Posts Tagged ‘global heating’

Dec 4th 2010 in London

Saturday, December 4th, 2021

UK Uncut protest Topshop Tax Dodge

UK Uncut protested outside and briefly inside Topshop and other Oxford Street stores in Philip Green’s Arcadia Group, one of the major companies who together are alleged to dodge £12 billion per year in UK tax.

Eleven years on we still haven’t seen effective action by our government against the huge amount of tax evaded and avoided by the wealthy in the UK. Hardly surprising since many of those in government and their friends and supporters benefit greatly from these practices.

It was the threat by the EU to clamp down on some of these legal fiddles that was a major factor behind the huge funding and lies of the Brexit campaign, something that we are now paying the price for while the billionaires are doing very nicely thank you – and some profiteering hugely from the government’s Covid contracts for their mates.

It was the threats that a centre left government under Jeremy Corbyn might have made some slight changes that, along with his support for Palestinian rights, led to a hugely vitriolic campaign against him by the press and inside the Labour Party.

UK Uncut labelled Sir Philip Green, the boss of the Arcadia Group, which included include Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Miss Selfridge Wallis and British Home Stores, as “Britain’s most notorious tax-avoider. While Green himself paid tax on his salary, the companies are owned by a holding company in the tax haven of Jersey, which is owned by his wife and immediate family who live in Monaco, and pay no tax. Arcadia are certainly not the only huge scale tax avoiders – and later the protesters also briefly visited Oxford St branches of two others, Boots and Vodafone.

They also point out that when Green awarded himself a huge dividend payout – £1.2 billion – in 2005, it went through various offshore accounts and tax dodges to his wife’s Monaco bank account. The loss in tax to the UK was £285 million.

We should have a tax system based on a simple principle. If people or companies make the money in the UK then you should pay tax on it in the UK, and any of the dodges now still used to avoid this should be illegal. At the moment the large accountancy firms are mainly used to aid the avoidance of tax, and they need to be completely re-purposed to with the role of ensuring the correct tax is paid.

Of course it won’t happen. It would destroy a huge part of the business of the City of London, currently the world capital of financial skullduggery and with a curiously intimate connection to our parliament. All we have seen over the 11 years since this protest are a few sweetheart deals with the tax office with some rather token repayments and things are unlikely to change.

More at March for Zero Carbon UK 2030.


March for Zero Carbon Britain 2030

Happening the same day was a march to Parliament by the Campaign Against Climate Change calling for urgent action over climate change including a Zero Carbon Britain by 2030. The march and rally was the seventh annual climate march organised by the CACC, which has spearheaded the campaign to get effective action to meet the climate challenge since its formation, aiming to put climate change at the top of our political agenda as the greatest threat that humanity faces.

While our government still seems shackled to business as usual and only making rather half-heated committments to tackling climate change with the necessary urgency, most of the rest of us are now convinced of the need for real action. From being regarded by many as cranks, CACC are now a small part of a huge mainstream.

Back in 2010 they were joined on the march largely by other relatively small campaigning groups, including Friends of the Eath, Greenpeace, the World Development Movement, the Climate Rush, the Green Party and many local groups, trade union branches etc. But as with most protests in Britain it was largely ignored by the media, dominated by a press owned by a handful of billionaires.

Things outside government were beginning to move back in 2010, particularly with the publication of an in-depth report compiled for the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), ‘Zero Carbon Britain 2030: A new energy strategy earlier in the year, but since then we have seen another largely wasted eleven years.

More at March for Zero Carbon UK 2030.


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COP23 & Calais – 24th October 2017

Sunday, October 24th, 2021

Guardians of the Forest

Four years ago today we were waiting for the start of the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, though for various reasons it didn’t get the same publicity as COP26 coming up shortly in Glasgow. There were certainly fewer hopes of anything positive emerging as it was the first such meeting since Donald Trump had stated he was going to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement.

Those talks were unusual in that although held in Germany (who did most of the organising) they were actually the first hosted by a small-island developing state, with Fiji taking the Presidency.

As usual at such events, not a lot was achieved, with the US decision dominating much of the business in various ways. Syria announced that it would sign up to Paris during the event, leaving the US as the only country in the world saying it would not honour the agreement. And the US withdrawal made China a rather more important player.

Britain actually took part in the one major positive outcome, coming together with Canada to launch the ‘Powering Past Coal Alliance’, calling for the phasing out of coal in OEC and EU countries by 2030 and in the rest of the world before 2050. Unfortunately none of the major coal producing countries signed the pledge.

The Guardians of the Forest, indigenous leaders from Latin America, Indonesia and Africa, had stopped off in London on their way to Bonn and held a rally in Parliament Square to commemorate those who have lost their lives defending the forests against mining, the cutting down of forests for palm oil production and other crops and other threats to the forests and those who live in them.

Many companies listed on the London Stock Exchange are among those responsible for damage to the forests and the murder of indigenous people in search of profits, with whole tribes forcibly removed from their homes and their rights to the land they have lived in for many generations ignored.

Increasingly we are becoming aware of the importance of forests as sources of oxygen and in removing carbon dioxide and so combating global heating and the need for proper stewardship of these huge natural resources – rather than their destruction for short-term profit. Indigenous people have maintained them for hundreds or thousands of years in a renewable manner and their knowledge and continuing maintenance has a vital part to play in the fight against climate change.

Safe Passage

Earlier I’d photographed a rally by Safe Passage on the anniversary of the destruction of the Calais Jungle. Although around 750 child refugees had been brought here from France, they urged the government to provide safe and legal routes for the hundreds of refugees still living in Calais, many sleeping rough in terrible conditions.

Lord Alf Dubs

In particular they called on them to fill the remaining 280 places allocated under the Dubs law to children but not yet filled 18 months after Parliament passed the law. Many of those still in France are entitled to come here to be reunited with their family and they called on the Home Office to have an official in France to aid their transfers.

More at:
Guardians of the Forest – COP23
Safe Passage for the Children of Calais

Global Climate Strike – 2019

Monday, September 20th, 2021

Two years ago, Friday 20 September 2019 saw Earth Day Global Climate Strike protests around the world inspired by Greta Thunberg. Many thousands came to the events in Central London, packing out quite a length of Millbank in the morning, but there were others around Westminster who didn’t quite get down to the rally, as well as local events in other parts of London.

The school kids get it, but even two years later it is quite clear that our government really doesn’t, though is happy to pay lip-service. The world is going to change and unless we act urgently it will change very much for the worse so far as human life is concerned.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report released in August 2021 makes the severity of our position clear, and floods and fires this year in countries across the world have underlined the need for urgent action to change our way of life.

Yet a few days ago, the government yet again confirmed its support for airport expansion and another runway at Heathrow, and is still backing oil exploration in our coastal waters, as well as a new coal mine, still subsidising gas-fired power stations and encouraging wood-burning which is causing large-scale environmental devastation in forests as well as churning out carbon dioxide and still failing to put the investment needed into green policies and green jobs.

It’s hard to believe the stupidity of our government, something only increased by reshuffles, particular when they promote people who have obviously failed. But most governments around the world are driven by short-term political considerations and by the interests of the rich and powerful, and this latter is perhaps nowhere more paramount than in the UK, where as well as the interests of huge companies and their bosses we also have the interests of the establishment and Crown and the City of London.

Brixton

The late Duke of Westminster who died in 2016 once told a reporter from the Financial Times who asked what advice he would give to a young entrepreneur who wanted to succeed. His reply “Make sure they have an ancestor who was a very close friend of William the Conqueror” is usually reported as being a joke, but certainly contains a great deal of truth. Britain is still very much owned and run for and by those who profited from that occupation, enacting laws which stole the land from the people. 955 years later we are still occupied.

After managing to extract myself from the crowded rally I went to pay brief visits to Climate Strike events elsewhere. The Elephant & Castle was a quick trip on the underground, and I photographed a march starting from there before jumping back on the tube to Brixton.

Children from Brixton primary schools were at a lunchtime rally in Windrush Square, and when that finished some were intending to travel into central London to join the main protest. I rushed away as the rally ended to get back too, and found a largish group of secondary school students joining activists who were already sitting down to block Whitehall. When they got up and began to march away, police stopped them – and after a while they came back and blocked Whitehall again. Eventually they got up and marched back towards Parliament Square.

Protests were still continuing with much of Westminster at a standstill when I left for an unrelated protest in Carnaby Street (yes it’s still there, though it really belongs to the Sixties) by pro-Palestine activists in front of the Puma store there. The say Puma whitewashes Israel’s war crimes by sponsoring the apartheid Israel Football Association which includes clubs from illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land, a war crime under international law.

Carnaby St Puma Boycott
Global Climate Strike Protest continues
Elephant & Brixton Global Climate Strike
Global Climate Strike Rally


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Eight Years Ago… 27 July 2013

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

Eight years ago on Saturday 27th July 2013 my working day began with the Rev Billy on a small green space on Victoria Street preparing the Stop Shopping Choir and volunteers for a “radicalized midsummer cloud forest dream” performance against the support given to fossil fuels and climate chaos by the banks and the City of London.

I’m not sure what staff and customers at the HSBC close to Victoria station made of the event, which pointed out that in the two previous years the top five UK banks raised £170 billion for fossil fuel companies, with HSBC in the lead. The Golden Toad costumes were for the Central American species forced into extinction by climate change in the 1980’s and recent weather events have now forced even the more sceptic to take the crisis seriously, even if so far to take little actual action.

After the performance in the bank, and as police began to arrive the group made their way to a wide area of pavement outside and staged another performance watched by pedestrians in the busy street close to the station, before leaving to celebrate in a nearby café.

I left to go to Trafalgar Square where as a part of an international day of action the Bradley Manning Support Network held a vigil at St Martin-in-the-Fields. The ‘gay whistleblower’, now Chelsea Manning, was being celebrated in countries across the world for passing documents to WikiLeaks which exposed a great deal of illegal and immoral actions by the US and other governments and had recently been awarded the Sean MacBride Peace Prize and was then on trail in Fort Meade. She was later sentenced to 35 years in a maximum security jail, but this was commuted to around seven years by President Obama and she was released in 2017.

From there I made my way to the US Embassy, then still in Grosvenor Square, for a rally before the start of march organised by BARAC against Global Racism and Injustice in solidarity with families of Trayvon Martin, Stephen Lawrence, Azelle Rodney, Jimmy Mubenga and many others, aimed a highlighting the reality of racism and demanding justice, both in the UK and US.

Although the march had been prompted by the acquittal in Florida of the murderer of Trayvon Martin which had led to a global outcry, the emphasis of the speeches at the Embassy was very much on events here in the UK. In his speech Lee Jasper of BARAC after mentioning the Martin case went on to say:

“We march to support the call from the Lawrence family for a full and independent judicial led public inquiry into the allegations that the Metropolitan Police sought to smear both the family and supporters through a covert police surveillance unit.”

“We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney. We march for justice and equality in the 50th anniversary year of Dr Martin Luther King’s 1968 March on Washington. The truth is that his dream is a threadbare vision here in the UK where racism is on the rise amplified by austerity.”

My London Diary

After an hour or so of speeches the marchers left to march to a further rally at Downing St, but I left them as they went down Oxford St.

Against Global Racism and Injustice
Free Bradley Manning Vigil
Rev Billy at HSBC


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Telling the Story – 19 July 2019

Monday, July 19th, 2021

I often find myself thinking about my role as a documentary photographer when I’m taking pictures of protests. And of thinking about how I can carry out that role.

Clearly I’m not their to take part in the protest – though often I support the cause of the protesters I’m making pictures of. I’m an observer rather than a participant, though there are occasions when I will intervene in some way, largely the kind of actions that I would expect anyone to take, like stopping people walking into traffic or helping someone who has fallen down or dropped something.

There have been times too when I reminded police of the law (not always advisable) or protested at their use of unnecessary force. And on some occasions when marches have got lost or taken a wrong turning I’ve pointed this out to the marchers. Some embassies and companies are quite hard to find.

I never set up people or groups, though sometimes when photographing people I may ask or gesture them to look at me or to hold their poster or placard higher or lower. But it isn’t a portrait session and I don’t ask them to smile or scowl or act up for the camera. It would have been much easier to make the picture of the XR symbols in those dark glasses in the studio and it took a number of attempts to catch him looking in exactly the right direction and catch those reflections from a banner which I’d noticed moving across them earlier.

But it isn’t just a matter of passive observing. I’m choosing my position, framing my pictures, selecting the moment, working to try to present the story clearly and effectively.

It isn’t essentially about making dramatic or attractive pictures, though I always hope some might be.

Extinction Rebellion’s ‘Requiem for a Dead Planet’ at Northcliffe House, home of the Daily Mail, Independent, Mail on Sunday, London Live and Evening Standard demanding they publish truth and end lies about climate change was a tricky one to cover, with heavy rain falling much of the time and a very limited area under cover for protesters and photographers. As we’ve seen in the past week, the weather is becoming more violent and this seemed appropriate if making the job more difficult.

Here’s some of the text I wrote at the time – the link below has more and more pictures:

“XR say avoiding climate & ecological devastation needs the media to tell the truth and stop publishing fake science denying climate change as well as advertising and editorial material that promotes high-carbon lifestyles, whether about fashion, travel food or other consumerist content so government can take the drastic action needed.

The protest included suitable requiem music by a small group of musicians in XR Baroque, a eulogy for lost species by a priest, speeches, poems, skeletons, banners and a die-in.”

Requiem for a Dead Planet at Daily Mail

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Cake, Yacht and Dodo

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

The cake came outside the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) where PCS members who work as cleaners and catering workers were beginning the first ever indefinite strike at a government ministry, demanding they be paid the London Living Wage, and get decent conditions of employment.

It was the third anniversary of the founding of the BEIS, and also the third anniversary of the campaign to get the workers there decent pay and to be employed directly by the BEIS, rather than outsourcing companies ISS and Aramark whose only concern is cutting costs to the bone by exploiting the workers so they can undercut competitors for the contracts and make profits at the workers’ expense.

A crowd of around a hundred supporters was there to cheer the strikers when they came out of the BEIS to begin their strike and there were speeches from trade unionists including PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash, and UCU’s Jo Grady as well as then Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP and some of the BEIS workers. I did manage to get a piece of the cake before I had to leave for the Royal Courts of Justice.

Extinction Rebellion had brought the yacht to to court to begin their ‘Summer Uprising’, another series of protests in five major cities against the criminal inaction by the government on climate and ecological collapse. The yacht was named Polly Higgins after the Scottish barrister who fought for years for an Ecocide Law and had died of cancer 3 months earlier, only 50.

When I arrived some kind of new age ceremony was taking place with people bringing water from across the country to pour into a large bowl and a Druid celebrant in long white robes. It’s one of the kind of things that makes it hard for many to take XR seriously as a movement.

But of course it is serious and the crisis that we face is existential. An ecocide law would be a powerful way to restrain some of the worst excesses of companies that are driving us to extinction. There were some good speeches at the event, with some very clear thinking, but also a few which made me cringe a little.

Eventually it was time to march, with the pink Dodo and the yacht, making our way across the river towards Waterloo where XR was to set up a camp on Waterloo Millenium Green.

There really is a climate and ecological emergency, with too many species going the way of the dodo, and we do need governments to tell the truth and make real and difficult actions to halt what seems an inevitable slide into irreversible heating which will make the world uninhabitable for many species, probably including our own. It’s time to end the kind of lip-service which has our government setting targets long into the future while ramping up disastrous policies like Heathrow expansion, road-building and coal mines.

The yacht went with them at the back of the procession, which halted for some time to block Waterloo Bridge, remembering the many arrests there in the previous XR protests, before continuing. It was then stopped by police on Waterloo Rd, causing far more rush hour traffic chaos than necessary by completely blocking the Waterloo roundabout. Eventually they were allowed to continue and occupy the green space they were heading for, but by that time I had left and walked into Waterloo station to catch my train home.

XR Summer Uprising procession
XR call for Ecocide Law
BEIS workers begin indefinite strike


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


British Museum and BP

Sunday, December 20th, 2020

Five years ago today on 20th December 2015 I went into the British Museum with “actor-vists” from ‘BP or not BP‘ to photograph their ‘A Farewell to Neil MacGregor – Director of the British Museum‘ who had enjoyed a “cosy relationship” with the museum’s sponsor, BP.

Fossil-fuel companies make their profits largely through the combustion of the hydrocarbons they produce in the engines of cars, lorries and aeroplanes and the boilers used to generate electricity and heat buildings and other processes which turn the carbon in these fuels into the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, the main cause of the global warming which is currently threatening the future of human life.

As well as that, the prospecting and exploitation of oil resources, now more and more taking place in environmentally fragile areas such as the Arctic, together with spillages, some inevitable but others demonstrating a remarkable lack of care are causing terrible damage to our environment. And of course most of what doesn’t get burned is made into plastics and we are now becoming aware of the huge amounts of this that ends up in the marine environment with disastrous consequences.

While continuing to fuel the global crisis, companies such as BP have invested heavily in promoting themselves as good guys, publicising the relatively small investments they have been making in renewable energies and other green areas. It’s a short-sighted policy as their long-term future – and ours – depends on a complete move away from carbon fuels, but one which keeps current investors rich at the cost of the rest of us.

Almost certainly the most cost-effective part of the ‘green-washing’ of BP’s ecologically disastrous activities has been their sponsorship of many of our major cultural institutions including the British Museum, something which the cultural activists of ‘BP or not BP’ have highlighted in a number of artistic interventions. I was pleased to be able to photograph their play depicting ‘BP executives’ giving a farewell party to departing Museum director ‘Neil MacGregor’ inside the British Museum’s Great Court.

Although BP’s contribution is only a fraction of the museum’s budget, they get an engraved message on the wall of the rotunda in the Great Court and their logo prominently on the publicity for the museum’s major exhibitions which have included Vikings, Ming, Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation, the Mexican Day of the Dead and Sunken Cities. As BP or Not BP point out, the last two are particularly unfortunate as BP has been given the largest corporate criminal fine in history of $18.7 billion for the underwater Deepwater Horizon oil spill which caused huge pollution of the ocean around the coast of Mexico.

My write-up on My London Diary gives a fairly full account of what happened with a lot more pictures. Many museum staff are unhappy about taking cash from BP and welcome the publicity protests like this give. The protesters assured the museum security that they would cause no damage and leave without any trouble after the relatively short performance which continued without any interruption and entertained a number of the visitors to the museum.

You can also read a fuller account, with some of my pictures and including the full text of the play on the on the BP or not BP website.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


On the Third Day

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

The rather tense stand-off between police and Extinction Rebellion protesters who were still blocking much of Westminster continued, with the police at times adopting rather rougher tactics, including the deliberate destruction of tents and other property as well as making arrests.

XR’s protest continued to be rather remarkable, with street performers, music and mimes including Charlie X as well as XR’s red and green robed troupes.

People were still determined to continue their protest and it was clear that the police were coming under increasing political pressure to end them, though quite a few officers seemed rather unhappy at what they were being ordered to do.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had attacked the protesters, insulting them as ‘crusties’ but was still failing to take any action. XR’s demands remain, calling for the government tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency, act to halt biodiversity loss, reduced emissions to net zero and create and be led by a Citizens Assembly.

There were many arrests during the day, with XR’s non-violent approach being maintained, and police succeeded in clearing some of the areas.

Extinction Rebellion Day 3


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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BEIS told to Axe Drax

Saturday, March 28th, 2020
Mayer Hillman, 88 year old Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute

I arrived some time after the start of this protest by Biofuel Watch outside the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) having been at the Royal Courts of Justice for the XR Lawyers declaration of Rebellion, but was fortunately in time to hear some of the main speakers, including Mayer Hillman who has been writing about environment issues for many years – and whose work has inspired some government actions such as energy standards for housing and 20mph speed limits to reduce road deaths. But his warnings on the need for urgent climate action over many years have so far failed to produce any significant actions.

You can listen to his video “The Last and Most Important Advice I Will Ever Give” on YouTube, which puts the information on Climate Change simply and directly. Over 70% of the greenhouse gases causing global warming come from burning fossil fuels – coal, gas and oil – which are produced by around 100 companies, and we have to stop using fossil fuels. The other main source is deforestation, with the destruction of forests for agricultural land and the burning of wood.

Drax is a major UK source of carbon dioxide, and claims huge ‘environmental subsidies’ for doing so, despite their huge contribution to global warming. Switching to wood burning has made Drax a worse polluter but the UK government gives it £2 million a day for ‘renewable’ subsidies out of our electricity bills for doing so – and Drax has plans for expansion to also become the UK’s largest gas-fired power station.

As Hillman says, if life on the planet is to continue we need urgently to stop both fossil fuel use and deforestation, but our current politicians have failed to take effective action. We need to vote them out and vote in others who will do so.

He urges people to join the global rebellion led by XR and for young people to be inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg and join the youth climate strike protests.

More at Biofuel Watch – Axe Drax at BEIS.

Rebellion continues

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

The second day of Extinction Rebellion’s shutdown of Westminster was in some respects a disturbing one for those of us who believe in civil liberties and the rule of law, with the police moving in at times like a group of thugs and deliberately destroying the property of the protesters.

XR have a dedication to non-violence and made no attempt to stop the police or to resist the arrests that took place, and the use of force seemed quite uncalled for. Of course large scale acts of civil disobedience do cause inconvenience and annoyance to others, but the response of a civilised society should be to try and resolve the issues rather than to attack the protesters.

Those who break laws can and in the case of XR do expect to be arrested but should not be assaulted and too many arrests that I saw seemed to involve an unnecessary use of violence and deliberate infliction of pain.

One new banner read ‘CLIMATE STRUGGLE = CLASS STRUGGLE’ and it is perhaps hard not to see the police as a force being used by the small group of those who are rich and powerful to protect their own narrow interests at the expense of the rest of the people. Their more vigorous response on this second day of protest can only have been a result of considerable political pressure on them to subdue the protests. They clearly came not to keep the peace but to try and win a battle.

As you can see from my pictures, the protests were still continuing at various sites around Westminster and the general atmosphere was something of a festival. But a festival with a great deal of commitment by people desperate that our government take effective action against the most serious problem faced by the country and the world. We are just beginning to see a government forced into taking belated action against the threat posed by COVID-19, but we need a similar level of action against climate change that otherwise will be even more catastrophic.

‘Everything Will Change’ whether we like it or not, but we have a choice to make changes which may avert the extinction of our species. But our government continues to fiddle while the planet burns.

More at Extinction Rebellion continues.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.