Reclaim the Power!

Activists rally for day of mass action against fossil fuel industry

Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

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Published: 1 June 2015

This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod

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Activists from Reclaim the Power have blocked the front and back entrances to a World Coal Association conference on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), which is being held today at the Institute of Directors, London.

The activists are protesting against the coal industry’s promotion of CCS, which is seen by many as a smokescreen for the immediate action needed to address climate change.

Another 12 activists from Reclaim The Power have blockaded the steps outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to convey a stark message to Amber Rudd, the new Minister for Energy and Climate Change.

DECC strikes bum note

The protesters – who are participating in a day of multiple actions across the UK – arranged themselves on the steps outside DECC’s front door this morning. They blocked the building’s entrance and exposed their bums to reveal the message ‘Wind Not Gas’.

‘All around the world people are building community-led renewable solutions to replace fossil fuels. At a time when the world’s leading scientists are telling us that if we want to avoid catastrophic and irreversible climate change the majority of the world’s coal, oil and gas reserves need to stay in the ground, the newly appointed Minster for Energy and Climate Change is in a unique position to be able to secure our energy future.

‘Evidence shows us that with existing technology we could be carbon neutral in the UK by 2030, with a renewable energy infrastructure offering many new jobs into the bargain. Unfortunately Amber Rudd is pushing full-pelt for fracking which is beyond short-sighted. It is suicidal.’

Hannah Smith, Reclaim The Power

You can’t clean coal

The activists have locked themselves to the front and back doors of the Institute of Directors, stopping hundreds of business executives from the coal industry from entering. Under a banner that reads ‘You can’t clean coal’, the apron and rubber glove-clad protesters are attempting to sweep up coal in the entrance using dustpans and brushes.

‘Despite the coal industry’s desperate attempts, coal and other fossil fuels will never be clean. They cost more money and they prevent the vital investments we need in renewables. CCS is a sticking plaster for our broken energy system: the government needs to stop subsidising fossil fuels, and we need a full transition to renewables now.’

Sam Taylor, Reclaim the Power

Fossil fuel companies and governments are presenting Carbon Capture and Storage, a technology to capture and store carbon emissions from fossil fuels, as a solution to climate change.

However, the technology hasn’t been proved at scale and many believe it’s a simple justification for burning more dirty coal, oil and gas instead of promoting cleaner, more secure and more developed renewables technologies.

CCS is not an option

Politicians and business leaders have also admitted that CCS is unviable; former chancellor Alistair Darling said it ‘may never work’ and RWE confirming it didn’t see it as an ‘option for the foreseeable future.’

Rather than spending millions on CCS, governments should be investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency and providing support for people in fuel poverty.

‘It’s clear that the obstacles to a safe and sustainable energy future for the UK are political rather than technical. Instead of companies putting profits before people, and building infrastructure which will lock us into burning carbon for years to come, we need to look to community-led renewable solutions.’

Ellie Glazer, Reclaim the Power

The road to Paris

Today’s UK actions are part of an international build-up to the Paris UN Climate talks in December. Many feel that the fossil fuel industry’s presence at the negotiations will mean it has undue influence on the decisions that come out of the talks.

‘Against the advice of their own Committee on Climate Change, the government has approved the construction of up to 30 new gas-fired power stations, and intends to go ‘all out’ for shale gas – with up to two-thirds of the UK licensed for fracking.

‘This new dash for gas is recklessly at odds with our national and international obligations on climate change and must be resisted, for the sake of ourselves and future generations. We are now finding ourselves at a stage where we don’t know where government ends and corporations begin.

‘Unless we act now we will soon find ourselves be locked into infrastructure which will burn carbon for years to come whilst killing off renewable energy, with political decisions ruled by profit and acting in ignorance of the blatant dangers of climate change. We simply can’t afford to let this happen.

‘We will not sit back compliantly and wait for governments to act. We must show them that the health of the people is more important that the profit of big business, and like the communities who have held off fracking for four years, we will see more and more people on the ground taking action to stop both government and corporate power in their tracks.’

Rowan Tilly, Reclaim The Power

Reclaim the Power is a grass roots direct action network that aims to join the dots between environmental, economic and social justice. It grew out of No Dash for Gas, the group that occupied and shut down the cooling towers at EDF Energy West Burton’s power station and later faced being sued by EDF for £5m.

Click here to find out more about Reclaim the Power, including mass actions and how to get involved.

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