Saturday, December 19, 2015

2015 Was a Big Year for the Anti-Coal Movement

Kids protest coal at a hunger strike in front of the Thai Ministry of Tourism. (Credit: ASTV Manager) Click to Enlarge.
Paris might have grabbed the headlines this year, but let’s not forget some other corners of the world, where environmentalists threw down the gauntlet and battled the coal industry in a fight for the future.

In a new annual report from the Sierra Club, the group highlights some of the critical on-the-ground actions of 2015 that kept more coal in the ground, including in Australia, Chile, Kenya, Myanmar, and elsewhere.  The group, whose Beyond Coal campaign celebrated the 200th closing of a coal plant in the United States this year, also points out that a number of financial institutions pulled support for coal development.

“The space where we’ve been the most successful internationally is coal finance,” John Coequyt, the Sierra Club’s director of international climate campaigns, told ThinkProgress.  In fact, in the last year, the divestment movement has grown 50-fold, according to analysis released earlier this fall.

“It used to be the case that when we talked about climate change we were very careful in how we talked about coal because there was a view that the coal industry was so strong there needed to be a path forward,” Coequyt said.  “There is a growing sign that that is just not the case.”

But the actions of civil society have also proved invaluable.

“We often find ourselves in this unusual position of trying to explain to people that this isn’t just about economics.  People matter, and they particularly matter when you try to build something in their community that will impact them directly.  That’s true in the United States and that’s true in every country in the world,” Coequyt said.

“The more that we’ve been engaged… the more we find these incredible advocates who are fighting coal sometimes at great risk to their lives.”

Here are seven fights the Sierra Club highlights in “Move Beyond Coal:  The global movement in 2015.”

1. Protecting the Great Barrier Reef from becoming a ‘fossil fuel superhighway’:
When an Indian coal company proposed building a giant open-pit coal mine in northwestern Australia, with plans to expand the shipping terminal at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, environmentalists moved quickly.  Protesters targeted both the Indian coal company, Adani, and its financier, Australia’s Commonwealth Bank, to good effect — in some cases, even shutting down branches of the bank, when customers closed their accounts en mass in May.  So far, 14 international banks have publicly pledged not to finance the project, while Adani has lost a court case over the federal approval of the project and dismissed its engineering team.  Still, the company recently won an Australian court decision allowing the project to move forward, so the battle will continue.

2. Stopping a coal plant in the world’s largest mangrove forest, with a little unfortunate help from an oil spill

Read more at 2015 Was a Big Year for the Anti-Coal Movement

No comments:

Post a Comment