10 reasons to be camping in London
1: Tall buildings
London is currently the natural habitat of the transnational corporation, one of today’s most powerful causes of social and ecological injustice. Unaccountable, undemocratic and causing catastrophic climate change, these creatures need to driven into extinction.
2: Low flood plains
If the people pressing the buttons maintain the disastrous course we’re on, the Thames will burst its banks. Even in London, we can’t escape the most direct effects of climate change.
3: False solutions
Last April, with the G20 in town, we pitched tents at the heart of carbon business – the European Climate Exchange. Carbon trading is the main way in which wealthy industrialized countries and companies are avoiding their emissions reduction targets – by trading carbon credits amongst themselves, either between countries, as happens under the Kyoto Protocol, or between companies, as happens under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Essentially, it’s the way that industry can continue as usual, while encouraging the poor and disadvantaged to sell their rights to pollute – and many of the bankers, corporations and politicians who are dictating these false solutions are here in London.
4: Peak oil
Usually when people think of oil centres of the world they think of Dallas, or Kuwait City. Why not London? It may not have drilling rigs on the urban fringes, but London is central to the operation of just about every carbon-intensive industry imaginable. Our economic and infrastructural reliance on oil is heading for disaster when production peaks – but the oil companies keep digging deeper and deeper in pursuit of one of the dirtiest fossil fuels there are. BP and Shell are currently doing untold global damage, from Canadian tar sands to the coasts of County Mayo.
5: Long history
London is an epicentre of change. When the UK went to war in 2003, it was down Whitehall that a million people marched. It was in the square mile that the anti-globalisation movement erupted in June 1999. It was in Trafalgar Square that people rose up over the poll tax in 1990. Further back it was the site of the Suffragettes at the turn of the century, the Chartists in the 1840s, the peasants’ revolt in the middle ages – you get the picture. London is a space for political action.
6: So many politicians
There are 644 members of parliament and 738 lords and they all think they’re really, really important in the general scheme of things. We think that our so-called ‘leaders’ are treating the environment as a free lunch in the drive for profit – and we’re going to make sure they know that. Despite a lot of hot air about global warming, we’re still heading for the disasters that many millions around the world are already feeling.
7: Wide inequality
Inner London has the highest poverty rates of any region in the UK. More than half of inner-city London children are living in income poverty and 4,500 people sleeping rough, while 20% of the population receives 60% of the income.
8: Big banks
There are more branches and subsidiaries of international banks in London than in any other city in the world. The Royal Bank of Scotland, Britain’s high street bank most closely associated with financing fossil fuel projects, has received billions of pounds of public money and is now more than 70% owned by the UK government. Yet despite this research shows that, since October 2008, RBS has financed loans to companies involved in the oil, coal and gas industry worth almost £10 billion. And yet renewable energy projects, like the Isle of Wight wind turbine blade factory, are being abandoned.
9: Small changes, big impact
London is jam-packed with people making a difference everyday, from the ground up. From Transition Town projects putting us on the right track towards sustainability, to social centres set up in vacant buildings providing free spaces for creativity and radical ideas, this is fertile earth for the change we so urgently need.
10: Millions of people
A city like London may be about as good for the environment as a fleet of agro-fuelled jumbo jets, but it’s got all the beauty, variety and necessity of a rainforest. Millions of people living, growing, working and playing side by side - now that’s something special. And getting lots of people together can give us the creative spark we need to build another world.