Camp for Climate Action

Project aims:

Everything the Camp for Climate Action does shares the following aims:

* Education: raising our own and wider public understanding of the problem, its root causes and how it might be solved;

* Sustainable living: exploring and experiencing in practice some of the ways in which a truly sustainable society might function;

* Direct action: taking part in small and large group action to confront the root causes of climate change;

* Movement-building: acting in solidarity and forging links with people and groups with common or related interests, including workers and the communities or populations most acutely affected by climate change in Britain and throughout the world, to build a movement with the wisdom, diversity and strength to achieve true ecological and social justice.

Summary of activity:

The only way in which the Camp for Climate Action (CfCA) exists is through neighbourhood meetings, UK Gatherings and direct actions that result from these meetings. Geographically organised neighbourhood meetings draw in activists from a particular area and normally meet in one or more towns or cities in their region. For example there is a London neighbourhood meeting in central London, … More information is available on the CfCA website, under ‘get involved’ and local groups pages. The UK Gatherings have generally happened on a monthly basis, and give an opportunity for all the neighbourhoods to gather and decide what actions to take, nationally, regionally and locally. Neighbourhoods are autonomous and can also make suggestions for national action at a UK Gathering. All meetings and Gatherings operate within consensus decision-making solutions.
This system also operates during a Climate Camp, as camping areas and kitchens are arranged according to the neighbourhoods. Each neighbourhood and working group on the site sends a ‘spoke’ to daily hub meetings. Notes of each neighbourhood, working group and hub meeting were made available at meetings and on neighbourhood noticeboards.
The location, length and style of Camp were debated at length in monthly UK Climate Camp gatherings and regular neighbourhood meetings from January 2009-June 2009. From April 2009, working groups were set up to cover the logistics of preparing for, holding and deconstructing the Camp. The working groups met at UK Gatherings and networked through email lists and tele-conferences. Some groups held additional physical meetings. Many of the working groups used guidelines prepared by working groups for previous Camps. When new working methods were needed, the wisdom and consensus decision making of each monthly UK Gathering was sought.
The working groups networked with each other to enable the site to be occupied midday 26th August. Site security, composting toilets, kitchens, camping areas, workshops and entertainments were all working by the afternoon on 26th August. Less obvious working groups were also in action, such as the welcome group welcoming activists and visitors, and the meetings group facilitating daily meetings and information flow between each neighbourhood and working group. The outreach group and media group were particularly active in the run-up to the event and during the event, inviting national and regional groups, local groups and people and explaining the Blackheath Camp to anyone who asked.
Then much fun was had by all involved. The workshops informed and skilled up participants about economics, climate science, community facilitation skills, and direct action techniques. Various direct actions were developed on-site and took place in central London. Planning for a larger direct action at Ratcliffe in October 2009 and Climate Camp’s role at Copenhagen were also carried out. The Camp led by example for all activists and visitors by providing vegan food, renewable powered infrastructure and composting toilets. Twice daily tours introduced visitors to the Camp and the Site working group kept all the infrastructure working.

Please see and

Evaluation approach:

The Camp was evaluated by participants during a facilitated meeting on the last day and published on the website here

In summary, concerns raised were that:

CfCA is becoming co-opted or too close to the state

There was insufficient direct action related to the Camp

Inclusion of the general public, and avoidance of conflict/controversy during the Camp had excluded more radical elements

The messages of the Camp were incoherent

Various hierarchies and discriminations operate despite interventions; Campers remain a relatively undiverse group, especially compared to London’s population

Burn-out of activists through poor division of labour and skill sharing

There was insufficient engagement with workplace & community struggles

What went well:

Huge amounts of positive feedback from the general public and local residents.

High profile in the national and London media, of the Camp and related direct actions.

Popular workshops programme – CfCA continues to benefit from the learning

New links built with climate activists in Canada and Africa

Crucial planning for Ratcliffe and Copenhagen

What was learned:

Please refer to ‘where next’ document mentioned above, and UK Gathering minutes since August 2009. As a result of experiences during 2009-10, CfCA has been shifting from a UK process to a regional process, with decision making and action planning shifting away from UK Gatherings to regional groupings.

Top tips and advice for others

Consensus decision making works and adds value to any activity, though needs trained and experienced facilitators.

Share skills and record how activities are undertaken, so that learning is gathered.

Keep open to the radical edge.

About this project


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