Monday, 6 July 2009

WI join 'Mili-band' against 'dirty' coal power station

On Saturday 4 July, representatives from organisations including the Woodcraft Folk, the RSPB, Oxfam, and the World Development Movement went to Kingsnorth power station in Kent to form a human band around the site of a proposed new coal fired power station. The NFWI was part of the coalition, with members from across the country coming to take part. The NFWI believes that climate change is one of the most momentous challenges to face this generation, and that this is the year in which serious action must be taken. With the UN Climate Change talks in Copenhagen in December seeking a global deal on emissions cuts, the decision in the UK to create a new generation of coal fired power stations which do not capture their own emissions would clearly show that our government is not serious about tackling climate change at home.

After the event, we spoke to one of the members who went on the march to tell Ed Miliband (Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change) that he should say “no” to new dirty coal.

Was this your first experience of being on a protest march and what inspired you to become involved in climate change protesting?

My first experience of a protest march was the Stop Climate Chaos event in London in December 2008. It took me a number of years to get to where I am now; looking at news articles, reading a little more into the science behind the arguments, listening to experts talking about the issues all led me to believe that climate change is a real threat that we cannot ignore. I think it was the sheer magnitude of the threat that we face which made me want to get involved in actually protesting. At first, you can’t believe that nobody’s acting on the urgency of the situation, then you realise that the only way to promote such a sense of urgency is to stand up and make your voice count. The threat is so far removed from people’s everyday lives that it difficult to see how it relates, but the threat is so great that there is a real need for big events like this to push the urgency of the message home.

I’m really pleased to see that the NFWI is involved in things like this because, as an organisation, it has so much credibility behind it that can only help to further the cause of tackling climate change. It was also good to see other organisations like the RSPB, Oxfam and others at the event, as all of those organisations have the credibility and mainstream audience that will be really important in making a different to our climate.

What was it like being at the event on Saturday?

The atmosphere was really good actually! It was inspiring to see so many different people there, particularly families with children. Everyone was clearly so committed to the cause that it really made you believe that someone else out there cares as much as you – really inspiring for me. The speakers during the rally in the afternoon were also excellent – the Bangladeshi speaker who spoke about such traumatic experiences during her life, all as a result of our changing climate, had a huge influence on me. As I went home on the train from the event, I kept returning to think about her story and it did really make you think about what we’re doing.

Will you be coming to any of the events we’re involved in during the rest of this important year?

Yes! I’ll be coming to the Stop Climate Chaos march in London on 5 December and am trying to coordinate a group to travel there together from our local area. I’m involved in the Transition Towns initiative, alongside Friends of the Earth, so I’m trying to get a big contingent together.

I think it can be a little bit frightening if you don’t know what to expect from events like these, but I would honestly encourage people to attend as in my experience there is nothing to worry about. Even if it’s just to meet other people and find out what they think, it is so important to find out more about the issues. I would really encourage everyone to find out more about climate change, particularly about the scientific evidence, as that was what really convinced me that it was happening. Now I am so convinced that it is of the utmost importance that we all come together and tackle this issue, which really does matter to everyone as it will impact on all of our lives in the future.

Celia Carter, Terriers Evening WI, Buckinghamshire Federation

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