Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
Last summer’s Camp for Climate Action saw hundreds of people take direct action against Drax, the country’s largest coal-fired power station. It was a defining moment in the fight against climate change. The mass actions at Drax came with a powerful message: although we do all have to make changes in our own lives, it’s not enough just to switch brands. We have to challenge consumerism itself, along with the corporations fuelling climate change.
Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about the camp last year was the positive response to the day of action – not so much ‘Why do you want to turn the lights out and live in the stone age?’ as ‘It’s about time somebody’s solutions squared up to the scale of the crisis.’ Within weeks, Greenpeace had staged a similar action at Didcot power station, the country’s second largest source of CO2 emissions. Then two dozen people were arrested after blockading a runway at Nottingham East Midlands Airport, and Plane Stupid, the country’s first anti-aviation direct action group, took off.
The protests have continued. On April 2007, a group occupied Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, another of the country’s biggest coal burners, and shut it down for several hours. The same weekend, s mini climate camp took place outside Bath, with workshops and a day of action against Land and Marine, the main construction camp building a controversial gas pipeline across Wales.
This type of action – actually attempting to shut down the biggest emitters – was unknown a year ago. Now it’s not only happening all over, but it seems to be pushing at an open door. All over the country, small groups are springing up to take action locally, shutting down petrol stations, travel agents and corporate offices.
New forms of climate change denial, such as biofuels and carbon offsets, are being rebuffed even as they try to take hold. In February, activists from London Rising Tide occupied the offices of the Carbon Neutral Company, coinciding with the release of The Carbon Neutral Myth (see www.carbontradewatch.org), a highly critical report on how ‘offsetting’ emissions detracts from the task of changing carbon-intensive lifestyles.
The precedents for the kind of collective mass action needed to address climate change are closer than we sometimes think. For all its faults, the Make Poverty History campaign got 250,000 people to stand up for a cause that was of no material benefit to them, and in many respects was asking for a reduction in our privilege and comfort.
There is a similar clamour for action on climate change now, but time is running short. Governments and corporations have made it plain that they prize economic growth over survival. We cannot wait for them to act and watch them fail. Change in 20 to 30 years time will be too late, and it is those of us who live in the major carbon emitting countries who must take responsibility.
From 14-21 August 2007, the second Camp for Climate Action will take place near Heathrow Airport. Heathrow’s planes emit the equivalent of 31 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year – more than even Europe’s biggest power station, and more than most countries’ total emissions. By pitching its tents at Heathrow, the camp aims to oppose the absurd contradiction of the government attempting emission cuts while forcing through large-scale airport expansion that would lock in massive emissions increases. The camp will also target industry giants, such as British Airways and the British Airports Authority, who are lobbying hard for a third runway at Heathrow, and will make plain the need for us all to fly less.
Although the location is different to last year, the philosophy of the climate camp remains the same – to be a place for sustainable living, learning, strategising and direct action, involving and evolving all of us who see the need to be part of this burgeoning movement.
Everyone now knows what the climate change problem is and what’s causing it. We need to be a spark that lights that powder keg of change.The Camp for Climate Action takes place from 14-21 August 2007 near Heathrow Airport. For more details, see www.climatecamp.org.uk.
We work ourselves into the ground for little economic benefit. It's high time to for a change, writes Aidan Harper.
Deregulation and tax loopholes are justified by saying that they 'protect growth'. But really, they just protect the wealthy, writes James Fox
Inequality is often treated as a law of nature - but really, it's the result of conscious political choices. It's time to choose equality, writes the IPPR's Carys Roberts.
Tom Palmer, aka Agent Kingfisher, was the 'messiah' of London's squatting scene until his death last year. But who was responsible for his fate? MI5, late capitalism or simply a drug overdose? Matt Broomfield investigates.
'Docs Not Cops' write that we must resist attempts to make our NHS any less universal
Louis Mendee explains the real human costs of climate change for the global south.
From climate change to automation to demographic shifts, Mathew Lawrence explains the challenges our economy will face in the coming decade.
Fifty years after the Abortion Act, women are still dying from being denied basic services, write activists from Feminist Fightback
We need to tackle the patronising ideology that lets Tory think-tanks sneer at social tenants, writes Emma Dent Coad
Acid Corbynism allows people to imagine a future beyond the paltry offerings of capitalism, writes Keir Milburn
The unrepentent Sarah Champion has no place in the modern Labour Party
Sarah Champion has defended her comments on race and sexual abuse. Her views have no place in the modern politics, writes Gavin Lewis
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright