I hope this note finds you well. We’ve had an incredible year of growth, celebration, and learning at 350.org.
Ever since we heard the news that President Obama would delay the decision on the Keystone XL pipeline--an important temporary delay, even now under siege by big oil on Capitol Hill--we’ve been busy planning our next steps. As I write this letter, our team is currently in Durban, South Africa, at the UN Climate negotiations, talking with allies about how to engage grassroots activists worldwide in the fight against fossil fuel interests. Climate change is a global challenge, and the solution will depend upon global action made inevitable by a global movement. We’ve been preparing our team to continue organizing bold actions at key flashpoint moments, while we simultaneously locking in place a robust movement-building infrastructure around the world.
Here’s a look back on this year, and how we got to this point:
In early 2011, we took great inspiration from the people-powered mobilizations taking shape around the globe. From Tahrir Square and many parts of the Arab world, a uniquely grassroots movement burst onto the world stage in a new way. This wave touched down in the United States in the form of the #Occupy movements. While the final outcome of the events is unclear, the energy behind the efforts is stunning. Also stunning is the increasing severity of climate impacts across the globe. Pitting the positive force of people power against the increasingly negative force of climate impacts is going to require a real social and political movement, and to build that, we have dramatically expanded our efforts.
This Spring, we merged with a US-based sister organization, 1Sky, in order to create a bigger, stronger, and more effective national climate campaign. The merger allowed us to pursue domestic campaigning with more strength and intention than ever before, while at the same time continuing to expand international work. The merger helped create a more politically savvy, grassroots-powered 350.org, and provided a sound institutional architecture which has made us both more accountable and better equipped to scale. As the result of the merger, we've expanded our field staff in the U.S., increased our web presence, and attracted new allies and supporters.
This Summer, 350.org launched a new effort, Tar Sands Action, which was successful in its goal of forcing the President’s hand on the Keystone XL pipeline and driving climate back on the agenda. In just three months, the Tar Sands Action effort was able to elevate Keystone XL from a regional fight waged by groups along the pipeline route and indigenous peoples in Canada to the most important environmental question facing President Obama before the 2012 election. Working side by side with allies, we supported volunteers who visited Obama for America offices and attended every Obama campaign stop, elevated the story about State Department corruption of the permitting process, and finally, helped bring 12,000 people to DC and encircled the White House. Four days after that mobilization, the White House decided to punt the decision until after the election, effectively killing the project for the moment. As we write, that temporary victory is under threat.
This Fall, while experimenting with new organizing tools and methods in the Keystone fight in the US, 350.org coordinated a global day of action emphasizing mass bicycle rallies. We called it Moving Planet, and the theme was moving beyond fossil fuels. The mobilization, emphasizing actions in major cities, brought activists together in over 175 countries, with the help of 500 partner organizations. In the U.S., more than one hundred elected officials attended or sent representatives to the events. To us, Moving Planet demonstrated once again that protest is just one part of 350’s work, always done in concert with demonstrating the solutions that inspire a positive vision.
Looking Ahead. The team behind 350.org has grown from a small group of friends--seven organizers, each tasked with organizing one of seven continents--to a global organization. Our staff, tethered to laptops in internet cafes from Burundi to Brazil, are activists through and through, many of them young people like 350’s co-founders, all dedicated to the climate movement. Our very name represents the urgency we bring to this work. Our efforts are more needed than ever, and we know we must build a movement that actually builds people power as it strips that power away from the fossil fuel industry which is crippling the debate on science.
In the coming year, we will scale up our activist network worldwide, with a particular emphasis on politically critical states in the US. As always, we will tie movement-building to inspirational campaigns. We will apply lessons learned in the Keystone fight, and more directly challenge the political influence of the fossil industry. To do that, we will challenge “fossil fuel freeloading,” with a major emphasis on removing fossil fuel subsidies in the US and abroad, all the while punctuating that work with iconic, inspiring mobilizations against extreme energy projects--the type of projects that those subsidies make conceivable.
None of this success and bold visioning for what is to come would have been possible without the support we have received from you in the past. We are in an incredible new place as an organization, and we look forward to challenges and opportunities ahead. Many, many thanks on behalf of our entire team.