Largest Civil Disobedience in History of the Environmental Movement Begins Today


Starting today, a global wave of peaceful direct actions lasting for 12 days will take place across six continents targeting the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects, under the banner of Break Free.

2015 was the hottest year ever recorded and the impacts of climate change are already hitting communities around the world. From rising sea levels to extreme storms, the need to act on climate change has never been more urgent. Added to that, the fossil fuel industry faces an unprecedented crisis—from collapsing prices, massive divestments, a new global climate deal and an ever-growing movement calling for change. The time has never been better for a just transition to a clean energy system.

To harness the moment, activists and concerned citizens committed to addressing climate change—from international groups to local communities to individual citizens—will unite to ensure that strong pressure is maintained to force energy providers, as well as local and national governments, to implement the policies and additional investments needed to completely break free from fossil fuels.

People worldwide are providing the much needed leadership by intensifying actions through peaceful civil disobedience on a global scale as so much remains to be done in order to lessen the effects of the climate crisis. This includes demanding governments move past the commitments made as part of the Paris agreement signed last month.

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 that renewable energy is more affordable and widespread than ever before. The only way to achieve this is by keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground and accelerating the just transition to 100 percent renewable energy. During Break Free people worldwide are rising up to make sure this is the case.

Actions taking place between May 3-15 include:

United StateAcross the U.S. activists will target six key areas of fossil fuel development between May 12-15. Including the 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. More detail on the individual actions can be found below.

  • May 12 & May 14 in Colorado (Denver): On May 12, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) intends to hold a fossil fuel auction and hundreds of people will be there to tell them to keep it in the ground. Activists will be mobilizing first at the BLM auction and then a few days later on May 14th in a community working to defend itself from fracking near Denver.

  • May 13-15 in the Pacific Northwest (Anacortes, Washington): The Shell and Tesoro refineries just north of Seattle are the largest unaddressed source of carbon pollution in the Pacific Northwest and refine nearly half of all the gas and diesel consumed in the region; this system must change—within years, not decades. Thousands of people will converge upon the March Point refineries in Anacortes, Washington. Hundreds of people will risk arrest by engaging in peaceful civil disobedience on land and sea on May 13th, 14th and 15th as part of a mass action to Break Free from Big Oil and hasten the just transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

  • May 14 in the Northeast (Albany, New York) Crude oil “bomb” trains roll through Albany, polluting the air in surrounding communities and contributing to the climate crisis. On May 14th, activists will gather for a massive action to stop these dangerous trains in their tracks. Joining others all around the world, they will put their bodies in the way of fossil fuels to show the collective power of this movement.

  • May 14 in California (Los Angeles): 2016 is a critical year in the fight to move California away from dangerous fossil fuels and toward the renewable energy future we need. From the neighborhoods in Richmond alongside a toxic, explosive oil refinery to residents living only feet away from neighborhood drilling in South LA, frontline communities across the state are living with the insidious threats of fossil fuels. That’s why thousands of Californians will be marching in Los Angeles on May 14 to demand a ban on urban drilling and all new fossil fuel infrastructure. As the home of the largest urban oil field and the largest city in California, Los Angeles is the clear target for this action. Change can begin in LA to move the whole state off fossil fuels and toward 100 percent renewable energy.

  • May 15 in Washington, DCOn May 15, a coalition of organizations and frontline activists will rally at the White House and then march to one of the bodies of water in DC. Frontline activists from the Gulf, Arctic and Atlantic will come together in DC backed by national organizations to say, "Stop Drilling everywhere. No sacrifice zones." Expanding offshore drilling or cutting it out entirely is the biggest climate decision that Obama will make before the end of his presidency and this action will show that there is a mass movement calling on him to #keepitintheground.

  • May 15 in the Midwest (Whiting, Indiana, near Chicago): The Midwest has a long history with the fossil fuel industry and this May communities in the region are taking action to Break Free from athen industry that’s driving the climate crisis. The fossil fuel industry threads the Great Lakes region with pipelines, putting local communities at risk with refining impacts and petcoke piles. Communities are breaking free from business as usual and taking on Enbridge’s tar sands proposed expansion plans. On Sunday, May 15 at noon, hundreds of Midwesterners will assemble for a rally in the Whiting Lakefront Park near the BP Whiting Refinery and near the 2014 oil spill into the waters of Lake Michigan.

Australia: On May 8 some 600+ people will gather at the largest coal port in the world, in Newcastle. They will demonstrate their resolve to make the climate a key issue in the coming election and show their determination to continue resisting coal no matter who is in the Prime Minister’s chair.

Brazil: Actions will be taking place at three locations across the country. Between May 5-15 there will be a rural fair in Maringa, which will include a big rally on May 6, calling for a ban on fracking. On May 7 in Toledo there will be a mass anti-fracking action with thousands of people attending. And on May 14 there will be a march and mass civil disobedience targeting a coal power plant in Pecem, Ceará.

Canada: On May 13 and 14 hundreds of people will take action on the land and the water in Vancouver to oppose the proposed Kinder Morgan Transmountain tar sands pipeline, surrounding the Westridge Marine terminal.

Ecuador: An action is being organized on May 14 by Yasunidos bringing people together from around the country with a call to keep the oil in ground and protect the Yasuni National Park.

Germany: During the weekend of May 13-15 a few thousand activists are expected to come to Lusatia where 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 against fossil fuel corporations.

Indonesia: There will be a mass action of thousands of people at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on May 11. The action will include participants from many of the communities leading resistance to coal projects from around the country. The mobilization will target President Joko Widodo demanding he revise his ambitious 35,000 Megawatt energy plan by moving away from coal and embracing renewable energy. A few days later there will be one or more actions at the site of coal infrastructure projects.

New Zealand: Between May 4-15 hundreds of people around New Zealand will take action to shut down the operations of one of New Zealand’s biggest investors and lenders to the fossil fuel industry, ANZ bank. There will be blockades, disruptive actions and culture jamming from North to South.

Nigeria: In the Niger Delta actions will be held in three iconic locations to show what happens when the oil goes dry and the community is left with the pollution and none of the wealth. An action at Ogoni land will demand an urgent clean-up of decades old oil spills and underscore how it is possible for citizens to resist the power of the oil corporations and keep their oil in the ground where it belongs. Another action will be on the Atlantic coast, where Exxon's offshore wells frequently leak, impact fisheries and harm coastline communities' livelihoods.

Philippines: On May 4 anti-coal activists from all over the Philippines will converge in a climate march that aims to mobilize 10,000 people in Batangas City, where JG Summit Holdings aims to put up a 600-Megawatt coal fired power plant that is set to occupy a 20-hectare site in Barangay Pinamucan Ibaba, Batangas City. The people will be demanding the cancellation of the coal plant in Batangas as well as all 27 other proposed plants in the Philippines.

South Africa: Two actions will take place each with hundreds of people highlighting the local impacts of coal and climate change. The first on May 12 will see people gathering in Emalahleni, one of the most polluted towns in the world, to speak out on the effects of climate change. The second on May 14 is focused on the Gupta residence in Saxonwold, Johannesburg.

Turkey: Community leaders will head a mass action in Aliağa on May 15 at a coal waste site to call for a stop to four fossil fuel plant projects in the surrounding area. 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.

UK: The Reclaim the Power network will unite hundreds of people on May 3 at the UK’s largest opencast coal mine—Ffos-y-fran, near Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales. The action will take place just a few days before the Welsh Assembly elections on May 5. The Welsh Assembly voted for a moratorium on opencast coal mining last April, but this has yet to become legally binding.


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Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.

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