This film by Nick Broomfield tells the story of a small group of Greenpeace activists that shut down the UK’s Kingsnorth power station to protest the government’s plan to build new coal-fired power plants. The six activists climbed through the tower to the top and then two members lowered themselves over the side to write a message on the tower. Their actions brought national and international attention to the issue, but the attention they brought wasn’t the real victory – their acquittal of criminal damage was. The message this acquittal sends is clear. The people of the UK will not stand by and allow their government to ignore the issues surrounding climate change.
While I tend to agree with the ideals of Greenpeace, I’ve always had mixed feelings on direct action campaigns. I’ve often wondered if they have any real impact. Often actions of small groups of activists are seen as a bit crazy, and sometimes they even generate sympathy for the opposition. But this is one case in which it’s clear that direct action can make a difference. As of April 23, no new power plants will be built in Britian that do not have carbon capture technology in place. Would this have happened without the shutdown of Kingsnorth? I think not.