Australia: on foot and on horseback, they demonstrate for sustainable energy

Thousands of Australians demonstrated Saturday in Sydney, on foot and even on horseback, to call for the halting of coal and gas mining projects in rural areas and the development of renewable energies.

The show was unusual in the city center, with horses trotting along the main avenues to join the protest, titled "Time2Choose" (It's time to choose) and which brought together environmental activists, aboriginals and grandmothers with their knit.

Across the continent, activists protest against developing mining projects near residential or agricultural areas, fearing that they will damage arable land.

"The coal and gas market is changing and global approaches to energy are changing, "one of the organizers of the demonstration, Georgina Woods of the Lock The Gate anti-coal group, told AFP.

 Sydney, on foot or on horseback, demand the abandonment of mining projects for the development of renewable energies (AFP - Peter PARKS)

Protesters in Sydney, on foot or on horseback, claim the abandonment of mining projects in favoring the development of renewable energies (AFP – Peter PARKS)

"We do not want our country to sacrifice sustainable agriculture and the population with short-term financial interests linked to mines that bring only long-term degradation environmental term, "she added.

Australia is one of the largest producers of coal and gas in the world, but projects under development, particularly for gas, are raising concerns and resistances due to extraction techniques and the use of hydraulic fracturing.

Some states and territories have banned these techniques in the name of environmental protection, others have increased their investment sustainable development projects

"Our farms are ruined, without water, there are drilling platforms or coal mines in the middle of the fields," Clare Twomey told AFP , one of the founders of Knitting Nannas Against Gas (grandmothers knitters against gas). "This is a huge disaster for our planet."

The debate has taken on a new dimension since last year with rising household energy bills, which some attribute to domestic shortages related to the suspension of onshore gas projects

Non-renewable energies such as coal and gas are the main source for electricity in Australia, despite a rise in recent years in the share of renewable energies.

Air pollution: it's not good to breathe at the foot of Mont Blanc

In Chamonix, they are proudly called "mules". These electric mini-buses crisscross the streets of the small alpine resort of nearly 10,000 inhabitants. They are part of the measures put in place for six years to try to reduce the use of polluting transport whose emissions literally choke more than 160,000 people in the Arve Valley that connects Chamonix to Contamine-sur-Arve (Haute-Savoie ). Las! it is still not good to live at the foot of Mont Blanc, where the atmosphere exceeds safety standards more than 35 days a year. Like Paris, Lyon or Marseille, this tourist region fails to meet the requirements of European directives. Worse: according to the epidemiological survey published in September 2017 by Public Health of France, exposure to air pollution in the 41 municipalities concerned is the direct cause of 8% of mortality in the valley, or 85 deaths per year . The longevity of an inhabitant now 30 years old will be – if nothing is done – amputated by nine months because of this permanent inhalation of fine particles and oxides of nitrogen. In total, the inhabitants of Arve today lose nearly 1,800 years of existence. "This study appears more alarming than we thought" is outraged Anne Lassman-Trappier, president of the local association Inspire 74 who now places all his hopes in a new Plan of protection of the atmosphere (PPA), more draconian that should be made public in mid-2018.

These poor results sign the failure of the first PPA developed in 2012 to try to fight against pollution peaks. In particular: the intense road traffic, with more than 600,000 trucks leaving each year to attack the Mont Blanc tunnel and responsible for 70% of nitrogen oxide emissions. And wood burning in 18,000 open fireplaces, responsible for 57% of fine particle emissions in winter. Conditions aggravated by the geographical situation of the valley which undergoes during a period of anticyclonic episodes a phenomenon of "thermal inversion"

While the upper layers of the atmosphere are warmed by the sun, the lowest ones remain at a lower temperature, blocking the polluting emissions on the ground. "Not only is the Arve Valley concealed, but also the thermal inversion layer is 50 meters above the ground when it is 300 meters above a city like Paris " , says Jean-Luc Jaffrezo, deputy director of the Institute of Environmental Geosciences (IGE, Grenoble).

But despite the health emergency, "the first PPA was made in a certain general skepticism "remembers Alain Nahmias, president of the Association for the respect of the Mont-Blanc site (ARSMB). "The industrialists, the motor carriers and the elected officials sent the ball back to them, and the public doubted that its heating practices and the use of the personal car could be responsible for the situation." [19659002] Thus, despite incentives in the form of subsidies of up to 2,000 euros, only 2,200 households have opted for a powerful insert against the 3200 expected … And the inhabitants of the valley are quick to incriminate second homes. "It's cultural, people think that the mountain in winter is the fire!" regrets Alain Nahmias. As for heavy goods vehicle traffic, it has progressed to 5,000 trucks a day since the recent economic recovery and, due to a lack of budget, the four communities of communes in the valley have not been able to set up an adequate bus line. 19659002] On the industrial side, the commune of Passy, ​​the black spot of the Arve, does not know how it can regulate the emissions of the household garbage incinerator on its territory, nor those of a factory which – paradoxically – manufactures carbon parts for car batteries … electric! These manufacturers argue, certainly, that they comply with emission standards … but their contributions (12 tons per year for the carbon plant) worsen the situation.

Losing Foot In 2008, Palestinian Man Killed While Clashing in Gaza

Gaza City
Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh lost both legs in the 2008 Israeli raid. Despite having to sit in a wheelchair, Thurayeh was never lost to the protests in Gaza.

This week, Thurayeh is behind in protest protesting US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Nahas, 29-year-old man was killed in the latest clashes on the Gaza-Israel border on Friday (15/12) local time.

As reported by AFP Thurayeh is one of four Palestinians killed in a series of clashes in Gaza and the West Bank. Thurayeh was reportedly shot dead by Israeli soldiers in the clash.

The bachelor Thurayeh lives in his parents' home and has not worked since he lost both legs in an incident in 2008. The incident in question was an Israeli attack on the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza in April 2008.

"He was injured in 2008, when Israeli helicopters targeted him after he lowered the Israeli flag and raised the Palestinian flag at the border," said Samir, Thurayeh's brother to AFP, after his death was confirmed on Friday (15/12) local time.

"It did not stop him from demonstrating for Jerusalem, he went alone to the border every day," he added. Photographs captured by journalists AFP show the moments when Thurayeh participated in a demonstration on the Gaza-Israel border in recent years.

In a video recorded on Friday (15/12) morning local time Thurayeh was seen carrying a Palestinian flag and waving it toward the Israeli army at the border. "I want to go there," Thurayeh said referring to the Gaza-Israel border. A number of young men who waved Palestinian flags were seen circling Thurayeh and several other young men throwing stones at the Israeli army.

A few hours before his death, Thurayeh reportedly climbed a power pole to fly the Palestinian flag. The eyewitnesses and journalists who saw him called Thurayeh desperate to climb even though he no longer had legs. Things that happened after that are not very clear. Palestinian protesters who gathered along the border continued to throw stones at the Israeli army until it led to clashes.

Later reports said two demonstrators were killed, one of them identified as Thurayeh. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza claimed Thurayeh was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper.

The Israeli military refused to comment specifically on Thurayeh's death. They only mentioned violent clashes throughout the day. "The army opened fire selectively toward the main instigator," an Israeli military spokesman said.

(nvc / tor)