Press release – „Citizens for an end of coal“ initiative and „Limity jsme my movement“
„We will not stop until coal has been phased out.“ Climate activists blockade a power plant for forty-eight hours in Czech Republic
7. July 2019
For more than forty-eight hours, climate activists have blocked the main entrance of the lignite power plant „Chvaletice“ in central Czech Republic. The protest against the countrys lax climate policies and for an immediate phase out of coal has ended today without any interference by the police forces.
The protesters are demanding that the government starts shutting down old power plants like Chvaletice and decides for an early phase out ot the dirty fuel, which still provides more than half of the countrys electricity. Coal is the source of 57% of Czech CO2 emissions, which belong among the highest in the EU both per capita and unit of GDP. The protest is related to a recent upsurge in climate concerns in the country, whose forests and agriculture have been ravaged lately by a prolonged drought.
„Chvaletice should have been closed down already in 2016, just like other dirty old power plants in the country, which exports around 20% of its electricity. The Czech state is failing in its duty to protect the climate and the health of its citizens and secures the obscene profits of ‚coal barons‘ like Pavel Tykač, the owner of the Chvaletice power plant, instead. We consider such actions of nonviolent civil disobedience like this blockade a legitimate and necessary response, which can bring about change,“ Marika Volfová, the speaker for the „Citizens for an end of coal“ initiative, has commented.
The actions are part of a „Climate camp“ which has been set up by the Limity jsme my (We are the limits) movement a week ago in a nearby village of Veltruby, which is opposed to the power plant. Civic initiative „Citizens for an of coal“ has called for the actions of civil disobedience with the support of prominent ecologists, scientists and other organisations.
A march of several hundred people has set out from a nearby village this morning, bringing together climate protectors from all over the country with local opponents of the power plant, which is polluting its surroundings with toxic mercury, nitrogenous oxides and particulate matter.
After listening to the speeches by both local and international participants of the demonstrations, a part of the people have occupied the main entrance to the power plant, where they are intending to stay.
Protesters claim the czech state is failing its obligations to keep fossil fuels in the ground to contribute to the solution of the climate crisis. They are pointing to the fact, that czech emissions from the energy sector, heavily dependent on dirty lignite, have hardly been decreased at all in the past two decades. Instead of being phased out, old power plants such as Chvaletice are being privatised into the hands of so called „coal barons“.
These wealthy oligarchs, like the owner of the Chvaletice power plant Pavel Tykač, are also using their wealth and power to influence the public discussion and political process in their favour. Thus, regional authorities have permited the Chvaletice power plant to be retrofitted without public consultation and only this monday, have granted an exception from the new european air-quality regulations which would allow the owner tho emit three times the allowed amounts of toxic mercury, and prolong its climate-destroying operations into the next decade.
„The climate crisis cannot be solved without an immediate phase out of coal. The Chvaletice power plant was supposed to be closed down already in 2016, but the state has privatised it into the hands of the „coal baron“ Pavel Tykač. When the state is unable or unwilling to contribut to solving the climate crisis and secure a safe future for us, people have a right and a duty to protect the climate using nonviolent civil disobedience,“ Marika Volfová, the speaker of the „Citizens for an end of coal“ initiative, has explained.
The actions of civil disobedience have been supported by a wide spectrum of public personalities, including scientists like professor Michal Marek, the head of the climate change department at the Czech Academy of Sciences. The protests are expected to continue also on saturday and sunday.
„Because neither the repeated warnings of scientists, nor countless petitions and demonstrations have brought the change we need, we see no other option but to call for non-violent civil disobedience. Given the scale and urgency of the climate crisis we find peacefull resistance both legitimate and necessary to demand a solution to the impending climate collapse,“ Jan Polášek, a spokesperson of the initiative, has said.
Marika Volfová a Jan Polášek, Citizens for an end to coal – firstname.lastname@example.org, 773 647 880
Limity jsme my movement media - email@example.com, 737 863 097