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Activists voice power questions

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reclaim the power, no dash for cash, Amber rudd, coal industry‘We don’t know where government ends and corporations begin’.

Activists from Reclaim The Power have blockaded the steps outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change to convey a message to the new Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd.

The protesters, who are participating in a day of orchestrated actions throughout the UK, arranged themselves on the steps outside the building’s front door – blocking the entrance and displaying signs and with ‘Wind Not Gas’ written on their backsides.

And activists outside the Institute of Directors in London have locked themselves on to the front and back doors of the venue, preventing hundreds of business executives from the coal industry from entering.

There, protesters wearing aprons and rubber gloves, armed with dustpans and brushes, and holding a banner saying ‘You Can’t Clean Coal’, are also attempting to sweep up bags of coal that have been spread in front of the entrance.

Reclaim the Power is a grass roots direct action network aiming to join the dots between environmental, economic and social justice.

The activists are protesting against the coal industry’s promotion of a technology which is yet to be proven at a viable scale and is seen as a smokescreen for the necessary action needed on climate change.

Fossil fuel companies and governments present Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), a technology to capture and store carbon emissions from fossil fuels, as a solution to climate change.

However, the technology remains unproven at scale and many believe it simply serves as a justification to burn more dirty coal, oil and gas, rather than promoting cleaner, more secure and more developed renewables technologies.

Politicians and business leaders have also admitted that Carbon Capture and Storage is unviable, with the former Chancellor Alistair Darling stating that it “may never work,” and electricity and gas company RWE confirming that they do not see it as an “option for the foreseeable future.”

Campaigners say rather than spending millions on Carbon Capture and Storage, governments should be investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and providing support for people in fuel poverty.

Sam Taylor, from Reclaim the Power, said: “Despite the coal industry’s desperate attempts, coal and other fossil fuels will never be clean, they cost more money, and they prevent the vital investments we need in renewables.

“Carbon Capture and Storage is a sticking plaster for our broken energy system: the government needs to stop subsidising fossil fuels, and we need a full transition to renewables now.”

Ellie Glazer, from Reclaim the Power, said: “It’s clear that the obstacles to a safe and sustainable energy future for the UK are political rather than technical.

“Instead of companies putting profits before people, and building infrastructure which will lock us into burning carbon for years to come, we need to look to community-led renewable solutions.’

Speaking outside the Department for Energy and Climate Change, Hannah Smith, also from Reclaim The Power, said: “All around the world people are building community-led renewable solutions to replace fossil fuels.

“And at a time when the world’s leading scientists are telling us that if we want to avoid catastrophic and irreversible climate change the majority of the world’s coal, oil and gas reserves need to stay in the ground, the newly appointed Minster for Energy and Climate Change is in a unique position to be able to secure our energy future.

“Evidence shows us that with existing technology we could be carbon neutral in the UK by 2030, with a renewable energy infrastructure offering many new jobs into the bargain.

“Unfortunately Amber Rudd is pushing full-pelt for fracking which is beyond short-sighted. It is suicidal.”

Today’s actions in the UK are a part of a series of international actions planned in the build up to the Paris UN Climate talks in December. And many feel that the fossil fuel industry has undue influence in being present at negotiations around EU decision-making on reducing carbon emissions.

Rowan Tilly, from Reclaim The Power, pointed out that: “Against the advice of their own Committee on Climate Change, the government has approved the construction of up to 30 new gas-fired power stations, and intends to go ‘all out’ for shale gas – with up to two thirds of the UK licensed for fracking.

“This new dash for gas is recklessly at odds with our national and international obligations on climate change and must be resisted, for both the sake of ourselves and future generations.

“We are now finding ourselves at a stage where we don’t know where government ends and corporations begin, and unless we act now we will soon find ourselves be locked into infrastructure which will burn carbon for years to come whilst killing off renewable energy, with political decisions ruled by profit and acting in ignorance of the blatant dangers of climate change.

“We simply can’t afford to let this happen.

“We will not sit back compliantly and wait for governments to act.

“We must show them that the health of the people is more important that the profit of big business, and like the communities who have held off fracking for four years, we will see more and more people on the ground taking action to stop both government and corporate power in their tracks.”

Reclaim the Power activists have also staged a love-in outside Prime Minister David Cameron’s constituency office to protest against the control of British energy by the ‘Big 6’ companies.

The profit of the 6 biggest UK energy companies has increased tenfold between 2007 and 2013, and they enjoy continued support from David Cameron and his new government. Meanwhile, as Brits face continuing economic hardship, the price of gas is estimated to rise by £250 per year over the next five years.

Last year 15,000 people died last year because they could not afford to pay to keep warm.

And energy companies have even been reported breaking into the homes of the poorest families in order to install expensive prepayment meters.

Despite Cameron’s professed support for renewable energy, the continued actions of the government and energy companies were putting the UK on track for continuing carbon emissions, propelling the country towards destructive global climate change.

Stacey from Reclaim the Power said: “The new Tory government are in bed with the fossil fuel industry.

“This continued cosying up with the ‘Big 6’ energy companies has got to stop.

“Corporations are raking in the profits from dirty energy, whilst Britain’s most vulnerable citizens are dying from fuel poverty, unable to heat and power their homes.

“Cameron claims to be a supporter of clean energy but his actions speak otherwise. If his government continue their support of the Big 6, they are putting the world on a fast track for destructive and irreversible climate change.

“People all over the world are building community-led renewable solutions to replace fossil fuels and it’s about time we got with the programme.”

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