May 19, 2016 - Global Actions Taken to Break Free from Fossil Fuels
From May 3rd-15th, tens of thousands of people took action on six continents to demand that we break free from fossil fuels. From Brazil, Germany, Australia, to the Philippines and Nigeria people took to the streets and waters, engaged in direct actions, and demanded that we keep fossil fuels in ground and for a just transition to renewable energy.
Across the globe the impacts of climate change are being felt. This past January, for the first time ever, the Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated $48 million to relocate the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi Chitimacha Choctaw and the Lowlander Center in Louisiana due to the impacts of climate change. Earning them the distinction as being the first climate refugees in North America.
Indigenous peoples, whom represent the communities most impacted by climate change and whom have long led the efforts to combat the impacts of colonialism and environmental degradation, played central roles in the mass actions.
Here’s highlights from a few of the actions.
“This is the traditional homelands of the Swinomish people. That’s [the Shell and Tesoro refineries built on lands stolen from the Swinomish] the legacy of colonization right there. This is not only a battle against environmental degradation and to protect Ina Maka [Mother Earth], but also one fighting against legacy of colonization and colonialism.” Matt Remle (Lakota) at March Point Action
At March Point in Anacortes, WA thousands demonstrated against the Shell and Tesoro oil refineries which account for the largest unmitigated source of CO2 in the Northwestern United States. Local tribes in canoes and kayaktavists joined marchers in three days of actions against the refineries. For two days, the rail lines leading into March Point were occupied stopping oil trains before police cleared the tracks and arrested 52 people.
Break Free Indigenous Peoples march at March Point
“March Point is the ancestral territory of the Swinomish peoples. March Point was taken from the Swinomish in 1873 by President Ulysses Grant, in an Executive Order, that diminished the size of the Indian reservation. This action opened up the land to be occupied by settler colonists and later occupied by oil corporations.” Shelly Vendiola (Swinomish)
In Vancouver, BC over 800+ took action by surrounding the Kinder Morgan facility on the Salish Coast. Kinder Morgan is seeking to build a pipeline from the Tar Sands in Alberta to the Salish Sea crossing Indigenous homelands. Kayaktactists also blockaded a Kinder Morgan tanker on the Salish Sea.
“So honoured to have stood with the Tsleil-Waututh this weekend in their fight to stop Kinder Morgan’s Transmountain Pipeline and associated tanker traffic. My dear brother Rueben George’s mother Ta’ah Said “Warrior Up!” and boy o boy did we ever!” Clayton Thomas-Muller (Mathias Colomb Cree Nation)
Break Free Vancouver
In Newcastle, Australia over 2,000 people shut down the world’s largest coal port for a day. Kayakers blocked the harbour entrance while others blocked a critical rail crossing.
66 people were arrested at the Newcastle Coal port.
For more on actions around the globe go to Break Free 2016
by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle) writer and editor for Last Real Indians