Climate Camp Cymru plussss

When I arrived through one of the two gates that led onto the common land that had been swooped and taken over by the time I arrived on thursday afternoon. The local police with their van outside the gate were very chatty, saying “It’s a beautiful day love where’s your bikini?! get it out!” I replied with “Give me a chance I’ve only just arrived” and they said have a lovely day! All very pleasant. The taxi driver who dropped me off was very interested in why I was in Merthyr, and when I explained he totally understood, even though he didn’t totally oppose the mine, he was open minded enough to accept my arguments and realise that he might be being fed botched info from Miller Argent, the mining company. He was covered in tattoes, with a paunch, you’re average nice cabbie really, and he told me that he just loved trees! Imagine a small 60 year old guy with a strong South Walian (Wales) accent saying “I tell you what it is, I JUST LOVE TREES! I’d do anything so save ’em.” Tree huggers exist all over : D

So, Climate Camp Wales went a lot better than expected, I estimate at it’s best there were about 300 people there! That’s really amazing for a first time, and I heard there was about 60 in Scotland, so I think that shows that the issue of coal and Ffos y Ffran, both within Wales and Merthyr Tydfil (where the mine and camp is) is a  BIG one.

Personally I didn’t get to many workshops between one reason and another, but I did learn a lot from the guys at the legal tent, and I did learn a lot more about the mine itself. For instance, did you know the Miller Argent-the company mining at Ffos y Ffran (‘Argent’ meaning money in French oddly enough!) is invested in by the BT pensions fund-which was voted the greenest pensions fund available by some ethical green investments company. They were also in the top 3 pensions funds lined up for an award for socially responsible investing, awarded by Rathbone ‘Green’ Bank. On the BT pensions fund website it says:

“Social, ethical, environmental and governance issues are key areas of corporate and policy engagement for BTPS and they are present in all of EOS’ engagement analysis, which is itself based on the Hermes Principles. Principles 9 and 10 recognise the short-termism in companies’ externalisation of costs and appeal for companies to work together towards a level playing field anticipating much of the current debate on universal ownership.”

I just highlighted the ‘short-termism’ but because that’s one major reason for why we have to stop Ffos-y-Ffran from continuing; the short-termism of using up all our coal now while it’s still so cheap, is showing a distinct lack of foresight in the face of a changing climate! They can’t talk about long term thinking as they continue to pur money into projects like open cast coal mining, and investing in BP, Shell and EON! Really green guys, well done.

One of the most interesting workshops I did get to was a Q&A session will Jill Evans, a Welsh MEP with Plaid Cymru, on lobbying within the EU. She unearthed some interesting facts for me, and also demystified the world of lobbying a little. I asked “so what eactly do they do to lobby you?! Do they take you out for dinner, buy you flowers ?” She said it can be any of those, but they key to any of their tactics is face to face contact; not any letter/postcard/email/message can be anywhere near as effective as someone in front of you saying this, this is why I care SO much about this and so should you. Something to remember I think. I have to say, when we were Poznan I was thinking if only I could have a chat with the delegates, show them how much I care, and how much this is shredding us on the inside, then we could persuade them of our arguments. Except no one believed me that that would work!

Now for the figures:

There are 15,000 lobbyists in Brussels -which is where the European Union operates from, and 2,000 lobbying organisations. That’s 2000 organisations specifically created to LOBBY! She also said at one conference she went to recently there were about  full time chemical industry lobbyists and 1 part time lobbier for green issues! Considering that the EU is one of the most influential alliance of countries in the world, and negotiates in the UNFCCC as a block, this does seem like a glaring oversight on our part. Anyone fancy being a green lobbyist in the EU meetings and conferences for the next few months or so?

We can also create positive incentives to change from our lobbying, instead of saying we’ll take you and your dispicable actions to the nearest newspaper, offer them some positive press, and if you can, VOTES! The usual tactic of lobbyists is to threaten bad PR if they don’t do what they’re asking. So think positive and maybe we’ll get somewhere, plus, a vision of positive changes for a better future are far more appealing and incentive-full than that stick we keep beating everyone with. 

It was great to see the peaks of marquees and tents just under the mine, with colourful banners and signs, banners at the gates reading “Clean coal dirty joke”, in Welsh and English, wind turbines and solar panels, toilet blocks, a bathing sight, a colourful and welcoming welcome tent beside the main gate, geodomes housing lots of people, a bar in the evenings, a kitchen store in the form of a yurt and a solar cinema tent which fed you fresh Welshcakes and children and dogs playing in the middle. I don’t think Merthyr has seen anything like it to date!

Get ready London, climate camp is migrating your way, see here for details on this weeks UK climate camp.


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