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It’s been a powerful couple months in the world of climate activism. As many of us prepare for the Paris climate talks, we’ve seen major victories in the stopping of Shell Arctic drilling project and the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline.
These victories were the result of sustained direct action campaigns that lifted the issues into mainstream consciousness. Now with Paris on the doorstep we plan to keep the momentum rolling with an international youth-led climate strike on Nov. 30, the first day of COP21. This is the next step in demonstrating the power of the climate resilience movement.
Years ago, the Keystone XL pipeline was a done deal. Then, we came together as a movement to #RYSE up. Congratulations to the hardworking organizations and young leaders on one of the most impressive grassroots campaigns ever organized. The work is far from over, but this is certainly a monumental victory! #NoKXL #PeoplePower. Photo credit: Earth Guardians
As we move forward it’s also important to see how the Keystone XL victory can guide our organizing. Here are some takeaways from this people powered victory.
1. Front Line Communities Led the Way
No one understands the true impact of tar sands extraction like the First Nations people of Alberta. They have seen the native forests of their home destroyed and turned into industrial wastelands. Indigenous people from Canada have been fighting tar sands long before people knew what the Keystone XL pipeline was. This is their victory. Members of the Indigenous Environmental Network joined farmers along the pipeline route including the organization Bold Nebraska who are trying to save their aquifers from being polluted by pipeline spills. These were the people who led the fight and demonstrated the importance of supporting front line communities and elevating their voices.
2. Non-violent Direct Action Works
Thousands of citizens have been arrested over the seven years that people have been fighting the Keystone XL pipeline. In the Fall of 2011, more than 12,500 arrests took place at the White House in a two-week action led by Tar Sands Action and 350.org. This monumental act of civil disobedience helped bring the issue to national prominence. In March of 2014, I joined a group more than a thousand student activists at the White House for Keystone XL Dissent, a student-led action where nearly 400 young people were arrested. Following those actions, we saw tar sands blockades and hundreds of rallies across the country in solidarity with those affected by tar sands extraction. Without this amazing grassroots mobilization, the Keystone pipeline would almost certainly already be built.
3. What’s next?
Now with the Keystone XL out of the way there are other campaigns that need our attention. The #keepitintheground campaign needs our support to ban the auctioning of public lands, including national parks, for drilling. We can continue to push the fossil fuel divestment movement toward a tipping point as more and more universities and institutions divest—and more students become active in the movement at their schools. We can also build grassroots community solutions to the climate crisis, by adopting renewable energy, energy efficiency and local, organic farming.
It's about time we look to the skies. Photo credit: Earth Guardians
4. Join us in International Climate Strike
Join us to lift up and support all of these campaigns. On the first day of the Climate talks in Paris, all across the world students will be walking out of classrooms to participate in building solutions to the climate crisis. Students from more than 40 countries have pledged to participate and urge their schools to work towards net-zero energy. Please join us! Sign up here. The solutions are all around us—in the sky, the sun, the wind. People are ready to bring forth these solutions into a new world. The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline gives us hope. It represents a monumental opportunity to once again rise to make our voice heard and tell world leaders that we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a clean energy economy. Not only is it possible, but it is necessary now more than ever. At the dawn of global environmental and climate collapse, this is our opportunity to change history. Will you stand with me?
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