Page last updated at 18:43 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 19:43 UK

Nasa man defends climate protest

The chimney at Kingsnorth Power Station
The campaigners spent 30 hours on the site

A leading US climate change scientist has spoken in defence of six Greenpeace activists charged with criminal damage.

Physicist Professor James Hansen, who leads Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, called for the building of coal-fired power stations to stop.

Prof Hansen said the planet could be put on a disastrous future course.

He was speaking at Maidstone Crown Court as a witness for the six, who deny charges relating to a protest over Kingsnorth coal-burning plant in Kent.

They planned to daub "Gordon, bin it" on the 200m (650ft) chimney in a direct statement to the Prime Minister on 8 October last year, the court heard.

They only got as far as "Gordon" before being persuaded to come down after a threat of a High Court injunction.

There is enough potential in renewables for our energy requirements
Professor James Hansen

The five activists who climbed the chimney, some of whom were Greenpeace volunteers, are Huw Williams, 41, of Nottingham; Ben Stewart, 34, of Lyminge, Kent; Kevin Drake, 44, of Westbury, Wiltshire; Will Rose, 29, of London and Emily Hall, 44, from New Zealand.

Tim Hewke, 48, from Ulcombe, Kent, who the prosecution said helped organise the 30-hour protest from the ground, is also charged with causing criminal damage.

'Immediate moratorium'

The former White House adviser said adhering to a "business as usual" approach, would see the planet passing its climate change tipping point, putting it on a disastrous future course.

Asked in court what his message to Gordon Brown would be, Prof Hansen said: "I would ask him to make a clear public statement for a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants that do not capture CO2. There is enough potential in renewables for our energy requirements.

"The moratorium should be immediate. We do not need new coal fired power plants. They all need to be phased out over the next 20 years."

He cautioned that the human-made rate of change of atmospheric CO2 was now 10,000 times larger than the natural rate that drove large climate changes.

Prof Hansen said the UK, US and Germany were most responsible for today's climate change on a per capita basis.

The trial is continuing.

Activists deny damaging chimney
01 Sep 08 |  England

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific