Sunday, 5 July 2009

Miliband, don't be a Siliband

More than 1,000 people formed a human chain around the Kingsnorth power station yesterday to protest at plans to build a new coal fired power station on the site.

The 'Mili-band' was made especially for energy minister, Ed Miliband, who has the power to reject the E.on proposal.

A new coal plant at Kingsnorth would create more than six million tonnes of CO2 per year, which is more than the combined emissions of the 25 least emitting countries, the kind of places that will feel the effects of climate change the hardest.

As the World Development Movement put it, Miliband "cannot expect his arguments for a fair and safe global deal at the crucial climate negotiations in Copenhagen to be taken seriously if he’s planning to build new dirty coal fired power stations at home."

We don't need coal to provide our energy. There is plenty of existing renewables technology that the government should be pushing and investing in rather than coal, in turn helping to get a green 'revolution' off the ground.

Daniel Vockins speaking at the Mili-band event at Kingsnorth, 4th July 2009.

This is why protesters turned up yesterday, to keep up the pressure on the government. Participants wore yellow sashes which said "Climate Change Kills" on the thirty minute walk from the fete/rally in Hoo to the power station. At the station the sashes were held between protesters to create a colourful band around the perimeter.

Photographs and videos of protesters chanting "Dirty coal not today, we must find a better way" will be sent to Miliband. Videos of protesters making pledges as part of the Big If campaign will also find their way to his desk. This involved people promising to take certain actions, such as not voting Labour or in one case burning their UK passport, if the Kingsnorth development goes ahead. You can take part in this yourself by submitting a pledge of your own via the Greenpeace website.

One of the most heart warming aspects from yesterday's demonstration was the wide range of people who turned out. This is an increasingly varied social movement, no longer the preserve of 'hippies', the jobless and 'crusties' as cynics like to tiresomely point out. People of all ages, races and backgrounds were present, mirrored in the coalition of groups who helped organise the event including the Women's Institute, Oxfam and the National Union of Students.

Groups like these, who are not commonly associated with climate change campaigning, are vital to building a movement of people who can press those in power for meaningful solutions. It is in the interests of everybody on this planet that we address this problem and with these groups' backing we can help gain the support of the ignorant and critical.

Shorbanu Khutun, speaking at the Mili-band protest at Kingsnorth, 4th July 2009.

On a final note, how sad of The Times to write about the event online but include a photograph from a different protest, showing protesters clashing with police. Yesterday’s demonstration was peaceful and passed off without a hitch. In fact, there was barely any police presence, in marked contrast to previous demonstrations at Kingsnorth, and the few officers there kept out of the way.

The image used by The Times distorts the view of the protest, painting it in a negative light and adding to the veil of ignorance that surrounds climate politics. Why on earth would they do such a thing? Maybe it was just lazy journalism. Couldn’t they be bothered to send a journalist to cover it, or even source an image from elsewhere like flickr? Or is there an ulterior motive at play? I’ll be taking a closer look at media coverage of such events in coming weeks.

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