With the world already looking to ‘warm’ beyond 1.5C – and probably reaching 2.7C of heating by the end of this century – younger people in particular are increasingly looking for ways to stop this climate madness before it is, quite literally, too late.
Which is why, if you only see one film this year, make sure it’s Finite – The Climate of Change (2023), a powerful, inspiring, and very timely film, directed by climate activist-turned-film-maker Rich Felgate. If – given this Tory government’s approval of a new coal mine in Cumbria, along with masses of new oil and gas projects in the North Sea – you’re feeling a bit of post-COP27 climate-crisis fatigue, this film is guaranteed to propel you out of your seat and into action!
In addition to these scheduled dates, it’s possible to make requests for additional screenings via email: firstname.lastname@example.org There’s also a shorter, 1-hour, version available – ideal for showing in schools and colleges. Finally, you can follow the makers of the film and stay in touch for further news about it on Twitter: @finitedoc
The film starts with global examples of extreme weather events, before focussing on coal – the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a brilliantly-authentic portrayal of two direct-action campaigns in 2018 which were – eventually – able to halt new opencast coal mine projects. In the Pont Valley (County Durham) and in Hambach Forest (Germany), members of local communities and activists came together to stop the environmental- and climate-wrecking plans of big fossil fuel corporations.
Many of the immensely-brave campaigners shown in the film – who’re also concerned about climate justice for those in the Global South – undertake various kinds of non-violent direct action, despite often experiencing brutal treatment from security guards and the police. Those direct actions included mass sit-downs and lock-ons to block access gates, camping-out in treehouses, and staying underground in tunnels. One UK activist explains why an increasing number of people are prepared to take such direct action:
“When you recognise that you can no longer rely on our democratic structures to fairly represent what the people want…We have to push against these systems to change them.”
However, not everyone who’s concerned about the Climate and Ecological Crises is able to put their body and their freedom on the line in such ways. The great strength of this film is that it makes it clear there are many other, but equally-vital, roles in successful campaigns that do not involve being willing to be arrested or to endure corporate and/or state violence. Such roles include speaking at public enquiries, raising money to fight legal battles in the courts, raising awareness by petitions and writing letters to local papers, spreading news of the campaign on social media – and providing food and drink for those undertaking direct actions.
This is why, for me, Finite is by far the best climate film I’ve seen since Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything (2015), which covered various climate campaigns around the world – and made a clear call for ‘Blockadia’, or direct action, as an essential part of the struggle against the dirty energy companies and governments which are driving this planet towards catastrophic global heating.
By the end of Finite, the message to everyone is a clear one: not only is it vital to oppose all climate-wrecking projects – it’s also possible to win, if everyone who’s concerned steps up to play whatever role they’re able to fill.
Which is why, once you’ve seen the film, one useful immediate step to take would be to sign up for Extinction Rebellion’s ‘The Big One’ event in London on Friday 21 April – “and beyond” to 24 April. This is planned as a “multi-day show of strength of citizens, impossible to ignore.” Details of this climate action can be found on: https://extinctionrebellion.uk/the-big-one/
Essentially, the plan is to get at least 100,000 people who’re concerned about the Climate Emergency – and who want the government to end all “new fossil fuel licences and funding” – to protest outside the Houses of Parliament and “disrupt our corrupt government!”
Ecosocialists in particular should be encouraged by the statements Extinction Rebellion have made in support of their protest: calling on “those who hid science for profit” to be forced to “pay reparations”; and stating that “Groups and movements must unite to survive, to transform together, address inequality and restore the living world.” Taken with XR’s recent actions in reaching out to the trade union movement and joining picket lines, and the formation of the Just Stop Oil Coalition, the signs are there that the UK’s climate movement is moving in a more radical direction as regards ‘System Change.’ This is something ecosocialists should welcome, support and help develop.
As Extinction Rebellion says about this event, now’s the time to #ChooseYourFuture
As well as going down for the XR protest in London in April, you could also pick up the theme of this film by getting involved in the campaign to stop the new coal mine in Cumbria – which, over its planned operation until 2049, will release 200 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, along with 0.34 million tonnes of methane. West Cumbria Mining (WCM), and their Tory supporters, originally claimed the coking coal would be for the UK’s steel industry. However, Chris McDonald, CEO of the Materials Processing Institute (which operates on behalf of the UK’s steel industry) has made it clear that the mine is NOT needed: “There isn’t anyone in the steel industry who’s calling for the mine.”
In fact, the two biggest steel producers in the UK – Tata Steel and British Steel – are both on record as saying they won’t be using that Cumbrian coke. Either because (like steel plants across Europe), they’re rapidly de-carbonising production by using clean hydrogen; or because the Cumbrian coke has too-high a sulphur content. Which is why WCM has been forced to admit that 85% of their coal will be exported – almost certainly to non-EU states with fewer controls on emissions. Currently, steel plants which still use coal are responsible for 11% of global CO2 emissions – and the UK’s Climate Change Committee has said we need near zero emission targets for steelmaking by 2035.
At present, both Friends of the Earth and South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC) have filed papers asking for permission to launch a legal challenge, via a Statutory Review of the government’s decision to grant planning permission for the new coalmine. They should hear from the courts by 1 March whether their legal challenges can go ahead. But the legal process could be dragged out until June.
However, as Finite makes absolutely clear, we can’t rely on the courts to stop fossil fuel companies or governments – which is why the Coal Action Network is already on the case. As WCM have said they plan to begin preparatory work on the site in September, a call for direct action in Cumbria may soon be going out!
So make sure you watch Finite: The Climate of Change as soon as possible, and encourage all your friends to watch it, too – and get ready for climate action!
In the meantime, you can find out more about the campaigns to stop this new coal mine via these links: https://www.coalaction.org.uk/about-us/ https://slacc.org.uk/west-cumbrian-coal-mine-slacc-legal-challenge-lodged-at-the-high-court/
Allan Todd is a climate and anti-fascist activist; a member of Left Unity’s National Council; and author of Ecosocialism Not Extinction (Resistance Books), Revolutions 1789-1917 (CUP), Trotsky: The Passionate Revolutionary (Pen & Sword), and the forthcoming Che Guevara: The Romantic Revolutionary
Left Unity is active in movements and campaigns across the left, working to create an alternative to the main political parties.
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Just Stop Oil – Slow Marches
Slow marches are still legal (so LOW RISK of arrest), and are extremely effective. The plan is to keep up the pressure on this ecocidal government to stop all new fossil fuel licences.
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