Climate9 sentenced for Aberdeen Airport invasion

Nine Plane Stupid protesters who shut down Aberdeen airport on the morning of March 3rd 2009 appeared in court today to finally receive their sentences. The judge and court took the protesters' urgent message on climate change seriously and gave out very modest fines ranging from £300 to £700 each.

During the two week trial in June, expert witnesses explained how aviation emissions are fuelling climate change and detailed some of the local, national and international effects, such as the impact of flooding on Scottish communities.

In anticipation of the sentencing one of the trial's expert witnesses Dr Geoff Meaden said: "Society’s problem is that, other than through civil disobedience, there are often no legitimate means of getting governments (at any level) to ‘act correctly’ or to act in the best long term interests of people, environments or indeed the planet. In the absence of such a ‘jury’ or ‘commission’, then we have to be glad that there are groups such as Climate9 who are bold enough to bring to the public’s attention existing injustices."

Since the trial the Climate9 has also received support from communities around the world, suffering from climate change effects. The nine defendants have vowed to continue their campaign highlighting the danger of aviation carbon emissions.

Dan Glass, one of the Climate9 members said: "Against the backdrop of the Copenhagen Summit failures and new waves of climate chaos, all over the world people demanding climate justice have complained to the politicians and to the judges. It’s time we did something for ourselves. The Climate9 will not uphold increasing state and police repression and camouflage the struggle that is climate injustice.

"The Climate9 provide an opportunity to spread the need for urgent action, to halt airport growth and to challenge the authorities with pride and confidence. Whatever we received today, this climate court trial won't be the last time. Our future and the health of every species is too important to leave it in the hands of the few."

One such group is The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland who passed this in the AGM in response to the Climate9 movement: "Affirm that there are times when non violent direct action involving potential and actual civil disobedience in the form of deliberate lawbreaking, may be regarded as a legitimate approach to expressing the Gospel."

Two days before sentencing one of Britain's best-known defence barristers also threw his weight behind the Climate9. Michael Mansfield QC said, "As I write one fifth of Pakistan, already blighted by earthquakes, is covered with flood waters threatening the health and safety of over six million people. Without conscientious and principled protest which focuses on the undoubted factors which contribute to this decimation of the environment, the urgency of the problem will not be addressed. I trust these entirely legitimate and selfless objectives will be reflected in the way the Climate 9 are judged by the court."

Jimmy Kerr, one of the Climate9 members said: "The trial generated public support from many corners keeping up the pressure on the legal system to one day recognise the importance of environmental action. Indeed we need to keep that momentum up. There is so much knowledge to be shared as a result of this case, from and legal issues, to public health to popular education and much much more. We can offer talks, workshops or advice and you can help by arranging an event and inviting us to take part."

Climate9 - the verdict

Last year the Climate 9 stopped tonnes of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions by disrupting operations at Aberdeen Airport. After deliberating for 4 hours, the majority of the jury in Aberdeen- the 'oil capital of Europe', found them guilty of breach of the peace. They will be sentenced in August.

The court of international opinion has come to a slightly different verdict, with messages of support flooding in from those on the frontline of climate change and commentators like John Pilger and Mike Mansfield QC.

This is the first time since the failure of the Copenhagen process that evidence of the dangers of climate change and aviation emissions have been presented by climate experts to a jury.

Speaking during the trial, expert witnesses Dr Alice Bows and Dr Geoff Meaden shocked many by explaining that the UK governements emissions targets are not radical enough to prevent future generations from experiencing catastrophic events. Like the flooding in Brazil this week, where 100,000 people have been made homeless, 1,000 peoplle are missing and at least 42 people sadly lost their lives.

These horrific events are why we must continue to take action to stop greenhouse gas emmissions, especially when the response from the government is woefully inadequate.

As one of the defendants, Jimmy, explained outside the court:

"While they talk, and nothing changes, people all over the world are starting to act. Even if it means standing up against the states use of legal intimidation. This verdict shows that the mechanisms of the establishment won't stop run away climate change. The expert witnessess have shown that we must take effective action, the protest at Aberdeen has shown that we can."

Ambulance worker tells court that Plane Stupid protestors did not delay ambulance flight

The Climate 9 and supporters outside Aberdeen Court

The trial of the Climate 9 protesters in Aberdeen heard yesterday from an air ambulance witness that the protesters were not responsible for delaying an air ambulance, as had previously been suggested during yesterday's evidence for the prosecution.

The written statement from Stephen Wright of GAMA Aviation – the firm in charge of air ambulances out of Aberdeen Airport – given to police on Tuesday 3rd March 2009 shortly after the protest ended stated:

"I became aware that there was some form of protest on Aberdeen Airport this morning, I picked up this through the media prior to attending our site. I have contacted my Operations manager, who works out of Farnborough Airport, regarding this matter and he informed me that he in turn had contacted the Aberdeen Airport Duty Manager and he in turn informed us (GAMA Aviation) that due to our flight type, was not going to be interfered with and our flight slot was guaranteed.

"Our flight was scheduled to take off at 8.00am this morning, but in fact took off about 8.35am, but this was due to our operational delay by the medics and not the protestors.

"This incident has had no financial or life threatening or operational impact on our operation.I have no complaint regarding this matter. I was seen later by the police and gave this statement."

During cross-examination Wright confirmed that this was the case, countering prior claims, both during and immediately after the action and yesterday in court, that the defendants were not at fault for endangering lives during the air side action.

Juliana Napier, from the Climate 9 defence committee said:

"This evidence is incredibly important in establishing what happened during the action. The Climate 9 freely assembled inside Aberdeen airport to stop the harmful emissions causing runaway climate change and raise awareness of the issue. They did this to ensure that our own and future generations can enjoy good health in a healthy environment not to endanger the lives or health of anyone."

The prosecution will present witnesses for the next few days and the trial is set to continue until the end of next week.