Thursday, 13 November 2008

E.ON BACKS DOWN IN BATTLE FOR KINGSNORTH

National wave of student protest forces energy giant to abandon
recruitment tour.

Anti-coal protests at graduate careers fairs around the UK have forced
E.ON to cancel the remainder of its recruitment tour. The energy company,
which is planning to build a new coal power station at Kingsnorth, Kent
[1], has seen at least seventeen of its careers events disrupted over the
last few weeks [2].

This has been a co-ordinated national effort from students involved in
People & Planet, the Coal Action Network, and the Camp for Climate Action
[3]. Leaflets, banners, fancy dress, conversations with attendees and
eye-catching stunts were used to embarrass E.ON and dissuade graduates
from joining the company [4]. The Royal Bank of Scotland, one of E.ON's
main financial backers, were also targeted at the fairs over their role in
providing loans to build the proposed new power station [5].

These tactics have been a resounding success. On Tuesday morning, student
activists arrived at Loughborough University Graduate Fair to find the
E.ON stall empty. Yesterday in Birmingham there were similar scenes, with
students dressed as elephants (because climate change is the "elephant in
E.ON's boardroom") finding no target for their protest. Upon enquiry the
organisers [6] informed Loughborough students that E.ON had cancelled
their remaining graduate recruitment events this year, due to the level of
protest they had received.

While E.ON has thus far failed to comment on their decision to pull out of
the graduate recruitment fairs, Jane Benson of the Camp for Climate Action
said today: "This is a great step for the campaign against a new coal
fired power station at Kingsnorth. E.ON know they can't defend their plans
in the midst of a climate crisis, so rather than be embarrassed in front
of potential employees they've chosen to run away."

This victory for campaigners comes just two weeks before a planned 48
hours of action against E.ON and new coal [7]. The two days of action
(Friday 28th and Saturday 29th November) are being supported by the Camp
for Climate Action, Rising Tide, Plane Stupid and Campaign against Climate
Change. The new government Department for Energy and Climate Change is
currently deliberating over whether to give the go-ahead for a new coal
power station at Kingsnorth, and an announcement is expected soon.

Robert Jenkins from the People & Planet Associated Network for Direct
Action (PANDA) said "E.ON think they are safe, because most people don't
know they are the owners of Kingsnorth power station. These recruitment
fairs have helped to out E.ON as the biggest climate criminal in the UK.
After all, as they themselves boast, climate change lies at the heart of
everything they do [8]. Everyone who cares about our future on this planet
should join us for 48 hours of action against E.ON and new coal at the end
of November."

For more details and to arrange interviews with activists who were at the
events, call 07903 733262 or 07804 951217.

Photographs of some of the actions are attached to this email.

ENDS

[1] E.ON have applied for Government permission to build the first new UK
coal-fired plant in thirty years at Kingsnorth in Kent. If built, this
power station would produce the same amount of carbon dioxide as the
world's 30 least polluting countries combined.

[2] Careers events at the following universities were targeted by student
campaigners: Glasgow, Durham, Southampton, King's College London,
Imperial, York, Sheffield, Aston, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds,
Liverpool, Loughborough, Manchester, Nottingham and Oxford. See
http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/11/412804.html for more details. This
represents almost all of E.ON's planned 2008 recruitment events (see
http://www.eon-uk.com/Careers/Graduates/807.aspx for the full list).

[3] See www.peopleandplanet.org, www.leaveitintheground.org.uk, and
www.climatecamp.org.uk.

[4] Here are some of the tactics used by campaigners at a few of the events:

Leeds: Leafleted, talked to students, dropped an "E.ON:F.OFF" banner from
a balcony inside the fair
Bristol: Attended two fairs with leaflets, stickers and a polar bear,
until thrown out by security
Liverpool: Leaflets, conversations with graduates and a banner drop
Glasgow: A team of Rebel Clowns invaded the fair
Nottingham: A gang of grim reapers flyered the fair and congratulated E.ON
staff on the death rate from climate change
Manchester: A "Flashmob" wearing bright yellow "Leave It In The Ground"
T-shirts materialised at the fair, handed out hundreds of flyers and
dumped coal all over E.ON's stall.
Kings College London: Flyered the fair and covered the backs of security
guards in "No New Coal" stickers
Imperial: The fair was invaded and flyered, and E.ON were serenaded with a
"soul power not coal power" song.
Cambridge: Invaded the fair with T-shirts and leaflets, and dropped "Make
a Living - Not a Killing" banners outside.
Oxford: Flyered, presented E.ON with a "Best Greenwash" award and dumped
coal on their stall.

In total, hundreds of activists were involved, and thousands of leaflets
were distributed to graduates.

[5] In 2008, the report, 'Cashing in on Coal', showed that in the
preceding two years, RBS-NatWest had been loaned an estimated $16 billion
in 27 different loans to coal-related companies around the world,
including taking part in loans worth $70 billion to E.ON at a time when it
was announcing plans to construct 17 new coal and gas-fired power plants
across Europe. see http://www.oyalbankofscotland.com/cioc/

[6] The Loughborough fair (and many of the others) were organised by
AIESEC http://www.aiesec.co.uk/.

[7] See http://www.e-onf-off.org.uk/ for more details

[8] The most prominent slogan on E.ON's recruitment stall was "Tackling
climate change isn't something that's tacked onto our agenda. It's at the
heart of our business". This was widely spoofed by activists at the
events, by the simple removal of the word "tackling".

1 comment:

geecologist said...

E.ON the energy company? So let me get this straight, E.ON building a new coal power station when all the science suggests that will make the targets in the climate bill unreachable is a bad thing? Hmmmm, naughty E.ON!