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Updated: 13 hours 57 min ago

Climate camps and actions in Europe, summer 2017

May 26, 2017 - 7:07am

“Taking part in this collective action restored some hope in each of us.”Mathieu Munsch on taking part in Break Free 2016.

There are few better ways to build hope than taking action together. Following hot on the heels of 280 amazing actions as part of the Global Divestment Mobilisation, take a look at this packed calendar of climate camps and collective actions coming up this summer.

It’s going to be creative, courageous, and beautiful — and it’s already begun with the Lausitzcamp cycle tour across the Rhineland coalfields and the climate camp near Vienna, Austria.

With the Global Divestment Mobilisation, we showed that it’s unacceptable for our institutions to invest in fossil fuels. And this summer, the climate movement will be organising to challenge major fossil fuel projects directly. These are our red lines in action. In Paris, the climate movement committed to organise to keep fossil fuels in the ground, even if our governments would not — and it’s happening.

 

Lausitzcamp on Tour, Lusatia coalfields, Germany/Poland, May 21-28

The big Ende Gelände actions are in the Rhineland coalfields this year, but resistance has been taking place in Lusatia, too. A cycle ride is happening now, May 21-28, through the mining region in Germany and Poland, camping and visiting local anti-coal initiatives on the way, connecting the dots and growing the movement.

Schöner Tour-Auftakt. Wir freuen uns auf ereignisreiche Tage. pic.twitter.com/XHjYIfOaTL

— Lausitzcamp (@lausitzcamp) May 22, 2017

Klimacamp, Enzersdorf an der Fischa (near Vienna), Austria, May 24-28

In February, the Austrian courts decided that the third runway at the airport Vienna must not be built, because it is in direct opposition to emission reduction goals. However, many Austrian politicians are still in favour of the airport expansion. At the camp, there are workshops and talks, and tomorrow (May 27) there’ll be a creative action against the expansion of the airport – you can follow the news on facebook and twitter.

Mass climate civil disobedience action in the port of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Saturday June 24

Something is brewing in the Western harbour of Amsterdam, the world’s largest gasoline harbour and Europe’s second largest coal port. Code Rood, a new coalition, calls for a massive civil disobedience action in and around the Port of Amsterdam. People power will draw a red line against the fossil fuel industry. There will also be a climate action camp from Thursday June 22 to Monday June 26.
(NB. This video contains flashing lights)

Climate Camp near Most, Czech Republic, June 21-25

Limity jsme my movement (We are the limits) is organising the very first climate camp in the Czech Republic. The camp is taking place June 21-25 in the North-bohemian mining region, by the town of Most. It will be an opportunity to learn, share experience, have fun protesting and to non-violently disrupt the operation of one of the nearby mines or power-plants. There will be buses going from Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia (get in touch to find out more). For more information see the webpage  and facebook page.

Rolling resistance in Lancashire, UK, July 1-30

Works have started to prepare the first commercial fracking site in the UK at Preston New Road in Lancashire. This summer, Reclaim the Power will be mobilising and supporting people to join the incredible local resistance efforts in the ‘Rolling Resistance’ for the whole month of July. Join a mass demo, build your own blockade or help making the tea – everyone is welcome.

Climate Camp Sweden, August 3-7

The climate movement in Sweden is joining forces against new fossil fuel development, to help Sweden reach its ambition of becoming a fossil free country. This August 3-7, Fossil Free Sweden, Friends of the Earth, Nature and Youth Sweden and the local campaign group Fossilgasfällan are organising a climate action camp near Gothenburg, the site for a new proposed gas terminal.

There will be workshops and discussions exploring the issue of fossil fuel infrastructure in Sweden and the Baltics, trainings to skill up for an exciting collective action during the camp, and planning of future organising to build solutions to the climate crisis.

Climate camp in France, August 4-15

After the success of last summer’s camp, plans for the next climate camp in France are being made right now. Save the dates and keep an eye out for updates.

Action Camp in Belgium, August 10-15

An action camp will take place near Hoge Rielen (Kasterlee), from August 10-15. It will focus on energy, climate and social justice. The camp will feature action trainings, workshops around “energy justice” and there will be an action on Monday, August 14. Save the date.

Ende Gelande & climate camp, Rhineland, Germany, August 18 – 29

Right on the edge of some of the nastiest coal mines in Europe, near Cologne, there will be another climate camp this year, as well as a mass action of civil disobedience (Ende Gelände) to block the mine infrastructure. There will be a red line action around the Hambach Forest, too. And lots more! The camp, August 18 – 29, will be a space for networking, education, arts and actions, and trying out tomorrow’s society right now – social, ecological and based on grassroots democracy.

There is an amazing amount of variety and creativity across each of these events, but each one of the camps and actions this summer has a common goal: to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

If we keep organising like this, a historic shift in our energy system is in sight. I hope you can be a part of it.

PS. Do you have info or actions to add to this list? Get in touch

Categories: International News

On Paris, it’s Trump and the fossil fuel industry versus everyone else on earth

May 25, 2017 - 4:36pm

In the past few years, reactionary politicians across the world have been seizing power with the backing of fossil fuel interests. One of those politicians, Donald Trump, is contemplating attacking international climate action by taking the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Since the Paris agreement was signed, the threats of climate change have become even more clear. 2016 was the hottest year in recorded history (followed by runners-up 2015 and 2014), the polar ice sheets have both seen dire events this year, and superstorms have ravaged communities across the planet.

Backing away from climate action now is immoral, economically counter-productive, and politically foolish.

Here are all the signs of hope that show climate justice is a goal we can achieve — if world leaders commit to serious action, and we stay in the streets demanding it.

Global carbon emissions have stopped growing — now we need to make them decline.

The amount of carbon pumped into the atmosphere worldwide has stopped increasing without an economic recession for the first time since records started being kept. It’s not enough to stop the crisis from intensifying, but it’s a sure sign that we can make real and meaningful progress.

Major mobilisations keep happening.

The day after the Paris Agreement was signed, tens of thousands of people were in the streets of Paris telling governments to keep their promises and go even further. That next May there was a wave of escalated actions where tens of thousands of people took the fight directly to coal, oil and gas infrastructure as part of Break Free 2016. And already in 2017 200,000 people marched in record heat in Washington DC and sister marches across the US to demand climate justice in the Peoples Climate March, and hundreds of Global Divestment Mobilisation actions across the globe pushed for divestment from the fossil fuel companies that are wrecking our future.

Coal is in free fall.

The number of planned coal plants worldwide is down by 2/3rds, thanks most of all to a wave of cancellations across Asia. The study that came up with that 2/3rds number is outdated by now too — India just cancelled 14GW worth of planned coal plants, and South Korea’s new government pledged to shut down existing plants and review plans for new ones.

The United Kingdom, which started burning coal in the 1700s managed to use zero coal power for an entire day earlier this year. There’s still a long way to go for the UK to meet its climate goals, but it goes to show that even the mightiest industries can indeed be dethroned.

Electric cars keep switching on, and combustion engines keep turning off.

The government of India says they want every car on the road to be electric powered by 2030, and a new study by a researcher at Stanford University concluded that every new car, truck or bus sold in the year 2025 could be electric powered.

More money is moving out of the fossil fuel industry.

The campaign to divest from coal, oil and gas companies reaches new peaks every year. In 2016, we identified hundreds of investors worth over $5 trillion dollars in total that had moved some or all of their money out of the immoral industry that is wrecking our future. And the momentum hasn’t stopped since then.

China’s emissions are decreasing as investment in solar increases.

The United States is the country that has polluted the most over history, but China is the country with the highest annual emissions — for now. A big investment in solar energy and a reduction of coal pollution means that their annual emissions declined for 3 years running.

Scientists are angry, and they are getting organized.

The March for Science on April 22nd turned into a historic global march to take science seriously. 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are causing climate change, and hundreds of thousands of people marched together to defend that truth, and the value of science to lead us to a better world.

Solar and wind energy now employ more people in the US than coal and gas — and almost 10 million people worldwide.

In fact, the coal industry employs about as many people as the fast food chain Arby’s, while the solar energy industry created more jobs than the coal industry employed in total in 2016. That’s a sign that the economic winds are shifting.

The world’s most climate vulnerable countries are leading the way to 100% renewable energy.

 

Fiji, Ethiopia and Costa Rica are just three of the more than 47 countries that face the worst impacts of climate change that have pledged to get 100% of their energy from renewable sources. That’s real ambition from the countries that have done the least to cause the problem — and shows the need for the most responsible countries to increase their commitments to action, not back away.

The threat from climate change has never been more real, and more present. But the excuses for inaction are also wearing thin. We have the tools we need to fix this problem, if we can keep the fossil fuel industry from corrupting the institutions that are supposed to protect us from climate change.

There’s never been a more important time for action. We won’t go back.

Categories: International News

Businesses lead on climate action and call on New York pensions funds to join them

May 24, 2017 - 1:14pm

From farm to table and bank to boardroom, businesses are leading the way on climate action. Only a day after 150 New Yorkers took their voices to Trump Tower to call on New York leaders to #DivestNY pensions from fossil fuels, business and finance leaders convened a panel on divestment and reinvestment. As major oil companies struggle to break even, financial institutions and businesses are playing a key role in a responsible transition away from fossil fuels to a new sustainable economy built for all. Businesses are betting on climate action and calling on the New York pension funds to join them to divest from the past and invest in the future.

New York businesses have been feeling the effects for years. Mary Cleaver, founder of the The Cleaver Company and The Green Table at Chelsea Market, discussed the impacts climate change has had on her business and what she is doing to cut carbon emissions across the supply chain, “The food industry is $750B industry from farm to fork. Storms and radical temperature changes have huge impacts on the agricultural system. The entire stone fruit crop in the Hudson valley in the 2016 season was terribly affected by very, very warm temperatures in April and then very cold temperatures that destroyed all of the fruit. In previous years, flooding from Irene and Superstorm Sandy were both terribly destructive for our region.” Cleaver noted that the best way the food industry can cut emissions and serve the healthiest, tastiest food possible, is to source it locally. It’s a win-win for New Yorkers.

NY State Comptroller DiNapoli and NY City Comptroller Stringer have said that their primary concern is the health of their pension funds, and that they believe divestment would violate their fiduciary duty to maximize the long-term value of the fund through profitable investments. They have also said that they will continue to engage with the companies to change their behavior.

Panelists addressed these issues head on. Matt Patsky, CEO of Trillium Asset Management, a firm that has offered fossil free investment products for 35 years said, “There is no evidence of an increase in volatility and there is no evidence of any sacrifice in return. Period. End of story. The storyline of why it is going to be so expensive and why it would cost in return is mostly from facts that are using old data or using ridiculous assumptions about managing the money a different way.”

One after another, speakers noted where you put your money matters. Amalgamated Bank was one of the first banking institutions to divest from fossil fuels and commit to not financing fossil fuel infrastructure. First Vice President, Sustainability Banking, Ivan Frishberg noted, “When you walk into a bank and put your money in your deposit, it doesn’t just there. The bank makes good use of that money and lends it back out. You can go and lend it to the Dakota Access pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners or you can lend it affordable housing or to a B-Corp business. One of those things helps your community. One of those things is going to help mitigate climate risk long term. The other set of choices are going to totally screw us.”

.@DCIvan, who leads Amalgamated #sustainability banking, joined biz leaders @350 Divest Invest NY event to talk econ benefits of #divestment pic.twitter.com/RuHBm13F53

— Amalgamated Bank (@AmalgamatedBank) May 10, 2017

Patsky later added, “Fiduciary duty is for providing for the beneficiaries… You have to explain to me how it is that you could ignore the environment into which those retirees are entering. Is the water they are going to be drinking clean? Is the air breathable? And how that can’t be factored into if you’re honoring your fiduciary duty to the retirees of the City of NY and State of NY. I don’t understand how that’s disconnected.”

Less than a week later at a city wide Accountability Forum on Climate, Jobs and Justice where 600 New Yorkers attended to hear from the Mayor (who was unable to attend), the Public Advocate and the Comptroller, Stringer said that his concerns for the future of the 715k pensioners he is responsible for protecting “keeps him up at night”. This begs the question if a safe and sustainable future free from climate chaos is among those future concerns. If so, Stringer has an easy night’s sleep within arms reach. Cutting ties with industries, whose business models are centered on extraction and destruction of our communities and our collective future, is the first step.

These business leaders added the voice to the growing number of New York institutions that are moving away from risky coal, oil and gas companies. With churches divesting (most recently New York’s iconic Riverside Church), 2 state bills pushing for divestment of the state pension funds and NY public universities and other universities take more strides to cut their ties with climate deniers and fossil fuel companies, isn’t it time for New York City and State leaders to proactively act and stop investing in fossil fuels and reinvest in our communities, making NY stronger and more resilient in the face of extreme weather events?

Both comptrollers believe that ‘shareholder engagement’ will fix the climate problems caused by the likes of Exxon. We know that engagement has no track of success leading to tangible change at an oil and gas company. As more and more businesses take action, it’s time for the talk and spin to stop.

Over the course of a week of over 260 actions spread across 46 countries, New Yorkers continued to bring the heat on NYC Comptroller Stringer and NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to divest New York’s $350 billion pensions from the fossil fuel companies driving climate chaos. The grassroots DivestInvest movement has blossomed into a mainstream financial movement that is capable of moving entire economies. That’s why we not only call for divestment, but also call for investment – to build our communities to be just, equitable and resilient, to create jobs, and to save the planet.

Sign the petition asking Comptrollers Stringer and DiNapoli to DivestNY and be the climate leaders we need them to be. 

Categories: International News

Yale: Whose Side Are You Really On?

May 19, 2017 - 5:14pm

Guest Post from Yale Student, Rachel Calnek-Sugin

Faced with the urgency of the climate crisis and a federal government that is moving backwards on climate issues, this a moment when we turn to our institutions to lead.  And Yale has positioned itself as a leader: David Swensen, Yale’s Chief Investment Officer, wrote public letters in 2014 and 2016 urging Yale’s investment managers to take climate change into account.  But the hundreds of millions of dollars of fossil fuel investments we’ve disclosed with UNITE HERE Local 33 tell a different story.

 

Schools Yale University Universities Landscape

 

 

We now know that Yale is heavily invested in such carbon intensive processes as coal and fracking, and in companies under suit by local communities.  The reports we published with UNITE HERE Local 33 lay out four of Yale’s fossil fuel investments.  We now know that Yale acquired stock worth $230 million in Antero, one of the fastest growing U.S. fracking companies, held $59 million in oil and gas with Merit Energy Company, whose CEO is a Trump donor with a 20-year-long relationship to Yale, kept $109 million with a fund manager that placed Yale money in the Canadian fracking and tar sands production cycle, and invested $318 million with Farrallon, an estimated $2 million of which are in Whitehaven coal, the owner of Australia’s huge and heavily protested Maules Creek coal mine. Antero is currently facing over 200 suits by local community members in West Virginia. The Blueberry River First Nation sued the Province of British Columbia in 2015 and filed an injunction in 2016 to slow further oil and gas development in their traditional territory, which has been overrun by fossil fuel companies such as Painted Pony Petroleum, a fracking company financed by Yale through its fund manager ARC Financial. Maules Creek has been a site of massive resistance to deforestation, threats to the Gamilaray culture, and climate change, where activists have formed blockades, chained themselves to equipment, and hundreds have been arrested.

Fossil Free Yale is a group of students who, faced with a rapidly warming planet, doesn’t know what our future will look like.  Communities—including some of our own communities—are already feeling the effects of climate change, from rising sea levels to health hazards to extreme weather.  We know, to some extent, what is coming: floods and famine, shifts in agriculture, massive displacement.  We know that the effects of climate change are not felt equally.  We also know what is causing anthropogenic climate change: the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels.

As a campaign, we are working towards a more just and sustainable future because we believe that such a future is possible.  A shift away from the fossil fuel industry—whose business model relies unequivocally on the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels—is a necessary part of that transition, and we believe it is inevitable.  But threatened by Trump’s fossil fuel agenda, his cabinet stocked with climate-deniers, and his regressive climate policies, we are afraid that shift will come too late.Perhaps Yale believes that by doing nothing it is remaining neutral. But Yale is not doing nothing: these active, large-scale investments represent real culpability in bolstering the fossil fuel industry. Nor would doing nothing constitute neutrality. The clock is ticking on the climate crisis: the time we waste navigating administrative bureaucracy and doing investigative reporting into Yale’s tax forms because of the endowment’s opacity, is time we are letting slip away in the fight against climate change. Yale must take action and divest—waiting means taking the side of the fossil fuel industry that is perpetuating injustice and destroying our planet.

Fossil Free Yale has been calling on the University to divest for five years because we believe that what Yale does with its money matters.  It matters because the world watches what Yale does, and because many other university endowments follow the lead of David Swensen, who the New York Times calls an “endowment guru.” It matters because fossil fuel divestment is an international movement that is gaining momentum and will be strengthened by Yale’s commitment.  It matters because 25 billion dollars can do a lot of good if they are invested not in injustice, but in our futures.

We need Yale to heed the urgency of the climate crisis, as so many peer institutions recently have.Harvard will no longer directly invest in fossil fuels, Columbia and Barnard committed to partial divestment, and the endorsements of three University of California chancellors — from Davis, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz — put the UC endowment on the path to divestment.  These university leaders—pressured by bold student campaigns—understand this moment’s imperative to choose a side: that of the students for whom their institutions exist, over that of the Trump administration’s fossil fuel agenda.  As the fossil fuel divestment movement becomes mainstream, we do not want Yale to get left behind.  Even more, we do not want Yale to leave us behind. With hundreds of millions in fossil fuels, when will Yale choose the safety of our communities and its own students over its investment portfolio?

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Categories: International News

New Yorkers Turn Up the Heat to #DivestNY from Oil, Gas and Coal

May 18, 2017 - 5:38pm

As New Yorkers, we have always had so much to be proud of and this past week is no different. Hundreds of New Yorkers joined a global wave of divestment action that took place in over 45 countries around the world.

These past 10 days of action have shown that here in New York, the movement for climate justice is stronger and more diverse than ever before. The message we’re sending is loud and clear — New Yorkers are serious about cutting ties with fossil fuel companies wreaking havoc on our communities. 

We kicked off the week of divestment events with a press conference and lobby day in Albany where dozens of citizens called on the State Legislature to divest the State pension fund from fossil fuels.

Senator Krueger speaks out for #DivestNY pic.twitter.com/dG0B8UIGsM

— R Foster (@rmfosterny) May 8, 2017

 

The lobby day helped secure 3 more co-sponsors of the divestment bill which would require the New York State pension representing to divest $175 billion in holdings from fossil fuels.

The very next morning, New Yorkers took over Trump Tower and called on the city to stand with the people, not Trump’s cabinet of climate deniers.

Under tight security, organizers brought 150+ people onto the Public Plaza of Trump Tower to host a Teach-In and Rally on Divestment. Rev. Billy and his Choir from the Church of Stop Shopping opened up the rally with some climate change gospel followed by inspiring words from leaders in the climate justice movement including our own May Boeve from 350.org. 

 

Rev. Billy and his Choir from the Church of Stop Shopping taking Trump Tower to #DivestNY

 

May Boeve of 350.org telling the crowd how she knows that NY > Fossil Fuels.

 

In the Terrace of Trump Tower, we asked Comptroller Scott Stringer an important question —  is he on the side of Trump and his fossil fuel cronies or is he on the side of the people of New York calling for divestment?  

NYers took #TrumpTower today to ask – Whose side is @scottmstringer on? Trump & his fossil fuel cronies or NYers calling to #DivestNY pic.twitter.com/p2S2Ik0gaB

— Fossil Free (@GoFossilFree) May 9, 2017

Half-way through the week of action business and finance leaders convened to host a panel on divestment and reinvestment. These business leaders added the voice to the growing number of New York institutions that are moving away from risky coal, oil and gas companies.

.@DCIvan, who leads Amalgamated #sustainability banking, joined biz leaders @350 Divest Invest NY event to talk econ benefits of #divestment pic.twitter.com/RuHBm13F53

— Amalgamated Bank (@AmalgamatedBank) May 10, 2017

We rounded out the week of action with the Climate, Jobs, Justice accountability forum where frontline community members, labor union members, workers, students and community organizers held a people’s interview of New York City most powerful politicians including Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Tish James. Over 600 New Yorkers gathered to ask these elected officials the tough questions regarding their commitment to climate, jobs, and justice for all New Yorkers. Though he heard us loud and clear Comptroller Stringer remained steadfast in his opposition to full fossil fuel divestment.

If you’re like me you’re asking yourself – what’s next? What does this all mean?

As we witness major environmental rollbacks on the federal level, New Yorkers must be more steadfast than ever before. We know what needs to be done — our local officials need to take real leadership to stop the climate crisis and that starts with divesting from fossil fuels.  

Being a part of the divestment action this week has been so inspiring, and I truly believe that we’re so close to breaking New York’s ties to the fossil fuel industry. 

But we haven’t won yet. It’s going to take New Yorkers like you and me making noise every chance we get. If you haven’t yet please sign your name to push Comptroller Stringer to divest from fossil fuels and if you’re ready to take the next level of action click here to give Comptroller Stringer a call and let him know you support divestment from fossil fuels.

Categories: International News

What a week(end)!

May 17, 2017 - 8:45am

What a week! And what a weekend!

We never expected that our week of action – the Global Divestment Mobilisation – would end this way.

After a great week with actions at 3 pension funds, 5 universities, a creative ‘head out of the sand’ action in The Hague and more – on Friday night it was Fossil Free Culture’s turn, artists performed a beautiful and powerful piece: ‘Drop the Shell’.

They made a clear statement of how the Van Gogh museum is poisoned by their sponsorship relation with oil giant Shell. Because of a few drops of syrup – the fake oil – the Van Gogh museum panicked. The police were called in and 9 arrests followed: 7 performers and 2 bystanders. This disproportional response by both the museum and the police led to a lot of media attention in the Netherlands and abroad and many upset reactions from the public and politicians. The Van Gogh museum received a lot of angry phone calls by concerned citizens. Only last Monday were the brave final 4 artivists released from custody. Check out their beautiful videos and the latest updates via the Fossil Free Culture Facebook page.

We adapted our plans for the weekend to the developing situation. The closing action of our week of actions became – instead of a creative water-action – a powerful vigil in solidarity with the arrested artists.

Watch and share this video of our winning week of actions:

The action-week showed not only that our movement here in the Netherlands, but also the international divestment movement, is stronger and more diverse than ever before. With thousands of actions taking place from Brazil to Belgium and Cape Town to Jakarta we demanded that our cities, banks, pension funds, faith groups, universities and museums stand on the right side of history and stop supporting the companies causing the climate crisis.

We can no longer accept that short term profit for a few is prioritized over preventing a climate crisis with catastrophic consequences for every human being on the planet.

That’s why we take action, and we need YOU! Watch and share the video and take a moment to let it sink in that the bigger our movement gets, the bigger the chance that we can turn the tide fast enough to prevent a catastrophic climatecrisis.

If we hadn’t stood together we couldn’t have achieved everything we did.

Categories: International News

UCC and 350.org announce partnership

May 16, 2017 - 5:40pm

Written by Connie Larkman, Managing Editor & News Director at United Church of Christ 

(Originally published on the UCC.org website)

Building on the momentum of the People’s Climate March, the United Church of Christ is endeavoring to build a partnership centered on climate justice with the like-minded people of 350.org. That framework, a pilot project just announced this week, invites green teams of the congregations of the UCC to affiliate with the grassroots organization that began mobilizing in 2008 to create a climate movement that “holds our leaders accountable to the realities of science and the principles of justice.”

“Strength and vitality are found when ‘I’s’ become a ‘we.’ A march (like the People’s Climate March) is a tangible way in which a bunch of ‘I’s’ become a ‘we,'” said the Rev. Brooks Berndt, UCC environmental justice minister. “The task before us now is to build and strengthen that ‘we’ through effective partnerships.”

Two hundred UCC activists were among the 200,000 who turned out in Washington, D.C. to march for environmental justice on April 29, with more taking part in 370 sister marches across the country for climate, jobs and justice. In a post-march conference call on Thursday evening, May 11, more than 2 dozen people gathered to plan the ‘what next.’

A partnership with 350.org on the local level in communities around the country just seemed to make sense to Berndt, to the organization, and to the Rev. Jim Antal, one of the denomination’s longtime leaders in climate justice.

“By partnering with 350.org, church green teams will discover new passion rooted in activism and engagement,” said Antal. “While churches often recognize God’s call for the church to have a voice in the public square, partnering with 350.org will provide occasions for speaking truth to power.”

Antal partnered with the founders of 350.org before they even settled on that name. The number 350 means climate safety — reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from more than 400 parts per million to below 350.

“Their vision, passion, and recognition that intergenerational witness could change the course of history is what drew me in,” said Antal. “I’ve joined them on three occasions in actions of civil disobedience, and each time I was impressed by their on-the-ground strategic expertise, coupled with the overall vision that informs and inspires each action. Leveraging the power of the church to address the most significant moral issue humanity has ever faced is critical. I have found 350.org to be an inspirational partner in this prophetic witness.”

So has Meighan Pritchard, a UCC environmental justice curriculum trainer and staff member at Prospect UCC in Seattle.

“In September 2016, 350 Seattle began renting office space in our building. Some of our members have been involved in 350 Seattle activities, and we make sure to mention upcoming 350 events in our bulletins and newsletters,” Prichard said. “In spring 2016, a number of our church members participated in the Break Free from Fossil Fuels effort that 350 put together in Anacortes, Wash., and just this past week, the partner of a church member was among those arrested at a 350-organized bank action to promote defunding pipelines. Members have a passion for creation and want to do what they can to be good stewards of the planet.”

“The congregations of the UCC’s Southern Conference are increasingly engaged in the work of climate justice,” said the Rev. Karen Richardson Dunn, co-director of the Southern Conference Creation Justice Network. “Quite a few of our churches now have, or soon will have, solar panels. As well, both our clergy and laity are engaged in a statewide, interfaith campaign, ‘Faith in Solar,’ to invite Duke Energy to begin partnering with people of faith to provide solar panels for North Carolina’s houses of worship that cannot afford them. This feels like a perfect time for our conference to begin collaboration with 350.org, to strengthen our resolve and activism in transitioning to renewables in North Carolina.”

“In this critical moment, we at 350.org are excited about strengthening our relationship and building a bolder and stronger movement to preserve the Earth and our collective dignity,” said Everette Thompson, 350.org national justice and equity coordinator. “From the beginning of 350.org, we have worked with UCC clergy on a national and local level. We are excited to formalize this partnership and harvest the fruit of our collective labor.”

“It seems like a way to connect some dots between greening our own church and helping the greater community in our own small, but meaningful way,” said Tom Hocking, a member of the Penn Central Conference Green Justice Team and of the UCC Council for Climate Justice. Hocking marched in the New York Climate March in 2014, and as a delegate to General Synod 31, he hopes to help “harness some of obvious faith-based energy and enthusiasm” seen at the latest march, saying, “It seems like the time is ripe to find ways to put the ‘justice’ in environmental justice.”

People should contact Berndt if they want to be part of this initial pilot endeavor. “I want to know who is doing this and learn from their experiences as we consider ways to broaden and further this partnership,” he said.

“All the ongoing attention to climate issues,” Pritchard said, “especially with the risk that we may pull out of the Paris Climate Treaty, has certainly fired people up to get involved as never before.”

“I think affiliating with 350 or working with an already existing affiliate is a logical next step for green teams that realize an enormous problem like climate change necessitates the building of a broad and active movement,” Berndt continued. “The best way to be part of such vital work is to join an organization that is already doing it and has excelled at it.”

Categories: International News

People Power: Jordanian Public Transportation Campaign “Maan Nasel”

May 14, 2017 - 9:36am

Maan Nasel campaign joins Regional Day of Climate Action in 2015

Khotoutna is the first mobile phone application in Amman, Jordan that allows users to easily map out public transportation routes from one point to another in the city, and the story of how this app came to be is a testament to the perseverance and dedication of volunteers and climate activists. The app was launched by the Maan Nasel Campaign (“together we’ll get there” in Arabic) which has been active since 2014 and has been successful in engaging city residents, activists, and other stakeholders in improving the Amman public transportation system.

It is amazing to see how far the campaign has come since its inception in 2013 at Global Power Shift summit by two Jordanian activists, Omar Qubain and Hiba Al Rubi, who together with more 400 activists from around the world gathered in Turkey to learn campaigning skills and share strategies on confronting climate change in their own countries. Hiba and Omar developed a proposal for a campaign focusing on better and more accessible public transportation in Amman, to counter the rise in private car usage and road congestion, considering that the transportation sector is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in Jordan.

350.org partnered with Global Green Grants to support the different campaigns that emerged from GPS, and the Jordan transport campaign was one of such initiatives that merited support as it responded to a strategic and relevant local issue related to climate change. Hiba and Omar formed a group called Tahawul (“shift” in Arabic) and joined forces with another Jordanian group called Taqadom to bring the public transportation campaign to life under the name “Maan Nasel”. Volunteers were recruited to carry on working as part of the Tahawul volunteer group, and that is when Hana Bilbeisi came aboard and was handed over the campaign by Omar and Hiba, as they both left to pursue work, study and family commitments.

Hana Belbisi (second from left) with Tahawul/ Maan Nasel volunteers

Hana has been instrumental in founding and pushing Maan Nasel forward, and bringing it to where it is now. So far the campaign has succeeded in creating public debate on transportation when previously there was none, has advocated  for improving different aspects of the current public transport system, and has created a crowd-sourced map of transport routes in the city. Hana explains in her own words how the campaign functions, and the significance of Amman’s first public transportation app:

’Maan Nasel” took three different directions; advocacy, awareness and solutions for the public transportation system in Jordan. The solutions direction is what differentiates Maan Nasel from many other initiatives as it aims to solve a problem by creating a starting point for citizens to build on a foundation of solutions for improving different aspects of the transportation system. Khotoutna is the name of Maan Nasel’s solution, which started as Amman’s first printed map for the public transportation routes in the city. The map was further developed into an interactive trip-planning mobile application that guides commuters of what public transportation means to take in order to move from one point to another. Khotoutna addresses the gap of lack of public transportation information for the commuters, this gap is the main obstacle for people to adopt public transportation and is a major cause of wasting time and transportation  inefficiencies for commuters.

Khotoutna, including the map and the mobile application, build on a database of routes collected by volunteers working with Maan Nasel under the slogan “from citizens to citizens”. It also provides a platform for citizens to develop technically and expand geographically.”

Maan Nasel volunteer distributing crowd-sourced public transport map

Even though Hana came onboard after the founding stage of Tahawul, her success in co-founding and nurturing Maan Nasel is a great example of how campaigns can grow and that all it takes is a few dedicated campaigners who “get it” and can carry the campaign vision with them while they strategize and implement. Hana had the following to say about her role in the campaign:

I feel very privileged to have been empowered by Global Power Shift – Tahawul in Arabic – to work on Maan Nasel and provide tangible and sustainable solutions to solve issues in the field of public transportation. Maan Nasel sets an example of community work in terms of strategy and delivery. Finally, I would like to thank our volunteers and partners who supported this effort as we could not have been able to move forward without their involvement.

 

Categories: International News

Global Divestment Mobilisation wraps up

May 14, 2017 - 7:48am

Over the last 10 days the Global Divestment Mobilisation saw thousands of people all across the world take powerful action to help stop the climate crisis.

This beautiful video captures what it was like. It shows the breadth, depth and beauty of our intersecting, international movement, how far we’ve come, and how far we can go together.

Share it on Facebook or Twitter or just share the Youtube link if you’re not on either.

Over the last 10 days we’ve shown that the global divestment movement is stronger and more diverse than ever before. From Brazil to Belgium and Cape Town to Jakarta we demanded that our cities, banks, pension funds, faith groups, universities stand on the right side of history and stop supporting the companies causing the climate crisis.

The Global Divestment Mobilisation is not a beginning or an end: it’s a step on the path to climate justice. It’s a line in the sand showing just how many of us refuse to accept that profit is more important than preventing the climate crisis

With a new injection of energy, creativity and momentum, we’ve spread the #FossilFree campaign’s call for decentralised climate leadership to every continent. We’ve shown there will be no refuge for fossil fuel corporations intent on sucking the planet of every last drop of oil or crumb of coal. We are here to expose them and continue pushing our institutions – both political and financial – to throw their weight behind a better future.

Whether you joined a divestment action or not in the last week, we need you as part of this beautiful and broad movement for climate justice — join us.

Join us in celebrating our strength and resilience — we’re going to need it in the days, months, and years ahead. Watch this video and feel the people power we have on our side to get this done.

Categories: International News

It’s over, but it’s a whole new beginning!

May 14, 2017 - 6:12am

What a feeling! Over the last 10 days the Global Divestment Mobilisation saw thousands of us all across the world take powerful action to help stop the climate crisis.

This beautiful video captures what it was like. It shows the breadth, depth and beauty of our intersecting, international movement, how far we’ve come, and how far we can go together.

Share it on Facebook or Twitter or just share the Youtube link if you’re not on either.

Over the last 10 days we’ve shown that the global divestment movement is stronger and more diverse than ever before. From Brazil to Belgium and Cape Town to Jakarta we demanded that our cities, banks, pension funds, faith groups, universities stand on the right side of history and stop supporting the companies causing the climate crisis.

The Global Divestment Mobilisation is not a beginning or an end: it’s a step on the path to climate justice. It’s a line in the sand showing just how many of us refuse to accept that profit is more important than preventing the climate crisis

With a new injection of energy, creativity and momentum, we’ve spread the #FossilFree campaign’s call for decentralised climate leadership to every continent. We’ve shown there will be no refuge for fossil fuel corporations intent on sucking the planet of every last drop of oil or crumb of coal. We are here to expose them and continue pushing our institutions – both political and financial – to throw their weight behind a better future.

Whether you joined a divestment action or not in the last week, we need you as part of this beautiful and broad movement for climate justice — join us.

Join us in celebrating our strength and resilience — we’re going to need it in the days, months, and years ahead. Watch this video and feel the people power we have on our side to get this done.

Categories: International News

Göttingen withdraws funds from coal, oil and gas companies

May 13, 2017 - 10:04am

Göttingen has decided to divest from all investments in the fossil fuel sector because of the industries continued pursuit of climate-wrecking business activities. A meeting of the city council’s finance committee today approved a motion that had been submitted last week.

“This is a reason to celebrate! Not only is this an important decision for Göttingen, but it also sets a great example for other large cities”said Luisa Neubauer, spokesperson for Fossil Free Göttingen.

Fossil Free Göttingen has been running a public campaign for months and will be staging an action today to celebrate the news. The decision came during the Global Divestment Mobilisation, a wave of global action between 5 – 13 May 2017.  Thousands of people all over the world have been taking action to divest their institutions from the industry driving a global climate crisis.

Categories: International News

Final action-packed weekend of Global Divestment Mobilisation

May 13, 2017 - 5:40am

For the 9th consecutive day, people all over the world are coming together today to take action and demand fossil fuel divestment from their banks, cities, museums, pension fund, universities and other institutions.

Asia kicks off the weekend:

In Tokyo, Japan, campaigners organised the Earth Choice Festa : Our Choices and Climate Change.  Using art, music, and discussion sessions 350 Japan is building awareness about the disastrous consequences of climate change and information about personal divestment.

「Earth Choice Festa」12:00-13:00トークセッション「気候変動と私たちの選択」始まりました!!13:30~は、トークセッション「気候危機の最前線」もあります!! pic.twitter.com/3sH1eLF9V4

— 350 Japan (@350_Japan) May 13, 2017

In Seoul, South Korea, locals were invited to an event where a chalk artist illustrated how serious and dangerous air pollution and coal plants are, with quizzes and other activities promoting solutions and divestment.

In Hong Kong, there was a parade of cyclists holding banners promoting divestment, to recruit new supporters for their divestment campaign. At universities in Guangzhou and Wuhan, there were also workshops on the impacts of climate change as a means to introduce the fossil free campaign.

In Taipei, Taiwan, locals used street art to engage the public on divestment, and held talks at 3 universities around Taipei to recruit new volunteers and support for campus divestment campaigns.

There was even a new effort to raise awareness about fossil fuels and promote public transport in Punakha, Bhutan.

Europe up next

Fossil Free Linköping University, Sweden will be forming a section of the university’s traditional student parade today.  Their event will involve dinosaur outfits, to make the point that fossils belong in the past!

In Amsterdam, Netherlands, organisers are working hard to get a group of 8 artists, now known as the #VanGogh8, released after they were arrested by police yesterday evening during an artistic interventional at the Van Gogh Museum. They were highlighting the museums’ unethical sponsorship ties with oil giant Shell.

Arrested for exposing @vangoghmuseum ‘s dirty secret. Cut the ties with @Shell_Nederland & free the #VanGogh8 #Fossilfree @350Europe pic.twitter.com/gtCAeT5uAq

— Anne Maljaars (@AnneMaljaars) May 13, 2017

They’ve got it right in Turku, Finland, where they are throwing a block party event in downtown Turku. They’ll have some of the best DJ’s in town playing music as they celebrate the generation that will cut their ties with the fossil fuel industry.

In England, Town Halls will be pressured to divest Local Government Pension Funds, with events including a giant map linking climate impacts to families in Birmingham, a ‘Renewables Ark’ in Bradford highlighting local flood risk and a series of 14 rolling rallies across London’s Town Halls to take on a fossil fuel monster.

What do we do when fossil fuel monsters attack? Stand up, fight back! Join the fight #fossilfree #LondonCIV #divest https://t.co/a8R1VTfSS4 pic.twitter.com/HS4P29Wxww

— Divest London (@divestlondon) May 12, 2017

The week will culminate with a creative action at the British Museum highlighting government subsidies enjoyed by fossil fuel companies, and calling for an end to fossil fuel sponsorship.

 

In Hannover, Germany, locals will be taking part in the Silent Climate Parade to highlight how climate change is quiet, but it happens and it threatens our future. The parade will dance silently through the streets of Hannover to draw attention to climate change and the need for fossil fuel divestment.

After pushing the City of Berlin to divest, Fossil Free Berlin are now setting their sites on bigger targets, rallying outside the Brandenburger Tor to send an international signal for climate protection and divestment.

And the City of Göttingen is expected to be adopt a motion to divest today, so activists there will be calling on the University of Göttingen to divest.

Further events will also be held in Basel, Switzerland and Silba, Croatia

 

Highlights to watch out for elsewhere

In New York, USA, participants are joining the initiative started by #DeFundDAPL to rally concerned citizens to pull their money from banks and financial institutions that invest in fossil fuels.

In Quito, Ecuador, the Yasunidos are organising an event to build momentum in the campaign to stop oil drilling in the Yasuní National Park, the most biodiverse park on the planet.

 

You can follow all the action live as it happens across the planet on our live coverage website and by following the hashtag #fossilfree on social media.

Categories: International News

Bremen, Germany, commits to divest

May 12, 2017 - 9:02am

At a meeting today, Bremen’s city council confirmed that it has decided to exclude direct investments in climate-damaging coal, oil and gas companies.  In addition, it is continuing to consider whether its existing bonds can be converted into fossil free “green bonds”.

The decision makes Bremen the second federal state in Germany to publicly distance itself from the fossil fuel industry after Berlin became the first last year.  Bremen’s council meeting also coincided with the Global Divestment Mobilisation, which has seen divestment activists on all 6 continents taking part in a coordinated wave of actions.

Fossil Free Bremen welcomed this news with a very loud and colourful celebration flashmob in Bremen’s market square. Under the watchful gaze of Bremen’s iconic Roland statue, the 50 activists made quite an impression.

Their success comes after months of concerted and escalating campaign pressure on the authorities in Bremen to divest. In talks with local politicians, Fossil Free Bremen has gradually educated, re-iterated, clarified and followed-up on the moral and financial reasons for ceasing to invest the city’s funds in the industry responsible for the climate crisis.

Categories: International News

Students enter Classroom 2030 in Ho Chi Minh City

May 12, 2017 - 7:02am

Over 350 people, including university students, lecturers, journalists and renewable energy company staff attended a Global Divestment Mobilization Vietnam event at the Hoa Sen University in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday.

The event, called “Classroom Vietnam 2030”, was a fun and creative way to educate the participants on climate impacts, coal pollution, and introduce the divestment movement to the Vietnamese public.

Participants were transported to the year 2030, when the construction of 40 new coal plants in the country had just been completed. While the teachers & speakers were presenting, the class was interrupted by falling oxygen levels and rising CO2 levels that necessitated the students to wear masks.

The event ended with students making a divestment call to action, and were inspired to speak up and stand up for the future they want to see.

Categories: International News

Flock of starlings swirls around Louvre museum

May 11, 2017 - 10:04am

On 11th May, the group ‘Libérons le Louvre’ held an artivism performance to urge the iconic Louvre museum in Paris to end its sponsorship arrangements with oil and gas major Total.

The performance ‘flight of the starlings’ represented a whirling mass where no individual is isolated. The choice of the flight of starlings is a strong symbol: the movements of each bird is influenced by those of all the others, allowing for solidarity and horizontal coordination of the mass.

At the end of the performance, the participants laid down origami birds, symbolising the fragility of living beings in the face of the impacts of climate change and the strength of collective mobilisations aimed at blocking climate-damaging projects.   The performance was part of the Global Divestment Mobilisation — a coordinated wave of action of across 48 countries to pressure institutions to cut their ties with the fossil fuel industry driving climate change.

Clémence Dubois from 350 France:

“The Fossil Free movement to divest institutions from fossil fuels shares a lot in common with starling murmurations: it takes many shifting forms and, through its coordinated actions, it creates a mass movement that’s as beautiful as it is unstoppable”

Categories: International News

New Yorkers Take Trump Tower to Teach City Leaders about Real Climate Leadership

May 9, 2017 - 1:16pm

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Today we took the Tower.

As part of Global Divestment Mobilization 2017, more than 150 New Yorkers rallied at the golden Trump Tower to confront power – and call on our city officials, especially Comptroller Scott Stringer, to be climate leaders and divest the $175 billion New York pension fund from the top 200 coal, oil, and gas companies causing climate change.

In the face of federal government climate denial and a White House controlled by fossil fuel companies like Exxon, we need places like New York to take real climate action. To continue to invest billions of New York pension money in the oil, gas and coal companies destroying our collective future is wrong. Our communities and our livelihoods are at stake.

PC: Heather Craig

 

We brought our message to Trump Tower to beg the question — is Comptroller Scott Stringer on the side of Trump and his fossil fuel cronies, or is he on the side of the people of New York City?

 

The Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Choir lead us in a rousing climate gospel and May Boeve from 350.org, Sarah Ludwig from the New Economy Project and Jamie Tyberg from New York Communities for Change taught New York about real climate leadership, taking on big banks fueling climate destruction and cutting the city’s ties with fossil fuel companies.

Inspired by their words, in front city and international media, an actual tug of war between Trump and his fossil fuel cronies and New Yorkers broke out with Scott Stringer stuck in the middle. New York won!

Check out a recording of the Livestream here:

We’re live from from Trump Tower! New Yorkers are fighting back against Trump’s fossil fuel administration and we need our elected officials to do the same. #DivestNY

Posted by Fossil Free on Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Categories: International News

New Yorkers take to state Capitol to lobby for Divestment Act

May 9, 2017 - 10:56am

By Mark Dunlea – #DivestNY coalition

Kicking off Global Divestment Mobilization in New York, 40 activists gather in the state capital for a day of lobbying.  We met with 30 legislators and were able to get another 3 co-sponsors on the state divestment bills, with hopefully more to come. There are presently 32 co-sponsors on the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act. The Act would force the State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to divest the state pension funds from owning the largest 200 oil, gas and coal companies – and make a real impact to further climate leadership in the state.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, the sole trustee of the pension fund, has said that at least $5 billion is invested in various fossil fuel companies, including a billion dollars in Exxon. Exxon is presently under investigation by NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for its role in funding climate deniers even though its own scientists were warning the company about the reality of global warming.

 

Many of the members of our lobby team are fighting local fossil fuel infrastructure across the state including dangerous pipelines. With a strong turnout from 350NYC and 350Brooklyn and a great group from the Capital District, we gathered at the Westminster Presbyterian Church to get an update on the lobbying goals for the day, and to divide up into six teams, with each team member getting a speaking role in the lobby visits. Several dozen people were also in town from the NY State Sustainable Business Council to lobby and divestment was part of their agenda for the day. Most of the meetings targeted members of the committees presently considering the bill, the Assembly Government Employees committee and the Senate Civil Service and Pension committees. We also met with the staff of the leadership of the Republican-controlled State Senate. The bill is expected to be brought up for an important committee vote in the State Assembly soon.

There was a lot of legislative support for action on climate change and divestment. However, several legislators wanted to defer action to the State Comptroller, who is a former state Assemblymember. Unfortunately, the Comptroller prefers “engaging” fossil fuel companies like Exxon over divesting, despite there being no track record of tangible change as a result of engagement.

One highlight of the day was a spirited news conference held outside the Senate chambers. The two lead sponsors of the divestment bill, Senators Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Felix Ortiz, spoke, along with Albany County Legislator and state retiree Doug Bullock and Katie Wilson of the Sustainable Business Council. Senator Krueger noted:

In the face of Donald Trump’s climate denial, it is up to states like New York to use absolutely every tool in our arsenal to stave off climate catastrophe. Fossil fuel divestment sends a powerful message that it is unacceptable to invest in companies whose fundamental business model requires the destabilization of our climate and our society. Investment experts increasingly recognize that divestment is not only morally imperative, but financially prudent, and necessary to maintaining portfolio value for pension beneficiaries during the coming clean-energy transition. For the sake of ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren, I urge my colleagues in the Legislature to sign on to this important bill.”

It was a great kick-off to a week of Global Divestment Mobilization activities in New York. Momentum is building as we move closer and closer to DivestNY from dirty and dangerous fossil fuel companies!

More than 700 institutions with assets totaling more than $5.4 trillion have committed to divest from fossil fuels.  Institutions in NYS that have committed to divesting include Ithaca, Riverside Church, Amalgamated Bank, the American Museum of Natural History, Barnard College, Columbia University and the Village of Cooperstown. For a complete list click here. 

Read more about the Lobby Day here

Join us! Take action at #DivestNY.org

 

Categories: International News

Dispelling the Spin: NYC Comptroller Reacts as #DivestNY Pressure Mounts

May 8, 2017 - 3:40pm

In response to media inquiries about Global Divestment Mobilization activities, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s spokespeople came out on the defensive this week in an attempt to defend his record on climate action through New York City’s $175 billion pension funds. The funds remain heavily invested in fossil fuel companies to the tune of more than $3 billion.

We’ve composed responses to the Comptroller’s spokespeople’s recent statements to clear the air on his rhetoric and attempts to stall further action to cut the pension funds’ ties with the dirty fossil fuel companies that control the Trump White House.  

COMPTROLLER’S SPIN:

“The Comptroller’s Office objected to the notion that Comptroller Scott Stringer has the power to unilaterally divest from a given type of financial product, noting that each of the city’s five pension funds is governed by a board of directors, and though he is the custodian of them all and sits on most, his role is advisory, and governed by fiduciary responsibility first and foremost.”

DIVESTMENT FACT:

Comptroller Stringer is the  legal custodian of the 5 pension funds. The Comptroller’s office hires and manages the funds’ investment managers – those individuals and firms that give advice and make decisions about what to invest in and when. The Comptroller is also designated as the advisor for the funds. He is represented by his chosen trustee on 4 of the 5 fund boards. While a resolution to divest would need a majority of any individual pension board’s trustees to be enacted, if Comptroller Stringer, as the fund manager, championed fossil fuel divestment, a resolution would pass.

DIVESTMENT FACT:  

Other pension boards and cities from around the world have committed in a fiscally prudent and financially responsible fashion to divest from fossil fuels. More than 700 institutions, including many in New York state, with assets totalling more than $5.4 trillion, have committed to divestment.  No one expects that completion of divestment would happen overnight – that would be a financial mistake. Immediately stopping new investments and divesting the funds’ current fossil fuel holdings in an orderly fashion by 2020 is a smart, conservative approach.

COMPTROLLER’S SPIN:

“… [the] economic interests [of pensioners] must come before anything else,” [Stringer] spokesman Jack Sterne wrote in an email. “Those faces, and those New Yorkers trying to get by, must legally and morally be his priority. He shares the ideals of the activists.”

DIVESTMENT FACT:

It is financially prudent to divest from oil, gas, and coal.  Increasingly fossil fuel investments are being seen as financially risky particularly as medium or long term holdings, which is the traditional time horizon for pension funds to invest their assets.

On a daily basis, analysts, economists and even heads of sovereign banks such as the Bank of England are reporting on the increasing riskiness of fossil fuel sector investments, predicting that the rise of renewables, including electric cars, wind and solar, and increasingly restrictive regulations on the burning of fossil fuels, are likely to lead to less profitable companies and decreased returns.

This is backed by more specific New York reports that have analysed potential losses incurred by the NY city and state funds. A February 2016 report found that the Teacher’s Retirement System of the City of New York lost approximately $135 million from its holdings in fossil fuel companies in one year alone. A comparable March 2016 report found that the New York State pension fund, with similar types of investments as the city funds, lost a staggering $5.3 billion from its holdings in fossil fuel companies. That loss would have made each of the fund’s 1.1 million members more than $4,500 richer, and could have helped the state cover nearly 12% of the costs following Superstorm Sandy.   

More information about financial responsibility and fiduciary duty of New York City Pension Trustees can be found in this briefing report.

“Oil and gas [stocks] have been a major contributor to pension funds for decades. But that is changing,” he says. “Any fund that is not [having] internal discussions [about fossil fuel exposure] is not doing its fiduciary duty.”  Tom Sanzillo, former deputy NY state comptroller

COMPTROLLER’S SPIN:

“Stringer has spearheaded several efforts to use the pension funds as a vehicle for fighting climate change. Stringer’s office touts the comptroller’s efforts to push for what’s called proxy access, which allows shareholders to seek seats on corporate boards. Stringer has sought proxy access at more than 100 firms and won it at 96, including 38 carbon-intensive companies, according to a February WNYC story. Stringer credits the campaign for Exxon electing former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate scientist Susan Avery to its board.”

DIVESTMENT FACT:

ExxonMobil is currently under investigation by New York’s own Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for potential fraud related to decades-long campaign of public misinformation about climate change. Every year that a shareholder resolution has been submitted to ExxonMobil on a climate issue, the company has fought tooth and nail to have it removed forcing the Securities and Exchange Commission to intervene. The Exxon board has consistently recommended against shareholders voting for climate initiatives at the company. Though a former NOAA scientist is now on the board at Exxon, she is one vote amongst thirteen. Exxon’s fundamental business model of exploiting its total oil and gas reserves is in not compatible with limiting global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees.  

Proxy access, which Comptroller Stringer has championed, may help so-called “activist” investors, who are often large institutional funds or other large investors, win action on their non-climate and profit making priorities, but there is no evidence that proxy access or other shareholder engagement has produced any meaningful change on climate issues with fossil fuel corporations.  Simply put these companies make money off climate destruction: that’s their business model.  Strongly-worded letters to Exxon’s CEO do not result in any change.

COMPTROLLER’S SPIN:

A study of the pensions funds and how ther could invest with an eye to reducing carbon impact has been initiated. Comptroller Stringer is now seeking investment managers “capable of providing sustainable or low-carbon investment options”.

DIVESTMENT FACT:

The quickest way to a low carbon fund is to cut investments in fossil fuel companies that have the largest carbon footprint and hold the largest fossil fuel reserves. There is a handy list published each year by the respected Fossil Free Indexes that is used by investment firms around the world. While it’s a tiny step in the right direction to hire new managers that have an understanding of low carbon investing, commissioning time consuming, expensive reports on a topic that’s been extensively studied is fiscally wasteful and seems to be used as an excuse for inaction. Time is running out as we rapidly approach 2 degree warming scenario. Many large pension and institutional funds have divested because it is financially prudent and morally imperative. Right now, Trump is destroying our collective future.  Comptroller Stringer has repeatedly talked about standing up to Trump: it’s time to put the funds’ money behind that rhetoric to make an impact.   We need action now.   

 

Categories: International News

In case you missed it: Week 1 of #GDMAfrica2017

May 8, 2017 - 10:42am

In just 4 days, over a hundred people across Africa demanded institutions to divest their endowments from fossil fuels companies most responsible for causing climate change.Here is a sneak peek of what happened since #GDMAfrica2017 started:

Categories: International News

The urgency to cut ties with the fossil fuel industry could not be more heightened

May 6, 2017 - 10:22am

On Tuesday 9th May, 350Africa.org and Fossil Free South Africa are launching a Cape Town divestment campaign. We want the city to support more than just an environmental call, but a political, economic and moral one as well.

Categories: International News

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