Tesla's Gigafactory endangers our water and ecological resources

13 August 2021,

At a rally at the Brandenburg Gate, activists from the Wassertafel Berlin-Brandenburg highlighted the threat Tesla's Gigafactory poses to the water and ecological resources of Berlin-Brandenburg. In addition to the speeches, a performance took place in which the people of Berlin, represented by the Berlin Bear, and Elon Musk, represented by the wolf in sheep's clothing, clashed. The Berlin Bear was particularly concerned about the new 13,600 page (sic!) application for the construction of the electric car factory and the world's largest battery factory in Grünheide. He called on the people of Brandenburg and Berlin to submit their objections to the Brandenburg Environmental Protection Agency (LfU) by 19 August.

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The Red Aqua Pública demands from the Ministry of Health that the process of transposition of the European directive on water for human consumption be participatory and transparent

Translation in English of the press release from Red Agua Pública

9 June 2021

On 16 December 2020, the Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted the Directive 2020/2184 on the quality of water intended for human consumption. This legislation replaced the then existing legislation dating from 1998, which was clearly outdated. The revision of the directive was largely motivated by pressure from the Right2Water Citizens' Initiative "The right to water and sanitation as a human right", which was supported by nearly 2 million European citizens and many social organisations who argued that water supply cannot be governed by internal market rules, must be left out of the liberalisation process, and must meet strict conditions of information, public participation and accountability, all in the general context of the recognition of the human right to water.

Although the European Parliament took on board the demands of the Right2Water initiative, in the process of revising the 1998 directive, a significant part of the citizens' demands were relegated to the background, so that the directive approved in December 2020, although it represents an important step forward with respect to the previous one, does not cover the fundamental part of the citizens' demands expressed in the Right2Water initiative.

In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union, the government has set in motion the process of transposing the new directive into Spanish law. This process, which is being led by the Ministry of Health, is being carried out in an opaque manner without encouraging citizen participation in an issue in which they should have a special presence, considering the defining principles of the human right to water.

In this context, the Red Aqua Pública has written to the Minister of Health -see attached letter-, denouncing this circumstance and offering its collaboration so that the transposition of the European directive includes the citizens' demands that were overlooked in the directive approved in December 2020. The letter has been sent to the heads of the Ministries of Consumer Affairs and Ecological Transition, as they are also directly involved in the process.

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Leandro del Moral 620666912
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The Red Aqua Pública (RAP) is a space that brings together dozens of platforms, social, environmental, trade union and political organisations in Spain that promote a vision of water as a commons and public service, and fight for the defence of public, non-profit, transparent and participatory management of water supply and sanitation services.

Letter to the Minister of Health

Water for life, not for profit !

On 22 March 2021, the United Nations celebrates World Water Day. The official theme of this day is “Valuing Water”, a title that should ring alarm bells: there is only a short step between the idea of value and the idea of price! Yet, ascribing nature a financial value is a growing phenomenon, which has just culminated in the listing on the derivates exchange of the most essential element for humanity and life: water.

Listing water on the commodity market : a crime against life!

On 7 December 2020, the world’s largest financial derivatives exchange, CME Group, launched the first water futures market. Investors and speculators can now gamble on the price of water in California.

In theory, futures contracts should make it possible to combat price volatility and provide security for farmers. But reality clearly shown the opposite.

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Good bye Tesla! The Berliner Wassertisch networks the resistance against Tesla

Press release of the Berliner Wassertisch
Berlin, 28 April 2021

The organisers were overwhelmed by the response to the invitation of the Berlin Water Council (Berlin Wasserrats) on 27 April 21 to the online conference "Is Tesla taking over Berlin's water?": Interested parties came not only from Brandenburg and Berlin, but also from Freiburg and Saarbrücken, Munich and Toronto. The European Water Movement (EWM) and the Transnational Institute (TNI) also showed interest. 

Dorothea Härlin, co-founder of the Berliner Wassertisch, pointed out in her introduction: "We, the Berliner Wassertisch, did not fight for years for the remunicipalisation of the Berlin water company (Berliner Wasserbetriebe) and co-founded the Berlin Blue Community, only for Tesla with its production, which is extremely questionable in terms of its eco-balance, to take our water and pollute it even more - the situation is bad enough as it is."

Spokeswoman Ulrike von Wiesenau comments: "On the outskirts of Berlin, the construction of a car plant without final government approval is proceeding at breakneck speed. Every day, new elements are discovered, although fundamental questions, such as the issue of groundwater, remain unresolved. The lack of transparency, the ignored agreements and the reference to trade and business secrets are not conducive to a climate of trust."

During the debate it became clear that many environmental groups and associations have been fighting against Tesla for a long time, but so far they have not been able to stand alone against this gigantic company. Everyone agreed that with all this accumulated knowledge and the current and future network of many actors, they could nevertheless do something against a global company that only thinks about profit.

A first requirement of this still young alliance is, as Erwin Nolde, a wastewater engineer and co-founder of the Blue Community in Berlin, says: "Tesla must at least apply the same standard as Volkswagen. Volkswagen installed its own water recycling system with its own wastewater treatment even before the Second World War. This is now the standard in almost all large companies. We call on policymakers to issue no more partial permits, and certainly no final permits, until this measure is implemented by Tesla."

All participants agreed on this demand and on the fact that this online conference will be the starting signal for further joint actions. The various contributions also showed that the local resistance of the inhabitants against the destruction of their "paradise", as one participant of the Grünheide citizens' initiative (BI Grünheide) put it, is extremely important. The production of electric cars as a supposed salvation against climate change was also repeatedly questioned. 

With the experience of the Berliner Wassertisch in its fight against global companies, such as RWE and Veolia at the time, much can be expected from this new alliance.

Press contact: Ulrike von Wiesenau +49(0) 1573-4077795 

We say NO to the trading of Water Futures on the Stock Market

Brussels, 22 Mach 2021

The European Water Movement joins the UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Water, Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, in condemning the trading of water on the stock market. Last December Mr Pedro Arrojo-Agudo expressed grave concern at the news that water would be treated as a commodity and is to be traded in the “futures market” on Wall Street.

Water is indispensable to life on Earth and the flotation of water on the stock market marks the beginning of the commodification of human life.

Water availability is already under threat from a growing population, climate change, pollution, large scale agriculture and industry.

According to the UN, a billion people have no access to drinking water and three to four billion have an insufficient quantity of drinking water at their disposal. Globally, 8 million people die annually because of insufficient access to water and sanitation.

It is an epochal transition that constitutes a major threat to fundamental human rights and opens water to financial speculation. This will lead to the further marginalization of millions of people, the marginalization of territories and small-scale businesses and farms. If water is put on the open market, it will inevitably lead to rising water prices. Trading ‘water futures’ is shocking news for us and criminal because it will certainly lead to the deaths of hundreds of millions of human beings, mainly the most impoverished on the planet

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing that clean water and sanitation are basic human rights. The move to commodify water on Wall Street directly threatens these human rights and puts billions in jeopardy. Furthermore, in Europe, this will represent a further slap in the face for almost 2 million EU citizens that, in 2013, signed the first European Citizens Initiative, Right2Water. The ECI calls for the exclusion of Water from the stock market and the exclusion of the profit motive from this common good.

Water is too precious to be open to speculation from financiers and investors seeking to profit from the planet’s water crisis. We must change course from the commodification of water and ensure, once and forever, that water resources are recognized as a human right and a common good. 

We ASK the EU institutions:

  • To reject officially the floatation of water in the Stock Market and declare water an inalienable common good, not subject to commodification and financial speculation.
  • To prevent the ‘grabbing’ of the water resources by requiring that approval of licenses for extractions guarantee the principle of solidarity, protect the quality and quantity of water intended for human consumption and act to protect and preserve water ecosystems.
  • To adopt the above requirements in the EU water legislation, in particular in the Water Framework Directive. With particular regard to the inclusion of the reference to the UN General Assembly Resolution of 2010 and to the EU Parliament Resolution of 2015.
  • To ask for investments to reduce leaks from water networks.
  • To ask for the preservation of Community ecosystems through investments against hydrogeological instability

We ask the Member States and the European institutions to include the principle of the Human Right to water in the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan. We need concrete proposal to this end.

Millions of people are deprived of rights to access essential services. It is appalling that the Commission only proposes a First EU Report on Access to Essential Services in 2023. This is too late to make concrete legislative proposals in this legislature and we demand it is moved forward to 2022.