Keeping it grounded

IssueJune 2008
Feature by Oli Rodker

If you were suffering from asthma, would breathing car fumes be a good treatment? If you were suffering from climate change would you choose to build six new power stations fired by coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel we have found?

The greed and short sightedness of government and business knows no bounds. As climate chaos bites, their answer is to go full steam ahead with fossil fuel expansion.
Whatever happens to oil supplies, we know for sure that there is enough coal in the ground to keep burning for decades. Unfortunately if we do that, millions will starve and die.
Faced with a resurgent coal industry the Camp for Climate Action will be returning this summer, 3-11 August, to Kingsnorth power station in Kent. Kingsnorth – where the river Medway meets the Thames – is set to be the site of the first new coal power station in 30 years. Not only is coal the dirtiest fuel (produces the most carbon proportionate to its weight), it is massively inefficient; 60% of energy is lost in heat out the top of the chimneys and along our centralised electricity grid.
Over the next 10 years as various power stations get decommissioned, the UK will be formulating its future energy policy.
Now is the crucial time to ensure that nuclear and coal are not the answers, but that we create a renewable, small scale, decentralised system. Part of that battle will be to ensure that they can’t go ahead with building these monstrous engines of waste and pollution.
James Hansen of NASA, one of the worlds leading climate scientists, has begged Gordon Brown not to go ahead with these coal plans.
The people living next to vast open cast mines like Ffos-y-Fran in Wales are begging us not to continue with coal expansion.
E.On energy company say they want to make Kingsnorth “carbon capture ready”, which means extracting and storing the carbon, but the technology doesn’t exist yet, and even if it did would only apply to about a quarter of the output at best. Carbon capture and storage is pure greenwash and will be used to mask the continued expansion of the coal industry – unless we stop it.

Come camping

This year the camp will have a week long lead-in event; the climate caravan. Starting at Heathrow where we were last year, and ending at Kingsnorth, we’ll be linking up these two disastrous pieces of planned expansion with a seven-day stroll and bike ride through London. Connecting struggles along the way we’ll be visiting sites of radical social history and telling stories of how change is made; how the future is created by dreamers and by doers, and how we need to be those people. We’ll be remembering the power of hope and how mountains are unclimbable until they are conquered.
The Camp for Climate Action is about seizing the initiative. It’s about recognising that the answers to climate chaos are social and political and will need collective action, not technical solutions. It’s about grassroots control and individual empowerment. It’s about self run kitchens, sustainable living, and getting educated. It’s about training and preparing and taking direct action. It’s about stepping out of line when the line leads over an abyss. Its workshops and entertainments and action and working together with thousands of others to keep fossil fuels in the ground. If you can only come for one day, come for the day of mass action on Saturday, 9 August. Together we’ll shut Kingsnorth down!