Reclaim the Power: Action Camp for Energy Democracy
By Diêgo Lôbo / theecologist.org

Hundreds of campaigners are gathering at Didcot Power station in Oxfordshire to demand a green energy future - and an end to the Government's relentless push for fossil fuels and nuclear power, writes Diêgo Lôbo. Preparations are under way for a series of actions due to take place on Monday 1st June.

Power to the People! a young climate activist at the Didcot Climate Camp this weekend. Photo: Zoe Broughton.

It doesn't come as a surprise that whilst support for renewable energy is being cut, government subsidies to the fossil fuel industry remain steady.

G20 countries are spending an estimated $88 billionevery year supporting oil and gas exploration - more than double what companies spend themselves.

Our government's endeavour to open up to corporate control over the energy system has already proved to be a failure. Firstly it is undermining commitments to reduce carbon emissions and decrease fossil fuel dependency. Secondly it is increasing corporate profits at the expense of people being pushed into fuel poverty.

As if it weren't bad enough, the government is also trying to sell false solutions to climate change and 'energy security'. That is the case of the UK initiative to escalate the use of gas in the next years, as a less polluting alternative to coal.

But when extraction - including immensely harmful methods such as fracking - and transportation are added to this equation, gas isn't really a greener alternative.

As Tony Bosworth wrote in The Ecologist last week, the real answer - on both climate change and energy security - is not to switch from one fossil fuel to another, but to invest in energy efficiency and renewables.

Challenging the dominance of Big Energy

The good news is that people will not stand for a corporate takeover, and mobilisations have been spreading around the world. History has proved how effective activism and civil disobedience can be to challenge power structures and defend people's rights.

But if we are to confront the fossil fuel industry, so deeply embedded into the political establishment, we need a (global justice) movement that is broadened and emboldened. With UN Climate Talks beginning in Bonn tomorrow to prepare the way for COP21 in Paris in December, we've got no time to waste.

That why hundreds of activists from all over the UK have been gathering this weekend around the Didcot gas-fired power station, in Oxfordshire - to train skills and strengthen the movement for energy democracy. As Hannah Martin of Reclaim The Power, the group organizing the Didcot action, explains, /p>

"Fossil fuels are destroying our future and already causing thousands of deaths from climate change and fuel poverty. This weekend's camp is part of an international weekend of climate action which is fighting the fossil fuel industry's hold on the UN climate talks in Paris.

"RWE Npower, who own Didcot power station, are one of Europe's largest carbon emitters and yet they've got a seat at the climate talks in December, where they will put their profits first and foremost. We cannot afford for this to happen at this crucial time."

Inspired by youth festivals living alternative realities and radical democracy in late 20th century, Reclaim the Power Didcot Camp is bringing people together, celebrating diversity across cultures and creating a sense of community in a fun and friendly atmosphere.

An extensive programme of workshops has been under way this weekend, and the camp will culminate in a day of mass Action, tomorrow, Monday 1st June, throughout the UK. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate. Last year's actions included activities ranging from family-friendly marches to office occupations.

They must be mad! 30 new gas-fired power stations!

The reason Didcot was chosen for this year's camp lies in the fact that the UK government has approved the construction of over 30 new gas-fired power stations by 2030 - which will raise the proportion of gas of the UK electricity production to about 50%.

RWE Npower, one of the 'Big Six' energy companies controlling UK's energy supply, has already shut down one of Didcot stations and will decide on the future of the remaining part of Didcot power station by December.

The time for fossil fuels has passed. As renewable energy is now cheaper than ever, there are no excuses to continue investing in dirty energy (other than benefiting corporate pockets of course!)

As Reclaim the Power writes, there's no future for a new dash for gas. Alternative solutions are burgeoning around the world as people challenge undemocratic corporate powers.

"The time has come for a renewable energy transition here in Didcot and across the UK. Companies like Npower are keeping us hooked on climate-wrecking fossil fuels and are pushing people into fuel poverty", says Morten Thaysen of Reclaim the Power.

"We are taking action at Didcot power station to resist the corporate grip of our energy and promote sustainable and affordable community-controlled energy."

This weekend's mass action camp will shed some light on those alternatives, and encourage people to take part of a worldwide movement for energy democracy. Come along and join the movement for a fair energy system!


Diêgo Lôbo is a communications volunteer at Global Justice Now. Having worked with human rights and climate change in Brazil, he is now taking an MA in Media Practice for Development and Social Change, at the University of Sussex.

This article is based on one originally published by Global Justice Now, with additional reporting by The Ecologist.

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Reclaim the Power: Action Camp for Energy Democracy