UK Top NASA climate scientist defends activists who tried to shut down coal powered generator.

30/11/2010 Guardian Climate change protesters’ anger was justifiable, says Nasa Scientist.Professor James Hansen flew in from the United States to be a defence witness
for climate change activists charged with trespass. The anger of 114 activists who planned to break into a
coal plant near Nottingham was understandable because of the “lies” told by
governments about climate change, Nasa’s top scientist told the trial of 20
climate campaigners.

Professor James Hansen, the NASA scientist credited with doing the most to raise
awareness of climate change, had flown from the US to be the star witness.
Twenty activists are accused of conspiracy to trespass on private property. They
were arrested last Easter before the group were able to carry out their plan to
force E.ON’s coal plant at Ratcliffe-on-Soar to shut down for a week.
The activists claim that had they succeeded, 150,000 tonnes of CO2 would not
have been emitted.
Hansen, a vocal critic of coal power, told Nottingham crown court: “The fact
that we continue to burn more coal and build more coal plants shows governments
are not telling the truth “If they are saying they understand climate problem
but will continue to burn coal its easy for me to understand that young people
get upset, because they know governments are lying or kidding themselves.”
Hansen’s evidence was crucial in the case of the “Kingsnorth six” who broke into
the Kent coal-fired power station and scaled a chimney. Their “lawful excuse”
defence, that the harm they did was committed to prevent the greater harm of
climate change, was successful and they were acquitted in September 2008.
Sarah Shoraka, biodiversity campaigner with Greenpeace, from North London, was
the first defendant in the witness box. Felicity Gerry for the prosecution asked
her why, rather than spend £15,000 on the planned plant occupation, the group
did not enlist a celebrity like Cheryl Cole to front a “green” campaign to
encourage people to wear second hand clothes for example.
Telling the court that she had a compost toilet at home, she also said that the
“Meat Free Monday” campaign to cut down on meat consumption and related
emissions promoted by Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Sir Paul McCartney was, “quite
an effective campaign because some celebrities are involved.”
She suggested the activists should have tried something similar. “Why did you
not just do ‘turn off Tuesday or switch off Saturday’”.
Shoraka, who did not deny her involvement in the protest, said that it was not a
publicity stunt. She also expressed her frustration at the time with
politicians’ failure to ban coal plants.
“I was very pessimistic at the time. I did not see there was any political will
to go anywhere near tackling this problem. I felt it was hopeless. These people
who were supposed to be there to protect us failed in their duty to do that.”
Gerry also asked professor Hansen “it may be suggested… that if we all use
biodegradable compost toilets and switch off the lights then that will achieve
significant results in reducing the level of CO2. What do you say to that?”
Hansen responded “Unfortunately that will do little good… burning it a little
more slowly, being a little more conservative in our use. We are going to have
to leave fossil fuels in the ground. The biggest one to leave in the ground is
Hansen told the court the UK was the world’s biggest carbon polluter on a per
person basis since industrialisation so the onus was on the UK to lead the way
in phasing out coal plants.Gerry put it to him: “its grandma”s fault.” Hansen
responded: “Yes but grandma didn’t know about it. We do now.”
He also explained that he had begun speaking out more in last five years because
he now had grandchildren. “I did not want them to say pa you understood what was
happening but you never made it clear. You can see the changes now. The things
which will happen during the lifetime of our young people if we continue as
business as usual will dwarf these [current] inconveniences.”
Go to: