Speaking after the verdict one of the defendants, Clare Whitney, said:
“During this trial we have heard from people on the front line of our changing climate, and from a company that is still burning the most dirty form of fossil fuel for their economic benefit. These worlds are not compatible. Taking action is not an issue of moral righteousness but an act of self-defence. If we’re to stand a chance of avoiding irreversible climate change we’ve got to realise that to bring about a better world we’ll need to do it ourselves.”
Defendant Chris Kitchen said
“We are in solidarity with all those around the world fighting for climate and social justice. Together we need to stop the root causes of climate change, we need to stop profit being put before people. It’s big business and politicians are that are the real criminals and we will not stand by as we are robbed of our future.”
Dan Glass, another defendant in the case, said:
“This ruling won’t stop emissions. But the huge support we have received from the people of Nottingham and internationally, does demonstrate that public opinion is increasingly turning against the liberties that governments are taking with our future.”
The court had earlier heard that a team of protesters would have pressed the emergency stop buttons on the coal conveyors which feed the boilers, while another team would have climbed the inside of the chimney before abseiling into the flues to prevent the plant re-opening for a week, saving 150,000 tonnes of CO2. Six defendants took to the witness stand. One, Ben Stewart, told the jury: “we did this to save human lives. I can’t tell you if the lives we would have saved would have been my relatives or your relatives, but they would have been somebody’s relatives.” All defendants spoke of huge amount of community engagement they have carried out to raise the issue of action on climate change, whilst still seeing emissions continuing to rise unabated.
The defendants also called a number of internationally renowned expert witnesses. They included Professor James Hansen, acclaimed as the world’s leading climate scientist. He told the jury: “It doesn’t surprise me that young people are angry when they know that politicians are lying to them.” When challenged by the judge as to the measurable effects of the defendants’ proposed action, Hansen noted that the action could have prevented one, if not more, species from becoming extinct. Dr Ian Roberts, Professor of Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Medicine detailed to the court the real and imminent threat to health posed by climate change, saying we risk a ‘generational genocide’ as we ‘sleep walk into a nightmare’. Dr Roberts told the court that at least 150,000 people a year were dying as a result of man-made climate change.
Former local MP Alan Simpson also appeared as a witness for the defence. In his written testimony he said: ‘Climate Change protestors are in my view absolutely right to argue that we cannot continue with a ‘business as usual’ approach to UK carbon emissions without threatening the very prospects of existence for future generations.’ Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP told the court politicians had failed in their duty to protect the public from climate change.
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1. The conspiracy to shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in April 2009 is different from the Great Climate Swoop of October 2009 ( http://climatecamp.org.uk/actions/climate-swoop-2009)