In the past week, the UK has been rocking the world on climate change.

Today, as the British Parliament prepares to return from Summer Recess, over 50 Greenpeace activists scaled the UK Parliament to unfurl banners saying, "Change the Politics.  Save the Climate!"  The moment the news broke, I was at the UK Youth Climate Coalition’s Power Shift conference in London, and attendees hurriedly packed up their things to hustle over to Westminster and join in a show of spontanious support on the ground.  At least 20 of the Greenpeacers are equipped with makeshift chairs, food, and sleeping bags, and plan on spending the night as they wait for the country’s political leaders to return.

This excitement comes on the heels of two landmark, but fairly understated, decisions in UK climate policy.  Today, the British Airline BAA announced that it will put its plans for a third runway at Heathrow on hold.  And earlier this week, E.ON quietly let slip that it will shelf plans for a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth.

For the UK climate-concerned, this has been a week of incredible celebration.  The two largest fights on climate change in the UK were just won in a week, and now Greenpeace is on the roof of Parliament.  For the climate-active, these victories show the power of public campaigning.  With groups like Plane Stupid, the Campaign against Climate Change, the Climate Camps, and the Stop Climate Chaos coalition of NGOs all fighting on these for literally years, in a week it seems some sort of dam has burst. 

I learned about all these groundbreaking moments while attending Power Shift, a gathering of hundreds of UK youth building one of the most energetic and dymanic pieces of the movement.  They, like 350 advocates in Thailand, Turkey, and South Africa, went through training on telling their own stories on climate change, connecting the power of stories to our activism.  Also like the 350 advocates in Thailand, Turkey, and South Africa, people at Power Shift were fired up to make the 24th of October another, global, groundbreaking moment.  Emily, our UK Youth 350 rockstar, and I had trouble keeping up with the mob of people and ideas coming to us for the big day, now just two weeks away.  350 Boxing (Bringing the "Fight" to Copenhagen), a University festival, a late autumn polar bear dip in the lake… 

If the Heathrow and Kingsnorth decisions burst open a dam, Greenpeace was the first to walk through it, or climb through it and onto the roof of Parliament.  With the over 100 actions planned already, and an army of young people fresh from 4 days of training and Power Shifting unleashed into the countryside, I hope the 24th will bring a massive flood through that gate that’s now been opened.  And with things like the Great Swoop planned just next week, and organizing in the works for December 5th in London, and the plans for the 24th growing well over 100 actions wide, the UK climate scene is just bringing the house down.  Congrats, all.


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