Andrea Zlatnanska is a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Slovakia. In this blog entry she recounts the story of a recent success of the climate campaign there.
Three years ago, talks about a new coal power plant begun in a small town of Trebišov, eastern Slovakia. This facility with performance of 885 MW would stand only a few meters from a residence zone, and only a few hundred meters away from the city centre. With yearly CO2 emission of about 4 million tones, this single plant would increase national carbon emissions by 10 %. After three long years of assessment, objections of civil associations and the public, regional Building authority has made a decision. There will be no black coal burning climate killer in Trebišov!
Protest before the building commission hearing. As Andrea put it "we were hard to miss!"
The campaigns of Greenpeace and the local initiative made a high contribution to the decision of the responsible authority. The petition of local people against coal power plant, the cyberaction of Greenpeace focused on the building authority, high number of comments during the EIA public participation process, protests and media work - this all showed to official authorities that building of brand new coal power plant is not feasible here any more. The building authority has accepted these voices last week. According to its statement, it was not only formal issues but also public disagreement that weighed in the decision-making process.
The investor didn't convince then citizens of Trebišov to agree with project, not even with a vision of new jobs, which is in Slovakia, especially in this region, usually a strong argument. There were many "small victories“, as there were many lost wars. Obviously the work of the local opposition was well focused, because after some time it had to face life-threatening intimidation which led to having to stop all their activities. Greenpeace remained the only organization raising voices against this project, while secretly working with brave locals, who proved that people power is the strongest weapon, if you believe in your truth.
Greenpeace had to ensure that not only media, but also decision makers had all the relevant and objective information, as they were being misled by the investor, who didn’t hesitate to use any tools to push the project forward. The steps they took started to be shocking and have shown that not only the technology of burning the coal is dirty, but all the coal industry as such. The public in Slovakia was suddenly aware that coal power plants and the practices of coal lobby should, in favor of environmental protection and democratic society, belong to the past.
It is almost certain that the investor is going to appeal against the decision of the building authority, but we believe that the decision will remain the same.
One battle is won, yet there are many more coal power plants waiting around the world to be stopped. We hope this is a clear signal to a climate-unfriendly Slovak government, but also all the world leaders, that what we need now is systematic protection of climate, secured by FAB deal in Mexico at the end of this year. It’s time for Energy [R]evolution. The science is clear, the people demand it, all what we’re lacking is a political will.