July 15th was an 'International Day of Direct Action for Climate Justice, against Climate Change and the G8' called in part by Rising Tide North America. London Rising Tide (LRT) decided to take action the day before - a weekday, as well as being a more general day of action against the G8 and in solidarity with those on the streets of St. Petersburg and across Russia.
LRT"s plan was an occupation of Tulchan Communications, a public relations firm that counts Drax Group plc, which owns and runs Drax coal-fired power station, amongst its clients. Drax is also the site of this summer's Camp for Climate Action, which plans disruption of it as well as lessons on low impact living.
Here is a quote from Tulchan's website, which may explain why they have the Drax contract: 'From issues affecting corporate reputation such as product recalls, environmental crises or human disasters, to hostile and unsolicited takeover bids, Tulchan has handled a wide variety of crises for its clients. We have the resource, skill and experience to guide companies through torrid times. When a rapid response is critical, we will work closely with our client to prepare the required responses to protect the corporate reputation.'
Anyway, they were on their toes on the morning of the 14th, as the occupation was halted in its tracks at the front door. As a fall back, the banner featuring the digits 'C' 'O' and '2' was unfurled, and leaflets distributed, with many workers from companies sharing the building coming over for a chat, and some speaking of their worries for the future.
Also, some minxes sent out to the media a spoof report headed 'DRAX POWER IN DRAMATIC TERMINATION OF PR CONTRACT - Shock move comes as response to negative publicity triggered by ‘Camp for Climate Action’'. This forced Drax' Head of External Affairs to issue a mass email declaring the story to be a 'hoax', and resulted in a snippet in the following day's Financial Times.
While we didn't achieve our intended goal of getting the climate camp message out loud and clear with an audacious action, it was good to have been able to have been a small part of a worldwide mobilisation to get rid of the G8, and to rise above everything it stands for. But we might have to think again about planning covert actions on international days of action!
Text of leaflet distributed outside Tulchan (which is also an edited version of the press release):
DRAX POWER IN DRAMATIC TERMINATION OF PR CONTRACT, 14.7.06
Shock move comes as response to negative publicity triggered by ‘Camp for Climate Action’
Drax Group plc, the company that owns and runs Drax coal-fired power station, today terminated all contracts with its public relations company of choice, Tulchan Communications. Senior Drax executives arrived unexpectedly at the PR firm’s office in the City of London at 9am, demanding an emergency meeting with Tulchan founder Andrew Grant.
Drax management is furious at Tulchan’s handling of the announcement by ‘climate justice’ activists that they plan to seriously disrupt the power station during the summer. From August 26th, the ‘Camp for Climate Action’ is planning 10 days of ‘workshops, meetings, information-sharing and direct action against key sections of the fossil fuel economy’.
‘dirty-powered firing squad’
Another senior source at Tulchan reacted angrily to the contract termination by what he referred to as Drax’ ‘dirty-powered firing squad’. ‘It’s all very well for Drax to blame us for negative publicity, but what chance do we have when these eco-types have statistics like “Drax produces over 20 million tonnes of CO2 a year and is Europe’s biggest emitter of CO2” at their disposal? We warned them not to slash their biofuels programme earlier this year, but as usual they were blinded by the bottom line and were unable to see that this sort of tiny but well-publicised flagship CSR project can divert public attention from a multitude of sins. I wash my hands of the lot of them.’
‘No place for coal’
In a bizarre twist to the saga, the Drax executives emerged from Tulchan later on Friday covered from head to foot in coal dust. Whatever the explanation, this extraordinary story is sure set both the PR and energy industry on fire with debate and conjecture.
‘Capitalism will probably consume itself as the rich pickings grow scarce – maybe this is a prefiguring of that?’ mused The Camp for Climate Action’s Jess Turner. ‘Our main message is that burning coal has no place in a society that wants to avoid catastrophic climate change. Govern-ments and business are hard-wired to produce maximum economic growth, so can’t solve the climate crisis. At the risk of sounding melodramatic: enter the people.’
Source: RT Livewire - 07926 033176 firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Drax Power
From: "Melanie Wedgbury"
Date: Fri, July 14, 2006 4:06 am
Drax Power has been made aware of an email circulated this morning
referring to its relationship with Tulchan Communications.
Please be aware that this email is a hoax and should be ignored.
Head of External Affairs
020 7353 4200
By Clay Harris
FT, July 15 2006
It was an earlier Dorothy Thompson, the mid-century US journalist, who said: "People have confidence in women to get them out of trouble." Mudlark suspects she would have been amused by some agitprop aimed at her namesake's company yesterday.
Camp for Climate Action, a group protesting against Drax Group's coal-fired powered station, distributed a press release purporting to announce Drax's sacking of its financial PR firm, Tulchan Communications.
Although a hoax, the nearly plausible wording of the release won a certain admiration from Tulchan, which said: "It's quite amusing but not true."