People Power Will Fuel the Movement to End Dirty Energy

by Agustin Maggio

April 4, 2017

The global resistance against fossil fuels has the power of the people on its side — and the Break Free campaign is proof.

Cyclists in Zagreb Launch Global 'Break Free' Protests Against Fossil Fuels

This 1,500-person cyclist rally in Zagreb kicked off Break Free Croatia.

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 dirty energy industries over last year. What we did not expect, however, was a booming and massive mobilization of more than 200 organizations and groups — including 30 Greenpeace offices — putting together an impressive list of more than 170 events.

These past three weeks have seen resounding evidence that people and communities around the world will not sit idly by while governments allow corporate interests to threaten their rights to land, water, air and life.

The movement to end the fossil fuel era has once again proven itself to be tireless, unified, and unstoppable.

Break Free Action in Jakarta

This artist painted his body with black paint to symbolize pollution by coal smoke at a Break Free march in Jakarta, Indonesia.

With each boat race, bike ride and blockade, we sent a strong signal from the streets to lawmakers and into the hearts of 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.

This resistance’s impact on political and business leaders cannot be understated. In fact, we are already seeing the fruits of this intense people power emerge.

Break Free Activity at Invierno Coal Mine in Chile

A group of activists in Chile climbed the facilities of the Invierno coal mine to display a “Break Free from coal” message.

In Slovenia, a broad coalition of 70 organizations triggered a special parliamentary session, leading to a first commitment for a national coal phaseout in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. Six people-powered actions in Australia helped bring the coal-funding Commonwealth Bank to the negotiation table, opening the door to more climate-friendly policies.

After more than 100,000 people demanded a Clean Air Action Plan, the Indian Ministry of Environment reversed course and decided it would uphold its emission standards for thermal power plants. 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.

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 oil company 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!”

Break Free Volunteer Action in Athens

Volunteers in Athens, Greece assembled to take this #BreakFree photo and support the campaign to solarize Greece.

Agustin Maggio

By Agustin Maggio

Agustin Maggio is the global Break Free campaign manager for Greenpeace International.

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