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UK climate policy and activism - Mar 4

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Climate camp to target coal power station

Jessica Aldred, Guardian
Climate change activists are to target the site of the proposed new coal-fired power station with a week-long camp in Kent this summer, organisers announced today.

The Camp for Climate Action will be held from August 4-11 at the site of Kingsnorth in Kent, where German energy company E.On is proposing to build the country's first new coal-fired power station in 30 years.

...Natasha Edleman, a spokeswoman for the camp said: "Building a new coal-fired power station in the middle of a climate crisis is madness.

... This year's camp will also stage a day of action targeting the biofuels industry.

"Biofuels have been proposed as a solution to climate change. But new studies confirm that they are just as dangerous as fossil fuels," said Charlie Owens, a camp spokesman. "And they create the illusion we can carry on as usual. In the end we can only stop climate change if we challenge the growth economy and start putting people and planet first.
(3 March 2008)


The Prime Minister's green credentials are not in the bag

Andrew Rawnsley, The Guardian
Gestures which make us feel better are all very well, but they are nowhere near enough to address the gravity of the threat to Earth
--
... The political balance sheet has always been the problem for Gordon Brown. The Prime Minister's smart brain tells him that there is a grave threat to the planet; his wary gut rumbles that voters will punish any politician who demands that we make sacrifices to our planet-eating lifestyles. He has often heard the greener ministers in his government arguing that Britain should follow the example of the Republic of Ireland where they introduced a small tax on plastic bags six years ago and massively reduced their use.

Even China - hardly Gaia's best friend - will soon be introducing a ban. In the context of the threat to the planet from global warming, it would be an extremely modest, albeit worthwhile, act to banish those bags. But the Prime Minister fears that right-wing papers such as the one edited by his friend will attack him for introducing another 'stealth tax' in the name of green tyranny.

So, after a think, the Prime Minister hits on a solution to his dilemma which he reckons could satisfy just about everyone. He contributes an article to the Mail which pleases his friend Mr Dacre and associates the Prime Minister with a populist campaign that has the support of such revered Middle Englanders as the Women's Institute.

... This demonstrates that we have come along a little. But Mr Brown's cautious imprecision about what he will actually do even about plastic bags illustrates how much further there is to go.

These bags are a horrible plague, as is our absurd over-consumption of bottled water, the other recent cause célèbre. Curbing both would be a small step in the right direction, but they represent only a tiny part of the threat to the Earth's environment. This is the politics of making ourselves feel a bit better, the politics of gesturism and tokenism. Important gestures, yes. Worthwhile tokens, for sure. But we shouldn't confuse assuaging public and political guilt with properly addressing the full severity of the threat to the planet.
(2 March 2008)


Did the Standard tell the truth about the Heathrow climate change camp?

George Monbiot, Guardian
Something unusual is going to happen tomorrow. The Press Complaints Commission, Britain's only arbiter of fairness and accuracy in our newspapers, is due to make a ruling. What's so odd about that? Well, as Nick Davies shows in his book Flat Earth News, out of 28,000 complaints to the PCC submitted over 10 years, it managed to make a formal adjudication on just 448, or 1.6%. Most of the time it finds a reason to look the other way. This isn't too surprising: six of its 16 commissioners are newspaper or magazine editors.

But tomorrow's case is so serious, and the evidence that has accumulated over the past seven months so strong, that even the PCC can't brush it under the carpet. It concerns the London Evening Standard's reporting of the climate camp established close to Heathrow airport last August. Soon after it opened, the paper accused the campers of putting the lives of millions at risk by planning to invade the airport and plant hoax bombs. The story was repeated by the Sun, the Mail, the Express, the Telegraph and the BBC. I have now seen the correspondence about this case. It makes astonishing reading.

The front page article, written by the paper's chief reporter and headlined "Militants will hit Heathrow", claimed that "climate change activists plan to use illegal tactics such as hoax suspicious packages to cause maximum disruption at one of the busiest times of the year. They have also discussed simultaneous assaults on the airport's security fence to stretch police resources to the limit." Inside the paper, a journalist called Rashid Razaq - who spent a night undercover in the camp - reported that one man was "urging us to get them panicked with different things at the same time, like bags left around the airport and people climbing the fence'. Late that night, I saw two protesters checking out the security fences." As the organisers of the camp began to investigate, the story started to fall apart. They also discovered that this is not the only occasion on which Razaq has been accused of taking liberties with the truth.
(4 March 2008)

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