Climate activists are gearing up for the final weekend of a 12-day series of actions against the fossil fuel industry—48 hours that will be taken up by rallies, protests, and civil disobedience actions around the world, organized under the banner “Break Free.”
For the past nine days, environmental groups including 350 and the Climate Action Network have held actions across six continents, targeting “the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects,” from coal mines and oil wells to national banks and tar sands refineries, calling for “a just transition” to a clean energy era.
In New York on Saturday, more than 1,500 people are expected to converge at the Port of Albany to block train traffic to the region from fossil fuel projects, which the organizers say are “examples of environmental racism that threaten our future and communities.”
And thousands of activists from the UK and Germany are taking part in a “mass civil trespass” from Friday to Sunday, organized by the grassroots anti-coal and anti-nuclear group Ende Gelände, to shut down the lignite coal mine in Lusatia, just south of Berlin.
“Climate change is a global problem, and we need global resistance to make sure fossil fuels remain in the ground,” said Louise Foster, an activist with Break Free organizational group Reclaim the Power, who plans to participate in the shutdown.
“This weekend’s action will show any future buyer of the lignite mines in Germany that all coal development will face resistance from the climate justice movement,” Foster said. “We are the investment risk.”
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In the U.S., thousands will mobilize in Washington, D.C. on Sunday to demand that the Obama administration take measures to protect the Arctic and Atlantic waters from offshore drilling—a message that took on additional urgency after a spill at a Shell site on Thursday sent nearly 90,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
“Yet again the Gulf Coast experiences an oil spill, meanwhile the White House administration continues to lease federal public lands for more fossil fuel development,” said Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “This does not demonstrate the leadership needed to addressing climate change. This is business-as-usual with frontline communities of the Gulf Coast paying the price; Mother Earth is paying the price.”
“We implore the President of the United States to listen to the thousands of people who will be in Washington, D.C. this Sunday demanding the protection of our sacred waters and a moratorium on new offshore drilling,” Goldtooth said.
Monique Verdin, Houma Nation Council member-elect in Louisiana, added, “Multinational corporations continue to drill off our coast, while the federal government is putting more offshore lands onto the auction block than ever before. This is absurd.”
“The only way to ensure we protect the water and sanctity of life in and along the Gulf Coast is to put an end to extreme fossil fuel development,” Verdin said. “Oil and gas infrastructure, from pipelines to wells to refineries, are gambling with the health of our environment and the wellness of our communities along the coast. We need immediate action to facilitate just transitions and the ability to ensure we keep carbon in the ground for our communities across the Gulf and for communities around the planet.”
Actions are also scheduled throughout the U.S. and Canada. Follow the actions on Twitter under the hashtag #BreakFree2016.
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