News in brief

Good first step

After a year of campaigning by environmentalists, the French government announced at the beginning of December it would not fund a gas megaproject in the Arctic.

It was going to support the French oil company, TotalEnergies, which is involved in ‘Arctic LNG 2’, a massive development in the Russian Arctic due to open in 2023.

It will turn locally-mined gas into liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export. The plan is to produce 20 million tonnes of LNG a year.

So, the French government has finally pulled out of funding Arctic LNG 2 – unlike Italy’s export credit agency or other state lenders.

Bad bet

The number of financial institutions refusing to invest in the nuclear weapons industry has increased by a third over the last year.

That’s the finding of the 2022 ‘Don’t Bank on the Bomb’ report, Rejecting Risk.

One year on from the effective date of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), there are now 101 financial institutions restricting investments in companies involved in the manufacture, development, deployment, stockpiling, testing or use of nuclear weapons.

The institutions control more than $14 trillion in investments. Many of them refer to the TPNW as part of the justification for their policies.

Good timing

On 7 December, Irish Nobel Peace Prize-winner Mairead Maguire launched the ‘Downpatrick Declaration’ at the Saint Patrick Centre in Downpatrick, in northern Ireland. The peace statement, supported by a wide range of individuals and groups, condemns ‘NATO’s “War on Terror”’.

It calls on governments in Ireland and the UK to ‘stop producing weapons of war’ and to live up to their commitment to ‘exclusively democratic and peaceful means of resolving differences on political issues’ (words from the Irish peace process’s Good Friday Agreement).

  • The government in Dublin held an online event in November to officially back Irish involvement in arms production.

Bad cop(26)

The policing of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow led to many breaches of human rights. These included: kettling (surrounding protesters as a form of temporary imprisonment), excessive force, racial discrimination, intrusive surveillance and intimidation and harassment of locals, protesters and independent legal observers.

Those are the findings of a new report, Respect or Repression, compiled by Netpol and the Article 11 Trust. The report is based on evidence from over 120 witnesses.

He’s a (nuclear) rocket

There is ‘nae need for new nuclear’ to achieve net zero in Scotland, according to the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) network.

Glasgow city councillor Feargal Dalton, chair of the NFLA Scottish Forum, condemned the proposal from Lib Dem MP Jamie Stone to bring a new nuclear plant to Caithness.

Official figures say 95.9 percent of the electricity used in Scotland in 2020 came from renewable sources. 100 percent soon!

That’s in tents

Heavy rain did not dampen spirits at Aldermaston Women’s Peace Camp (or ruin the whisky in the coffee) as women held up banners on 9 January on the roundabout outside AWE Aldermaston, Britain’s nuclear bomb factory.

The previous weekend camp in mid-December had seen campaigners wearing white radiation suits and hanging banners and ‘crime scenes’ tape on the gates.
Both times, there was lots of support from passing drivers.

The next camp weekend (11 – 13 February) will focus on the anniversary of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Hidden under a Büchel

On 9 December, a regional court in Koblenz, Germany, upheld the conviction of US peace activist John LaForge (65) on two charges of trespassing in Büchel air force base in July and August 2018. He was protesting against US nuclear bombs stationed in the base.

LaForge was not allowed to present a defence of ‘crime prevention’ or to call expert witnesses, but ordered to pay a fine of €600 (£502).

Marion Küpker, who co-ordinates international action camps at Büchel, said: ‘In the last two years, about 50 court cases involving dozens of nuclear weapons protesters have taken place in Cochem and Koblenz for nonviolent civil disobedience actions at the Büchel air base.’

No coals from N’castle

News we missed: in November, a direct action coalition calling itself Blockade Australia shut down the biggest coal port in the world and/or its supply rail network for over 65 hours.

There were over 20 actions, including banner hangs and lock-ons, on 11 consecutive days at the Port of Newcastle in New South Wales. 28 climate activists were arrested.

For example, on 16 November, two campaigners entered the port coalyard, hit emergency stop buttons and hung off ropes on a huge ‘stacker reclaimer’ machine, needed to move coal around the yard.

Blockade Australia is now planning for Sydney, 27 June – 2 July.