Hundreds of activists are gathering in Anacortes this weekend for protests aimed at keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
The Pacific Northwest “Break Free from Fossil Fuels” event is part of two weeks of actions that have been taking place in dozens of cities all over the globe. Other U.S. cities on the list include Denver, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.
Local authorities are warning residents to prepare for congestion.
Anacortes is home to two oil refineries that are the focal point of the protests.
“We are going to attempt to disrupt the flow of oil into and out of the refineries and basically do what we can safely to stop business as usual,” said organizer Emily Johnston, with 350 Seattle.
She says the civil disobedience could start as soon as Friday. A coalition of about 40 groups are coming together to urge more action on climate change. They’re upset that even after the climate talks in Paris so little action is being taken.
‘World leaders agreed back in December that we have to stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming in order to avoid catastrophe,” Johnston said, citing concerns about things like failing food systems or escalating damage to ecosystems. She says the Paris agreements are inadequate.
“None of the plans currently on the table will keep us below about three and a half degrees of warming,” she said.
That’s why organizations all over the world are rallying this month – and as many as 500 people have signed up to get arrested this weekend in Anacortes.
“You know, when people are willing to put their bodies on the line, willing to risk going to prison, I think it just changes the way people think about these issues, ” Johnston said.
She says not everyone will try to get arrested – only about a quarter of the two thousand total that are expected to turn out, which include several hundred ‘kayaktivists’ and many people camping out at Deception Pass State Park.
The weekend events also include performances and discussions on creating a just economic transition away from fossil fuels, especially for communities such as Anacortes, where so many family-wage jobs depend on the refineries.