Climate Change Round Up

February 28, 2009

Climate change related news from around the world:

The Capitol Power Plant, with a sign supplied by Greenpeace

The Capitol Power Plant, with a sign supplied by Greenpeace

A Capitol Idea

Mass civil disobedience is threatened, if not likely, in (of all places) Washington D.C. March 2 is slated as a “climate action day” by the group Capitol Climate Action.

Thousands of activists are predicted to converge at the Capitol Power Plant – which for many years has used coal produced using mountain-top removal techniques and turned it into climate-altering carbon dioxide emissions.

According to IPS News’ Stephen Leahy, the plan is to converge and, if possible, temporarily close the power plant, which provides electricity to the U.S. Congress.

Meanwhile, over 10,000 people (most of them under 30 years of age) will be in Washington as part of the Energy Action Coalition to lobby members of Congress and demand an end to the use of dirty coal in power generation.

According to one of the organizers, Jessy Tolkan, the Coalition includes “native youth whose lands have been damaged by coal mining, Latinos and Latinas lobbying for jobs in green energy, sons and daughters of autoworkers looking for green transportation, and Christian evangelicals who want proper stewardship of the environment.”

Another organizer has called it the “biggest lobby day in U.S. history”

The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenburg, reports that “Organisers say this could be the tipping point in the fight against coal, after years of steady activism on college campuses and in rural coal-mining communities.”

Both of these efforts have been complemented by a media intervention by the Coen Brothers, of all people, who have produced a scatalogical advert at the behest of the Reality Coalition, which is linked with the Al Gore funded Alliance for Climate Protection.

Schmean Coal

The protesters are contending with a potent myth, as well as a powerful lobby group. As Fred Pearce comments for the Guardian, so-called Clean Coal is the “ultimate oxymoron” – made credible only by a barrage of well-funded ads and PR campaigns.

About carbon capture and storage (CCS), which is the centrepiece of the clean coal illusion, Pearce writes that CCS is “scientifically conjectural, especially at the storage end. And even on an optimistic view of its feasibility, it is at least two decades and several tens of billions of research and development dollars away from actual commercial operation on any scale.”

Both the U.S. and UK governments have supported clean coal based facilities as a viable means of producing electricity in the future. Yet this is being contested and the prognosis for such boondoggles is being thrown into doubt.

In the UK, Climate Change Minister Ed Milliband is struggling to maintain course towards a CCS future. Apparently, the Treasury is reluctant to pony up the money needed to build a pilot plant, and private industry are steering clear of the venture altogether. Without, massive government assistance, that is.

However, the government continues to shovel money into dirty coal. As the World Development Movement pointed out in a press release yesterday, £400 million of an “Environmental Transformation Fund” designed to promote solutions to climate change in developing countries, will be going towards “new dirty coal power plants.”

As this money is being channeled through the World Bank, the WDM’s Benedict Southworth comments that it represents “another reminder, if one were needed, that the World Bank is institutionally incapable of considering the needs of the world’s poorest people in its decision-making, or of delivering the finance that is needed to deliver climate justice to developing countries.”

At the same time as coal interests are being subsidized in the developing world, a scheme to produce concentrated solar power from the deserts of Noth Africa is struggling to gain traction in the UK Parliament. Early Day Motion 123 asks the government to support the construction of a “supergrid” to transport electricity from emissions free plants in the Sahara. Only 94 MPs, out of 650 or so, have signed the motion, making continued lobbying essential if the motion is to gain wider publicity.

The Rush Continues

In London on Thursday 26 February, activists gathered outside (what they thought was) the 2009 UK Coal Awards and planned to present attendees with their own gongs. The protest, which was organized by the Climate Rush team, brought a lively crowd dressed in dinner jackets, formal dresses and bow-ties onto the street in front of the Landmark Hotel, which made for some vibrant photography. The Evening Standard covered the action, as did the Guardian’s Bibi Van der Zee, who reported that, due to the protest, the awards had been hastily relocated at the last minute.

Indymedia UK

Indymedia UK

The same day, northern Climate Rush activists also targeted UK Coal HQ in Doncaster, managing to hoist a banner calling upon the industry to “leave it in the ground.”

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2 Responses to “Climate Change Round Up”

  1. Mike Says:

    Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

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  2. Watson Says:

    The Climate Change movement has to solve the problem of how to make governments take the issue seriously. In particular, how do they get Barack Obama to take it seriously? Copenhagen in December is a great opportunity. This should be where all nations agree to a programme that gets the planet out of a hole. I am sure that the world’s political leaders understand the problem and the need for action, but I suspect they cannot get it to the top of their agendas because their populations have immediate short term issues which have to be addressed first. Perhaps the key to success is marrying short term issues with planetary survival. Answers on a postcard please.


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