2019: A Landmark Year for Climate Justice
The Fire Drill Friday movement, Houston ship channel action, and more
by Jane Fonda
We must escalate action for climate justice in 2020 like never before. And with a movement made up of diverse, inspired, brave supporters like you, we can make it happen!
© Tim Aubry / Greenpeace
Thanks to you and millions of others, 2019 has been a milestone year in the fight for climate justice.
Grassroots power and a growing movement have irrevocably shifted what is possible in this fight. At the same time, the impacts of the climate crisis are becoming clearer with each passing day. In May, the UN announced a massive biodiversity crisis in which one million species face extinction due to human activity and climate change. There is only a decade left to take radical steps to curb carbon pollution and avoid 1.5 degrees of warming. But, communities around the world are rallying, going to courts, and challenging the very corporations and companies that would condemn us to live amongst climate chaos rather than forego profits.
I’d like to take a quick walk down memory lane to show you just how powerful your support has been in 2019. The call for climate justice has blossomed into a movement that tackles over-consumption, systemic oppression, and the impacts of climate disruption that threaten the people and places we love—especially in communities that are most marginalized in our country.
None of this would have been possible without Greenpeacers like you.
I was deeply inspired by the students across the world who joined youth activist Greta Thunberg to take to the streets for historic youth climate strikes. Millions of young people led climate strikes around the world, demanding leaders move quickly and decisively respond to their call for climate bold action. Along with Greta stood powerful Black, Indigenous, and youth of color who continue to lead their peers in creative demonstrations for climate justice. These youth leaders are the future of our movement and I couldn’t be more grateful for their leadership.
Because of them, I launched Fire Drill Friday protests every week for four months this fall in Washington, D.C..
Climate action is happening in the courts as well as in the streets. This year the New York and Massachusetts Attorneys General joined Rhode Island, Colorado, Baltimore, and numerous cities and counties in California, Oregon, and Washington state in taking ExxonMobil to court. Greenpeace has worked for more than a decade to investigate and expose Exxon’s role in continuing to fuel the climate crisis while waging a decades-long disinformation campaign. Landmark trials like these are paving the way to holding fossil fuel companies accountable in the courts. Now we need to double down on investigating, exposés, and mobilizing people-power to ensure the climate denial scheming of fossil fuel corporations and their cronies ends once and for all.
Climate change has become a flagship issue for this presidential election. Greenpeace activists hit the campaign trail and took the internet by storm to push candidates to raise the ambition of their climate platforms and stand up to the fossil fuel industry. We even got a shout-out from Sen. Cory Booker as the gold standard for ranking proposed climate policy during the Democratic debate.
In early September, brave Greenpeace activists held an aerial occupation off of the Fred Hartman Bridge. They effectively blocked the Houston Ship Channel — the country’s largest fossil fuel shipping thoroughfare — on the same day as Houston’s Democratic presidential candidate debate. The activists, many of whom were Black, Indigenous, or People of Color, took action to highlight the current climate crisis and the need for a just transition away from fossil fuels — one that prioritizes workers’ rights, community health, and our shared stake in a climate-safe future. These activists are being wrongly charged with a felony under Texas’s new “critical infrastructure” law — an unconstitutional, anti-protest law that attempts to severely punish people for calling out oil companies. In 2020 we will fight these charges while we continue to take bold, courageous action for climate justice — in spite of unjust laws meant to silence us.
Trump lost big in court when a federal judge threw out his plan to open up the Alaskan Arctic Ocean to oil drilling. The Interior then announced that all plans to expand offshore oil and gas drilling were indefinitely put on hold — a reprieve for our coastal communities, oceans, and marine wildlife that could be devastated by oil spills if Trump’s dream of a drilling free-for-all were to come true.
In 2019 we also had a big win in California — the world’s fifth largest economy and an oil producing state — towards an end to limitless oil and gas expansion.
California’s Governor Gavin Newsom announced a moratorium on high-pressure steam injection, an extreme kind of oil extraction, and halted new fracking permits while a review of the approval process gets underway to take a hard look at public health protections. The announcement could signal the start of a fossil fuel phaseout in California, a big deal as its one of the largest oil producers in the USA! This win was only possible because of the visionary work of a diverse coalition of frontline, grassroots, public health, and environmental groups known as the Last Chance Alliance, of which Greenpeace is proud to be a part.
Wins like this, and all Greenpeace does, wouldn’t be possible without generous donations from people like you.
Finally, thanks to you — the Sunrise Movement, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and numerous allies and partners — the Green New Deal has emerged as a beacon of hope in Washington, DC, and statehouses across the country. The ambitious climate platform is already taking many forms, but wherever it’s being championed it aims to audaciously address economic inequality and climate injustice with massive investments in good jobs for a renewably-powered future. In 2020 we’ll continue to fight to transform a Green New Deal from plan to reality.
The fight is not over.
If we are to have any hope of slowing the rising seas and stopping warming from fueling increasingly catastrophic climate disasters, we must escalate action for climate justice in 2020 like never before. And with a movement made up of diverse, inspired, brave supporters like you, we can make it happen!
Thank you for powering this movement with your ongoing donations to Greenpeace! We need to go bigger in 2020 than 2019. We can’t lose ground. To avoid worsening climate destruction, widespread droughts, increased flooding, famine, mass migration on an unprecedented scale, and the strongest storms on record we must band together in the name of climate action. Donate to Greenpeace today!
Jane Fonda, Actor, Activist, and Greenpeace Supporter