Two recent stories highlight the importance of the right to protest about climate change.

One came after news that Havas - the advertising firm that used to be able to justify its B-corp status - awarded to firms that show high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency - is now shaping up to greenwash Shell.

Extinction Rebellion were there in September staging a die-in to alert the company they might trash their reputation by accepting the Shell contract.

But Havas have gone ahead, and the eyes of the world were turned on their Kings Cross offices again this month, not in a good way, when protesters gathered outside. Privately owned companies have no shareholders to hold a moral compass to their activities when they suffer integrity drift and activists step up ( )

In the other, Farnborough Private Airport saw hundreds of protesters on Saturday, January 27, streaming in from all over the UK and beyond. Private jets are incompatible with taking action to ameliorate the climate, ecological and pollution disaster we are sleepwalking towards. Not only do private jets contribute half of aviation pollution, they travel without passengers 40% of the time. 

Ham & High: Dorothea Hackman defends the rights for people to protestDorothea Hackman defends the rights for people to protest (Image: Archant)

Local groups have kept the faith, protesting against the conspicuous consumption of the entitled wealthy (who could surely pay more taxes instead to ease the calamity of the cost of living rises for ordinary folk queuing at foodbanks). But now the airport wants to expand instead of curtailing the atrocity and the protesters let Rushmoor Borough Council know we all should care and they must refuse planning permission for expansion.

The United Nations has now issued a letter about the oppression of climate protesters in Europe. This is not only about the extraordinary length of prison sentences - consider the three-year sentence for one Just Stop Oil protester at the Dartford Crossing - but also the legislation taking away the right to protest altogether and using injunctions to impose outrageously high financial penalties.

This is in a context where judges direct that climate activists may not inform juries of their motivation, and people who alert jurors to their right to find according to their convictions, as enshrined on the wall at the Old Bailey, have been arrested.

Turning to the insurance companies and new fossil fuel projects: there are of course business reasons not to be involved with risky projects, but it is nevertheless important that one refused to accept the risk of insuring, for instance, Adani’s Carmichael mine in Queensland. (Shame on our museums for taking oil money for greenwashing fossil fuel companies.)

There are many examples, but the glaring impending disaster is the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which must not go ahead. The very least we can do is prevent new fossil fuel while we figure out how to backpedal from current greenhouse gas levels.

Undaunted by the recent theft of a climate protest banner from St Pancras Church, Euston, there's one flying again…

  • Dorothea Hackman is chair of Camden Civic Society.