The Kingsnorth Six

It's been a pretty unusual ten days for six Greenpeace activists in the UK but yesterday was truly extraordinary. At 3.20pm, the jury came back into court and announced a majority verdict of not guilty! All six defendants - Kevin, Emily, Tim, Will, Ben and Huw - were acquitted of criminal damage.

To recap on how important this verdict is: the defendants campaigners were accused of causing £30,000 of criminal damage to Kingsnorth smokestack from painting. The defence was that they had 'lawful excuse' - because they were acting to protect property around the world "in immediate need of protection" from the impacts of climate change, caused in part by burning coal. So the evidence for the defence centred around the enormous damage burning coal does to ecosystems, people and property around the planet - and the UK government's abject failure to take any meaningful action.

(This is the first case, by the way, where preventing property damage from climate change has been used as part of a 'lawful excuse' defence in Crown Court.)

During the trial, the world's leading climate scientist came to court and challenged the government's plans for new coal, calling for Gordon Brown to announce a moratorium on all new coal-fired power plants without carbon capture and storage. Cameron's environmental policy adviser said there was "a staggering mismatch between what we've heard from government and what we've seen from government in terms of policy". An expert on climate change impacts in the UK said some of the property in immediate need of protection from sea level rises included parts of Kent (Kingsnorth being "extremely vulnerable") and that "it behoves us to act with urgency". And an Inuit leader told of his first hand experiences of the impacts of climate change. Read more on the Greenpeace UK webblog