The world’s leaders maybe pontificating over what to do over climate change in Poznan, but this morning over fifty young protesters from the protest group Plane Stupid put action into words by shutting down London’s third airport, Stansted.
The protest began in the cold early hours of this morning whilst the runway was temporarily closed for maintenance work. Plane Stupid planned to prevent the scheduled reopening of the runway at 5.AM GMT.
In the end, the group managed to prevent the airport being reopened for over three hours with some 52 flights being cancelled by the airline Ryanair. By 10 AM a reported 57 people had been arrested.
The protestors chained themselves together on the runway and created a “fort” by surrounding themselves with security fencing. There is now video footage of bulldozers being used to try and dislodge the protestors.
Plane Stupid is one of many groups opposed to the British government’s decision to allow the expansion of Stansted with a second runway.
The protest also shows the hypocritical and dysfunctional nature of the British government’s stance on climate change. On the one hand the British government says it is taking a lead on the issue. It is also arguing that people should join popular protests.
Just today, the environment secretary, Ed Miliband, told the Guardian newspaper that “popular mobilisation” was needed to help politicians push an international agreement to limit carbon emissions in the face of concerns about the economy. “There will be some people saying ‘we can’t go ahead with an agreement on climate change, it’s not the biggest priority’. And, therefore, what you need is countervailing forces. Some of those countervailing forces come from popular mobilisation.”
But it is also pushing forward with expansion of both Stansted and Heathrow. John Stewart, the chairman of anti-Heathrow expansion group Hacan, who was recently nominated by a poll in the Independent newspaper as Britain’s most influential environmentalist, said: “The occupation of Stansted is a clear sign of things to come if the government doesn’t back down over its proposals to expand airports.”
If you want popular protest, Mr Miliband, you have got it.