May 3–15, 2016: On six continents, thousands of people took bold action to Break Free from Fossil Fuels.
Break Free shows what the climate movement can do in 2016: Unwavering resistance. Fierce solidarity. Courage by the gigaton.
In the midst of the hottest year in recorded history, tens of thousands of people on 6 continents did something that politicians have not: they took bold, courageous action to keep fossil fuels in the ground.
Each action was unique: from the coal fields of Germany, to the oil wells of Nigeria, to defiant actions against new coal power plant in Indonesia and the Philippines — and many places beyond.
But the purpose was the same: keep fossil fuels in the ground. Build a just transition to a new kind of 100% renewable economy. Do it now.
During Break Free, people tried new things, pushing the boundaries of what movements had done before. Or they did old things bigger than ever, putting more people in the streets (or in the way of the industry) to show that the time for action is now.
There has never been a better time than now to break free from fossil fuels. Coal, oil and gas companies are in a financial crisis, the planet is overheating, and — thanks to you, a global resistance is growing to confront the industry wherever they turn.
20 Escalated Actions
Major Fossil Fuel Projects Disrupted:
Newcastle Coal Port
The world's largest coal port.
Vattenfall Welzow-Sued coal mine + Schwarze Pumpe coal power station
One of the largest sources of CO2 emissions in Europe.
Pecém coal power plant
One of the largest coal power plants in Brazil.
Ffos-y-Fran coal mine
The largest open-cast coal mine in the United Kingdom.
Aliağa coal ash disposal site
Waste site for four power plants in one of the most polluted areas in the region.
March Point oil refinery
The largest unmitigated source of CO2 in the northwest United States.
What we did together:
The UK’s largest open-cast coal mine in Ffos-y-Fran, Wales was shut down for over 12 hours, with no injuries and no arrests. Mobilisation organized by Reclaim the Power.
Batangas City, Philippines
A 10,000+ person climate march and rally in Batangas City, demanding the cancellation of the proposed 600-Megawatt coal power plant in Barangay Pinamucan Ibaba.
Christchurch, New Zealand
Peaceful protesters successfully blockaded and shut down the Riccarton, Christchurch branch of ANZ bank, which has $13.5 billion invested in fossil fuels.
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.
Maringá, Paraná, Brazil
Thousands of people cheered on a protest against fracking during a concert at Expo Ingá, the main annual rural fair in the state of Paraná.
At the historic site of Nigeria’s first oil well, demonstrating the environmental and social damage that happens when the oil goes dry and the community is left with the pollution and none of the wealth to clear it up.
Around 3,000 people rallied in Jakarta to say that coal is not a solution to pollution, and that it's time to move to renewable energy.
Dunedin, New Zealand
All three ANZ branches in Dunedin were blockaded by people demanding that the bank divests from fossil fuels.
Kwaguqa, Emalahleni, South Africa
Community members gathered in Emalahleni to speak out on the effects of climate change in their daily lives, from corruption to food sovereignty, water, energy, and health.
On Ogoni land, a demonstration of resistance to the power of the oil industry, demanding they keep their oil in the ground where it belongs.
Hundreds of people disrupted an auction selling off thousands of acres of public land for oil and gas drilling, Seven people held a sit-in blockading the room where the auction was being held, joined by many more in the lobby and outside the building. No protestors were arrested. The auction was delayed and then completed — minus some prospective bidders who were unable to make it inside the building.
Auckland, New Zealand
By blockading ANZ's Auckland branch, hundreds of people made it clear that for the sake of the climate, business as usual can not continue. ANZ needs to divest from fossil fuels.
Constitutional Hill, South Africa
A Speak out brought together drought-affected communities and farmers from around South Africa. Then people took the streets in a bread march.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Protest outside the Gupta residence — the Guptas’ “Oakbay Resources Ltd” company symbolises everything that is wrong with the coal industry in South Africa today.
Acitivists demanded a cleanup of the Niger Delta on the shores of the Atlantic ocean.
Umuarama, Paraná, Brazil
A big rally in the city center, followed by the signature of a bill banning fracking in the city.
Denver, Colorado, USA
Mobilisation to protect a community defending itself from fracking. We can rise up to defend our health and homes, our atmosphere held in public trust, our children's futures.
Activists planted trees at the future site of an oil refinery to protest oil drilling in the Yasuni National Park.
Los Angeles, California, USA
Mass convergence and march through downtown Los Angeles, home to the United States’ largest urban oil field.
Actions on the ground and on the water in Metro-Vancouver and Coast Salish Territories to blockade the Kinder Morgan oil terminal demonstrate that people power and 100% renewable energy are the future.
Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil
Action against the Pecém power plant — as the largest thermal power plant in the Brazil it is a symbol of the federal government’s contradiction of the agreement signed at COP21.
Activists in Cirebon, West Java dropped banners from machinery unloading coal, bringing the coal terminal to a standstill for hours.
Hundreds gathered for a rally, march, and sit-in on the tracks to stop crude oil “bomb” trains rolling through Albany, endangering nearby communities & adding to the climate crisis.
Community leaders led a mass action in Aliağa (near Izmir) at a coal waste site calling for a stop to four fossil fuel plant projects in the surrounding area.
Thousands converged by land and water on March Point in Anacortes, WA — the site of two oil refineries. Over three days, the action included multiple kayak flotillas, a march led by Indigenous leaders, and an overnight sit-in on the train tracks that led to over 50 arrests.
Thousands of people from across Europe shut down Vattenfall’s coal mine in Lusatia, in 3 days of successive acts of civil disobedience to demand an end to coal.
Action calling on President Obama to stop all new offshore drilling in the Arctic, Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico.
What is Break Free?
Break Free is a movement, an idea, and a call for action. To help build this movement, this online platform has been created so people and organizations who share our Common Values can organize or participate in large-scale actions around the world. These actions will support ongoing campaigns and reinforce shared goals: the rapid, just transition from the fossil fuel economy of the past to the 100% renewable and clean energy future that climate justice demands. Click here to see the values that supported by all Break Free actions.
Break Free from Fossil Fuels is not a legal entity and is not intended to create any formal established legal personality, network or coalition. It is a platform through which people can take and create actions anywhere across the globe, whilst adhering to the agreed Values.
A wide range of international, national and local organisations are stepping up to support or participate in the Break Free movement, including those listed below. Go to country pages for groups involved in specific actions.
Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development
Climate Action Network
Center for Biological Diversity
Divestment Student Network
Energy Action Coalition
European Attac Network
Friends of the Earth International
Global Catholic Climate Movement
Greenpeace United States
Indigenous Environmental Network
Les Amis de la Terre
National Nurses United
Philippine Movement for Climate Justice
Rainforest Action Network
Reclaim the Power
United Church of Christ
WoMin African Gender and Extractives Alliance