Climate change has never been more central in the debate around who will be in the White House next year. And that spotlight is warranted -- we don’t have four years to spare in taking action.

Communities across our country are experiencing the devastation from climate change right now: from California’s drought affecting agriculture and livelihoods of agricultural workers, to Houston’s unpredictable and fierce storms inundating its concrete-laden downtown, and federal agencies budgeting billions to resettle the first American climate refugees. All this, while nearly everyday groundbreaking reports reveal that for at least half of a century, fossil fuel companies knew about the potential of these calamitous impacts of climate change.

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The gravity of this pivotal moment requires immediate action from our politicians, starting with keeping coal, oil, and gas in the ground. Some of that has already begun. In the last few months, there has been significant executive action on climate, from the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline to the signing of the Paris climate agreement, and more.

Yet even bolder action is necessary to curb the devastating effects of our already rapidly warming planet. This means going up against a rogue industry that puts potential financial gains from fossil fuel extraction over scientific consensus and the existence of a planet able to sustain civil society and diversity of life.

As we challenge the social and political license that these profits have lent the fossil fuel industry, so must we also challenge our politicians to break free from the disproportionate influence that fossil fuel interests have in our political system.

Political party aside, the vast majority of Americans want our next President to take bold action on climate, especially on the biggest win-win of all, decentralized renewable energy for the communities who need it most.

All politics is local, and especially so, all climate politics are local. Political choices can mean the difference between a Porter Ranch-style fracking disaster and San Diego’s commitment to 100% Renewable Energy.

Historically, coal, oil, and gas have been financially profitable. If this weren’t the case, we probably would have heeded the warnings from climatologists to break the fossil fuel habit sooner.

Now, to fill the gap between the words of politicians and what we know is necessary to combat the climate crisis, thousands of people around the world are putting more and more at risk to Break Free from fossil fuels. In the last week, we’ve seen ordinary people go up against the most powerful industry in history. They’ve targeted fossil fuel projects around the world, from the UK to the Philippines, to Brazil and New Zealand, with more to come.

Under the global platform to Break Free, people are taking action on par with what the climate crisis requires.

Across the US, activists will target six areas of fossil fuel development. Communities in Colorado will protest the auction of our public lands, which would be exploited for fossil fuel extraction, and will mobilize to protect themselves against a proposed fracking site. To the west, just north of Seattle, thousands will rally on the shore and glide through the waters surroundingAnacortes for a mass action against the massive refinery pollution.

Communities in Albany will put their bodies in the way of the crude oil “bomb” trains that roll through the city and pollute the air, and Midwesterners will protest pipeline expansion plans across the Great Lakes, which have already known the devastation that oil spills bring. Communities in Los Angeles will march to challenge urban and rural oil drilling -- especially the urban oil fields in downtown and south LA that release carcinogenic fumes adjacent to houses, apartment complexes, and school yards.

And in our nation’s capital, frontline community members from the Alaskan Arctic, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts will join together to demand that there are no new leases in President Obama’s offshore drilling plan. This will be one of the last, and most significant, climate decisions Obama will make during his remaining time in office.

Communities are pushing back against the fossil fuel industry and are holding our politicians accountable. Current and future elected officials not only need to take climate change seriously, but must do all in their power to end fossil fuel extraction.

The impacts of climate change are hitting people and planet harder everyday. Communities are mobilizing for the just world we need, and now our most politically powerful must heed our call. That means breaking free from fossil fuels. 


May Boeve is the Executive Director of 350.org