WORLD IN MOTION
Words: Danny Chivers Illustrations: Jason Ngai
In order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, over 80 per cent of known fossilfuel reserves simply cannot be burned. As political systems fail, social movements are targeting mines, rigs, infrastructure and investment to keep carbon in the ground.
JAPAN Buddhist temples are shifting investments out of fossil fuels, part of a global ‘divestment’ movement that has so far pulled over $8 trillion from oil, gas and coal companies worldwide. Japan is a key target: three of its biggest banks – Mizuho Financial Group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group – are the first, second and fifth-largest lenders to coal projects globally.
A new alliance of Japanese campaigners, supported by the climate action network 350.org, is pushing for the withdrawal of an estimated $25 billion. Buddhist priest Tomonobu Narita, who recently shifted part of his temple’s investments into a fossil-free fund, told NBC News: ‘Small action when combined [with the actions of others] leads to a bigger effect, so I hope for divestment to have that kind of spread in Japan.’
In response, the three major banks have said they will review and reduce their coal lending. But campaigners are determined to push them further, especially since other Japanese financial institutions such as Nippon Life, Dai-ichi Life and ITOCHU have pledged to exit coal altogether. nin.tl/JapaneseBanks
SPAIN AND FRANCE European campaigners are celebrating after regulators blocked a major natural gas pipeline.
A section of the $3.4-billion MidCat pipeline – planned to connect the Spanish and French gas grids – was built in 2012 but has sat idle as political battles raged over the rest of the 1,250-kilometre route.
In January 2019, regulators rejected the middle portion of the pipeline, citing ‘ lack of necessity and high cost’. This followed years of work by campaign network Plataforma Resposta al MidCat, who highlighted the severe potential climate impacts of the pipeline, particularly leaks of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – during extraction and transportation, which can make natural gas as polluting as coal.
The Midi-Catalonia (MidCat) pipeline is just one of more than 90 proposed gas projects earmarked for potential EU funding, thanks to aggressive lobbying by the fossil-fuel industry that often uses the argument that gas is needed as a temporary ‘bridge’ to a renewable future.
Campaigners point out that building a new network of pipelines and gas plants would lock Europe into using this dirty fuel for decades to come and diverts public funds away from boosting renewables. nin.tl/Gastivists
MAY- JUNE 2019