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British verdict will strengthen the anti-coal and climate movement

Last week the verdict came in the case against the six Greenpeace activists - Ben Stewart, Will Rose, Kevin Drake, Tim Hewke, Huw Williams and Emily Hall - who in October last year performed a protest against the Kingsnorth coal plant in the UK.

The six Greenpeace activists tried to shut down the coal plant and paint 'GORDON BIN IT' down the side of the coal plant's chimney. For this they were accused of criminally causing £30,000 ($53,000) worth of damage.

But last week the UK Crown Court jury acquitted all six activists which Greenpeace says resulted in a "landmark global warming trial". The jury "found their actions justified when considering the damage to property caused around the world by CO2 emissions from the plant".

"The activists admitted trying to shut down the station by occupying the smokestack and painting the world "Gordon" down the chimney, but argued that they were legally justified because they were trying to prevent climate change causing greater damage to property around the world.

It was the first case where preventing property damage caused by climate change has been used as part of a "lawful excuse" defence in court. It is now expected to be used widely by environment groups."

The accused had helped from, for example, the prominent climate and NASA scientist James Hansen who said that "the 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted daily by Kingsnorth could be responsible for the extinction of up to 400 species" and that humanity was in "grave peril".

After the verdict Greenpeace announced that:

"This verdict marks a tipping point for the climate change movement. It stands as an example to governments everywhere and an inspiration to people world-wide that they can and should take a stand against coal fired power stations in defence of the climate!"

Emily Hall, Greenpeace's communications director and one of the six acquitted, said that "it's time the prime minister stepped in and embraced a clean energy future for Britain."

Commentators say the verdict will "embarrass the government and strengthen the anti-coal movement".

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