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Jane Fonda on Why Our Climate Crisis Demands Civil Disobedience

“The truth is, all the individual actions together can’t be scaled up in time to make the fundamental difference in fossil-fuel emissions that we need. That’s why governments are …

In honor of Rolling Stone’s Climate Crisis Issue, we asked artists to contribute messages about what they, their governments, and everyday people can do to stand up to the threat of climate change. From England to Jamaica to the United States, we are hearing from artists and activists around the world about what we can do locally, globally, and everywhere in between.

Jane Fonda is no stranger of fighting for what she believes in. The Oscar-winning actress has spent the past 50 years on the front lines of progressive causes, protesting wars from Vietnam to Iraq, the war on women’s bodies, and wars on Native American land and water.

She’s also been spending her time protesting the war being waged against the planet. Fonda’s organization Fire Drill Fridays, in the tradition of Greta Thunberg’s School Strike for Climate Fridays, is organizing civil disobedience for climate once a week, with gatherings now happening digitally due to COVID-19. “There’s so much that people can do from home that will really matter,” says Fonda.

Fonda says that for the planet to survive, we need to cut fossil-fuel emissions in half by 2030 and start to phase out fossil fuels to net zero by 2050.

“That’s the key thing. And in the process of doing that, we have to make sure that workers, families, and communities that are affected by this massive switch to a new energy system get paid union wages with full benefits as they make that transition to comparable new jobs. This is what’s called a just transition,” says Fonda.

And in order for that to happen, Fonda says, “Everybody has to be at the table” — which includes workers and their unions, industries, and state and local governments, supported by federal government resources.

Fonda argues that pressure from people is what will make this possible. “We have to demand that the new president, whoever he is (it looks like it will be a him), has to use his executive power starting Day One to make this happen, while simultaneously investing in clean, renewable energy systems,” she says. “This isn’t going to happen unless enough people are mobilized to force that president to do what’s needed. We have to force him. And that’s why Fire Drill Fridays are important.”

Fonda points to a range of actions she’s been able to take at home to help alleviate climate change, like switching to an electric car, getting an electric stove, using solar panels, moving away from single-use plastics, and generally shopping and consuming less. But she says that’s just the start.

“The truth is, all the individual actions together can’t be scaled up in time to make the fundamental difference in fossil-fuel emissions that we need,” warns Fonda. “That’s why governments are so important.”