• Heather Paterson

Camp for Climate Action

Updated: Mar 25, 2019


On Monday of this week I had possibly the most random day of the year so far. I woke up in a mass of bodies on the carpark floor of BAA head office. I then headed back to the field where I had been living for the past week and got ready for a clowns tea party in Baron Soley's front garden.

A bit of a change from the standard nine to five in the office I have to admit, so what was the reason for my strange activities ? That's right, for those of you who have been living in a cave this week and have not seen the mess media coverage, this week was The Camp for Climate Action near Heathrow in London.

Now to be completely honest I've never been a particular outdoors type; I struggled to put up my tent even with the instructions and by the end of the week was desperate to have a nice hot bubble bath and a comfy sleep in my double bed. So why did I feel compelled to travel the length of the country to spend a week in a field ?

For those of you who have read some of my previous blogs you will know that my politics, issues and opinions are human rights based. But the way I see it everyone can be treated equally, have decent rights and opportunities but if we fuck up the world we live in (pardon my french) then what does it matter ? Climate Change is a human rights issue. And unlike the war in Iraq, the attrocities in Darfur, sweatshops in china or third world poverty, it is not something that is happening to someone else, somewhere else. Climate change is happening now, to all of us, where we live.

And yet again we are suffering the hypocrisy of the UK government. We are told to change all of our lightbulbs and recycle our waste, while for their part they want to expand the busiest airport in the world with a third runway...

It's not about criminilising holiday makers (which is why the target of the protests was BAA who own Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick airports, rather than Heathrow itself). If you are going on a one off trip to Australia, Thailand or somewhere of that sort of distance the only practical way to get there is to fly. But flights to Paris, Dublin and even Manchester to London are completely unneccesary and are killing the planet with CO2 emmissions and other greenhouse gases. Private jets should in my opinion quite frankly be made illegal and we need to look at the number of postal and freight air services and business flights that could be replaced by fax / email / video conferencing and other haulage services.

The reason many people take short haul flights is simply because it is cheaper. How many people think it actually costs less to fly someone to Paris than to get the train ? Yet the tickets are cheaper due to the massive tax subsidies received by the airlines. Not exactly the actions of a goverment committed to action on Climate Change from where I'm standing.

So this week at the Camp for Climate action I along with over a 1000 others decided enough is enough, yet again if we want the government and corporations to act we must stand up and be counted and make them do something about it, because time is running out.

There were three main aspects / ideologies to the camp itself. Firstly was the idea of sustainability. All the power on site was generated ourselves from a combination of solar panels and wind turbines. The food was (mainly) vegan. And materials used were recycled / reclaimed. Just being on the camp for a week saved an awful lot of unnecessary emissions.

The second aspect of the camp was the workshops and education. I took part in workshops from practical permaculture such as making rocket stoves, art and drama workshops, educational sessions about carbon emmissions and the environment and some direct action and legal training.

The third and final aspect of the camp was direct action with a combination of large demos and smaller group direct action targetted at the aviation industry.

Overall it was a very worthwhile and enjoyable week. There were a few things that stood out to me. The people were all wonderful, both the residents of the camp and the ethos of self organisation and looking after each other, and also the support of the local community. I have never been on a direct action before where we have been so warmly welcomed by the locals. The landlady from the local pub came around the camp on the last day with some children carrying a banner reading "Sipson Thanks You All". Some guys from the local Sikh temple made several visits to site with free samosas, spring rolls and juice. Some local residents delivered sandwiches (and a bottle of bubbly) to those sat in the BAA blockade and everywhere you went in the local area people were incredibly friendly and supportive.

The only negative thing from the week was the police. On my first night on the camp despite having an agreement that 4 officers would permenantly be on site a group of 30 officers tried to march on mass on site and were promply and peacefully marched off. I also had to give witness statements for a couple of people who I saw on the receiving end of a police baton when completely unprovoked.

Overall though it was a fantastic week, we just need to keep it going and all do our bit. Remember Another World IS Possible.

By travelling by coach from Sheffield to London I created approx 6.2kg CO2

However by living in a field for a week I saved 40kg CO2 on heating, power, other travel.

Climate Camp Website

Independent: Inside Heathrows Protest Camp

Indymedia: Climate Camp 2007


© 2013 - 2020 H M Paterson