In recent weeks, tens of thousands of people have engaged in direct actions against the fossil fuel industry, globally. Two members of Transition Monaghan, Mícheál Callaghan and Conan Connolly took part in demonstrations in Wales and Dublin. Mícheál Callaghan discusses the importance of such actions.
Mícheál Callaghan (2nd from left) and Conan Connolly (on extreme right) Transition Monaghan were part of a protest at the climate camp protest at Ffas – y Fran coal mine in Wales.
WE NEED TO KEEP IT IN THE GROUND!
We need to keep at least 80% of the known reserves of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas and peat) in the ground to avoid dangerous climate change. This means not exploiting new fossil fuels, and scaling down current production by mid – century. Last December, world leaders agreed to take action to limit temperature rises to two degrees. Unfortunately, this pledge is not being met with the necessary action. This is why climate activists are now using their bodies to stand in the way of fossil fuel projects, closing roads and occupying power plants, and sometimes getting arrested in the process.
DRILLING IN CO ANTRIM
An exploratory drill for oil and gas has begun at Woodburn Forest, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim. The company Infrastracta received a petroleum license by default, under Permitted Development Rights. This allowed them to begin the drill, without needing full planning permission, nor consulting members of the local community. This is despite the Aarhus Convention, which requires participation in decision making on environmental matters. A local campaign called ‘Stop The Drill’ has called for the license to be revoked due to new concerns over the chemical mix in drilling 2000 feet below the ground. Furthermore, Stop the Drill is extremely concerned about potential pollution of the water supply, as the drill site is only a few hundred metres away from a reservoir which supplies water to 130,000 people in the Greater Belfast Area.
Last weekend a collection of environmental groups staged a demonstration outside the Sinn Féin shop in Dublin, calling for the Party to do more on the issue. The message was that despite them having anti – fracking policies, they have been relatively silent on this issue in Stormont, and should use their position as the second largest party to do all they can to halt the drill.
Protest outside the Sinn Féin offices in Dublin calling for a more proactive approach by Sinn Féin politicians against fracking in Antrim. Group includes Chrissie Walker (2nd from left) and Mícheál Callaghan (3rd from left), both of Transition Monaghan.
FFOS – Y FRAN MINE, WALES
At the start of May, Conan Connolly and I camped on unsheltered hillside, outside Merthy Tydfill in south Wales, next to the largest open cast coal mine in the UK. We joined about 400 other people at a climate camp, where we met with members of the local community opposed to the mine, and discussed the benefits of community owned renewable energy as a cleaner alternative to coal mining. On the last day of the camp, about 300 of us occupied and shut down the coal mine. The mining company wishes to expand the mine, which already represents a destructive abyss on the landscape. That morning, we awoke to the sound of police helicopters overhead, a reminder that what we were about to do was illegal. However, like an increasing number of activists, we felt it was justified as we can no longer support inaction on climate, when we only have such a small window left in which to act. Once in the mine, we unrolled a large red banner across the mine, symbolising a red line of two degrees for the climate, which cannot be crossed. The action gained national and international media coverage, and nobody was arrested on the day.
We weren’t there to protest against the individual mine workers themselves, who simply want to earn a living and have a good life like everyone else. We were there to remind governments that it is their duty to live up to the Paris agreement, invest in community renewable energy, and do all they can to ensure that future generations can have a decent life on a stable planet. Until that happens, direct action will only escalate. We have a small window of opportunity to show our leaders that this is a political issue, and it is one that we demand they act on. Let’s be the generation that uses this historic opportunity to show our future grandchildren that we did all the we could to give them a better world.
For more information on the campaign against drilling at Woodburn see: http://www.stopthedrillcampaign.com
A list of events on in June can be found here