By Justin Guay of the Sierra Club International Program.
This year, the world saw tremendous momentum demanding a move beyond coal. From India to Germany, the United States to Indonesia, communities are standing up and demanding clean air and clean water. From global social media storms to local protests and marches with thousands of people, acts of grassroots activism are becoming the strongest tools we have to curb toxic coal pollution that has been killing people for hundreds of years. That growing movement is sounding a clarion call: it’s time to move beyond coal.
In 2013, one of the biggest steps forward was the large-scale withdrawal of public support for new coal Indonesia moves beyond coal fired power plants overseas. First, President Obama's Climate Action Plan announced an end to financing new coal power plants abroad, which was echoed by five Nordic countries, the UK, and large multilateral development banks like the World Bank and the European Investment Bank. Just this week, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development followed suit.
What those announcements reflect is a growing movement of local communities who are demanding an end to dirty coal. From Germany to China to Australia and beyond, communities are standing up and fighting back against attacks on their air and water. And the results of this activism have been astonishing -- the people are winning.
Today, the Sierra Club's International Climate Program has released its annual "Move Beyond Coal" report, highlighting several of these inspiring victories. Over the years, the Sierra Club has worked with activists and communities around the world to transition away from dirty fossil fuels and onto clean energy. That experience has demonstrated time and again that local communities are a powerful force for change.
Everywhere you look, communities are organizing to defeat power plants and mines that pollute air and water and cause harm to the health and safety of the environment. In Australia, a community can breathe easy, knowing that their tourism industry won’t be affected. In China, a tweet started a movement to shut down a proposed coal project that would pollute wildlife and sicken people nearby. In Bangladesh, people organized in massive numbers as 20,000 protesters marched 250 miles in five days to oppose the construction of a coal-fired power plant.
Grassroots activism abroad is empowering people and protecting the planet. The Sierra Club is proud to tell these stories, and support this growing movement because we all have a right to a safe climate, a good livelihood, and a healthy future here at home, and around the globe.