26 Sep 2009

Climate Rush in Stroud: direct action is legitimate

As noted before on this blog Stroud was fortunate to have a visit from Climate Rush -see Stroud District Green party comment re visit here. In the Stroud News and Journal this week they asked about Direct Action - well as regulars will know I've written before on that - here is my letter this week to the SNJ:

The SNJ asked, following the visit to Stroud by Climate Rush, if Direct Action is the best way to encourage government to tackle climate change (23/09/09). Climate Rush, dressed as Edwardian suffragettes, say we need to be as 'radical and fearless as the suffragettes' who were marginalised and scorned and even called terrorists at the time.

A recent Guardian poll found 9 out of 10 climate experts do not consider current political efforts will keep warming below the crucial 2 degrees C. James Hansen, NASA climate scientist, says the democratic process is not working and that "peaceful demonstration is not out of order, because we're running out of time."

US Ex-Vice President Al Gore now calls for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants. Meanwhile David Cameron's advisor Zac Goldsmith appeared as a defence witness in the trial of Greenpeace activists charged with causing £30,000 of criminal damage at Kingsnorth coal plant. The jury concluded that a degree of damage to property can be justified when protesting to prevent a greater damage to property from climate change.

Inaction on climate change is not just foolish, but criminal. Non-violent direct action is a legitimate form of political activity when traditional forms are blocked - it was used against slavery, against apartheid and for women's right to vote with the original suffragettes. It is a sad reflection on our current political leadership that although the science is clear, and the three main parties say they agree, none have the plans to actually take the action needed.

Let us hope that our politicians will finally hear the many hundreds of thousands of voices lobbying for the changes we need at the Copenhagen conference. We cannot leave it any longer.

Cllr. Philip Booth,
Stroud District councillor for the Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe ward

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