climate change

The Heathrow 13 – Case Management Hearing 19th August 2015

 

Yesterday, we - the 13 Plane Stupid activists who occupied the northern runway of Heathrow Airport for over six hours on 13th July - had our hearing at Uxbridge Magistrates Court. All 13 of us pleaded not guilty to both charges brought against each of us, and are now set to have a full two week trial, commencing on Monday 18th January 2016.

We arrived at court in the morning to be greeted by a whole array of media journalists, as well as a sea of supporters, including local residents and campaigners from grassroots groups and NGO’s, elected representatives of political parties, and even a handful of polar bears! We would all like to sincerely thank all those who were able to come to the court to support us, as well as those who have shown their support from afar. It’s touching to feel so supported by so many people, for taking the action that we have. Thank you all; your invaluable support means so much.

Needless to say, starting the day with polar bears, friends and supporters fuelled us with hope and joy for the day to come. We were always aware that this hearing was going to be relatively simple; mainly an opportunity for us defendants to receive the prosecution’s case against us (although this didn’t actually materialize in the end) and for each of us to enter our pleas. And our amazing lawyers from Bindman’s and Hodge, Jones & Allen walked us though the process and made sure we were supported thought the day.

 

Last time this runway was defeated, climate change was at the core of the argument. Local campaigns such as HACAN, Stop Heathrow Expansion and NOTAG have been fighting aviation expansion for years and, whilst winning some concessions, Heathrow continues to lie to the public, and the Government continues to ignore climate change. But climate change won’t wait for an unwilling political system to act.

Any kind of airport expansion in the UK will make it impossible for the UK to meet its legally binding target of reducing CO2 emissions by 80% (from 1990 levels) by 2050. It’s really that simple. In fact, the aviation industry is the only carbon intensive industry in the UK that is effectively being given a license to pollute.  Furthermore, the ‘need’ for airport expansion is being driven by the wealthy minority (10-15%) of UK citizens who are responsible for booking the vast majority (70%) of flights in the UK, mainly to short-haul destinations that could easily be reached by train. Heathrow continues to lie about the economic benefits, and underplays the real cost to the public and climate that airpot expansion will have.

 It’s reassuring to know that the amount of time the court has given us will allow us to adequately put forward our case, and that the overwhelming support from both inside the court room, outside the court and in the general media, shows that people agree with us and feel it’s important for the issues to be heard.

Social and regular media this week has been awash with our message that climate change must be at the forefront of the debate around airport expansion and if it takes its rightful place as the key issue, it rules out expansion. #Heathrow13 shows just a pocket of this support from all over the country; this is not just a local issue even though some of the activists involved are local residents.

I am filled with a lot of hope for the future; the support we have been shown is truly heart warming, from letters from parents to local residents and fellow activists. The only way for this campaign is up, but we can’t fight climate change alone. The Government needs to be shown our true power, so please continue to support Plane Stupid, HACAN, Stop Heathrow Expansion, Grow Heathrow, Gatwick Obviously Not!, Reclaim The Power, and all the other groups and organisations fighting airport expansion. Together we can stop this! We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. No If’s, No Buts, No Third Runway… and we mean it!

Cameron Kaye

Defendant

 

Heathrow activists plead not guilty

 

From Press Release:

Today at Uxbridge Magistrates Court, the 13 climate change activists who blocked a runway at Heathrow airport pleaded not guilty. They are charged with aggravated trespass and entering a security restricted area of an aerodrome, forcing flights to be delayed and cancelled. The defendants will argue in court that the runway occupation was necessary and justifiable. If aviation growth continues unchecked, by 2037 the  industry will be responsible for all of the carbon that the UK can safely emit.[1] Failure to prevent climate change will see at least one billion people suffer water shortages, 40% of species made extinct and sea level rises threatening London by the end of the century.[2]

Defendant Ella Gilbert, 22, said:

"We didn't want to do this, but we had to. If the government won't prevent catastrophic climate change, ordinary citizens have to step up; you can't reduce carbon emissions and build more runways, it's plane stupid. There is already more than enough aviation capacity for ordinary people who take their one holiday abroad a year. Airport expansion is for the 15% of wealthy frequent flyers who take 70% of our flights.[3] A broad movement is again uniting to make airport expansion impossible, and we're in it for the long haul!"

The proposed start date for the trial is 18 January and it is estimated to last 2 weeks.


Plane Stupid Press Statement:

In the early hours of Monday 13th July, 13 of us took peaceful direct action at Heathrow Airport. Two weeks before our action took place, the Airports Commission issued a recommendation to build a new runway at Heathrow Airport. Some of us are local residents, and the existing air traffic from Heathrow is already having a hugely negative impact on the local community by way of noise & air pollution and blight on the area.

Last year more than half the UK population didn't fly. Airport expansion in the UK is being driven by a minority of wealthy frequent flyers who are booking the vast majority of flights in the UK. But the long term negative impacts of airport expansion will mean everybody pays the price.

Scientific evidence is telling us that if we are serious about tackling climate change, and keeping within the safe 2 degree global temperature rise, we need to be drastically reducing our carbon emissions. But our government is clearly failing to act responsibly.

Building any new runway in the UK is simply not compatible with reducing carbon emissions at this critical time, and will make it impossible to meet our legally binding commitments, as set out in the Climate Change Act 2008.

It is critically important that climate change is prominent in the context of any discussion about the future of the aviation industry. Against this background, and the failure of democratic processes, we believe our actions were reasonable, justifiable and necessary.


Previous press releases:
July 14: http://news.met.police.uk/news/thirteen-charged-following-protest-123389
July 13: http://planestupid.com/blogs/2015/07/13/plane-stupid-activists-heathrow-...


[Notes]

[1]
Page 5 of Growth Scenarios for EU & UK Aviation: contradictions with climate policy, Summary of research by Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research for Friends of the Earth Trust, Drs Alice Bows, Paul Upham, Kevin Anderson, The University of Manchester, 16 April 2005, http://www.foe.co.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/aviation_tyndall_summ...

[2]
Page 5 of Stern Review. (2006). Part II: Impacts of climate change on growth and development. Stern, Nicholas, HM Treasury. London. October 2006. http://www.wwf.se/source.php/1169157/Stern%20Report_Exec%20Summary.pdf

[3]
Based on passenger survey data: Table ATT0601, Public experience of and attitudes towards air travel, DfT Statistical release, July 2014. Analysis by afreeride.org

Further statistics with sources are available at afreeride.org/about

[ENDS]

Support the Plane Stupid climate activists in court on 19 August!

Last month activists staged a peaceful direct action at Heathrow Airport – less than a fortnight after the Airports Commission recommended a third runway at Heathrow. The action itself involved occupying the northern runway and erecting a tripod and fencing which the activists locked onto. A polar bear climbed onto the tripod. The action stopped some flights and saved greenhouse gas emissions.

 

The science tells us that deep cuts are required from existing levels of emissions to tackle climate change, but successive governments have failed to respond. Direct action, therefore, is our only hope of securing a decent future for children everywhere. A new runway, and the hundreds of thousands of extra flights it would allow, would make the necessary cuts far more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. In addition, Heathrow hugely contributes to illegal levels of air, and noise pollution, which have massive impacts on health for people living near the airport and for Londoners generally.

 

For defending the planet and human health, the activists have been charged with aggravated trespass and being in a restricted area of the airport without permission. If you want to show them your solidarity, please support them at their first court hearing on Wednesday 19 August 2015, at Uxbridge Magistrates Court (nearest tube: Uxbridge, on the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines). A gathering is taking place outside the court from 8.30am. 

For more updates, see https://www.facebook.com/events/480531532112107/

 

The full address for the court is:

 

The Court House
Hare field Road
Uxbridge
Middlesex
UB8 1PQ

 

The court hearing will probably last until at least lunchtime.  

Climate protest is big again

 

Climate protest is big again. Last week hundreds of thousands of people across the world took to the streets in a call for serious action to be taken to combat climate change (map above shows where marches took place). Truly, climate change has become a global movement.

UK politicians won’t be able to ignore climate change when they take the decision on airport expansion, expected about this time next year. It will come just before the COP in Paris where world leaders will gather to look at ways to cut CO2.

It will mean that any decision to build a new runway will be met by huge climate protests. Although the Government of the day will argue that the Committee on Climate Change, the Government’s official advisers, have said that one new runway would be compatible with the country’s CO2 targets, airport expansion on this scale will feel all wrong to climate campaigners. It will jar. It will anger.

And that anger will spill out on to the streets in demonstrations and direct action. If that activity is complemented by anger of local residents at what a new runway will do to their quality of life, the Government could find itself in the same trouble as when the last Labour Government tried to go for expansion: http://hacan.org.uk/victory-against-all-the-odds-2/

In recent years the aviation industry has not denied climate change. It has tried to sideline it by saying that technology will deal with it. Technology will improve but to allow the rest of the world at fly as much as the rich world does today. I don’t think so. Remember only 5% of the world’s population has ever flown. For the rest of the planet, our binge flying has to stop. I feel a slogan coming on….ready for the next climate march……..

One meteorologist explains why he won’t fly again

Last Friday, meteorologist Eric Holthaus posted an article to Quartz explaining the newly released IPCC climate report. The gist of the article, as encapsulated by its headline (“The world’s best scientists agree: On our current path, global warming is irreversible—and getting worse”) was far from optimistic.

But then Holthaus, who until recently covered weather for the Wall Street Journal, did something surprising. He turned to Twitter to declare that, on the heels of the report, he was going to take drastic action to reduce his own carbon footprint:

"I just broke down in tears in boarding area at SFO while on phone with my wife. I've never cried because of a science report before. #IPCC" followed by "I realized, just now: This has to be the last flight I ever take. I'm committing right now to stop flying. It's not worth the climate."

Speaking over the phone with Salon from his home in Viroqua, Wis., where he’s grounded himself, Holthaus described the emotional moment at San Francisco International Airport when he realized that his current lifestyle was no longer sustainable — or conscionable.

What changed, Holthaus said, was the report’s acknowledgment that high-tech geoengineering solutions weren’t going to have an impact on climate change. Two things he had seen as potential answers to the climate problem — either launching a massive solar shade into orbit to block 5 percent of the sun’s rays, or installing fake plastic trees to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere — were both dismissed out of hand. All 195 countries that approved the report agree with scientists that the time and scope needed for such measures wasn’t feasible. On the phone with his wife, Holthaus despaired: “That was our chance, and it’s gone.”

What the IPCC report did find could be effective, said Holthaus, are drastic and immediate cuts to CO2 emissions. On first glance, Holthaus was already doing a lot. He recycles and doesn’t own a car. He’s also a vegetarian. But despite doing “pretty much [what] everyone’s always told me to do,” when he plugged his lifestyle into a carbon footprint calculator, he found that his CO2 emissions were still double that of the average American. Doing almost everything else “right” wasn’t enough to make up for the approximately 75,000 miles he flies annually.

“As an average person that follows this issue and write about it a lot for his job,” explained Holthaus, ”if I don’t do something that the IPCC recommends, why would anyone else?” Using University of California, Berkeley’s, carbon calculator, he estimates that he’ll be responsible for 33.5 fewer tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Holthaus acknowledges the massive cultural change it would take to ground carbon-emitting flights — even Al Gore, he points out, owns a private jet. But Skype, he contends, can often do the same work as face-to-face business meetings, if you can sacrifice the post-meeting schmooze over cocktails. His own lifestyle permits a move toward Internet meet-ups, and while he probably won’t be going overseas again, he says Amtrak can get him most places he wants or needs to go.

Despite what comes off as a huge gesture, he maintains that his decision to stop flying isn’t that drastic. For lifestyle changes like vegetarianism to have a sizable impact, he said, requires constant reaffirmation: You have to deny yourself that steak every day. But plenty of people don’t fly all that often to begin with. If more would cut down on just one long-distance flight per year, he maintains, that would also have a major impact.

This article has been re-posted from www.salon.com and was written by Lindsay Abrams.

New animation: Carbon Omissions

Put together by Plane Stupid's very own activist and animator Leo Murray, 'Carbon Omissions' addresses the fact that UK emissions are soaring if you take into account emissions created by us but outside of UK borders.

The animation has the support of Green Party MP Caroline Lucas among others.

George Monbiot summarises the message well:

"The carbon cuts we have made so far... have been achieved by means of a simple device: allowing other countries, principally China, to run polluting industries on our behalf."

For more information you can check out the website: http://carbonomissions.org.uk/

Just Do It unleashed online

The action-packed and inspirational direct action documentary Just Do It - a tale of modern-day outlaws joins the digital world! 

Going behind the scenes of the secretive world of direct action into unchartered territory, Just Do It is a unique look at the planning and plotting behind the mass media headlines. 

You can now download or stream the film direct from the Just Do It website here or get your hands on the FREE Creative Commons version of the film via the wonderful folks at VODO. Spread the word, share the news and get watching! http://justdoitfilm.com/jdi-goes-digital

The sinking of the COP 17

Hubris is a funny thing, but it is also a predictable thing. Without fail, it is has an uncanny ability to make those in power sail full speed into headlong disasters whilst convinced of their own infallibility.

The COP 17 charade is the latest display of hubris and its ultimate epitome. Just as the captain of the Titanic ignored the warning of icebergs and kept going at full speed convinced in his unsinkable ship, so the leaders of the world’s biggest economies ignore the dire science of climate change and keep growing their economies at full speed equally convinced their economies are unsinkable.

So the question now is - when the Titanic has hit the iceberg, which it has, which it is - what do we do as we wait for the inevitable? How do we respond accordingly? If you were on the ship and you had just come up from its bowels with an ashen white face because you have seen the water pouring in, how would you focus everyone's attention in the boat for the most viable and painless outcome?

Would you switch on the ballroom jazz music whilst you await the back up life-boats so everyone can dance their final hours away in bliss? Would you scream at everyone and make them wait in the waiting room until their knuckles are white and they are projectile vomiting with fear into the air? Would you let everyone raid the cabin mini-bars so they drown their sorrows? Or ply everyone with caffeine to work into the night for a solution? Whilst the international flares rocket high and the message for more boats is sent out - would you try and cram everyone onto an already-heaving lifeboat? Or would you set up raft making workshops, using the scrap wood from the boats emergency store? Would you give up on saving lives, put on your cleaning gloves and scrub the floor spotless for whoever finds the wreck? Would you arm everyone with weapons, lie to all with stories of each other's blame, nick the last lifeboat and tear off lonely into the night? Would you share your favourite jokes, sing your favourite songs, let the cabin boy/girl know of your (previously) secret lust for them and share your deepest love for your dearest around you? Would you steel yourself for a night in the icy water and prepare to swim for any lifebuoy on the horizon in the remote hope that you may get there and some others might survive the long swim with you?

Alternatively, you might want to ask yourself what were you doing in the bowels of the ship. Should you not have been up on the deck to make sure that the captain and his crew were not doing something as daft as playing with your life by racing through an ice field in middle of night.  You will curse yourself for not being there and not taking over the bridge to bring sanity to the situation before it was too late. 

The truth is, there are now limited ways to stop destructive climate change. But there are countless ways out there to generate the attention and support mechanisms we so desperately need. Many of us can instinctively join the dots, We can see the connections between war - conflict - climate change and the other big issues - but how to arm everyone to fight the battle, with their heads held high with hope in the long term - is something else altogether.

I don't know! I wish I did.

Comic Relief sells out to BAA

We received an email the other night from British Airways inviting us to buy raffle tickets to ‘be part of comedy history and laugh along at our record-breaking comedy gig in the sky’ as part of their 'Flying Start' promotion. In short, Comic Relief together with British Airways is holding an event which will inevitably contribute to climate change in order to raise money for climate change. Hypocrisy or what?

Full story here

Crude Awakening: holding space 101

As the direct action juggernaught that is the Crude Awakening gathers steam, the lastest in what appears to be a string of teaser films has been released. Last week's film talked about oil, and how we need to kick the habit. This week's steps it up a gear, with a look at what we'll be doing on the day.

We don't know where we're going (somewhere in London, one of 10 possible targets) but we now know what we'll be doing: holding a space. (At least, that's what they want us to think... there's a lovely air of mystery around this action!)

So sit back, have a cup of herbal tea* and prepare for a look back at the past two decades of awe-inspiring action, in the UK and abroad. Warning: video includes some truly awful hippy dancing.

16 October. Somewhere in London. Crude Awakening: come get some!

* Because proper tea is theft, innit?