Tag Archives: Climate Change

Redlines solidarity protests in London

Two different activist groups staged protests in London today in solidarity with the so-called Redlines protests taking place in Paris at the end of the COP21 climate talks.

First were a group of around 25, calling themselves ‘Red Lines London’, who carried 10 giant inflatable cubes, similar to those used in Paris, to various sites across London.

They began with a short roadblock outside the Houses of Parliament, highlighting our Government’s increasing subsidies to fossil fuel companies while cutting support for renewable energy schemes and alternative energy research.

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Next, they crossed Westminster Bridge to pose outside the Shell HQ building.

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After a brief pause to top up the air pressure , the next target was the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern gallery, which receives sponsorship money in a green-washing exercise from BP.

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Moving further east, the group then blockaded the entrance to News International’s London HQ near London Bridge. Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers have been very supportive of air attacks on Syria, which is no surprise as he has oil interests along with Jacob Rothschild in the Syrian Golan Heights.

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Crossing the River Thames they carried their red lines through the City of London financial centre (where they attracted inquiries from police).

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Their fifth and final destination was the office of PR firm Hill & Knowlton, which works for fracking lobbyists to promote the idea that extreme energy extraction techniques are safe and sustainable, despite scientists’ analysis that further carbon exploitation will cause runaway temperature warming.

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Meanwhile, back at Westminster,  Campaign Against Climate Change were preparing their own Redlines solidarity action starting with some speeches outside Parliament, including from Sian Berry, the Green Party candidate for London Mayor.

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The action comprised unfurling a 300m red line across Westminster Bridge.

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Despite strong winds, they managed to hang on and span the whole bridge behind Parliament.

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Both UK actions were in solidarity with the thousands gathered in Paris in defiance of emergency powers to send out a message to COP21 delegates that there are red lines that must not be crossed.

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24th Oct 2015, Occupy the Daily Mail – video report

On 24th October 2015, media and climate activists began a 48-hour vigil and protest outside the London HQ of the Daily Mail in Derry Street, Kensington.

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, joined one of the group, Donnachadh McCarthy, for a meeting with the Managing Director of the Daily Mail, Charles Garside, and their Environmental Correspondent.

During the meeting they presented evidence of misleading and unscientific headlines, which the newspaper staff undertook to respond to.

Later there was a candlelit silent vigil to remember the people killed by climate change (which the UN currently estimates is nearly half a million each year).

Several activists continued to camp outside the building until Sunday.

Paul Mobbs – Arrest the Cabinet

It’s been awhile since a blog update, mainly because I’ve been busy making films.

I’ve been working with Real Media covering their Manchester pre-launch conference. Also doing some editing for Bez’s Reality Party. Some more stuff for the Talk Fracking campaign, and a series of gigs and actions with the anti-consumerist ‘preacher’, Reverend Billy, over with his 12-piece Stop Shopping Choir from the States.

So this is the first of a few posts pulling some of my favourites together, beginning back in March when ecological researcher and futurologist Paul Mobbs attempted to get the Cabinet arrested, and when Downing Street police refused to help, he tried to perform a citizen’s arrest, before eventually being arrested himself under a Road Management section of the Terrorism Act.

His ‘Frackademics‘ research presents a compelling case against members of the Cabinet of misconduct in public office over their support for fracking in the UK. Before his arrest, he handed a dossier to police and they later gave him an official crime number relating to his evidence against David Cameron et al, so in theory, the Police claim they are investigating his allegations.

He will be representing himself in his own court case which is currently scheduled for August.

The film was a collab with Gathering Place Films.

Climate March and policing 7th March 2015

It is hard to understand why yesterday’s Climate March attracted many fewer than in Autumn, other than that the corporate media, owned by a handful of right-wing billionaires, is successfully misdirecting the public by continually ignoring or playing down the pressing scientific argument against the stranglehold of oil multi-nationals on national and international energy policy.

Still, several thousand angry folk gathered in Lincoln’s Inn Fields at lunchtime, before a bike bloc led the march towards Parliament.

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There was a pause for a sit-down on the Strand, lasting around ten minutes, and there was also a detour by an anarchist bloc which turned off Whitehall and looped back into the rear of Parliament Square to establish the #occupydemocracy gathering due to follow the climate rally.

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Prior to the march there was controversy over the Met’s demand that organisers pay for private road management – a position they retreated from later. In their original reasoning, they claimed that there was no need for any police presence because their core responsibility was “preventing and detecting crime, maintenance of the Queen’s Peace and protecting life and property”, and that because there the proposed march was “expected to be crime-free there was little requirement for it to provide a policing operation”.

So it was interesting that the event was not only fully policed, but that there was also a marked ramping-up of surveillance, with several FIT teams filming protesters, and a huge number of blue-tabarded “Liaison Officers”.

A smiley "liaison officer" from the National Domestic Extremist Special Operations branch

A smiley “liaison officer” from the National Domestic Extremist Special Operations branch

They seem to have given up any pretence that they are not gathering intelligence, with more and more of them sporting Public Order (CO) lapel badges, one Sergeant showing his SO (Domestic Extremist/Terrorist Specialist Operations), several Tactical Support Group officers (whose usual liaison with protesters involve shoving, punching or batoning them!), and out of their usual beat, several City of London police and some Detective Inspectors from Kent.

Perhaps this huge increase in intelligence gathering was a celebration of the Supreme Court’s ruling last week, in the John Catt case, that for the moment legitimises the wide-scale collection and retention of intelligence for “police purposes” that may include studying the “leadership, organisation, tactics and methods” as well as “links between protest groups”.

After the speeches and rally, one group of around a hundred activists headed off to block the steps of Tate Britain in protest at their sponsorship deals with BP, which provide huge amounts of greenwash and free advertising to the disgraced oil company in return for financial support which amounts to less than 1% of the Tate’s budget.

Another larger group, led by a ‘carbon bubble’ and huge dinosaur, took a stroll across Westminster Bridge and rallied outside the Shell HQ on the South Bank, where there were a few minor scuffles as TSG officers, protecting the corporation, tried to burst the bubble and snatch a few placards.

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After some speeches there, the several hundred protesters began to head back over the bridge to re-occupy Parliament Square, but suddenly things took a dark turn. The same group of TSG that had been observing protesters earlier in the Square, and who were involved in scuffles at Shell, suddenly decided in the middle of the bridge to snatch someone and arrest them on the strange premise that they had previously committed a Section 5 public order offence in Humberside. This character had been noisily playing a tambourine in Parliament Square during the afternoon, was very visible around the Shell protest, and was clearly heading back to the Square, so why the police chose to so publicly snatch him in the middle of the bridge is a mysterious lapse in judgement.

Inevitably, his arrest, and claims that the arrest was completely unfounded, led to the prisoner van being surrounded by protesters, with costumed polar bears staging a sit-in in front of the van.

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For the next 45 minutes, ever increasing numbers of police fought to clear a path for the van to exit, with many protesters receiving injuries in the process, despite the overwhelming majority acting peacefully.

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During the operation, another three people were arrested, including an NUJ journalist.

Even when the van finally made an escape along York Road, it got held up by traffic and some activists tried to halt its progress further, but in a terrifying few moments, the driver gradually built up speed, as protesters ran backwards with their hands on the bonnet, until eventually they realised he literally might kill them, and they span off to the side.

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Serious questions must be asked about whether the police were wise to attempt the original arrest in the middle of a large crowd in the middle of a bridge, and then whether their ensuing operation and escalating violence was proportionate in order to question someone about an historic alleged minor public order offence.

Once things had calmed down, the crowd returned to Parliament Square, where, under intense further surveillance, a group of up to a hundred held a meeting and then enjoyed some conscious poet and music entertainment into the evening from the likes of David Willard, Pete the Temp, and Danny Chivers.

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Occupy Democracy organised prisoner support at Charing Cross police station so that as people were released they were met with a friendly welcome and some food etc. It took the full 24 hours for the last of the four to be released.

Occupy Democracy have announced they will be in Parliament Square during the election period from 1st till 10th May, and Liberty have just had the go ahead to launch a judicial review on the legality of the GLA’s closing of the Square to protests.

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Fossil Free Nativity play calls for Methodist Church investment

On Friday, the Church of England, which invests around £100m in Shell and £50m in BP, announced that they would be urging the oil companies to “adapt their business” to cut back on carbon emission and invest much more in renewables. They intend to file a shareholder’s resolution at Shell’s 2015 AGM next summer, calling for routine reporting on climate change response, and renewable investment strategies.

While a significant move, it falls far short of both UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon and the World Council of Churches’ calls for oil divestment, which form part of a rapidly growing movement in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that to avoid catastrophic climate change, 80% of oil assets MUST remain in the ground.

So while the hugely powerful multi-national oil lobby continues to invest in oil exploration and talks about carbon capture, it is facing serious opposition as huge investors like the British Medical Association, numerous city councils and universities, and even the oil-rich Rockefeller Foundation divest from the industry, not just on the basis of potential climate change, but as a sound financial decision, backed by forecasts from the IMF and Bank of England, warning of overvalued carbon assets, liable to become problematic “stranded assets”. It’s estimated the oil industry lost $4.2 billion worth of investment in 2014 alone as major shareholders moved to greener and ethical funds.

The Methodist Church is a huge body with more than £1 billion investments in the stock market, controlled by its Central Finance Board (CFB), and advised by the Joint Advisory Committee on the Ethics of Investment (JACEI), which recognised in its 2014 report that “fuel extraction companies may remain profitable at the expense of the planet”, and yet takes the position that it has a fiduciary duty to maximise return on its investments, that “stranded assets” are some years down the line, and that it is better to engage and influence oil companies through shareholdings rather than divest.

So yesterday, Christian Climate Change and Divest London activists staged a cheeky Fossil-Free Nativity performance outside the Westminster Methodist Church HQ, to publicise their divestment pressure campaign.

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While a narrator and the Archangel Gabriel took to the stage and introduced other characters and their Fossil-Free nativity, the congregation of around 30 supporters sang subverted hymns such as “No Oil” (to the tune of Noel), “In the Peak Oil Winter”, and “Bad King Herod Once Looked Out”.

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After Gabriel visits Mary to tell her about the future King, he leaves with the warning:
One last thing. Watch out for Herod, he’s a little bit crazy.
He does everything he’s told by his advisors, EDF and BP.
They have him all wrapped up, and for their own improvement
are unlikely to aid in the Peace on Earth Movement.

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After which the congregation burst into song:
No Oil, No Oil, the angels did sing,
No more fossil fuels just invest in green things.

Once the baby Jesus is born, the shepherds complaining about the weather, and one says:
I know what you mean, and what’s more galling,
That Roman Centurion took my tarpaulin

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Meanwhile, after intercepting Joseph’s emails, Herod is after the baby Jesus, to try to corrupt him with riches from the oil companies, and the Narrator asks:
Will he grow up to be wise, gentle and meek
resisting the strong and uplifting the weak?
Or maybe he will be lazy, proud and rash
and fill up his pockets with oil stained cash

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The play ended with “Away In the Manger” and a message to the Methodist Church:
Now close your investments in all fossil fuels
Take care of the planet stop listening to fools.

The cast took a quick photo-call inside the Methodist Centre around the statue of John Wesley, before being ushered out by security.

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They also invited people to sign postcards addressed to the Chair of JACEI, Rev John Howard, calling for divestment.

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There’s a chance to catch another performance at the Occupy weekend in Parliament Square on 20th/21st December.

London Global Frackdown action at HSBC

London activists targeted HSBC branches in central London with street theatre and speeches yesterday as part of a worldwide ‘Global Frackdown’ initiative to raise awareness and fight back against fracking.

Global Frackdown’ boasts individual partnerships in over 30 countries and about half the US states, and yesterday’s London action was among hundreds worldwide.

Publicised by ‘Frack Off London’, the action was aimed at HSBC because of its economic and underwriting support for companies like Cuadrilla in the UK, as well as globally.

Armed with a portable fracking rig prop, some great banners, a small sound system, and some ‘Rhythms of Resistance’ drummers, a group of nearly a hundred people set off from the Golden Square meeting place towards the HSBC branch at Regent Street.

Inside the branch, forewarned by police, the manager was panicking and locking the doors, trapping a few customers inside.

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With the protest in full swing outside, he peered through the keyhole (not sure why he didn’t use the clearly marked eyehole above) before letting people out.

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With the fracking rig set up outside, and a large banner “Fracking is a dirty business” held across the door, the bank remained shut for at least half an hour while the protesters listened to activists reporting from around the country, from Algeria and Romania, and also a speaker making ties with the ‘No TTIP’ campaign which was holding an event later.

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The group then set off down Regent Street, through Piccadilly, and down to another HSBC branch at the Strand, accompanied by police on motorbikes, on foot and in riot vans.

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Policing was characterised by the usual intelligence officers dressed as ‘Police Liaison Officers’, but also an excessive number of overt Forward Intelligence police. At the Strand, even a Chief Inspector arrived, along with two police photographers and videographers, who took detailed footage of everyone involved.

Considering this was clearly a fluffy, non-invasive, entirely non-criminal, consciousness-raising event, the excessive and intelligence-led policing was overtly political, and clearly demonstrated the state’s determination to push through fracking and intimidate the anti-fracking movement.

Undeterred, the anti-frackers handed out loads of leaflets to passers-by, and made a few more speeches, before taking to the street once more and heading down Whitehall towards Parliament Square to join up with the TTIP protest called there at 2pm.

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Some pics from London Climate March

An estimated 40,000 people marched in London as part of a worldwide climate mobilisation ahead of the UN summit in New York.

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The march, on an unseasonably warm afternoon, was characterised by creativity and diversity, with a large number of contributing organisations and groups, and a lot of home-made banners and props. A protest notably unmarred by the usual sea of Socialist Worker placards.

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The main rally ended with a minute’s silence which was intensely observed by the mammoth crowd, an eerie quiet enveloping the streets around Westminster.

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The official march was followed by a spontaneous visit by a crowd of around a thousand to the Tory HQ nearby.

Earlier in the day, activists targeted the British Museum with a creative and poignant protest action over BP arts sponsorship.