A group of No Dash For Gas activists braved the early morning frost on Saturday 16 January 2016 to stop construction work at the site of a new gas-fired power station outside Manchester. After assembling a tripod at the entrance to Carrington Power, one of the activists climbed his way to the top and unfurled a banner reading ‘Flood level 2050?’, emphasising the link between recent flooding and runaway climate change caused by dirty fossil fuel use.
As the site’s owners wondered what to do for the next few hours, hundreds were gathering in the nearby village of Upton to support the community in their fight against the fracking industry. Reclaim the Power’s ‘#J16 Solidarity Saturday’ brought anti-frackers from across the UK to give Upton a welcome boost after their protection camp was evicted earlier in the week.
These actions signal the start of ‘Groundswell 2016’, a year of direct action called by Reclaim the Power against the causes of the social and environmental crisis that is climate change. Now the dust from the Paris conference has settled, it’s time to set ourselves a challenge: can we do more for climate justice in one year than UN COP negotiators have achieved in the last twenty one?
The activists last weekend refused to sit and watch in despair as lives and livelihoods are wrecked, both in this part of the world and throughout the Global South. But they also helped expose the hypocrisy of this government, which on the one hand claims to support international climate action and on the other races ahead with fracking, yet more gas-fired power stations and airport expansion.
Groundswell is intended to foster collaboration between groups campaigning for climate justice and introduce new people to civil disobedience. It will be a chance for the UK climate movement – and many more currently outside it – to take this crisis into our own hands and call out the government on its failings. As the Carrington blockaders’ statement said: “This isn’t just about energy policy. In the face of ever eroding democracy and widening inequality, people are reclaiming their power.”
In order to escalate our actions, Reclaim the Power is ready to provide training and guidance on taking civil disobedience. Alongside mass acts like the ones planned for the second week of May under the banner ‘Break Free’, the beauty of Groundswell will be in its de-centralised nature. So whether you’re a member of an established group interested in partnering RtP or are keen to do something with a bunch of friends but need some advice on, say, blockading techniques or how to navigate the legal system, please don’t wait to get in touch.
Sources of fossil-fuelled climate change are all around us – it’s just a matter of picking your target.
- BBC News – Hundreds attend Upton anti-fracking demonstration
- DeSmog – Power Protesters Blockade Gas Power Station to Launch ‘Groundswell’ climate campaign
- Manchester Evening News – Anti-fracking protesters block entrance to power station construction site
- Vice News – Checking the Temperature of Climate Change Activism in 2016
- New Internationalist – J16’ marks the beginning of UK wave of climate mobilization
For help with training or action planning contact info[at]reclaimthepower.org.uk