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Climate Activists Announce Global Campaign of Civil Disobedience to "Break Free From Fossil Fuels"

Brendan DeMelle DeSmog
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Climate justice and environmental campaigners announced plans today at COP21 in Paris to escalate the number of non-violent civil disobedience actions against fossil fuel projects over the next year.

The groups are planning a concentrated week of global actions in May of 2016. So far, events are being planned in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, and the United States. Additional countries under consideration include Ecuador, India, and the UK.

Activists also plan several peaceful actions in Paris this Saturday, despite the French government’s ban on protest in the wake of the November 13 terrorist attacks here.

The science is clear: we need to keep at least 80%, if not more, of fossil fuels in the ground,” said Payal Parekh, the global managing director of 350.org. “It’s up to us to break free from fossil fuels and accelerate the shift towards a just transition to 100% renewable energy. It’s in our hands to close the ambition gap.”

Governments aren’t getting the job done. It’s up to civil society to do it,” she concluded.  

Nnimmo Bassey, a Nigerian activist from the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, also spoke today in Paris about the need for negotiators to  talking about global warming but without stopping the dependence on ff – this is hypocrisy at best.

A 1.5 degree ceiling does not mean anything if a complete fossil fuel freeze is not on the table. How can you achieve this while investments are still going on in the fossil fuel sector?”

He chastised the negotiations for talking about global warming action without discussing the need to end global dependence on fossil fuels . “This is hypocrisy at best,” Bassey said.

The “Break Free From Fossil Fuels” campaign, online at BreakFree2016.org, will involve acts of civil disobedience including forming human chains to block oil exports, interfering with coal mine operations and marching on the corporate headquarters of fossil fuel companies.

Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, described the strategy as launching “a billion acts of courage” and “intensifying new forms of resistance and struggle.”

Enough is enough, and no more. We are prepared to put our lives on the line, to go to prison if necessary,” in order to block new fossil fuel expansion projects around the globe, Naidoo said.

All leaders seem to have a similar health problem, and that’s a problem with their hearing,” Naidoo said, explaining that politicians seem deaf to the increasingly loud voice of civil society groups joining the growing “#KeepItInTheGround” movement.

The Greenpeace International leader explained the movement would not only continue targeting the fossil fuel industry, but also the banks and investment firms behind the financing of new fossil fuel projects, who also need to be held accountable for this legacy of investing in pollution, Naidoo said.

Our leaders need to understand that we want them, in the remaining hours [of COP21] to deliver the most ambitious deal possible. But irrespective of what they deliver, the movement towards a clean, just, inclusive renewable energy future has started and this movement is unstoppable,” Naidoo said.


Image credit: 350.org protest at Ende Gelande coal mine in Germany. Photo by Paul Wagner.

Blog image credit: Eamon Ryan for 350.org via Flickr

Brendan DeMelle DeSmog
Brendan is Executive Director of DeSmog. He is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in media, politics, climate change and energy. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, Grist, The Washington Times and other outlets.

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