Agrofuels Protest

I’m sorry not to be at Portland today, for the national protest organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change (CACC)  calling for a stop to Government subsidies for Agrofuels and deforestation.  The protest is at the proposed site of a new palm-oil burning, agrofuel power station at Portland in Dorset.

Part of the reason for my not being there is simply the cost of transport, as living on the edge of London it wasn’t really feasible to join the coach organised from central London, and going to Weymouth (the nearest station) by train from here seems to be very expensive.  But also I’ve got other problems at the moment, as well as there being other events I’d like to cover.

© 2010, Peter Marshall

But although I couldn’t make it to Portland, I did cover the issues in a central London protest by  CACC last week, when they delivered two boxes of postcards to Energy minister Chris Huhne at the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) in Whitehall.

© 2010, Peter Marshall

Chris Huhne himself didn’t appear, though his face mounted on a stick appears in some of my pictures, but there were a few protesters with placards, and arriving at the end of the lunch-time photo-call, a woman in an orang-utan suit.

© 2010, Peter Marshall

As well as the lunchtime event, there was also a similar early evening demonstration again outside the DECC with a few speeches, and then later a rather larger meeting with more speakers elsewhere which I didn’t stay in London  for.

There were no great problems in taking the photographs, though the lighting was rather uneven, and I think almost everything needed fill flash. I worked the entire press call using the 16-35mm, though at the later rally I needed a longer lens for the speakers and a little light rain didn’t help.

This isn’t as yet a subject the media have found any interest in, and although a press release had gone to all the usual papers and agencies, I was the only photographer to turn up. My story appeared later in the day on Demotix, but wasn’t picked up elsewhere. Even on Demotix, with my usual posts on Facebook and Twitter, the story hasn’t generated a great deal of interests, having only been read so far by around a tenth of the audience who will see this post today. More pictures and text on ‘My London Dairy‘ shortly.

But the article – and this one – is all a part of a long, slow process of building up awareness of the issues.  I had to ask to be reminded about ROCs (Renewable Obligations Certificates) which lie behind these subsidies for unacceptable forms of energy production – as well as promoting proper renewable solutions. The ‘Deforestation Certificate‘ shown in some of the pictures perhaps makes things clearer, and other placards drove home the basic message:

© 2010, Peter Marshall

Agrofuels drive deforestation drives Climate Change.

As I said to the organisers, to get the media interested needs some kind of stunt (or involving celebrities) and perhaps today’s events at Portland will do something to make it more visible. Just being a vital issue that could seriously challenge our future isn’t enough to make any issue “news.”

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