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Greenpeace Trial: Why the UK Government Wanted to Lose

From Nature’s Climate Feedback: “Shock climate change verdict acquits Hansen’s heroes

Criminal damage in the name of climate change is not a criminal offence, according to a shock ruling from a British court…Eco-warriors’ UK paper of choice The Independent says the verdict “will have shocked ministers and energy companies”. In the Guardian, veteran environment correspondent Jon Videl says it will “embarrass the government and lead to more direct action protests against energy companies”.

From Greenpeace’s website (via Anthony Watt’s blog):

The Nasa scientist who first drew attention to global warming 20 years ago appeared in a British court yesterday as a key witness in support of climate change activists charged with damaging a power station…Yesterday, Prof Hansen…said Britain had a responsibility to take a lead on limiting climate change because it was responsible – owing to its long industrial past – for much of the CO2 already in the atmosphere. Phasing out coal-burning power stations was crucial in tackling global warming, he told the court. “Somebody needs to stand up and take a leadership role,” Prof Hansen said. […]

The so-called “Kingsnorth case” was a trial-by-jury. Given the verdict, it means that Hansen and the defence team in general have convinced the jury that it is a bad idea to build coal-based power stations: bad enough for a certain class of criminal damages to be considered necessary.

And why so bad? Because burning coal is linked to global warming and unimaginable future disasters.

The verdict also means that the prosecution was unable to convince the jury otherwise. But wait! What could have the prosecution done?

Could they have dared to demonstrate that burning coal is not linked to global warming?

Had that happened, the entire “Anthropogenic Global Warming is real” construct of successive UK Governments would have collapsed. No more Kyoto, no more dreams of “carbon taxes” and “carbon allowances”. Instead now, since the “phasing out” of “coal-burning power stations” has been shown as “crucial” in a court of law, either lights will starting going off in the Sceptred Isle _or_ nuclear power will be given a very high priority.

And so in hindsight one can rest assured that under no circumstance could the UK Government afford to win the “Kingsnorth case”. And as a matter of fact, it lost it. After all, this is a crucial year for the future of Britain’s power supply. Look at another note from the Greenpeace’s article:

Before travelling to Kent, Prof Hansen met the David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, who is thought to be unhappy about the plan for Kingsnorth, which is being promoted by John Hutton, the Business Secretary. Mr Brown will have the final say later this year.

Greenpeace 1 – Coal power 0? More like Miliband 1 – Hutton 0…

ps It was a silly trial anyway…couldn’t they leave the giant “Gordon” written on the chimneys? And what energy company sees £15,000 as more than a grain of dust?

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  1. Mikael H
    2008/09/15 at 23:23

    Interesting point.

    There is a similiar case against Greenpeace going on here in Denmark, but such cases are not trial-by-jury. If Greenpeace use same arguments in court, it would put the government in a bad situation, no matter what;

    A. They are host for the upcoming COP15. So whats the point of hosting COP15, if reducing CO2-emmissions are not “that” urgent?

    B. The government is quite liberal, and on all other issues, they have almost no tolerance against violence and vandalism. If Greenpeace win their case, it will look like a political verdict, not justice. The government will be confronted, and danish voters hate political verdicts….

    Interesting point about UK… and interesting times ahead in Denmark. Keep your eyes open… It will not surprise me, if this case is put on rest until after COP15!

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