Largest Global Civil Disobedience in the History of the Climate Movement Concludes

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Angelica Pago, Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Philippines, +63 949 889 1332, angelica.pago@greenpeace.org

Rahma Shofiana, Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia, +62 811 146 1174, rahma.shofiana@greenpeace.org

Mbong Akiy, Communications Manager, Greenpeace South Africa, +27 (0) 11 482 4696, mbong.akiy@greenpeace.org

Jason Schwartz, Media Officer, Greenpeace USA, +01 347 452 3752, jason.schwartz@greenpeace.org

Rania Massoud, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Canada, +01 438 929 7447, rania.massoud@greenpeace.org

Hoda Baraka, Break Free Global Communications Manager, 350.org, +1 347 453 6600, hoda@350.org

Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), pressdesk.int@greenpeace.org

Largest Global Civil Disobedience in the History of the Climate Movement Concludes

HONG KONG - Twelve days of worldwide actions from NGOs, local organisations and communities against fossil fuels have just concluded, showing that the climate movement will not rest until all coal, oil and gas is kept in the ground. The combined global efforts on six continents now pose a serious threat to the future of the fossil fuel industry, already weakened by financial and political uncertainty.

“This is the hottest year we’ve ever measured, and so it is remarkably comforting to see people rising up at every point of the compass to insist on change,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org.

Tens of thousands of activists took to the streets, occupied mines, blocked rail lines, linked arms, paddled in kayaks and held community meetings in 13 countries, pushing the boundaries of conventional protest to find new ways to demand coal, oil and gas stay in the ground.

"In our fight against fossil fuels, Southeast Asia is a major battleground and we cannot afford to cede to those who think of nothing but profit instead of people, and plunder instead of protecting the environment,” said Yeb Saño, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.  

“As our communities rise against this addiction to coal, we hope to inspire massive civil participation all over the planet. Break Free is a breath of hope for all communities who are standing up to the fossil fuel industry's relentless expansion despite climate change.”

Driving this unprecedented wave of demonstrations is the sudden and dramatic acceleration in the warming of the planet, with every single month of 2016 shattering heat records - combined with the growing gap between world governments' stated climate ambitions, and their demonstrated actions in approving new fossil fuel projects. On the last day of mobilisation, a key monitoring site on Tasmania, Australia, recorded atmospheric carbon-dioxide exceeding 400 parts per million for the first time ever.

These actions took place under the banner of Break Free, which refers to the need to shift away from our current dependency on fossil fuels to a global energy system powered by 100% renewable energy. In 2015, 90% of new energy capacity came from renewables, signaling that a rapid transition to 100% renewable energy is more feasible than ever.

As the impacts of a warming planet become more visible in the form of rising sea levels, drought and stronger storms, the citizens who joined Break Free will continue to be a part of the next phase of the movement as it becomes more vocal, disruptive and powerful.

Notes to editors:

A sample of actions from communities and organisations around the world:

  • Australia: Media reports claim $20 million worth of coal shipments were halted by activists shutting down the largest coal port in the world in Newcastle, Australia.

  • Brazil: Community members blocked traffic outside the gates of Brazil’s largest thermal coal plant, in Ceará

  • Canada: On land and water, indigenous communities and local activists blockaded the Kinder Morgan tar sands facility in Metro-Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish Territories.

  • Germany: 3,500 people shut down one of Europe’s biggest carbon polluters in Germany, occupying a lignite mine and nearby power station for over 48 hours, reducing the plant’s capacity by 80 percent.

  • Indonesia: 3,000 sent an ear-splitting message to Indonesia’s president with a whistle demonstration against coal in Jakarta, and a few days later 12 activists climbed the cranes supplying coal for the Cirebon Coal Power Plant, and dropping banners to Quit Coal and for Clean Energy, Clean Air.

  • Philippines: 10,000 marched against a proposed coal plant in Batangas, the Philippines

  • South Africa: Hundreds stood up to South Africa’s most powerful family with a march that delivered coal to their front door, despite their attempts to silence civil society by pressuring police to revoke permits for a march.

  • Turkey: In Aliaga, Turkey 2000 people marched to the gates of the Izmir region’s largest coal dump, and surrounded it with a giant red line, as a call to end plans for the massive expansion of coal in the country.

  • United Kingdom: The UK’s largest opencast coal mine was shut down for a day.

  • USA: Dozens of people occupied train tracks overnight on both coasts of the United States to stop oil-filled ‘bomb trains’ from rolling through communities — including less than 31 metres from low-income public housing in Albany, New York.  

  • USA: 150+ local activists marched and occupied the entrance of two fossil fuel refineries, which are the largest unaddressed source of carbon pollution in the Northwest of the United States

Photos and Videos (to be updated throughout the duration of Break Free):

Photos available here: breakfree2016.org/pressphoto

Video footage here: breakfree2016.org/pressvideo

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Independent campaigning organization that uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

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