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13 arrested for blockading coal train, including Nobel Prize winning economist

In British Colombia a group of concerned residents, along with scientists, blocked four trains of Wyoming coal bound for Asia. Thirteen were arrested. Photo courtesy of:
In British Colombia a group of concerned residents, along with scientists, blocked four trains of Wyoming coal bound for Asia. Thirteen were arrested. Photo courtesy of:

Thirteen Canadians were peacefully arrested this weekend for blockading Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railway tracks in order to prevent the passage of coal from the United States and destined to be burned in Asia. Among those arrested was Mark Jaccard, an economics professor with Simon Fraser University, who won the Nobel Prize for his work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The act of civil disobedience was a protest against the on-going burning of coal for energy, since coal is the world’s most carbon-intensive fuel and thereby a major driver of climate change.

“The window of opportunity for avoiding a high risk of runaway, irreversible climate change is closing quickly. Within this decade we will either have steered away from disaster, or have locked ourselves onto a dangerous course,” Jaccard wrote in a statement prior to his arrest. “Our governments continue to ignore the warnings of scientists and push forward with policies that will accelerate the burning of fossil fuels. Private interests—coal, rail, oil, pipeline companies and the rest—continue to push their profit driven agenda, heedless of the impact on the rest of us. This has to stop.”

Last year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that governments needed to begin cutting greenhouse gas emissions in five years, or the world will likely see warming beyond 2 degrees Celsius, a level considered unsafe by many climate scientists. But a recent study found that if the world’s coal reserves are burnt it would raise global temperatures by 14.8 degrees Celsius (26.6 degrees Fahrenheit), essentially leading to a climate doomsday scenario.

Not long after the IEA warning last year, Canada announced it was withdrawing from the Kyoto Treaty. Since signing the Kyoto Protocol, Canada’s emissions have risen over 35 percent from 1990 levels, in part due to aggressive exploitation of the tar sands for oil. Canada had pledged under the Kyoto Protocol to cut emissions 12 percent by the 2012 deadline.

The thirteen individuals arrested were charged with trespassing, fined $115, and then released.

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