billmckibben2 billmckibben2, October 29, 2015
Writer and climate activist Bill McKibben is among several dozen arrested outside the White House at the start of more than two weeks of planned demonstrations by activists opposed to construction of an oil pipeline carrying petroleum from Canadian "tar sands" to the United States. Groups backing the actions say that 2,000 people have signed on to be arrested during the length of the protests. McKibben and roughly 50 of the others arrested on Saturday were expected to be jailed until Monday afternoon.

Bill McKibben at the 2011 Sit Ins against Keystone XL at the White House.


Just over four years ago, we were getting ready for the Washington protests that helped accelerate the Keystone pipeline fight. A week out I was nervous but excited — I knew that our movement was ready to take a new step. And that’s how it turned out: enough people showed up outside the White House to constitute the country’s biggest civil disobedience action in a long time. It got the ball rolling.

Now you’ve got the same chance in Canada. In the wake of the sweeping Liberal victory, it’s time to welcome the new government to office—and make sure that they realize there’s no time to waste. Climate Welcome is a reminder that unless the tar sands stops expanding, Canada simply can’t play a constructive role in solving the world’s climate problems.

The movement has matured a lot since those days four years ago. It’s broad and diverse, led by First Nations and frontline communities, and part of a wider social movement for change. That’s why, at this action, people won’t just be sitting in – but delivering gifts that tell a powerful story of the kind of bold action the world needs Canada to take on climate change.

On the first day, they’ll be bringing scientific reports, economic studies and documentation of treaty violations to show the clear case for freezing tar sands expansion. On the second day, they’ll carry all of our voices – the hundreds of thousands of us that have signed petitions or sent messages opposing dangerous, unnecessary pipeline and tar sands expansion. On the third day, people from all across Canada are joining both in person and in spirit as people deliver water from the rivers, lakes and shorelines put at risk by tar sands, pipelines and tankers. On the last day, they’ll be carrying symbols of the pathway that the world needs Canada to take forwards – solar panels for the new Prime Minister to hook up as he renovates his new home. As well as, among other things, The Leap Manifesto drafted by 350 board member Naomi Klein along with many others.

And this action comes at just the right moment: heading to Paris, with the fossil fuel industry on the defensive, and with a new government that has yet to set a definitive climate course.

Those of us south of the border watched with pleasure as Canada began its reboot this month: we know that the world works much better when Canada solves problems instead of causing them. But we also know that even with improved leadership, nothing happens unless people demand it.

The time to start is now — make sure you join this historical moment in Canada.


Bill Mckibben