Greenpeace's Coal Free Future Tour Begins a New Chapter of Climate Activism


Aboard the Arctic Sunrise, leaving New York City. Photos: Brian Merchant

Over the last few weeks, Greenpeace's iconic ship the Arctic Sunrise has been traveling up the East Coast on the Coal Free Future tour. Greenpeace has been making a fresh push to spread the word about the ills of coal, and reaching out to communities in cities along the eastern seaboard that are fighting to shut down old, polluting coal-fired power plants. Greenpeace invited me along for a leg of the ride, and I'm reporting back on their new campaign to draw America's attention to the woes of coal.
The tour marks the beginning of a new chapter in Greenpeace's long legacy of activism -- the group is planning to launch a wide-scale American campaign against coal this spring, and the Coal-Free Future is something like its pilot run (read more about the actions completed thus far on the tour blog).

We disembarked from New York City early this morning, and are now headed for Boston, where the final stages of the tour is planned. I've had the privilege of joining the ship's crew on its daily routine (how many people can say they've cleaned the bathroom on the Greenpeace boat?) -- and I've been speaking with Greenpeace leadership about their long-term plans for taking on coal.

Here's a basic preview of what the large-scale campaign will include:

  • Focus on the health impacts; better inform the public about the severe health problems that plague communities near coal plants.
  • Target specific plants across the nation for closures, and work with communities to make it happen
  • Hone in on coal plants that are old, polluting, and have popular support in favor of shutting them down anyways -- and push them past the threshold.
  • Stage anti-coal civil disobedience actions for which the group is famous
  • Further expose the power of big coal companies, and the manipulation they've engaged in to protect their interests

There's more to it than that, of course. But this cursory look should begin to give you an idea of what this important campaign will entail. And important it is -- much of Greenpeace's leadership agrees that the campaign will be its most ambitious in years. Stayed tuned for more updates.

Tags: Activism | Coal | United States

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