One of the 21 No Dash For Gas defendants, Danny Chivers, is an environmental researcher and author of the No-Nonsense Guide to Climate Change. Here he explains the irony of EDF trying to sue protesters for £5 million when the company does at least that much damage to all of us every single day…
It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so serious. EDF is a massively profitable energy giant that runs two of the country’s biggest coal power stations. The company is building the first of the Government’s planned wave of new gas plants, regularly ramps up its bills way beyond the rate of inflation, and uses its huge wealth and influence to actively lobby against renewable energy – and yet they’re accusing us of causing damage to them.
I decided to do a few sums to put a rough figure on the level of damage that EDF Energy’s CO2 emissions are doing to the rest of the world. Here’s an interesting thing: it comes to around £5 million per day.
When EDF’s UK-based coal and gas power stations are all switched on, they produce around 4,400 tonnes of CO2 per hour (based on around 1000 kg per MWh for coal, and 350 kg per MWh for combined cycle gas). The Stern Review in 2006 made a conservative estimate that each tonne of CO2 does around £55 of damage to people’s lives, homes and livelihoods around the world, through its contribution to disastrous floods, storms and droughts.
That means that EDF’s UK power stations do £240,000 of climate change damage to the world every hour, which is over £5 million per day (if they’re all switched on).
Even if you only count their gas power stations, they still clock up £5 million of damage for every eight days of operation.
Obviously, you can’t really put a financial value on things like deaths from climate change or species extinctions, or the risk of runaway climate change. This example is just to illustrate that it’s EDF who owe all of us big-time, not the other way around. Even if the company’s £5 million claim against us had any basis in reality (rather than being based on lots of dubious assertions about the “costs” of a week’s delay on the construction of a power station that was already two years behind schedule) it would be cancelled out many times over by the very real damage they’re doing to the whole of society.
This ties in with some other interesting 5 million examples.
EDF Energy make profits of around £5 million per day in the UK alone. You could see this as a direct transfer, with the company sucking £5 million in damage out of people’s lives and livelihoods around the world, and transforming it into profit for itself.
Meanwhile, since the story broke, EDF’s attempt to sue No Dash For Gas has been covered on Channel 4 News (around 1 million viewers per day), Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show (6.5 million listeners per week), BBC1’s The Big Questions (around 2 million viewers), and local ITV news in the Calendar and Meridian regions (probably several million more). Plus, of course, coverage in the Guardian and other online newspapers and local papers, loads of reports and opinion pieces on blogs and websites, and massive sharing on Facebook and Twitter.
Taking into account the fact that there’s certainly some overlap between all of these news outlets, I reckon we can say with confidence that – at the very least – 5 million extra people now know about our protest thanks to EDF’s civil claim.
Now, if only we had £1.7 billion per year like EDF Energy, we could afford to launch a counter-claim against them for the damage that they’re doing to the world. Then maybe we could call up Nottinghamshire Police and ask them to serve the claim on EDF for us…