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

×

We’re having a climate camp in the City

Oscar Reyes interviews Matt Megarry about the upcoming Climate Camp in the City - what it's all about and what you can do

March 29, 2009
6 min read


Oscar ReyesOscar Reyes is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and is based in Barcelona. He was formerly an editor of Red Pepper. He tweets at @_oscar_reyes


  share     tweet  

Why are you targeting the European Climate Exchange?

Because the system of carbon trading they oversee will be the billion dollar elephant in the room at international climate talks later this year in Copenhagen. We’re in the middle of an economic crisis based on wild speculation and blind faith in the market. With the recent crash in the price of carbon price within the European Trading Scheme, the flaws inherent in this elaborate system of offsets have never been more exposed. If we want a viable future for everyone on this planet, we can’t let city traders be the guardians of our climate system. In short: Carbon trading doesn’t work.

What kind of actions will take place on 1 April? How do people get involved?

There’ll be sorts of stuff going on: from debates on the alternatives and workshops on the finer points of the trading system. There might even be a bit of creative naughtiness and perhaps some direct action. People just need to show up in London on 1 April and get stuck in to whatever takes their fancy. Delicious vegan food for a small optional donation will be provided. Bring sleeping bags and tents if you have them – we’re having a climate camp in the City!

The Daily Mail expects a riot – how do you respond to that kind of scaremongering?

The Daily Mail expects all sort of things. We’ve learned not to take too much notice. For me, one of the most inspiring moments of last year’s camp was the sense of calm focus and togetherness that everyone showed in the face of outrageous police aggression. At the top gate, repeated police incursions were met with successive waves of climate campers peacefully resisting; sitting down, singing songs and telling stories, and demonstrating the power of collective action. We’ll stand up for what we believe in, but we’re not the mob the Daily Mail wants us to be.

What do you hope will be the outcome of 1 April action in the City?

I think it would be great if loads of new people turn up and imagine something different for the future. Hopefully that sentiment will travel far and wide, along with the message that world leaders have got their response to climate change very wrong indeed.

Why carbon trading? How does this relate to the previous climate camp actions at Drax, Heathrow and Kingsnorth?

Every time we’ve set up camp outside a major emitter, some big business or government spokesperson has always popped up and said ‘Don’t worry! Carbon trading will sort it out!’ It’s widely accepted that the richer, carbon-heavy nations should be the ones to make drastic cuts in emissions. But plans for new runways and coal-fired power stations will make it impossible for countries in the north to do their fair share. NASA’s Jim Hansen is now suggesting that we may be perilously close to the danger zone in terms of greenhouse gas concentrations. So we need to cut emissions and help with climate friendly measures in other parts of the world. It’s not a choice: we have to do both.

Is this a one-off action, or part of a longer campaign focusing on carbon trading? Is this part of a build up to (or related to) other actions in the run up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December? If so, what will those be?

It’s part of a longer campaign focusing on the current economic system and how it’s got us into this mess. Carbon trading is just one part of that. Our summer camp will explore the economic crisis (and the system that caused it) and how it relates to climate change and other social justice issues. Carbon trading and free market dogma have dominated UN negotiations in recent years, so yes, we’ll be taking action around the time of the Copenhagen Summit as well.

What form will these events and actions take?

As yet, those questions are largely unresolved. But anyone can turn up to one of our monthly national gatherings to answer them! See www.climatecamp.org.ukfor details.

What has the G20 got to do with climate change discussion and carbon trading?

The G20 focuses on efforts to kick-starting the economy, on getting people spending again and things like bailouts for the automotive industries. These are not futureproof plans. This is precisely the time we could be concentrating on creating jobs that will help stop the climate crisis. The G20 governments have been particularly blinkered by the neo-liberal discourse around false free market solutions to climate change. Their agenda is one of a future for business as usual. So we’re camping on April Fools’ Day, to show that that future is bleak.

Is the financial crisis good for the climate?

In terms of changes to investments and output, to various climate friendly and not so climate friendly projects, its a bit of a mixed bag. But that’s not really the point. The financial crisis could be an opportunity for renewal. For making the changes we need to tackle climate change and finally bringing some sense of equity to the world. But we can’t just hope for change and we shouldn’t rejoice in something that’s bringing ever more suffering to millions in the here and now. For the crisis to really be good for the climate, we need to use it to expose the inherent contradictions in the financial system and empower people to imagine something new. The crisis certainly exposes the insanities of carbon trading to a whole new level.

Is this a re-run of older summit protests (like the J18 Carnival Against Capital in the City in 1999). What lessons have been learnt from the successes and failures of other counter-summit protests?

People who went to, and helped organise, the J18 Carnival will probably be involved again. And the way we’re organising the 1 April day definitely draws upon the same model of open, consensus based meetings. Indeed, the idea for Climate Camp came out of the ‘eco-village’ that was set up at the G8 in Scotland a few years back. But I think after three summer camps, the Climate Camp has taken on an identity all of it’s own. Absolutely lessons have been learnt, but the camp in the City will be something new: expect pop-up tents on tarmac, workshops in bus stops and actions in the avenues of power!

Where to go/what to do …

Gather at noon, 1 April, at the European Climate Exchange, Hasilwood House, 62 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AW. Bring a pop-up tent if you’ve got one, sleeping bag, wind turbine, mobile cinema, action plans and ideas … let’s imagine another world.

Matt Megarry was a participant in the Camps for Climate Action in the summers of 2007 and 2008, at Heathrow Airport and Kingsnorth coal-fired power station.

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.

Oscar ReyesOscar Reyes is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and is based in Barcelona. He was formerly an editor of Red Pepper. He tweets at @_oscar_reyes


Interview: Queer British Art
James O'Nions talks to author Alex Pilcher about the Tate’s Queer British Art exhibition and her book A Queer Little History of Art

Cable the enabler: new Lib Dem leader shows a party in crisis
Vince Cable's stale politics and collusion with the Conservatives belong in the dustbin of history, writes Adam Peggs

Anti-Corbyn groupthink and the media: how pundits called the election so wrong
Reporting based on the current consensus will always vastly underestimate the possibility of change, argues James Fox

Michael Cashman: Commander of the Blairite Empire
Lord Cashman, a candidate in Labour’s internal elections, claims to stand for Labour’s grassroots members. He is a phony, writes Cathy Cole

Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part

Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper

Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s

Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach

Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.

Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite

Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead

Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee

Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power

The Grenfell public inquiry must listen to the residents who have been ignored for so long
Councils handed housing over to obscure, unaccountable organisations, writes Anna Minton – now we must hear the voices they silenced

India: Modi’s ‘development model’ is built on violence and theft from the poorest
Development in India is at the expense of minorities and the poor, writes Gargi Battacharya

North Korea is just the start of potentially deadly tensions between the US and China
US-China relations have taken on a disturbing new dimension under Donald Trump, writes Dorothy Guerrero

The feminist army leading the fight against ISIS
Dilar Dirik salutes militant women-organised democracy in action in Rojava

France: The colonial republic
The roots of France’s ascendant racism lie as deep as the origins of the French republic itself, argues Yasser Louati

This is why it’s an important time to support Caroline Lucas
A vital voice of dissent in Parliament: Caroline Lucas explains why she is asking for your help

PLP committee elections: it seems like most Labour backbenchers still haven’t learned their lesson
Corbyn is riding high in the polls - so he can face down the secret malcontents among Labour MPs, writes Michael Calderbank

Going from a top BBC job to Tory spin chief should be banned – it’s that simple
This revolving door between the 'impartial' broadcaster and the Conservatives stinks, writes Louis Mendee – we need a different media

I read Gavin Barwell’s ‘marginal seat’ book and it was incredibly awkward
Gavin Barwell was mocked for writing a book called How to Win a Marginal Seat, then losing his. But what does the book itself reveal about Theresa May’s new top adviser? Matt Thompson reads it so you don’t have to

We can defeat this weak Tory government on the pay cap
With the government in chaos, this is our chance to lift the pay cap for everyone, writes Mark Serwotka, general secretary of public service workers’ union PCS

Corbyn supporters surge in Labour’s internal elections
A big rise in left nominations from constituency Labour parties suggests Corbynites are getting better organised, reports Michael Calderbank

Undercover policing – the need for a public inquiry for Scotland
Tilly Gifford, who exposed police efforts to recruit her as a paid informer, calls for the inquiry into undercover policing to extend to Scotland

Becoming a better ally: how to understand intersectionality
Intersectionality can provide the basis of our solidarity in this new age of empire, writes Peninah Wangari-Jones

The myth of the ‘white working class’ stops us seeing the working class as it really is
The right imagines a socially conservative working class while the left pines for the days of mass workplaces. Neither represent today's reality, argues Gargi Bhattacharyya

The government played the public for fools, and lost
The High Court has ruled that the government cannot veto local council investment decisions. This is a victory for local democracy and the BDS movement, and shows what can happen when we stand together, writes War on Want’s Ross Hemingway.

An ‘obscure’ party? I’m amazed at how little people in Britain know about the DUP
After the Tories' deal with the Democratic Unionists, Denis Burke asks why people in Britain weren't a bit more curious about Northern Ireland before now

The Tories’ deal with the DUP is outright bribery – but this government won’t last
Theresa May’s £1.5 billion bung to the DUP is the last nail in the coffin of the austerity myth, writes Louis Mendee