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So last weekend we went and camped on a wet and windy patch of common land beside Ffos-y-Fran, the UK’s largest open cast coal mine. Sorry, it’s not a coal mine, it’s a “land reclamation project”, allowing it to break EU law and sit right beside the town Merthyr Tydfill, exposing the residents to constant coal dust, air pollution and noise. A second, proposed 6-million-tonne coal mine on legal common ground just metres down the road would be a disaster for both the local community, the local environnment and the climate.

Around 400 people from around the UK and Europe gathered with local residents, action groups, ex-miners, unions and council members to listen, learn from each other and plan for a clean energy future via a spot of civil disobedience.

This action, which successfully stopped work on the mine and resulted in no arrests or injuries, was the first of 27 mass actions around the world over two weeks, from Canada, through Nigeria and the Philippines to New Zealand to demand the end of dirty fossil fuels and a transition to a clean energy future and a stable climate. To find out more about this head to breakfree2016.org.

On a personal note, it was as always, incredibly moving and inspiring to be around such a cross-section of smart, thoughtful, switched-on people working together to create a better world. We can build a better world.

Above left; Brian La Carbonara helping to provide carbon negative hot water for the camp the camp. His ‘rocket with a pocket stove’ collects charcoal from the burn and it can be buried, or turned via a process of biomass gasification (the works behind him on the roof) into useable fuel for his vehicle.
It was so lovely to meet up with again and spend time with the wonderful Alyson (centre). Alyson and her husband Chris are instrumental in UVAG, the local campaign to halt the open cast coal mine. A few years earlier they had opened their home and lives to me for a when I visited Merthyr Tydfil with my camera in 2009.
An integral part of the success of grassroots campaigning is co-operation across the community. Activists from Reclaim The Power: End Coal Now met with local residents, ex-miners, union representatives and Green Party members at the Fochriw Community Centre to talk, plan, make banners and flowers, drink tea and eat masses of the greatest victoria sponge cake ever made.
On Tuesday, the day of action, hundreds of people together committed a mass civil trespass and with their bodies, banners and giant silver inflatables formed a massive red line across the mine, a red line for the climate that must not be crossed.
The action included an artistic performance piece, with the carrying and reading of 10000 pages of energy system rules, “dominated by a small, self-selected group with a vested interest in the status quo and who are in their own world”.