Break Free: Stop Dirty Fossil Fuels, Expedite Transition to 100% Renewable Energy
A global platform “Break Free” was launched today featuring a series of peaceful, escalated actions aimed to disrupt the fossil-fuel industry’s power by targeting the world’s most dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuel projects.
This May, thousands of people from around the world will join actions taking place across six continents which aim to stop dirty fossil fuels and speed up the just transition to 100 percent renewable energy. Major actions are currently planned in countries such as Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, U.S., Germany, Philippines, Australia and more, led by the communities that have spent years already fighting dangerous fossil fuel projects.
On the back of the hottest year in recorded history, communities worldwide are demanding governments move past the commitments made as part of the Paris agreement resulting from the summit held last December. In order to address the current climate crisis and keep global warming below 1.5 C, fossil fuel projects need to be shelved and existing infrastructure needs to be replaced, now.
“The science is clear: we need to keep at least 80 percent, if not more, of fossil fuel reserves in the ground,” Payal Parekh, global managing director of 350.org, said. “Communities worldwide are experiencing first hand the consequences of climate change and the damage inflicted by the fossil fuel industry. It’s up to us to break free from fossil fuels and accelerate the shift towards a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy. It’s in our hands to close the gap between what current commitments will achieve and what science demands is necessary in order to protect our common home.”
The climate movement’s commitment to scaling up its resistance to the fossil fuel industry comes at a time when renewable energy is already more affordable and widespread than ever before. These new tools give communities at the front lines of climate change new ways to respond to the crisis and build their own power.
“Moving towards 100 percent renewable energy is possible with the political will to make the change,” Arif Fiyanto, coal campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia, said. “There are no major economic or technical barriers to a future supported by renewable energy. Any new infrastructure built to support fossil fuels expansion, such as coal mines, power plants, oil rigs and export terminals will be a waste of money and further lock us into a path to irreversible climate change.”
Post-Paris, the fossil fuel industry is running scared with prices plunging and companies going bankrupt. Now, ramped up civil disobedience will show that the industry’s social licence to operate is fast evaporating. Such peaceful civil disobedience brings people from all walks of life and not just seasoned climate activists, to challenge both politicians and polluters to accelerate the unstoppable energy transition already underway.
One such example is last year’s Ende Gelände (Here And No Further), which saw 1,500 people take part in a daring act of civil disobedience to shut down Europe’s biggest source of CO2 emissions. On the urgency at hand, Hannah Eichberger from this grassroots anti-coal alliance said: “It’s time now for a grassroots energy transition that does not only exchange one source of energy for the other but that tackles the root causes of natural destruction and social injustice: profit-driven corporate power.”
The struggles against the fossil fuel industry and the environmental, social, economic and political destruction they’ve wielded has been underway across regions for many years.
"Fossil fuels have brought horrendous pollutions to the Niger Delta alongside unimaginable human rights abuses while severely harming communities, Nnimmo Bassey, Nigerian activist from the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, said. “Crude oil is already history and has no future. We cannot allow fossil fuel addicts to burn the planet. The time for the shift is now. No one will set us free. We must break free ourselves, now."
These peaceful worldwide mobilisations taking place in May serve as an important point in the climate movement’s trajectory to increase pressure on the fossil fuel industry. The global struggle to finally break free from fossil fuels will continue making this a struggle the world cannot ignore.
Here are highlights from some of the planned actions across six continents:
U.S.: Activists are targeting six key areas of fossil fuel development: new tar sands pipelines in the Midwest with an action near Chicago; fracking in the Mountain West with an event outside Denver; "bomb trains" carrying fracked oil and gas to a port in Albany, New York; Shell’s devastating refinery pollution north of Seattle; action around offshore drilling in the Arctic, Atlantic and Gulf coasts taking place in Washington, DC; and dangerous oil and gas drilling in Los Angeles. These diverse actions will all escalate critical local campaigns that target the unjust practices of the fossil fuel industry that burdened the poor and people of color with the bulk of the industry’s pollution.
Germany: Last year 1,500 people entered the pit of a lignite coal mine in the Rhineland and in May hundreds more are coming to Lusatia, where local communities have struggled against mining and resettlement for years. There they will engage in civil disobedience to stop the digging in one of Europe’s biggest open-pit lignite mines, which the Swedish company Vattenfall has put up for sale. The action will show any future buyer that all coal development will face resistance and demonstrate the movement’s commitment to a different kind of energy system that prioritizes people and the planet over corporate power and profit.
Nigeria: In the Niger Delta actions will be held in three iconic locations that epitomize the decades old despoiling of the region. The actions will show clearly that Nigeria, nay Africa, is better off without the polluting activities of the fossil industry. They will also underscore the fact that people's action remains the viable way to save the planet from mankind's addiction to fossil fuels.
Turkey: Community leaders in the Izmir region will confront the illegal tactics behind the coal industry’s plan to build four more dirty coal plants near their homes, in addition to the one operating illegally. They will gather at the gates of a massive, growing spoils mountain used by nearby coal plants against a court order to dispose of dangerous waste from the burning of dirty coal. This action will unite several fights against individual coal plants into a unified stance against the current Turkish government’s plan to dramatically expand the use of coal in the country.
Australia: As an election approaches, climate activists will bring the country’s growing climate movement to the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle and demonstrate their resolve to both make the climate a key issue in the coming election and their determination to continue resisting coal no matter who is in the prime minister’s chair.
Brazil: Indigenous people and climate activists will join hands for four different peaceful actions addressing key parts of the country’s oil and gas infrastructure—from where the gas is fracked in Indigenous land, to its risky transportation, to where it is burned. The exact details are being kept confidential, but thousands of participants are expected across more than a week of action in all areas of the country.
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<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
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While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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