CENN - JUNE 15, 2005 Daily Digest

Table of Contents:

1. Adjara is Preparing for Tourist Season
2. Workers World: BTC Strengthens Grip of US and British oil
Monopolies
3. Month Long Environmental Protection Festival in <?xml:namespace
prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags"
/>Georgia
4. Carbon Dioxide Usage Fee to Rise
5. Oil Production in Azerbaijan to Reach 63 Million Tons in 2010
6. Casualties of the Oil Stampede
7. Construction of a Freeway through Shikahogh Reserve
8. The Regional Environmental Centre for the Caucasus - Internship
Programme







1. Adjara is Preparing for Tourist Season



Source: The Messenger, June 6, 2005



Tour operators, employees of hotels, tourist agencies of Tbilisi and
Batumi gathered to discuss the questions of tourism development
tendencies on the conference in Batumi on June 4-5, 2005.



The Prime-News was told at the administration of government of
Adjarian autonomous republic that a discussion on theme "Summer
Holydays in Adjara" was held in Batumi hotel "Sputnik" on June 5,
2005.





2. Workers World: BTC Strengthens Grip of US and British oil
Monopolies



Source: The Messenger, June 13, 2005



Are "energy diversity" and "regional cooperation" really priorities
in the White House and in oil company boardrooms?



The history of the energy industry is a history of conspiracies to
rig prices by restricting supply. That's what monopoly is all about.



That was true when Rockefeller Standard Oil agents dynamited
competitors' refineries in the 1870s Pennsylvania oil wars. It's true
in the oil wars in the Middle East today.



In the 1980s, Western Europe tried to diversify its energy supply by
buying natural gas form the Soviet Union. The result was a stupendous
feat of engineering called "Urengoi 6", a 3,600-mile pipeline across
Eurasia. The Wall Street Journal called it "the largest commercial
transaction ever between East and West."



How did Washington react to this attempt at peaceful cooperation in
the field of energy? The Reagan-Bush regime worked night and today to
block the project....



The revenues will go into the pockets of Western bankers and
investors. And, unlike Urengoi 6, BTC will not loosen the US and
British oil monopolies' grip on Western Europe's economy. It will
strengthen that grip.





3. Month Long Environmental Protection Festival in Georgia



Source: The Messenger, June 13, 2005



There are so many challenges; the Georgia community cannot be
complacent



A message from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan reads, "By 2030, more
than sixty percent of the world's population will live in urban
areas. Such rapid urbanization presents profound challenges, from
poverty and unemployment to crime and drug addiction. On this World
Environmental Day, I urge individuals, business and local and
national; governments to take up the urban environmental challenge.
Let us tap the great knowledge and natural dynamism of urban areas
and let us create "green cities" where people can raise their
children and pursue their children and pursue their dreams in a well
planned, clean and healthy environment."



It is already 4 years since WomenAid International created the
"Caucasus Zone Green", an "Environmental Protection Festival" and
multimedia awareness campaign held annually during the month of June,
to encourage the public to contribute actively towards a better
environment and to encourage governments in the South Caucasus to
increase public participation in environmental decision making.



This year the theme selected for World Environmental Day is "Green
Cities - Plan for the Planet!" Thus, WomenAid International with the
support of a team delegated by Tbilisi Mayor Zurab Chiaberashvili,
lit up the Mayor's building "green" on June 5th to draw attention to
World Environmental Day. According to Tbilisi Premier Temur Kurkhuli,
this will now be an annual event on June 5th to draw attention to
environmental issues.



GT spoke with Pida Ripley, founder of WomenAid International, to get
detailed information about the activities planned for the
Environmental Protection Festival and about the environmental
problems Georgia faces.



Q: As I understand, the "Environmental Protection Festival" is a
multimedia awareness campaign held annularly during the month of
June. What concrete activities have been planned for the "Caucasus
Zone Green" in Georgia this year?



A: The "Caucasus Zone Green" campaign is a people's "Call to Action"
promoting activities such as clean up campaigns, tree planting,
street rallies, concerts, competitions, seminars, roundtables,
meetings and s symposia.



Various environmental activities are arranged by active NGOs,
kindergartens, schools, local administrations and media partners. For
example, once again we are working with the Ministry of Refugees and
Accommodation and with IDP communities to clean centers, as
inadequate rubbish collection causes serious problems. Regional
Gamgebeli of Zugdidi-sagarejo support similar activities and
especially welcome new information. Members of Parliament receive
information packets. Several cities are developing audits on "how
Green is our City?" Children will be responding to "Alexandra's
Message" --- an 11th grade Ukrainian student's call for environmental
action and in Tbilisi we will be screening films with environmental
focus. Distribution of information sheets, postcards and badges will
promote greater awareness and stimulate action.



Q: This is already the fourth celebration of World Environment Day in
Georgia. Will this become a tradition, and are the activities on a
large scale this year?



A: This year, WomenAid International asked the Tbilisi Mayor's team
if we could light up the Mayor's building 'green" to draw attention
to UN World Environment Day. This was a great success and it will now
be an annual tradition every June 5th. Last year, over 120 events
were organized in Georgia by our campaign partners. This year we are
expecting even more activities. The commitment and volunteer efforts
of all the organizations and individuals participating in the
campaign is the basis for its ongoing success.



The Caucasus Zone Green aims to facilitate information exchange and
collaboration among all sectors of civil society and to increase
public awareness and knowledge of environmental issues and risks,
with the aim of changing the behavior of citizens. This supports the
objectives of the European Union's sixth Environmental Action Plan
and utilizes the empowering principles of the Aarhus Convention.



Q: You have been working in Georgia for more then ten years. What are
the main environmental problems here that challenge Georgia's future?



A: Scientists and environmentalists warn that over the next decade
many environmental problems will continue to deteriorate. One fact
that especially concerns me is that global water supplies are falling
while the demand is dramatically growing at an unsuitable rate. One
of every five people in the world today lacks access to safe water
supply. Over the next 20 years, the average supply of water worldwide
per person is expected to drop by one third. Of all the social and
nature crisis we face, the water crisis is the one that lies at the
heart of our survival. No region will be spared from the impact of
the crisis. Georgia has good water resources but a significant
portion of the population has no access to safe drinking water that
meets sanitary hygienic requirements. The scarcity of water in many
parts of our world will lead to intense social and political
pressure. The careful and efficient use of this essential resource
should be one of our most important concerns.



There is no question: we breathe, eat and drink the environment. Air
is also a carrier element of water. The inseparable symbiosis of the
four elements becomes quite apparent here: fossil fuels create
emissions which affect the air, and pollution air combines with water
and comes down to the earth as acid rain. Health risks caused by air
pollution are an important issue, especially in densely populated
areas. Lead contamination in the air due to road traffic is drawing
worldwide attention, and studies of lead concentration in the air in
the inner city environment of Tbilisi have indicated that we are not
within the safe level.



There are so many challenges: The Black Sea ecosystem has been
seriously damaged as a result of pollution; the cutting down of trees
leads to soil loss of biodiversity and natural habitats; increasing
waste volumes; the build up of chemicals in the environment; air and
water pollutants; and of course, the question of the development and
the integrity of the BTC pipeline construction. The Georgian
community can not be complacent.



Q: How actively do you think the Georgian government is in dealing
with environmental problems in the country?



A: The government is facing profound challenges in numerous
directions, like other countries in transition. However, it appears
to be tackling some of these issues when resources are available.
Regional cooperation on bilateral levels for environmental issues
such as water protection is welcome, but agreements need to be made.
Georgia intends to apply for EU membership, and all candidate
countries are called upon to apply the EU's existing environmental
legislation fully. The EU recognizes the need to support governments
in transition, and Georgia will continue to receive substantial
support in tackling environmental problems. All countries face
similar and complex environmental problems and developing the
"political will" to take the appropriate measures quickly remains the
major challenge.



Q: What activities are WomenAid International engaged in pursuant to
solve environmental problems in Georgia?



A: One of the Key activities within the campaign is the promotion of
UN World Environmental Day each year on June 5, as it is one of the
principle vehicles through which the UN stimulates worldwide
awareness of the environment and empowers people to become active
agents of sustainable ad equitable development - promoting an
understanding that communities are pivotal in changing attitudes
towards environmental issues. WomenAid International views public
participation and access to information as essential elements in
strategies for achieving environmentally sounds, health enhancing and
sustainable forms of development.



The role of communication - awareness raising, the promotion of
public participation, education, or communication and information -
in the policy making process is becoming increasingly recognized as
an increasingly recognized as an instrument with great potential to
help achieve a sustainable society. Health concerns prescribe what
should be done in the environmental field. In fact, health concerns
have always influenced environmental policy, but both policies were
kept away from each other for reason of conflicting "economic and
industrial" interests. Politicians now understand that this approach
does not work, and that the practice of protecting the environment
and health is changing. It is now commonly accepted that health,
environmental and social issues are complex subjects to address, and
are often interrelated to one another as well as to other development
and economic issues.



The EU's sixth Environmental Action Plan is health driven, and one of
the four priority area is "environment and health". The effects of
environmental pollution on human health are being increasingly
recognized and legislation has addressed many problems. However, a
more holistic policy approach is needed to address in interrelations
between different environment related health risks. Women, children
and elderly are especially vulnerable groups.



WomenAid has supported and facilitated the National Environmental
Health Action Plan (NEHAP) development process, organizing a
presentation of a NEHAP draft at a national conference, facilitating
comprehensive public input through public discussion and debate. This
was followed up with a series of consultation seminars on all key
issues, which ensured valuable input prior to its submission to
Parliament. The NEHAP for Georgia is one of the basic documents for
preliminary planning, action, and daily work of all related
governmental structures that determine environmental health policy.



Q: What international or local organizations are your donors and
partners, and how active is their support for Georgian addressing
problems in the field?



A: The basic prerequisite for the development of civil society is the
building of cooperation and trust between the government and NGOs.
Our campaign partners are several government ministries, numerous
regional administrations, the Tbilisi Mayor's Office and the press
and media. WomenAid has funded this campaign for the past four years.
Initially, a request for $10,000 to create the campaign was submitted
to the Regional Environmental Centre, but it was considered too
ambitious and it was rejected ...so we went ahead on our own! The
campaign is based on voluntary partnership forged through a common
concern and commitment to protecting the environment.



It would be a great tribute to the voluntary efforts of so many NGOs
and individuals if the fifth "Caucasus Zone Green" in 2006 received
some financial support.





4. CARBON DIOXIDE USAGE FEE TO RISE



Source: Sarke, June 14, 2005



Parliament has considered today in the first reading amendments to
the bill "On Using Natural Resources", under which the fee for carbon
dioxide (CO2) use will rise from 18 to 20 lari per 1 ton. Authors of
the bill claim that the amendments are made on purpose to guarantee
the rational use of natural resources and the appropriate income of
the budget.





5. OIL PRODUCTION IN AZERBAIJAN TO REACH 63 MILLION TONS IN
2010



Source: State Telegraphic Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan,
Azertag, June 14, 2005



The volume of oil produced in Azerbaijan will reach 63 million tons
in 2010, AzerTAj correspondent learnt from the State Oil Company of
Azerbaijan.



The Company claims gas production will rise as well. Azerbaijan will
be exporting 36,5 billion cubic meters of gas in 2015.





6. Casualties of the oil stampede

Those behind human rights abuses and an alleged safety cover-up
around the Caspian pipeline must be held to account



Source: The Guardian, June 15, 2005



A huge new oil pipeline, opened a week ago but not fully operational
till August, is set to become an environmental, political and
economic timebomb. Over 1,000 miles long, it is a classic example of
pretensions to corporate social responsibility claimed by the BP
consortium being trampled all over by the stampede for oil.



The new Great Game is the competition for control of the world's few
remaining big oilfields. Global oil production will probably peak in
2010-15, and for the last 40 years new annual discoveries of oil have
been far short of the increase in annual demand. The end of Big Oil
is in sight, and with it the oil-powered civilization we've all grown
accustomed to. The struggle to dominate remaining supplies is
intense, nowhere more so than in the Caspian basin, with probably the
largest remaining oil deposits after the Middle East.



Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, bordering the Caspian, together hold oil
reserves three times the size of America's. The route most favored by
the west to transport the oil out of the Caspian goes from Baku in
Azerbaijan via Tbilisi in Georgia to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan
in Turkey. This Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) project costs around
2.4bn, with BP leading a consortium of 11 companies. Almost
three-quarters of the funding comes from bank loans, with public
bodies such as the World Bank providing 350m, including 56m from
the British Export Credits Guarantee Department.



BP trumpeted that they had "established a new international benchmark
in human rights and environmental standards". Perhaps, but not quite
as they intended. The Georgian group Green Alternative has compiled a
220-page dossier alleging the project breaches World Bank guidelines
on 173 counts, including failure to consider the danger of
earthquakes. Georgia's environment minister said BP also forced his
government to violate its own legislation and route the pipeline
close to mineral springs in a national park. Human-rights cases
related to the pipeline have been taken against the Turkish
government to the European court of justice and European court of
human rights. Other cases reported by NGOs include peasants being
misinformed by the authorities about their legal rights - for example
that if they went to court they would receive no compensation or that
they could not challenge the compensation paid. Many other cases are
reported of farmers receiving far less compensation than promised,
and being threatened with violence if they refused to accept what was
offered. Ferhat Kaya, a lawyer, was badly beaten in police custody,
he believes, for trying to inform peasant landowners of their rights.



According to the NGO coalition Baku-Ceyhan Campaign, there are
serious allegations of malfeasance by the authorities in the
acquisition of land along the route, in particular the expropriation
of land before compensation has been agreed - a violation of the
rules of the International Finance Corporation (one of the main bank
lenders). And when construction damaged many roads, drainage and
irrigation systems, the Georgian government stopped the work, but
then backed down after a meeting between the new pro-western
president and Donald Rumsfeld.



However, redress is virtually impossible because the BTC consortium
had already concluded an unprecedented agreement with the Turkish
government that, according to Amnesty International, grants them a
power over the corridor overriding all environmental, social, human
rights or other laws. In effect it strips local people and workers of
all civil rights - a frightening exclusion when Turkey lies in an
earthquake zone or if the pipeline were attacked by terrorists.



BP is also now facing accusations of covering up safety problems that
threaten a major spill. The 160,000 joints need to be coated to stop
water getting in, or the pipes will corrode, leak and may even
explode in sub-zero temperatures underground. Yet BP chose an untried
coating for the joints that cracks when cold and does not stick to
the plaster jacket of the steel pipeline. It is alleged that BP was
aware the coating would not work because its own consultant, Derek
Mortimore, told it so in November 2002. Instead of heeding his
report, BP pressed ahead and, it is claimed, did not pass on
Mortimore's warnings to the international funding bodies; it sacked
him in January 2003.



The joints duly cracked in November 2003, and at least a quarter of
the coated joints in the Georgian section alone have to be replaced.
This issue is now subject to legal action - BP blames the
contractors, who claim BP forced them to use a coating with no track
record. BP suspended work on the project for 10 weeks, again without
informing the World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development or ECGD of their problems before accepting the $2.6bn
loan, which seems a violation of the loan agreement. BP refuses to
release the results of its investigation into the procurement fraud
allegations, which it says exonerates all those involved.



It is clear that the ECGD and other lenders did not undertake any
extra due diligence to ensure the project's safety. The ECGD
minister, on defective advice, told parliament in June 2004 that the
problematic coating had been used on major pipelines. In fact it has
no track record on plastic-coated pipelines such as the one in the
BTC project.



The lessons of this appalling saga are many. First, we need an
immediate independent audit of the BTC pipeline set up by the
lenders' group. Second, a judicial inquiry is needed into the
funders' supervision of the project. Third, we need two reforms to
ensure multinational companies can be held to account over their
disregard for environmental, social, civil and legal rights: they
should be legally responsible for the actions of their agents or
subsidiaries abroad, and action against a UK company abroad should be
enforceable in UK courts. Where the government will not act, NGOs
should be able to take proceedings to enforce rights and legal
agreements, funded by the public purse where an overriding public
interest warrants it.



Michael Meacher is the Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton; he was
environment minister from 1997 to 2003.





7. construction of a freeway through Shikahogh Reserve

Public forum



The public is cordially invited to attend a public forum, which will
take place on Friday, June 17, 2005 from 10:00-13:00 at American
University of Armenia Small Auditorium (5-thfloor) to discuss the
proposed construction of a freeway through Shikahogh Reserve.
American University of Armenia is located at 40 Baghramian Avenue,
Yerevan.



Upon the order of Ministry of Transport and Communication of the
Republic of Armenia the "Transproject" CJSC has developed a project
on construction of a freeway Kapan-Tsav-Shvanidzor, which plans to
cross the Mtnadzor section of the Shikahogh State Reserve.



"Shikahogh" reserve is habitat for many species of plants and animals
registered in the Red Book. Breaking the conservation regime of
Shikahogh will result in the mass destruction of these species.



In the opinion of experts and non-governmental organizations, there
are a few alternatives to the proposed road, which are more expedient
from the strategic and economic points of view and will have less
acute impacts on the environment.



Passage of the road through the mentioned reserve is violating the
provisions of international conventions ratified by the Republic of
Armenia as well as of laws and Government decrees of the Republic of
Armenia.



Environmental Public Alliance of Armenian NGOs organizes a Public
Forum to discuss the expediency of passage of the freeway through
Shikahogh reserve and possible alternatives.



Participants of the Forum will include representatives of the
National Assembly, President's Office, Government Ministries,
academia, international organizations, non-governmental
organizations, etc.



Renee Richer, PhD

Environmental Conservation and Research Center

American University of Armenia

Yerevan,

Armenia


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