After twenty some years, the Paris Agreement finally created a framework in which most of the world leaders agreed that Climate Change is human-caused, it’s happening, and our global temperatures must be kept to a 1.5C increase over pre-industrial averages. But the Paris Agreement isn’t official yet and it doesn’t have much legal teeth. What we have is a bottom-up (voluntary) mechanism to address Climate Change and if we squander this time by continuing business as usual we are lost. A 4C or 6C world would be unendurable.
To jumpstart Paris activists created Break Free to increase the pressure to address Climate Change and engage the public. Break Free is a series of 23 mass actions demanding to keep fossil fuels in the ground (#KeepItInTheGround) in 12 countries on 6 continents. Actions have already started all across the globe.
May 4-15, 2016: A global wave of mass actions will target the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects, in order to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground and accelerate the just transition to 100% renewable energy. Across the world, people are showing the courage to confront polluters where they are most powerful — from the halls of power to the wells and mines themselves. (Break Free From Fossil Fuels)
At Albany’s action last Saturday (#Albany2016, #BreakFree2016), a bus load of Rochesterians cosponsored by Rochester People’s Climate Coalition (RPCC), Mothers Out Front, and the Pachamama Alliance rallied at Liberty Park, marched a mile, and ended up at the railroad tracks at the Port of Albany where the Bomb Trains usually accumulated from around the country with dangerous crude oil. But the trains weren’t there on Saturday, only thousands of protesters.
- · Protest Against Crude Oil Trains Brings Thousands to Capital Region ALBANY. N.Y. -- An international movement right here in the Capital City. Break Free 2016 is the global fight against fossil fuels and crude oil trains that lumber though our cities. "The kind of power we have comes with our voices, our spirits and our bodies," said event organizer Marla Marcum. "There's a lot of passion that people are bringing to this work and we need out elected leaders to listen." (May 14, 2016, Time Warner News Capital Region)
- · More than 1,000 march to protest oil trains ALBANY -- More than 1,000 people marched to the Port of Albany on Saturday to protest against the shipment of oil that goes through the facility that is owned by Global Partners. The Albany demonstration was one of 20 taking place on six continents. Marla Marcum helped organize the Albany rally. "We are here to declare that we need to stop the "bomb trains" flowing into Albany and we need to keep the fossil fuel in the ground," Ms. Marcum said. After assembling in Lincoln Park the protestors marched in unison down Morton Avenue. One group ended up at the Port of Albany and the others made their way to the Ezra Prentice Homes. (May 14, 2016 6News WRGB Albany)
- · Albany protest: 5 arrested after oil train delayed Hundreds oppose oil trains at the Port of Albany — A daylong effort to block crude oil trains brought hundreds of people near the Port of Albany, where they sat on train tracks and listened to speeches, sang and discussed nationwide and local environmental issues. The Albany event on Saturday, organized by the coalition Break Free From Fossil Fuels, was one of several around the country and world this month. More than 400 of the 1,500 people registered said they would be willing to be arrested for physically blocking the trains, a Break Free spokeswoman said. (May 14, 2016 Albany Times Union)
Unlike Rochester’s local mainstream media, where our past marches for action on Climate Change were unattended by them, Albany’s media gave full coverage of this historic event so as to engage the public with this worldwide crisis: The continued use of fossil fuels is driving our global temperatures into the danger zone.
My experiences at #Albany2016 were a kaleidoscope of images where folks held signs saying “No Fossil Fuels, Yes Renewable Energy”, “100% Renewable Energy for New York by 2030”, “Keep It In The Ground!”, “We Can Change Everything”, “Climate Justice”, “Oil Coal Gas = Climate Chaos”, “Protect our Climate, Water, and Health” and many, many more while talking to each other, that is, folks from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and yes, even Michigan (a party of one, a native American comedian who gave a wonderfully articulate perspective of fossil fuel damage in his home lands and the need for all folks of all color and ages to join together in this great wave of change) and more images of folks laying across the Port of Albany railroad tracks, like that scene in Gone With The Wind, where thousands upon thousands of injured combatants lie in wait for the trains to take them away from a great conflagration that could have been avoided had humanity transformed itself and accepted equality, justice, and peace, though in this case, in Albany, we listened to great speeches by many leaders trying to engage the public on Climate Change amongst many who were lying on the tracks, resting, eating lunch, and talking and talking and talking and almost everyone taking photos and videos of this peaceful and wonderful spectacle to share them around the world on the Internet to give testimony of our efforts and to connect with others around the world trying to break free of a fossil fuel future that threatens all of our futures.
Break Free in Albany was a wonderful experience but also a reminder of many other such protests and marches I’ve joined to get our leaders to act and for the rest of the public to join with us in preventing our shared fate, an impossibly warm world. At some point, of which Break Free was an example, the public will say No! to an unsustainable future and Yes! to the uncomfortable and inconvenient changes our generations needs to make so that future generations can thrive and flourish.