Climate camp Scotland confirmed

We do, however, know some things for certain already. The group’s strategy is mass-participation nonviolent direct action against the oil and gas industry (and in favour of a just transition). In 2022, CCS carried out an occupation of the Port of Aberdeen – Scotland’s largest berthage port. In 2023 they disrupted Grangemouth oil refinery, with one group even reaching a power station roof.

Aberdeen is among the country’s richest locations for such actions. Infrastructural targets under consideration include storage, pipelines, airports, heliports, regular ports, varied greenwashing projects, political institutions, and the “climate disaster” of a possible new gas station at Peterhead. The biggest name in town is Shell, but potential partners in infamy include Equinor and Ithaca – both big players in the controversial Rosebank development.

And while Sunday’s meeting re-asserted a preference to avoid “theatrical” disruption of offices, these remain under consideration for their potential to connect local realities with global injustices. The city’s Lloyds bank, for example, could serve to illustrate the intersection of local injustices with the global neocolonialism represented by Lloyds’ insurance of EACOP. Such connections could be especially resonant in what will likely be the run-up to a UK general election.

At the same time, CCS is notable among climate groups for its focus on empowering local communities. Despite the city’s historic reliance on oil, many residents are already pushing for a cleaner, fairer future: initiatives include the Friends of St Fittick’s Park, the Aberdeen Social Centre, an active climate youth scene, and local chapters of Extinction Rebellion and Friends of the Earth.

Balance

The event in Glasgow may have centred on strategic contemplation, but it also featured a significant “advanced direct action” training. Among other content which organisers asked me not to specify, there was a recapitulation of CCS’s philosophy of direct action. This is that such action must be targeted, disruptive, nonviolent, and that it must empower those taking part.

This last element reflects the group’s more introspective tendencies, and its self-consciousness as a young and evolving movement. Members expressed the hope that Aberdeen would allow the camp to continue growing from last year’s numbers of roughly 200. This growth is hoped to derive both from ‘outlander’ attendance and local appeal.

The question of local outreach has been an increasingly dominant theme in the group’s thinking. While extending solidarity to those in fossil capital’s ‘sacrifice zones’ might seem straightforward, it’s more complicated when it comes to those working directly in the oil and gas industry. This complexity was recently underlined by the sudden closure of Grangemouth oil refinery – the site of last year’s camp.

CCS was prompt in responding that this closure was neither “just” (it leaves workers high and dry) nor a “transition” (the plant will keep on running, just with outsourced inputs). CCS members at Sunday’s talks were keen to develop their role as working with and not against oil workers, in the hope of a truly just transition to a renewables-led energy sector.

Connection

Jim, an organiser involved in community outreach, says: “We want to work with the people of Aberdeen to stop a bad situation getting worse. Poverty and food insecurity are serious problems and getting more so. It’s clear the fossil fuel industry isn’t working for this community – we need to move away from it to something which is less harmful to people and planet”.

Alongside all the high-concept pondering, Sunday’s meeting also saw renewed commitment to the Camp as a work of movement-building. As exemplified by ally-group This is Rigged (numerous members of which were present for the CCS event), movements are only as strong as their interconnections.

Last year’s camp saw a strong focus on inclusion and accessibility, and beyond the action itself there was a plethora of talks, trainings, workshops and performances, bringing together an impressive range of nationalities and traditions.

The strategy and tactics of direct action are no doubt important; but maybe the real climate camp will be the friends we make along the way. 

This Author

Douglas Rogers is a writer, activist, and editor of Raveller magazine. Climate Camp Scotland is taking place from 10-15 July in Aberdeen.

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