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Coal Companies Have Two Problems: The Age of Coal is Over and People Reminding Them of That Fact

21/04/2016 12:35

The coal industry is cracking, globally. Several nations are declaring themselves coal free, shutting down coal plants and withdrawing billions of potentially stranded coal investments.

Meanwhile Peabody, the world's largest coal company, just filed for bankruptcy last week. And in Germany two remaining European bad boys, RWE & Vattenfall, are being chased (quite literally) by thousands of exceptionally determined activists.

Here's why these people make a very good point. And why I've decided to join them, coming May, in the Lausitz region, south of Berlin.

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The reason why the time of coal, therefore of coal companies has ended completely surpasses the direct 'work field' of destructive mining activity and heavily polluting power plants.

Coal has already been bypassed by the world in its entirety. Paris. The countries of the world. Science. Real Science. And people - those representing all of life - wanting a Real Future.

Want to burn your money? Buy a coal mine!

The signing of the coal industry's death warrant comes not by us, but by banks, insurance companies, pension funds - it is the 22 trillion dollar carbon bubble that global financial investors are increasingly aware of. The best way to lose extremely large amounts of money, is invest in a coal company - or if you are a coal company - in buying up extra reserves, dear Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH), a Czech coal company that just bought up German lignite (brown coal) reserves - apparently betting the world will return to the 19th century.

The coup the grâce is the thousands of people that will join Break Free 2016 next month, the thousands of people who now demand coal companies wake up to reality - and simply go look for another job.

I'm one of them, and below is why:

We fought from pessimism to optimism. This transition is ours

I did not have high hopes before Paris. Most of us did not. We had been mobilising massively, and fully aware of the odds. Then after the attacks we feared for the worst, a repeat of Copenhagen.

But we came anyway, from across the world, and witnessing that extremely beautiful resilience of humanity, standing in the streets of Paris, from the very first day of the climate summit, was one of most touching and rewarding experiences of my life. It offered hope - hope in mankind. Hope that is captured in a number that has since echoed across the globe, from Pacific island states to the very political heart of Washington: one-point-five.

It's after Paris now. We've agreed on the 1.5 degrees target. Well done - it makes sense. Now let's implement.

1.5 simply excludes Coal: In Paris the world's political leaders actually approved your direct actions!

Funny thing to realise: Whether you campaign against a coal mine in Germany, a coal plant in the UK, a coal port in the Netherlands, a coal company in Sweden, or any of the above in the US, Canada, Australia, France - anywhere really - you should know you have the support of your own government.

How? Let's do a quick calculation. All above-mentioned countries agreed on the 1.5 ambition. Now even if we assume IPCC's dangerous underestimation of climate sensitivity and accept a 50 percent chance of overshoot, the 1.5 degrees target allows for just 8 years of current emissions to be spread out across the entire remainder of the century.

Another way to put it, is we can continue the current consumption of fossil fuels for just 8 more years, if you believe the optimists. That means - under all scenarios - we have zero more years for coal, the most CO2-intensive of them all. And that means the thousands of people that will reclaim the open cast coal mines in the Lausitz this May, and all the other participants of Break Free 2016 across the globe, have got not only science and humanity, but also global politics on their side.

Blocking each and every excavator, as a friendly reminder of undeniable facts

Who is on the other side still? In essence only the coal companies.

(And a very thin line of police in between - just to remind the (victorious) side of humanity and the (crumbling) side of the coal industry to stay peaceful, and of course we agree.)

Now let's end a bizarre situation that is long overdue and block each and every excavator we can get our hands on - until the entire industry comes to a grind, and all of humanity can let a cheer roar across our beautiful shared planet.

The age of coal is over. For those who are still involved in that sector: It is sad, but after some 200 years your business model has ended. That's life. A bright future offers new chances though.

Ende. Gelände. Break Free.

See you there.

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Photo credit: Paul Wagner / 350.org

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