With weather records tumbling and climate change accelerating, grassroots activism sees a boost this week as activists join a five-day climate camp near the Grangemouth refinery and petrochemical plant.
We had the world’s hottest day ever recorded last week, which followed on from Scotland’s warmest ever June. Global sea temperature are also at record levels and the waters around Scotland are suffering an unprecedented warm period, around 3ºC hotter than they should be.
February saw a record low level of sea ice around Antarctica and current levels are smaller than the previous June record by an area five times bigger than the UK. The continuing wildfires in Canada have burnt an area nearly the size of Portugal and 155,000 people have had to leave their homes.
Flooding has returned to Pakistan and the terrible drought in eastern Africa continues
Despite these dire signs of a very sick planet, and repeated warnings by scientists and the UN, oil companies plan to spend a billion dollars on new oil and gas by 2030 and politicians continue to dither.
As I wrote about last month, the Labour Party is struggling with the climate agenda, with Kier Starmer quoted this weekend as saying he hates tree huggers while nearly £30bn of climate funding a year promised for straight after a Labour election victory moved to being possibly maybe coming in by the end of their five-year term in government.
And last week a leaked briefing suggested the current UK Government is ditching its £12bn commitment to helping poorer countries deal with climate change, following on from other signs that the environment and climate are far from top of the agenda down south.
Activists from Just Stop Oil have been present at Wimbledon, London Pride and possibly at George Osborne’s wedding, and this week grassroots protests return to Scotland with the Climate Camp starting today at Grangemouth for a ‘festival of resistance.’
The Grangemouth site is home to Scotland’s largest cluster of climate polluting plants including the oil refinery and petrochemicals plant. Plans are in the air to ‘upgrade’ the refinery but this would really be building a whole new refinery, aiming to operate for decades when of course we need to phase out the petrol and diesel it makes in less than 10 years.
Following on from last year’s event in Aberdeen, the Climate Camp will help activists gain new skills, it plans to engage with workers to talk about a Just Transition out of fossil fuels and there will no doubt be direct actions targeting the refinery and the other big climate polluters on the site. Speakers at the Climate Camp include environmental activists from India, Ukraine and Kurdistan, and it all kicks off tonight with an indigenous people’s leader from Ecuador. Discussion sessions range from direct action tactics to the latest climate science, and from the history of Scottish resistance movements to climate psychology.
As the world continues to rapidly approach a number of vital climate tipping points and mainstream politics continues to pay lip service only to climate change, climate protests like that at Grangemouth are a vital way to draw attention to the need for emergency action.
A version of this article appeared in the Scotsman newspaper on 12th July 2023.
Image – Climate Camp in Aberdeen in 2022.