Sunday, 19 February 2012

BDS Double Failure in North London

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) announced last week that Veolia had been short-listed for two lucrative contracts worth a combined £4.7 billion. The final decision won't be made until December.

BDS campaigners had tried hard to convince the Authority to exclude Veolia because of its involvement in the Jerusalem Light Rail which they hold to be illegal since it benefits Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem (ignoring the benefit to Palestinians living there). Excluding Veolia from the contract would almost certainly be illegal under European and UK law and clearly the Authority was not convinced by the BDS arguments.

What makes this a double failure (aside from the two contracts) is that the BDS campaigners have themselves given up on BDS. Rather than argue that the company should be excluded because of anything to do with Israel and the occupation, the BDS campaigners have focussed their efforts on other facets of the bid. A letter sent to a local paper a few days before the decision, reprinted on the London BDS website, called for Veolia to not be short-listed. But rather than focus on its involvement with the tram system, the letter argued that:
Only two of the bidders included practical solutions to the authority’s objective of combining heat usage in the project, known as CHP. On the other hand, Veolia’s solution is not and could not be CHP.
To confirm this, we researched information from other bodies, including the Infrastructure Planning Commission and the Environment Agency.
The issue of Israel was an afterthought:
Does it surprise anyone that Veolia, which has been accused of profiting from illegal Israeli settlements, shows such disregard for environmental objectives?
And in the comments on the London BDS website, reacting to their failure, one activist argued that:
Prior to the NLWA decisions on 10 Feb “Moody’s downgraded Veolia Environment’s senior unsecured ratings from A3 to Baa1″ [published on 8 February].
It is inconceivable the NLWA management informed the councillors Members of this significant development before the decisions on 10 Feb, as it failed to inform them that Veolia is not CHP and its grave misconduct in aiding and abetting war crimes.
It is most likely Veolia would have been deselected had the NLWA taken into account the true ratings of Veolia, but as with other evidence, the NLWA been withholding information from the elected Members as well giving inappropriate weightings.
When even the BDS campaigners won't put BDS at the centre of their campaign, you know they're losing and they know it.

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