I spent my Sunday morning campaigning and sweating uncontrollably in a spider monkey costume provided by Greenpeace HQ. Well, that makes it sound like I spent all morning in there… I actually managed just 45 minutes. It was unbearable after a while; it was like a sauna inside!
Herne Hill Market gave us a stall right next to the train station and the cash machine which was a prime position. I think Sunday markets are a fantastic venue for street campaigning if you can get your hands on a stall, because there are guaranteed to be lots of people milling keen to discover things. More importantly, these people are more likely to take the time to listen as it’s Sunday and nobody is in any rush to do their shopping unlike supermarket shoppers.
There were lots of families with small children around, and there were mixed emotions as far as the spider monkey was concerned… One little girl loved the costume so much; she was laughing non-stop, repeatedly gave me high fives and was dancing with me. Another little girl took one look at me, burst into tears and kept saying “scary monkey mummy!” Either way, it got us the attention we wanted. Rule number one of street campaigning: engage the kids = engage the parents!
Greenpeace Southwark (yes, part of Herne Hill is counted as Southwark!) were stationed there to raise awareness of the Greenpeace: Save the Heart of the Amazon campaign. The heart of the Amazon rainforest is under threat. A series of monster dams could flood a huge area around the Tapajós river, destroying the home of Indigenous People and rare wildlife, including spider monkeys. But one Indigenous community, the Munduruku, are fighting back – and Greenpeace are backing them.
The largest of the planned dams had its permit cancelled back in August after more than a million of us campaigned against it. If we get enough people to join the movement the Brazilian government will have to protect the heart of the Amazon for good. We’re also undermining the foundations of the whole project by putting pressure on Siemens, who are one of the only companies who can provide the turbines for these hydropower dams.
I listened to a recommended Energydesk podcast on my way to the market called Damning the Amazon: The Fight for the Tapajós River where Helle Abelvik-Lawson explains how the Brazilian government are claiming that the hydropower dams will create clean energy with 0% carbon emissions. Great right?! WRONG. This is pure green-washing because in the flooding of huge areas of rainforest, comes the killing of thousands of trees and, as these trees decompose, they emit methane gas which in the short term is actually a worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide…
What’s more, the Brazilian government can then sell this ‘clean’ energy twice over as ‘carbon credits’ to ‘balance out’ countries producing high levels of carbon emissions. WHAT?! This has to be stopped.
We had a lot of fun and a really productive session, getting a total of 53 postcards to send to the chief exec of Siemens UK. It was great to speak to people who had absolutely no idea about the planned dams; it’s always good to come away from a street campaign knowing that you’ve raised awareness.