New Internationalist

Climate action: be careful what you wish for…

Cheery news on this dreary Monday morning: over 50 climate protestors broke into Stansted Airport and occupied a runway, closing it down for 5 hours, and resulting in the cancellation of several flights. Inevitably and understandably, a lot of people are very angry. But really, they should be directing their anger at the British government. Flying in the face of climate science, which warns we must decarbonise our economies NOW or face terrifying consequences, they’ve recently given the go-ahead to a massive expansion of Stansted. 23,000 extra flights a year, carrying 10 million passengers. When lumbered with these kinds of climate denialists running the show, direct action is eminently justifiable.

I’m particularly buoyed up by this news - and the stories filtering through that Kingsnorth coal power station was infiltrated and one of its generators shut down for four hours last week switching off 2% of the entire UK’s power supply and preventing a hell of a lot of greenhouse emissions in the process - because I’m just putting the finishing touches to the next NI magazine which focuses on Climate Justice. And I’ve come to the conclusion that nothing less than mass civil disobedience is going to shift the politics of climate change in the more radical direction we need to be heading. Whilst lily-livered governments prevaricate and companies push false solutions that just happen to make them plenty of money and preserve the status quo but don’t actually work, we are blundering into oblivion. We can’t wait for someone else to come along and stop this madness. We have to do it ourselves.

So it is with remarkable timing that our Energy and Climate Change minister Ed Miliband has chosen today to announce that he too believes we need a ‘mass movement’ to get progress on climate change. I’m sure he was thinking of something more along the lines of Make Poverty History, the well-meaning but cosily unchallenging campaign in 2005 that allowed our Government to look good in front of the G8 and on the world stage without really doing anything different. Be careful what you wish for, Ed, because if today’s action is anything to go by, it’s not just the planet that’s hotting up… 

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