Energy: October 2009 Archives

The time I debated Nick Griffin.

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Thumbnail image for peakoil.jpgIn 2005 Mark Ballard and I went to a conference at the Chamber Street museum on the topic of peak oil. It was very informative, full of oil industry professionals as well as the renewables crowd, chaired by a BBC journalist and very alarming.

Coming out of one session Mark saw a familiar face in the crowd - the man at the centre of today's media storm, Nick Griffin. 

He had a false name and organisation on his badge (the latter was something like "Verity", but not "Veritas", I don't recall exactly), but there's no mistaking him for anyone else, not even any of the "comedy" Nazis from Allo Allo

If you're ever unsure it's him, the glass eye is the dead giveaway. It is a replacement for the one he claims he lost when he left live ammunition on a bonfire, and it always looks over your shoulder, as if he's awaiting reinforcements. 

We made our way over and engaged him in conversation, just because it seems wrong to let a fascist just stand there unchallenged. It was not a polite conversation. 

I raised two vile BNP policies, one on deporting non-British born citizens and one on providing guns to all over-18s. Effectively, he'd be telling some British citizens that their parents, also British citizens, have to be sent back to countries they may have not seen for decades, then he'd give the younger generation guns. Did he have other plans to trigger a race war? Cue some bluster and counter-assertion.

He also denied he was a racist, but a breath later said he'd obviously not let his children marry a non-white person. He then went into a massive rant about the evil Americans which I'm not planning to air here, and I ended calling him a revolting fascist.

I'm not proud of this encounter, although I'm glad there was a crowd around us, not least because the boot boy over his shoulder turned out to be a member of Combat 18 with a history of (no, you'll never believe this) racially motivated violence.

I discovered that a smarter environmentalist from the audience had also approached him later. He played dumb and just asked Griffin about his interest in the issue of peak oil.

The answer was telling - the public turn to the right when faced with economic hard times and social dislocation, he said, and the end of the easy oil economy would put him into Downing Street during the 2020s.

The consequences of imminent oil depletion are grave even before you look at the politics of it, and I've done my best with Green colleagues to raise the issue and the need to give a serious response. Preparing for the next oil price spike and the end of cheap energy will require much the same policy shift as is required to tackle climate change, so there's every reason just to get on with it. 

Those of us in mainstream parties put a lot of time and effort knocking the neo-nazi BNP, and for understandable reasons. Fine, but it'd be a lot more constructive to work together on zero-carbon energy and coincidentally make Nick Griffin's grim fantasy even more unlikely.

The King's Kingsnorth North.

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kingalex.jpgThe demise of the proposed Kingsnorth coal power station, announced last night by E:ON, was greeted with jubilation by Greens and other environmental activists. E:ON can now get back to their core business of protecting donkeys with solar powered fences. For some reason a story about that makes it to their media release archive, while Kingsnorth is neglected.

The next scandalous project of this sort in our firing line, and opposed by others like the RSPB, is the new coal plant planned at Hunterston. The SNP sneaked it into the National Planning Framework (2Mb pdf) right at the last minute, four months after the consultation closed, and their Ministers claim the plant will be "carbon capture ready", which is about as reassuring as "don't worry darling, it's condom ready".

The local campaign against the new Hunterston project is here, and STV did a good report last month about their legal challenge to the NPF. I hope they win, but either way efforts to block it will continue. 

NASA's James Hansen, the father of climate science, describes coal plants as "factories of death", and Hunterston is now front and centre in the campaign to make sure no more are ever built in this country. The SNP are yet again on the wrong side in the carbon wars, and both King Coal and King Alex will have to be stopped.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Energy category from October 2009.

Energy: May 2009 is the previous archive.

Energy: November 2009 is the next archive.