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Coal - August 6

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Dirty tactics to defend a dirty industry

Caroline Lucas, Guardian
Aggressive policing at this year's climate camp in Kingsnorth has exposed the UK authorities' contempt for peaceful protest
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Sitting in a teepee in the peaceful Kent countryside, surrounded by campaigners from across the UK mulling over the future of renewable energy and swapping vegan cake recipes, you could be forgiven for temporarily forgetting the outside world and its many woes. Perhaps, then, we must also forgive the police at the climate camp in Kingsnorth this week for losing their grip on reality, as the sense of perspective which should have underpinned their policing strategy for the event flew straight out of the canvas window.

The police - primarily from the local Medway force but Metropolitan officers are also in evidence - have raided the camp twice now, confiscating items that included crayons, disabled access ramps, marker pens, banners, radios for relaying fire and medical emergency information, the nuts and bolts holding toilet cubicles together and blackboard paint. They have found it necessary to use pepper spray without provocation, and several campers have been arrested and bailed off the site for "obstructing" increasingly aggressive police officers.

Everyone who enters the site is being searched. Police officers are taking anything away that "could be used for illegal activity", with efforts being made to strip protesters of such hardcore weapons of choice as bits of carpet, biodegradable soap and toilet paper.
Caroline Lucas became one of the UK's first Green Party MEPs in 1999 when she was elected to represent South-East England in the European Parliament
(4 August 2008)
Beginning of a predictable dynamic: protest - repression - escalating protest - escalating repression. The Guardian has more coverage, for example:
Anger at police raid on green camp ahead of coal protest
Paul Golby: Protesters at our coal plant are deluded
Climate change activists at Kingsnorth protest prepare for jail
Bibi van der Zee: How far will the protesters go?
Simon Lewis: E.ON's dangerous untruth



The stakes could not be higher. Everything hinges on stopping coal

George Monbiot, The Guardian
As soon as I have finished this column I will jump on the train to Kent. Last year Al Gore remarked: "I can't understand why there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants." Like hundreds of honorary young people, I am casting my Zimmer frame aside to answer the call.

Everything now hinges on stopping coal. Whether we prevent runaway climate change largely depends on whether we keep using the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. Unless we either leave it - or the carbon dioxide it produces - in the ground, human development will start spiralling backwards. The more coal is burnt, the smaller are our chances of future comfort and prosperity. The industrial revolution has gone into reverse.

It is not because of polar bears that I will be joining the climate camp outside the coal plant at Kingsnorth. It is not because of butterflies or frogs or penguins or rainforests, much as I love them all. It is because everything I have fought for and that all campaigners for social justice have ever fought for - food, clean water, shelter, security - is jeopardised by climate change. Those who claim to identify a conflict between environmentalism and humanitarianism have either failed to read the science or have refused to understand it...
(5 August 2008)



Coal's future is safe - but what about the climate?

Gerard Wynn and Jacqueline Cowhig, Reuters
LONDON - Does coal have a future? Climate change protesters and coal traders alike say it's a daft question, but agreement ends there.

For protesters, the shiny black lumps of fossilised wood and plants are contributing to drastic climate change. For traders, coal is an energy no-brainer which offers a ray of hope for 1.6 billion people living without electricity.

They're probably both right.

By mid-century, the world may have an extra 3 billion people and four times the wealth but somehow it must also at least halve carbon emissions from its main energy source -- fossil fuels -- to rein in dangerous global warming, scientists say.

Power generation accounts for about two-fifths of global emissions, from burning fossil fuels, of the main man-made greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, and coal for most of that.

...It may in the end require a nudge from the climate itself to mobilise deployment of a full arsenal of carbon-cutting technologies, some of which are still in the lab.

Peter Taylor, a main author of the IEA's "Energy Technology Perspectives" report, says climate impacts will emerge without "extremely fast" action to curb greenhouse gases.

"I think you resign yourself to the fact that you'll only be able to stabilise temperatures at a higher level, and then we'll see what the impact is," he said...
(5 August 2008)
The last statement here is frightening. The idea that we get to have a little wake up call from the environment to nudge us into a more environmental policy.-SO
See also Richard Heinberg on Coal and Climate.



Green groups drop opposition to Texas coal plant

Reuters
NEW YORK - Environmental groups have dropped opposition to the expansion of an NRG Energy Inc Texas coal plant after the company agreed to offset some of the unit's greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the agreement, the NRG Limestone 3 plant near Houston would offset or sock underground half of its carbon dioxide emissions until the United States launches a federal climate change program.

NRG will build or support the development of a utility scale solar power project in Texas as part of the agreement, or contribute to a trust that would fund Texas energy efficiency projects...
(4 August 2008)

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