An Open Letter to the Camp for Climate Action
Posted by KM on August 23, 2008
by David Douglass
Dear Camp for Climate Action,
Firstly thank you for contacting me. I’m hopping mad about what I’ve
heard, but I may not have been told the whole story. I can tell you too
the mining community whats left of us feel utterly betrayed by rumours
about you swinging all your efforts to close down what remains of the coal
industry. There are debates about counter-demonstrations etc and press
statements from the power workers and miners. So its vital we do not take
up cudgels over this unless and until and at least that we know where each
other stand. I was a matter of interest with the National General
secretary of the NUM and the Yorkshire Area Leadership last weekend and
they are spitting feathers about the Drax demonstration. The slogans on
the demonstration and the statements made to the press by the protestsrs
demonstrated no concern for the miners, railway workers or power workers.
There was no consultation with us, no debate with us, no seeing what we
wanted or how we see the world or how we can see if there is anything is
common. ‘Leave It In The Ground’ was the banner which was unfurled at
Drax, ‘it’ being the coal, and the miners ? where do we leave them ? that
bit wasn’t answered. We know where John Major and Maggie Thatcher and
Harold Wilson left us, on the dung heap, and most of us are still there.
Our own demands would be two fold, firstly we want to see the opening of
‘clean coal technology stations’. Yes the technology exists and had done
since the 50s but nobody was interested in applying it. There are at least
two methods, but the latest one is carbon capture, thats not the end of
the story but here isn’t the place to elaborate. Enough to say its not a
con, it does produce massive savings in CO2 emissions, plus the bi product
of the Hatfield Main system is hydrogen and energy conservation. Which are
added bonuses on the carbon capture.
Secondly we want to see international (‘fair trade’ if you like )
standards applied to all imported coal and a level playing field in terms
of health and safety, conditions, hours and union recognition . Countries
with mass slaughter in the collieries should not be allowed to dump coal
here at the expense of workers in their countries and unemployment for
65 million Tonnes of coal is burned in Britain each year only about 18
million of it is mined here, despite the fact that British coal is the
cheapest deep mined coal in the world. It is brought here in part because
rather than fit wipers and efficient filters to all power stations, they
import coal which produces less sulphur and ash and carbon when burned.
Instead they burn the miners at source.
There is about 500 years of coal in Britain, it can provide a breathing
space, to develop renewable sources, certainly solar, yes tidal, though
not destructive wind estates which are laying siege to the bits of free
land and crags and moorland we have left.
The governments main plan is and always been to make Britain Nuclear
dependant. That is why they closed down the mines in the first place.
Climate Camp must be very careful not to cross on the wrong side of the
barricade on this issue. Not to be used to promote Nuclear energy by
making the biggest focus coal .
The spokesperson at Drax this month said there was NO PLACE for coal in
Britain’s energy supply ! Thats fairly final. The impact of that
statement, coming as it does with a middle class voice and total
indifference to the situation in the coal communities, is unlikely to
strike any cords this side of the tracks.
I understand you intend to shut down Kingsnorth Power Station in August. I
don’t know this station in particular but I was informed this was a
station which was using clean coal technology ? Is that not right ?
whether it is or not we have to ask why coal ?.
Coal is not the biggest producer of CO2 its about the fourth and thats
with unfettered uncontrolled emissions from the third world in particular.
It could be massively reduced by demanding all coal which comes here meets
minimum standards of health and safety and union rights. That the
exporting countries themselves adopt clean coal technologies. Such a
tighter focus would be entirely more credible and principled than simply
saying ‘close down all coal power stations, don’t build new ones, and
exterminate the last of the miners and their communities’.
I cant say I’m keen on entering the lions den of the Climate Camp as a
former miners leader and life long coal miner. I’m tempted to say I think
we speak differant languages. However I shall pencil this is my calender
and see if I can attend along with any of the NUM leadership in order that
we can put our point view across and hopefully get you to adopt a more
balanced approach to the question of power generation and working class
expectations and demands.
You have my permission to put this letter on the website.
The World For The Workers