When we launched the call for the second Break Free from fossil fuels campaign, we were, of course, hoping to grow the coalition and increase the number of peaceful protests against the dirty energy industries. What we did not expect, however, was a booming and massive rallying of more than 200 organisations and groups - including 30 Greenpeace offices - putting together an impressive list of over 170 events.
A canine protestor in Slovenia. 29 March, 2017
These past three weeks have seen resounding evidence that people and communities will not sit idly by while governments allow corporate interests to threaten their rights to land, water, air and life. In more than 60 countries around the world this growing movement has proven itself to be tireless, unified and unstoppable.
With each boat race, bike ride and blockade, we sent a strong signal from the streets to parliaments and into the heart of the fossil fuel industry, governments and financial institutions. The people have turned their backs on dirty energy and are willing to fight for their right to a healthy and safe future.
Cyclists in Croatia launch Break Free 2017. 12 March, 2017
The impact of this popular pressure on political and business leaders cannot be understated. In fact, we are already seeing the fruits of this intense people power emerge.
In Slovenia, a broad coalition of 70 organisations triggered a special parliamentary session leading to a first commitment for a national coal phaseout in line with the Paris agreement. Following six activities in Australia, the coal-funding Commonwealth Bank was brought to the table; opening the door to more climate-friendly policies.
Break Free protest in Thailand. 17 March, 2017
The Indian Ministry of Environment said that their emission standards for thermal power plants would not be weakened, after more than 100,000 people demanded a Clean Air Action Plan. Meanwhile, in Spain, big utilities are considering the early retirement of coal-fired and nuclear power plants following peaceful protests and demonstrations at their headquarters and in 30 cities around the country.
Break Free protest against Total to protect the Amazon Reef. 27 March, 2017
This is not the end. In the words of our International Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid, who took part in the Belgian Break Free action at Total’s largest refinery, “The waves of civil disobedience will keep going after the old-fashioned dirty energy system until it changes its ways. Get used to it!”
Check out the 2017 wrap-up video here:
Agustin Maggio is the #BreakFree project lead with Greenpeace International