British Court Acquits Greenpeace Activists; Says Property Damage from Global Warming Justifies Attempt to Shut Down Coal Plant
Verdict marks a 'tipping point' for climate change movement
In a victory for Greenpeace and efforts to stop global warming, a British court today acquitted six Greenpeace volunteers of attempting to shut down a coal-fired power plant in Kent, England on the grounds that they had a “lawful excuse.” The court said that the coal plant was causing so much property damage around the world from global warming that it exceeded the property damage done through shutting operations of the plant.
The acquittal is the first case where preventing property damage from climate change has been used as part of a 'lawful excuse' defense in court. The defense has previously been successfully deployed by defendants accused of damaging a military jet bound for Indonesia to be used in the war against East Timor before independence.
The Maidstone Crown Court heard testimony from NASA climate expert James Hansen, an Inuit leader from Greenland and the British Conservative Party’s environment adviser. The jury was told that the Kingsnorth Power Plant emits 20,000 tons of CO2 every day - the same amount as the 30 least polluting countries in the world combined – and that the British government had advanced plans to build a new coal-fired power station next to the existing site on the Hoo Peninsula in Kent .
The 'not guilty' verdict means the jury believed that shutting down the coal plant was justified in the context of the damage to property caused by CO2 emissions from Kingsnorth.