This is more-or-less what I said at our trial on 31st May 2016 for whitewashing DECC.
Who I am
I am a Christian. I believe the world, and all that is in it, was created by and belongs to God. I can’t stand by and watch it being destroyed.
I am also a mother. I want to protect my children’s future.
What I did
On the 30th November last year, we exposed the hypocrisy of DECC by whitewashing its walls and rebranded it the Dept for Extreme Climate Change in black paint on the low wall in front of the building.
Climate change and why it matters
Climate change is not one in a number of issues to be addressed. A stable climate is a fundamental need for the civilised and abundant life on earth that we all take for granted.
I first learned about the science of climate change while reading Chemistry at Oxford. I trust the science. And the science says that drastic, immediate, massive action is needed globally to avert catastrophe. At a human-induced temperature above 1.5, maybe 2 degrees, 3 degrees if we are particularly lucky, natural feedbacks will take over to escalate temperatures, and what humans do after that point is pretty immaterial. Climate change is not something we can leave to our children, or even voted in a new government. It must be dealt with now or not at all. As a citizen of the UK, all I am asking is for the UK to do its part.
And the department responsible for that is the DECC.
Why target DECC
DECC also says it believes the science. It says that it exists ‘to make sure the UK has secure, clean, affordable energy supplies and promote international action to mitigate climate change.’ There is no doubt in my mind that it is doing exactly the opposite. That it is promoting dangerous, dirty and expensive energy and, in the process, most crucially, scuppering chances of sufficient international action on climate change.
We chose the day of our action to be the first day of COP21, the UN climate conference in Paris. This conference was widely thought to be the last chance for the planet. The main driver for this conference was meant to be the emission reductions that countries offered before the conference, to show willing and to encourage others to follow. And, of course, in the run up to the conference, DECC should have been demonstrating that our country meant to take the lead on moving to a zero carbon world. Instead, it did the exact opposite.
Prof Jacquie McGlade, the UN’s chief environment scientist said, ‘What’s disappointing is when we see countries such as the United Kingdom ….. we see subsidies being withdrawn and the fossil fuel industry being enhanced…..It’s a very serious signal – a very perverse signal that we do not want to create.’
We wanted to send a signal that some citizens of our country did want it to show leadership.
I have been sending signals on climate change for nearly 20 years. I have written innumerable letters and emails to my MP and other ministers. I have gone to the London climate demonstrations every year since they started, when my 16-year-old was a baby, and have marched in wind and rain. Locally, I started a community solar scheme, and have led the local primary school and my local church to achieving Environmental Awards. Nationally, I am a Trustee of two Christian Environmental charities, Green Christian and Operation Noah, which I helped set up ten years ago. All of this has been to try to raise awareness amongst people of faith and none that ordinary people have to both act and call on our government to act.
I also took part in the biggest climate lobby ever on the 17th June, when thousands met with their MPs to ask them to put climate as a priority for this government. That very evening Amber Rudd announced the first of her ‘cut-the-green-crap’ policies: that subsidies for on-shore wind would be ending early.
With this absolute proof of the democratic deficit in this country, we chose a more creative way to be heard.
What I hoped to achieve by my actions.
- To position myself on the right side of history. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, ‘Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.’ My emailing, writing letters, marching, meeting with my MP etc. were not being heard. In effect, it was all silence. Somehow I had to speak louder. When we look back to times when we know now that governments were wrong, we revere those who took direct action to stand up for what is right. And in many cases the peaceful direct action forced a rapid change to a better society.
- To encourage others to act. It is very easy to fall into fear and denial about climate change. But my faith gives me hope. And my hope is that mass non-violent direct action, guided by the spirit of peace and love, can still avert climate chaos. If that is God’s plan, I want to be part of it and encourage others to be part of it too.
- To safeguard life and property by changing DECC’s policies. Pretty-much all life on earth is threatened by climate change which is currently being encouraged by the policies of DECC. By whitewashing the walls we were naming DECC as hypocritical. By painting the words ‘Dept for Extreme Climate Change’ we were naming the real outcome of the work of the institution. We didn’t want to attack DECC, we simply wanted to change it into an institution that did what it says it wants to do. And realising and accepting the truth of where you are is the first step to change.
- To prevent a greater crime. I think what DECC is doing is criminal. By increasing the danger of climate change, they are partaking in the genocide of future generations and the irreparable damage to the earth’s life-support system.
The point of having laws is to maintain justice, stability and order. But climate change threatens justice, stability and order so fundamentally. I think that the law should be used to defend those who are trying to stop climate change not those who are creating it.
I think that DECC should be in the dock today, not us. I think that one day, in some way, DECC will be judged and found guilty.