European energy conglomerate E.on wants to build a new coal-fired power plant in Kent, England and is having a hard go of it thanks to a coalition of activists who aren't keen on their country being home to a plant that will pump out millions of tons of CO2 emissions (and mercury, heavy metals, and other bad things) over its multi-decade lifetime.
E.on hired PR firm Edelman to advise them on the best way to sell the project to the public and authorities and are hyping the technological boondoggle of carbon dioxide capture and storage as a salve to ease the troubles of emissions. To be clear, carbon dioxide capture and storage has never been proven to work in a real world setting and is mostly used as a delaying, marketing, and/or fundraising tactic by Big Coal.
In return for their consulting work with E.on, Edelman was recently the target of an unconventional protest in which activists stripped down naked in the Edelman lobby, held up a banner, and talked about the problems with coal power.
Edelman's CEO, Robert Phillips (on Twitter), dismissed the protest as a "cheap stunt" in a Sky News post. Edelman had offered to sit down with the protesters in their offices but the activists wanted the meeting to take place in the lobby so, and I'm just guessing here, they could film it (and let's be honest, a protest gets a lot more press than sitting down and actually talking).
For a video of the actual protest (and something from a PR point of view), you can swing over to Mark Borkowski's site. A quick word of warning though, there are bums in the video, and not the kind that ask you for spare change. If you're adverse to seeing people's bottoms, don't hit play on the video at the bottom of Mark's post.
Al Gore once asked why young people weren't "blocking bulldozers and preventing them from constructing new coal-fired power plants". There is a lot at stake with E.on's new coal plant that reaches far beyond the emissions generated by the one plant; there are six more coal-fired power plants being considered- if this one plant can be stopped then the others will probably fail as a result.
Coal is being killed all over the place. Protesters and activists successfully lobbied the federal government to stop burning coal in the U.S. Capitol Power Plant in Washington, DC, a plant that supplied heating and cooling to the U.S. Capitol. In all, over a hundred plants have been prevented from being built since 2001.
They might not have been blocking bulldozers, but the naked Edelman protesters were certainly fulfilling the spirit of Al Gore's question. Misplaced target or not, it succeeded in bringing attention to something very much in need of an audience- coal is the enemy of mankind and we have to stop burning it as soon as humanly possible. Every power plant counts, every new plant needs to be fought against.
Here's a video that six of the activists made to explain the reasoning behind their nude protest. It's entirely safe for work, all the naughty bits are covered by the big pink banner.
What do you think?
Hat tip to my pal Chris Baskind for sending this one over.
Are you on Twitter? Follow me (@sheagunther) there, I give good tweets.
And if you really like my writing, you can join my Facebook page.