As a community activist, informed by her reading of popular education, community activism and radical politics, Cathy McCormack has – for over quarter of a century – witnessed each and every day a ‘war without bullets’ being waged remorselessly against herself and other structurally oppressed people: the poor, the ill, the unemployed, the disabled, the stigmatised, the marginalised and the simply different.
Cathy, from Easterhouse Glasgow and author of ‘The Wee Yellow Butterfly’ exposes the war against the poor in Britain and of how poverty and inequality are linked to climate-change during a series of conversations with other activist and academic experts that are fighting back in the front line of this war and trying to save our planet and its people. One of the conversations here follows a few years of part of Plane Stupid's journey in tackling the war from the runways to the streets to the courts......
Cathy’s first guest is Dan Glass a young anti-climate change activist who was nominated as one of Britain’s most effective green activist and notoriously famous for gluing himself to Gordon Brown. Dan was involved in ‘Plane Stupid’ and So We Stand. Dan exposes the links between poverty and inequalities and talks about the direct action which he and his buddies took to stop co2 emissions at their source which resulted in them being arrested twice and put on trial. He also reveals of how the under-cover policecop Mark Kennedy who infiltrated their organisation resulted in their second conviction being rendered un- safe.………..
On Wednesday 30th June, 15 activists launched Plane Stupid Germany in style as they dropped banners from the town hall of Munich in an act of peaceful civil disobedience. The action appealed to the state capital to stop the planned Munich third runway by a referendum.
The Munich airport is the biggest single threat to the climate in Bavaria. One of the activists involved said:
"In deep concern of what we have built in our lives and in deep concern of the world we will leave to future generations, we have decided to follow the way of civil disobedience. Its not acceptable that the protection of property, health and climate-protection written in the Bavarian constitution, is not valid in Bavaria and it's capital when it comes to a third runway."
Recently leaked news showed that the airport has majorly influenced the referendum with one million euros.
There is a demo planned this Friday outside City Hall from 9.30am to protest Boris Johnson's silly airport idea.
Boris Johnson’s plans for an airport in the Thames Estuary spell disaster for our climate. 150 million passengers per year would use the airport, increasing our emissions at alarming rate - we are struggling as it is to meet the weak climate target of reducing our emissions by 80% by 2050, the introduction of new airport will only further hinder our attempts to achieve it.
As if the climate implications are not enough the location of his proposed airport and its cost, £50 billion, are mind boggling. The location would mean the disruption of a fragile ecosystem, that exists in the estuary, including endangering protected species of birds. As well as being in the heart of the convergence of four existing major flight paths used for arrivals and departures, leading to even more congestion in the skies and higher CO2 emissions as planes spend more time circling in the air waiting to land.
Also the proposed site is very near to the sunken SS Richard Montgomery, a munitions ship which contains enough unexploded material to send a metre-high tidal wave hurtling towards the banks of the River Thames.
We cannot allow Boris to proceed with this hugely damaging vanity project - the cost of Boris Island is just too great.
So come and join us to tell the newly re-elected mayor that just because he’s back in office does not mean we’ll let him slip this past us!
Picture the scene: it’s early in the morning. The sun is shining and you’re sitting having your breakfast, which happens to be a café au lait and a baguette because, for the purposes of this exercise, you are French. While you quietly contemplate some elaborate existentialist theory (did I mention you’re French?), you notice the post drop through the letterbox. One official looking letter drops to the floor. You open it, cautiously…
Oh là là! What has fallen onto your doormat is nothing less than a compulsory purchase order for your farmstead! That’s right, the farmstead you’ve lived and worked on for as long as you care to remember, the ground you’ve tended to with your own bare hands, your past, your present, your future… All of this is being taken from you. Stolen. Demanded by a government which claims to represent you. And to what end? In order that a multi-billion pound industry can build a new runway over the top of it. Why, you ask? So that they can increase their profit margins of course (tsk, don’t waste our time with stupid questions, Monsieur!!).
Sadly this is no elaborate horror story. This week, the first two farmers in Nantes have been issued with compulsory purchase orders for their land by the government in order to make way for a second Nantes airport. What is particularly dreadful about this is that the authorities who want to build the airport are embroiled in legal challenges from those campaigning against the airport. If the campaigner’s challenges are successful, the airport will be stopped but the farmers will still have lost their land and their livelihood.
Faced with the total destruction of their way of life and the loss of their homes, these brave farmers are fighting back. This week marks the beginning of their hunger strike.
For years campaigners in and around Nantes have been fighting against plans for a new airport. In March, thousands of campaigners took to the streets of Paris to protest against the plans. Many of them had travelled 400km from Nantes to the French capital on their bikes and tractors. This Wednesday, in support of the two farmers and their hunger strike, campaigners set up camp outside the Monument de la Résistance in Nantes with their sheep and tractors! They need your support – please join the campaigners if you can or email them a message of support.
With plans to expand airports popping up all over the EU, there has been an unprecedented EU-wide fight against expansion. As well as fierce battles in Nantes, Plane Stupid activists recently visited anti-airport expansion campaigners in Munich, and in Frankfurt, where campaigners have recently won a ban on night flights. Up to 5,000 thousand campaigners are turning up every Monday to take part in protests in the new airport terminal, with up to 20,000 people showing up for Saturday specials.
Throughout history people have taken bold actions to stop injustices from taking place on their doorstep. The French farmers are now doing just that. By going on hunger strike they are not only standing up for local communities and the climate in the face of powerful corporate interest and single minded politicians, they are demonstrating to us all that we have the ability to take the power back. Join them, and let’s take that power back together.
On May 3rd, the same day as the London Mayoral elections, The Climate Justice Collective will be taking to the streets to block the energy monopoly going on behind closed doors at the UK Energy Summit.
The summit will see companies from the Big Six including EDF, EON, RWE Npower and Scottish Power, as well as oil giants like Shell and BP, conspiring with government to line their pockets at the cost of climate crisis and millions of people locked into fuel poverty. The UK Energy Summit is the wrong people asking the wrong questions and proposing the wrong solutions.
The Big Six energy companies are the obstacle to an energy system that could keep the sea levels down and get the heating on in fuel poverty homes. We want a fair, democratic and clean energy system, not a corporate monopoly - the UK Energy Summit cannot go ahead!
Be in Central London on Thursday 3rd May. Be ready to go at 11am. Keep an eye out on our Twitter (@CJ_Collective) for updates on meeting points and live and instant action plans.
Of course, we don’t know the private thoughts of Mr Osborne about Heathrow. We do know he likes big infrastructure. He keeps telling us that it’s essential for economic growth. That may include a new runway at Heathrow. But he’s been forced to say that the Tories won’t build one. He knows that, if people think they will renege on their promise, Boris wouldn’t be elected as Mayor of London. He knows, too, that Transport Secretary Justine Greening, who has been a vocal and effective opponent of a third runway, would need to resign. And Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith has said he would resign his seat and force a by-election if the Tories changed their mind. A U-turn would also be a gift to Labour leader Ed Milliband now that his party has dropped its support for a third runway.
Deep down, I suspect, George and Ed, and particularly Justine, know that a third runway at Heathrow has become impossible to build. They don’t want to face Plane Stupid on the roof of Parliament again, far less the thousands of people who would lose their homes or the hundreds of thousands under the Heathrow flight path.
Some in the industry, like BAA, seem still to cling to their impossible dream that one day they will get their third runway. This is a big reason for their current campaign for more airport capacity and for the adverts plastered all over the London Underground: “The road to economic recovery isn’t a road – it’s a flight path.”
However, most in business and the aviation industry would settle for a new runway anywhere in the south-east. And this is where Osborne is dangerous. Last year he said in his autumn statement the Government would "explore all options for maintaining the UK's aviation hub status, with the exception of a third runway at Heathrow". And recently David Cameron told big business “I'm not blind to the need to increase airport capacity, particularly in the south-east” before adding pointedly “Gatwick is emerging as a business airport for London, under a new owner competing with Heathrow”.
Mr Cameron, Mr Osborne, CO2 does the same harm to the environment whether the plane comes from Heathrow or Gatwick. Plane Stupid are booking our train tickets for Gatwick. Singles. Returns won’t be necessary until you get serious on the climate science and drop all airport expansion plans.