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: 350.org.
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.
(04/03/2012) An Australian court last week ruled that climate change was not reason enough to halt the $6.3 billion Wandoan coal mine in Australia in a landmark case. Swiss coal mining company Xstrata succeeded in defeating a challenge from the environmental NGO Friends of the Earth and local farmers, which argued that the mine should be halted due to its resulting carbon emissions.
(11/30/2011) A new report from civil and environmental organizations highlights the top 20 banks that spend the most money on coal, the world’s most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. Released as officials from around the world meet for the 17th UN Summit on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa, the report investigated the funding practices of 93 major private banks, finding that the top five funders of big coal are (in order): JPMorgan Chase, Citi, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and Barclay’s.
(11/13/2011) Not known for alarmism and sometimes criticized for being too optimistic, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned that without bold action in the next five years the world will lock itself into high-emissions energy sources that will push climate change beyond the 2 degrees Celsius considered relatively ‘safe’ by many scientists and officials.
(09/25/2011) On six continents, in over 75 percent of the world’s countries, people came out en masse yesterday to attend over 2,000 events to demonstrate the power of renewable energy to combat global climate change. As apart of the ‘Moving Planet’ campaign organized by 350.org, activists created a giant human-windmill in Paris, gave out bike lessons in Buenos Aires, practiced evacuation measure in the Pacific island of Tuvalu imperiled by rising sea levels, and marched in Cape Town for a strong agreement at the next UN climate meeting hosted in Durban, South Africa.
(06/12/2011) Vietnam’s government has announced plans to build 90 coal-fired plants over the next 15 years even while being listed as among the top 11 most vulnerable nation’s to climate change in the world, according to Eco-Business.