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Extinction Rebellion held ‘Fossil Fuel Freedom Tour’ through Boston

Extinction Rebellion Boston held a rally on Earth Day demanding a transition to renewable resources, transparency within the government and divestment from fossil fuels for large financial institutions in Massachusetts.  

extinction rebellion Boston rally, fossil fuels and climate
An Extinction Rebellion Boston “Tell the Truth” sticker on Brookline Avenue. XR, a climate change advocacy group, held a rally including a Fossil Fuel Freedom Tour to advocate for more transparency within government and corporations in Massachusetts on Earth Day. ALICE LEE/DFP STAFF

The climate advocacy group, also referred to as XR, led the over 300-person Fossil Fuel Freedom Tour with stops on the doorsteps of corporations and government agencies — including Eversource Energy, Chase Bank, Bank of America, the local chapter of American Petroleum Institute and the Massachusetts State House — that contributed to the fossil fuel industry through lobbying and funding. 

“We’re here on Earth Day. We’re standing up for the planet. We’re standing up for all the human beings and all the non-human life,” XR spokesperson Alex Chambers said. “There’s this rage that is another component of XR. We have this rage at the system as the political system for its inaction.”

Activists waved colorful flags with the XR logo to raise awareness of the climate change issue by creating a “right level of disruption.”

Since Earth Day’s conception in 1970, the government and corporations have ignored climate change every year, Chambers said. 

“We don’t just do marches, we try to be disruptive to the public,” they said. “No one could ignore us.”

Participants met at the Copley Square on Friday afternoon, marched up Boylston Street to the Prudential Center, then went down Beacon Street to the Massachusetts State House.

“I think that Earth Day is a great day to turn out for climate action,” Janna Hershey, 24, a participant at the rally, said. “I think a [sustainable] future [is] where everyone has access to resources … where we’re not dependent on fossil fuels, and we’re relying on renewable energy, renewable resources.”  

Community organizer and environmental activist Allen McGonagill said Massachusetts still installs gas pipelines “all the time.”

“Our demand, especially as we see the governor’s race heat up, is that we want to see politicians and the governor step up and say ‘no more fossil fuel infrastructure,’” McGonagill said.

McGonagill said corporations are responsible for lobbying and funding politician campaigns directly to disincentivize fossil fuel transition.

 “Fossil fuel companies, including utilities like Eversource, here in Massachusetts, which is the largest fossil fuel company, are very unlikely to change unless they’re forced to,” McGonagill said. “They need people to be calling in and demanding that they stop their practices, we have to make it expensive for them to continue to destroy the planet.”

McGonagill said hard deadlines are necessary to transition out of fossil fuel use.

“The politicians are the ones that have to start putting hard deadlines on our transition,” McGonagill said. “They have to start making this actually happen and not just saying it’s going to happen on its own.”

Chambers noted that clean energy holds opportunities for job growth as a growing industry.

“The truth is all of the technology for a transition away from fossil fuels exists, and there are better paying green, renewable jobs,” Chambers said.

According to McGonagill, the Weymouth gas compressor has provided job opportunities but has created health concerns with multiple “unplanned” releases of natural gas. 

“All fossil fuel industry and fossil fuel jobs are creating all these unintended consequences and harm to our community,” McGonagill said. “And that’s causing respiratory and other problems for that community and will for the rest of their lives.”

Chambers added they hope more people join the movement.

“I’m optimistic about the capacity for individual human beings to take the right course of action,” Chambers said. “ I’m not optimistic about politicians doing this on their own.”

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