A new generation is mobilising

IssueMarch 2007
Feature by The networking group - the camp for climate action

Over fifty years ago, the peace movement burst into life in response to the very real threat posed by nuclear weapons. Mass collective action - from Aldermaston to Greenham Common - was successfully used to wake up the world to the madness of the cold war and the arms race.

Today, it is widely agreed that climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity. A new generation is mobilising to confront the root causes of this danger and to create a space for the radical social change that is needed.

Necessary and proportionate

In August last year, 600 people gathered for a 10-day protest camp outside Drax, the UK's single biggest emitter of carbon dioxide. The challenge we set ourselves was to combine education, direct action and a practical experiment in sustainable living. The intention was to draw together people from diverse backgrounds who shared a common understanding that there is no place for Drax, or a fossilfuelled economy, in a sustainable future. And we did it! We shared knowledge, we cooked our own organic food, we solved our own problems, we left the site as we found it... and in a day of creative mass action, we took on Drax, and we came out on top. For one day, it was not business as usual - we got inside their fence, and we got under their skin. Positive national media coverage resonated - and showed that reasonable people were willing to take direct action as a necessary and proportionate response to the scale of the climate crisis.

Passion and process

The end of the camp was not the end of the story - a new movement had been born. Groups have formed and action has been taken around the country, from a sermon on the runway at Nottingham East Midlands Airport to a pipeline occupation in Wales and guerrilla gardening in East London.

Here in the UK, planning for the 2007 Camp for Climate Action is well under way, with passionate debates being held to decide which climate criminal is most deserving of our tender mercies this year! Outreach, fundraising and site practicalities are among the other issues being addressed by various working groups. Once again, the Camp is being organised through a process based on collective responsibility and consensus decision making - no one is in charge, all of us make this work.

The message is clear

Scientists agree that we have less than 10 years to take drastic action to reduce our emissions and avoid committing ourselves to catastrophic climate change. But the technocratic, top-down solutions proposed by governments and big business continue to merely scratch the surface of this problem. We need 90% cuts by 2050 - are carbon offsets really going to get us there? With Shell and Exxon Mobil announcing record profits again this year and investing billions into new oil exploration, can we really trust their claims to be serious about renewables? The message is clear: we cannot rely on governments and corporations any longer.

Because of the enormity of the problem, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by climate change. Our aim is to overcome feelings of isolation and powerlessness by bringing people together to create a community of resistance; to inspire people to take action, share ideas and, beyond the camp, to make a start in their own localities and areas of interest. This in turn will generate broader interest and, most importantly, action. See you at the camp!