Friday, 12 December 2008

The War On Error

One great thing about a blog is that when you get things wrong, it's easy to go back and correct them. So, for example, I was able to shove a few quick back-of-envelope calculations about activism-related carbon savings on my last post whilst it was still all topical and that, and then return later to refine them (I overestimated things a bit the first time round).

Some extra research has now thrown my "1,000 tonnes saved by the sneaky Kingsnorth shutdown" figure into doubt, because it seems that the extra inefficiency involved in starting up and shutting down other generators at a few hours notice might well cancel out those savings in the short term. To be honest though, the on-the-spot emissions reductions from this sort of action are only part of the picture. The surreptitious Kingsnorth switch-off also achieved at least four other vital things:

* Damage to E.ON's finances and reputation, making it even more difficult for them (and companies like them) to build new coal plants in the future;
* Yet more media coverage of the link between coal and climate change
* Inspiration and hope to millions of climate change campaigners
* Another illustration of how ridiculous the over-policing was at this year's Camp for Climate Action.

I think this last point is particularly interesting. One of the supposed reasons for the massive police presence was that if activists succeeded in shutting down Kingsnorth, it would jeopardise the UK's energy supply and threaten public safety.

We said this was complete rubbish at the time, and now everyone knows it's true: on November 28th, an activist shut down a quarter of Kingsnorth and the public (at the time) didn't even notice. The slack was taken up elsewhere on the grid, and everything went on as normal. The only damage was to E.ON's profits and reputation. Exactly the same thing would have happened if the Climate Campers had got into Kingsnorth in August.

So those thousands of police officers and 5.9 million pounds of taxpayer's money weren't protecting the public at all. They were protecting E.ON.

Worth bearing in mind, that.

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