A big week for the Big If

Posted by leila — 15 September 2009 at 4:40pm - Comments
Ed Miliband at the anti-coal vigil outside DECC © Joseph Cabon /Christian Aid

Since the close of the coal consultation last week, many Greenpeace supporters who've signed up to the Big If have been getting busy. Firstly, in Doncaster on Saturday, members of our Yorkshire network showed up to Ed Miliband's constituency surgery in Bentley, in Doncaster. They built a giant 'Big If' out of cardboard boxes right outside the door.

The Energy and Climate Change Secretary graciously came out to talk to them.  They told him that this sort of action was a sign of the shape of things to come if he consents to a new generation of coal power stations, starting with Kingsnorth in Kent. They then handed over to the minister some of the 6000 pledges which we've collected, over a thousand of which promise to take non-violent direct action to stop Kingsnorth going ahead.

And yesterday Mr Miliband came face to face with more Big IF supporters outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change in London. Members of the RSPB, Oxfam, Christian Aid, WWF and the World Development Movement, joined Greenpeace in an anti-coal vigil, to which activists bought pictures of what's at stake - forests, glaciers, the Kent coastline, British birds, people in developing countries - if Ed makes the wrong decision and says yes to new coal.

The 'Disciples for Justice' choir, from Christian Aid, kept the crowd singing in harmony to encourage Miliband to come and talk to them. When he did, Ed was faced with a barrage of astute questions and points which tested his current position. He continues to feels we need new coal power in the UK in order to test CCS for the sake of the wider world.

Several campaigners challenged him on this, saying that such tests could be done on existing coal, and should be tested in the countries that will need CCS, there was no need to build new power stations in the UK. Whilst he respectfully resisted our points, it was clear that the ongoing pressure we have placed on Ed is having an effect.

And Parliament hasn’t even opened yet! In the lead up to Copenhagen in December, we have our best chance of getting coal consigned to the UK history books. As the noise begins to build around a global deal, we have to ensure that our government can't avoid the link between domestic policy and global policy, and proves to the world its commitment to stopping climate change by making a strong decision against building new coal. To that end, we have to keep the pressure up on Miliband until he goes to Copenhagen.

If you haven't already, do sign up to the Big If at and ask all your friends to sign up too. If you need inspiration about what to pledge, watch this great film of some of those who've already made their pledges to help stop new dirty coal plants being built across the UK.

Follow Greenpeace UK