We’re all doomed. That’s how I felt as I dragged myself through the streets of Oxford tackling the assault course of confused tourists, hungover students and irate locals. When you spend most of your waking life thinking about climate change, impending apocalypse follows you around like a bad smell. It can make you very unpopular at parties. On this particular day I’m trudging the crowded streets on my way to meet some climate activists so they can tell me about their new plan to save the world. If I’m honest I’m not optimistic, but that comes with the territory.
I sit outside the crowded cafe as the untrustworthy sunshine retreats and leaves me shivering into my soya cappuccino, waiting. When they arrive I ask one of them, Sally Reeve, to tell me about the ‘climate camp’, their plan for solving climate change.
Sally pauses thoughtfully. ‘The climate camp is an action camp taking place in the summer, getting people to engage with climate change and take action.’ Another intense pause and then: ‘I think people are really scared by climate change. They know that some massive response is needed and that actions by the government and corporations aren’t proportionate to the scale of the problem. We need to come together and educate ourselves, share ideas and do some really important direct action.’
Doubts enter my mind unbidden as I hear those two little words: direct action. A common response – a direct reaction – for many. Does that mean it’s all about climbing trees and fighting the boys in blue? Sally patiently replies: ‘Obviously direct action is an important part of the camp, but it’s not something we expect everybody to take part in. People who haven’t taken direct action before shouldn’t feel excluded.’
Ian Kilminster, another organiser of the camp, adds: ‘What we should remember is that solutions to climate change have to be grassroots and that encompasses direct action but needs to include all sorts of action. It’s not just about taking responsibility for yourself but making the changes around you collectively.’ I begin to relax a little and ask why they felt the need for a climate camp at this moment.
Sally explains that most of the focus for action on climate change has been on changing individual consumption, with little scrutiny of the institutions and economic forces driving the climate crisis. The bottom line of fossil fuel corporations precludes them from taking real action on climate change because it’s an inherent contradiction for their core business. She states that the real solutions must be determined by us, the people.
But why do we need to slum it in a campsite for two weeks in order to do this? Sally skims over my whining: ‘Most of the NGO campaigning is asking the government for reduction targets or persuading oil companies to be more socially responsible. We don’t believe that either of those is going to be effective because the government can only do what the corporations allow it to do. And the corporations can only push for more consumption because that’s the way they’re legally structured. Therefore it’s up to us.’
As we talk more about the camp, that it will be organised into ‘neighbourhoods’ to welcome people into an open but organised structure, the childcare available, the range of topics covered – from the effects of oil pollution in the ‘developing world’ to challenging the irrepressible aviation industry – I can no longer deny the effect they’re having on me and I spontaneously exclaim that they’ve even inspired me. Me! This is a disturbing experience which I’ve done my best to repress ever since by frantically watching Big Brother. Listening again to their words on my mini-disc later brings back those tired old stirrings of, is it …. hope? Through my headphones Ian enthuses: ‘If we don’t get this right everything else is wrong. If you want a fair and equitable future then it will have to be envisioned and created by everybody that will live in it. The camp won’t be the thing that does that but will be a kick-start for it. When the camp is over it’s just the beginning for grassroots movement on climate change.’
We may well be doomed, but this old hack will certainly be there this summer with the positive and the inspired. See you there?
When fire safety has become a privilege for the rich, it’s time to stop austerity and fund emergency mass works to raise standards immediately, writes Jane Shallice
The election result has irreversibly changed political discourse in the UK, writes James Fox
In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Bernie Grant's election to parliament, Ayo Wallace explores the life and legacy of his radical representation of Tottenham's black communities.
Across Britain, hundreds of thousands of people have now taken part in mass rallies for Corbyn's Labour. Eli Regan soaks up the atmosphere in Warrington
The under-30s could be decisive in the general election. Frances Grahl meets young people hit by Tory austerity and looks at what's driving their support for Labour
“To them it’s just another number, someone else being sent back. But when you’ve got three children being left without their dad … it’s quite major,” writes Rebecca Omonira-Okeykanmi.
Hundreds of people surrounded the fences this weekend. Hera Lorandos spoke to women who have suffered inside.
Grassroots posters giving an alternative take on the general election
Laying out the case for Labour's leadership of a Progressive Alliance, Jeremy Gilbert argues that far from posing a threat to the Left, the Progressive Alliance offers a golden opportunity to end Tory rule and build a 21st century government committed to social justice
The Greens have stood down in Brighton Kemptown to clear the way for Labour, and the Lib Dems won’t stand in Brighton’s other seat, Green-held Pavilion. Davy Jones, who would have been the Green candidate in Kemptown, says this shows the way forward
Jeremy Corbyn is no longer the leader of the opposition – he has become the People’s Prime Minister
While Theresa May hides away, Corbyn stands with the people in our hours of need, writes Tom Walker
In the aftermath of this disaster, we must fight to restore respect and democracy for council tenants
Glyn Robbins says it's time to put residents, not private firms, back at the centre of decision-making over their housing
After Grenfell: ending the murderous war on our protections
Under cover of 'cutting red tape', the government has been slashing safety standards. It's time for it to stop, writes Christine Berry
Why the Grenfell Tower fire means everything must change
The fire was a man-made atrocity, says Faiza Shaheen – we must redesign our economic system so it can never happen again
Forcing MPs to take an oath of allegiance to the monarchy undermines democracy
As long as being an MP means pledging loyalty to an unelected head of state, our parliamentary system will remain undemocratic, writes Kate Flood
7 reasons why Labour can win the next election
From the rise of Grime for Corbyn to the reduced power of the tabloids, Will Murray looks at the reasons to be optimistic for Labour's chances next time
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 25 June
On June 25th, the fourth of Red Pepper Race Section's Open Editorial Meetings will celebrate the launch of our new black writers' issue - Empire Will Eat Itself.
After two years of attacks on Corbyn supporters, where are the apologies?
In the aftermath of this spectacular election result, some issues in the Labour Party need addressing, argues Seema Chandwani
If Corbyn’s Labour wins, it will be Attlee v Churchill all over again
Jack Witek argues that a Labour victory is no longer unthinkable – and it would mean the biggest shake-up since 1945
On the life of Robin Murray, visionary economist
Hilary Wainwright pays tribute to the life and legacy of Robin Murray, one of the key figures of the New Left whose vision of a modern socialism lies at the heart of the Labour manifesto.
Letter from the US: Dear rest of the world, I’m just as confused as you are
Kate Harveston apologises for the rise of Trump, but promises to make it up to us somehow
The myth of ‘stability’ with Theresa May
Settit Beyene looks at the truth behind the prime minister's favourite soundbite
Civic strike paralyses Colombia’s principle pacific port
An alliance of community organisations are fighting ’to live with dignity’ in the face of military repression. Patrick Kane and Seb Ordoñez report.
Greece’s heavy load
While the UK left is divided over how to respond to Brexit, the people of Greece continue to groan under the burden of EU-backed austerity. Jane Shallice reports
On the narcissism of small differences
In an interview with the TNI's Nick Buxton, social scientist and activist Susan George reflects on the French Presidential Elections.
Why Corbyn’s ‘unpopularity’ is exaggerated: Polls show he’s more popular than most other parties’ leaders – and on the up
Headlines about Jeremy Corbyn’s poor approval ratings in polls don’t tell the whole story, writes Alex Nunns
Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for a political organiser
Closing date for applications: postponed, see below
The media wants to demoralise Corbyn’s supporters – don’t let them succeed
Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections
In light of Dunkirk: What have we learned from the (lack of) response in Calais?
Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines
Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
This isn’t just a stunt. A new worker’s cooperative is set to employ people on a real living wage in a recycling scheme that is heavily trolling George Osborne. Jenny Nelson writes
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.
West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective
How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences
The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally
Event: Take Back Control Croydon
Ken Loach, Dawn Foster & Soweto Kinch to speak in Croydon at the first event of a UK-wide series organised by The World Transformed and local activists
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change
Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself