Posted by: JohnnyRook | December 9, 2008

U.K. Energy Secretary Calls for 60’s Style “Popular Mobilization” to Fight Climaticide

U.K. Energy Secretary Ed Miliband issued a call yesterday for a mass movement to fight Climaticide.

Energy Secretary Ed Miliband called for “popular mobilisation” along the lines of Make Poverty History to heap pressure on world leaders to sign a new deal to combat global warming.

“When you think about all the big historic movements, from the suffragettes to anti-apartheid to sexual equality in the 1960s, all the big political movements had popular mobilisation,” he told the Guardian.

“Maybe it’s an odd thing for someone in Government to say but I think there’s a real opportunity and a need here.

“I think back to Make Poverty History and that was a mass movement that was necessary to get the agreement. In terms of climate change, it’s even more difficult.”

In a statement to the Guardian the Secretary also declared:

Miliband told the Guardian a “popular mobilisation” was needed to help politicians push through an agreement to limit carbon emissions in the face of concerns about the economy. “There will be some people saying ‘we can’t go ahead with an agreement on climate change, it’s not the biggest priority’. And, therefore, what you need is countervailing forces. Some of those countervailing forces come from popular mobilisation.”

He denied trying to pass the responsibility for tackling global warming from politicians to the public. “Political change comes from leadership and popular mobilisation. And you need both of them.”

Hear! Hear! I have argued on more than one occasion in this blog that success in stopping global warming will require government leadership, but that leadership will need from citizens both support for government initiatives and pressure on government to undertake initiatives, including mass protests and civil disobedience.

Follow the links below to see previous posts.

“Meanwhile the Planet is Operating on its Own Timetable…”


Gore Again Calls for Civil Disobedience. Alright, Al, Lead On!


What Will it Take to Get Us Into the Streets?


UK Court Rules Activists May Damage Coal-Fired Power Plants

The movement that Secretary Miliband is calling for is growing. But it has not yet reached the critical mass necessary to assure that the tough measures required to avoid climate disaster will be taken. It is vital to remember here that the developed countries must act. China and India, despite their rhetoric, are not going to get on board unless the US and the European Union can agree on scientifically meaningful, mandatory emissions targets.

Some of the most vocal protesters of the foot dragging going on from Washington D.C. (“The U.S. delegates still report to President Bush, and they made it clear last week that they will not commit to specific reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that would bind the incoming administration. Obama, meanwhile, has hewed to his one-president-at-a-time policy and declined to send his representatives to the Poznan meeting, as many had expected.”) to Bonn (the Germans want to give free carbon permits to their coal-fired power plants, which would cut aid to Poland for fighting global warming, although how the Poles would use this money is unclear) comes from island nations who see their very existence threatened in the not-too-distant future.

Island countries from Grenada in the Caribbean to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean are telling delegates at the United Nations climate-change talks this week that their lands may be swamped by rising seas and more powerful storms unless global warming is curbed.

Warmer temperatures are melting icecaps, expanding the volume of oceans and sending more intense hurricanes toward Grenada. Higher tides in the Tuvalu islands between Hawaii and Australia have started making groundwater too salty to drink for its 12,000 residents. The Maldives may buy land elsewhere and move all its islanders should rising waters engulf their land.

“We are already in danger — it’s not that we Maldivians ever want to leave,” Amjad Abdulla, director-general of the nation’s environment ministry, said in an interview at the UN global-warming talks in Poznan, Poland. Relocation plans for the 300,000 residents from the low-lying atolls south of India are being drawn up for “a worst-case scenario.”

For the latest comparison of CO2 emissions by country click here.

The views of the the representatives of island nations were reinforced by a recent report stressing the urgency of the need to commit to specific targets to cut carbon emissions.

At the moment the EU is proposing to cut emissions by 30 per cent by 2020.[Only if the US gets on board though and 30% cut far exceeds what Obama has proposed. Meanwhile Poland and Italy have attempted to sabotage the 20% reduction that is the current EU goal. The Germans, who are currently the biggest obstacle within the EU to maintaining the targets set by the EU in 2007, don’t reject the targets but instead are trying an end run around them by giving away emissions permits to their worst polluters.–JR)

A new report however, from the Global Climate Network said rich countries will also have to help poorer nations develop low carbon technology so that they are pumping out less carbon from coal or oil.

Andrew Pendleton, senior research fellow at Institute for Public Policy Research that took part in the research, said: “Industrialised countries’ current proposals clearly fall well short of the mark.

“But there’s genuine concern in most about what levels of emissions reduction are physically possible by 2020 and what this effort will cost.

“Ministers meeting in Poland… should focus on how to achieve a rapid acceleration in the development of low carbon technologies and finance to ensure that these technologies are deployed as soon as possible.”

While politicians bicker, the public is stepping up its level of activity although it is still a couple of orders of magnitude away from being large enough to change the course of events.

On Saturday, in San Francisco 300 (300? How come it’s not 300,000?) protesters at a Greenpeace-organized rally unfurled a banner that read: “Dear World Leaders, We Are Ready to Save the Climate.” (With a few exceptions US climate change protesters seem to be a lot more namby-pamby in pressing their demands than their UK and Australian colleagues.)

The San Francisco protest was part of world-wide protests organized by the Global Climate Campaign . The 5000 demonstrators who marched in London expressed themselves in somewhat stronger language:

Two days later at London’s Stansted Airport:

Thousands of passengers were left stranded after more than 50 eco-protesters cut through a perimeter fence and occupied the taxiway, preventing planes from taking off or landing.

The activists, protesting against global warming caused by the aviation industry and the proposed expansion of Stansted, broke through the perimeter fence shortly after 3am.

Many arrived on an old fire engine, from which some protesters climbed over the fence. Others used bolt-cutters to create a large hole, which the rest of the group poured through.

The activists, members of the direct action group Plane Stupid, then chained and locked themselves to temporary security fencing they had brought with them, blocking access to the runway.

At one stage, protesters claimed BAA staff tried to bulldoze them out of the way before police intervened. Officers arrested activists as they cut through the chains and locks, allowing the runway to reopen shortly after 8am. There were 57 arrests.

Plane Stupid spokeswoman Lily Kember, 21, speaking on a mobile phone before being arrested, said: “We have never done anything as big as this before. This shows the level of concern about global warming among young people.” Another Plane Stupid member, who gave her name only as Olivia, told via her mobile how she and about 50 others were being driven from the protest site in an airport shuttle bus.

Protests also took place in Poznan where the current negotiations are taking place but fell below organizers expectations.

In the United States, opposition to new coal-fired power plants seems to be the focus of a growing popular movement:

Environmentalists are vowing to block a proposed $6 billion coal-fired power plant in Surry County, saying it would increase air pollution, would contribute to global warming and is not needed.

Advocacy groups including the Sierra Club, Southern Environmental Law Center and Chesapeake Climate Action Network are gearing up for what one activist called “all-out war” in response to plans announced this week by the project sponsor, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative.

ODEC, a nonprofit utility based in Richmond, said it wants to build the plant on about 1,600 acres in the town of Dendron, about 40 miles west of Norfolk, in order to meet anticipated demand for electricity in the near future in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

The utility has given the plant a name – Cypress Creek Power Station – and said it would burn mostly Appalachian coal to produce 750 megawatts to 1,500 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 400,000 homes. Woody timber wastes, known as biomass, would fuel about 3 percent of the plant.

In comparison, the coal-fired plant under construction in Wise County in Southwest Virginia is expected to produce 585 megawatts and cost about $1.8 billion. That project, led by Dominion Virginia Power, is being challenged in court by environmentalists.

It’s Getting Hot in Here reported on a positive outcome in a court decision in North Carolina

A ruling by the federal judge in Asheville revoked the 800 MW Cliffside coal plant air quality permit because it does not meet Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT) regulations for mercury. This comes on the heels of a ruling by a DC circuit court earlier this year that the EPA’s 2005 mercury rule was illegal because it evaded mandatory cuts in toxic mercury pollution.

Even in the conservative bastion of Utah opposition to the use of polluting fossil fuels is growing. where the Salt Lake Tribune is running editorials like this: Congress should move to re-enact the oil-shale moratorium

While the opposition to the use of dirty coal is mounting the Bush administration EPA has issued another ruling that favors the crony capitalism that has become the norm for business practices in this country. This is, of course just one of the efforts by the corporate kleptocracy that Bush and Cheney serve to steal as much as they can from the American public before January 20, 2009.

Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency approved a last-minute rule change, long sought by the coal industry, to allow mining within 100 feet of rivers and streams.

Environmentalists say this change will make it harder for them — and for President-elect Barack Obama’s incoming administration — to challenge a controversial form of coal mining called mountaintop removal. That’s when coal companies chop off the tops of mountains, mine the coal underneath and dump the leftover rock and dirt into nearby valleys and streams.

The decision will greatly impact people who live in the shadow of mountaintop removal.

During the presidential campaign, there was a lot of debate about who would be ready on day one. There are many signs (although not all of them–the proposal to return to 1990 emissions levels by 2020 being one of the less encouraging ones) that President-elect Obama will be ready. But as Secretary Miliband has indicated, that will not be sufficient if we, the public, are not also ready. Around the world there are thousands already engaged in the fight, but to make certain that governments do what needs to be done for our benefit and the benefit of future generations and not merely what benefits a few polluting corporations that care only for their own profits we must begin “popular mobilization.” We must turn our thousands of activists into millions.

Crossposted at Daily Kos

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