There was widespread delight amongst climate change deniers last week as the UK’s most vociferous climate change activists turned on the carbon market rather than their traditional targets amongst major polluters and climate sceptics. Bemused climate change workers browsing the group’s website found themselves blithely grouped together with “the same people and systems that caused the financial collapse” and so became very self-conscious targets of the ‘Climate Camp in the City‘ on 1st April.
The discovery caused consternation for climate change professionals across the capital as they grappled with the question of what to wear to avoid being personally singled out by the protesters. Said one low carbon project developer, “I was at a loss over how to dress. I couldn’t wear the casual clothers that I usually work in because I would look like a climate change worker. Then I thought about distinguishing myself by wearing a suit but was told that I would look like a banker and get targeted by a different protest. I was about to dress as a hippy so that I could mingle with the protesters but then I was warned I might get attacked by the baton-happy police. So in the end I just dressed as a passer-by. But in hindsight I see that this was probably the most dangerous attire of all and I count myself lucky to have come out alive”.
Meanwhile the real climate deniers were amazed to have been left alone as a protest went ahead without implicating them. One Sunday Telegraph reader, reported to be undeterred in wearing his cords and comb-over as usual, said “I find this all very amusing. We all know that this climate nonsense is a load of rubbish as my hero Christopher Booker has been saying for years. And now the druggies who believe in it are turning on each other and leaving us to drive our 4×4s to the shops in peace”. A former Conservative MP added “We thought the Tory party was divided and prone to in-fighting, but this is really something else”.
In the end the peaceful Climate Camp was smashed by shockingly vicious and unnecessary police action. But its message was in tatters long before the riot shields moved in. The carbon market is far from perfect. Is that really a reason to turn on the one mechanism that has taken hold around the world and actually has bosses of major polluters sitting up and taking action to avoid mounting carbon liabilities? And why trash the concept without offering any serious alternative that could raise carbon awareness and spread clean technology into developing country industry at anything like the pace that CDM has done? And all this whilst there are powerful entities still arguing that nothing should be done at all. Climate Camp should pick its battles with the real enemies and return to the admirable direct action of previous camps such as Heathrow and Kingsnorth. Perhaps this is what was worrying the police on 1st April.