Acting Up for Climate Change
It's been a busy year for climate activists around the world. Where I live, in the UK, we've seen actions ranging from thousands of people camping outside the European Climate Exchange in the heart of the financial district of London to protest carbon trading during the G20, to the "Great Climate Swoop" on October 17 which saw some 800 activists invading one of the biggest coal-fired plants in the country. Our dazzling array of imaginative actions have included mass trespass, lock-ons, fence cutting, office occupations, blockades, runway invasions, a flotilla of homemade rafts laying siege to a power station and many, many people Super-Gluing themselves to pretty much anything and everything within reach.
It's not just a question of trying to grab headlines - although a certain degree of media savvyness has played an important role. In the village of Sipson, where a thousand families stood to lose their homes in order to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport, a speed dating service had hooked up local residents with affinity groups in order to start developing strategies and structures so as to resist eviction attempts when they started happening. Activists had expressed a commitment to physically intervene if and when the bulldozers rolled in.
The UK climate movement's successes this year are just one small part of global efforts beginning to see broader recognition of the issues. A whole host of inspiring and crucial struggles are taking place in Southern countries that don't necessarily self-identify as being about climate direct action but that are of key importance in the fight for climate justice - such as the indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon fighting to resist the expansion of oil companies, and the organizing efforts of peasant communities the world over struggling for the right to maintain existing low-carbon livelihoods.