Coal, climate change, disinvestment, and LMN

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London Mining Network has for years been calling for a swift transition away from the mining and use of coal, because of the need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. But we have also called for this transition to be a just transition, because coal mine workers and their families and communities should never again be made to suffer in the way that they did in Britain in the 1980s and since.

Over the past few weeks, our friends in mine workers’ unions from around the world have made it clear that they cannot support calls for disinvestment from coal. While LMN continues to give its active support to the divestment movement, therefore, we plan to work much more closely with our friends in the mine workers’ unions to develop and publicise clearer proposals for what a ‘just transition’ away from coal would look like.

Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA) is working on what a just transition away from coal would look like in in New Zealand/Aoteoroa.

Meanwhile, disinvestment seems to be gathering pace. The Church of England is to sell some of its fossil fuel investments. The Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church (CFB), which manages investments of £1.1 billion for the Church, has announced a new investment policy on climate change. Barclays is cutting its ties with mountaintop removal coal, having been the world’s top lender to mountaintop removal coal firms prior to announcing new policy. Harvard professors Naomi Oreskes and James Anderson believe the carbon divestment movement may be reaching a tipping point.

But the World Bank’s fossil fuel financing leapt in 2014 despite its calls to end subsidies. And Glencore and other fossil fuel companies are taking a defiant stance against warnings that reserves of coal, oil and gas are already several times larger than can be burned if the world’s governments are to meet their pledge to tackle climate change.

George Monbiot wrote in the Guardian this week about “the outrageous, untold story of how big business dumps its costs on us“. And the claim that severely reducing coal production to combat ultimately fatal increases in greenhouse gas emissions, continues to reverberate.

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