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 State: Across 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, DC: On 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.
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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By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
Creating a Global Sustainable Transition<p>How the world recovers from COVID-19's economic damage could help drive a lasting shift in the global energy mix.</p><p>Nearly one-third of Europe's US$2 trillion economic relief package <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-21/eu-approves-biggest-green-stimulus-in-history-with-572-billion-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">involves investments that are also good for the climate</a>. The European Union is also strengthening its 2030 climate targets, though each country's energy and climate plans will be critical for successfully implementing them. The <a href="https://joebiden.com/clean-energy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Biden plan</a> – including a $2 trillion commitment to developing sustainable energy and infrastructure – is aligned with a global energy transition, but its implementation is also uncertain.</p><p>Once Biden takes office, Kerry will be joining ongoing <a href="https://www.un.org/en/conferences/energy2021/about#:%7E:text=The%20overarching%20goal%20of%20the,2030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development.&text=Accelerate%20delivery%20of%20United%20Nations,related%20issues%20at%20all%20levels." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high-level discussions on the energy transition</a> at the U.N. General Assembly and other gatherings of international leaders. With the U.S. no longer obstructing work on climate issues, the G-7 and G-20 have more potential for progress on energy and climate.</p><p>Lots of technical details still need to be worked out, including international trade frameworks and standards that can help countries lower greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming in check. <a href="https://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/what" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Carbon pricing</a> and <a href="https://www.csis.org/analysis/how-can-europe-get-carbon-border-adjustment-right" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">carbon border adjustment taxes</a>, which create incentive for companies to reduce emissions, may be part of it. A consistent and comprehensive set of national energy transition plans will also be needed.</p><p>The global shift to <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2019/Jan/A-New-World-The-Geopolitics-of-the-Energy-Transformation" target="_blank">clean energy will also have geopolitical implications for countries and regions</a>, and this will have a profound impact on wider international relations. Kerry, with his experience as secretary of state in the Obama administration, and Biden's plan to make the climate envoy position part of the National Security Council, may help mend these relations. In doing so, the U.S. may again join the wider community of countries willing to lead.</p>
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Maria Caffrey
As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.
We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
Time for Action<p>I have spoken to many scientists, particularly federal scientists, who are eager to turn the page so they can hurry back to the work they had been doing before this administration, but I urge caution in assuming that things can be "normal" again.</p><p>Before Trump, I naively thought the scientific integrity policies established during the <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/12/19/scientific-integrity-policies-update" target="_blank">Obama administration</a> would be sufficient. I never imagined that any administration could so willfully ignore and attack expert advice and evidence that is intended to protect us and our public lands.</p><p>I have personally witnessed how hard our federal scientists work. They put in long hours with minimal pay (far less that what they could get if they worked in private industry) to pursue one simple goal: to make things better for the nation.</p><p>We need stronger scientific integrity policies to protect these people and their work. But more than that, we need stronger scientific integrity laws because they also benefit society.</p>
By Andrea Germanos
Environmental campaigners stressed the need for the incoming Biden White House to put in place permanent protections for Alaska's Bristol Bay after the Trump administration on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine that threatened "lasting harm to this phenomenally productive ecosystem" and death to the area's Indigenous culture.
<div id="da98c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="478a197b7c59c92787c92bec92f1ac39"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1331662923710693376" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Bristol Bay forever, Pebble mine never. #NoPebbleMine #SaveBristolBay https://t.co/CBQ9zuy8A5</div> — Save Bristol Bay (@Save Bristol Bay)<a href="https://twitter.com/SaveBristolBay/statuses/1331662923710693376">1606328156.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.
1. Fragrance – Avoid It<p>One of the fastest ways to narrow down your product options is immediately eliminating any product that promotes a fragrance, or parfum. That scent of "fresh breeze" or lemon might initially smell good, but the fragrance does not last. What does last? The concoction of various undisclosed and unregulated chemicals that created that fragrance.</p><p>Many fragrances contain phthalates, which are linked to many health risks including reproductive problems and cancer.</p>
2. With Bleach? Do Without<p>Going scent-free should have narrowed down your options substantially – now, check the front of the remaining packaging. Any that include ammonia or chlorine bleach ought to go, as these substances are irritating and corrosive to your body. While bleach is commonly known as a powerful disinfectant, there are safer alternatives that you can use in your home, such as sodium borate or hydrogen peroxide.</p><p>While you're at it, check if there are any warnings on the label – "flammable," "use in ventilated area," etc. – if the product is hazardous, that's a red flag and should be avoided.</p>
3. Check the Back Label<p>Flip to the back of the remaining contenders and check out that ingredient list. Less is more, here. Opt for a shorter ingredient list with words you recognize and/or can pronounce.</p><p>You may notice many products do not have ingredient lists – while this doesn't necessarily mean they contain toxic ingredients, transparency is key. Feel free to look up a list online, or stick to products that are open about their ingredients.</p>
4. Ingredients to Avoid<p>We already mentioned that cleaners containing fragrance or parfum, and bleach or ammonia should be avoided, but there are other ingredients to look out for as well.</p><ul><li>Quaternary ammonium "quats" – lung irritants that contribute to asthma and other breathing problems. Also linger on surfaces long after they've been cleaned.</li><li>Parabens – Known hormone disruptor; can contribute to ailments such as cancer</li><li>Triclosan – triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals are registered with the EPA as pesticides. Triclosan is a known hormone disruptor and can also impact your immune system.</li><li>Formaldehyde – Causes irritation of eyes, nose, and throat; studies suggest formaldehyde exposure is linked with certain varieties of cancer. Can be found in products or become a byproduct of chemical reactions in the air.</li></ul>
Cleaning Products and Toxics: The Bottom Line<p>Do your research. There are many cleaning products available, but taking these steps will drastically reduce your options and help keep your home toxic-free. Protecting your home from bacteria and viruses is important, but make sure you do so in a way that doesn't introduce other health risks into the home.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank">Environmental Health News</a>. </em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649054624#/" target="_self"></a></p>
JasonOndreicka / iStock / Getty Images
Twenty-five years ago, a food called Tofurky made its debut on grocery store shelves. Since then, the tofu-based roast has become a beloved part of many vegetarians' holiday feasts.