Grassroots Campaign Waves
Grassroots campaigns have grown as waves of protest against coal-fired power plants continue all over the world. In the United States, a number of coal-fired power plants have been shut down since 2010 with the 200th coal plant closing on July 15th, 2015. These retired coal plants represent nearly 40 percent of the 523 U.S. coal plants that had been in operation just five years ago.
The pollution from these 200 coal plants had caused 6,000 heart attacks, 60,000 asthma attacks and 3,600 deaths in 2009. Each year, these plants emitted more than 3,400kg (7,600 lb) of mercury that had caused congenital and neurological disorders for children and 190 million tonnes of CO2. Shutting down these coal plants not only greatly contributed to climate change measures, but also to the health of local residents.
Power of Comminity-based Actions
The Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign has been a major player in shutting down coal plants in the United States. With the collaboration of more than a 100 organizations and thousands of activists, the Sierra Club has mobilized community-based action to phase out coal-fired power plants, It’s safe to say that this grassroots movement has allowed the United States to rapidly phase out coal.
There are also those against coal-fired power plants in Japan. In Kobe city, for example, several residential groups have voiced their objections against Kobe Steel’s construction of 2 new coal-fired power plant units, which have a total potential capacity of 1300MW (650MW each). They are especially concerned about the potential environment and public health impacts. For our American counterparts, it’s evident the grassroots movement was successful by taking on coal one step at a time. In Japan, it is also important to make our objections against new coal plants known not only in the local community but other regions as well. These kinds of grassroots actions are imperative in order to change the course of Japan’s current coal expansion trend and move away from the construction of new coal plants and towards clean energy.
Protests against Kobe Steel Coal-fired Power Plant begin! (November 11th, 2014)