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Finite: The Climate of Change review – powerful case against climate crisis fatigue | Movies

Climate activist-turned-film-maker Rich Felgate brings us two victories from the frontline of the environmental movement. If nothing else, his documentary makes a persuasive and powerful case against climate crisis fatigue: the helpless feeling that whatever you can do as an individual is too little, too late; and besides what’s the point when it’s fossil fuel companies driving the crisis?

In County Durham, he joins locals who have been fighting off plans for a new open-cast coal mine in the gorgeous countryside of the Pont Valley for decades. He arrives as they mount a last-ditch battle, occupying the valley in a makeshift camp. The mining company needs to build an access road before its licence expires. The clock is ticking.

Meanwhile, over in western Germany, Felgate visits one of Europe’s biggest opencast mines in the ancient Hambach forest. Campaigners have built a community of tree houses to protect the remaining 10% of trees (being high up makes it harder for police to evict them). It’s genuinely shocking seeing the results of open-cast mining, which involves digging up the earth’s surface to reach relatively shallow seams of coal. The landscape is left apocalyptically barren, dead-looking.

Back in County Durham, there’s jubilation at the discovery of an endangered crested newt, which is protected by law. That should put a stop to the mine. Not so fast, says a seasoned activist, jaded by experience: “The legal system privileges those who can pay for expensive lawyers.” I hope it’s not a spoiler to say that the film ends happily all round; though still, there’s a gnawing sense of hopelessness. Here’s one German protester, who’s lived in the trees for six years: “I continue to do it not because I have any hope but because I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Finite: The Climate of Change is released on 15 February in cinemas.

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Photo by Xu Haiwei on Unsplash