Pledges, net zero goals, roadmaps and scenarios. We have seen a plethora of those things over the past few months. And these are all good things, all very useful exercises. It’s great to know how we could limit warming to 1.5 degrees. It’s very useful to have models and interfaces with sliders, buttons, variables which we can manipulate to see chances of a future we can afford.

But none of those things can match the power of a single frontline community standing against expansion of fossil fuels. No emissions scenario will ever match the will of people linking arms to protect their forest against those who would destroy it for coal expansion. No roadmap will ever be as moving as a single villager’s lament for her village, razed to satisfy the hunger of an open pit coal mine. And while reports are nice and useful, it will be the actions of those communities, those flashes of defiance that really keep alive “our hope for a liveable world” because political will to implement all those roadmaps is built by political demands.

On May 20, the village of İkizköy, once uprooted already to make way before the all swallowing coal pit, set a red line before the forest of Akbelen against that insatiable monster. The villagers and a group of their friends and supporters had to put their bodies on the line because apparently the coal pit, the coal burning plants and their operators had not read the latest IEA Net Zero by 2050 roadmap which explicitly states that “There is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply in our net zero pathway.”

The same roadmap clearly lays out that 52% of the emissions reductions in the power sector by 2030 needs to come from coal. Effectively this means that the world has 9 years to phase out coal (we can discuss “unabated coal” in another post). The villagers themselves may or may not have read the IEA report or the IPCC report, or any other report for that matter but they know that the future depends on getting rid of fossil fuels.

The trees of Akbelen and villagers of İkizköy stand with the hundreds of local fights around the world opposing the destruction of clean water, soil, air and our common home, Earth.

To support the villagers you can sign the #AkbelenOrmanınıVermeyeceğiz (“We will not surrender the Akbelen Forest”) petition here.

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