Not Stupid Launch: Maldives, Miliband & Pete's Pledge

Date 17th Mar 2009


What happened after the film was pretty extraordinary for lots of different reasons. 

Here's some pics from the post-film Q&A (courtesy of Karen Robinson & Steve Finn), followed by the first half of the live satellite broadcast which was beamed out to all 62 cinemas taking part in the People's Premiere, including a report from the Youth Premiere in Fulham, snaps of audiences up and down the country, and an update from Piers on his ongoing windfarm battle with the NIMBYs of middle england...

Preaching to the converted?

Preaching to the converted?

Franny begins proceedings by proving that Stupid is reaching the parts other eco-prop can't, with a quick reading from the hilarious News of the World review of the film: "Film of the Week: A Deeply Inconvenient Kick Up The Backside... you won't see a more important film this year".

Pete explains his involvement

Pete explains his involvement in Stupid

"There's only one star of this show, and that's humanity... I'm very proud and honoured to be part of it... there's more than dinosaurs going to be extinct here."

Gillian Anderson on Heathrow and Kingsnorth

Gillian Anderson on Stupid, Heathrow and Kingsnorth

"It really does make you think, what can I do? We need to talk to our governments about things that really cannot happen in the near future, from third runways to coal fired power stations, all those things are going to blast us out of the stratosphere in terms of carbon emissions."

The weather forecast for 2055

The weather forecast for 2055

Richard Betts from the MET office on whether the scenario depicted in Stupid is science fact or science fiction:

"It's certainly not science fiction I'm afraid. I feel the same way now as I felt when I read the final draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that myself and thousands of other climate scientists put together in 2007.

When I read that report, I felt fear, and I feel that now to be frank. It's true to say that world is definitely warming up, we're pretty damn sure that it's our fault, and if we don't start making rapid and deep cuts in the next few years, we'll stand very little chance at all of avoiding a 2˚ climate change."

Piers updates us on windfarm news

Piers updates us on windfarm news

"We're giving it another try. But - we did get another windfarm through last week, 17-3 in favour at the planning committee, absolutely fantastic, and that was 11 wind turbines."

Ashok Sinha on Not Stupid

Ashok Sinha on Not Stupid and Stop Climate Chaos

"We are 100 organisations with some 11 million people as our combined supporter base - that's one in six of the UK - all united in the belief that climate change is the greatest moral threat that this society has ever faced, and that the Copenhagen climate change negotiations are quite simply the most critical talks in the history of humankind... we need to put pressure on politicians to make sure we get that deal or forever, Mr Miliband, you will be known as the most stupid generation of political leaders we have ever had the misfortune to be lead by."

Some nice words from Ashok Sinha there, Director of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition kicking off the launch of the Not Stupid Campaign (only slightly spoiled by some fantastically inept sound engineering - sorry about the echoes and feedback). 

This is when things really started to get interesting:

Mark Lynas introducing the President of the Maldives

Mark Lynas introducing the President of the Maldives

Mark brings word of extraordinary news from the tiny island nation of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, saying,

"The Maldives is probably the most vulnerable country in the world to the effects of climate change, because just a meter or so of sea level rise would submerge this entire country, so we have a nation here which is facing the threat of geographical annihilation. This is more than just an amazing announcement, this is potentialy a game-changer for the entire political negotiations on climate change worldwide."

President Nasheed's global address

President Nasheed's global address

The Maldives announces plans to become the world's first zero-carbon economy, within the next ten years no less:

"If we can achieve this – a small, relatively poor country – there can be no excuse from the rich, industrial nations who claim that going green is too complex, too expensive or too much bother.

Now the world has an opportunity to come together and prevent the looming environmental catastrophe. That opportunity is called Copenhagen.

And let’s be very frank about this: Copenhagen can be one of two things.

It can be an historic event where the world unites against carbon pollution, in a collective spirit of co-operation and collaboration.

Or, Copenhagen can be a suicide pact.

The choice is that stark.

My message to you, my message to the world, is simply this: please, don’t be stupid."

What a lovely fellow Mohammed Nasheed is - he's the Maldives' first democratically elected President, incidentally.

Standing ovation

Starting a standing ovation

Stupid can have a rather frightening effect on audiences so President Nasheed's good news came at just the right moment; the crowd went wild. It really felt to everyone there like it might actually be possible to turn this situation around in that moment.

Ed Miliband explains why the UK can't do as much as the Maldives

Ed Miliband explains why the UK can't do as much as the Maldives

Ed Miliband is the UK's Climate Change and Energy Secretary. He's recently won plaudits for helping pass the UK's Climate Change Act, a pioneering piece of legislation that commits Britain to large cuts in greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. The Act deserves a round of applause, and it got one. Ed is also a vocal advocate of a relatively strong global deal at Copenhagen, so Team Stupid didn't mind inviting him up on stage to speak. Ed said,

"It was an incredibly moving and brilliant film, and I want as many people as possible to see this film because we need as many people as possible to know about the effects of climate change... We've said we're going cut emissions by 80% by 2050... We have to present people with a message that is about growth, but low-carbon growth, because if we try to sell them a message of no growth I don't think we'll convince them."

After leading the applause for Ed and the Climate Change Act, Franny thought it was important to point out some discrepancies in our government's position on climate change, explaining,

"But - that is the talk and that is the promises, and that is 2050 which is a very long time away. What about the reality? Mark?" 

At this point Mark Lynas returned to the mic in a kind of inadvertent pincer-movement with him and Franny on either side of poor old Ed, saying,

"I think we all agree that the Climate Change Act has been path-breaking for the whole of the world, but there are some really disturbing short term things happening here in the UK. We're expanding the motorway network, the government has just said yes to the third runway at Heathrow airport, and potentially we'll be saying yes to the first new coal-fired power station for 30 years in this country at Kingsnorth in Kent. Coal fired power is of course the most carbon intensive way of generating electricity that we know, so I hope very much that you can tell us now that the Kingsnorth decision will be a no."

Ed came back strongly with a story about China, India and an experimental technology known as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) that will apparently reduce emissions from coal stations by 90%;

"The responsibility we face in developed countries is to put the money into new technologies which can show that something like coal can become a clean fuel."

Most experts agree that CCS, if it can be made to work at all, will not be economically viable for decades to come, which is why all of Britain's environmental and development NGOs are opposed to building new coal power stations in Britain. Lord Adair Turner, the head of the government's new Climate Change Committee, has said that all power generation in the UK will have to be totally decarbonised by 2030, which would mean closing down any coal power plants that do not have working CCS technology. 

So in light of all this, Pete Postlethwaite chose to intervene here, cutting through the speculative techno-fix / blame-China thesis to offer his own refreshingly clear take on the issue.

Pete's Pledge to Ed

Pete's Pledge to Ed 

Franny: "We've made you a special pledge, Ed."

Ed: "Oh. That's nice."

Days of Spin

Days of Spin

Ed: "Thanks for giving me warning in advance about this."

Pete: "In these days of spin, we have to spin pretty quickly."

Return to sender

Return to sender


"I've had enough of promises. We tried to get Mr Blair not to go to Iraq and he went to Iraq. Two and a half million people walked in the streets of London and we weren't heard. We're not having that again and we're not going to lie down.

This pledge will give everyone a chance, if they want to, to join the Not Stupid campaign, and it says:

Dear Mr Miliband, 

If you commission a new dirty coal power station at Kingsnorth, thereby increasing our emissions when we should be massively decreasing the, then you are clearly unfit to represent the people of Britain at the Copenhagen Climate Summit, and I promise to - and there are six options here, with one at the bottom which says to add your own.

This is very difficult to do, but I'm going to do it. My first thing would be to very sadly return to her Majesty the Queen the OBE that I was given in 2002, because I do not believe that I could be a real Officer of the British Empire if that's what's going to happen. The OBE goes back."

Dissolve this unfit government

Dissolve this unfit government

Pete continued: "At the same time I will say to Her Majesty, as a citizen and not as an Officer of the British Empire, I would like you to dissolve this present Parliament, because they are not capable of dealing with the mandate that they have been given by the people. Spinning is not enough.

The very last thing I would do is, unfortunately I would never be able to vote for the Labour Party again."

Clean coal and China

Clean coal and China

Ed responded: "I hear what Pete says about Kingsnorth.

What we do need to do though is find the technology to make coal clean, because if we don't do that we are never going to tackle the problem of climate change, I promise you. If China is building a coal fired power station one a week, and Poland gets 94% of its electricity from coal, the easy thing to say is we can do it all with renewables.

Well, I think what Piers has done with renewables is brilliant, but we can't do it all from renewables. You need, I'm afraid, clean coal fired power stations, you need nuclear, and you need all the low carbon technologies that are available.

That's not a romantic response but it's the right response I think. 

If I said to the Chinese, 'you should shut down all your coal power stations', they wouldn't have been part of the climate change deal at Copenhagen. But - and this is the good thing - if I say to them, we accept our responsibility to drive forward the technology which will make coal a clean fuel of the future, then they might be a part of it, and that's the best hope we've got."

Unfit to represent us

Unfit to represent us

Franny: "The central point remains that if you're going to be increasing emissions, then we do not want you representing us at Copenhagen and we will do everything we can to get someone else."

Ed: "I get the message. I get the message. I get the message."

Hopefully, Ed really did get the message.

To his enormous credit, Mr Miliband was not scared off by this unexpected turn of events, and hung around at the crew after-party, discussing with Team Stupid the relative merits of carbon trading as the principal tool to reduce emissions, and CCS versus other technological solutions, such as Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) around the mediterranean, connected up via a direct-current 'supergrid'. 

Whilst Team Stupid completely disagrees with Ed Miliband about the need to build new coal power stations in the UK, we were all rather impressed with how he handled himself at the People's Premiere. It is quite unusual for a politician to hob-nob like this with concerned citizens, and bodes well for Ed's ability to actually hear what people are saying to him.

Ed and Franny are due to have a more protracted debate at the Tricycle Theatre this Sunday, which we'll be posting online early next week.

Countdown to Copenhagen

Countdown to Copenhagen

All that remained was for Pete to round up the occasion by starting the Countdown to Copenhagen, on a giant clock that Not Stupid commissioned for our campaign. 

That's all folks

That's all folks

Here's the second half of the satellite broadcast, which includes the whole awkward exchange between Pete, Franny and the Climate Change Secretary: