|Greenpeace activists from India and UK climb Houses of Parliament in protest
||[Oct. 12th, 2009|12:42 am]
Rainspotting in Bangalore
Right now, fifty-five Greenpeace activists are standing on top of the houses of Parliament in Westminster. Amongst them is the head of public engagement from the Greenpeace India office, who travelled to the UK to take part in the action and highlight the need for greater international cooperation in the lead up to Copenhagen.
Brikesh Singh, a 29-year-old former climate and energy campaigner from our Bangalore office, intends to remain on the roof of the Palace of Westminster until tomorrow morning, when the activists will greet UK MPs on their first day back from their summer break by asking them to sign a 12-point manifesto that would lead to a lower-carbon path for the UK. Their aim is to highlight that time is running out, and that the UK has not taken strong enough steps in its climate policy so far.
“I came to join the protest because the actions of the UK government have huge significance for the people of India,” said Brikesh. “Unless the developed nations shoulder their responsibilities and make the necessary commitments to cut emissions, the developing world will never join the process.”
The action comes days after developed and developing nations clashed at climate talks in Bangkok on the issue of whether to shelve the Kyoto agreement, as the US is demanding. India and China remain firmly against the proposal, saying that the UN framework laid out in the agreement is the one which must to be followed. Both countries feel the developed world has not been ambitious enough in its plans to cut their own emissions so far, and neither have they proffered the money nor technology required for developing nations to shift from their ‘business-as-usual’ energy path, while still continuing to develop their economies.
“This is a global issue,” points out Brikesh, “and we need global action if we’re going to deal with it. The UK government could set an example to the world and take the steps they know are necessary, and that could go a long way to breaking the deadlock in the international negotiations.”
This is not Brikesh’s first involvement in the non-violent action and protest that Greenpeace holds so close. In October 2007, two days after the now-infamous Kingsnorth Six scaled the chimneystack of the E.ON thermal power plant in Hoo, Kent, six Greenpeace India activists also broke into a coal power station. Brikesh, three other men and two women – one of whom was six weeks pregnant at the time – climbed a 260ft chimneystack of Kolaghat Power Station in West Bengal, East India, and painted the words ‘smoking kills’ along its length. The six were arrested and imprisoned for the weekend, and the decision on their case is still pending two years later. To their surprise, in jail the other prisoners treated them well, offering them food and blankets and making sure they didn’t have to sit near the stinking toilets – the usual seat for new cellmates. When eventually asked why, the inmates pointed out that the activists weren’t criminals, and deserved respect for attempting to make the world a better place. Still, the boyish-looking Brikesh well remembers his terror when they first entered the jail:
“I just remember thinking: I really, really wish I hadn’t shaved.”
Left: Greenpeace UK activist waves a banner in front of Big Ben from atop the Houses of Parliament
Right: Brikesh Singh of Greenpeace India atop the Houses of Parliament. It is his second trip to the UK