CPA is joining many organisations in challenging the current practice in courts of not allowing climate and environmental activists to give an explanation of their actions in court so that the jury can weigh the evidence.
Trudi Warner is a member of CPA and her situation is described in a recent Guardian article (theguardian.com).
Here is CPA’s letter to the Solicitor General.
Michael Tomlinson KC MP
Solicitor General For England and Wales Attorney General’s Office
Dear Michael Tomlinson,
RE: Arrest of Trudi Warner in March 2023
We are writing this open letter to you as U.K. members of the Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA).
CPA came in to being 11 years ago. It has grown considerably since its formation, becoming broader, more interdisciplinary and international in its membership. It includes practitioners from the fields of psychiatry, psychology, psychotherapy, art therapy, sociology, and related academic disciplines. Alongside providing support and training, members’ research has focused on the psychological roots of the climate crisis, climate denial, disavowal, eco-distress, the psychological impact of climate related disasters and climate injustice. Members of CPA have published numerous books and papers in these areas. We are especially concerned with the impact of climate change on young people. We do extensive research in this area and provide support to teachers, parents, and young people.
We wish to express our concern about the arrest of our fellow member, Trudi Warner, in March of this year and the subsequent threat that the very serious charge of contempt of court could be levelled against her. We understand that, having had the case referred to him, the Attorney General has decided that Trudi should be prosecuted for contempt of court at the High Court. We are concerned for our colleague, but her arrest and the subsequent charge of contempt of court against her have wider implications for the exercise of democratic rights by jurors and the wider population beyond the courts.
Her action was to stand outside a court in London, where climate protestors were on trial, holding a banner which read:
“Jurors: you have an absolute right to acquit a defendant according to your conscience.”
We understand that these are the words of a legal right which was established in 1670 and that they are written on a plaque outside the Old Bailey. They give jurors the right to reach their own decisions independently of the judge’s direction. Does the censure of this act by Trudi Warner imply that the judge wished jurors to remain unaware of this right?
Climate Psychology, Truth, and the Context of this Action
‘Staying with the Trouble’ and ‘Facing Difficult Truths’ have long been axioms of CPA. While ever more needed, it has become ever more difficult to apply these principles. The vast scale and exponential increase in environmental damage, loss of life and biodiversity loss is truly terrifying. As United Nations General Secretary, Antonio Guterres warns us that ‘humanity is facing a “difficult truth” - the damage already being caused by climate change is making our planet increasingly uninhabitable. Every year of insufficient action to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius drives us closer to the brink, increasing systemic risks and reducing our resilience against climate catastrophe.
The truth of the unfolding tragic climate and ecological disaster is now visible for all to see. So too is the truth of the gross inadequacy of governmental responses including that of the UK. When people, in touch with the reality of the threat, see governments not taking anything like enough action to try to prevent ever more catastrophic damage, and even contributing to it through their support of fossil fuel companies, their fear and anxiety is heightened and the situation can feel overwhelming and unbearable. One of the findings in a recent global study of 10,000 young people carried out by a group that included two CPA members Caroline Hickman and Lise van Susteren was that ‘Climate anxiety and distress were correlated with perceived inadequate government response and associated feelings of betrayal’.
Ever since scientists first issued their warnings about the dangers of increased carbon emissions more than 40 years ago, truth and adequate responses have fallen victim to the lies and cover ups of vested interests. While outright denial might be less prevalent, it has been replaced by what is termed ‘mitigation denial’ whereby the scale and urgency of the intervention needed is denied or minimised. In the hands of fossil fuel companies, this becomes ‘predatory delay’ which allows them to continue to make huge sums of money and be supported by governments in doing so. The vastness of the gap between the political rhetoric and the reality of the massive and urgent societal changes needed is highlighted by climate scientist, Kevin Anderson.
The Truth Must be Heard
Climate activists, having failed to influence governments through other channels, are attempting to raise awareness and to let the truth be known through their actions and protests. They are warning us of the peril we are in. Recent reports about climate protesters not being allowed to include the impacts of the climate crisis in their personal statements, as mitigating factors for their civil disobedience, are deeply concerning. This prohibition amounts to a de-legitimising of protest in the face of the greatest challenge ever faced by human civilisation.
In the interests both of democracy and the habitability of the planet by us and all living species, the truth about the climate crisis and its impacts must be heard in court and we need both judges and jurors to hear it and consider it in their deliberations.
In the current context, we consider that Trudi Warner’s action was both appropriate and proportionate and we would be prepared to act in a similar way.
The petition has received 57 signatures, and we are thankful for everyone who has supported Trudi.
- Kate Adams Climate Psychology Alliance, member of the board of directors
- Judith Anderson Jungian Psychotherapist
- Linda Aspey Psychotherapeutic Counsellor FBACP, MBACP Accred. BACP Registered. MA.
- Jan Baker Psychotherapist and Organisational Consultant
- Steffi Bednarek Senior accredited Gestalt Psychotherapist
- Jamie Bird Senior Lecturer University of Derby
- Tony Cartwright Systemic Family Therapist (Retired)
- Toby Chown Dramatherapist HCPC registered
- Elspeth Crawford B.Sc., PhD. Retired lecturer, University of Edinburgh
- Sarah Deco MA, Dip Ath Art Therapist, Group Analyst
- Greg Dring N.H.S. Clinical Psychologist (Retired)
- Kate Dufton N.H.S. Consultant in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (Retired)
- Jenny Edwards
- Chris Evans Visiting Professor UDLA, Quito, Ecuador & Honorary Professor University of Roehampton, London, UK
- Tarisha Finnegan-Clarke MA UKCP
- Martin Fisher Accredited Psychotherapist
- Joan Fogel Group-Analytic Psychotherapist
- Guy Gladstone Group Psychotherapist
- Sue Heap Integrative Psychotherapist and Supervisor, UKCP, CPA
- Caroline Hickman University Lecturer, Climate Anxiety Researcher & Psychotherapist
- Gabriele Hock Integrative Psychotherapist
- Professor Paul Hoggett
- Wendy Hollway Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Hon.FBPS, FASS
- Karen James
- Andrew Jenkins Psychotherapist
- Jenny Joyce Counsellor
- Martha Kenyon N.H.S. Clinical Psychologist
- Breda Kingston N.H.S. Clinical Psychologist, and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist (Retired)
- Nicky Marshall UKCP Registered Psychotherapist
- Steve Marshall
- Gareth Morgan Academic Director/Clinical Psychologist, University of Leicester
- Brigitta Mowat Psychotherapist, Supervisor and Trainer at the Minster Centre London.
- Dr Marion Neffgen Medical Psychotherapist, MD, PHD, MRCPsych
- Dr Els van Ooijen, DPsych
- Jenny O’Gorman Psychodynamic Counsellor and Psychotherapist
- Esther Papies Reader in the Psychology of Behaviour Change, University of Glasgow
- Sharon Pavey
- Andy Powell
- J. Robertson Bev. M. Phil. Psychotherapist
- Mary-Jayne Rust EcoPsychotherapist
- Sue Ryall Psychotherapist, Ecotherapist
- Jane Ryan Psychotherapy Educator
- Ivana Sharp Psychotherapist
- Margaret Smith
- Muir Smth Counsellor and Coach
- Rob Stuart Psychodynamic Counsellor, British Psychoanalytic Council
- Tree Staunton Hon Fellow UK Council for Psychotherapy
- Adrian Tait Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and Co-founder Climate Psychology Alliance
- Holly J Taylor Gestalt Counsellor
- Kay Trainer
- Dr Maggie Turp Psychologist and Psychotherapist, HCPC
- Sue Weaver
- Sally Weintrobe Fellow British Psychoanalytical Society Chair International Psychoanalytical Association's Climate Committee
- Gill Westcott BA., B.Phil, PhD
- Martin Wilks Chartered Counselling Psychologist
- Marion Winslow MA. Psychotherapist and community worker
- Anthony Wragg