The Climate Strike License

There are a whole bunch of open source licenses that can be pretty confusing. MIT, GPL, and Apache, just to name a few.

One thing that they all have in common is the fact that they don’t restrict the industry or application of a project that uses them, and that’s just fine, it’s normal.

But what if you believe that a certain kind of company is incredibly damaging to the world and busy destroying the future, it would be fair to say that you don’t want them to use the software you create, wouldn’t it?

That is what the little used and seemingly little known, despite being a couple of years old already, Climate Strike License sets out to do:

Climate Strike Software is software that uses the Climate Strike License, a software license that developers can use to prohibit the use of their code by applications or companies that threaten to accelerate climate change through fossil fuel extraction.

The idea is that by adopting the license, developers can explicitly prohibit the use of their software within some of the largest oil companies including Chevron, BP, Exxon Mobil, and many other companies that turn a blind eye to the greatest threat that humanity has faced.

The CSL is free for anyone to adopt, and any projects that are using it will be tagged with this badge on github:

The idea is that the license reminds developers that we have the power to stop these multinational oil companies from taking advantage of open source software — that instead of waiting idly by, that they can take an active position in preventing a climate catastrophe. Of course this isn’t going to happen unless some big and widely used open source projects start to adopt it, but the idea is neat.

The other problem is that the Climate Strike License violates the Open Source Initiative’s canonical Open Source Definition, which explicitly excludes licenses that limit re-use “in a specific field of endeavor”.

That means that the enforceability of the license legally is pretty questionable if it ever made it to a court anywhere in the world. Even so, the idea has merit, and acts as a visual reminder and a statement by software developers.

Any new software, WordPress plugins, etc. that we produce at S4 will be released under the Climate Strike License, except for where it is incompatible with the licensing of any software that they are based on.

You can find out more about the license at and on github.

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