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Al Gore calls for “civil disobedience” against new coal plants

Al Gore calls for “civil disobedience” against new coal plants

Al Gore calls for “civil disobedience” against new coal plants

Jeremy Hance,
September 28, 2008

Former Vice President and Nobel Prize winner, Al Gore, told the audience at the Clinton Global Initiative that the moment had arrived for civil disobedience against new coal plants.

“If you’re a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done,” Gore said, according to Reuters. “I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration.”

Currently the U.S. has 28 new coal plants under construction.

Gore called the fight against global warming a “rout”, saying “we are losing badly”.

A recent report from the Department of Energy confirms this. Many researchers expected U.S. carbon output to fall last year—as it had in 2006—but in fact the report shows the opposite with American CO2 emissions reaching to a new record. Meanwhile atmospheric carbon dioxide levels increased 2.2 parts-per-million (ppm) to 383 ppm.

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from 1995-2007

Both presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, have embraced “clean coal” as an alternative energy to combat global warming. Disagreeing, Gore compared the belief in “clean coal” to that of “healthy cigarettes”. He stated that no technology existed so far that could render burning coal clean and that such claims were deceits told by major corporations.

"The coal and oil companies have spent, in the United States alone, a half a billion dollars in the first eight months of this year promoting a lie that there is such a thing as clean coal," Gore told the audience.

Some have been critical of Al Gore. Eoin O’Carroll at the Christian Science Monitor argues that if Gore believes the time has come for civil disobedience then he should be leading protests himself. O’Carroll cited other examples of world leaders who used civil disobedience to further their cause, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Jones, and Gandhi.

Already, there has been daring civil disobedience against coal plants. Last October, six Greenpeace activists spent hours climbing to the top of a coal stack in Britain to challenge the government to stop building new plants.

This month, in an announcement that made more news than the initial protest, a jury cleared the protesters from the charge of causing 30,000 pounds in property damage. The Greenpeace activists argued that they were working to prevent future property damage worldwide caused by global warming. The jury apparently agreed.

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