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Monday, August 31, 2009

Email to the board of BP on Tar Sands

Tar Sands - before and after

Dear Sirs,
I have recently returned from a presentation by the Cree aboriginal group at Climate Camp. You may not be aware that these are the indigenous people of Canada whose impoverished lives you will finally destroy with the tar sands development projects that you are about to commence. You may also not be aware that these people have inhabited this land sustainably for 12,000 years. You may not be aware that the water supply of these people is now massively polluted, their traditional hunting and fishing grounds have been destroyed, and they face premature death by a series of cancers.
You may also not be aware that the tar sands that you now seek to exploit will need more water, produce even more polluted lakes, create massive amounts of CO2, and will result in the wholesale conversion of Canada’s ancient and bio-diverse forests and fauna into a poisonous wasteland.
Or more likely, you are aware of all these facts, but you deliberately ignore them as you scrape the bottom of the world’s barrel for its remaining oil in conscious defiance of runaway climate change. If you are aware, I would suggest that you read your history books, especially the ones about the Nuremberg trials. I suggest this, because if you are not prepared to learn from history you are doomed to repeat it. Your problem is that your dilema on tar sands is very much the same uncomfortable one the guards and managers of the concentration camps experienced.
As you are aware when you read your history books, a good concentration camp general was judged on how many inmates he could process, in the same way as you are judged on how much profits you create. Good concentration camp managers enjoyed a good standard of life with their families, in the same way as good oil company managers enjoy a good standard of life with their families. The question of morality is neatly and deliberately removed from the calculations of success in both cases, and the things that determine normality for both are neatly and consciously removed from the decisions to be made at the place of work.
The decision making process for the concentration camp managers and the decision you will make on your tar sands project differs little. You will argue to yourself that you are working for the benefit of your community and that the benefits of your action will outweigh the consequences, irrespective of the evidence placed in front of you. In the same way the concentration camp manager was able to rationalise that his actions would further the fortunes of the Fatherland, irrespective of the evidence placed in front of him. In both cases, you and the concentration camp manager are insulated from the effects of the decisions by the enormous power held. No concentration camp manager lived in squalor with the prisoners and you will not have to live amongst the Cree people in a poisoned land.
Then the thought comes of if not me, it will be someone else. So you will argue that if you do not develop the tar sands some other company will do so, just as the guards rationalised that if it was not them operating the camps someone else would. This moral ambivalence leads to a race to the bottom. As you make your decision on the tar sands, I ask you to consider the scenario of what would happen if the guards and managers at Auschwitz came together with the prisoners and destroyed the camp. Would this be a mere footnote to history, or would it lead to the collapse of the principles of Nazism? I would suggest it would lead to the collapse of an evil structure. Even if it did not, it would provide hope to many, without which there absolutely can be no future.
But the parallels are not limited to the mere removal of morals and go down to the finer levels of detail, because as you read the history of the camps you will see more disturbingly close similarities, especially if you read Primo Levi’s book, The Drowned and the Saved. Primo Levi talks about how the horrific task of forcing the prisoners into the gas chambers was subcontracted to the Kapos. In case you do not read history, Kapos were prisoners, often Jews who operated the chambers; they got the living in and cleaned the dead out in exchange for a few extra privileges, which was normally a short extension to their life. None of them enjoyed this task and they did it because the task was too awful for the camp managers. I ask you now to consider the plight of the Cree people who have to work in your open cast mines and be complicit in the destruction of their own environment because the oil industry’s destruction of their environment has given them no choice but to cooperate with their destroyers. Like the Kapos, they are tasked with converting their living forests into dead zones. By doing this they get the reward of being able to live in their homelands for a short time longer, but only in the knowledge that the death of their community is made more certain by their actions. Like the Kapos, none of them enjoy this and do it because you and your colleagues do not have the courage to kill the forest and ecosystem with your own hands. You may want to explain were the moral difference lies between the Cree people being forced to work in your extraction processes and the Kapos being forced to operate the gas chambers.
Your history books will tell you how the languages in the German Camps and Russian Archipelagos were brutalised and subverted to reflect the environment, for example prisoners who were about to die were being “deloused,” in a count there could only be “42 prisoners,” not 42 men or women. In the same way, you might want to consider the language of the oil industry in Canada. The fertile soil, abundant in life which you must remove, is degraded to “overburden.” The project is described as a “Tar Sand Development,” when in reality the project is concerned with the destruction of mankind, not development of any kind.
Fundamentally, the only differences between the concentration camps manager and yourself, is that you are operating on a bigger scale of human destruction, you are not as well organised but do a better job of hiding your intentions. Rather reassuringly for you, justice is handed out by the victors, but if you succeed with your development, there will be no victors to dispense justice.
I leave you with the thoughts of Hoss, the commander of Aushwitz, who said, “My conscience compels me to make the following declaration. In the solitude of my prison cell I have come to the bitter recognition that I have sinned gravely against humanity. As Commandant of Auschwitz I was responsible for carrying out part of the cruel plans of the 'Third Reich' for human destruction. In so doing I have inflicted terrible wounds on humanity. I caused unspeakable suffering for the Polish people in particular. I am to pay for this with my life. May the Lord God forgive one day what I have done.
If you proceed with the tar sands project, you will be condemned to suffer similar thoughts of complicity with mass destruction.
This email will appear on my blog,
Kevin Lister

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Response to ASA

Thank you for your letter and email. I am absolutely appalled that you have chosen not to take action on the Airbus advert.

You say in your decision that there was no breach of the code. However I have looked at the code. This advert is clearly and unequivocally in breach. I enclose the relevant sections of your code below with specific failings of the advert:-

49.1 The basis of any claim should be explained clearly and should be qualified where necessary. Unqualified claims can mislead if they omit significant information.

By your own admission the Airbus advert is completely unqualified. The advert merely says “working towards.” They do not say how long it will take nor by how much they intend to reduce greenhouse gases nor do they explain the basis of their claim. It is equivalent to a cigarette company saying they are working towards a cancer free cigarette. A cigarette addict would cling on to this false hope and be less likely to stop smoking. The same is true for a regular flier.

The cigarette manufactures’ adverts in the 1940 and 50s that claimed the safety benefits of filtered cigarettes lead to the death of millions. Climate change will now lead to the death of billions, fuelled on by vested interests such as Airbus who will mislead, misrepresent and offer false hope and false solutions.

49.2 Claims such as ‘environmentally friendly’ or ‘wholly biodegradable’ should not be used without qualification unless marketers can provide convincing evidence that their product will cause no environmental damage when taking into account the full life cycle of the product. Qualified claims and comparisons such as ‘greener’ or ‘friendlier’ may be acceptable if marketers can substantiate that their product provides an overall improvement in environmental terms either against their competitors’ or their own previous products.

Airbus has no convincing evidence of any of the claims that they have made, especially with respect to the claim to be working towards reducing greenhouse gases. I refer you to the Tindal report, 2005 which quantifies the rise in emissions from Aviation. All the evidence proves convincingly that greenhouse gas emissions from aviation are increasing significantly and that any claims that the airline industry is reducing, or can reduce emissions, with out major reductions in capacity is totally false.

49.3 Where there is a significant division of scientific opinion or where evidence is inconclusive this should be reflected in any statements made in the marketing communication. Marketers should not suggest that their claims command universal acceptance if that is not the case.

There is no division of scientific opinion on climate change. In fact, the reverse is true. The absolute consensus is that cuts in excess of 80% need to be made to greenhouse gas emissions. I refer you to the Copenhagen Climate Conference. Furthermore there is absolutely no scientific evidence that suggests the aviation industry can achieve any significant cuts at all. The only supporting documents to demonstrate Airbus is working towards reducing fuel efficiency exist in their marketing departments and the marketing departments of airlines.

It is vital that you properly address this advert and that you are not seen to be failing to act on the defining issue of our time.

Please advise me of your approval process by return.

I will also copy this correspondence to my MP, David Drew.

Kevin Lister

ASA response - totally supporting Airbus's lies

Dear Mr Lister


Thank you for contacting the Advertising Standards Authority.

The ASA Council has considered the ad and your complaint but concluded there was no breach of the Code. This is because the Council noted that the ad did not make any specific claims about particular projects that the advertisers were involved with or goals achieved in terms of “reducing greenhouse gas emissions, lowering fuel consumption, and creating quieter, more efficient aircraft.” These claims were all stated as generalised aspirations, relative to the advertisers own actions and current levels of emissions, fuel consumption and noise; there was no specific claim that the advertisers could or would reduce the net environmental impact of the industry. The Council therefore concluded that readers of National Geographic would be aware of the fact that the aviation industry contributed significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, among other things, and would not regard the ad as claiming that the advertisers were taking action that would lead to absolute, rather than relative, reductions.

I realise that will disappoint you and, although we won’t be taking any other action, we’ve told the advertiser about your concerns (without revealing your identity).

Our website,, contains information about the ASA and the work we do, including the results of investigations into other complaints, many of which have been upheld.

Yours sincerely

Julia Dean
Complaints Executive

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Further Airbus complaint - that 2% claim again

I wish to complain about the Airbus “Green Wave” web page that is again erroneously presenting Airbus as an environmentally benign organisation.

The essence of this advert is that “Aviation contributes 2 per cent to man-made CO2” which is small in relation to deforestation and power generation. The implication being that we should do nothing to aviation as a CO2 source and concentrate instead on biodiversity.

However the proposition of doing nothing to the aviation industry, is false for the reasons set out below:-

1. Emissions from aviation are rapidly growing. The advert fundamentally fails to address this.

2. Man made emissions are rapidly growing, so taking 2% of a rapidly growing total, means that the proportion in consideration is also growing. To be precise the advert should have quoted the year on year growth in CO2 emissions.

3. Greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut to virtually zero to avoid runway climate change as the planet’s CO2 levels are already well into the danger zone.

4. The 2% figure does not include radiative forcing effects from aviation. This increases the global warming effectiveness of the CO2 by a factor of 2 to 5.

5. The exhausts emissions from plans have high NOx gas concentrations. The warming effect of these gases is up to 200 times more powerful that CO2.

6. By comparing their emissions with other bigger sources such as deforestation, Airbus are effectively making the moral comparison that it is okay to rob corner shops because other people rob banks. It is well known that deforestation emissions have risen enormously and that it is a priority to stop this. However, this is not a reason to allow aviation to continue emitting. It is actually a reason for aviation to be curtailed, as the earth’s climate system is under more stress and less able to sequestrate aviation’s emissions.

7. A major factor towards deforestation is the rush for biofuels which the aviation industry is pushing as a false solution to man made CO2 emissions, e.g. Air New Zealand is using Jatrophia.

8. The 2% figure the advert quotes does not include the emissions resulting from the extraction and refining of the crude oil. Typically for every 3 barrels of crude produced and converted to a finished product, 1 barrel is needed to cover the energy associated with refining and production.

9. The 2% figure does not include the emissions from the unsustainable industries that aviation subsequently supports such as tourism, cash crops grown in the third world, etc.

10. Estimates show 80% of aviation travel is discretionary and can be eliminated with no immediate hardship. However, loss of power is critical to the functioning of our civilisation.

11. The power industry is being forced to pursue renewable power generation and carbon capture technologies. The costs associated with these will be paid for by premiums on everyone’s electricity bills, causing significant hardship to the poor. However, the rich are being actively encouraged to continue flying. Effectively the cost of cleaning up the emissions of the rich falls to the poor, as it does not matter to the climate what the source of the emissions is.

Given the points, the correct statement from Airbus should have been “Aviations emissions are growing and will continue grow as this sector develops. Aviation causes direct and indirect emissions. When the indirect emissions are included, aviation’s contribution to greenhouse gases is far higher than 2% of the total. This is happening at a time when runway climate change has started and all the credible scientific opinion in the world concludes that cuts greater than 80% are needed in greenhouse gas emissions. Runaway climate change is the biggest threat to the planet’s biodiversity.”

I trust that along with other the other ongoing complaints against Airbus adverts, you will also force Airbus to address this deliberately erroneous statement on their web site.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Many thanks to David Drew MP for supporting Airbus complaint

Copy of David Drew's letter to the ASA agency in support of my complaint.

What a guy, at last an MP who does not screw the expenses and supports critical issues of principle!!!!


Julia Dean
The Advertising Standards Authority
Mid City Place
71 High Holborn

17th August 2009

Dear Julia

I have recently been copied in on the correspondence that a constituent of mine (Kevin Lister) has had with you regarding Airbus's claim that they are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I now understand that Mr. Lister’s claim will be taken to the ASA Council which I very much welcome.

I want to make it clear that my constituent has my full support. I have known and worked with Kevin for a number of years now and I admire his willingness and ability to expose some of the myths about so-called environmental improvements in the airline business. It is clear that Airbus's claim would appear to be both false and deliberately misleading which I trust the Council will recognise in its forthcoming ruling.

I would like to highlight the following for the Council to take into consideration as part of their decision making:

Climate change is real and the most serious threat facing both humanity and the survival of all life on the planet. All creators of climate change gases have a duty to reduce their emissions and it is vital that this process is transparent and fair and that all claims are verified independently and those that are not true are subsequently withdrawn and apologies made.

The latest science suggests that for there to be any chance of avoiding runaway climate change, we much reduce atmospheric CO2 from the current 380 ppm down to the 350 ppm. The magnitude of challenge must be considered against the background that not only is CO2 still increasing but also the rate of increase is increasing. Consequently, climate change can only be addressed by a fundamental change in our society and our expectations. It cannot be addressed by "tinkering around the edges" which is the implication of this advert.

Airbus's advert is analogous to Marlboro’s tobacco adverts of the late 1940s when they promoted their filtered cigarettes as a safe way to smoke. In reality there was never a safe way to smoke as we know now. Also the damage to those who are the unwilling recipients of the impact of airline pollution is analogous to those who have suffered from the implications of passive smoking. Flying must therefore accept that given the state of the science of climate change there is no environmentally friendly way to fly and therefore no way that Airbus can claim to be working towards reducing greenhouse gases unless and until there is a reduction in the level of flying and a paradigm shift in airline technology so that they are no longer dependent upon fossil fuels.

Given the nature of Kevin’s complaint I hope that you will uphold this in your judgement and that Airbus can be made to rescind its claims.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely,

David Drew MP for the Stroud Constituency

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Change of tack from the ASA - watch this space

Dear Mr Lister

Thank you for your e-mails. In light of your comments we are going to pass this case to the ASA Council for further consideration. We will let you know their decision as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Julia Dean
Complaints Executive
0207 492 2155
Advertising Standards Authority

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Demand for Appeal on Airbus Advert complaint

Dear Julia,

Thank you for your response to my complaint. However I am appalled by your decision that shows a wilful disregard of the facts and total contempt for your position.

You say in your response that, “We can and do take action where we feel that an ad is likely to cause harm or misleading consumers to their detriment.” This advert is a clear and blatant attempt to do this.

For Airbus to claim that they will “reduce greenhouse gases” is a blatant lie and does nothing other than mislead consumers. In your decision you have made the assumption that the airlines passengers are rational and informed individuals who care about climate change. I beg to differ. I have known many that do not care, who believe climate change is fraud, or believe that because they are flying modern jets they are environmentally friendly. Many of these people simply seek to find the information that justifies their actions. Adverts of this type perpetuate this illogically selfish attitude and provide food for their actions.

You have said, “[You] note that [I] object to the advertisers’ claim to be reducing its environmental impact by lowering fuel consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While such claims would require substantiations, we have studied the ad and note that the advertisers are in fact more circumspect. The claim in the press ad doesn’t state that they have lowered fuel consumption and reduced noise and greenhouse gas emissions by a specific amount.” The advert does not need to claim it is reducing its emissions by a specific amount. By your argument the passengers of an Airbus should understand that they are causing untold environmental damage, and hence when they read that the manufacturer “works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” they would expect a significant reduction in the totality of the emissions. In reality the reverse is true. The efficiency gains that Airbus achieves will be used to sell planes that travel further and carry more people and not to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions. Thus there is no way that Airbus can ever make a justifiable claim to be working towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Also, Airbus has deliberately targeted the sale of A380 Super Jumbos as private jets. This is further categorical evidence that Airbus is not in any way working towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

You are entirely misinformed in your decision on biofuels. You say the first generation types of biofuels “are unsuitable for use in the aviation industry.” There is no evidence at all that the aviation industry will not try and make use of palm oil, coconut (as used by Virgin Atlantic) or any other crop that they can economically purchase. Further more, the second-generation biofuels such as Jatropha (as used by Air New Zealand), which is being grown in Africa and India, has lead to wide spread deforestation and displacement of indigenous people. Despite what the proponents of biofuel say, in our over crowded planet there is no unused marginal land and Jatropha does not grow in deserts.

The much touted third generation biofuels using genetically modified algae and other crops have not yet been proven and will introduce many other dangerous environment risks. Many of these risks will have profound implications for biodiversity on our planet.

Finally you say, “We are therefore satisfied that consumers are likely to understand that, despite the increase in air traffic, the advertisers are actively seeking ways in which to reduce their environmental impact.” This assertion of yours is root of the problem and demonstration that you have not understood the implication of my complaint. Firstly, there is absolutely no way that Airbus can claim to be reducing environmental impact when they are simultaneously selling as many of the worlds biggest super jumbos as possible. Secondly, as you say many readers will fall for the claim of this article and actually believe that Airbus are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is your job to stop this happening.

You also need to consider this article in the context that denial of climate change has been the biggest fraud perpetuated on the human population. It is a fraud that has been pushed by those organisations such as the oil industry, car manufactures and the aviation industry and others through a concerted effort. I refer you to David Wasdell's You tube video. This advert, having the underlying claim that aviation can be made environmentally friendly, is part of this fraud. I re-emphasise that it is your duty to ensure that this fraud is not perpetuated at this time of planetary emergency.

I therefore insist that you take action on this or refer me to either a higher body with the ASA or an appeal process.

I will copy this email to my MP.

Kevin Lister
I note that the ASA Annual Report says on environmental issues, "There is a lack of official consensus on definitions and what can be called ‘green’. Set against this, ASA research last year revealed little basic understanding of environmental claims."

Given this statement from your own organisation, then your assertions that, “We think that most consumers are likely to understand their [Airbus’] claim to be working towards reducing that [environmental] detriment is relative to the industry within which they operate,” is even more ridiculous. From the statement in your Annual Report, it is reasonable to assume that most passengers are probably unaware of the environmental damage that aviation is causing and that the scientific evidence now points to runaway climate change having started. This advert, which contains the blatant mistruth that Airbus are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adds to the false impression that climate change can be stopped by simple initiatives such as flying on modern jets.

There can be no dispute that the intent of this advert is to portray Airbus as a concerned company against all the evidence of the damage that their products are causing. It is equivalent to a tobacco company sponsoring a school fete, and the parents being told that it is okay because all kids know that tobacco can kill them.

Idiot response from the Advertising Standards Authority

Dear Mr Lister


Thank you for your patience while we considered your complaint about Airbus SAS.

However we have considered your complaint and the ad in question but have decided that we don’t have grounds for further action on this occasion.

When assessing complaints about press ads, our concern is with how they will be taken by those who see them. We can and do take action where we feel that and ad is likely to cause harm or misleading consumers to their detriment.

On this occasion we didn’t think that the ad was likely to have that effect. I note that you object to the advertisers’ claim to be reducing its environmental impact by lowering fuel consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While such claims would require substantiations, we have studied the ad and note that the advertisers are in fact more circumspect. The claim in the press ad doesn’t state that they have lowered fuel consumption and reduced noise and greenhouse gas emissions by a specific amount, simply that that is the goal that they are working towards. While I take your point that the aviation industry carries, by its nature, a significant environmental detriment, we think that most consumers are likely to understand their claim to be working towards reducing that detriment is relative to the industry within which they operate.

You are correct in saying that first generation biofuels do contribute to the loss of biodiversity by competing for arable land, contributing towards deforestation and putting pressure on freshwater resources. However, these types of biofuels are unsuitable for use in the aviation industry who use only second or next generation biofuels. Second generation biofuels are non-food plants that don’t take up arable land and can be grown in most locations worldwide, including desert and salt-water areas.

We are therefore satisfied that consumers are likely to understand that, despite the increase in air traffic, the advertisers are actively seeking ways in which to reduce their environmental impact. On this basis we don’t think that this ad is in breach of our Code or likely to misleading consumers to their detriment.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. I am sorry that we are unable to help you further on this occasion but I hope that you will find this information helpful.

Yours sincerely,
Julia Dean
Complaints ExecutiveEmail:

Thursday, August 06, 2009

BAA Job Application - Environmental Assessment Manager

I am applying for your position, Environmental Assessment Manager, (part of the Runway 3 programme of works).

I am extremely keen on both aviation and business, and have spent considerable time over the last 5 years in intense negotiations with the management of various airports, local councils, MPs, airport supporters and the police on the environmental impacts of airport developments. This has included debates on noise, local air pollution, and climate change impact.

Your advert requests that, “An appreciation of the environmental and sustainable development issues affecting airports would be an advantage.” I am a member of mathematical groups such as “Daisy world and beyond” and have lectured extensively on the impact of climate chance and potential solutions to the problem. In addition I am fully conversant with latest the IPCC reports and other climate change reports. These demonstrate the need to cut CO2 between 80% (based on the IPCC reports) or 120% (based on the Hansen’s papers).

As such I, have a full appreciation of the environmental issues affecting airports. I fully appreciate that runaway climate change has now started. I fully appreciate the significance of the massive methane releases that have started in the high Arctic regions. I fully appreciate that the increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are causing the acidification of our oceans, for which we have no solution. I fully appreciate that not only is the CO2 level currently at a critical level, but that the rate of increase of CO2 is increasing, thus not only are things bad, they are getting worse more quickly. I fully appreciate the bio-fuel solution the aviation industry is pushing for environmentally friendly international travel will result in the destruction of our rainforests and the loss of our food supply. I also appreciate that biofuels will lead to the introduction of catastrophic GM crops into our biosphere despite the mounting evidence of their catastrophic impacts. I fully appreciate that there is no way an airport can contribute to reducing its CO2 impact when it expands, and that contraction must be the only way forward.

I fully appreciate that BAA must expand to ensure that its shareholders receive a compounded rate of return on their investments, and that they will dump stock if this cannot be guaranteed, leading the bankruptcy of the company. I fully appreciate that that this can only be done if BAA lie about the environmental impact that they cause. I fully appreciate that this lying must be done at all levels, thus governmental reports must be corrupted, local environmental impacts must be fudged, climate change impacts must be lied about, and local residents must be fobbed of or bullied out of the way.

As such I have the necessary experience to take your position of Environmental Assessment Manager.