As G7 leaders gather in Germany this weekend, Oxfam International was among the scores of groups and thousands of people in the street in protest on Saturday as they slammed the world’s top industrialized nations for continuing to push energy and financial policies that are dooming the planet to climate misery and growing inequality while leading millions of people towards deeper hunger and food insecurity.
“[Coal-fired power stations] increasingly look like weapons of destruction aimed at those who suffer the impacts of changing rainfall patterns as well as of extreme weather events.” —Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food
To bolster their critique of the G7, Oxfam has released a new report on the eve of summit—titled ‘Let Them Eat Coal’ (pdf)—describing the current situation in which the most development nations continue to burn coal, still the world’s largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, at unsustainable rates and in a manner that is driving planetary destruction on a massive scale and pushing off investments in the solutions necessary to right humanity’s course in the coming years and decades.
According to the report’s summary, each existing or new coal power station in the world should be seen “as a weapon of climate destruction – fueling ruinous weather patterns, devastating harvests, driving food price rises and ultimately leaving more people facing hunger. With these climate impacts falling disproportionately on the most vulnerable and least food-secure people, the burning of coal is further exacerbating inequality. Without urgent action, climate change could put back the fight against hunger by several decades.”
Taken as a whole, Oxfam says that if G7 coal plants were a country, it would be the fifth biggest emitter in the world.
Endorsing the report, Professor Olivier de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said: “Climate disruptions are already affecting many poor communities in the global South, and coal-fired power stations are contributing, every day, to make this worse. They increasingly look like weapons of destruction aimed at those who suffer the impacts of changing rainfall patterns as well as of extreme weather events.”