Climate change campaigners are to target the offices of a dozen companies and government departments across central London in a week of raucous direct action, starting today with the opening of the 2009 Climate Camp.
The actions, which will be sudden and unannounced and will range from noisy protests to the blocking of entrances to attempted occupation, will all be planned from the camp, to be set up this afternoon at a London location which has hitherto been kept secret.
The key targets will be the headquarters of companies such as BP, Shell and the German energy giant E.ON, which the protesters have called "climate criminals" for their involvement in the fossil fuel industries whose carbon emissions are causing global warming.
Also in the campaigners' sights are Heathrow Airport, the Bank of England, and government departments from the Treasury to Transport, Business, and even Ed Miliband's Department of Energy and Climate Change – which the activists claim is "not doing nearly enough to fulfil its alleged mandate".
Although other bodies may also be the focus of protest, the main objectives are listed in a climate camp document as "the dirty dozen – 12 London-based organisations that are causing climate change". The document says: "Climate Camp has come back to London because to stop climate change, you have to go to the belly of the beast."
The plan for the 2009 camp is significantly different from the three previous climate camps which were sited next to their protest targets – in 2006 at Drax power station in Yorkshire, in 2007 at Heathrow airport, and in 2008 at Kingsnorth power station in Kent – and in each case culminated in a mass demonstration to try to shut them down, followed by major confrontations with the police.
Organisers of this year's camp say it will not itself be the site of mass protest, but will be used to train volunteers for direct action, especially in an attempt to shut down one of Britain's biggest power stations, planned for October (which one has yet to be decided).
However, it has now become clear that the camp will be the base for disruptive demonstrations across central London throughout the coming days. "Think of it as a mother ship, from which people will stream out, for a week of fun and games," one source said last night. "They will be small groups who know each other and trust each other, but you are not going to know where and when they will turn up, or how many they will be."
The planned location of the camp has been kept a tightly guarded secret; all that has been disclosed so far is that it will be "within the M25". At noon today, more than 1,000 activists are expected to turn up at six "swoop points" in London where they will receive text messages revealing the location; they will then head straight to it with their tents, sleeping bags and pots and pans.
The six meeting points, which the campaigners say will not be the target of direct action today, are all symbolic locations for them: they are the headquarters of major oil companies and of the mining giant Rio Tinto; the site of the 2012 Olympics; Stockwell Tube station where Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by police in 2005; and the Bank of England, where bystander Ian Tomlinson died after an encounter with police during April's protests at the G20 summit in London.
Climate campaigners were prominently involved in those protests, later making lengthy accusations of police brutality and violence. Police conduct has since been fiercely criticised in several official reports.
The way they deal with this year's camp will be closely scrutinised, and the Metropolitan Police have been making conciliatory noises, saying they intend to deal with the camp in a "community policing" manner, holding several meetings with the camp organisers, and even setting up a special Twitter account to inform the activists in advance of police moves.
However, Chief Superintendent Helen Ball said last night that police were "disappointed" that the cooperation from the camp had been limited.
Targeted: Twelve institutions
* Department of Energy and Climate Change
* Department for Business
* Department for Transport
* The Stock Exchange
* The Bank of England
* Shell HQ
* The European Climate Exchange
* Royal Bank of Scotland HQ
* The Treasury
* BP HQ
* Heathrow airport
* London office of E.ON