Amélie Canonne and Clémence Dubois are members of theNGO 350.org France.
It is a story that simply begins. It takes place in Germany, thirty kilometers from Cologne. It is the story of two hundred hectares of primary forest, occupied for several years by people who want to prevent its destruction. Because this forest is destined to be sacrificed to allow the extension of an open cast lignite mine, commonly called “ brown coal “ : the most polluting fossil fuel in the world. This mine, in its current state, is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions across Europe.
It’s a simple story, because it reveals the truth about our leaders in just a few sentences. And this story involves France, it involves all of us: because France, through the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and the Reserve Fund for pensions, has invested millions of euros in shares and bonds issued by RWE, the company that manages this mine and with it dozens of thermal power plants (15 of which are coal-fired).
It affects us even more since a young man was killed on Wednesday 19 September. Journalist, he died trying to tell us this story.
Respecting the Paris Agreement means giving up all new fossil infrastructure
To tell us that it amalgamates all the ingredients of the catastrophe, which only our procrastination makes inevitable.
First of all there are the good speeches and commitments, sometimes grandiose, often above all symbolic. So Emmanuel Macron had made a clear commitment, in front of Angela Merkel in Bonn in November 2017: by 2021, France would have closed all these coal plants. Or three power plants. A symbolic commitment, therefore. A small picnic for Angela Merkel, who refuses to commit to a specific date for the release of coal, which is inevitable.
A few weeks later, on the eve of the One Planet Summit, which Emmanuel Macron had convened to revive the morale of an international community worried about Donald Trump’s intentions regarding the Paris climate agreement, the Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire in turn took Climate%20Finance%20Day.pdf” class=”spip_out” rel=”external”>commitment : the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (Center for Disease Prevention and Control) was about to sign a charter, with which it would pledge to bring its investments into line with the imperative to combat global warming.
However, in this story, the facts are simple, even childish: complying with the Paris Agreement means giving up any new fossil infrastructure. The coal, gas and oil fields currently being exploited are so gigantic that they are enough to take us off the trajectory of a + 2 ° C warming compared to the pre-industrial era. Very far, therefore, from the promise made to get as close as possible to 1.5 ° C.
For all those who have lived in the Hambach forest for several years, however, the 1.5 ° C target is very serious. They want to contribute directly to respecting it. Yet they are in the process of being expelled to serve Germany’s financial interests alone, RWE and France.
And the tension and violence imposed by the police for several days led to the death of one man.
The series of disasters and the public turmoil they cause should prompt the French government to initiate the transformations promised in 2015, during the COP21and ever since.
But the extension of a coal mine directly contravenes it ; France, which continues to present itself as the guarantor of the Agreement adopted in 2015, and as an international example, is investing in a company … whose activities conflict with its objectives in the fight against global warming.
“ Divest »It would cause the end of infrastructure projects and coal, gas or oil
- The Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations has invested RWE, in violation of its commitments in the climate charter.
France could find a dignified outcome in a tragedy that nothing will repair, and which will remain contaminated by its guarantee: divestment. As Bruno Le Maire had promised, France could decide not to invest a euro in fossil fuels to send a strong message. A message that Ireland, the cities of New York, London and Paris have already chosen to send.
The Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations manages the savings of millions of French people and many investments made by the state. “ Divest “ it would have great political significance, and would thus initiate the end of a series of infrastructure and projects related to coal, gas or oil.
The advantage of this very simple measure is that it costs nothing: in this story what is expected of Emmanuel Macron and the government is not an extra expense, but not an extra euro. It serves to keep the money waiting for adequate reinvestments.
A measure that costs nothing, but that pays a lot, in short. Because immediately, the money released – probably quantifiable in tens of billions of euros, although the investments of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control be reserved (investments from the reserve fund for fossil pensions alone therefore represent 2 billion euros) – makes itself available to finance the great transition we need: development of renewable energy, energy sobriety (in housing and transport in particular ), relocation of production and transformation of agriculture … So many policies that generate tens of thousands of jobs – skilled and not relocatable: the type of work we want to find across the street !
A life has already been taken, swallowed by the insatiable appetite of RWE and its financial support. Now more than ever, the time has come to finally move on to coal, giving up the expansion of the mine that borders the Hambach Forest.
In this story, irremediably marked by the seal of tragedy, each of us can play a role: write to Emmanuel Macron, Bruno Le Maire and the leaders of the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations to ask for divestment from fossil fuels and the energies of the past and start the transition to a just and sustainable future.
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