Actions on the ground to break free from fossil fuel

Actions on the ground to break free from fossil fuel

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Shaila Mahmud
Energy is essential to run today’s civilization; it has become an indispensable instrument to attain human rights, social justice and sustainability. It is ironic that about 90 per cent of all energy in 29 countries come from fossil fuels, the main reason behind earth’s climbing temperature. Our reliance, on fossil fuels for energy is leading us towards catastrophe – by emitting greenhouse gases and other toxic chemicals into the atmosphere – responsible for global warming. Since, fossil fuels include coal, oil and natural gas – therefore, their extraction and burning pollutes air and triggers climate change.Using fossil fuel as primary means to solve our energy crisis has given enormous power to the hands of a few people promoting fossil fuel. The fossil fuel industry has long been deceiving people to invest into their business to make more profit, although they were well aware of the coming climatic destruction this industry will inflict upon the Planet. A study by Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) shows, that the major fossil fuel companies knew about greenhouse effect from as early as 1977. The report also reveals that fossil fuel companies like BP, ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy, Chevron and Shell actively participated in meetings whose primary purpose was to identify carbon emissions influence on greenhouse effect in that time.
A peer-reviewed research published by the science journal Climatic Change indicates 90 companies are responsible for two-thirds of total global carbon pollution. The fossil fuel industry not only has been deceiving us but also they are causing more harm to the Earth’s surface with technologies like, hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ (a technique in which rock is fractured by a pressurized liquid), mining and conventional oil drilling to extract more fossil fuels and scale up the production. Since, fossil fuel takes millions of years to form, so insensitively extracting them will eventually extinct these sources, it’s time that we shifted energy system from dirty polluting sources to clean renewable sources of energy. Because, this widely used energy system is failing to meet the needs of more than 2 billion people around the world. To end the tyranny of the fossil fuel industry, in 2013, many groups got together to launch Reclaim Power, a global initiative aiming to organize actions in as many countries as possible, “providing opportunities for people to be directly involved and raising the demand for a full transformation of energy systems”.
Groups like the Reclaim Power and 350.org have carried out massive actions involving people from all over the world with only one appeal that is to take control from the hands of the industry involved in destroying our climate. This May, thousands of people from around the world joined actions taking place across 6 continents which aimed to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and speed up the just transition to 100% renewable energy. The landmark decision by countries such as the Iceland, Scotland, Uruguay, Denmark, Portugal, Paraguay and Germany to produce 100% energy from renewable sources. As Guardian has put Iceland’s success in renewable energy, “The glaciers and rivers of the interior of the country are harnessed to generate 80% of the country’s electricity needs through hydropower, while the geothermal fields provide up to 20% of the country’s electricity needs”. Surprisingly, according to the an article by the Seeker, the Central American nation of Costa Rica actually ran on 100 percent renewable energy for 300 out of 365 days in 2015 using hydroelectric and geothermal power. According to, a recent groundbreaking study at Stanford and UC-Davis conclude that – with existing technology – the world could be entirely powered by renewable energy within 20 to 40 years.
To keep the momentum going Reclaim Power has planned to carry out actions across the world to break free from fossil fuel energy and for clean community energy, over the course of October. A report by Reclaim Power states that there are 200 actions planned for India alone, and campaigners in London have already launched the month with a record 11-hour protest tour of fossil fuel energy companies. It is rightly said by Payal Parekh, the Global Managing Director of 350.org that, “It’s up to us to break free from fossil fuels and accelerate the shift towards a just transition to 100% renewable energy”.
Although, the contributors of global warming are active in the global North, it is the least developed countries with lower emission that undergoes the havocs of climate change resulting from global warming. According to, International Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Analysis 2015, Bangladesh, one of the lowest contributor (only 0.3%) to the amount of emission driving global warming, will face the wrath of global warming more gravely. Bangladesh identified as one of the six most affected areas in the world by this year’s Global Climate Risk Index (CRI), is anticipated to face extreme events like, rising sea-levels, intense tropical cyclones, drought and floods and extreme heat waves by the end of this century. In line with Reclaim Power’s global action against fossil fuel in October, Bangladeshi network of grass root NGOs, Campaign for Good Governance (SUPRO), carried out a Human Chain Program calling for a more just and sustainable energy system and for policymakers to end the undue influence and obstruction of climate policy by transnational fossil fuel corporations. In the Human Chain program, SUPRO raised demands for stopping fossil fuel energy plants, ending public handouts to dirty energy, divesting (selling out shares) from fossil fuels, stopping excessive energy consumption by corporations and elites, ensuring universal clean energy as basic necessity for people and communities, and redirecting funds and pursuing a swift and just transition to democratic, pro-poor, renewable and clean energy systems for people and communities.
With more and more countries breaking free from fossil fuel dependency for producing power and with Reclaim Power’s universal effort to take actions on the ground, we are moving closer to a clean and sustainable world for its people and creatures. It’s high time, people’s right to live in a clean environment be placed before profit, which is only possible through a fundamental transformation of the energy system.
(Writer Shaila Mahmud is working in the field of climate change and development)

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