Climate campaigners not stupid!

IssueOctober 2010
News by Jimmy Kerr

The Climate Nine activists associated with Plane Stupid who closed down Aberdeen airport back in March 2009 have received their sentences. They were found guilty of a breach of the peace at Aberdeen sheriff court, where they had faced up to five years in prison, but instead received fines of up to £700.

Expert witnesses testified that urgent and direct action is necessary to stop runaway climate change and that the aviation industry, as one of the fastest growing sources of CO2 emissions, cannot continue to grow unabated.

During the public campaign the main theme was criminality and the group asked the public “Who are the real criminals?” The people trying to stop catastrophic climate change, or big polluters like aviation companies who enjoy tax subsidies at everyone’s expense while wilfully destroying the planet?

First climate trial

Scotland’s first climate change trial took place amidst a blaze of publicity in June 2010, gaining the worldwide support of thousands, as well as all the local people concerned about climate change. The effect of the Climate Nine’s action, trial and public campaign has been massive, gaining an international response that has touched on many issues from climate debt through to poverty, intergenerational justice and racial equality. This is helping to form alliances and friendships that did not exist before, exploring the interconnected nature of our struggles.

There were also the legal arguments centring on rights to protest that are enshrined in UK and international laws and the Scottish legal concept of “breach of the peace”.

Human rights lawyers associated with the group are now working on a legal book exploring these issues and what they mean for future actions. But even with a guilty verdict and a fine, the group can still claim certain legal victories. The jury heard evidence which stated categorically that global warming is a fact and is caused by CO2 emissions and that this must be stopped before positive feedback loops take effect.

They also heard that industries like aviation are the source of the problem and people need to take direct action to stop runaway climate change.

None of this was challenged by the prosecutor and the sheriff judged this evidence as relevant to the case. This has never happened before and provides useful clues for future activists on how to get their message and their evidence across in the courtroom.

Topics: Climate change
See more of: Scotland