Thursday, August 28, 2014
4

污染者必须负责

发自纽约——当英国石油公司及其搭档瑞士越洋钻探公司于2010年在墨西哥湾引发“深水地平线”漏油事故时,美国政府不但要求英国石油公司承担油污清理费用,赔偿受害者损失,还要为导致此次灾难的违规行为接受刑事处罚。英国石油公司已经为该事故调拨了200多亿美元用于善后补救工作和交纳罚金。根据上周达成的协议,英国石油公司将支付美国历史上最大的一 笔刑事罚款——45亿美元

同样的环境事故清理善后标准也应运用到那些在贫困国家经营的国际企业身上。这些大公司的势力相对当地政府来说通常极为巨大,以致许多公司都是在豁免权下活动,可以对环境造成严重破坏却极少或无需承担责任。随着我们进入一个可持续发展的新时代,豁免权应该转向责任制。不管是在富国还是穷国,污染者必须付出代价。大公司应该为它们的行为承担相应的责任。

尼日利亚就曾经是企业逍遥于环境污染惩罚之外的例子。几十年来,包括壳牌、埃克森美孚和雪弗龙在内的各大石油公司一直在尼日尔三角洲开采石油。尼日尔三角洲是一个拥有淡水沼泽森林、红树林、低地雨林和沿海屏障岛屿的脆弱生态环境。这片肥沃富饶的栖息地支撑着非凡的生物多样性——或者说在石油公司来破坏之前是这样的——而当地3000多万居民的健康和生计都依赖于该生态系统。

二十年前,世界自然保护联盟把尼日尔三角洲分类为一个拥有极丰富海洋及沿海动植物多样性的地区——不同树种、鱼类、鸟类和哺乳类与其他形式的生命共处一地——因此将其列为极高的优先保护等级。然而该联盟也指出,由于这个地区极少或未被保护,其生物多样性正处于巨大的威胁之中。

在尼日尔三角洲经营的跨国石油企业几十年来一直在该地区泄漏石油及燃烧天然气,根本不考虑自然环境和因其行为而变得贫困甚至遭受毒害的人类社区。一份研究估计宣称过去50年中这些公司累积泄漏的石油约为1000万桶——这是英国石油公司漏油量的2倍。

该数据并不准确:过去的50年中有好几千次石油溢出事故——通常这些事故都未被详细记录,其石油泄漏量常常被掩盖甚至被公司及政府故意忽略。确实,正当英国石油公司遭受新的刑事处罚时,埃克森美孚又通报了一起位于尼日尔三角洲的石油管道泄漏事件。

三角洲的环境破坏只是一长串事件中的一部分:腐败的公司与腐败的政府官员相互勾结以牟取私利。公司通常贿赂政府官员以获取石油合同,它们谎报产量,偷税漏税,逃避由其经营活动引起的环境损害的责任。由于一直掠夺三角洲自然财富的跨国企业几十年来的贿赂,尼日利亚的政府官员变得惊人的富有。壳牌——尼日尔三角洲最大的国外营运商——就屡次因其恶名昭彰的行为及不愿承担责任的态度而遭到外界批评。

与此同时,当地居民却一直处于贫困状态,还被由不安全的空气、被污染的饮用水和食物链污染引起的疾病所困扰。当地违法行为已经引起了黑帮火拼以及层出不穷的管道偷油案件,这又进一步导致了大量石油泄漏事故并导致了造成大量人员死亡——包括许多无辜受殃者——的频繁爆炸事件。

在殖民时期,从殖民领地攫取财富是帝国主义的官方意图。而在后殖民时期,这种意图有了更好的伪装。当石油公司在尼日利亚或其他国家恣意妄为时,它们会受到母国政权保护。美国及欧洲国家警告那些石油原产国:别找石油公司的麻烦。确实,尼日利亚近期最大的一笔贿赂(外界普遍估计约1.8亿美元)是由美国哈利伯顿公司支付的,而该公司与美国政界则有着错综复杂的关系。(迪克·切尼就是从哈利伯顿的首席执行官摇身一变成为美国副总统的。)

去年,联合国环境规划署发布了一份引人注目的奥贡尼兰报告,奥贡尼兰是一个曾经曾处于本地社区与跨国石油企业矛盾中心的尼日尔三角洲主要部族祖居地。这份报告措辞严厉证据清晰。尽管过去石油公司作过很多关于清理的承诺,奥贡尼兰依旧处于恶劣的环境状况之下,该地区已经被石油产业榨干了财富而且疾病肆虐。

联合国环境规划署同时还提供了清晰详细的建议,包括保证安全饮用水的紧急措施;针对红树木和土壤的清除活动;鉴定及消除污染后果的公共健康研究;还有一个新的监管框架。

世界各国政府在六月的“里约+20峰会”上宣布他们打算采用可持续发展目标,并于近期同意为了可持续发展接受新的监管框架。可持续发展目标为全世界给政府及公司行为设定清晰强制的标准提供了一个关键的机会。包括石油产业在内的许多大公司都表达了他们支持可持续发展目标的意愿。

清除尼日尔三角洲的石油污染将给新时代的问责制提供一个具备最大实施可能性的例子。壳牌、雪弗龙、埃克森美孚以及其他石油大公司应该站出来资助必要的石油污染清理,开创一个负责任的新时代。

尼日利亚政府本身也有不可推卸的责任。令人鼓舞的是已经有几位尼日利亚参议员最近一直站在致力加强石油产业法治化的最前沿。

尼日尔三角洲的石油清理行动给尼日利亚、石油产业以及国际社会提供了一个理想的机会来向世界昭示——一个新的时代已经到来了。从现在开始,可持续发展不能纯粹只是一个口号,而应该是针对全球治理及在这个浮躁拥挤的星球上谋求幸福的运作方法。

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  1. Commentedmargaret beresford

    Sorry, your arguments melt away when you purposely forget to deal with the multitude of trade agreements including the TPP which aims to dictate corporate economic avarice over every nation's government's constitution and countries existing policies. How sustainable is it when local, state and federal levels can no longer enact any protective environmental laws, encourage any small or growing business with domestic contract, where voting for levels of governance is over riding by foreign corporations investor rights to profit at the expense of the countries people, land and economic self determination. In Canada we were lied to and signed NAFTA, now instead of open and fair economic competition we are faced with badly managed foreign companies using NAFTA communism's mandate to guarantee that any and all foreign companies MUST make profits for investor at the exclusion of national sovereignty, protection of national resources, the denial of any sustainable competition. To date we will in total be on the hook for 1.8 billion dollars to pay for outside corporate malfeasance, flagrant pollution, bad management decisions of corporations in other countries branches, no allowance for national innovation, etc, etc. How did so many of the invasive vulture trade agreements seem to skirt your vigilant beam?????? I as a global taxpayer are frankly fed up with the piling lies and just maybe see that if these lies are to ensure the 1% can operate with impunity while continuing to steal every tax dollar from our nation government in the guise of free theft trade of the only markets left to plunder---local, state and federal taxpayers of each and every country need to drained.

  2. CommentedCarol Maczinsky

    Mr. Sachs, let's get the facts straight. The Americans use the world to load off their financial crime waste, the Americans use the world to pay for their corporate oil crimes. Actually BP didn't cause the Deepwater Horizon oil spill but its US contractor Transoceans. Only that Transoceans has no end customer related business. The ruthless exploitation of BP sents a strong signal and explains why the Germans are right to go for the renewables. Just imagine how many solar plants you could built with 25 billion $.

  3. CommentedJohn Brian Shannon

    Hi Jeffery,

    This is a fine article and thank you for covering this travesty, which occurs on a large scale and is largely hidden from the public view.

    I would gladly forego charging oil executives and corrupt government leaders with criminal charges -- if doing so would drop opposition within those quarters to the actual cleanup and remediation of contaminated land and waterways, once a spill has occurred.

    Many hundreds of cleanup operations are not being executed on account of pending lawsuits and criminal charges.

    (When a prosecutor can stand up in court and say "XYZ oil company MUST be guilty of criminal behavior because the proof of that which I have right here in my hand is the 90-million-dollar itemized cleanup bill.")

    From my point of view, when a spill occurs (whether caused by negligence, act of nature, terrorism, or anything else) if the oil company comes forward right away, issues a press release, informs the relevant government authorities, and begins work on cleanup and remediation right away -- this should qualify that company and it's executives from any criminal lawsuits regarding that particular spill. Period, end.

    Yes, it's that important.

    For companies who do not want to initiate the above-noted proper response to a spill, then let the full force of the law be applied. If that means a 20-billion-dollar fine to cover the costs of third-party cleanup efforts AND prison time for oil executives, that is just fine with me. I'd say they are 'getting off light' with that sort of meagre punishment.

    But for oil executives who duly report and properly respond to oil spills -- full immunity from criminal prosecution.

    That is what it is going to take to ensure proper cleanup of inevitable oil spills to come and the present-day oil spills which are still pouring oil today, into lakes and rivers and valuable lands.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment, Jeffery.

    Cheers, JBS
    http://jbsnews.com





      CommentedJohn Brian Shannon

      Typo correction in my above comment -- bottom of the 5th paragraph should read:

      "...-- this should disqualify that company and it's executives from any criminal lawsuits..."

      Thank you, JBS

  4. CommentedZsolt Hermann

    Humans do not act without motivation.
    When there is a need to change the prevalent attitude, approach people can either use negative or positive motivation.
    Usually when significant change is required applying negative motivation can be successful to wake people up and introduce "fear" keeping them aligned with the new direction.
    But in order to achieve long term, sustainable change a positive motivation is required, otherwise as "fear" dissipates and people start finding the ways avoiding punishment, going around it, the desired direction is lost.
    And positive motivation can only come from a global education program to all layers, cultures and ages of the society to explain that we all exist in a vast natural ecosystem we ourselves are part of, and only if we keep the fundamental laws of nature, the laws of balance and homoeostasis can we expect not only a sustainable future but survival of our species.

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