The container filled with dirty air that Public Eye is returning to the sender Trafigura has arrived in Antwerp. The “Return to Sender” campaign has drawn attention to the illegitimate business practices of Swiss commodity trading companies which exploit existing double standards to sell toxic fuel in Africa that would never be allowed at the pump in Europe.
Political debate in ARA region
The Dirty-Diesel campaign has sparked a broad debate not only in concerned countries in Africa, but also in Switzerland and the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) zone. The ARA region is where the production as well as the export of toxic „African Quality“ fuel is concentrated. Swiss companies are at the forefront of the business: they have invested massively in the ARA region, own storage facilities and refineries. Moreover, they dominate the supply from ARA to West Africa.
The Dirty Diesel campaign has shed some light onto little known and very opaque business practices which can no longer be ignored by authorities and policy-makers. The Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade, Lilianne Ploumen, called these practices „a grave scandal“ and said the companies involved should be ashamed. Nevertheless, the Amsterdam Port Authorities have so far refused to take action. However, the final word has not yet been spoken. On October 26, the dirty diesel report (PDF, 8.8 MB) was discussed in the City Council of Amsterdam (the city of Amsterdam is the owner of the port). Representatives of five parties that have a majority in the council all showed concern at the «Dirty Diesel» issue and agreed that the production of dirty fuels for export to Africa should be ceased. Different suggestions have been brought forward ranging from the development of a code of conduct, a Covenant obliging companies operating in the port to cease production of «African Quality» fuels, to urging the Dutch government to prohibiting the export of dirty fuels. In a subsequent step, a formal motion will be put to vote in the council in mid-November. Its goal is clear: ending Amsterdam’s complicity in this illegitimate business model.
Trafigura remains silent
Trafigura, that has vowed to become an industry leader in matters of corporate social responsibility, continues to remain silent on the issue. The company prefers to hide behind the double standards and the fact that their toxic fuels are legal in Africa. To date, close to 17,000 people have signed the petition asking Trafigura to only sell fuels of European quality from now on. Please sign the petition und ask your family and friends to do the same.
The container filled with dirty air from Accra will now be loaded onto a train and will continue its journey towards Geneva where it will be handed over to Trafigura together with the petition.