Last week, #BreakFree2016 wrapped up across the globe. Greenpeace joined with many inspiring organisations in a global wave of peaceful actions that lasted for 12 days and took place across six continents to target the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects.
In places like the Philippines, Germany and Indonesia, thousands of people gathered together to take action. They occupied mines, blocked rail lines, linked arms, paddled in kayaks and held community meetings in 13 countries.
The wave of activity is stemming from a growing global awareness that the impacts of climate change are real and increasing. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that April 2016 marked the 12th consecutive month of record warmth for the globe. Research released by Greenpeace India reveals that in India coal is the largest overlooked source of air pollution and identifies air pollution emission hotspots in India visibly linked to thermal power plants in the area. Whether it be local air pollution or climate impacts, the impacts of fossil fuel on people is clear.
A global wave of peaceful direct action
Communities on the front lines of climate change aren’t waiting for governments or corporations to act. They are taking bold action to defend their communities, and the world needs to listen.
Communities like those in Colorado who told the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to “keep it in the ground” when the BLM were holding an auction to sell off fossil fuels on public lands. Or those who took over a fracking site near a school.
In the UK, hundreds of climate protesters took control of the largest opencast coal mine to shut it down for a day. In South Africa, hundreds stood up to South Africa’s most powerful family with a march that delivered coal to their front door, despite their attempts to silence civil society by pressuring police to revoke permits for a march.
In Aliaga, Turkey 2,000 people marched to the gates of the Izmir region’s largest coal dump, and surrounded it with a giant red line, as a call to end plans for the massive expansion of coal in the country. In Germany, 3,500 people shut down one of Europe’s biggest carbon polluters, occupying a lignite mine and nearby power station for over 48 hours, reducing the plant’s capacity by 80 percent.
In the Batangas, the Philippines, 10,000 marched against a proposed coal plant. There were many more and the numbers just kept growing.
Each case was its own success, and together, they demonstrate a growing global climate movement.
Where to from here?
People are demanding elected officials and multinational corporations end destructive investments and be held accountable if they do not #BreakFree from their dependency on fossil fuels.
We need to continue to unmask and hold accountable elected officials and the corporations behind the tax breaks, lax regulations and back door deals that trample human rights, cause insufferable poverty and deplete our natural resources.
In addition to breaking free from fossil fuels, people’s demand for alternative energy options is growing louder. Communities are demanding investment in ambitious renewable energy projects. They want renewables and sustainable solutions that move us away from toxic air pollution, rivers of sewage, polluted oceans and deforested lands and provide them with clean energy. With the falling costs of renewables, and the ability to install solar in small villages, people can #BreakFree to a healthier way of living.
We need to continue to use peaceful direct action as one of the key tools we have to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
We must take a stand to protect our climate and the health and welfare of people and communities. Doing nothing is not an option.
#BreakFree2016 was just the beginning – not the end – of the people’s fight against dangerous fossil fuel projects. We ask you to join in the fight for climate justice and for a rapid transition to 100 percent renewable energy, keeping oil, coal and gas in the ground.
Jennifer Morgan is an Executive Director at Greenpeace International.
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