By climatejusticecollective, 24-Dec-2012 10:45:00
My heart was in my mouth as I crouched behind the back door to the Board of Directors’ stage. I was panicking – I was out in the open and as soon as someone walked through the kitchen they’d catch me. A tranche of coal cascaded out of the Christmas stocking I was carrying, crashing into the back door – would I get discovered before I could burst in?
After what seemed like eternity, I heard my friend inside the elite meeting interrupt the Chairman to say, “I’d like to congratulate the board on their hard work this year, going further than any other mining company were willing to go. I’m delighted that their award is about to be presented by a very special public figure, who needs no introduction.” He says the Chairman looked relieved to have the first good news in the whole of the torturous AGM spent defending an indefensible, exploitative proposed Bangladesh mine that has been condemned by UN experts.
I hitched up my billowing red trousers, straightened my white plastic beard and then threw open the back doors to storm in, a huge Christmas stocking cradled under my arm.
“I’m delighted to welcome Father Christmas to GCM’s AGM”, shouted my besuited friend.
The next ten seconds are a blur, as I turned to face the Directors and asked through my beard, “have you been naughty or nice this year?”. I was so focussed on emptying the stocking full of coal at the Chairman’s table that I have no idea how they reacted. “Ho, ho, ho”, I blurted out, “You’ve been rather naughty! This year you threatened to evict 220,000 people to mine their homes for coal. Next year, don’t be such a naughty boy, Gerard”.
I never got to see the face of GCM’s Chairman, Gerard Holden, as livid security leapt to the stage to stop me emptying the entire stocking of coal onto his desk. But while irate security frogmarched out of the room, down the stairs, out of the building and behind the police line before locking the door locked behind me, what I didn’t realise is that the whole AGM had descended into chaos. Several shareholders left their seats to face up to my friend who had introduced the award. Even the Board of Directors stood up and some of them began to leave the room. In the 24 hours after the AGM shambles the discredited corporation’s share price fell 7% from 28.3 to 26.
Getting in had been nearly impossible. It didn’t fill me with confidence to be searched on entry and being found with a briefcase full of coal. “You can understand why I’m worried”, the head of security told me, “few shareholders bring bags of coal to AGMs”. Having the head of security finding out my name and then calling his entire team to tell them to “keep an eye on that one” didn’t do the trick to get me to relax. And I wasn’t heartened by being caught by him ten minutes later, halfway through a restricted access passage through the kitchens to the back door of the meeting room.
The security were expecting something. Grassroots protests against the infamous GCM have been unceasing and relentless. In August 2006, 70,000 people marched in the proposed site of the mine, Phulbari in a demonstration of unprecedented scale; after paramilitary troops opened fire on the demonstrators, up to 200 were left injured and three were killed. The shocked citizens of Phulbari, a fertile area in north west Bangladesh, enforced a four-day strike in outrage at the killings, shutting down shops, offices, schools and roads and causing huge disruption. After GCM suffered humiliation in the House of Commons after British MP John McDonnell condemned them as a “shocking” and “destructive” corporation off the leash, GCM feared ever increasing protest. That’s why they ensured that all cameras were removed from shareholders before they could enter the AGM.
So, faced with confiscated coal and cameras, and having been caught sneaking through to the AGM’s back door, I did what I often do in desperate times. I sought solace in a disabled toilet. Surrounded by white-gloved doorkeepers, oil paintings and chandeliers, I emptied out a sack full of coal from my briefcase, shoved it into a stocking and piled the stocking into my underwear. Engulfed by seasonal wallpaper music in the toilet of an elite Pall Mall hotel’s restaurant, my race against the clock had begun. A Chistmas hat went into my trousers behind the right bum cheek and a Santa bear behind my left bum cheek. I had never felt more prepared, confident and fearless. What could possibly go wrong?
As I entered the building, I was pounced upon by security, who arranged for the head of security to frisk me. Somehow surviving the frisking, but with only minutes of the AGM left, I leapt into the toilets, changed into my beard, hat and Santa trousers, and texted my friend: “It’s on. Do it now.” The rest is not quite history, but then again, it’s the winners the write the history books, isn’t it? The grassroots are tantalisingly close to winning against GCM, but we’re not quite there yet.
I can’t wait to intrude on another corporate meeting again. The dozens of activists from Bangladesh who had been fantastic organising a demonstration outside, making placards and chanting, met up with me afterwards for a coffee. They were over the moon that the directors had been humiliated. After all, local people from Bangladesh aren’t allowed in to the AGM as they don’t have shares. The company has ignored their concerns, their vigils, marches, strikes and their right to a home. Days like today are one of the few chances for people affected by GCM’s recklessness to have a voice. And Santa Claus delivered the goods, just like he should.
So: to all you boys and girls looking forward to Christmas this year, don’t be like GCM. If you want a good gift this year, be good little boys and girls. Don’t fight with your friends at school, eat your greens, and most importantly don’t accept a six-figure pay package to mine people’s homes. Santa knows if you’ve been good or bad, so be good, for goodness’ sake.
Oh, and if you’d like to join me doing the same (or better) at next year’s GCM AGM, get in touch with the Climate Justice Collective. We’re not going to stop until we win. What are you going to do?
By climatejusticecollective, 08-Nov-2012 13:30:00
The UK's longest power-station occupation has come to an end week after an incredible seven day shut down of West Burton gas-fired power station. Here's a statement from the incredible No Dash For Gas crew:
'Early on Monday 29th October, sixteen people scaled the chimneys of West Burton gas-fired power station, shutting it down and halting further construction. West Burton is one of the first of up to 20 new gas-fired power stations the Government has planned.
The new ‘dash for gas’ will leave us dependent on a highly polluting and increasingly expensive fossil fuel for decades to come. It would make even our modest carbon reduction targets impossible to hit, and cause household energy bills to soar even further. While energy companies profit, our chances of a secure and sustainable future are slipping away.
This action is therefore in defence of the global commons, which are under sustained attack by polluting fossil fuel companies. We are here to challenge corporate power and the rush to further ingrain an energy system that puts short term profits of the few, above the collective needs of the many.
Replacing our outdated energy infrastructure with clean alternatives will generate hundreds of thousands of jobs. The technology is already powering thousands of homes across the UK, and enjoys overwhelming public support.
This is an opportunity to wrest power from a cartel of energy companies, and back into the hands of communities. The dash for gas makes no sense for anyone except the big energy companies. We need a cleaner, more resilient and economically just energy system - and we’re here to fight for it. This is the new battleground for our energy future.'
See www.nodashforgas.org.uk and follow @nodashforgas on Twitter.
By climatejusticecollective, 08-Nov-2012 13:24:00
On NOVEMBER 20TH at Canada House, Trafalgar Square, oil executives, bankers and dirty diplomats will be gathering to plot and scheme about how to expand the tar sands industry and turn Canada into an energy superpower.
WE CAN'T LET THIS MEETING HAPPEN!
The Canadian government continues to try and promote itself as a human rights loving, tree-hugging government in an effort to keep peddling its highly-polluting petroleum. We can't let this carry on under our noses.
The Canadian government has wiped out its own environmental laws, is trampling on First Nations' rights, and seems hell-bent on extracting every last drop of tar by whatever means necessary. Dirty diplomats have been deployed all over the EU to undermine climate legislation which would make Europe off-limits to tar sands exports. Tar sands extraction is devastating vital ecosystems, threatening the lives of communities and pushing us into catastrophic climate change.
Join us at 8:00 AM on NOVEMBER 20TH at the bottom of the steps of the NATIONAL GALLERY. This protest will be most effective if lots of people arrive on time and are prepared to stay for a while, so please be prompt and be prepared to stick around for as long as you can. However, if you can only come late or for a short period that's fine too, we still want you there!
If you are a theatrical type, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved in a surprise pop-up performance which will also happen on the day.
Supported by UK Tar Sands Network, London Rising Tide, People & Planet, Climate Justice Collective, Climate Rush and Occupy Energy, Environment and Equity Group
By climatejusticecollective, 11-Sep-2012 13:50:00
CJC will be joining the Climate Bloc at the TUC March on Saturday 20 October. Here is the statement we will be marching under...
We are people from many different environmental campaigns. We are joining the TUC march on 20 October to be part of a huge popular challenge to austerity and the misery and hopelessness it is creating. We will march together on the 20th to raise the crucial question of tackling climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of a future that works. Dealing with these issues together is possible, necessary and desirable. The climate is changing dramatically, and we are already seeing huge impacts on food prices and energy costs.
We don’t have to choose between the climate and the economy. The climate crisis and the economic crisis have the same root causes, in an economy rigged in favour of the richest 1%. More and more people are calling for investment in jobs which reduce emissions – for example, in renewable energy, public transport, and insulating our homes, which would make a vital start in tackling both climate change and unemployment. We also need to talk about what kind of work we need for a cleaner, fairer future.
We are against austerity, and for climate justice. Join us on the demonstration.
Meet 11am at St Paul's to assemble before joining the march.
Join the demonstration: http://afuturethatworks.org
Support the Climate Bloc: http://climatebloc.wordpress.com/
By climatejusticecollective, 27-Aug-2012 15:07:00
Saturday 8 September
Oxford Action Resource Centre, East Oxford Community Centre, Princess St. Oxford OX4 1DD
*Please note that the date of this meeting has changed from an earlier call-out. The new date is Saturday 8th September.*
On the 20th October the TUC will be holding a march in London under the banner of 'For a future that works'. It's important that climate justice has a voice at a large event like this. We want to build bridges between the climate justice movement and the anti-cuts/austerity movement and make it clear that the only future that works is one which has climate justice as well as social and economic justice at its heart.
If you/your group are interested in organising around this event (which could be a bloc on the march, an action before/after/at the same as the march, or any other ideas you might have) there will be a planning meeting, hosted by the Climate Justice Collective, in Oxford on the 8th September from 11am-5pm. We would also like to spend some of the day discussing other ways in which we might build bridges between the climate justice movement and the anti-cuts/austerity movement - including ideas for future activities so that this is not simply a one-off.
All are welcome, it would help if you could rsvp to email@example.com so that we can provide lunch for the right number of people. If you have mobility issues, children or other special needs or need a bed on the night before or after then please also let us know so that we can try to make suitable arrangements.
The venue is OARC: East Oxford Community Centre Princes St (junction with Cowley Rd), Oxford OX4 1DD
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