Last Wednesday afternoon I signed a warrant agreeing that lawyer Pia Björstrand and attorney-at-law Jan Palmblad can represent me in court. I was about to sue the Swedish state for its inability to stop the sale and start the phase-out of some of Europe’s largest carbon bombs — Swedish state-owned company Vattenfall’s coal mines in Germany — and to hold Sweden responsible to the climate promises they made by signing the Paris agreement. Suing the state is not something I take lightly, quite the opposite. However, I have attempted everything else in my power to keep that lignite coal in the ground. Many of us have: Tens of thousands of people have joined protests against the devastating coal deal; we have petitioned, marched and occupied in our calls for climate justice. Decision makers still have not stopped the sale and still are not making the necessary plans for how to phase out Vattenfall’s lignite mines.
Being part of this court case means a lot to me. It means that I will have used a broad range of tactics to keep Swedish-owned fossil fuels the ground; it means that in the future as I meet younger generations than mine living with worsening consequences of climate change, I will be able to tell them that we were many who stood up for them. Some fights we lost & some fights we won, but in the long run, we were winning the war… I will aim to inspire them to continue standing up for themselves and each other, to see that there is so much you can change as long as you get active. And perhaps this particular story will be about how we finally succeeded in stopping the historic dirty Swedish coal deal… This I do not know, because our case has not yet been taken to court.
As I signed the warrant and closed the envelope on Wednesday, I thought we might be 20-30 people legally joining this court case. It later turned out that 178 people had signed that same agreement in a matter of days. 178 people are suing the Swedish state and demanding that they phase out that state-owned coal, keeping the huge emissions they could cause in the ground — where they belong.
Thursday morning I woke up and opened my Facebook feed. A terrifying video appeared — it showed the huge typhoon Meranti as it was making its way across Taiwan and later China. People on scooters, chunks of buildings and whole trees swept away by the storm… Knowing that this is the kind of extreme weather a climate changed world will need to get used to — as the oceans warm the storms who gather strength as they cross those oceans gather more speed and become more devastating — and knowing that the politicians of this “progressive” country Sweden are not yet doing what it takes to keep fossil fuels in the ground, I was overwhelmed by fear. I cried. We are doing everything we can as a movement and we are growing stronger by the hour – but so is the climate crisis. This is impossible for me to ignore. And it is devastating to think of the many lives this crisis will take, or change forever.
This is why we are suing the state. As I wrote earlier — we do not take it lightly! But neither can decision makers continue to take climate change lightly.
The Magnolia case, as it is called, is perhaps not the most strategic campaign with the most coherent messaging and long-term plans ever. To me, that is not the point.
It is a wild and courageous move by citizens who NEVER want to see that lignite extracted and burned, because we are going to stop climate change.
It is a consequence of the growing dissatisfaction with how politicians (even in politically “progressive” Sweden) are failing to take the climate action that is necessary.
It is a demonstration of citizens not giving up — and instead quickly joining forces in solidarity with those impacted by climate change to #keepitintheground.
In short: I kicked my Thursday off crying, but went to bed smiling. Smiling because people are becoming more committed and confident in their actions to stop the climate crisis — smiling because as more and more people realise that it’s up to themselves to make politicians stick with their promises and deals, together we will step it up a notch. Smiling because the power of the global and Swedish climate movement is growing stronger whether this particular court case is won or lost — smiling because 178 people were mobilised to sign onto a court case in a matter of days — smiling because people power.
Are you also one of the 178 people who sued the state? Please get in touch with Magnolia to share your personal story, too!