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On 10 September, six Greenpeace activists won a historic legal victory after they were found “not guilty” of criminal damage by a jury at Maidstone crown court – after admitting causing £30,000 worth of damage to a smokestack at Kings-north coal-fired power station.
The legal defence was mounted by Michael Wolkind QC, barrister Quincy Whitaker, and Mike Schwarz and Catherine Jackson of Bindmans Solicitors, and supported by testimony from, among others, the world’s most eminent climate scientist James Hansen.
The argument amounted to saying that shutting down the power station for a day (8 October 2007), and painting a massive slogan on it, was justified because it prevented much greater damage to property around the world caused directly by burning coal at Kingsnorth.
The Kingsnorth Six are Kevin Drake, Emily Hall, Tim Hewke, Will Rose, Ben Stewart, and Huw Williams. Hansen’s warning
NASA climate scientist James Hansen gave an intensive course in climate science to the jury, warning: “It will be necessary to return atmospheric CO2 to 350ppm [parts per million]or lower on a time scale of decades, not centuries, if we hope to avoid destabilization of the ice sheets, minimize species extinctions, and halt and reverse [disastrous] regional climate trends.”
Hansen told the jury: “There is just barely still time to accomplish that, but it requires an immediate moratorium on new coal-fired power plants that do not capture and sequester CO2 and a phase out of existing coal plants over the next 20 years.”
Michael Wolkind QC asked: “By what right is government policy and a billionaire energy company destroying our world?”