The defence continued their case. Mr Rees called a further two defendants to the witness box.
LH is a marine biologist. She described how she had observed dying coral reefs in the Middle East and Australia; this is, she says, undoubtedly due to ocean acidification and warmer water as a result of increased carbon emissions. This has a devastating effect on the eco-systems which rely on the coral reefs, as well as the local economy.
She described her energy and climate outreach work with Greenpeace in Australia and other organisations in the UK, educating the ‘ordinary members of the public’ that the prosecution repeatedly had claimed that defendants had not adequately engaged with and ‘abandoned’ in favour of the secret direct action that they had done, to close down the power station.
Her main role in the action was to be one of the lead climbers in the Green team, whose task it was to ascend the chimney of Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station. Her extensive and professionally recognised climbing experience gave her confidence that all safety procedures were in place for that part of the action.
Cross-examined by the prosecution, Miss Gerry, continued to ask why, instead of educating people, LH had supposedly avoided taking steps to educate the general public. She responded that it wasn’t an ‘either/or’ – it was truly possible to continue education at the same time as planning an action, of which the sole purpose was to stop carbon emissions. [Ratcliffe Blog]
Mr Rees calls the next defendant Mr BS. He was initially asked by the defence to respond to a number of the prosecution’s queries in her initial opening statement about whether defendants had spoken to civil society groups like the Women’s Institute in order to raise awareness of climate change. BS was able to state that he had in fact worked with the Women’s Institute, along with a number of other charitable organisations and unions, in order to raise awareness of climate change for the UN climate summit in Nairobi 2006.
When asked why he had decided to take part in the Ratcliffe action, BS said that the World Health Organisation report estimating that 150,000 people die per year due to the effects of climate change. For him, this is a human rights issue; cheap fuel is used to cut corners saying “it’s too expensive [for energy companies and governments] not to let these people die.”
He continued to explain using Dr. Jim Hansen’s statistic that a species is made extinct every 6 weeks due to climate change. Looking at the jury, BS asserted that “we don’t have the right to eradicate species our kids will never see.”
After lunch BS is recalled, to continue his evidence. Turning to the press release, he’s asked what it’s primary purpose was? Although the main objective of the action was to cut CO2 emissions, he thinks that it’s likely that there would be a lot of media interest. It would probably be a main story. He had been responsible for earlier drafts of the press release and included much about climate change issues at large.
The content was a ‘work in progress’ and had to be edited further to take all the participant views into account. It needed to be a democratic document. Reference is made to E-on building a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth and peoples opposition to this. E-on had pulled out of the project and carbon capture there due to escalating cost of compliance with government conditions.
He agreed he was a press officer for the enterprise and part of the Green team intending to climb the chimney.
Cross-Examining Miss Gerry says, in climbing the chimney, climbers would go up first with photographer, video cameraman and media liaison [him up next]. Taking him through the list of equipment he had with him including camcorder and the microwave downlink with compass. He agreed that this was all his. She that went on to conclude that the object of the action was thus clearly a media stunt. Nothing to do with emissions and necessity action at all, was it? BS says he wanted to film the progress of the action, to illustrate its non violent nature. He thought this might have been necessary and useful, since at an earlier Climate Camp at Kingsnorth power Startion, Vernon Coaker MP a Home Office Minister at the time had alleged violence against the police by those in attendance in the vicinity of the camp. On a later investigation, it turned out that police injuries had turned out to include a graze shine, when climbing a fence, toothache and bee stings etc. He was interested in gathering evidence in case of other such untruths. The downlink provided a means of transmitting the information ahead of any confiscation by the police.
Minister Vernon Coaker apologises for misleading MPs over police injuries
Home Office minister says sorry to parliament after Guardian reveals most police injuries from climate protest were from insects or heat
John Vidal, environment editor
Monday 15 December 2008
Moving on to the press release, again, BS agrees he was involved. She takes him through it again, to the passage including reference to the section about Ed Miliband MP the then Energy Secretary. The object was to put pressure on the minister? He say his object was mainly to prevent emissions from this power station.
Miss Gerry continues to suggest that this was part of a campaign against E-on. But he says Ratcliffe is the 2nd most polluting power station in the UK and if it was owned by another company, then that would have been a stated objective. It doesn’t matter who owned it.
Yet again, he has to tell Miss Gerry as she continues to suggest this was a media stunt, that [as all the times before] that the needs for action are immediate and this opportunity was taken to reduce such a large amount of emissions that could not be achieved by any other means. He had been to Copenhagen and was very disillusioned at the complete lack of progress and continues to feel that immediate action is required.
As ever Miss Gerry asserted that instead of the action, BS and other defendants should have considered other action to ‘get the message across’, such as a slogan or illustration of ‘the earth wrapped in a blanket’, to get the attention of the masses. BS refuted this, stating that there was no slogan which would stop 150,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. He pointed out that the easily understandable image of the earth wrapped in a blanket, getting hotter, was used by Hansen in Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, a film that attracted millions of viewers, won Oscars, but has failed to contribute significantly to emissions reduction. Global emissions of CO2 continue to rise, as BS pointed out.
His evidence summed up the experiences he had, as a climate change campaigner, which led him to decide to circumvent the more conventional channels in which he has been involved for over a decade.
The trial continues … progresses and continues a bit more …