People stand for water and rights in ongoing fossil fight

Intro

The rise of Trump in the US galvanised countries at COP 22 to redouble efforts on climate change and the clean energy transition, but it appears some governments are still struggling to reconcile their decisions on fossil fuel infrastructure with their their rhetoric and changing market realities. Despite signs that fossil fuel consumption such as oil and coal is peaking, the industry and governments continue to make foolish looking investments in new infrastructure, trampling the health and human rights of their citizens in the process. Germany is pushing ahead with Russia to build a highly controversial and potentially destabilising gas pipeline, while in the US the Dakota Access pipeline construction at Standing Rock has met strong resistance from indigenous tribes and now ex-military veterans, who are standing up to brutal treatment from a company and government intent on crushing community opposition. Even Canada, this week praised for “ending coal”, is simultaneously wavering on oil pipelines and false solutions like “clean coal”, instead of doing the right thing like Finland and eliminating dirty energy infrastructure altogether. As Tesla demonstrated in American Samoa this week, the massive benefits of renewables are ripe.

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Key Points

  • Communities are bravely standing up against government-backed efforts to build more fossil fuel projects that threaten our lives, water supplies and cultural heritage. In the coming days US military veterans will deploy to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to stand beside Native Americans on the banks of the Missouri river, who are fighting the encroachment of a dirty new oil pipeline into their territory. Some governments may be failing in their duty to protect their citizens, but communities are taking it into their own hands to preserve their basic rights, like access to clean air and water. Around the world, people are up in arms against fossil fuel expansion – just across the border from the US protests, massive vigils were held in 45 locations across Canada, calling on the government to trash proposals to extend the Kinder Morgan and Enbridge pipelines in a decision expected soon.
  • When they back fossil fuels governments are trampling on the rights of their citizens – this can’t be justified by economic arguments that don’t hold water. President-elect Trump has spoken about the coal industry jobs he plans to pull out of a magic hat, but when reality bites he will see that the renewable energy industries – which employ 4 times more Americans than coal – is where the new jobs and investment are at. Trump already dumped personal investments in the Dakota Access pipeline owner, after the value of his shares plummeted. Compared to European firms, US oil and gas majors are failing to adapt to the reality of decarbonising economies, and globally $2.2 trillion is at risk from short-sighted investors that continue to sink funding into outdated fossil fuel projects. And G20 governments are staking taxpayer dollars, to the tune of $88 billion a year, on a sure-loser when they stump up funds to support expansion of the fossil fuel industry.
  • 48 countries – along with swathes of cities and businesses – are ditching fossil fuels in favour of renewables to safeguard the rights of citizens and create resilient, 21st century economies. In light of worsening climate impacts and the entry-into force of the Paris climate Agreement the governments of countries and communities who are most exposed to the ravages of the fossil industry have announced their ambitions to go 100% renewable, and have received the praise and promise of support from China. From Colombia, to Morocco, to the Philippines, the representatives of the people, in nearly 50 countries, have laid down a bold marker that challenges traditional champions on climate change, like the EU, to up their game and ditch support for fossils.

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KEY QUOTES

  • “Today, I am calling on the President and the Army Corps of Engineers to reroute the pipeline. No pipeline is worth more than the respect we hold for our Native American neighbors. No pipeline is worth more than the clean water that we all depend on. This pipeline is not worth the life of a single protester.” – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)
  • “This country is repressing our people. If we’re going to be heroes, if we’re really going to be those veterans that this country praises, well, then we need to do the things that we actually said we’re going to do when we took the oath to defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic.” – Former US Army Officer Wes Clark Jr.
  • “Mother Earth’s axis is off and it’s never going back and we have to help keep it in balance for as long as we can. I am a mother and a grandmother. Those are my credentials to ensure a future with clean drinking water — a future of human dignity, human rights, and human survival.” – Phyllis Young, Sioux tribal elder.
  • “Research shows that globally fossil fuel companies stand to risk $2.2 trillion in coal, oil and gas projects that are not needed, over the next 10 years alone. This is because they are failing to adjust their capital spending to reflect a 2C global warming trajectory, nevermind the 1.5C target established in the Paris climate treaty.” – Luke Sussams, Senior Researcher at the Carbon Tracker Initiative

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