15 July 2008

First Climate Camp starts: Coal train and world’s largest port blockaded

As the G8 leaders fail to achieve any meaningful agreement on tackling climate change, thousands of activists from Britain to Australia are spearheading a radical approach to the issue. Inspired by previous Camps for Climate Action at Drax and Heathrow, six "Climate Camps" are taking place across the world throughout July and August in what is dubbed "the Convergence for Climate Action" [1].

In the last few days the first camp was established at Newcastle, Australia. Yesterday, people from the camp chained themselves to a coal train, blocking access to Carrington coal terminal for most of the day and costing the company an estimated 1.2 million US dollars [2].
Today, more climate camp activists are blocking work at the world's largest coal port at Kooragang [3].

The events in Australia will be followed by camps in Germany, the UK [4] and three across North America into late August. Each camp has the same messages of education on climate change and direct action against some of the major polluters and other climate criminals. Coal is a strong theme, featuring as the principle target in a number of countries.

"We are running out of time," said Lizbeth Halloran from Australia, where hundreds of people have already gathered. "The G8 are making pitiful noises and insulting our intelligence with their so-called targets. With world leaders so clearly the puppets of the corporate profit motive, it is ordinary people who have to put the brakes on climate change when nobody else will."

The camps share the same four key objectives: show sustainable alternatives in action, share skills and knowledge, build a grassroots movement against the root causes of climate change, and take direct action, which is seen as a proportionate and necessary response to the scale of the problem. There is also a recognition that there needs to be a 'just transition' [5] to bring about an environmentally and socially responsible society.

"Two years ago we started off as six hundred people in a field in Yorkshire, but it sparked something massive worldwide," stated Connor O'Brien, a spokesperson from the UK's Camp for Climate Action. "Now we know that whatever we achieve in our local struggles this summer, they are amplified by the achievements of the five other climate camps around the world, the many more planned for next summer, and the year-round global social movement that is both resisting runaway climate change caused by the pursuit of economic growth at all costs, and building pathways to a sustainable future."

The camps bring together diverse elements of the anti-globalisation, social justice and environmental movements, united by the recognition that governments and corporations are part of the problem and therefore cannot be part of the solution. As well as taking direct action against some of the root causes, they seek to promote sustainable solutions to the challenge of climate change.

Source:UK Camp for Climate ActionLondon, 14 July 2008

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