Reclaim the Power Activists Blockade Coal Industry Conference on CCS and the Department for Energy and Climate Change

World Coal Association conference blockade 2

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Activists from Reclaim the Power have blocked the front and back entrances to a World Coal Association conference on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), being held today at the Institute of Directors, London. The activists are protesting against the coal industry’s promotion of the technology, which is yet to be proven at a viable scale and is seen as a smokescreen for the necessary action needed on climate change.

Also, 12 activists from Reclaim The Power blockaded the steps outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change to convey a bold message to the new Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd.  At around 9AM the protesters, who are participating in a day of multiple orchestrated actions across the UK, arranged themselves on the steps outside the building’s front door blocking the entrance and displaying signs and words written on their bums with the statement ‘Wind Not Gas’. One of the protestors wore a large wind turbine.

Outside the Institute for Directors:

The activists have locked themselves onto the front and back doors of the venue, preventing hundreds of business executives from the coal industry from entering. The protesters, wearing aprons and rubber gloves, armed with dustpans and brushes, and holding a banner saying “You Can’t Clean Coal,” are also attempting to sweep up bags of coal that have been spread in front of the conference entrance.

Fossil fuel companies and governments present Carbon Capture and Storage, a technology to capture and store carbon emissions from fossil fuels, as a solution to climate change. However, the technology remains unproven at scale and many belief it simply serves as a justification to burn more dirty coal, oil and gas, rather than promoting cleaner, more secure and more developed renewables technologies.

Politicians and business leaders have also admitted that CCS is unviable, with the former Chancellor Alistair Darling stating that it “may never work,” and RWE confirming that they do not see it as an “option for the foreseeable future.” Rather than spending millions on CCS, governments should be investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and providing support for people in fuel poverty.

Sam Taylor from Reclaim the Power said:

“Despite the coal industry’s desperate attempts, coal and other fossil fuels will never be clean, they cost more money, and they prevent the vital investments we need in renewables. CCS is a sticking plaster for our broken energy system: the government needs to stop subsidising fossil fuels, and we need a full transition to renewables now.”

Ellie Glazer from Reclaim the Power said:

“It’s clear that the obstacles to a safe and sustainable energy future for the UK are political rather than technical.  Instead of companies putting profits before people, and building infrastructure which will lock us into burning carbon for years to come, we need to look to community-led renewable solutions.’

Outside the Department for Energy and Climate Change

Hannah Smith from Reclaim The Power said:

“All around the world people are building community-led renewable solutions to replace fossil fuels and at a time when the world’s leading scientists are telling us that if we want to avoid catastrophic and irreversible climate change the majority of the world’s coal, oil and gas reserves need to stay in the ground, the newly appointed Minster for Energy and Climate Change is in a unique position to be able to secure our energy future. Evidence shows us that with existing technology we could be carbon neutral in the UK by 2030, with a renewable energy infrastructure offering many new jobs into the bargain. Unfortunately Amber Rudd is pushing full-pelt for fracking which is beyond short-sighted. It is suicidal.’

DECC - More wind less gas action
Today’s actions in the UK are a part of an international series of actions in the build up to the Paris UN Climate talks in December, whereby many feel that the fossil fuel industry have undue influence in being present at negotiations around EU decision-making on reducing carbon emissions.

Rowan Tilly from Reclaim The Power said:

‘Against the advice of their own Committee on Climate Change, the government has approved the construction of up to 30 new gas-fired power stations, and intends to go ‘all out’ for shale gas – with up to two thirds of the UK licensed for fracking. This new dash for gas is recklessly at odds with our national and international obligations on climate change and must be resisted, for both the sake of ourselves and future generations. We are now finding ourselves at a stage where we don’t know where government ends and corporations begin and unless we act now we will soon find ourselves be locked into infrastructure which will burn carbon for years to come whilst killing off renewable energy, with political decisions ruled by profit and acting in ignorance of the blatant dangers of climate change. We simply can’t afford to let this happen. We will not sit back compliantly and wait for governments to act. We must show them that the health of the people is more important that the profit of big business, and like the communities who have held off fracking for four years, we will see more and more people on the ground taking action to stop both government and corporate power in their tracks.’


Notes to editors

  1. Reclaim the Power is a grass roots direct action network aiming to join the dots between environmental, economic and social justice.
  2. In 2013 Reclaim the Power held a camp in Balcombe, West Sussex, a community threatened by the prospect of shale oil and gas extraction by fracking company Cuadrilla.
  3. In 2014 Reclaim the Power held a camp near Blackpool, Lancashire, where Cuadrilla were seeking two licenses for fracked oil and gas production wells.
  4. Reclaim the Power grew out of No Dash for Gas, the group which occupied and shut down the cooling towers at EDF Energy West Burton’s power station in 2012. They later faced being sued by EDF for £5m
World Coal Association conference blockade