Activists urge Ireland to end 'blood coal' imports from Colombia

By Caroline O'Doherty
Senior Reporter

Ireland is complicit in human rights breaches in Colombia by buying coal from a mine accused of multiple abuses of local communities, campaigners say.

They are calling on the ESB and the Government to stop trading with the Cerrejon mine in the poor La Guajira province.

ESB has imported millions of tonnes of coal from the mine to burn at the Moneypoint power plant, while the mine's global marketing arm, CMC, is based in Dublin.

Professor Aviva Chomsky of Salem State University in Massachusetts, who led a campaign against the importation of Cerrejon coal to a power plan in Salem, urged Ireland to follow suit.

Prof Chomsky compared what is happening to the conquests of the 15th century.

"You have Europeans, interested in profit, who deeply believe in the inferiority of the people that they are conquering and exploring," she said.

Clodagh Daly of the Latin American Solidarity Centre said Ireland is hypocritical in contributing millions each year to the UN climate fund to support developing countries responding to climate change while continuing to import from the Cerrejon mine.

"Ireland is actively sponsoring environmental destruction," she said.

The mine, which has been accused of producing 'blood coal' rejects the allegations. ESB has said it is a member of the Bettercoal alliance working to improve standards in the coal mine.

A number of speakers were brought together by MEP Lynn Boylan for the first of a series of talks on climate change and associated issues. Ms Boylan said too often climate change is discussed with a narrow focus on fossil fuels and carbon emissions. "We need to look at the social justice element too," she said.

Climate action campaigners will meanwhile begin their High Court case against the State this morning in an attempt to force the Government to scrap the National Mitigation Plan and come up with a plan that more urgently and comprehensively sets out the country's path to carbon neutrality.

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