Climate protests worldwide start a week of demonstrations

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Scientists protest at UK Parliament 5 September 2023.
Scientists protest at UK Parliament 5 September 2023.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/live/2023/sep/17/nyc-march-end-fossil-fuels-alexandria-ocasio-cortez

Tens of thousands march in New York City to protest fossil fuels

Dharna Noor

Tens of thousands of people in New York City have kicked off a week of demonstrations seeking to end the use of coal, oil and natural gas blamed for climate change.

“This is an incredible moment,” said Jean Su of Center for Biological Diversity, who helped organize the mobilization.

Tens of thousands of people are marching in the streets of New York because they want climate action, and they understand Biden’s expansion of fossil fuels is squandering our last chance to avoid climate catastrophe.

Su said the action was the largest climate protest in the US since the start of the pandemic, with organizers estimating around 75,000 protestors taking to the streets in New York City.

She added:

This also shows the tremendous grit and fight of the people, especially youth and communities living at the frontlines of fossil fuel violence, to fight back and demand change for the future they have every right to lead.

In addition to celebrities and lawmakers, kids from across the country as well as elderly people showed up at the protests, waving climate signs and chanting alongside event organizers.

New York’s Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who previously championed the Green New Deal alongside Senator Bernie Sanders, is also expected to address the crowd later this afternoon.

Sunday’s demonstration comes ahead of the the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit, which the UN secretary general, António Guterres, says will focus on on bold new climate pledges.

Continue ReadingClimate protests worldwide start a week of demonstrations

Rishi Sunak Boasts That Oil Funded Think Tank ‘Helped Us Draft’ Crackdown on Climate Protests

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Original article by Adam Barnett and Sam Bright republished from DeSmog according to their republishing guidelines

The prime minister praised Policy Exchange, which received $30,000 from oil and gas giant ExxonMobil in 2017, for shaping laws that target green activists.

Image of InBedWithBigOil by Not Here To Be Liked + Hex Prints from Just Stop Oil's You May Find Yourself... art auction.
Image of InBedWithBigOil by Not Here To Be Liked + Hex Prints from Just Stop Oil’s You May Find Yourself… art auction.

Rishi Sunak has confirmed that a fossil fuel-funded think tank helped to draft his government’s laws targeting climate protests. 

Speaking at Policy Exchange’s summer party on Wednesday (28 June), the prime minister boasted that the think tank’s work “helped us draft” the government’s crackdown on protests, according to Politico.

OpenDemocracy reported last year that Policy Exchange’s US wing, American Friends of Policy Exchange, which provides funds to the UK branch, received $30,000 (roughly £23,700) from oil and gas giant ExxonMobil in 2017.

Two years later, Policy Exchange published a report entitled “Extremism Rebellion”, in reference to the environmental protest group, calling for the police and the government to clamp down on eco protests. 

An Extinction Rebellion spokesperson told DeSmog that this story “exemplifies the stranglehold that private interests have on our democracy.”

Ministers have been clear that new police powers are designed to stop climate protests. The former Home Secretary Priti Patel cited tactics used by Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain when arguing for what became the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. 

Sunak’s statement yesterday appears to confirm Extremism Rebellion’s allegation that sections of the 2022 law were ‘directly inspired’ by Policy Exchange’s report.

The “Extremism Rebellion” report said that legislation relating to public protest needed to be “urgently reformed” in order to “strengthen the ability of the police to place restrictions on planned protest and deal more effectively with mass lawbreaking tactics”.

This was implemented in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, which came into effect in April 2022 and awarded the police new powers to decide what constitutes a ‘disruptive’ protest and to more harshly punish those involved.

In the year to April 2023, more than 2,000 people were arrested and 138 spent time in prison for their involvement in campaigns by Just Stop Oil, the climate protest group.

Those encarcerated included two protesters who were each sentenced to more than two and a half years in prison – the longest sentences for peaceful climate protest in British history, according to the group – for causing a ‘public nuisance’ by scaling the Dartford Crossing.

This crackdown on protests has been continued by current Home Secretary Suella Braverman, a vocal critic of the UK’s net zero targets, who singled out Just Stop Oil when advocating further powers in the Public Order Act 2023, which received Royal Assent in May.

The legislation, which has been labelled as “draconian” by its opponents, allows the police to pre-emptively intervene to shut down protests and creates new offences for what it describes as “guerrilla tactics”, all of which have been used in recent climate protests.

The law criminalises protesters for attaching themselves (or coming equipped) to lock on to other protesters or buildings, threatening a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine or both.

For organising protests that block key infrastructure including “airports, railways, printing presses, and oil and gas infrastructure” protesters are threatened with up to 12 months in prison, while tunnelling is set at three years.

The law follows a November report by Policy Exchange that said it was “imperative” for protesters who repeatedly obstruct the highways to be “swiftly arrested, convicted and punished”. It further urged that “magistrates and judges should be imposing severe sentences on repeat offenders who aim deliberately to harm the public by breaching the criminal law”.

Sunak, who worked at Policy Exchange before his 2015 election to parliament, also used the summer party to make a jibe about the Labour Party’s links to Just Stop Oil, one of whose funders, Dale Vince, has donated £1.4 million to the party since 2014. 

Sunak’s comments echoed the claim made often by senior Conservatives, that Labour’s opposition to new North Sea oil and gas projects is linked to Dale’s donation. Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, has repeatedly attacked Labour over the connection, writing in the Daily Mail that Labour has become “the political wing of Just Stop Oil”. 

In fact, the International Energy Agency has said that new oil and gas projects are not compatible with keeping warming below 1.5C – an international climate goal that has been adopted by the UK government.

Meanwhile, DeSmog revealed in March that the Conservative Party received £3.5 million from fossil fuel interests, high-polluters and climate science deniers last year alone.

Policy Exchange and Climate Change

Policy Exchange was co-founded in 2002 by Michael Gove, who has been a mainstay in the cabinet since 2010. The think tank continues to retain significant influence in Westminster: Policy Exchange alumni make up a greater number of special advisers in Rishi Sunak’s government than any other think tank.

At the 2022 Conservative Party conference, Jacob Rees-Mogg, at the time serving as Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, said: “I believe that where Policy Exchange leads, governments have often followed.”

Lord Frost, is currently a senior fellow at the think tank. He was also recently appointed as a director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) – the UK’s principal climate science denial group. This week, Frost – who also attended the Policy Exchange summer party – gave a speech criticising Sunak’s government for offering voters “more net zero”. 

Since 2016, Policy Exchange has hosted events at the Conservative Party conference sponsored by energy companies and trade groups including: wood-burning bioenergy firm Drax, gas and electricity supplier E.on, British Gas parent company Centrica, the gas and electricity industry body Energy Networks Association, gas generation company Cadent Gas, trade association Hydrogen UK, and the Sizewell C nuclear plant. 

According to VICE News, while the think tank does not advertise the cost of sponsored meetings at party conferences, other similar organisations charge over £12,000 to host an event, which lasts about 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, the chair of the Policy Exchange board is Alexander Downer, who served as Australia’s Foreign Minister from 1996 to 2007. Downer has expressed climate science scepticism in the past, claiming that we are “going through an era” of global warming, and saying that Australian climate leadership would be expensive “virtue signalling”. 

Downer was appointed as the High Commissioner to the UK in 2014 by Tony Abbott, who also recently joined the board of the GWPF. 

Policy Exchange and 10 Downing Street have been approached for comment.

Original article by Adam Barnett and Sam Bright republished from DeSmog according to their republishing guidelines

Continue ReadingRishi Sunak Boasts That Oil Funded Think Tank ‘Helped Us Draft’ Crackdown on Climate Protests

Climate protest news 27 April 2022

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Just Stop Oil protesters defy cops again as arrests made on second day of action

Ten more arrests have been made after a protest outside a giant Midland oil terminal today. It was the second demonstration in two days at the Kingsbury depot, near Tamworth.

Activists stood and held placards outside the UK’s largest inland oil depot on April 27. According to protesters, they were arrested “pretty swiftly”.

Yesterday, April 26, some 16 people were taken into custody for blocking the entrance to the site. Activists on the ground told BirminghamLive it was the first action since they wrote to Boris Johnson demanding a halt to all future licensing and consent for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK.

Climate protester sprays government building with paint using fire extinguisher

Campaigners from a group called ‘Axe Drax’ covered the headquarters of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy with paint using a fire extinguisher.

According to the group’s social media account, they want to pressure the government into cutting ties with the Drax Group.

It’s part a string of protests targeting the company, which operate a biomass fuel station in North Yorkshire.

Continue ReadingClimate protest news 27 April 2022

Earth Day 2022

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It occurs to me that this could be a dangerous time for politicians and others failing to address the climate crisis. We have the most recent IPCC report identifying necessary action including an immediate stop to all new fossil fuel use and it’s ignored. Climate change is seen and experienced, it’s beyond controlling the narrative. The people that have warned of the growing crisis will be gaining power and influence, [ed: in a few years … ] we may well have laws that are applied retrospectively – and why shouldn’t they be? [ed: Why shouldn’t they be held responsible for their actions or – potentially recognised as criminal – neglect? Had the power to address severe climate destuction but chose not to …]

Climate Group Calls Biden’s Earth Day Order for Old-Growth Forests ‘Grossly Inadequate’

U.S. President Joe Biden’s reported plan to protect old-growth forests—which help combat global temperature rise by storing planet-heating carbon—is “grossly inadequate,” one climate advocacy group said Thursday.

Biden will mark Earth Day in Seattle on Friday with an executive order on the issue, according to The Washington Post, which cited five unnamed sources briefed on the plan.

Responding in a statement, Food & Water Watch national organizing manager Thomas Meyer declared that “President Biden seems to think we’re celebrating the first Earth Day in 1970, rather than in [the] depths of the climate crisis in 2022.”

“Protecting forests without addressing the root cause of the climate crisis, namely the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels, will do very little to slow global warming,” he warned.

“The president has many effective tools at his disposal to address the climate and public health impacts of fossil fuels in a serious way,” Meyer added. “He should start by following through on his pledge to end fracking on public lands and stop offshore drilling, and directing his agencies to reject all new fossil fuel infrastructure.”

US Mobilization Planned to Demand ‘Livable, Just, and Healthy Planet for All

Over 20 advocacy organizations are planning a nationwide “Fight for Our Future” mobilization for Saturday to demand climate action from the Biden administration and Congress.

On the heels of Earth Day, demonstrators plan to gather in Washington, D.C., and communities across the United States to reiterate the necessity of pursuing bold policies to combat the fossil-fueled planetary emergency, citing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released earlier this month.

The organizing comes not only in the midst of the climate emergency but also as Russia’s war on Ukraine and price gouging by fossil fuel giants—in the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic—drive up the cost of gas.

Sierra Club president Ramon Cruz in a statement that “in this unprecedented moment of climate crisis, rising prices, energy insecurity, and racial and environmental injustice, it’s vital that our leaders fight to establish a livable, just, and healthy planet for all.”

“The latest IPCC report made clear that we not only have an imperative to address the climate crisis, but also the means to do so—doing so just requires the political will to make transformational investments at the scale and speed the crisis demands,” he added. “There’s a clear path forward for critical investments in climate, care, jobs, and justice, and Congress must seize this crucial opportunity to truly ensure the future we all deserve.”

Continue ReadingEarth Day 2022