Chris Packham gives witness testimony at Just Stop Oil crown court case

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George Monbiot: “Leave fossil fuels in the ground”

TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham testified at the crown court trial of Just Stop Oil supporter, Cressie Gethin. 14th February was the eighth day of Cressie’s trial for Public Nuisance. She is appearing at Isleworth Crown Court, appearing before Judge Duncan. Cressie, 22, a music student from Hereford, faces up to ten years in prison if found guilty. 

Cressie climbed a motorway gantry above the M25 on the 20th July 2022, two days after the governments’ net zero strategy was declared unlawful, and one day after the UK recorded it’s highest ever temperature of 40.3 degrees celsius, a milestone that scientists previously thought was impossible.

Cressie Gethin testified: On 20th July 2022, I climbed up onto a gantry over the M25. I hung up two banners – one said ‘Just Stop Oil’ (the campaign in whose name I was taking action) and the other said ‘40 Degrees”’ (this was a day after the 40C heatwave scorched the UK, burnt down houses and left people dead).

The prosecution have said that my intention was clearly to stop the traffic. However, it is under oath that I say I was not expecting the police to close the entire motorway. I thought it was possible they may decide to close one or two lanes, or perhaps slow the speed of the traffic, but I was very surprised when they closed the whole thing. I was surprised because I was conducting a nonviolent, peaceful protest, the intention of which was to gain media attention and create public pressure on the government to stop new oil and gas.

When the police did close the motorway, I did not immediately come down – you saw that in the footage. As I said, my intention was to get media attention and I realised that the road closure would be attracting more press coverage and therefore more pressure on the government to take steps to protect its own citizens.

I will also address the matter of delays at Heathrow. Whilst this may sound unbelievable, I did not realise that the stretch of motorway I was on led to Heathrow – as I say, this may sound ridiculous, but I am telling the truth under oath.

Because I am bound to the truth, I will also say that, despite not being aware of the location at the time, I do not think that near Heathrow was an inappropriate place to conduct this protest, given that it was there that 40.2C was first recorded the day before, and because of the relevance of air travel to the message I was trying to get heard.

The 20th July was deliberately chosen to be when the temperature was less dangerous and the Met Office’s extreme heat warnings had been lifted. This was in order to remove any risks linked to heat and dehydration for myself and for any members of the public who were in their cars for longer than anticipated.

I also took safety precautions that minimised any risk to myself or to drivers on the motorway. I ensured that there was at least one point of attachment between the gantry structure and the banners at all times. I also wore a safety harness so that I was attached to the gantry at all times. This gantry was enclosed and felt safe (it is designed for human access and is essentially a footbridge with enclosed sides) – but I took this precaution to make sure I was being as safe and conscientious as possible.

I want to make it clear that in no way did I feel a sense of glee or “yes, I’ve won” when the police closed the road. I understood that by closing the road the police would be having to manage traffic that would have otherwise come down that stretch of the motorway, and that didn’t and doesn’t sit easy with me. The reason I didn’t come down goes back to my original intention to get the attention of the media and public, and ultimately, to address rather than ignore injustice and suffering.

There was a moral dilemma involved in taking this action. I knew there was a possibility that the action would impact some people – that is the nature of visible and attention-grabbing protest. I had to weigh this, which doesn’t sit easy with me, against my sincere desire to protect lives. As I said at the beginning, my overall intentions were and still are to create pressure on the government to writing [righting?] policies that are killing people around the world.

Chris Packham and Cressie Gethin at Iselworth Crown Court. Image: Just Stop Oil

Part of Chris Packham’s testimony:

Prosecution: 26 flights were cancelled.

Chris Packham: As I recall Heathrow was under stress and it had already capped the amount of flights that could leave.

Prosecution: There were over 3000 people impacted, 26 flights delayed and 19 flights cancelled. Do you agree that these people were seriously inconvenienced and seriously annoyed?

Chris Packham: I don’t. It would be difficult for you to apply all of this to Cressie Gethin.

Prosecution: [something about “her” cause]

Chris Packham: It’s not “her” cause – it’s the cause.

Chris Packham: I support the need to raise the alarm on the most serious issue that threatens life and threatens us.

The trial continues.

[sourced from 2 Just Stop Oil press releases]

Continue ReadingChris Packham gives witness testimony at Just Stop Oil crown court case

George Monbiot: Just stop oil

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George Monbiot actually says “Leave fossil fuels in the ground” rather than just stop oil. It means the same.

We need people to get involved to prevent the hugely rich and powerful fossil fuel companies from destroying out planet any more. Please find a local or national group to get involved with. As the very minimum measure I want you to sign up and read their newsletter.

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Climate activists from This Is Rigged targeting the case holding the Wallace sword at the National Wallace Monument. Photo: @thisis.rigged on Instagram.
Climate activists from This Is Rigged targeting the case holding the Wallace sword at the National Wallace Monument. Photo: @thisis.rigged on Instagram.
Continue ReadingGeorge Monbiot: Just stop oil

‘There’s Nothing Patriotic about Anti-Green Extremism’

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[A}nti-net zero think tanks, such as the Global Warming Policy Foundation and Institute for Economic Affairs, both housed at the infamous 55 Tufton Street, are known to be highly influential in shaping government policy – yet their funding sources remain largely opaque.

Until last year that is, when an investigation by openDemocracy revealed the GWPF to have accepted money from US-based groups with interests in fossil fuels. As Bob Ward of the Grantham Institute told the Guardian following the revelations, “it is disturbing that the Global Warming Policy Foundation is acting as a channel through which American ideological groups are trying to interfere in British democracy”.

It is particularly disturbing when that influence leads to us being left behind in the transition to the post-fossil age.

As the world moves on to cheaper and better technologies, we must not allow fossil fuel-backed interests to dictate our energy and economic decisions – to do so would be to act like a newspaper board that decided not to invest in desktop computers because it was in thrall to the typewriter lobby.  

I haven’t even mentioned climate change, because I haven’t needed to. In a world of rapidly evolving technology, it makes sound economic sense to move beyond the fossil fuel era and onto better, cleaner ways of powering our activity. We must not listen to the anti-green extremists trying to hold us back.

Continue Reading‘There’s Nothing Patriotic about Anti-Green Extremism’

Tufton Street Linked Donors Have Given £630,000 to the Conservatives Since Sunak Became Prime Minister

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Financial, ideological and senior staff ties are still channelling the interests of opaquely funded think tanks into the heart of government.

The Conservative Party has received in excess of £600,000 since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister from four board members at leading Tufton Street ‘think tanks’, a new DeSmog analysis shows.

The data also shows that free market groups based in Tufton Street, Westminster, have retained significant influence in Sunak’s administration. More than half a dozen Tufton Street alumni currently serve as special advisers to the government, while seven ministers have appeared at events hosted by Tufton Street groups since Sunak became prime minister in October. 

These groups have often acted as a blocker to climate action. All are known for their anti-big-state and pro-fracking views, while their anti-green stances range from opposition to state-led climate intervention to active climate science denial. Previous reports indicate that Tufton Street groups have received substantial funds from organisations that support climate science denial in the past decade, with some donations provided directly by fossil fuel firms.

The joint-largest donation to the Conservatives during this period was made by Graham Edwards, a board member at the influential Centre for Policy Studies (CPS). He gave £500,000 in December 2022 – the same month that he was appointed as Tory treasurer, responsible for party fundraising.

Other CPS board members – Lord Michael Spencer and Lord Anthony Bamford – have also donated £100,000 and £10,000 to the party respectively since Sunak became prime minister. Lord Spencer donated via his family holding company, IPGL, while Lord Bamford’s donation is linked to his construction conglomerate, JCB.

As revealed by DeSmog this week, a firm owned by a director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) – one of the UK’s principal climate science denial groups – also donated £20,000 in March to House of Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt and Conservative MP Liam Fox. 

The CPS, which is based out of 57 Tufton Street, is a leading member of the network. This alliance of free market think tanks and lobby groups catapulted into public consciousness last autumn for its outsized influence over former Prime Minister Liz Truss and ex-Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, whose ‘mini budget’ on 23 September 2022 caused market panic and a dramatic fall in the value of the pound. 

The funding of Tufton Street groups is notoriously opaque. Every single one of its members was given the lowest transparency rating – E – by openDemocracy’s ‘Who Funds You?’ 2022 report into think tanks. Tufton Street groups have earned £6 million collectively in their latest accounting periods.

“It’s time to kick toxic fossil fuel interests out of politics once and for all,” Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, told DeSmog. “This government’s murky ties to Tufton Street have barely diminished since Liz Truss’s economy-wrecking mini budget fiasco. When we face a rapidly closing window of opportunity to tackle the climate emergency, there are still countless climate-denying and delaying influences right at the heart of government.”

Continue ReadingTufton Street Linked Donors Have Given £630,000 to the Conservatives Since Sunak Became Prime Minister

George Monbiot: The UK’s ‘green day’ has turned into a fossil fuel bonanza – dirty money powers the Sunak government

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Just Stop Oil protests at BP
Just Stop Oil protests at BP

In prioritising oil and gas over renewables, ministers are doing the bidding of the polluters. And we’ll all pay the price

Money for the criminals, prison for the heroes: this, in brief, is the government’s climate policy. If something is damaging to the public interest, it’s likely to be rewarde

Money for the criminals, prison for the heroes: this, in brief, is the government’s climate policy. If something is damaging to the public interest, it’s likely to be rewarded and subsidised. If it’s beneficial, it will find itself in a hostile environment.

This government represents the denouement of the Pollution Paradox: as dirty money has the greatest incentive to invest in politics, it comes to run the whole system. Across these 13 years of misrule, we have seen the perversities of Conservative government multiply and intensify.

Thursday was supposed to be “green day”, when the government, forced to act by a court ruling, would unveil a new, more detailed plan for achieving net zero emissions. Instead, the occasion has been rebranded “energy security day”.

Continue ReadingGeorge Monbiot: The UK’s ‘green day’ has turned into a fossil fuel bonanza – dirty money powers the Sunak government

The World’s End

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Jonathan Pie: The World’s End (COP26 short film with George Monbiot, Caroline Lucas & Ed Miliband)

Just Stop Oil

Extinction Rebellion

International – A22 Network
Sweden – Återställ Våtmarker
USA – Declare Emergency
Germany – Letzte Generation (Don), (Son)
Canada – Save Old Growth (Tue/Thu), (Sat), (Sun)
Switzerland – Renovate Switzerland
Norway – Stopp Oljeletinga!
Italy – Ultima Generazione
France – Dernière Rénovation
Australia – Stop Fossil Fuel Subsides

Continue ReadingThe World’s End