Why we must shut down coal burning power stations – now!
At the ‘Great Climate Swoop‘ in Nottinghamshire this weekend, just like at the Kingsnorth last year, 1,000 ordinary people risked police beatings, arrest and imprisonment in an attempt to take control of and ultimately decomission one of the UKs largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Eons Ratcliffe-on-soar coal-fired power station spews 12 millions tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere and they intend to keep this monster running for another 30 years. Like similar recent protests at power stations in Denmark, Germany, Australia and the USA, those protesting this weekend know we can’t afford to let this continue.
The cops, e.on and their chums all claimed that these protests are dangerous and irresponsible but who’s really guilty of that charge? When six greenpeace protesters were prosecuted for shutting down Kingsnorth and causing £30,000 worth of damage, the jury ruled that their actions had been entirely proportionate and responsible – the greater crime was knowingly burning coal which is already responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people around the world and threatens much worse to come.
James Hansen, a leading climate scientist, gave evidence at the trial. Refering to coal-fired power stations as ‘death factories’, he has called for putting fossil fuel company executives on trial for “high crimes against humanity and nature”. He says that world leaders are failing us and that, “somebody needs to step forward and say there has to be a moratorium, draw a line in the sand and say no more coal-fired power stations“.
The only sure way to avoid catastrophic climate change is to stop burning coal. Scientists warn that any rise in average global temperature greater than two degrees Celsius (2C) from pre-industrial times would result in us passing a climatic tipping point into worldwide catastrophe. Temperatures have already risen by 0.7 degrees, and are expected to rise at least as much again even if all fossil fuel use is stopped today. Action is urgently required.
Researcher Malte Mainshausen of the Potsdam Institute said, “Only a fast switch away from fossil fuels will give us a reasonable chance to avoid considerable warming. If we continue burning fossil fuels as we do, we will have exhausted the carbon budget in merely 20 years, and global warming will go well beyond 2C.“
According to an analysis by Myles Allen and colleagues at Oxford University, total carbon dioxide emissions of one trillion tons would push the world over that 2C tipping point. “It took us 250 years to burn the first half trillion, and on current projections we’ll burn the next half trillion in less than 40 years,” he said.
It’s clear that world leaders, along with the profit obsessed corporations that pull their strings, will never willingly make the radical changes required to prevent runaway global warming. We need to stop burning fossil fuels, not finding new ways to continue business as usual! Only a massive social movement of grassroots action stands any chance to force through the required changes for a just transistion into a sustainable future based on peoples needs not profit greeds.
We can win (we’ve held up Eon’s plans for Kingsnorth for three years now) and we must win – there is simply no other choice!
Further background material:
- Australian climate scientists write to coal companies, telling them to stop burning coal as a matter of great urgency.
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