Here are a few examples of victories against coal companies, a small window into a much bigger picture:
Turkey vs Engie
One of the big wins against coal in Turkey is the case of 1,320 MW Ada Coal Plant located in the heavily industrialised İskenderun Bay, situated on the Eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey – thanks to the joint effort of local, national, and international groups. The investor was French utility Engie, one of the sponsors of the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in Paris back in 2015. COP summits are meant to bring together governments to enable action against climate change. Both Turkish and French environmentalist groups, together with residents of the region, conducted protests in France and in Turkey simultaneously.
The then-President Hollande was urged to act to cancel Engie’s investment plans in the Ada Coal Plant Project in Iskenderun Bay and to push Engie to commit to end all its coal investments and activities. Campaigners pointed out the contradiction that Engie was sponsoring the COP while investing in coal overseas. Following those actions, Engie declared that it was cancelling the project in October 2015.
The same location is under threat again with Chinese companies now constructing the Emba Hunutlu Coal Plant. Local, national, and international groups started a campaign in early June 2020, targeting Turkish ministries and the Chinese financiers. China is eager to establish overseas coal power plants, another example of a colonial power causing pollution outside its border. China has cancelled other coal plant constructions after they have started, and people are working to make this happen here too. For more info see cleanair4adana.org
Video of the protest in front of an Engie building: https://cutt.ly/1gHNnew
Kenya against big coal
In June 2019, the ‘Save Lamu’ campaign got Amu Power Company Ltd.’s license for the Lamu coal power plant overturned for having failed to fully inform local people of the way the power station would affect them. “Would the members have supported the projects if they know about effects on human health, damage of flora and fauna, immature deaths, and even adverse effects on forests? There might be ways to mitigate the same; however, the residents ought to have been notified of these before a license was issued,” the tribunal ruled.
Raya Famau Ahmed, a resident of Lamu and strong campaigner on women’s issues, said this was a great victory for women and children, who end up suffering the most in any calamity. “On behalf of the women of Lamu and the indigenous communities, I am very happy. We were worried about this license and the lack of public participation, and the tribunal has confirmed this. I want to tell women that we are the country and we must keep vigilant”.
Russian people vs SPS
In 2018, the rural village of Mencherep was saved from a vast opencast coal mine due to start work on its doorstep. Local community members, Russian environmental NGO Ecodefense, and the human rights lawyers’ group, Team 29, brought the case to victory in the court. This is a monumental decision by a court in coal country, Kuzbass, Siberia.
The coal mine had already been approved and land was expected to be taken forcibly from the owners. This shows a turning point in the Kuzbass’ battle against the coal giants. The coal company, SPS, has tried to get the decision overturned but failed.
Poland – victory for local people and law firm
Environmental law charity ClientEarth and local people stopped the Polnoc power plant in Poland. The original permit for the plant was issued without input from local communities and ignored glaring environmental issues with the project. ClientEarth won a case against the corporate resolution allowing Ostroleka C power station to go ahead. While the companies could have still powered ahead and built the plant, ClientEarth’s legal action and a lot of financial campaigning by other organisations made it untenable for the new co-owners, and they flat-out refused to inherit it as a coal project.
Greece – lawyers vs coal plants
Successful court cases by ClientEarth have prevented a new coal plant at Meliti II in West Macedonia from being built and coal plant Meliti I from being able to operate. The environmental law charity also ensured that Megalopoli A & B coal power stations situated in Peloponnísou have no permit to operate.