Despite the urgent climate crisis, fossil fuel companies and their financiers are still supporting new projects to extract, transport, and burn coal, oil, and gas. These projects don’t just threaten the communities in their path: they also lock us into fossil fuels for decades to come at exactly the time we need to stop. When you’re in a hole, stop digging!
The fossil fuel industry is global – but luckily resistance is too. Here are 7 of the fights going on right now to keep it in the ground, and how you can help them.
In the west of Canada, people power on the frontlines – and solidarity actions from around Canada and the world – has put the breaks on plans for an expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. On March 10th, the largest mobilization yet against Kinder Morgan took place, with 10,000 people taking the street in Burnaby, Canada. They acted in solidarity with Indigenous leaders who built a a “Watch House”– a traditional structure used by the Coast Salish Indigenous peoples for generations to watch over their enemies – on the pipeline’s path on Burnaby Mountain.
Since then, more than 200 arrests have taken place at the pipeline terminal facility on Burnaby Mountain, with Indigenous activists, students, grandparents, and many others — including 2 sitting members of parliament, standing up to protect the land, water and climate from Kinder Morgan.
This forced Kinder Morgan to lose investor confidence and subsequently halt work on the pipeline. The company has now set a deadline of May 31st to determine the fate of the pipeline — and things don’t look too sunny for the project with even the CEO saying it’s likely an “untenable” endeavour. But PM Justin Trudeau is offering up billions in public funding to fill the gap, to force the pipeline through at whatever cost, despite opposition from Indigenous communities and the provincial government in British Columbia.
People across Canada find that to be unacceptable — that’s why communities across the country are standing up to reject Trudeau’s multi-billion dollar bail out of the pipeline and show the Trudeau government the massive political risk of building this pipeline.
If you’re in Canada, you can find an action close to you — or signing up to host one in your community — by visiting the People vs Kinder Morgan website.
If you’d like to support from afar, Kinder Morgan has been pushing for criminal contempt charges and a SLAPP suit against the 200 people arrested on Burnaby Mountain. If you are able to, please make a contribution to the legal defence fund for these folks.
A planned coal plant in Kenya – in a beautiful, UNESCO-protected coastal area – has stoked a climate movement in East Africa and beyond. Lamu plant, which would be the first coal plant on the continent outside of South Africa, poses serious social and environmental threats to local communities. What’s more, it would set Kenya and other African countries a precedent to start developing more coal – a path we simply cannot afford to go down.
Despite deliberate efforts to exclude communities in the public consultations, Save Lamu and its partners continue to challenge its construction, with the support of national and international allies. Communities have raised serious concerns and managed to take these cases to the Kenyan courts, after grassroots large-scale mobilisation and networking that led to the formation of a national anti-coal and a pro-renewable energy movement called deCOALonize.org.
They’re still fighting. On April 30, the high court made a landmark judgment on community rights and the rights of fishermen as regards to development projects. And on May 25, Break Free, a day of coordinated action across Africa will show how the Lamu fight is emblematic of a larger movement brewing, rejecting coal and ensuring it’s replaced by alternative, renewable solutions that can address energy and financial poverty and build more resilient communities.
Camp L’eau est la Vie – “Water is Life” in French – is a resistance camp that has been going strong in southern Louisiana since November 2017. It is the site of ongoing resistance to the Bayou Bridge pipeline, which would span 163 miles and cross over 700 bodies of water. The environmental track record of the company behind the project, Energy Transfer Partners, the same company that build the Dakota Access pipeline, is the worst in the country. Combined with the effects of climate change that are already being felt, Louisiana’s wetlands – and the communities that have thrived around them for generations – are under threat.
Thankfully, members of the local community have organized to alert their neighbors to the project, and to oppose its completion. Two months ago, a judge halted construction through a sensitive Atchafalaya Basin, while a lawsuit against the federal permit for the project is underway. Environmental groups are also suing the Army Corps of Engineers, on grounds that it violated the federal Clean Water Act when approving the permit for the pipeline. Construction has continued when the ruling on the injunction remains undecided. Just this week, a Louisiana judge ruled that the state violated state law in issuing a coastal permit for the Bayou Bridge pipeline for failing to consider the health and safety impacts to St. James’ largely Black community.
You can follow along and learn how to support here.
Line 3 is a proposed pipeline that would bring crude oil from the Alberta tar sands in Canada to Superior, Wisconsin in the United States. While the company behind the project, Enbridge, is trying to label the project a “replacement” pipeline, it would be a massive expansion that would go straight through Indigenous territory, violating treaty rights, and posing an immediate threat to water, land and way of life. This would enable Enbridge to export over 750,000 barrels of oil each year for 30 years – a toll the communities and the climate can simply not afford.
This video from July 2017 breaks it down.
Resistance has been strong against this pipeline in Canada and the US since 2012, when they originally proposed the project. Recently, on Monday April 23 a judge blocked the preferred route, saying the project should only be approved if 17 conditions are met.
But the fight is by no means over. People on the front lines are gearing up for a big mobilization in Minnesota on May 18-19, open to anyone in the area to join.
Fracking in Brazil
In Brazil, a coalition of groups has been mobilizing and resisting fracking in the country since 2012. One of their tactics has been protesting national auctions, where the government facilitates the sale of land to major oil companies so they can extract oil and gas. At the opening of the most recent auction, activists from states across Brazil passionately spoke about the threat that burning more fossil fuels poses to their communities, and the added risk of dangerous extraction techniques like hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Afterwards, no on-land blocks were sold, meaning 3.2 billion barrels equivalent and 1.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide stayed in the ground. The next auction, this time only for offshore blocks, is on June 7, where they’ll turn up again to keep it in the ground.
The groups are collaborating with indigenous leaders, who in their effort to protect their rights and territories are resisting fracking on their lands. Across Brazil, 380 municipalities have already banned the practice. But the coalition is pushing for a national ban outright, as we see in many other countries around the world. The movement is also stretching into Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay – seeding hope that the practice will eventually banned throughout Latin America.
You can support their efforts by using the hashtag #LeilãoFóssilNão on June 7 for the next auction. International solidarity is an important part of the struggle – showing them the world is watching can make a huge impact.
The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, or TAP for short, is part of the Southern Gas Corridor, a mega gas pipeline spanning over 3,000 kilometers. It’d allow gas, a polluting fossil fuel mainly composed of methane, to flow from Azerbaijan into Europe.
Beyond the human rights abuses going on at the source of extraction, the pipeline would cut through seas and hundreds of communities along the route. Across Europe, activists have organized to voice their opposition to a pipeline that is already unnecessary even by current gas supply standards. Communities in Melendugno, San Foca, and Lecce in Italy are leading the resistance, despite heavy police repression. All the local and surrounding mayors have officially came out against the pipeline, but the national government has decided to go ahead with it anyway. In November the police conducted a nighttime raid to round up opponents of the pipeline and allow construction to begin, declaring the area a “red zone”.
What’s more, the European Union via its investment arm, the European Investment Bank, has decided to support the climate-wrecking project. After delaying decisions at several steps, in February they granted their largest ever loan, 1.5 billion euros in public funds. But resistance is by no means over. There are still plenty of other financiers involved to make the pipeline a reality, and opposition is stronger than ever. Here is a message from Elena, from san Foca, to one of the line’s funders, Intensa bank:
The fight to #StopAdani has mobilized tens of thousands across Australia and the world. The proposed Carmichael mega coal mine in Queensland, in Australia’s far northeast, would be the largest in Australia and one of the largest in the world. It would pave the way for more mines to be developed in the currently undeveloped area of the Galilee Basin, with an export path right through the Great Barrier Reef, already irreparably damaged by warming ocean temperatures. The company that wants to build the mine, Indian firm Adani, has a global reputation for tax evasion, human rights abuses and ignoring environmental regulations. The company’s plans to push forward with the mine despite overwhelming public objection ignores efforts by the Wangan and Jagalingou indigenous people, on whose traditional land this mine would be developed. Australia’s major banks and another 24 of the world’s biggest financial institutions, including Bank of China, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, have refused to fund the Adani project.
The #StopAdani campaign has caught on across the country, with more than 160 local groups and everyday people stepping up to take part in the fight. You can help by hosting screenings of a recent documentary about the Adani fight; contacting Australian politicians: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and head of the opposition Bill Shorten at [email protected] to demand the mine be stopped, supporting #StopAdani protests and calling on Adani to halt this coal project at [email protected]
Is there a local struggle where you live that’s missing from the list? Join or organize your own campaign by getting started at Go Fossil Free.