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Cleared: Jury decides that threat of global warming justifies breaking the law

Michael McCarthy, The Independent
The threat of global warming is so great that campaigners were justified in causing more than £35,000 worth of damage to a coal-fired power station, a jury decided yesterday. In a verdict that will have shocked ministers and energy companies the jury at Maidstone Crown Court cleared six Greenpeace activists of criminal damage.

Jurors accepted defence arguments that the six had a “lawful excuse” to damage property at Kingsnorth power station in Kent to prevent even greater damage caused by climate change.

The defence of “lawful excuse” under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 allows damage to be caused to property to prevent even greater damage – such as breaking down the door of a burning house to tackle a fire.

The not-guilty verdict, delivered after two days and greeted with cheers in the courtroom, raises the stakes for the most pressing issue on Britain’s green agenda and could encourage further direct action…
(11 September 2008)

Nuclear is the real threat to the fuel-poor, not wind energy

Oliver Tickell, Guardian
Recent allegations that a dash for wind would cause a big increase in fuel poverty crumble when you do the numbers, says Oliver Tickell. Nuclear is the real worry

“Wind power could put another half million people into fuel poverty” – shock, horror! That was how BBC Radio 4 promoted last week’s The Investigation into the future of wind power in the UK.

Who can blame them? It got me listening. But do their figures stack up? And what exactly was Sir David King, former government chief scientific advisor, up to when he uttered his dire warning? In case you missed it, here’s that warning in full: …

… In any case, we know the cause of the fuel poverty surge: more expensive fossil fuels. So the precautionary approach is to make our energy costs less sensitive to future fuel price shocks, and diversify into renewables. To generate 35% of our electricity from wind would be an important step in this direction. The bulk of our electricity would still come from fossil fuels, mostly coal and gas, but the wind component (and additional contributions from other renewable energy technologies) would represent an important counterbalance.

… So what was King up to? Here’s my guess. He is a known supporter of nuclear power, and is widely credited for having overturned the anti-nuclear conclusion of the 2002 energy review, and for the government’s current pro-nuclear stance first promulgated in its 2006 Energy Review. Perhaps his real problem with bringing 35% wind into our electricity supply is that it leaves little space for new nuclear power …
(10 September 2008)
EB contributor AC writes:
It’s shocking to think that the kind of mendacious arguments described in this article formed the basis of the UK nuclear renaissance under the disgraced Tony Blair. Sir David King (Blair’s chief scientific advisor) has a lot to answer for and Oliver Tickell is certainly asking all the right questions. As usual, the British people – especially the poorest – will be picking up the tab for Blair’s ideological power (sic) politics. If he’s serious about renewable energy and avoiding future fuel poverty in the UK, one thing Gordon Brown should do immediately is to switch to a feed-in tarif on the German model.

How good an eco-driver are you? Regulator’s tips on careful motoring may save £500 a year

Stephen Bates, The Guardian
As the rising price of petrol starts to affect driving habits, it was perhaps only a question of time before the Driving Standards Agency, regulator of driving tests, got in on the act. Deploying an instinct which combines expediency with usefulness, the agency is today instituting eco-awareness for those undergoing the test.

Would-be drivers can expect Britain’s 2,000 examiners to comment not just on their proficiency in deciding whether it is safe to let them out on the roads alone, but also on their driving efficiency.

Roaring through the gears and sudden braking – apart from the emergency stop routine – will not mean you fail the test, but may give rise to a word of advice about the advisability of smooth acceleration from the examiner at the end. You will get a nice leaflet too…
(10 September 2008)