people who are doing this will be the ones who will come to Durban for COP17 and convince us they are trying to make a difference when it comes to climate change.”

[email protected]