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

×

We need to reclaim the power, now more than ever

Kara Moses explains the issues behind the upcoming Reclaim the Power climate action camp at Didcot power station

May 22, 2015
6 min read


Kara MosesKara Moses is Red Pepper's Environment Editor and a freelance writer and activist


  share     tweet  

RTP_Didcot-flyer-2015For many who believe in equality, justice, and peace, the re-election of the Tory government brought horror, dismay, even fear – fear of what misery another four years of Conservative rule could bring, from cuts and privatisation to attacks on our basic rights.

Another important issue on the list should be that this is a government in bed with the fossil fuel industry, who now think they have free reign to push full steam ahead with fracking and other fossil fuels, helping out their industry friends while thousands die of fuel poverty each winter.

Meanwhile the UN climate talks in Paris this December loom on the horizon, with no meaningful action in sight and a corporate stranglehold choking the process for private profit. This is not what democracy looks like. This is what a broken system looks like.

It doesn’t have to be this way

We don’t have to rely on people in power to make the changes we want for us. We can take action now. Direct action has brought about some of the biggest progressive changes in society – women’s suffrage, the abolition of slavery, civil rights for all. It’s the best tool we’ve got, it’s empowering, meaningful, transformative and fun. And there’s a big opportunity coming up to take mass action together.

This month, Reclaim the Power returns with its third mass action camp, as part of an international weekend of climate action that’s happening across the world.

The summer of 2013 saw thousands descend on Balcombe, where Cuadrilla’s fracking operations were shut down for six days. Last summer, thirteen nationwide actions sprung from the camp on a proposed fracking site in Blackpool, including activists superglueing themselves to Defra’s headquarters, occupying Cuadrilla’s Blackpool office, blockading iGas’ London headquarters, and shutting down a fracking site near Hull.

In previous years, Reclaim the Power has responded to calls for support from communities on the frontline of fracking. Why are we at Didcot power station this year? And why now, in the spring?

Rather than being the sole target of this year’s actions, the Didcot plant provides a symbolic backdrop for nationwide action against fossil fuels and corporate power, symbolising many of the issues we want to respond to, on an international day of action against the corporate capture of the UN climate negotiations.

The complex political landscape of 2015 includes a new Tory government pushing ahead with the dash for gas, the possibility of fracking going live in Lancashire in the summer, coal still not being off the table, and the UN climate negotiations. Didcot stands as a half-demolished monument to the unfinished job of kicking dirty coal out, the government’s misguided dash for gas and fracking fixation, and the corrupting influence of corporate power on our democratic processes.

Dirty, unsafe and expensive

The coal-fired section of Didcot was demolished last year after becoming unprofitable due to EU anti-pollution legislation. But aggressive lobbying by companies like RWE Npower, which owns Didcot, is weakening the legislation and keeping coal in the mix. We need to get rid of coal.

The gas-fired section of Didcot still stands, and in December RWE Npower will decide its fate. We need to get rid of gas. It’s not the clean, green solution the government’s spin would have you believe. Gas, including fracked shale gas, is dirty, expensive and pushing us further into climate chaos and fuel poverty, just like other fossil fuels.

More fossil fuels might help Npower make £766 million in profit in three years – while paying no corporation tax – but meanwhile 10,000 people die each year from cold-related illnesses. Last year 15,000 people died from fuel poverty, up 77 per cent from the previous year.

Corporate lobbying

RWE Npower and other corporate lobbyists are also lobbying to weaken emissions controls and prevent a global climate deal. RWE Npower is one of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies who control the UK’s energy supply – and lobby the government to extend the life of dirty power stations. It is one of Europe’s biggest fossil fuel polluters, and owns a huge open cast coal mine in Germany – the single biggest source of CO2 emissions in Europe. Yet they’ve been chosen to help represent the UK government in EU decision-making on reducing carbon emissions in Paris this December.

In countries like Germany, the big energy companies have been undermined by flourishing community-owned energy projects. The Big Six energy companies in the UK are lobbying aggressively to avoid a similar situation occurring here, pushing for public money to prop them up regardless of whether their energy is even used. Worldwide, fossil fuels receive £6 million every minute in subsidies, greater than the total health spending of all of the world’s governments.

At the key climate talks in Paris this year we know that RWE Npower will put their profits first – regardless of the cost to us – and we can’t afford to let that happen. This year’s camp is part of an international weekend of action that’s taking on corporate power all over the world; together we will show that we’re not prepared to let the fossil fuel industry continue with their stranglehold on the climate talks.

Who has the power?

We need to transition to community-owned renewables for clean, democratic, safe and affordable energy – but the government, RWE Npower and the rest of the Big Six are holding us back.

The myths about renewable energy not being able to produce enough power to keep the lights on is not true, and evidence-based research proves it. We can drastically reduce the amount of energy we use, through insulation, greater efficiency, better transport and healthier diets and land use. This would create more jobs and healthier communities at the same time.

When the gas-fired section of Didcot power station caught fire last October, the lights didn’t go out. Why? Because wind energy picked up the slack. Just like Balcombe, who now have a community owned renewable energy project up and running after the threat of fracking in their community was met with mass protest, the Didcot community could be a flagship for communities reclaiming their energy and their power. We hope to work with the local community to envision what their future could look like once RWE Npower has packed up and left.

It’s clear that if we want to change the way we power our lives, we need to change who has power over our lives. This isn’t just about energy. This is about democracy. This is about equality, and the ongoing struggle for social, economic and climate justice. This is about people’s lives – the people with flooded homes, the people dying from fuel poverty each winter, or from drought and extreme weather events.

This is about power – and the time to reclaim our power is now. See you at Didcot.

The camp is from 29 May to 2 June. For more information see www.nodashforgas.org.uk

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.
Share this article  
  share on facebook     share on twitter  

Kara MosesKara Moses is Red Pepper's Environment Editor and a freelance writer and activist


#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

Universal credit isn’t about saving money – it’s about disciplining unemployed people
The scheme has cost a fortune and done nothing but cause suffering. So why does it exist at all? Tom Walker digs into universal credit’s origins in Tory ideology

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

Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones

‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression

Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death

‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum

The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes

Naomi Klein: the Corbyn movement is part of a global phenomenon
What radical writer Naomi Klein said in her guest speech to Labour Party conference

Waiting for the future to begin: refugees’ everyday lives in Greece
Solidarity volunteer Karolina Partyga on what she has learned from refugees in Thessaloniki

Don’t let Uber take you for a ride
Uber is no friend of passengers or workers, writes Lewis Norton – the firm has put riders at risk and exploited its drivers

Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project

Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson

New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power

What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains

The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme

Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it

The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going


70