It’s 6:40 in the morning. We are warm and toasty in our sleeping bag, but the air is cold, and I can tell that outside the ground is frosty. The police helicopter went overhead about 40 minutes ago and the air horn to wake us all up followed half an hour later, but my son is still sleeping next to me. It feels strange to be awake before him; at six months old he is normally the first one up in our household.
I hear the excited chatter of people getting ready for an adventure outside the tent, and think about what will happen that day, as I build up the energy for the unknown challenge of joining a protest as a family.
We have been at the Reclaim the Power camp for the past two days. We have heard the history of radical land rights, taken part in meetings of 300+ coming to consensus decisions, had legal briefings, attended action planning meetings, and painted banners – all ready for the day of action.
And it has arrived. Today we will be shutting down the UK’s largest open cast coal mine. Over 250 people will enter the mine from three different directions while we, alongside others, will be outside the gates with music and banners having a visible presence to those that pass by.
As my son wakes for the day I think about why I am there, up a cold mountain in Wales. We should not be mining new coal, but investing in renewable energy. I am here for climate justice. I am here in solidarity with those locally whose economy is disproportionally tied to the mine, and whose surrounding landscape is becoming scarred by a great black hole. And I am here in solidarity with communities around the world who are also being affected by fossil fuel extraction, and those who are already being affected by climate change while world leaders fail to make decisions on emissions and ‘acceptable levels’ for the global temperature to rise. I am here for change.
My son is up and we head out of the tent. Everyone is wearing red and there is a palpable sense of anticipation as the final preparations. My son looks around, confused and excited about such an unusual start to the day. We join our friends, ready to set off, and hear the news that action teams have already shut down the mine!
And the action starts. I watch as 300 people, with banners and music, head off over the hills towards the mine. I know that this is where I have to be; up a cold mountain in Wales, ready to spend the day as part of the global shift to #Breakfree from fossil fuels and towards climate justice.