Friday, 25 May 2007

Anarchists and Eco-Warriors

From last night’s Evening Standard:

Thousands of green campaigners are planning to cause massive disruption at Heathrow airport.

‘Eco-warriors’ say they will set up a Greenham Common-style protest camp near the perimeter fence.

They intend to use it as a base to disrupt flights at the peak of the tourist season in an attempt to focus attention on climate change and global warming.

At a secret meeting in London at the weekend, protesters said they would occupy land around Heathrow between 14 to 21 August.

From there they will threaten the boundary and attempt to cause havoc inside the airport - or at least tie up hundreds of police.

The (lack of) Standard’s parent paper, the Daily Mail, unsurprisingly carries a very similar article.

Ah, those lazy right-wing journalistic standards we know and love. Anyone who’s disillusioned with what passes for a political system in this country and sick of the three major parties’ utter inability to grasp the urgency of the climate change issue, and who therefore decides to take a stand in the name of our common future is clearly an anarchist-eco-hippy-tree-munching-lentil-loving-mud-warrior and must be DESTROYED.


Luckily, the Climate Camp media team are darned sorted and well-organised, and through well-prepared press releases and media appearances have so far mostly succeeded in managing this sort of dross and putting out the real story of what the Camp is actually about. A quick web search reveals a good selection of much more balanced articles with significantly less mouth-foaming – it’s all rather refreshing, really. Even the Telegraph has a surprisingly friendly take on things.

I thought I’d try to do my bit to help, so last night I wrote the following response to post in the Comments section of the Standard and the Mail articles:

“The direct action mentioned in the above article will be happening as part of the Camp for Climate Action – see The camp will be a 10-day event encompassing practical low-impact living, education and training as well as direct action.

“As already announced on the website, the aim of the action is not to target passengers, but to highlight the lunacy of the government's airport expansion plans, target industry giants profiteering from the climate crisis, and raise awareness of the need to fly less. The camp will also support local residents in their long-term struggle against the building of a third runway and the destruction of their communities. In the interests of public safety there will be no attempt to blockade runways.

“The meeting last weekend was not “secret”, but was advertised widely and free for anyone to attend. This are an open, non-hierarchical movement of people from a wide range of ages and backgrounds, united by the belief that we need to take action, as citizens, to avert climate catastrophe. Labelling everyone involved in the action as “anarchists” and “eco-warriors” is inaccurate and fails to represent the diversity of the people involved; anyone reading this now could walk into the camp and be a part of it, or take action where they live and be a part of the same growing movement for climate sanity.

“Aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, and all our efforts to tackle climate change in other sectors will be undone by the government’s proposals for massive growth in air travel. Government and business have already shown that they are unwilling or unable to act with the urgency required to avert disastrous climate change. It’s time to take things into our own hands – please visit and learn more about how you can get involved and make a difference.”

Clearly this was far too long, but it made me feel better. Other members of the excellent Climate Camp networking team then took up the baton, wrote a shorter, punchier response and actually got the Standard to post a good chunk of it in the (moderated) Comments under the Standard article (though there's no sign of it on the Mail site yet).

Only a small thing, but indicative of the hundreds of small but potent actions that are being carried out every day in the build-up to the Climate Camp. As a huge, sprawling, disparate collective who are organising - in a non-hierarchical way - a massive, high-profile and hopefully very effective action camp, I find it really encouraging that these smaller details are still being picked up on. Of course, this assumes that we're on the case with the big things too...ahhh, of course we are.

This is a great thing to be a part of. If you're reading this, you should join in too. Get yourself over to the Climate Camp website and find out how to get involved!


1 comment:

Calvin Jones said...

Camp for Climate Action

From the 14th to the 21st of August 2007 people from all over the UK will come together to form the Camp for Climate Action at Heathrow airport. Described last year as 'Glastonbury, science seminar and protest all in one'1, we clearly have a lot to live up to. Last year this mixture of education, protest and entertainment captured the media imagination with the camp receiving unheard of news coverage for a climate change protest. At that time we focused on dirty coal2, this year the focus has changed to the ever expanding aviation industry.

Deciding to highlight aviation growth with this years climate camp was not an easy decision. But we asked ourselves: 'Where are government policies on climate change weakest and most badly needed?'. The answer is clearly the aviation industry: a heavy polluter that is highly subsidised and growing fast. Just imagine would could be done with the £9 Billion in subsides given to aviation3. That is a lot of hospitals, schools...or tax cuts! The government has climate policies that exclude aviation and aviation policies that exclude any consideration of climate change. According to a cross-party group of MPs who looked at this conflict, growth in aviation emissions are likely to entirely destroy progress made elsewhere4.

Whereas the government has shown it's rhetoric to outshine it's performance the Camp for Climate Action seeks to lead by example. The week long event will have a strong emphasis on learning, both about low carbon living and about communicating climate change. Renewable energy such as Solar and Wind will power the event, including on-site internet access, projectors and lighting5.

Heathrow was chosen as the symbol of aviation due to it's international profile and it's vast carbon footprint—larger than many countries6. It was also important to us that many local people are already strongly resisting the expansion of Heathrow, we felt a strong desire to strengthen there fight.

We have three aims:

1.To highlight government hypocrisy in pursuing both a climate plan and an entirely inconsistent airport expansion plan.
2.To support local communities i there struggle against loosing homes under the ever expanding tarmac of Heathrow.
3.To educate ourselves and all those who join us about low carbon living.

We do all this with a simple philosophy:

Climate change is our generations challenge, it must not be left to burden our children. As governments fail us the realisation is clear, action is our responsibility: we are the ones who we have been waiting for.

3.AEF, Hidden Cost of Flying, 2003
4.Environmental Audit Committee, 2002-2004, 9th Report (Budget 2003 and Aviation)