An impassioned call to join Albany climate protest

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The climate movement is about to up the ante. 

Why? Picture this: Proschim, a small German town at the cutting edge of the renewable energy economy. This little town produces 100 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources (solar, wind, etc) and still exports energy to the national grid. Sweetness and light, right? Unfortunately, no — though on the front lines of the struggle against the madness of the profit-driven, fossil fuel extraction that is driving climate change, Proschim has been slated for destruction by the German government because… there is coal underneath it.

As one local activist puts it, “What we’re seeing here is the future being eaten by the past.” 

Fossil fuels are the past — they are the past of energy, the past of capital, the past of our relationship to nature. And yet, there are thousands of people around the world who get up each day and go to work to make their fortunes in an industry that is knowingly destroying the future. It is these people, argues Bill McKibben of the global climate organization 350.org, who are the true radicals — not the people who blocked massive coal tankers with hand-carved wooden canoes in the Australian port of Newcastle last fall; not the thousands of starving Filipino farmers protesting government policies that are worsening drought who were shot dead as they peacefully protested last month; not our neighbors in Peekskill who are engaging in peaceful civil disobedience to try to stop the construction of a massive, 42-inch, fracked gas pipeline just 105 feet from critical infrastructure at Indian Point nuclear power plant. 

These people are not radicals. The true radicals wear ties and sit in cool, corporate offices planning the next extreme extraction project at a time when climbing temperatures caused by the burning of fossil fuels is creating global chaos and war.

Enter Break Free 2016. Appalled by the business-as-usual approach to climate change that manifests in agreements like the one hammered out in December’s COP 21 talks in Paris, the global climate movement is planning to shake it up this month. From May 4-15, a global wave of mass actions in 12 countries will directly target the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects. Our goal? To keep coal, oil, and gas in the ground and accelerate the just transition to 100 percent renewable energy.

The moment is ripe: month after month, we are encountering record-breaking temperatures that are accelerating global damage and devastation beyond previous worst-case scenarios. The fossil fuel industry is facing collapsing prices, a new if weak global climate deal and an ever-growing movement calling for change that is seeing important victories. Young people are standing up against the fossil fuel industry in court, calling on government and the legal system to uphold the public trust doctrine and protect the global commons on behalf of their future. They are occupying administration buildings on college and university campuses, risking arrest to call for divestment of their schools’ holdings in fossil fuel companies and reinvestment in renewables. Pipelines are being denied permits, fracking is being banned and affordable renewable technology is rapidly coming online.

Bronx Climate Justice North will be joining thousands of people at the Northeast regional Break Free action in Albany on Saturday, May 14. We hope that the Bronx will turn up in large numbers for this crucial protest. Albany was selected for this day of peaceful direct action because it is a hub for the transport of fossil fuels all over our region. In fact, the fossil fuel industry calls our own Hudson Valley a “virtual pipeline,” shipping crude oil down the Hudson River on tankers and barges, down the west side of the river on mile-long oil “bomb trains” (so-named for their proclivity to explode), and in their planned-for Pilgrim pipelines between Albany and Linden, New Jersey. In the past 10 years, oil transport in the Hudson Valley has skyrocketed, due to domestic extraction projects encouraged by President Barack Obama’s “all of the above” energy policies. 

Add to that a cancerous network of fracked gas infrastructure, and our state is a witches’ brew of locally polluting, climate-change-driving, accident-prone fossil fuel distribution. This, when, according to Stanford professor Mark Jacobson’s Solutions Project, New York could achieve a 100 percent shift to renewable energy by 2030.

Please join us in Albany on May 14. All are needed: those able to risk arrest in peaceful, carefully planned civil disobedience and thousands who will make their voices heard in a non-arrestable support rally. Another opportunity to stand up to the fracking and nuclear industries is coming up on Saturday, May 21, when the organization Resist AIM will hold a peaceful direct action against the fracked gas pipeline being installed at Indian Point. 

Please mark your calendars for May 14 and May 21. Visit our website at www.bronxclimatejusticenorth.wordpress.com or email us at bronxclimatejusticenorth@gmail.com for details. Fighting climate change requires the courage to confront polluters where they think they are most powerful. For years, communities on the front lines have led that struggle. This month, we have an opportunity to stand with them like never before.

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