I am sitting on a picnic bench in Dorchester Square in the heart of Montreal watching one of Greenpeace’s largest actions in our history in Quebec unfold. Today marks a new point in the fight to protect Canada’s Boreal Forest as we expose the destruction of this forest by one of the largest logging company’s in Canada - Abitibi-Consolidated.
Sometimes the level of concern around environmental issues amongst the public and the media is surprising. Today in downtown Montreal when we began to unfurl the giant banner from the headquarters of Abitibi-Consolidated, there were already three media on site. As the climbers made their way to top of building and tied themselves off, more and more media showed up – major media: CBC TV and Radio, Global, CTV, Canadian Press and Associated Press radio and print newswirer, Montreal Gazette as well major French-language media: Radio-Canada, TVA, TQS, Le Devoir, La Presse and the Journal de Montreal to name a few. The public’s appetite for news about the environment is great and their concern about the destructive practices of logging companies like Abitibi-Consolidated is high.
The banned dropped at 8am this morning. Check out updates here.
With the Boreal forest not exactly in the backyard of most of the urban based public, citizens across Canada rely on organizations like Greenpeace to provide them with information about what is really happening on the ground. Abitibi-Consolidated isn’t exactly revealing to the public the level of destruction of the Boreal forest they are causing. They aren’t telling the public about the fact that they are wiping out woodland caribou, a species threatened with extinction in Canada, and they are also not letting the public know that they are responsible for degrading and fragmenting more than 70% of the forests under their (mis)management in Quebec and Ontario.
Unfortunately, Abitibi-Consolidated spends its energies coming out with slick materials and soundbites about how its logging practices are leading the industry and how it is proud of its environmental record and the fact that its forestlands are certified to weak, industry-designed certification schemes called Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Canadian Standards Association. (None of the forests under their management are certified to the strict and internationally recognized standards of the Forest Stewardship Council which most environmental organizations support).
Abitibi-Consolidated keeps telling the media how they are willing to meet us with and discuss the issues and the ‘allegations’ we’ve presented. I had the misfortune of spending two years in meetings with staff at Abitibi-Consolidated – something today that I feel was a near complete waste of time. They are a company that likes to talk and endlessly discuss. They are not a company that takes action to lessen their impact on the planet. In fact in two years of discussions, no significant measures of any kind were taken by the company to protect intact forest areas or woodland caribou habitat.
They’ve had nearly four years to prepare for today. A responsible company would have recognized the growing national and international concern about the Boreal Forest, especially as this forest is one of the biggest storehouses of carbon on the planet and we all know how big a concern climate change is right now. A responsible company would have taken action to protect intact forest areas. Abitibi-Consolidated is not a responsible company.
Today is the just the start of major campaign to make this company become responsible. We know it won’t happen with us appealing to their better side. It will happen when the public and major corporate customers of Abitibi-Consolidated demand change. I suspect that when customers stop buying Abitibi-Consolidated products – newsprint, copy and book paper, lumber to name a few – then we will see action. And action is what counts. For a company like Abitibi-Consolidated, money talks.
You can take action now at http://write-a-letter.greenpeace.org/262 Richard