What do SAFE groups do?

SAFE groups work with community members and legislators to pass laws that phase out fossil fuels and fast-track clean energy solutions – protecting their community from fossil fuels and helping preserve a stable climate.

Step 1: Gather your people

Any group of people coming together in their local community can work to pass SAFE policies that promote health, safety, economic well-being, equity, and climate security.

All you really need is a few friends or neighbours, a bit of time to dedicate to building local momentum, and a passion for protecting your community and global climate by stopping fossil fuel expansion. And it doesn’t hurt if you’re willing to stop by city hall to get to know your local elected officials!

Step 2: Pass a local government SAFE commitment

Your first mission is to get your local government to pass an initial SAFE commitment.

When local elected leaders make SAFE commitments, they commit to implement policies that prevent the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure within local boundaries. In the US, it might look like a resolution passed by your city or county council. In other places it might be a declaration. Bonus points if you can get them to affirm a commitment to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and endorse the complimentary Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to phase out fossil fuel production and accelerate a just energy transition!

As more and more communities in the US and around the world make SAFE commitments, they send a clear signal to the world – including to fossil fuel bigwigs – that communities are serious about stopping fossil fuel expansion.


Step 3: Build on the commitment with lasting policies

Next comes the big part – building on the initial commitment by getting your local government to pass SAFE policies.

The work of passing SAFE policies is what really keeps fossil fuels in the ground and paves the way for equitable clean energy solutions. It often starts with a temporary moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure, and then gets extended into a permanent moratorium.

To pass a SAFE policy, your group will need to build community power and develop relationships with elected officials. Really effective SAFE organizing also involves building relationships with labor unions and other people who care about community health and safety, but who might not immediately support a moratorium on fossil fuels.

This is a big mission. We know. These are extraordinary times and they call for all of us to do big things when we can.

That said, just because it’s a big ask doesn’t mean you can’t start small. The movement that ultimately kept tar sands out of South Portland was founded in the living room of a local artist! All you need to start a SAFE group is a few friends or neighbours gathered in your living room.

You can also be part of an existing group, like a Sierra Club or 350 chapter, that wants to work to pass SAFE policies. This is what’s happening in Seattle and what happened in King County, Washington.

Groups passing SAFE policies can look all kinds of ways – and no matter whether you’re a seasoned environmental organizer or a parent who doesn’t want her child living near yet another refinery and is stepping into activism for the first time, we’re here to support.

You’ve got this!

Portland no coil oil gas bridge blockage

Header image by Henry Stewart-Wood
Photo credit for Portland bridge image: [ADD HERE]