No Al Carbone

LOGOVELENIBari, Italy      Everywhere we look these days the discussion and activity is heating up around the impact of coal and climate change. One of the students at the Scuola di Bollenti Spiriti was Daniele Pomes, who is a key organizer in No Al Carbone, the No Coal campaign in Brindisi, Italy in the Puglia region. Visiting at some length with Daniel over several days, it was clear that he had a tiger by the tail.

With the help of a United Kingdom based nonprofit, Environmental Resistance , they had published a powerful booklet for the campaign which featured impressive photography developed from UK working with Daniele in Brindisi. Daniele couldn’t help pointing out to me that it involved the photographer and him going out at 5 AM every morning for over a week in order to be able to collect the photos.

According to the AssocCarboni,

Italy imports via sea about 90% of its coal demand, on a fleet composed by 60 ships with a carrying capacity of 4,6 million of tons. Import countries are different: the main ones are the USA, South Africa, Australia, Indonesia and Colombia, but there are also Canada, Cina, Russia and Venezuela.

Daniele believes that most of the coal coming into Brindisi is coming from China. There are two power plants, ENEL Brindisi South and EDIPower Brindisi North that are largely coal-powered. They stand out among a collection of plastic, petrochemical, and other plants that have made Brindisi, a city of over 200,000, an area classified “at High Risk of Environmental Crisis.” Within a mile of the petrochemical plant cancer rates are double the normal levels.

No Al Carbon is small but sustainable. 50 supportors pay10 euros per month in donations, dues, or whatever you might call it to support the campaign. They sell t-shirts, black of course, and other paraphernalia as you might imagine to help out as well. They are in a tough campaign because they believe that 30,000 workers in Brindisi are employed by the coal fired plants and coal dependent industries representing a sizable portion of the local population, so they are trying to build awareness and desperately searching for allies.

The booklet should help, though right now the first edition was only 50 copies, so they have to plant each one of those seeds very carefully.

A bigger breakthrough for them might be the coming “Poison Tour,” as they call it. They have rented a bus and are filling it with supporters, media, and others and planning to hit five “hot” spots, where the impact of the coal and the environmental damage is most obvious. Poignantly, they will be stopping as well near two protected wildlife areas in the northern and southern borders of the city where the impact of pollution is also extreme.

Daniele told me that one of the things he had learned from the organizing workshops I ran at the School of Hot Spirits was how to better research leverage points by looking at both the sources of the coal and the customers for the surplus energy produced by the plants. He’s going to need some help, but fortunately he’s putting together the tools, base, and allies that might help them win this fight in the future.