By climatejusticecollective, 03-Jul-2012 12:18:00
This article initially appeared on Red Pepper's website on 3/07/2012. Find it here.
Again and again, energy companies – and the politicians, think tanks and corporate media in their pockets – hammer home the message that being green is going to mean being poor. The energy industry's claim is that renewables are more expensive than fossil fuels; inaction on the climate is justified under the auspices of bringing down the bills, while inaction on fuel poverty is justified under the auspices of cooling down the planet. These lies, told in order to maintain business as usual, have recently come under increasing pressure from some in the environmental movement who are keen to stress that fuel poverty and climate change arise from a common cause and must be tackled together.
However, much of the environmental discourse in the public domain falls trap to the industry's spin. A recent post on the Guardian Environment blog by Duncan Clark offered a plea for caution within the environmental movement around calls for cheaper energy. As one of the groups criticised in this blog – the Climate Justice Collective – ('a new climate change direct action group') we felt the need to respond.
Our bills are not being driven up by the cost of renewables but, rather, by the rising cost of fossil fuels. According to a recent report by the government's Committee on Climate change, the investment in low-carbon energy accounted for just 7 per cent of the rise in the cost of energy between 2004 and 2010 (pg 6). 64 per cent of this price hike was caused by the rise in the wholesale price of gas (pg 4).
In his blog post, though, Clark attempts to use this same report to support his insistence that renewable energy is more expensive than polluting alternatives. According to Clark, the report tells us that renewable subsidies and carbon taxes will add more to bills than rising gas prices in the coming decade. But this is simply false: the report says that low-carbon measures will add £110 to bills by 2020, in comparison to £175 from rising gas prices (pg 5).
The report in question does, as Clark points out, predict that low-carbon investment will account for 20 per cent of domestic electricity bills by 2020 (pg 17). But the report was written prior to the release of recent research from the LSE, which forecasts that the cost of wind power is set to dramatically fall in the next few years. Secondly, even if the report's prediction is accurate, this does not support Clark's conclusion that renewables are more expensive than fossil fuels. The rising price of fossil fuels has been the main driver of bill rises in the past decade and is set to continue escalating. Even if the cost of renewables was to make up a fifth of electricity bills by the end of the decade, this does not mean that bills would not have been higher should we have replaced this new low-carbon energy with more fossil fuels. Clark seems to ignore the introduction to the report, which explicitly states that the evidence 'disproves' the claim 'that future huge investments in low-carbon capacity will drive very dramatic increases in energy bills by 2020' (pg 6).
In all, Clark's blog fails to give us any reason to think that avoiding climate change must inevitably lead to higher energy bills. But the problems don't end there. The view pressed throughout seems to be that people are in a position that would allow them to choose to pay more for their energy, should they be persuaded of the benefits of renewables. Our mission, says Clark, has to be to 'make people care sufficiently about climate change that they're prepared to pay more for energy '. Is the suggestion here really that the millions of people that have to choose between heating and eating in the winter should, in fact, be choosing between heating, eating and investing in clean energy? When rocketing energy costs threaten your life and livelihood how could anything – even the threat of global climate catastrophe – persuade you that you should be paying even more for your energy?
The problem is that the rule of the market makes energy access dependent upon ability to pay. This means that the people who are in a position to pay more for their energy – wealthy individuals and powerful corporations – have their excessive and intensely polluting consumption habits subsidised by the poor who are left to freeze. No-one is saying that the solution here is cheaper bills for all. The point is that we need to fundamentally change the way that our energy system – and the economy and society at large – are organised so that energy decisions are made not on the basis of profit but, rather, on the basis of securing people's rights to heating, eating and other essentials.
What many environmentalists are starting to realise, particularly in light of the latest global failure at Rio+20, is that addressing climate change will require systemic overhaul in this same direction. It is now the energy companies, not politicians, that call the shots, as is evidenced by recent exposés of the Big Six exercising influence over the government through lending staff, informal consultations and buying access to secret lobbying meetings. The energy companies' business-models are built on fossil fuel extraction as this is most profitable for them. So, as long as the energy companies retain their monopoly power and influence, politicians will keep on the fossil fuel bandwagon. And, as 'conventional' modes of extraction become more difficult, fossil fuels will keep on getting more polluting and more expensive.
The profit-driven fossil fuel economy is the root cause of both climate change and fuel poverty. As long as our energy is a commodity designed, first and foremost, to generate private profit, our needs for warm homes and a safe environment will be sidelined. But what if communities reclaimed control, begun to generate their own renewable energy and distributed it according to need, not ability to pay? In fact, this is already happening across the country in the form of energy co-ops springing up everywhere from Brixton to Brighton, Bristol to Manchester. By building our own alternatives like these in the context of a growing broader movement for the radical reorganisation of society along democratic, fair and sustainable lines, we can make a start on tackling both poverty and climate change together.
Building a movement with the numbers and relevance necessary to take on this task, however, means rejecting an environmentalism that refuses to call for cheaper energy for those being deprived of their basic needs by rising bills. As well as swallowing the lies of the fossil fuel industry, this type of environmentalism can only alienate the very people we need on board, ensuring that the twin crises of rising bills and rising sea levels will just keep getting ever-deeper. Instead, we need a climate justice approach which acknowledges the shared systemic causes of environmental destruction and poverty and sees the pursuit of ecological goals and social justice as inseparable.
By climatejusticecollective, 16-Jun-2012 08:24:00
Take Back the Land! // 12-18 July // Mass Action 14 July // Douglas Valley, South Lanarkshire
Opencast coal mining in the Douglas Valley is about the ruling class destroying communities for their own financial gain. It's about ecological destruction on a massive scale for capitalism’s unquenchable thirst for cheap energy. It's about absentee fat-cat land-lords making millions off land that shouldn’t be theirs. It's about morally corrupt local (and national) government putting profit before people. Join us 12-18 July in the Douglas Valley, South Lanarkshire, to build on 20 years of community struggle and four years of direct action against the UK’s biggest opencast mining company. It’s time to Take Back the Land!
Take Back the Land! will be a space for taking action, sharing skills and learning through doing. It will be a welcoming and safe space for all those wishing to challenge the social injustice and environmental destruction caused by opencast coal mining operations in Scotland and throughout the world.
Building on previous years experience at camps such as the Mainshill Solidarity Camp, the Happendon Wood Action Camp and events such as the Outdoor Skillshares, we will be establishing a base for a week of high impact action and low impact, sustainable living.
In solidarity with the communities of the Douglas Valley, we will be directly confronting the power structures and infrastructures which have dominated and scarred the valley for too long with a mass action planned for the 14th July and plenty of room for skilling up, recruitment and affinity group actions to be taken.
The camp location will be announced nearer to the time, but will be in close proximity to many of the opencast coal mines in the area.
Whilst we recognise the camp to be a space to take action against external oppression we also hope a create a space which challenges socialised behaviours that oppress and exclude others and we will try and make the camp as inclusive a space as possible, for all people wishing to be involved.
We are calling for all those wishing to take or support actions in solidarity with community self determination, against destructive fossil fuel industries and towards a more sustainable and just society, to come to South Lanarkshire from 12-18th July and help Take Back the Land!
More updates are on their way. If you wish to find out more information or contact us for any reason please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the Douglas Valley and coal struggles in Scotland visit: coalactionscotland.org.uk
By climatejusticecollective, 16-May-2012 10:39:00
Thursday May 31st
The Discus Room, Transport House, Unite the Union Building, 128 Theobald’s Road, London, WC1X 8TN
Our energy is controlled by six giant companies:
Centrica (British Gas), EON, EDF, NPower, SSE and Scottish Power.
The Big Six decide how our energy is produced and priced.
We don’t have a say.
¼ of UK households froze in fuel poverty last winter.
But the Big Six’s profits soared to a five year record high.
The government is in the pocket of the Big Six.
They’re making the bills bite harder with brutal welfare cuts.
Our energy system is driven by private profit at all costs.
It’s killing millions through fuel poverty and climate change.
The Big Six and the government want to keep things this way.
We say: things have to change.
Want to do away with the Big Six?
Get involved with Fuel Poverty Action!
Start by coming to our info night!
Come and discuss why our energy bills are rocketing and how this is affecting us.
Find out what Fuel Poverty Action are doing and how you can get involved…
By climatejusticecollective, 16-May-2012 10:28:00
Climate Justice Collective national meeting
Saturday 2nd June 2012
12 noon - 6pm
Manchester Metropolitan Students Union (top floor)
Oxford Road, MANCHESTER (M1 7EL)
-- How can we continue to connect the dots between economic, climate and social injustices?
-- How can we strengthen links between the anti-cuts movement, Occupy, community action and climate groups?
Agenda for the Day:
Welcome and introduction to CJC for new comers
Brief updates from other groups and activities (eg Fuel Poverty Action, BiofuelWatch, Kick Nuclear, Plane Stupid, Campaign against Climate Change, Occupy, UK Tar Sands Network)
Reflecting on the Big Six Bash mass action.
CJC + Climate Camp – doing things differently
Planning for the Future
What is CJC?
Climate Justice Collective is a grassroots network of UK groups and individuals. We support and take action against the root causes of climate change and for a clean, affordable, democratic energy system. CJC formed out of the Camp for Climate Action following its decision not to organise on a national level in 2011.
For more info see: http://climatejusticecollective.org/#/about/4561591358
A travel pool will be made available to help cover transport costs.
A kidspace can be made available - please email email@example.com if you think you might require one. Likewise if you think you need crashspace.
Facebook: Climate Justice Collective
By climatejusticecollective, 04-May-2012 09:30:00
HUNDREDS OF CLIMATE ACTIVISTS AND ANTI-CUTS PROTESTORS DISRUPT UK ENERGY SUMMIT
Today hundreds of protesters from climate and anti-cuts groups across the country have teamed up to block the UK Energy Summit in the City of London.  They descended on the conference venue at 11.45 am this morning, and say they intend to remain there to disrupt the UK Energy Summit. At least 300 protesters targeted all of the main entrances to the Summit venue, attempting to push past police to enter the conference.
The UK Energy Summit  involves CEOs of the Big Six energy companies, who have recently come under widespread criticism for drawing in record profits whilst one quarter of UK households have been pushed into fuel poverty.  The event is taking place place at The Grange Hotel, near St Paul's Cathedral.
The protest congregated at four locations before descending on the summit: Tate Modern, St Paul’s, City Thameslink and Canon St. En route to the summit venue, protesters used “any means necessary” to get their message out by using stickers, chalk and noise to draw attention to the protest. Once they arrived at The Grange Hotel, they attempted to enter the hotel building with banners and giant model dinosaurs as a reference to the outdated “dinosaur technology” of fossil fuels. Reports have been of police violence when at least two people were arrested, with one protester possibly knocked unconscious by police.
The Climate Justice Collective (CJC) is a national network – which says it tackles corporate control, fuel poverty and climate change – is behind the protest titled 'The Big Six Energy Bash'. Stemming from the colourful and confrontational Climate Camp , CJC says it is also close to the Occupy movement.
Other groups supporting the Big Six Energy Bash are: UK Uncut, Occupy London, Disabled People Against the Cuts, Global Women’s Strike, Kick Nuclear, UK Tar Sands Network, Campaign Against Climate Change, Biofuelwatch, Bristol Energy Cooperative, Stop Nuclear
Power Network, London Rising Tide and Fuel Poverty Action.
Billie Blackwood, CJC said: “The UK Energy Summit is a classic 1% stitch up. It is corporate elites, including the government, conspiring to keep the status quo of high energy prices, soaring profits, growing climate instability and disaster capitalism. This conference is the wrong people asking the wrong questions and proposing the wrong solutions.”
Katharine Jones, an anti-cuts protester from Manchester said: "The UK Energy summit gives the Big Six an opportunity to push the government further into their pockets. The government are putting more people into fuel poverty through brutal welfare cuts; it's great that groups like UK Uncut and Disabled People Against the Cuts are teaming up with climate activists to oppose the corporate control that is driving poverty, austerity and climate crisis."
The protest has been organised around themed ‘blocs’. Each bloc reflects a different aspect of climate injustice and has played a different strategic role in disrupting the conference.
• The Robin Hood Bloc focuses on the energy monopoly of the Big Six energy providers which control 99% of domestic energy in the UK. Using Robin Hood imagery it calls for 'Taking the power back' and putting 'People before profit'.
• The Dirty Energy Bloc promises 'Dirty energy, dirty bass-lines and dirty business.’ It represents destructive fossil fuel energy sources such as fracking, tar sands, deep sea oil drilling and open cast coal, that are costing the earth and driving up the cost of our
• The Fossil Free Futures Bloc is family-friendly and aims to drive the Big Six Energy Dinosaurs into extinction. This bloc demonstrates the colour and creativity of the democratic, fair and clean alternatives to the prehistoric energy companies’ fuels and thinking.
• The Housing Bloc will speak out for warm homes and community control. The bloc exposes the role of Big Six profiteering alongside government degradation and privatisation of housing as the main factors driving fuel poverty.
Photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cj_collective/
Videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/CJCollective?feature=mhee
 Details of the protest can be found at
http://climatejusticecollective.org/bigsixenergybash, on Twitter
(@CJ_Collective) and on Facebook
 Details of the UK Energy Summit can be found at
 See http://www.independent.co.uk/money/spend-save/four-million-homes-in-debt-to-energy-giants-7619404.html;
 See www.climatecamp.org.uk
 Protestors have signed up to join a bloc online at climatejusticecollective.org/bigsixbash and receive SMS text alerts about the meeting place and action plan for their bloc.
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