Sunday, 26 April 2009

Catch Me If You Can

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear.

The Government want to build new coal plants. They're justifying this by saying that they're also going to build four "carbon capture demonstration units" that will be tagged onto the new power stations, try to catch some of the emissions from them, and squirrel the nasty carbon away underground for ever and ever. This somehow makes the whole plan wonderful for the climate and a big victory for green campaigners.

This is, of course, complete and utter bilge.

The mainstream media seem to have fallen for it hook, line and sinker, with this fawning piece in the Guardian being a typical example (it didn't help that Greenpeace gave a "cautious welcome" to the ludicrous plans). With some honourable exceptions (like the Omnibot), journalists have been cheerfully parroting the Government's "clean coal" nonsense without spotting some very obvious logical chasms:

1) The Government are suggesting that researching carbon capture requires the building of new coal power stations. This is like saying: "We need to beat this malaria epidemic by developing new ways of catching mosquitos, so let's build some huge mosquito farms and release millions of them into the air, so we've got more of them to practice on". Have the Government forgotten about the 70-odd fossil fueled power stations that already exist in the UK? Perhaps we should try shutting some of them down and see if they notice (oh, wait, I shouldn't write that, I might be arrested for thoughtcrime).

2) The proposed demonstration units would only capture, at most, 25% of the emissions of these super bonus coal power stations. That will still leave them significantly more polluting than gas power stations, let alone the wind, tidal, wave, solar, or stop-using-so-much-pointless-bloody-energy-to-make-useless-crap options. So these whizzy new "clean" power plants would actually be dirtier than power plants we were building last century. Woo hoo.

3) The Government have no plans to scale up the technology for 15 years - which is hardly surprising, as even the coal industry have admitted that it'll take at least that long to find out if carbon capture can work on a large scale. Meanwhile, global emissions need to peak in 2015 (6 years away) and then start to fall if we have any chance of avoiding global disaster. Large-scale carbon capture will arrive far, far too late to help with that. The only technologies that can help us to avoid climate catastrophe are the ones that already exist.

4) All of the above assumes that carbon capture will ever work at all. We still don't have any sure-fire method for the long-term storage of nuclear waste - and that only needs to be kept safe for tens of thousands of years. Carbon dioxide would need to stay underground forever - or at least for as long as the human race exists, a time span that would be considerably reduced if there was ever any major leakage from a carbon store...

Putting our faith in carbon capture is a bit like being in a car speeding towards a cliff. Rather than changing direction, we're desperately trying to develop "magic flying car technology" before we reach the edge.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

More Badger Bites

The excellent Bristling Badger on the Nottingham 114:
Arresting such a huge number of people smacks of a wide trawler-net strategy, too. And lo, despite the need to deploy 200 officers and arrest people before they've done anything, none of them were charged with anything at all. Not one.

However, it was reported that many were given onerous bail conditions to stay away from sites that climate activists would want to protest at.

What a smart move. Breach of bail is a crime in itself, and those who break it tend to get remanded in prison. As the summer's climate camps and similar events appear on the horizon, what better way to take the wind out of their sails than making over a hundred activists stay away on pain of indefinite imprisonment?

Then, when the protests are over at the end of the year, the police can just drop the bail conditions. No charges required, let alone a crime.

Just like the attacks on peaceful protests, this is a way for the police to make people back off. Reports say many of the Nottingham 114 had their houses raided and possessions taken away. Just like a baton to the head, this will discourage people from joining in. It is political policing. It cannot be justified to smash down your door (and bill you for the board-up), search your house and seize your computer because they suspect you of planning a crime that - even if they secure a conviction - would be unlikely to incur a prison sentence.
Go and read the rest before the thought police find you.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

G20 Climate Camp - The Film

The Climate Camp legal bunnies have put together this film of what happened on Bishopsgate on April 1st, and have managed to get it linked from the Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday(!) websites as well as the Guardian. Check it out - it's an excellent overview of the day, from positive protest party to police thuggishness:

Friday, 3 April 2009

More Video Evidence

This time, crimes against poetry:

I honestly don't usually flail about that much while performing. I was possibly a bit over-excited about the fact that the Climate Camp had just occupied a large section of a major London road for an anti-carbon-trading protest party. Or perhaps I was simply overwhelmed by the power of my shiny shirt. It's hard to say.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Glorious 12-Hour Bishopsgate Camp Ruined by Police Premature Ejection

I'll write a more personal account when I've got my head together a bit more after such a crazy few days, but here's a summary of what happened:

Yesterday around 2000 protesters set up a Camp for Climate Action in the middle of the Square Mile, closing a major road for 12 hours. The Camp was located outside the European Climate Exchange on Bishopsgate, to protest against the G20's plans to use deeply flawed carbon trading mechanisms to tackle climate change.

(See for some beautiful pictures of the Camp.)

As planned, hundreds of protesters “swooped” from all over the City at 12.30pm and set up tents, bunting and bicycles in order to reclaim a large portion of the financial district. Throughout the day there was a programme of workshops on themes such as the absurdity of carbon trading, the history of social movements and alternative economic models, whilst pedal powered sound systems and live bands provided entertainment, a kitchen provided hundreds of meals and a farmers market gave away organic vegetables.

One camper, Jessica Harward said: “The atmosphere was creative and joyful. This part of London is usually a major part of the climate problem, through the funding of fossil fuels and disastrous carbon trading schemes. For 12 hours we turned it into part of the climate solution.”

Despite assurances made on Tuesday morning by Commander Broadhurst to climate campers in the office of David Howarth, MP, at 7pm on Wednesday riot police violently attacked the camp, injuring many peaceful campers and bystanders who were not allowed to leave the area.

(You can see an extraordinary video of this here - note how all the protestors have their hands in the air to show they are unarmed and peaceful, and are chanting "this is not a riot").

Despite this incursion, the atmosphere at the Camp remained calm and happy until around
midnight, when riot police again moved in and aggressively dispersed the Camp.

Another camper, Dave Spencer, said “We were here to expose carbon trading as a financial fraud which has nothing to do with climate change. Our success in turning Bishopsgate into an eco-camp has clearly rattled the authorities, who once again have used unnecessary force against us. We won't be deterred though – climate change is the most urgent issue in the world, and our movement is growing stronger all of the time.”