Archive for the ‘renewable energy’ Category

Climate Rendezvous with Climate Rush

October 14, 2010

There are corporate environment groups like Rainforest Action Network whose business model is environmentalism, who carry out stunts to raise money for their corporate coffers. There are then grass roots groups like Climate Rush and Climate Clamp, who carry out stunts to effect change, to raise awareness.

I was at Toynbee Hall in London for a meeting with Climate Rush.

The hall was packed. Standing room only.

Climate Rush model themselves on the suffragettes who effected change by direct action. No one in power willingly gives up power. We effect change by challenging authority.

We will only move forward on climate change if we challenge authority. This Climate Rush do very effectively, be it rushing parliament, taking tea in a station forecourt or visiting the editors of mainstream newspapers who act as though climate change does not exist.

Various speakers: Old hands from the Greenham Common Peace Camp of the 1980s, an expert on the suffragettes, Caroline Lucas MP and Tamsin from Climate Rush.

A century ago the suffragettes were badly beaten and sexually assaulted on Black Friday. They then took more violent action: burning down houses, bombings. Their most effective action was to dog the footsteps of Members of Parliament calling for votes for women.

Caroline made a flying visit between votes in the House of Commons. She highlighted how undemocratic the House was and in need of reform.

Cutting our carbon emissions is the opportunity for change to a better quality of life. We should offer people alternatives. We should have affordable and reliable public transport. No one should die in their homes of cold due to fuel poverty.

We are rapidly approaching a tipping point and have a window of opportunity of five, maybe ten years at the most, before it will be too late to act.

The government has just given the go ahead for offshore deep water drilling off Shetland. This is before a Select Committee has reported. Financial incentives have been offered!

Where to next? Black Friday must not pass without some form of action on that day.

An excellent meeting. Red sashes for those who wanted them.

I then popped along to a fundraising party by Just Do It, a film about activists by activists.

Synchronicity: Two days later I walk into my house, turn on the radio and it is a programme about the Suffragettes! [see Suffragette-defaced penny]

Upcoming events

The Crude Awakening – Central London – Saturday 16 October 2010

Zero Carbon by 2030 – Friends House, Euston Road, London – Saturday 30 October 2010

Also see

Climate change is not a picnic

Is climate change activism dead?

Climate Rush activists storm Daily Express newsroom

A message from our Patron (yes we do mean Caroline Lucas MP)

Raising a Ruckus

August 22, 2010

Climate Camp has set up camp outside the global headquarters of Royal Bank of Scotland to highlight their funding of dirty energy. Unless we park our tanks on their lawns nothing will change. It is only by taking direct action that we effect change.

A report revealed today by the Sunday Herald shows that RBS has provided nearly £13 billion worth of funding to the oil and gas industries since it was bailed out by the taxpayer two years ago. This is at a time when small businesses are being starved into bankruptcy through lack of finance.

Also see

Climate Camp vs RBS – We’ve arrived

How RBS funds ‘dirty oil’

Why should state-owned companies be ethics-free zones?

RBS: £13bn funding to companies blamed for global warming

RBS under siege over “environmental vandalism”

Climate change campaigners turn up the heat on RBS chiefs

RBS Porkies and Climate Camp Frogs

RBS moves to avoid protest

Climate Camp vs RBS – We’ve arrived

August 21, 2010

Climate Camp is this year in Edinburgh during the Fringe targetting RBS, bailed out by the taxpayer and now funding tar sands expansion in Canada.

Climate Camp has set up camp right next to the Royal Bank of Scotland Global HQ!

No democratic advancement has ever been achieved without direct action. Those in power do not voluntarily give it up.

Further images have been posted by Amelia Gregory.

Last year Climate Camp occupied Blackheath Common in Greewich.

Also see

Blood Bank – RBS funding clmate chaos and ecocide

Climate Camp: Breaking the Bank

Climate Camp Scotland

High Pressure Front

Climate protest camp targets RBS headquarters

Protest at RBS group oil support

Activists set up Climate Camp at Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters

Climate protester breaches RBS Gogarburn security and glues herself to desk

Pakistani floods reportedly triggered by climate change

Greenwash spill at the BP-sponsored National Portrait cotland

Wind turbines on buildings

October 31, 2009
wind turbines on apartment

wind turbines on apartment

Over the last year I have watched apartment blocks being erected. Walking past a couple of days ago I noticed looking down at me like modern-day gargoyles a row of wind turbines. Cosmetic window dressing, an exercise in futility, as functional they are not.

The wind speed would be too low, the wind turbulence too high for any meaningful power generation. Were the wind speed to be of sufficient velocity, I doubt the building could handle the torque generated. Three of the wind turbines are in a row too close together, three are in a valley on the roof. The apartments immediately below the wind turbines are going to be disturbed by the noise, and possibly vibration, though if well balanced, vibration should be minimal.

What struck me as I have watched the apartments being built is that there is extensive south-facing roof areas, and yet no use has been made of this roof area for solar energy collection, either for water heating or electricity generation! The roof should have been covered with amorphous silicon roof tiles or slates, converting the entire south-facing roof areas into a solar-power generator, powering the apartments, with the surplus electricity fed into the grid.

Curious, I went back the next day to make inquiries and investigate further.

I spoke with the marketing suite, who directed me onto the site. I wandered around the site. From what observed and those I spoke to, the wind turbines are mere window dressing. There are higher blocks further into the site, but these were not used for the wind turbines. They are in their location because they are visible from the main road!

What I found was an opportunity lost. The site is on a gentle south-facing slope. Ideal for buildings to be passively heated, but no advantage taken of what the site offered. No use made of heat pumps, no solar arrays on the roofs or integral to the roofs. Two of the blocks are heated centrally, but not by a combined heat and power plant.

The wind turbines were shipped in from the States!

We learnt in the 1960s not to house social housing tenants in blocks. Those same mistakes are being repeated all over again. The developer has not been able to sell the apartments, 40% have been sold to a housing association, I was told these are inferior apartments, all housed in the same block. I hate to think what this little estate will be like in ten years time with bored kids and angry teenagers hanging around.

Access to the site was very dangerous. An accident waiting to happen. I was almost run down.

Much can be done with new buildings to make them energy efficient and net power generators, but it is not being done. This is due to lack of vision by architects and builders, but also to blame are local planning authorities whose level of competence goes little beyond the siting of a garden shed.

Local generation is important. A development of this scale should have had on site a local combined heat and power plant running off natural gas, feeding the apartments with hot water and electricity, any surplus electricity generated fed into the national grid. The ground floor apartments could have been fed by ground source heat pumps, the top apartments with roof-top solar collectors.

We need community-owned wind turbines, powering local communities, with the surplus fed into the national grid. It is a moot point whether or not this site could have had its own wind turbine, as it is on a slope running down into a dip, but they could have invested in a nearby community wind turbine.

No development should be permitted unless it is carbon neutral, furthermore, it should be a net generator of carbon-neutral electricity and low-grade heat.

Also see

Keith Parkins, Soft energy paths, heureka, May 2001

Keith Parkins, Wind turbines on buildings, Indymedia UK, 31 October 2009

Tamsin Omond founder of Climate Rush

September 21, 2009

“It’s really weird, the whole posh thing. Yes I have a baronet grandfather, but I was surprised by the focus that got. But I suppose it’s easy for me to say that. Of course people do care. Still, the price of privilege, someone once said, is absolute integrity.” — Tamsin Omond

“It was because of Pankhurst that we decided to storm the Houses of Parliament last year, in honour of what thousands of the suffragettes did a hundred years previously. I thought it would be great to do something sassy and stylish, so we dressed ourselves up in Edwardian costume and demanded an end to airport expansion.”  — Tamsin Omond

“The second you say you are fighting for something you believe in you open yourself up to having the rug pulled from underneath your feet. But it was horrible reading some of the comments that people have posted to stories in the newspaper this week. So many were celebrating the idea of this little posh girl falling flat on her face. It was the first time I was made aware of the fact that my lineage and background is a problem to some people.”  — Tamsin Omond

Why is Tamsin Omond, founder of Climate Rush, getting so much stick?

I thought Climate Rush on the Run, travelling across southern England by horse and cart dressed as modern day suffragettes, from Sipson near Heathrow Airport to Totnes in Devon, raising awareness of climate change on the way, with the occasional direct action, was a brilliant idea, I only wish I had been on the trip.

Dumping horse manure on Jeremy Clarkson’s front lawn was a brilliant stunt.

And look at all the media coverage. Climate Rush proved to be particular adept at not only getting press coverage, but very favourable press coverage. Not something to be sniffed at.

Tamsin also has a good track record in terms of activist credentials. London coordinator for Plane Stupid, last year she scaled the House of Commons, this year chained herself to the railings of Lord Mandelson’s house to highlight the plight of the Vestas wind turbine factory on the else of Wight, blasted aircraft noise through the letterbox of a Secretary of State.

So why such a negative reaction on Indymedia UK?  It was not just negative, vicious personal attacks on Tamsin herself.

Was it because she is posh? Was it because she got a first at Cambridge? Was it because she is stunningly good looking, sexually attractive with a nice body? Being called an  eco-starlet by the mainstream media, obviously did not help. Nor being sought after by Vogue and Tatler. Was it because she is rich, or if she is not rich, that she comes from a wealthy family, her grandfather owning a landed estate in Dorset. Was she too posh, her grandfather being a baronet? But then she did not decide who her parents were or what her background was.

I personally have a problem with Plane Stupid. They are targetting the wrong people. Hitting travel agents, delaying package holiday flights, merely serves to antagonise the very people whose support we need. The targets should be business aviation, airports like Farnborough Airport which has recently applied to double its flights, Farnborough International Airshow 2010.

I agree though with their overall aim of limiting aviation, we cannot have a third runway at Heathrow, unlimited growth in aviation. Something the government has yet to get its head around, preferring instead to fiddle whilst the planet burns.

Tamsin was accused of promoting her book. And yet I saw no evidence of this. The book was not being plugged on the Climate Rush on the Run tour. No mention of the book on the blog or twitter. Yes, Tamsin does mention the book on her own personal twitter account, but only to the extent that she is writing it, no crude plugs for the book.

I for one am looking forward to reading her book. If it is a load of tosh, self-serving, egotistical crap, I will say so, but I reserve judgment until such time as I have read it.

But even if the tour had been a promotion of the book, would that have been such a bad thing? It is not uncommon for writers, or even activists,  to go on tour to promote a new book.. If the publisher wished to promote a book tour with a bit of awareness raising and direct action en-route, I for one have no problem with that.

Last year at the Guildford Book Festival, Mark Thomas was brilliant. His appearance was part of a tour to promote his latest book, Belching Out the Devil (a damning indictment of the activities of Coca-Cola). I did not see anyone complaining and the Electric Theatre was full. I know because I had the last ticket. I recall the Amnesty International event with Tariq Ali, again to promote a new book, was packed.

Why then these vicious personal attacks on Tamsin Omond? If nothing else an abuse of Indymedia UK, which is not a forum for abusing people. If nothing else all very childish. Maybe those launching the attacks should get back into their playpens.

There are are those for whom protest and criminal acts have become synonymous, where criminal damage has become an adrenalin-fueled ego trip, and end in itself. That is not to say protest, direct action may involve challenging, if not breaking the law, as for example the Drax 29 or the action at Hazelwood., but it should never become an end in itself, and for many it has. Social change rarely happens without direct action as those with power will cling onto that power unless dislodged. The focus on the ultimate aim has too often been lost.

Climate Camp at Blackheath Common was a success because it found the right balance on direct action, activism and awareness raising. By doing so, it brought a whole load new people on board.

What Tamsin Omond, Climate Rush and other have managed to do is make protest a class act, not class in terms of social divide but class in terms of style. As with Climate Camp, they have wrong-footed the authorities and remained ahead of the game. They have taken protest to a whole new level, and they are being listened to. For this they should be applauded, not condemned. Whether this will result in needed change, changes in the group mindset remains to be seen. But at least they have tried, which is more than their critics have done.

When democracy has stopped working, as it has in the UK and elsewhere, where corruption of the body politic is rife, there is no alternative to direct action, civil disobedience.

Our prisons are already full to overflowing, the courts have shown a reluctance to convict.

An educated elite able to organise has tasted the protest game and they like it. Government and big business pay heed, your days are numbered.

Is government worried? The simple answer is yes, as we can see from the mouth of Gordon Brown:

“The message should go out today, very clearly, that decisions in this country should be made in the chamber of this House and not on the roof of this House. It’s a very important message that should be sent out to those people who are protesting.”

In other words, Brown was rattled.

Tamsin Omond is the granddaughter of Sir Thomas Lees, a fourth-generation baronet and owner of the Holton Lee estate at Lytchett Minster in Dorset. Sir Thomas has publicly supported his granddaughters’ activism, calling it part of a long family tradition of philanthropy and politics. Her great-great-grandfather Elliot Lees was a Member of Parliament for Oldham in the late 19th century whilst Sir Thomas himself spends most of his time running a charity for disabled people on 350 acres of woodland in the Purbeck Hills. Her mother Sarah is Sir Thomas’ eldest daughter and her father John fled Soviet Czechoslovakia in the 1970s. They live in north London.