Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
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?
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