How Europe's coal dependency is devastating Russia's forests and indigenous Shor people
Slow Death in Siberia reveals the devastating effects of coal mining in the Kuzbass region of southern Siberia on the area’s indigenous Shor people and the environment. It shows how coal mining has destroyed forests, contaminated the air, water and soil in Kuzbass, and cites evidence indicating a rise in illnesses and health problems among those living near the mines. These include an increase in cancers, tuberculosis and cardiovascular diseases and a decreased life expectancy.
At the heart of the report are testimonies of the indigenous Shors, a Turkic people, whose survival and beliefs are intimately tied to the nature around them, but whose ancestral lands and villages have been ravaged by mining, leading, many of them say, to the slow death of their culture and way of life. It’s estimated that in seven years, the Shor population of the region has declined by almost 50 per cent. And those resisting the mines are facing serious reprisals.
The report shows that eleven of the top 22 countries importing coal from Russia’s Kuzbass region are in the European Union, despite some EU Member States’ increasing reliance on renewable energy.
Photo: Kedrovsky mine by Slava Stepanov
Almost 40 percent of all coal exported from Kuzbass is bound for the European Union.
According to the Siberian Customs Administration, in 2016 the four biggest importers of Kuzbass coal were South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom and Turkey, with other EU countries featuring prominently: the Netherlands (6th biggest importer), Germany (7th), Latvia (10th), Poland (12th), France (13th), Spain (17th), Finland (18th), Italy (19th), Denmark (20th), Slovakia (21st) and Belgium (22nd).