Kiribati President Anote Tong today called on world leaders to support a global moratorium on new coal mines and coal mine expansions.

There is no plausible scenario in which a world that is tackling climate change is a world that needs more coal mines“, President Tong wrote in a letter to over 100 world leaders ahead of climate talks in Paris.

kiribati-president-call-out-linkLike many other Pacific Island nations, Kiribati’s very existence is under threat from rising sea levels if the world continues to burn fossil fuels. Climate change is not just an environmental crisis – it’s a human rights crisis. Over 100,000 people in Kiribati face an uncertain future, while across the pacific, island nations struggle to cope with damaging flooding at high tides.

The science is very clear: 80 per cent of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if the world is to remain below the agreed red line of 2°C of global temperature rise.  With people’s movements rising up to fight coal mines and plants all over the world, and the market digging an increasingly deep grave for coal, it appears economic reality is catching up.

“Anyone’s who still thinking of opening new coal mines at this point in time has not been paying attention. The only real question is how fast we can close the ones we already have.” – Bill McKibben

1000-people-already-here-45-countriesIt is happening faster than we think.  In fact, thousands of people are mobilising across Europe this weekend to shut down Europe’s largest source of CO2 — Germany’s Rhineland coalfields.  Grassroots groups are staging a daring, mass participation direct action to force RWE’s giant coal excavators to #stopdigging.  Right now, they’re gouging out the landscape, displacing local villages and forests, and worsening the climate impacts for all of us, especially low-lying island nations like Kiribati.

Ende Gelände (which translates as “Here and no further”) aims to use people power to draw a line in the coalfields, and amplify the growing calls for a rapid phase-out of coal power worldwide.  It is part of an increasingly bold grassroots climate movement determined to keep fossil fuels in the ground and mobilising towards unprecedented direct action at the Paris climate talks this December, and well beyond.

President Tong’s warning is clear: “The construction of each new coal mine undermines the spirit and intent of any agreement” to be met in Paris this December. A rapid transition away from coal to 100%  renewable energy is the only way forward if governments are to secure a safe and prosperous future for their pacific and developing world neighbours for generations to come.

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