COP24: People Power Versus Carbon Bombs

Despite warnings from the latest IPCCC report on the emergency to transition to clean energy, new fossil fuel infrastructure projects threaten global climate safety.

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Anne-Sophie Garrigou

The latest U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report warned us earlier this year that keeping the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require rapid and unprecedented changes. Things are quite simple: If we want to avoid severe global warming, we will have to stay within a strict carbon budget starting today. That means leaving fossil fuels in the ground. Eight major coal campaigns led by organizations across the globe and supported by 350.org (an international environmental organization addressing climate change and founded by American environmentalist Bill McKibben) are fighting to stop 5.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from being spewed into the atmosphere, an amount which if released blows us way past that budget.

Poland, the country hosting COP24 this year, is known for its support of coal — the government motto is ‘Poland stands on coal’ and the country generates over half its primary energy, including 80% of its electricity from coal. The Polish government even chose coal-based energy companies PGE and Tauron as summit sponsors… No need to say that environmental activists will be carefully listening at every word the Polish government says this year.

“As the world transitions away from coal, oil, and gas, fossil fuel CEOs and their political puppets are trying to keep us hooked. The construction of any new coal power plant or mine is inconceivable given the findings of the IPCC report released this October. Every ton of coal burned makes an immediate contribution to the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere causing long term and irreversible climate change. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground now to ensure that we stay below 1.5 degrees in order to avoid catastrophic environmental breakdown.” Hoda Baraka, Global Communications Director, 350.org

8 anti-coal campaigns that make staying at 1.5 possible

Despite the (almost) global consensus on the urgent need to transition to clean energy, some major fossil fuel projects are threatening global climate safety. These eight coal projects in the pipeline are thus are being fiercely resisted by communities across the globe. Remember these names:

Carmichael Mega Mine in Australia

Lamu, in Kenya

Muğla, Turkey

Rampal in Bangladesh

Rhineland coalfields forest in Germany

Sendou in Senegal

Thabametsi in South Africa

Thepa in Thailand

Three of the eight projects –Sendou in Senegal, Rampal in Bangladesh and Lamu, in Kenya- are being developed in countries where very little of the energy currently produced comes from coal.

The Sendou and Rampal proposed developments are in coastal areas where climate impacts with only 1˚C warming are causing sea-level rise and flooding that claims lives, ravages property and homes and sets back the economy. In Turkey the Muğla’s coal plants are costing people’s health due to the severe impacts of air pollution that is felt in the surrounding area. In addition to climate change impacts in Europe, the devastating impacts of climate change in North and Sub Saharan Africa are driving climate-induced migration to Europe.

The eight iconic fights media pack highlights the campaigns against the coal industry, including who is financing them, climate impacts and looks at solutions for a zero carbon future.

Many of the groups opposing fossil fuel projects face increasing state repression which threatens lives as well as progress on climate goals.

“We at 350.org along with our local and global partners are campaigning fiercely to keep fossil fuels in the ground to make staying at 1.5 possible and avoid irreversible and catastrophic climate change. Communities in every corner of the planet have already shown what people power can do in stopping carbon emissions. COP24 is now an opportunity for political leaders to recognize the courageous efforts of these brave people and to take action at the scale of the crisis by stopping all fossil fuel projects and transitioning to 100% renewables for all.” May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org

We’ll conclude with the words of H.E. Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji and COP23 President:

“The IPCC Special Report on 1.5˚C tells us that we are not doing nearly enough to confront the greatest threat humankind has ever faced. It also tells us the goals of the Paris Agreement are not yet out of reach, but to achieve them will require a realignment of our priorities and an unprecedented global mobilisation to deliver much stronger Nationally Determined Contributions in line with the 1.5-degree target and a universal commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest. I call on all national leaders to follow Fiji and the Marshall Islands’ lead and aim higher in your national plans to reduce emissions. I am encouraged by those who are already working in this direction and urge others to quickly follow suit. We will have the opportunity to jump start the process of raising our collective ambition at the Talanoa Dialogue at COP24 in Poland. I implore my fellow leaders to come to Katowice fully prepared to take on the decisions, commitments and hard work necessary to save us from a disaster of our own making.”