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Confronting the Fossil Fuel Industry by Mel Strickland

 

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Confronting the fossil fuel industry
  

By Melanie

“The world will be saved, if it can be, only by the unsubmissive.” Andre Gide

The lesson of history is that radical social change is achieved by people working together and confronting the dominant power structures over a sustained period of time. The suffragettes, the civil rights activists, LGBT movement, to name a few, have all employed direct action to achieve recognition of their rights. The institutions that wield authority in this society – the political establishment and big business – are reliant on us being compliant and obedient. If we were not compliant and obedient, then they would find it difficult, or impossible, to push through their neoliberal plans – including austerity and the systematic assault on nature to extract the remaining fossil fuels.

“I realize that if I wait until I am no longer afraid to act, write, speak, be, I’ll be sending messages on a ouija board, cryptic complaints from the other side.” Audre Lorde

Reclaim the Power is a grassroots direct action network. We believe that radical social change cannot be brought about either by individual action or by petitioning government. It can only be brought about through collective action. Collectively, we are incredibly strong and powerful. Taking direct action can be scary, and always has the risk of being arrested, and possibly getting a criminal conviction and fines. On the other hand, the seriousness of the ecological crisis means everything is at stake. As Michael Soulé and Bruce Wilcox said “Death is one thing, an end to birth is something else.” For the sake of the children (of all species), we need to face our fears and join with others to fight the stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry on our lives. This means confronting those in authority who are working with the fossil fuel industry, and doing what it takes to stop their plans to destroy the very life support systems of our planet. It’s no mean task, but we know people throughout history took on similar struggles and won, eventually. This task must go hand in hand with transforming society and building socially and ecologically just institutions and infrastructure, and create a new culture that reinforces the new structures.

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Reclaim the Power action camp near Didcot Power Station
  

In December 2015 international climate talks will take place in Paris. The talks have been co-opted by corporate interests including RWE Npower, which owns Didcot Power station. Like every other ‘big 6’ energy firm in the UK, RWE Npower is profiteering from energy sold to UK households, whilst millions of people in this country are struggling in fuel poverty (without sufficient money to pay heating bills), and thousands die every year because of cold homes.

Keep the coal in the hole, the oil in the soil and the tar sands in the lands

Reclaim the Power is going to Didcot Power station to confront big energy and fossil fuel firms like RWE Npower and to say ‘no more’ to the fossil fuel industry. Whilst the coal-fired power station at Didcot was demolished last year, Didcot still has a live gas power station. Gas is not a ‘transition’ fuel, as the industry likes to present it, it is a dirty fossil fuel and extending the life of fossil fuel plants delays the take up of renewable energy.

Our vision for a socially and ecologically just future includes decentralised, community owned and controlled renewable energy. We can see glimpses of this possible future in places across the world. Ecological justice will mean treading more lightly on this somewhat fragile planet, but think of all we’ll gain in re-establishing connection to the land, breathing clean air, and not being indebted to small group of massive corporations.

If you share our vision, please come along to the Reclaim the Power action camp 29 May – 2 June – there will be a range of inspiring workshops from a host of grassroots radical groups, from extreme energy and activist speed dating to direct action training, activities for kids and more! There will be a day of action on Monday 1 June which everyone is invited to participate in.


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