Make Climate Justice History – Mass civil disobedience March 2nd, 2009 in DC

cca-banner2Dear Friends and Allies-

We’re in the process of organizing a mass non-violent civil disobedience to coincide with Power Shift 2009.   In late  February 2009,  the  Energy Action Coalition will host over 10,000 climate activists focusing generally on making climate change, clean energy, and green jobs a priority for the new administration.   Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, the Ruckus Society, Chesapeake Climate Action Network and a host of others are planning a mass non-violent civil disobedience, with a goal of organizing over 1,000 people, to cross the line and sit-in at the Capital Coal Plant.

The Capital Coal Plant is a mixed-burning facility that provides heat/steam/refrigeration to the entire Capitol Complex, including Congress. As part of the Greening The Capitol initiative, the House of Representatives has opted to replace their share of usage of the plant with natural gas and implement broad efficiency measures, the Senate has refused to do so, and continues to use coal. But our goal is not just to clean up this plant alone – it’s to demand a complete transformation in our national energy policies and priorities.

The action will follow a rally for the Powershift Lobby Day on Capitol Hill, and will begin around 1:00pm. To be clear – this action is NOT an official part of Powershift or EAC, but is organized by allies, and is working closely with Powershift/EAC to ensure complimentary outcomes and smooth logistics.

While still being developed – the likely scenario for this activity would be in the direction of peaceful sit-in at the power plant. We aim to create an action framework that is accessible to all – from students, to elderly, to parents, to notable public figures and beyond. We envision a structured event that includes agreed-upon action guidelines, extensive training on non-violence, and a respectful tone that participants would be asked to abide by. We will have a legal team organized to support participants and will have prior discussion with authorities as to our non-violent intentions.

Goals, objectives, and strategy

  • Create a moment, image, and a situation that will help accelerate a major shift in the political and cultural consciousness regarding the urgency and scope of required action to address the climate crisis.
  • Press the new administration to take decisive action on climate and energy issues, within the first 100 days of office by using this coal plant as an iconic symbol of the problems of US Energy policy.
  • Create a transformative, positive experience for the participants that further commit them to the movement, and demystifies the effective role of non-violent direct action in creating social change.

This event will turn a corner for the climate movement – we have already won battles showing that climate change is real and that politicians and industry must take action; now we are amplifying the urgency and depth of the required responses. Civil disobedience has played a vital role in all movements for justice, and echoing recent calls of people like Al Gore, James Hansen, Wendell Berry and others – we feel it is time to escalate our tactics and our demands, and show the new administration that the American people are demanding and taking action to in response to the urgency and seriousness of the climate crisis.

We need you, and your group, to join us as we make history by organizing the largest civil disobedience for the climate in American history.

What You Can Do:

This peaceful action is about building the climate justice movement; about shifting the public’s understanding of the climate crisis; and inspiring others to act. We want to see a broad coalition of allies endorsing and supporting this action, and ensure the action reflects a diverse movement.

  • Join us in Washington DC on March 2nd!
  • Encourage your organization to publicly endorse this action
  • Get involved in shaping the messaging and planning of the event
  • Help mobilize your membership, networks, or constituents to support this action.

For further information, or to endorse this action with your organization, please visit

The following organizations have endorsed and are supporting the Capitol Power Plant mass civil disobedience. To add your group to this list, please contact  Matt(dot)Leonard  (at) greenpeace (dot) org


  • Billy Parrish – founder- Energy Action Coalition
  • Bill McKibben - Author, educator, founder – Step It Up
  • Edward Herman- author, professor – Wharton School of Business
  • Gus Speth - Author “The Bridge at the Edge of the World”
  • Mike Roselle – founder – Earth First!
  • Wendell Berry – Author and poet.

14 Responses to “Make Climate Justice History – Mass civil disobedience March 2nd, 2009 in DC”

  1. 1 deirdre Dec 18th, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    w000t w00t!

  2. 2 Mora Feb 20th, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Inspiring. Can’t be there but could be here!(U.K.) Why not organise all countries choose a site to sit in, simultaneouly? After all this is a global problem and this would create a wonderful feeling of global community guardianship. Too difficult to organise?

  3. 3 fuspey Feb 27th, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Great stuff dudes and dudettes from a climate camper in Europe

    Just found out about the plans for action, may your passion release the change that exists in your hearts… You´ll get there!

    I posted article on IMC-IE about your actions and did a blog post, also made proposals to featurise them…
    The largest act of civil disobedience to happen in the US this Monday!!! +

    The climate camp “movement” is growing: engage, teach, learn, demonstrate alternatives, skill share, be moved, prepare, take direct action

    Al Gore: “I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants.”

    Cleared: Jury decides that threat of global warming justifies breaking the law
    So read a leading article in the UK´s Independant after 6 Greenpeace activists historic court win using “lawful excuse” in support of their direct action of scaling Kingsnorth coal power station in Kent, the site of last summers Climate Camp actions. On Sunday December 12, 2008 the New York Times included the Kingsnorth defence in its annual list of the most influential ideas that will change our lives. Under the heading ‘Climate-Change Defense, The’ the newspaper said the verdict ‘shook up the world of green politics’.

    So who knows, the precedent is there (the same legal strategy was used when the Ploughshares finally won their courtcase), there is sure to be arrests next monday, but perhaps they will use the Greenpeace case to back up their calls for supporting Gores calls to action…?

    Eitherway, what ever happens, fair play to the US activists. I have been in some direct contact with a few of them from Barcelona and there is definately very exciting things happening there, yes Obama has played a bit in the collective bold dreaming, and from that organising to action, but its more than that. We will see how Monday goes, it would be nice if we could let them know we support their actions and wish them well in their direct actions, confrontation with police, court time, and possibly jail time.

  4. 4 Shawn Mar 2nd, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Brrr…..It’s a little too cold! Can we have this protest in July or August when its warmer?

  5. 5 Robert Mar 2nd, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    If only you could predict the weather.

  6. 6 Trouble Mar 2nd, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Better schedule the next one of these in the summer, dude.

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About Matt

Matt lives in San Francisco, where he enjoys working on climate justice and energy issues, supporting direct action as a strategy for social change, rock climbing, biking, punk rock, and the plethora of vegan food options. He has been involved in radical social justice and ecological movements for over 15 years.

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