Westside Action

a motley crew of anarchists and activists from Bristol, Bath and South Wales

Fossil Fools Day 2009 – review

Fossil and Financial Fools Day goes global
April 1st saw not only mass protests in London ahead of the G20 summit, but local demonstrations in cities around the UK and across the globe. Under the banner of Fossil Fools Day, activists held protests at banks, energy companies and power stations across the UK, Canada, the USA and South Africa to highlight the twin economic and climate crises.

More action reports and photographs will be added here as they come in.
Email info@risingtide.org.uk with your Fossil Fools Day action report.

In the UK …

Climate Camp in the City

Climate Camp in the City

On the eve of the G20, activists descended on London to highlight the links between the financial and the climate crisis. While the ‘Financial Fools Day’ Street Party got underway outside the Bank of England, the Camp for Climate Action set up camp outside the European Climate Exchange. Their message: “Stopping carbon markets – because nature doesn’t do bailouts”. For the most up-to-date information visit – www.climatecamp.org.uk.

Climate Meltdown

Climate Meltdown

Meanwhile over at the Excel Centre, the Campaign against Climate Change staged a “Climate Emergency” Ice-berg Demo where the G20 were to meet the following day. The action featured a giant ice block sculpted like an iceberg and demonstrators dressed in white with some even wearing strings of ice cubes around their necks. The backdrop to this was provided by ‘Climate Emergency’ placards and panels showing maps and graphs of arctic ocean ice loss. The message was simple : Polar ice is melting much faster then scientists thought and is the most visible symptom of the
frightening speed with which the climate is changing. We will lose the race against climate catastrophe unless action is taken soon.

Greenwash at the Tate

Greenwash at the Tate

Earlier in the week, the oil Goliath BP was felled by a Fossil Fools Day’s David as BP postponed its centenary party at the British Museum to be held on April 1st, due to a demonstration organised by Art Not Oil and Rising Tide, (now rescheduled for May 6th at 6pm, as BP is attempting to resuscitate its broken party on that day.) Earlier on FFD, Art Not Oil’s musical contingent played ‘Celebrate This!’, a new paean to BP, inside and outside the BP-sponsored Tate Britain gallery in London; www.artnotoil.org.uk.

Plymouth Rising Tide at RBS

In Plymouth, Rising Tide penguins super-glued themselves to the entrance of RBS to highlight RBS’s funding of fossil fuels projects. RBS are one of the biggest investors in the fossil fuel industry and provided $16 billion to coal-related companies in 2007 alone. Ann Smith of Rising Tide Plymouth today said: “RBS is now 57% owned by the UK taxpayer. Climate change requires a move to renewable energy, not continued support for the expansion of the fossil fuel industry”. More photos

In Oxfordshire, the early hours of April 1st saw local activists hanging banners from bridges over the A34 between Oxford and Didcot. Banners read “Caution: Climate Change Ahead”, “Give Way to Wind” and “Fossil Fool: 3rd exit” complete with pictures of Didcot Power Station. With Didcot (run by RWE NPower) due for de-commissioning in a few years, it is time to pursue renewable options locally. One of the activists said: “We want not only Didcot, but also the government and the G20 to see the folly of their actions in pursuing unsustainable technology. We have an opportunity to pursue safe, cheap alternatives and ensure a cleaner future. The wise choice would be to grasp
this opportunity”.

In Portsmouth, members of Portsmouth Climate Action Network and the University’s People & Planet group took up position outside the Nat West Bank in Commercial Road to encouraging shoppers to tell Royal Bank of Scotland – NatWest to stop funding climate chaos. Activists said: “It is our money that RBS-NatWest is using to extract tar sands, burn coal and fuel climate chaos. We believe that the only way to prevent dangerous climate change is by investment in renewables, not in dirty coal. We are calling on the public to contact RBS-NatWest and the UK government and tell them what they think about them bankrolling climate chaos.”

A Fossil Fool Award is given to Bournemouth Airport

A Fossil Fool Award is given to Bournemouth Airport

In Bournemouth, members of direct action group Plane Stupid turned up at Bournemouth Airport to give them a Fossil Fool Award for ‘Outstanding contribution to local, national and global pollution’. Tara Bosworth said, “Bournemouth Airport may well be the biggest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in Dorset and they are expanding their operations, more than doubling the number of flights, now that’s plane stupid and why they are getting our Fossil Fool award.” A member of the airport staff accepted the award but declined having his picture taken.

Fossil fool themed street theatre took place in both Frome in Somerset and Totnes in Devon. In Totnes, the International Climate Criminal known as ‘Old King Coal’ was put on trial. The prisoner, who is not in good health, was led from The Plains up to the Civic Square where he was tried before a jury of local citizens and schoolchildren. Unfortunately other members of the Fossil Fools Gang, including Oil and Gas, remain at large and are a continued danger to the planet.

Oh, and earlier in the week, the oil Goliath BP was felled by a Fossil Fools Day’s David as BP postponed its centenary party at the British Museum to be held on April 1st, due to a demonstration organised by Art Not Oil and Rising Tide, (now rescheduled for May 6th at 6pm, as BP is attempting to resuscitate its broken party on that day.) Earlier on FFD, Art Not Oil’s musical contingent played ‘Celebrate This!’, a new paean to BP, inside and outside the BP-sponsored Tate Britain gallery in London; www.artnotoil.org.uk

In South Africa …

SASOL is awarded Fossil Fool of the Year Award

SASOL is awarded Fossil Fool of the Year Award

In Johannesburg, Earthlife Africa awarded Sasol (the South African Coal, Oil and Gas Corporation) the prestigious 2009 Fossil Fool of the Year Award for producing 72 million tonnes of CO2 per year (over 15% of South Africa’s total emissions) and for trying to build a new coal-to-liquid power plant. Although Sasol initially resisted accepting the award (one can only imagine why), the efforts of a determined group of protesters finally forced the tainted trophy to be accepted.
More info

In the USA …

Mannequins for Climate Justice at Bank of America

Mannequins for Climate Justice at Bank of America

In Boston, Massachusetts, the “Mannequins For Climate Justice” shut down the Kenmore Square branch of Bank of America. A mannequin was chained to the doors of the bank shortly before opening this morning. The lone mannequin protester, Guy Fox, said, “Even a dummy like me can see that Bank of America’s massive loans to coal companies and support for the epidemic of foreclosures and evictions has to stop now.” Fox further said, “Bank of America seems determined to be so evil it’s almost comical, but people resisting the bank’s practices will have the last laugh. Happy April Fools to all the capitalist fossil fools!”

Marching on Old King Coal

Marching on Old King Coal

In Berkeley, California, a bike ride/march highlighted BP’s $500 million deal with University of California. Under this deal, the oil giant BP is investing $500 million for the university to research biofuels, raising issues of greenwashing, false solutions, and the interaction between a public university and a private corporation.

Trouble under the sheets

Trouble between the sheets

In Asheville, North Carolina, protesters declared Governor Purdue to be in bed with Duke Energy, and demanded the cancellation of the Cliffside coal plant. In response to the North Carolina Division of Air Quality (DAQ) ruling that Duke Energy’s Cliffside coal plant is a “minor source of emissions”, protesters gathered at noon outside Governor Purdue’s Western North Carolina office in downtown Asheville to demand that she revoke the plant’s permit. In a demonstration organized by Asheville Rising Tide, protesters set up a bed in front of Governor Purdue’s office with people in business suits representing Duke CEO Jim Rogers, DAQ head Keith Overcash, and Governor Purdue under sheets and covered in money. A banner reading, “Governor Purdue in bed with Duke Energy” provided a backdrop to the under-the-sheets liaison.

In Denver, Colorado, a Fossil Fools Day rally of concerned citizens, health experts, and environmental and neighborhood leaders demanded a transition to clean energy. The rally, led by WildEarth Guardians, and joined by Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Clean Energy Action, SafeMinds, students, church members, and affected nearby communities, was held in the shadow of the Cherokee coal burning power plant at Denver’s Heron Pond Natural Area, and called upon Governor Ritter to help Colorado seize clean energy solutions and keep Coloradoans safe from coal. Carrying handmade signs and holding pinwheels to symbolize a transition to clean energy, dozens of citizens demonstrated their frustrations with the status quo and their hope for protecting their future.

In New Orleans, conservation groups, students, and concerned citizens joined forces at Entergy’s headquarters to protest about the company’s plans to expand their use of coal power in Louisiana. “Louisiana’s coast is ground zero for climate change impacts,” said rally organizer Jonathan Henderson. “Entergy should be a responsible neighbor and work to limit coast-destroying pollution and protect rate-payers from future carbon price increases”.

In the spirit of the “Coal Circus,” students from Bowling Green, Kentucky orgaised a ‘Monster Mash’ and a critical mass bike ride.

Students in Tempe, Arizona, also hopped on their bikes and declared themselves “too cool for fossil fools.”

In Canada…

A sad, bad RBC banker

Five actions in one day in downtown Toronto? No foolin!
Rainforest Action Network activists kicked Canadian Fossil Fools Day off with a bang, dropping banners off of a highway, greeting over 4,000 cars (we counted) stuck in deadlock traffic over a period of two hours. From bridges, we broadcast messages about Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)’s financing of the Canadian Tar Sands from our makeshift Pirate Radio station. Our banners read “Pirate Radio 89.9 FM Tune in now” and “Royal Bank creates climate chaos. Renewables not tar sands.” The pouring rain didn’t block our view of car after car reaching for the radio dial as they drove under us.

We began by dressing up and impersonated bank employees. About 16 of us rode elevators for up to two more hours, chatting up other RBC personnel – “Hey, on my way to work today I heard about how RBC is financing the destruction of Native territories in Alberta, causing people cancer and polluting the water! Tar Sands are the world’s dirtiest oil. Did you know that? I had no idea! I’m telling my manager right away!”

Meanwhile, outside the HQ, several more of us leafleted and held banners reading “RBC Creates poisoned water in our community,” “Renewables not tar sands” and “RBC: financing cancer and toxic sludge.”

Back inside, a lone Torontan walked inside the main office with a beautiful bouquet of balloons. I don’t know where he got the idea to release them in the atrium, or how a banner reading “ROYAL BANK CREATES CLIMATE CHAOS” got attached….I also don’t know how they’re gonna get it down.

Later that evening, dozens of activists reconvened outside RBC headquarters alongside “Tarbie,” an oil-soaked version of RBC’s prized mascot “Arbie” who explained to passersby that he and RBC are helping finance one of the fastest growing sources of water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions on the planet, and how they conflict with the financial giant’s PR promises to promote clean water.

Video

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