Friends of the Earth Europe (FOEE) is the European arm of Friends of the Earth International and one of the largest grassroots environmental network in Europe. They promote campaigns on current most urgent environmental and social issues, seeking to increase public participation and democratic decision-making.
One of their focus areas is clean and just energy, as opposed to the use of fossil fuels, based on the idea that in order to avoid catastrophic climate change part of the known reserves of coal, oil and gas have to be kept in the ground. The impacts of climate change can already be seen, especially across Europe, while governments’ action is largely insufficient and the companies continue to look for and extract fossil fuels.
The Fossil Free Europe campaign sets out an over-arching vision and narrative on creating a much-neededand urgent transformation to a fossil fuel free Europe. It brings together climate and energycampaigns to dismantle fossil fuel infrastructure and create the just, clean energy system the people want and need.
The ultimate objective of the campaign is to deliver a just transition to a 100% renewable, no nuclear, super energy-efficient, zero-fossil-fuel Europe by 2030. The priority areas are thus:
- Stopping new fossil fuel projects:exploration and exploitation of fossil sources should be immediately stopped across Europe, as well as import of fossil fuels from abroad. It is possible to do so avoiding false solutions such as nuclear power, biofuels, geo-engineering, emission trading schemes or large-scale biomass.
- Priority of community-owned energy: putting people at the center of the energy transformation, promoting the ownership and production of renewable energy at community and individual level
- Just transition with focus on decent jobs, protection of workerslivelihoods and ensuring that no one is left behind
Here are some of the groups and actions that FOEE is supporting with the fossil-free campaign:
- FOE Northern Ireland was part of the movement that in September 2016 succeeded in avoiding drill in the Woodburn Forest. FOE groups across Europe joined the protests outside the drilling site
- FOE Scotland successfully campaigned for the ban of underground coal gasification in their country, arguing that it is a dangerous and unnecessary technology and that the renewables industry has a huge potential, also in terms of new jobs for the Scottish economy
- FOE Norway is struggling against oil and gas extraction in the areas off the coast of the arctic islands of Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja, the last remaining areas in Norway off limits to the oil industry.
- Activists of FOE from all Europe visited and gave their support to Groningen population in the Netherlands, that is resisting gas extraction in its territory. The oil industry is indeed destabilizing the land and caused more than 1300 earthquakes over the last 30 years in an area with no natural seismic activity
- FOE Czech Republic supported actions for the respect of ecological limits for coal mining established to protect towns like HorníJiřetín. In June 2017, they contributed to a climate camp organized by the local movement LimityJsme My (We are the limits) and Greenpeace.
- FOE groups across Europe visited and gave their support to local communities in Lancashire, England, that have been fighting for 6 years against local drilling and have succeeded until now to keep the oil industry at bay
- FOE Slovenia teamed up with other groups against the energy plan of the government, that set out a completely insufficient goal for renewables and leaves much place to fossil fuels
As mentioned, some local movements are succeeding in their struggles. However, the main success of the fossil free Europe campaign in itself is the ability to connect different groups against fossil fuels, to make their voices be heard and their actions stronger.
Session “Building an international climate justice campaigns’ strategy”
Thor Markussen – Friends of the Earth Europe
Climate Justice – Download