[Cc-webedit] [climatecamp] Metamorphosis: A statement from the Camp for Climate Action

Jon Leighton j at jonathanleighton.com
Tue Mar 1 19:54:59 UTC 2011

On Tue, 2011-03-01 at 19:41 +0000, newsletter at climatecamp.org.uk wrote:
> Metamorphosis: A statement from the Camp for Climate Action
> The near-collapse of the financial system; droughts in the Amazon, floods
> in Pakistan; a new government in the UK; a violent programme of
> unprecedented cuts; food prices rising and real incomes eroding;
> revolutions across the Middle East… This is all very different from 2005
> when the Camp for Climate Action first met to spark radical action on the
> greatest threat to humanity, climate change.
> In 2011 the climate science is as strong as ever – and the need for action
> on climate change never greater – but the political landscape is radically
> different. As a movement, to be relevant, we need to move with the times.
> Therefore the Camp for Climate Action has decided, after much discussion
> and reflection, to change. To that effect,
> 1. We will not organise a national Climate Camp in 2011.
> 2. We will not organise national gatherings as ‘Climate Camp’ or the Camp
> for Climate Action in 2011.
> This closure is intended to allow new tactics, organising methods and
> processes to emerge in this time of whirlwind change.  With the skills,
> networks and trust we have built we will launch new radical experiments to
> tackle the intertwined ecological, social and economic crises we face. To
> that effect,
> 3. We have created interim working groups to manage the transition.
> 4. There will be a major meeting in the near future.
> An explanation
> In 2006, 600 people camped in the shadow of Drax power station in West
> Yorkshire, the UK’s biggest, single source of carbon dioxide, for ten days
> of learning and sustainable living, culminating in a day of mass action
> against the power station. Our aim was to kick-start a social movement to
> tackle climate change. This experiment – its organisation and the form –
> fitted that moment and proved a success. Instead of a one-off camp we then
> went on to target planned infrastructure projects that showed the suicidal
> nature of ‘economic development’. In 2007, we made the daring and
> difficult decision to join the campaign against the expansion of Heathrow
> Airport culminating in 2,000 people camped on the site of a proposed third
> runway. In 2008, we opposed the building of a new coal-fired power-station
> at Kinsgnorth, Kent, the first in the UK for 20 years. Despite police
> infiltration, repression and violence, plus regular media attacks, these
> camps, in alliance with diverse campaigns, won. Neither looks set to be
> built.
> As the financial crisis unfolded we moved to directly targeting the root
> cause of airport expansion and coal-fired power stations: our economic
> system. We had a hectic 2009.  When London hosted the G20 in April, the
> European Climate Exchange (home of EU carbon trading) had to close its
> doors after 4,000 people set up camp on Bishopsgate, in London’s financial
> centre.  Later that year we organised a camp at Blackheath overlooking the
> City of London, attended by over 5,000 people. There was no mass action at
> the camp – we separated it to be more effective – so in October 1,000
> people swooped to shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, in
> Nottinghamshire, a major carbon emitter owned by E.ON the energy giant
> behind the Kingsnorth plans.  In December, many travelled on Climate Camp
> coaches to Copenhagen as part of our affiliation to the international
> direct action network Climate Justice Action, against the skewed UN
> negotiations known as COP 15. Despite much success, weaknesses in our
> organisational structures and processes were exposed within our networks.
> There had been a dramatic surge in climate-related action, understanding
> of the root causes of the crisis, and developing truly sustainable and
> socially just solutions. But many worried that using the same tactic –
> mass squatted action camps in antagonistic locations – would become
> ineffectual. Yet, these camps were an inspirational experience for large
> numbers of people. So, again we camped, taking aim at RBS, the now
> publicly owned ‘Oil and Gas Bank’. For the first time we actually squatted
> the land of our target – RBS global headquarters near Edinburgh – a
> massive success. But the decision, target and form of action were being
> hotly debated within the movement.
> As a result, we continued a process of deep reflection and in November
> 2011, at our national gathering in Manchester, it was decided that we
> needed additional time to think and strategise together about the future
> of Climate Camp. We therefore held a week-long ‘retreat’ type event at
> Monkton Wyld in Dorset to figure out what to do. Fittingly, the Manchester
> gathering named the event ‘Space for Change’.
> Over six days, about 70 people shared their experiences and critical
> reflection. We should not pretend that these discussions were easy. We
> talked about the limitations of an organisational model built to plan one
> camp a year, when we now have both the will and capacity to do much more.
> We debated the constraints of this model, which was devised when we were
> much smaller in numbers. We discussed how other movements and groups have
> responded to changing circumstances in the past to learn from those
> experiences. Here is not the place to repeat the discussions: extensive
> minutes will follow on our website. But the premise is worth repeating:
> how do we best harness the energy, dynamism and commitment to fight the
> root causes of climate change at local, national and international levels?
> How do we best grow a climate justice social movement that is relevant,
> vibrant and successful over the next few years? What organisational
> structures, consistent with our desire to tackle hierarchy, will take us
> to a new level of participation and action?
> The decision not to organise a camp, nor organise as Climate Camp or the
> Camp for Climate Action, will be a shock to some, and may provoke a lot of
> questions. We hope these decisions will give space and time for those
> questions to evolve into new forms of effective and inspiring action and
> organisation. This is no retreat from organised large-scale action on
> climate change, rather a freeing of our energy to organise much more
> effectively all year round. For local groups using the Climate Camp name,
> these decisions are not intended to direct them, as they have always been
> autonomous.
> Internationally, it has been amazingly inspiring to see that climate camps
> have happened from Ghana to the US, France to Australia. Wherever people
> are, we urge them to use the organisational tools and tactics that have
> been popularised or developed by Climate Camp if they are useful and
> relevant: these were never ours to own.
> What next?
> To make sure that we don’t lose what we have learnt over the years, nor
> the capacity, relationships, networks and skills, we have created four
> interim working groups to help us in this transition:
> 1. A group to maximise the usefulness of our material resources.
> 2. A group to address ongoing communications plus learn from and document
> our experiences over the past few years.
> 3. A group to investigate new organisational forms, structures and tactics
> for possible next experiments.
> 4. A group to organise a meeting to share ideas about these next experiments.
> The next newsletter will let everyone know how to get involved in these,
> with all information also posted on our website. Details of the meeting
> will also be made available shortly. Separately, the Climate Camp legal
> team will continue ongoing legal actions against the police.
> Nothing lasts forever. Movements have to move. That doesn’t mean there
> won’t be grieving: many of us have given heart and soul to Climate Camp.
> But we can’t demand that society changes radically, while we ourselves do
> not. As everyone who has tried something daringly new knows, it can be
> scary and there are no guarantees of success. But that didn’t stop us
> before the first Climate Camp, nor did it stop the students at Millbank,
> nor the people of the Middle East. And it shouldn’t stop us now.
> Yes, Climate Camp leaves a space. What fills that space is up to us. This
> is a unique opportunity to work together with others to create a more
> co-ordinated, dynamic and stronger movement against climate change and its
> root causes. Now is a chance to team up with the anti-cuts and
> anti-austerity movements and play a crucial role in the revolutionary
> times ahead. Anything but co-ordinated action is doomed to fail.
> See you on the streets.
> The Camp for Climate Action. Monkton Wyld, Dorset. 27 February 2011.
> “When storms come, some build walls, some are thrown by the wind, others
> build windmills.” Lao Tzu
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> General questions / comments / suggestions can be sent to info at climatecamp.org.uk, or for more info check out www.climatecamp.org.uk.
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