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Updated: 12 hours 15 min ago

Schools #ClimateStrike – What’s Going On Around the World

February 13, 2019 - 8:11am

Students across the world are walking out of school and going on #ClimateStrike to call on governments to keep warming below the unacceptably dangerous level of 1.5 degrees Celsius and protect our future. See this video from Greta Thunberg, the 15-year old Swedish student who sparked the movement in August 2018 when she first started striking from school on Fridays.

Striking students hold up a sign with the climate strike tagline – Fridays for Future – in Germany. Image: DW.com

Our world is being ripped apart by floods, droughts, wildfires, and hurricanes devastating communities and livelihoods. Although the window of opportunity for acting on climate is rapidly narrowing, it’s still possible to keep global temperature rise below the 1.5C limit. To do that we need to start reducing emissions immediately. This means  keeping fossil fuels in the ground and rapidly building equitable, decentralized and community-led 100% renewable energy systems. We have the solutions — renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuels across much of the world but government and authorities are failing to take the action needed to change things.

In November thousands of students went on strike in Australia calling on politicians to  take their futures seriously and treat climate change for the crisis it is. They demanded an end to fossil fuel projects such as Adani’s mega coal mine.

School climate strike in Melbourne. Image: Julian Meehan on Flickr

Since that time school strikes have snowballed with tens of thousands of students walking out of school to demand action on climate change, including in Sweden, Australia, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France, the UK, Uganda, Canada, USA, the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Greta Thunberg has addressed world leaders at the UN Climate Conference COP 24 and the World Economic Forum in Davos, to tell them:

“We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.” 

The numbers of school children participating in school strikes is huge and growing. In January, 60,000 people took part in demonstrations in Switzerland, 30,000 in Brussels and 30,000 students went on strike in more than 50 cities in Germany. On the 8th February, 10,000 kids joined for the first school strike in the Netherlands. The first UK-wide school strike is planned for 15th February with so far 58 locations listed as organising event, schools are also announcing closure in order to support striking students. The UK headteachers union has welcomed the day and ‘applauded’ students for being prepared to take action. On the 22nd of February teachers in France have called on schools around the country to join the school strikes in solidarity with their students.

On the 15th of March the first Global Strike for the Future is calling on youth of the world to unite and adults that support the cause to join them. It is clear that the school strikes movement is a voice from our young people and it is escalating. Across the world a strong, wide-ranging global movement is growing, united and organised people are joining to dismantle the power of the fossil fuel industry, stop fossil fuel projects in their tracks and call for action.

Where governments fail, it’s up to the people to lead.

We have no other choice.

Categories: International News

We Will Paint the Future

February 7, 2019 - 7:06pm

The Rise for Climate Justice Mural Project organized the world’s largest street mural on September 8, right before world leaders gathered for the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. Dozens of organizations and community groups were involved, painting 50 murals. Each group’s design is a response to the questions, “What is one solution to climate chaos in your community.”

Learn more here

Categories: International News

Washington State’s Largest County Just Banned New Fossil Fuel Projects

January 31, 2019 - 5:03pm

The first step to putting out a fire is to stop throwing more fuel on the flames; the first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging. You could dream up any number of metaphors to express it, but prosaic language works just fine too: Building any new fossil fuel infrastructure is unacceptable. 

And King County Council, representing the most populated and largest County in Washington state, have just demonstrated that they will not stand for a future dependent on fossil fuels.

After months of campaigning, led by 350 Seattle in close coordination with dozens of allied groups, the Council voted 6 – 3 to pass an immediate moratorium that helps prevent the building of new fossil fuel infrastructure. Over the next six months, the County will be studying how to make the moratorium permanent.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we won this victory and how you can do the same in your community, sign up here to receive a toolkit with more resources.

Here’s a quick run down of what the moratorium will do, how it was won, and how you can join us in  banning new fossil fuel projects in your community:

What The Moratorium Will Do

When we think of new fossil fuel infrastructure we think of iconic pipeline battles: Keystone XL, Dakota Access, Coastal Gas Link. Or we think of fights against massive new coal mines or LNG terminals. But the expansion of the fossil fuel industry doesn’t always look like that. Sometimes the expansion of the fossil fuel empire is stealthier. Sometimes it goes almost entirely unnoticed, like mustard gas wafting through the cracks of a door.

Example: Right now, in Washington state, under the guise of “upgrading” an existing fracked gas pipeline, the fossil fuel-loving utility Puget Sound Energy is increasing the pipeline’s carrying capacity by 63%. That much additional fracked gas in Washington state could increase our entire state’s climate pollution by 3%.

By making changes to land use zoning codes and by strengthening County permitting criteria, the #FossilFreeKC ordinance proactively seeks to prevent the gas industry (and fossil fuel-addicted utilities like Puget Sound Energy) from doing similar “upgrades” in King County.

The moratorium also erects an important policy blockade to help stop the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure in King County. This is strategic. The Pacific Northwest is geographically important to the fossil fuel industry as they look for ways to get their fossil fuels from Montana, the Dakotas and Alberta to Asian markets. Over the last decade, Washington state has been the site of no fewer than thirty proposed fossil fuel projects. Fortunately, our communities have organized and stopped almost every single one of them. But we’ve played defense for far too long already; it’s time that we go on the offense against the fossil fuel industry as well. This ordinance does exactly that—by changing laws to make it harder to build any new fossil fuel projects.

How It Was Won

Three Simple Steps:

  1. We envisioned and deeply researched the idea.
  2. We found a Council Member who shared our values and who agreed to introduce it
  3. We built the community power required to ensure it passed.

Of course, we’re simplifying. In reality, some of our most committed organizers and researchers spent almost a year working on this. But in another sense, those three steps are all that it took. And, more importantly, all it would take for you to do this too ― and, hopefully, with the example of so many other communities in double-quick time!

To find out more about how to successfully execute a Fossil Free campaign like ours in King’s County, click here to sign up for our upcoming toolkit on How We Won A Fossil Free KC.

In our press release following the victory, County Councilmember Upthegrove was clear in how this was won ― and  where real solutions to the climate crisis come from: “I was fortunate that members of the public approached me with the idea for this proactive legislation to protect our communities. That is how we are going to get out of this crisis: by listening to solutions that come from the grassroots, from people rooted in their communities, working together with their elected officials.”

What’s next?

We want Fossil Free campaigns to continue winning across the United States. King County can’t be the only place that bans new fossil fuel projects. Communities everywhere need to do this, and to do it as quickly as we possibly can. And we want to support you in that.

Very soon, we will be producing an in-depth How We Won A Fossil Free KC toolkit and hosting a webinar with key organizers and strategists from the campaign. If you have any interest in banning new fossil fuel projects in your community, we encourage you to sign up here to receive the toolkit and webinar notification.


Beyond that, what’s next for us here in King County: We will be working closely with the County Council and the Executive’s office, providing input and consultation on the regulatory rewrite that the ordinance directs and to ensure that the moratorium is rigorously adhered to.

And, of course, saying no to new fossil fuel infrastructure is just the beginning. We will be going back to the planning room and thinking deeply about what the next steps are to ensure that we are living in a truly Fossil Free King County as soon as possible.

Additional Fossil Free KC Resources  


Categories: International News

2038 is too late!

January 31, 2019 - 4:32am

Given that the government has long failed to deliver a clear plan for a coal phase-out, Germany’s coal commission – made up of a mix of political representatives, scientists, industry lobby groups and environmental NGOs – faced a difficult task from the outset. The aim was to create a robust societal consensus on how to phase out coal and meet Germany’s climate goals, in the face of strong pushback from the powerful fossil fuel industry and workers unions.

There was no guarantee that an agreement would be reached. After months of tense negotiations, the fact that concrete steps to phase out coal in Germany have finally been put on the table is testament to the strength of the climate movement.

In recent years we’ve made huge progress in highlighting that Germany cannot live up to its reputation as an international climate leader without addressing its coal problem. The majority of the population is now in favour of a rapid coal phase out.

Just last year, thousands of people rallied to defend the Hambach forest from coal company RWE and joined marches in Berlin and Cologne demanding an end to coal. School students have followed the example set by 16 year old Greta Thunberg in Sweden and have organised strikes attended by thousands of children in recent weeks.

This. is. AMAZING.
The school strike in Berlin is huge

Categories: International News

Middlebury College, Alma Mater of 350.org co-founders, Divests from Fossil Fuels

January 29, 2019 - 2:30pm

Middlebury College announced today that it will be divesting from fossil fuels. The school will be finally joining over a thousand other institutions around the world–including major cities like New York and entire countries like Ireland–but for a number of us here at 350.org, this victory is especially sweet.

Fourteen years ago this January, a few of our 350.org founders walked into a class at Middlebury titled something like, “What Works: Climate Change and Social Movements.” The course was taught by an economics professor, Jon Isham, and over the course of the month we read a mix of books, some like Heat, about the growing crisis of global warming, and others like Doing Democracy, a classic treatise on social movement theory by Bill Moyer.

It was a potent combination. By the second week of the course, a group of us had started meeting on Sunday nights to discuss how we could build more of a movement on campus (and dare we dream, beyond?) to tackle the climate crisis. The meetings grew and grew, pulling in student leaders from the organic garden club, the fair trade club, the campus arts group, and others. Already, we’d learned an important lesson: climate change impacted everyone and everyone could get involved. We started calling our meetings the Sunday Night Group, mostly out of a lack of creativity, but also out of some early sense that calling ourselves a “climate club” didn’t really get at the scope of what we were taking on.

Now, fourteen years later, some of those dreams we dreamed at those late night meetings in Vermont have become reality even as the crisis around us has deepened. A group of us who started those Sunday night meetings went on to partner with our scholar-in-residence on campus, writer Bill McKibben, to found 350.org, which has now grown to over 150 staff and hundreds of thousands of supporters around the world. Other Sunday Night Group alumni have gone on to start organizations of their own, lead massive campaigns, run for office, found sustainable businesses, and find other, creative ways to plug into the ever growing climate movement. Together, we’ve connected with a growing movement of inspiring and deeply committed friends and allies in every corner of the globe who have continued to teach us deep lessons and help us grow in new ways.

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Our press release! Ask us questions below!

Posted by Divest Middlebury on Tuesday, January 29, 2019

When 350.org helped launch the fossil fuel divestment campaign back in 2012, we had high hopes that Middlebury would be amongst the first to divest. After all, we thought, what better way to honor their prestigious alumni! But even at an environmentally leaning school like Middlebury, the Board of Trustees was still mostly constituted by creatures of Wall Street. Citing “risks” and “returns,” the Board didn’t just decline to divest, they announced that they would never do any such thing.

How the world changes. Since 2012, the economic risks of investing in fossil fuels have become ever more clear, as have the real world risks of the crisis at hand. Meanwhile, the returns from fossil free portfolios have consistently outpaced those of their dirtier peers. That logic alone should have been enough to convince the Middlebury board to reconsider, but as we learned in our class on social movements back in 2005, logic alone is rarely enough to convince the powers that be.

Change requires pressure, which is exactly what a new generation of Sunday Night Group and Divest Middlebury members have generated and maintained on campus all these years later. This new class of activists have proven far more digitally adept, socially aware, and, let’s face it, just more intelligent, then we were a decade and a half ago. They’ve rallied student support, pulled in alumni, negotiated with the administration, and successfully made the case that Middlebury couldn’t afford not to divest. The credit for today’s announcement is theirs, above all others.

We’re proud of our alma mater today and especially proud of those students who kept up the fight. We all can’t wait to see what they go onto do next.

Jamie Henn, May Boeve, Jeremy Osborn, Will Bates

Categories: International News

Fossil Free News #14: Striking for their lives

January 28, 2019 - 10:59am

If you want to keep receiving updates like this every 2 weeks, make sure you sign up for Fossil Free News. 


In Case You Missed It

As the Davos World Economic Forum kicked off in Switzerland, Oxfam published a new reminder of the scale of inequality we must address: just 26 billionaires now control 50% of the world’s wealth. Greta Thunberg and Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate commission chief, were there urging strong climate action from world leaders. But Greta’s climate strike at Davos was outshone in Brussels, where an astounding 35,000 youth took to the streets Wednesday, and 70,000 came out Sunday. And in Berlin on Friday, as the German coal commission neared an agreement on how to phase out coal in the country, thousands more students held a strike outside the meeting demanding an end to fossil fuels. Germany’s deal sets a 2038 end date for coal, but it’s not ambitious enough.

In Australia, ferocious heatwaves have driven home the urgency of the fight to keep global warming below 1.5˚C. Temperatures have neared 50˚C (122˚F) in some parts of the country, with bushfires tearing through more than 63,000 hectares of Tasmania’s natural landscape. Australians have been urged to stay indoors and stay hydrated, with communities coming together to look after local wildlife and check in on elderly and vulnerable neighbors. People are vowing to take action now to avoid this becoming the new normal. If you haven’t seen it yet, this clip showing the dried outback that’s making farming nearly impossible has gone viral.

In Spain and France, communities celebrated as a major gas pipeline through the eastern Pyrenees, MidCAT-STEP, was scrapped after years of grassroots resistance. Groups pressured local authorities along the pipeline route, among other tactics, until energy regulators finally rejected it. It’s a big win for activists across Europe who are challenging the fossil fuel industry’s notion that gas is needed as a “transition fuel”. The decision has even motivated the European Investment Bank to reconsider its policy to fund other gas infrastructure “projects of common interest” in Europe. They’re right to reconsider. The region where the dud pipeline was planned is already leading the way in community renewable energy projects; investment would be much better spent on projects like these than more fossil fuel infrastructure. Hopefully the win can inspire others resisting gas infrastructure elsewhere right now, like the Tuxpan-Tula pipeline in Mexico or gas extraction plants in Zanzibar.

In South Africa, a coalition of environmental justice groups is blocking plans for a new coal mine in a protected wetland area in Mpumalanga. The company behind the mine, which would have a 15-year life span and exacerbate the effects of climate change in one of the world’s most sensitive regions, had their request to appeal the coalition thrown out by a High Court and were ordered to pay the groups’ legal costs. Further north, in Kenya, there’ve been positive reports of new solar projects on the way, following the president’s announcement last month to move the country towards 100% renewable energy. They’ll also have to tackle pollution from motorcycles in the capital Nairobi; solar-powered bikes can help fill the gap.

Some other recent wins include:

– One of Sweden’s main pension funds dropped coal and oil sands, alongside tobacco and nuclear weapons.
– In hopes of inspiring other communities to do the same, St. James Episcopal Church in Connecticut divested from all fossil fuels.

The Inside Story

A major aim of campaigns to go Fossil Free is to stop and ban all fossil fuel infrastructure. In King County, Washington, the county council just reviewed one of the strongest fossil fuel bans in the country. It works with a moratorium on all new development and then leverages land use code to effectively ban infrastructure, like storage tanks or refineries. In this interview with 350 Seattle, learn more about how the community developed broad-based support for the ban and brought it to the local government (and check out the awesome video explainer too). Bans like this have also been passed in other communities in the region, and are helping secure a healthy climate future for all.

The One to Watch

In the Netherlands, a local group of artists has been staging powerful performances at cultural institutions to pressure them to break their ties with fossil fuel companies, namely, Shell. And they’ve been winning – following an amazing campaign consisting of six performances throughout 2017 and 2018, culminating in an art storm, the Van Gogh Museum ended its 18-year sponsorship with Shell, and two other museums in The Hague quickly followed. The group has announced that its next target will be The Concertgebouw (Concert hall). The Concertgebouw is the last cultural institution on Amsterdam’s main museum square, the Museumplein, with a fossil fuel sponsorship. Watch and share their performance for a Fossil Free Museumplein.

That’s it for now. If you sign up, I’ll be back in your inbox in two weeks with more!

Sign up


Categories: International News

MidCAT Pipeline Stopped

January 24, 2019 - 6:59am

People power has won another victory against fossil fuels: the MidCat/STEP gas pipeline between France and Spain was just cancelled!

Yesterday the French and Spanish energy agencies announced that the pipeline, which was meant to link the two countries, was scrapped. The controversial fossil fuel project would have damaged communities and the environment, and was terrible news for the climate.

This is a HUGE win for the local communities in Catalonia and France, who have been campaigning and protesting for years.

Scrapping MidCat is also a victory for the climate movement across Europe and the world, and a painful blow to the fossil fuel industry – and their false claims that fossil gas can be a “transition fuel”. It throws into question other new gas infrastructure projects being pushed and financed by the European Union.

We urgently need an energy transition – to a system that is just, fair, and powered by 100% renewable, distributed, community-led energy. To keep global temperature rise below 1.5C, there’s no more room for any new fossil fuels, including gas.

So today, we are celebrating, but the fight against gas goes on, and gathers more and more momentum. From gas fields in Groningen in the Netherlands, to the Tuxpan-Tula pipeline in Mexico, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline in Italy and Greece, to activists trying to raise awareness of gas extraction plans in Zanzibar, communities and activists are resisting fossil fuels.

The story of MidCat shows us that we are powerful, and we are already winning. Our movement swells in moments of celebration, so please watch and share this video to help spread the news: on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Together, we can stop all new gas projects. It’s not only possible, it is already happening.

Categories: International News

Protected: County Bans on Fossil Fuels: An Interview with 350 Seattle

January 21, 2019 - 8:25pm

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Categories: International News

Cross-movement Connections: Learning from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Team

January 21, 2019 - 1:43pm

In the first days of the New Year, May Boeve, 350.org Executive Director, and Natalia Cardona, Justice & Equity Manager – were invited to attend a gathering of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s surviving team members. The gathering was convened as an expression of the fierce urgency of the moral emergency the United States is facing as a democracy.  The invitation was made by the Gandhi King Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice in part because of 350.org US’s involvement in the Poor People’s Campaign. It took place at Sunnylands, Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s 200-acre winter home in Rancho Mirage, California where for decades they welcomed political, business, educational, and entertainment leaders.

Sunnylands, CA

It was an honor for both of us to join this gathering of iconic leaders and we welcomed the opportunity to have time to discuss with, and learn from Rev. King’s team and a cadre of unparalleled social movement leaders of today. People like Desmond Meade, President Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, one of the coalitions responsible for advocating for and winning the right to vote for formerly imprisoned people in Florida. Or people like Latosha Brown, Co-Founder/Chief Doer of the Black Voters Matter Fund, a power building southern based civic engagement organization that played an instrumental role in the 2017 Alabama U.S. Senate Race.

Natalia Cardona and Desmond Meade

For us this opportunity triggered certain feelings about our journey in this and other movements and our ties to faith-based organizing.  For May, it brought back memories of Will, Jeremy, and Jamie –some of 350.orgs founding members–, reading Taylor Branch’s Pillar of Fire when they were students at Middlebury. And how she had the opportunity to finally read it 10 years later on sabbatical. For Natalia, it brought back memories of the sanctuary movement, her work with the American Friends Service Committee(AFSC) and the centrality of Rev. King’s teachings to the Peace Movement in the United States. She remembers learning about Bayard Rustin and many others while working at AFSC and it was a central part of her “growing up” in the peace movement.

From left to right: Andrea McEvoy Spero, Joan Baez, Janet Moses

Like any gathering we began by introducing ourselves. May introduced herself by explaining how influenced 350.org had been by the Civil Rights Movement in terms of the need for a mass movement to tackle climate change, but that we had missed a key part: the role of centering racial equity. This is a thread that rose up for her in conversations with different leaders and in particular when speaking to LaTosha Brown about our work on equity and what it meant to have the first people of color join 350.org’s staff, what they noticed and the questions these staff raised about the need for change within our organization and in terms of centering racial equity. Today, 350.org is pursuing a global process to center diversity, equity and inclusion at the organization.

May Boeve and Andrew Young

As we moved into conversation the question of the connection between violence and power arose. Elders from Rev. King’s surviving team spoke about how violence and power were becoming opposites. They see that the more violence there is, the less power we have. For Natalia this conversation was live and a lived experience. Reflecting on the role of violence in Guatemala’s civil war, her home country, she shared a perspective of how violence impacts not just the oppressed but also the oppressor. She sees this result in increased rates of violence against women and children in Guatemala and an epidemic level of generalized violence. The parallels continue even further with the push in the United States to militarize political questions. Including the militarized and violent response to immigrants fleeing violence (often began by U.S. military intervention), drought exacerbated by climate, and poverty many times deepened by unjust trade agreements with countries like the United States.

Finally, no gathering of Rev. King’s team would be complete without prayer, song and speaking to the role of faith in keeping us moving forward in this long term struggle for justice.  We were struck by a Jewish faith leader’s assertion that vulnerability is the beginning of prayer and her call to us to translate our experience of prayer into good deeds for others.

Left to right on couch: Clarence B. Jones, J.T. Johnson, Clayborne Carson, Gerald L. Durley, Bob Moses, and Janet Moses

To read more about the Gathering, here is an article written by Jonathan Capehart from the Washington Post and here is the resulting statement from the Gathering calling for a new moral fusion social movement on a mass scale.

P.S. The Elders gave us some reading “assignments” that we want to share with you:

“On Violence” by Hannah Arendt

“The Death of Evil Upon the Seashore” by Martin Luther King

“Beyond God the Father: Towards a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation” by Mary Daly

Categories: International News