Civil society keeps coal mining restricted
When the current government of the Canadian province of Alberta tried to repeal a law restricting coal mining in the Rocky Mountains, Canadians banded together to protest and succeeded.
The idea that new coal mines could be built in Alberta's Rocky Mountains has led to unprecedented public mobilization.
Endangered wildlife, Native lands, popular recreation areas, the headwaters of a major source of fresh water for communities, and pastureland that has been used by ranchers for generations are typical of the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. All of these areas are under special protection under a law passed in 1976. Mining is not allowed here, or only to a limited extent. It is precisely this law that the government of the province of Alberta now wanted to repeal. As a result, numerous protests took place in Canada.
Facebook groups , country music stars, conservationists, farmers and more have joined together to oppose the repeal. The United Conservative Party government was then forced to reverse the repeal.
"We admit we didn't get this right," said provincial Energy Minister Sonya Savage."We're not perfect and Albertans have let us know that." Savage now even wants to enact guidelines to further protect these areas.
Given that all leases and exploration programs approved during the coal policy repeal can continue, Albertans won't stop fighting to protect the province's mountains and headwaters.
The provincial government apparently did not expect such a fight from the civil society.
What is happening right now in Alberta is a tremendous demonstration of the power of collective public action, and a warning to all future politicians who make policy at the expense of nature.
Coal mining also emits methane, a gas with 67 times more power than CO2 to warm the planet over a 20-year period and whose emissions are responsible for about 25 percent of global warming. Building new coal-fired power plants implies catastrophic climate change. The civil society must stand up together to fight global warming and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.