A woman dressed in red looses a canister of red smoke.

Around the globe, thousands protest to break free from fossil fuels

Over the last two weeks, over 30,000 people around the world took part in actions to demand that as a global community, we Break Free from fossil fuels. From the Philippines, to Wales, to Nigeria, to Brazil, protestors hit the streets and the internet to demand change.

In the UK, Reclaim the Power shut down the largest open-cast coal mine in Wales for 12 hours with no arrests or injuries.

Protestors in Nigeria gathered at the country’s first oil well, calling out the damage that happens when oil runs dry and a community is left with pollution but none of the wealth to clean it up.

In Ceara, Brazil, protestors used their bodies to spell out “CO2” at the largest thermal power plant in the country.

Women in Johannesburg, South Africa protest the Gupta family and their corrupt mining deals. Image credit

If you haven’t gotten goosebumps yet, keep reading.

This past weekend thousands of people from across Europe convened in Germany to shut down the Vattenfall Welzow-Sued coal mine (one of the largest sources of CO2 emissions in Europe) for a full two days.
The U.S. saw major protests in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and in the state of Washington where thousands of people converged over three days at the site of two oil refineries. Their action included multiple kayak flotillas, a march led by indigenous leaders, and an overnight sit-in on the train tracks with over 50 arrests. Protestors in Lakewood, Colorado interrupted an auction to sell off thousands of acres of public land for oil and gas drilling.


Patricia Gualinga, a leading voice for indigenous rights in Ecuador, protests oil drilling on Sarayaku land. Image credit

The movement to break free from fossil fuels and reduce the climate change our planet is already experiencing still faces enormous barriers. Our capitalist economy continues to value the profits of resource extraction over people’s lives.

Women are uniquely affected by resource extraction and climate change, and indigenous women and other women of color make up a disproportionate percentage of people living in frontline communities. Women are more likely to be low-income and forced to live in areas affected

Kayaktivists take to the water to break free from fossil fuels. Image credit

by pollution, or unprepared to deal with displacement, drought, or food scarcity. They are often in charge of caring for children and the elderly in the face of climate disaster, or farming for food while men are forced to migrate to seek work. Women often become targets during violent conflicts caused by climate change.

But we’re witnessing a sea change. Social movements are the only thing that stands between us and disastrous, point-of-no-return climate change, and they are becoming a bigger and bigger thorn in the side of the fossil fuel industry. And importantly, women of color are playing a central role in this. Indigenous women in Honduras, Brazil, North Dakota, Ecuador, Peru and all around the world are marching, protesting, and campaigning with other women of color to protect the future. Our future.

Now is the time to break free from fossil fuels. Catch up on Break Free actions around the world, and get connected so you can attend the next one!

Header image credit: Kristian Buus with Reclaim the Power


Bay Area, California

Juliana is a digital storyteller for social change. As a writer at Feministing since 2013, her work has focused on women's movements throughout the Americas for environmental justice, immigrant rights, and reproductive justice. In addition to her writing, Juliana is a Senior Campaigner at Change.org, where she works to close the gap between the powerful and everyone else by supporting people from across the country to launch, escalate and win their campaigns for justice.

Juliana is a Latina feminist writer and campaigner based in the Bay Area.

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