Nobel peace prize winner Al Gore would be proud. A few months ago, he said "I can't understand why there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power stations." The people of Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales have taken him at his word (albeit one step further back in the supply chain) to shut down work on Britain's biggest ever open-cast coal mine.
Frustrated after local planners ignored their opposition to the mine, they were joined yesterday by climate campaigners from all over Wales to prevent excavation work on the site at nearby Ffos-y-fran. More than 30 people, including environmetal writer George Monbiot, evaded police before chaining themselves to heavy earth-moving equipment to prevent it being used, hanging banners and pledging to remain on the site as long as possible.
More than 10,000 local residents had petitioned against the pit, which will encroach to within 40 metres of their homes. The 11 million tonnes of coal it's expected to yield will produce a climate-wrecking 30 million tones of carbon dioxide when burned, not to mention the vast amounts of soot and acid-rain forming nitrogen dioxide which will ruin their local environment.
The fact that the mine has been given the go-ahead is yet another example of the government's schizophrenic behaviour on climate change. Only last week Gordon Brown made a massive public commitment to meeting, or even exceeding, the huge reduction in CO2 emissions recommended by everybody from the IPCC to the Stern Report. Yet at the same time he's giving the nod to plans for massive airport expansions and a new generation of coal-fired power stations - which if they come to pass will prevent us getting anywhere near the cut in CO2 needed to keep the lid on climate change.
Although the Ffos-y-fran action is nothing directly to do with us, we support it wholeheartedly - more people need to stand up and refuse to allow short-term commercial profit-making to ruin our future. Coal is the filthiest fuel known to man and projects like this mine could destroy all our chances of tackling global warming.
Say no to the new coal-age!