Dear friends,

Coal kills and coal speeds up climate change — that is clear to everyone. What may not be well known is that in many parts of the world, UNESCO World Heritage sites are also at risk, thanks to coal.

New coal power plants proposed in Australia, Bangladesh, Kenya and Turkey pose an enormous threat to some of the world’s greatest natural and cultural places such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Lamu Islands and the Sundarbans forest. Places like those should be under strict protection, not threat — and we can help UNESCO protect them.

Call on UNESCO to step up and protect world heritage sites. UNESCO has a unique power to call out governments who fail to protect key places in this planet, but we must show that people all over the world are standing together in this global call.

Coal has already caused brutal impacts on communities near coal plants and mines. Coal is also a major responsible for the warming of our planet. Now coal is not only putting our present and future at stake, but also threatening our past: thousands of years of history could be gone if coal projects charge ahead in heritage sites.

Turkey, for example, is home to many of them: the Hecate temple in Lagina (Yatağan), the ancient port city of Kyme, the Byzantine fortress of Pegae in Karabiga, Genoese Castles of Amasra, Foça, Çandarlı, and the Ilgın – Çavuşçugöl natural reserve. All of them are already threatened by coal development, and many more could be at risk if the country pursues its plan to build even more coal plants.

In Bangladesh and Kenya, coal-fired power plants are planned to be built in the Sundarbans and Lamu Islands respectively. Both locations are already UNESCO heritage sites due to their extremely rich ecological and cultural diversity, but the countries are charging ahead with their coal disaster plans.

And in Australia, up to 50% of the Great Barrier Reef may be dead already thanks to warming oceans — something that has coal written all over it. But despite this crime scene at its doorstep, the Australian government is more interested in making room for the main suspect to continue committing shocking crimes, this time with what may end up being the largest coal mine in Australia, along with massive infrastructure to export coal.

194 countries, including all mentioned above, have signed the Paris Climate Agreement. To meet the goals of the agreement, we have to stop building new coal plants and phase out existing ones — and by building new coal plants near UNESCO Heritage sites, these countries are doing the exact opposite.

Call on UNESCO to protect communities, culture and the climate — not coal.

Let’s combine our voices and demand cultural, natural and historical protection of our planet, of our history, and the future of our children. UNESCO can send a powerful message to these countries, and we can make UNESCO take this crucial step — for all of us.

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