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What did the UK Climate Movement do in 2008?

Camp for Climate Action | 05.01.2009 14:39 | Climate Camp 2008 | Climate Chaos | World

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Without a doubt, 2008 was an incredible year for the UK climate movement. There’s been a diverse display of incredible actions from Scotland to Plymouth throughout the year, as more people than ever before are realising its up to us to prevent climate catastrophe as no one’s going to do it for us!

In January, the actions got off to a creative start when 30 Penguins from Plane Stupid invaded the BA sponsored ice rink at the National History Museum. A few days later, up in Scotland, 20 activists blockaded the entrance to Greer Aviation, a private jet company at Edinburgh Airport.

Then at the start of February biofuels took centre stage as protests and actions took place at Tescos across the country in protest at their promotion of grossly unsustainable biofuel use. It was back to aviation at the end of the month when 3,000 people attended at rally against Heathrow Expansion, organised by HACAN ClearSkies and NoTRAG and supported by 14 councils in the Heathrow area. It was on this same day that 4 Greenpeace protesters managed to climb on top of a short haul flight parked up in Terminal 1, revealing a banner across the plane’s tailfin. To top it off, two days later 5 activists from Plane Stupid unfurled large banners from the roof of the Houses of Parliament, achieving angry remarks from the Prime Minister down in the chamber! Up north flood victims from Yorkshire and Humberside blockaded council offices in protest at their continued support for aviation expansion.

In March, activists from the UK travelled to Brussels to blockade almost all the entrances to the World Biofuels Market. It was all excitement a week later when the Press Complaints Commissions upheld a complaint from the Camp for Climate Action that the Evening Standard’s coverage of the Heathrow protest was inaccurate because it was fabricated. It related to accusations that activists planned to leave hoax bomb packages lying around airport terminals. Keeping with aviation, the shambles that was the opening of T5 at Heathrow was greeted by a not so shambolic flash mob of activists all revealing bright red T-Shirts with the words “Stop Airport Expansion”.

The 1st of April was indeed Fossil Fools Day, seeing actions against those foolishly meddling with fossil fuels take place across the country. E.ON’s offices were blockaded in Nottingham, the Ffos-y-Fran open cast coal mine was shut down in Wales; the UK’s largest off shore gas terminal was blockaded in Norfolk; there were protests against RBS in Cambridge; petrol stations shut down in Southampton and Plymouth; jesters surrounding the Department for Business, Evil and Regulatory Reform (DBERR); People and Planet at Westminster; 34 SUVs and sports cars sabotaged in Edinburgh; plus many more exciting actions and events too numerous to mention.

Yet, after all that energy dispensed, the movement failed to show any signs of weariness. Two days later Aberthaw Power Station had its multiple entrances blockaded by activists from Bath, Cardiff and Oxford. Then came the news that a spy, working for C2i International, had been attempting to infiltrate Plane Stupid. Plane Stupid activists weren’t having any of it, however, and exposed him to the world. Then with one Parliament clearly not enough, on the 14th April activists scaled the Scottish Parliament roof, dropping a banner reading: “Choose a Future: Say no to airport expansion”. The following month, over 50 people took part in a mass trespass in Derbyshire. They were trespassing on land set aside for an open cast coal mine, owned by UK Coal and backing onto a country park.

June saw another national day of action, this time on Food and Climate Change. The day saw actions and events across the land, such as free vegan food give aways and the occupation of a GM lab. Then the spotlight shifted back to coal on the 13th June in a spectacular action that saw 29 activists halt a train carrying coal to Drax Power Station. The activists occupied the train for 16 hours while shovelling coal from the train onto the track. On the 17th June Plane Stupid Scotland unveiled a five metre high ‘aviation elephant’ at a transport and climate change conference in Edinburgh. Then activists showed they weren’t going to let the land in Derbyshire be destroyed for new coal without a fight. They occupied what became known as Bodge House for several weeks, due for demolition to enable the open cast mining to proceed. Also during this time two tunnellers spent a week under the ground on the Derbyshire site.

July brought with it a second ‘Stop Heathrow Expansion’ flash mob, this time outside the Department for Transport where flash mobbers gathered to hurl paper planes at the then Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly. On the 16th July the ‘Greenwash Guerrillas’ targeted the Guardian’s Climate Change Summit in Islington, protesting against E.ON’s sponsorship of the event. Meanwhile, across the other side of London activists simultaneously occupied Edelman PR, the world’s biggest PR Company, hired by E.ON earlier in the year (after the Camp for Climate Action’s announcement to go to Kingsnorth “coincidentally”). The month also saw the disabling of 32 SUVs in Oxford, and a Plane Stupid Activist superglued himself to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street!

The end of July saw the Camp for Climate Action drawing near. To kick things off a conference was held near Heathrow Airport, the location of last year’s camp, which brought together groups opposed to the airport’s expansion. The following day the Climate Caravan set off on its 60 mile journey from Heathrow to Kingsnorth. The course of this journey saw many events take place, such as the Putney Climate Change Debate that took place in the same church as the historic Putney Debates of 1647. There were also a variety of workshops, talks, tours, and displays along the way, with the caravan joining the Campaign Against Climate Change for a march to the camp for the final hurdle.

After months of planning, 100s of activists took the site for the Camp for Climate Action on the 30th July in broad daylight. The camp saw a gigantic and repressive police presence, far worse than any camps gone previously. Yet despite draconian use of stop and search powers and violent police incursions onto the site with large amounts of equipment seized, it was the campers who triumphed with brilliant displays of resistance throughout the week. This meant the camp proved to be yet another hugely successful week of education, sustainable living, and direct action attended by a record number of participants.

The camp’s Day of Mass Action saw marchers, climbers, and rafters head from all directions towards the power station. Some of the marchers chose to blockade the front entrance, while the Green Bloc scaled perimeter fences. At the same time many participants joined the Great Rebel Raft Regatta, which sailed its way down the River Medway. One raft reportedly caused the power station’s water supply to be cut off.

But the Mass Action was only one of many actions taking place during the week. There were banner drops at Gatwick, students targeting RBS headquarters, a blockade of Vopak Biofuel Depot in Thurrock, a naked glue-on at DBERR, an office occupation of mining company BHP Billiton, and finally a group of tiny activists climbed on top of the Lego Kingsnorth Power Station at the E.ON sponsored Legoland.

The 10th September saw a historic verdict when 6 Greenpeace Protesters, who had scaled the tower at Kingsnorth and painted it with slogans causing an estimated £30,000 damage, were found Not Guilty after arguing the defence of 'lawful excuse', having acted to protect property around the world in immediate need of protection from the impacts of climate change.

October saw The Climate Rush, with a thousand demonstrators gathering in Parliament Square to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Suffragette Rush. After congregating in full suffragette costume the demonstrators made a rush for parliament.

E.ON, BP, Shell, and RBS were among the climate criminals who had their chances of recruiting graduates wrecked at universities across the country throughout the career fair season. Student activists mercilessly disrupted stalls and events across the UK by a variety of creative means. Things got so bad for E.ON that they just stopped turning up halfway through their campus tour.

The end of November saw 48 hours of action against E.ON, bringing about immensely visual actions in many towns and cities. One such action featured two minibus loads of santas occupying and superglueing themselves to E.ON’s headquarters in Coventry. The santas’ only presents for E.ON were lumps of filthy coal. Then, as an early Christmas present, came the news (via The Times) that an intruder had broken into Kingsnorth power station and turned off one of the generators. This meant that 500 megawatts of coal-produced power was lost from the grid, enough the power a city the size of Bristol. Nice one!

Despite the cold, December saw the actions keep on rocking. There was the annual climate march in London, attended by thousands and taking place simultaneously with marches in 70 other countries. Then, in the early morning of the 8th December came the wonderful news that Plane Stupid had succeeded in shutting down Stansted airport. 57 activists breached security at the airport and managed to prevent over 50 flights from taking off. On the 15th December 30 activists from Coal Action Scotland blockaded Ravenstruther coal terminal, operated by Scottish Coal, for 9 hours.

So what a year it was, but with time running out to tackle runaway climate change, we can only afford to make 2009 even better. Hopefully these reminders will give us all some inspiration and ideas for what we might get up to in the coming months.

Come to the Camp for Climate Action New Year Gathering to get involved: 31stJan-1stFeb in Oxford. Everyone is welcome! Everyone is needed!

Camp for Climate Action
- e-mail: info[at]
- Homepage:


Hide the following 7 comments

cool but War industry is the biggest waster of fossil fuel,emitter & polluter

05.01.2009 15:15

please get down to london next saturday & help make this point, Israel is being supported by USA gov for strategic oil addiction reasons, we need peace more than anything to stop climate change. Or right now protest BBCs bullshit coverage & join in phone blockade & boycott + actions against Isreali trade.

Universal Confederalist

one question for the confused Univ Conf

05.01.2009 16:15

Remember previous antiwar demos with Two million people, what the fuck did that change and what do you think a demo of a few thousand religious nutters and middle class A to B marchers will achieve hey? And why do you always in your wild confusing postings omit the UK government from any blame in this situation or what ever situation picks your fancy at that moment. Unless you act with passionate conviction and target the state and all its apparatus the climate will continue to be destroyed and wars/massacres will continue to prevail... Thats a fact, Its not rocket science......

Aunty Christ

Aunty Christ ...

05.01.2009 21:16

.. please can you tell us all what YOU are doing about this, then?

Obviously you know FAR more about the issues than the rest of us, and have some MUCH better ideas about the actions that we SHOULD be taking. Please will you share this with us, so that we can all work together to stop this awful suffering?

I'm sure that this will be easy for a person of such obvious knowledge and integrity. Or are you just an empty windbag who's quick to criticise everyone else, but hasn't actually got a thing to contribute except hot air and bullshit?

Gregory Beetle

Wave goodbye to man-made pollution

05.01.2009 23:18

Not one of the UK's two notable political parties has any idea how to use the UK's natural power forces to produce electricity.

Wavepower is the safest and most economical way to produce electricity, our aqua vitae. The UK is not short of seapower. Wind, unlike continuous wavepower is not a permanent natural feature. In the short term, the usage of wavepower will not avail any goverment nor electricity-producing companies of quick-fix profitable solutions to produce our vital electricity needs. But, in the long term, wavepower will almost certainly become an extremely economical way to produce electric for seller and buyer.

The world, too, is wasting valuable methane deposits via dumping trillions of tons of degradeable rubbish in to landfill sites, instead of utilising such combustible rubbish by incarcerating it in huge concrete tanks, the methane to be siphoned off when matured. I have no claim whatever in any scientific field, but do think I have constructive imagination. The root cause of mankind's ills is seemingly always the avaricious paranoia to accrue virtually instant, quick-fix profits, much to the detriment of future human generations. Wavepower also has a by-product. It can divert wave surge away from our valuable parts of coastline areas which are being eroded. It can, at the very least, apportion the sea's gigantic destructive power more evenly to our liking around our valuable coastline. Methane eventually leaches out in to our valuable atmosphere, badly affecting future generations' health!

Francis H. Giles
mail e-mail:

Aunty, Greg, Fellow Workers...

05.01.2009 23:26

Aunty's got a point, n criticism is not necessarily hot air and bullshit.

In my infinite wisdom (well ok, mad arrogance), Im gonna give my two pence;

Penguins annoying tourists will not stop the planet burning. There is simply no demonstrable, causal link between this action and the effect it hopes to achieve. There is no, 2 + 2 = 4 in this action.

People (middle class or otherwise) marching through London will not stop Israel bombing the living fuck out of Gaza. Again, there is simply no demonstrable cause and effect at work here.

So, what will?

Hmmm. Well, ok so it seems demonstrable that war is (almost always) directly or indirectly fought for greater strategic control of resources, with the end result being greater power and profit for those controlling (and winning) the fighting. It also seems demonstrable that industrial growth, also perpetrated not to meet the needs of the masses but to create ever greater power and profits for those controlling industry and economy is causing climate change and other environmental destruction.

So, both these are being done to give greater power and profit to 'those in control'. This is surely a key point? Not only does being 'in control' make it in these peoples self-interest to act how they do (i.e. they get more power and profit for themselves) but it also allows these people to do these things. In other words 1. if they didnt have control they couldnt do it and 2. those in control will use their power in their self interest. Hmm, so...

Surely we can draw two conclusions:

1. In order to stuff, to do anything, good or bad, you need to have control of the mechanics, processes etc needed to do said 'stuff'. If we want to build industry, or close industry, we must control it. We cannot affect things which are not in our hands.

2. If a few have control, they will do what is in their self-interest, which is most likely not in everyones self-interest. However, if 'everyone' has this power and control, directly, democratically, then chances are that the decisions made will better reflect what is in 'everyone's' self interest.

So, surely, we need 'everyone' to control 'everything'. Resources and all the means of productions. All the means of producing what we all need, or of producing shite and war and climate change for profit, must be in the hands of all of us (and I dont mean our 'party' or our 'elected leaders' or any other representative. I mean us, just us, directly. Through direct-democracy, delegation and federation)

How can we do this?

Well, luckily, we allready know how to use everything (at least in its current use) cos we do use it everyday. Because we are the workers, the working-class. From peasants to miners to engineers to drivers to salespeople. We are the force which produces everything, which makes the world turn. We are the most powerful force on earth.

At present, we are used and controlled by others, like any other resource. We are kept at bay with bribery and threats of violence (work and we will pay your survival costs, dont work and we will withold what you need from you, we will starve, freeze, beat, jail, bomb and murder you).

But if we had control we could do whatever the hell we want with these resources and means of production. We could feed, clothe and shelter each other. We could re-organise production to meet our needs without causing climate change, without necessitating wars.

And so we must organise.

Ant it begins here, in our communities and workplaces. Not in anarchist clubs or punk shows. Not on marches and silly stunts.

We must organise amongst our neighbours to make our neighbourhoods better, to halt the break down of society, to halt the onslaught of power and profit at the whatever small level we can do so.

We must organise with our colleagues to improve our conditions, to make our daily lives easier and less terrible, to take greater control over our workplaces and by extension our lives.

We must do these things to build the idea that the solidarity, organisation and direct-action of working people can effect change, large or small and not only this, but that we have the right to not just ask for change, not simply demand change, but to CREATE change, because this world is ours, all of ours. Everything for everyone.

Allow me to point something out:

Unite, the largest trade union in the UK, one of only two major industrial unions in the UK, has around 3 million members. Meanwhile the UK government could wield serious clout over Israel, and potentially force a ceasefire and pullout. Here's my point: In the same way that the UK government could potentially force Israeli government into this position through economic, political and physical clout, the Unite union could force the UK government to do this. If Unite pulled all 3 million members out of work tomorrow, the threat to the (allready struggling) UK economy would be so great, that the government would have little choice but to rein Israel in.

Ok, it isnt this simple, and it coudl kick off royally, but you get my drift. Member run, independent, class-conscious, internationalist unions could stop this war. Essentially, working-class organisation could stop this war.

Likewise, if these same organisations, controlled by their members and with their members sufficiently educated about environment and the disastrous effect thats its destruction is having on working people the world over, decided to seize control of the resources and means of productions and re-organise it to meet our needs, not the needs of the old bosses and other bastards, we could change and in so doing, save, the world.

Yes, I am talking about revolution. Nothing less can make these changes.

But the very clear point is that it starts here and now, in your union branch, in your residents association, with your mates down the pub. The changes necessary to turn these organisations into organisations capable of achieving the above are almost impossible. But they are pretty fucking certainly impossible if we dont give it our best damn shot! So, fellow worker, work hard, we have a long way to go, lets get started....

P.S. Greg, hows it going? I aint seen you in a while mate... :-)

Gerrard Winstanley
mail e-mail: rgacollective(at)

"I have no claim whatever in any scientific field" rather says it all

06.01.2009 01:06

So please, please, you and other arty people stop making idiots of yourselves and raising false hopes by even attempting to make suggestions about how you - expert that you're not - think we can easily provide sustainable energy for future generations when you probably don't really have much of a clue. This is a phenomenally complex subject involving deep understanding of physics, chemistry, power engineering, mechanical engineering, thermodynamics, fluid science, materials science, climatology, meteorology, geography, economics and much more. Don't anyone think there is an easy magic source of energy. Wave power could only provide a small fraction of what this country needs. I strongly suggest everyone reads David JC MacKay's brilliant book.
The most relevant thing he says is "we need numbers, not adjectives" which is just so true especially amongst activists who in my long experience are fucking hopeless with numbers. Be warned though that the book makes a lot of assumptions and deals with the economics of alt energy supply very lightly. It also doesn't sufficiently touch on the effects of an absolute orgy of mass production that will be needed to convert the entire country over to carbon neutral. This will involve massive insulation projects or completely replacing no hope old stock buildings, complex technology like heat pumps for every home, very materials intensive off shore wind gens etc. This mammoth conversion process itself will result in mammoth carbon emissions which no one seems to take much account of. It is not a cheerful future and we all have to make huge life style changes with no "I'm a special case" excuses allowed. And whoever it is who keeps bringing that stupid "social change not life style change" banner to climate camps, please do the world a favour and heat your house with it by burning it.

I'm sorry to be so blunt but we need real knowledge not just more blind idealism.

just noticed his site is off line but there's a copy of his book here
though it may not be the latest.

a scientist

Slight correction to URL

06.01.2009 20:34 (won't work if you put .uk at the end) - at least, I assume it's the same "Liberty and Solidarity" :0)

Gregory Beetle

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