Activist groups are launching demonstrations around the world on Tuesday to warn global leaders ahead of the upcoming United Nations-sponsored climate talks that extreme fossil fuel extraction methods like fracking must not be part of any international pact to address global warming.
Marking the broadest effort ever orchestrated to oppose controversial extraction methods, over 1,200 groups from around the world have signed a letter to policymakers calling for a global ban on fracking—a false solution, they say, which has no place in an agreement designed to lower emissions.
In Washington, D.C., activists planned to deliver the letter as part of a rally staged outside the White House.
"President Obama should go to Paris as a real Climate Leader in Chief," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. "The only way he can show true and necessary leadership during the negotiations next month is to stop facilitating the greenwashing of fracking and to do everything in his power to move our nation quickly towards a renewable and energy efficient future."
Organizations in a total of 63 countries are preparing for similar actions, collectively referred to as the Global Frackdown to Paris.
The letter demands "bold action" by heads of states and members of parliament, not just be setting ambitious emissions-reduction targets, "but also by explicitly addressing the fundamental, science-based need to keep fossil fuels in the ground."
"Specifically, we call on you to reject [fracking] and the use of acidization for oil and natural gas production and all of the related infrastructure," the letter continues. "Instead you must take action to move aggressively to a 100% renewable energy future, which is necessary for remediating global warming and ensuring climate stability."
Tuesday's demonstrations build on the momentum of recent patchy developments in fossil fuel regulation, with ordinances alternately banning and allowing drilling on public lands in Ireland, the UK, New York, and Texas, among others. Meanwhile, scientific studies are being published with increasing urgency warning of the dangers of fossil fuel extraction, with one report calling fracking "a violation of our basic human rights" for its health impacts on people living near drilling sites.
The letter concludes:
Put simply, we cannot afford to continue down an energy path that relies on fossil fuels if we are to maintain the stability of our climate and the health of the planet. Despite this fact, vested interests have succeeded in convincing many governments that fracking for shale gas is a harmless “bridge fuel” toward renewables. This is a dangerous and deeply flawed point of view.
The world is facing a climate crisis that has already brought devastating impacts that will only escalate to catastrophic levels without swift action. Fracking amounts to inaction, and it is anathema to developing sustainable energy systems available to all and premised on the efficient use of safe, abundant, affordable and renewable energy resources, subject to regional conditions and constraints.
The COP21 talks will take place from November 30-December 11. Jamie Henn, strategy and communications director for climate advocacy group 350.org, promised during preliminary negotiations in Bonn, Germany last month that more actions were planned to take place during the summit.
"No matter where you are, you can play a huge role in this movement by continuing to keep pressure up for strong action in Paris and beyond," Henn said. "The only way we're going to see progress is with a strong grassroots movement that can take on the power of the fossil fuel industry."