By Nicolas Haeringer
French bank Société Générale has announced it’s withdrawing from the Alpha Coal mega-coal mine in Australia. This « climate bomb » – an open mine in the Galilee basin (central Queensland) alone would  « produce 6% of the carbon necessary to take the planet past a 2°C temperature rise, » says Bill McKibben.


If the project’s implemented, its total greenhouse gas emissions will rise up to 1.8 bn tons over the next 30 years. The project also comprises the building of a dedicated railway and the extension of Abott Port, a few miles away from the Great Barrier Reef. The Alpha Coal project is thus a major threat to any ambitious political action against climate change.

For several months, Friends of the Earth, Attac France, Bizi! and several other groups have engaged in a very creative campaign against the bank’s participation in the project. Campaigners and activists have occupied Société Générale’s branches, dressed in kangaroo suits. They also dumped 1.8 tons of coal in front of one of its branches. Reaching out to the bank’s client, they called them to withdraw their money and move it to a ‘cleaner’ back. Check out some videos from the actions.

Photographer: Jean-Claude Saget, via

Photographer: Jean-Claude Saget, via

Action matters, especially when creative – it proves to be successful.
This is however only the first step towards abandoning the project: Construction and development work is supposed to start as early as January 2015. Since the Australian government strongly supports the project, it is crucial to keep on putting the pressure on foreign financial partners. In fact, other financial institutions such Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank have already renounced to support the Alpha Coal mine.


These campaigns are also one very powerful way to express our solidarity with the domestic campaigners and activists who’ll try to block work, as well as with the Pacific Islanders who recently blocked the port in traditional canoes.


Our mobilisation is more important than ever.