Fichtner, stop your involvement in Rampal Coal Power Plant. Stop destroying the Sundarbans

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The German Fichtner Group from Stuttgart is involved in the construction of Rampal coal-fired power plant in Bangladesh. This will cause immense ecological damage to Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. Together with many activists and various environmental and climate protection organizations, we call on the Stuttgart Fichtner Group to end its involvement in the construction of the Rampal coal-fired power plant! The immense ecological damage must be prevented!

The Sundarbans in southern Bangladesh is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and the largest and most species-rich mangrove forest on Earth. Stuttgart-based Fichtner Group, as the chief engineering firm, is involved in the construction of Rampal coal plant (1,320 megawatts) only a few kilometers north of the mangroves (1). UNESCO has determined the coal plant poses unacceptable risks of air and water pollution. It has called for the plant to be canceled or relocated, and has recommended adding Sundarbans to the List of World Heritage in Danger if plant construction continues (2).

Scientists and civil society warn of massive environmental destruction and the long-term socioeconomic consequences of the power plant. Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, also rejects the construction of Rampal coal-fired power plant because of the high ecological and associated socio-economic damage (3).

The destruction of the ecosystem exacerbates the impact of climate change

Bangladesh is one of the countries most threatened by the consequences of climate change worldwide. Due to its geographical location only a few meters above sea level, Bangladesh is severely affected by sea-level rise, cyclones and floods. The Sundarbans act as a crucial natural shield. They are home to many endangered animal and plant species. Over two million people depend directly on the Sundarbans for their livelihood.

Forced displacement and dispossession - suppression of peaceful protests  

Experts report on the forced displacement and dispossession of thousands of people. Peaceful protests by civil society were met with massive police violence. Activists receive death threats. Lawsuits in court against non-transparent decision-making processes and violations of environmental regulations by the Bangladeshi government are being delayed.

Civil Society calls on the German Government to act

Renewable energies and adaptation to climate change are focus areas of the German Development Cooperation with Bangladesh. At the same time, German companies are involved in environmental destruction and social marginalization. Despite criticism from German civil society and Member of Parliament Frithjof Schmidt (4) (Green Party), who visited Rampal in February 2019, together with his colleague Claudia Roth, the German Government and the Stuttgart State Government remain passive.

Fichtner's corporate mission statement states (5): "We feel committed to the issue of sustainability and natural resource conservation. We strive for solutions that are sustainable and environmentally sound."

We call upon the Fichtner Group, to put their mission statement into practice, to no longer be involved in the construction of Rampal coal plant, to end its involvement in the planning and construction of coal-fired power plants worldwide, and to solely participate in the expansion of renewable, environmentally friendly energies!

Major Bangladeshi civil society platforms join as signatories-

  • National Committee for Saving the Sundarbans (NCSS)
  • Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA)
  • Waterkeepers Bangladesh
  • CLEAN (Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network)
  • Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt 
  • Phulbari Action Group
     

The following International, national and local organizations have endorsed the petition up to now:

  • Market Forces
  • Urgewald
  • Rainforest Action Network
  • Mangrove Action Project
  • 350.org
  • Klima- und Umweltbündnis Stuttgart
  • Greenpeace Berlin
  • Coal Action Network
  • Christian Climate Action
  • Fuel Poverty Action
  • Cultural Survival
  • Women of Colour GWS

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Notes

1) Lessat, Jürgen (2017). Destroying world heritage with Stuttgart help, in: Context: Wochenzeitung, issue 331, 2.8.2017, at  https://www.kontextwochenzeitung.de/wirtschaft/331/welterbe-zerstoeren-mit-stuttgarter-hilfe-4514.html

 2) International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (2019). IUCN - the official advisor on natural World Heritage -visvises "in danger" status for three World Heritage sites, IUCN, 7 June 2019: "IUCN recommends placing the Sundarbans in Bangladesh on the List of World Heritage in Danger, due to severe threats from coal-fired power plants and numerous industrial activities in close proximity. The site is part of the world's largest mangrove forest, home to the royal Bengal tiger. Following a joint IUCN-UNESCO mission in 2016, the World Heritage Committee called for the large Rampal power plant project, planned 65km from the site, to be canceled and relocated. Despite this, its construction has continued without any assessment of its impact on the Sundarbans' World Heritage values ​​"at

https://www.iucn.org/news/iucn-43whc/201906/iucn-advises-danger-status-three-world-heritage-sites

3) Yunus, Muhammad, (2017). A World of Three Zeros: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions, paperback, 2017.

"While the people of Bangladesh are appealing to the world to stop the environmental degradation that is hurting the country enormously, the government of Bangladesh is proceeding with environmentally threatening projects. One is the coal-fired 1-320-megawatt power plant located in Rampal , very close to the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest. The project threatens the forest, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Public voices has been raised against this project, and convincing arguments have been presented by environmentalists from home and abroad. But the government is going ahead ... the global community (should) express solidarity with this climate challenged country by offering state-of-the-art technological options to generate green energy in a cost-effective way ...As a result Bangladesh would not feel forced into resorting to dirty energy. "

 4) Schmidt, Frithjof (2020). Power Plant Near the Sundarbans Poses Massive Threat to the UNESCO World Heritage's Survival, at https://www.frithjof-schmidt.de/power-plant-near-the-sundarbans-poses-massive-threat-to-the-unesco- world-heritages-survival /

 5) Fichtner Group (2018). Corporate Philosophy, July 2018, p. 4, under
https://www.fichtner.de/userfiles/fileadmin-group/Dateien/Fichtner_Corporate_Philosophy_07-18.pdf