Socialist Worker

Climate Camp protesters swoop on London

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2167

Climate campers at Blackheath on Wednesday, ready to set up their tents and marquees (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Climate campers at Blackheath on Wednesday, ready to set up their tents and marquees (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Hundreds of climate activists gathered in London last week to build a Camp for Climate Action on the edge of the city.

The climate camp movement started in Yorkshire in 2006 as a protest against Drax coal-fired power station.

In 2007 the tents were pitched on the site of the third runway at Heathrow airport, and last year at Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent.

This time around the location of the camp was kept secret from both protesters and the police.

Campers gathered at 22 “swoop spots” on Wednesday of last week, waiting for text messages with the location.

After a “dance” across the city, the campers swooped to Blackheath, south London, where the camp was set up on common land overlooking the Canary Wharf banking district.

By the weekend more than a thousand people had made their way to the site – a mixture of experienced activists and first-timers.

They took part in workshops and direct action training as the camp was used as a base to take on global corporations.

This year the impact of the Vestas wind turbine factory occupation on the Isle of Wight put the role of workers and class struggle in stopping climate change firmly on the agenda.

Their fight has inspired debates about what tactics we need to change the world.

Jess is a teacher who lives close to Blackheath. She told Socialist Worker, “Lots of people have come to the meetings about Vestas and they have been very lively. The lessons it can teach us have struck a chord with a serious portion of the camp.”

Climate camper Tamsin added, “I think what the Vestas workers did is really amazing. It wasn’t enough to change things completely, but if other people had occupied their factories at the same time then it could have had an even bigger impact.”

The camp brought together people with different political traditions and experiences. There were many young people at the camp who in the last year have occupied their universities over Israel’s war on Gaza, protested at the G20 summit in London and marched to stop the Nazi BNP in Codnor.

For campaigners the next step will be the mass protests to demand action at the global climate talks in Copenhagen on 7 December.

World leaders will attempt to thrash out a successor to the Kyoto Treaty that will reduce carbon emissions.

But the summit is likely to follow the US into championing “carbon trading” – a market system that will punish poor countries while allowing the rich to keep on polluting.

Global protests will be happening in the run up to the talks, including a demonstration in London on 5 December.

A movement can be built that will challenge, harass and pressure the government to do something serious about the threat we all face.

Demonstrate in London

The demonstration in London on 5 December, the eve of the Copenhagen climate change summit, looks set to be the biggest climate protest yet seen in Britain.

Martin Empson from the Campaign Against Climate Change said, “The bigger the protests, the more pressure we can put on the world’s governments to take real action on climate change.

“The earlier we are organised, the more people we’ll be able to get. I think this one’s going to be big.”

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