We’re excited to announce today that ten U.S. cities are now on board with fossil fuel divestment! They include: Seattle, WA, San Francisco, CA, Berkeley, CA, Richmond, CA, Boulder, CO, Bayfield, WI, Madison, WI, State College, PA, Eugene, OR, and Ithaca, NY.
Last fall, Seattle started the trend when Mayor Mike McGinn committed to keep his city funds out of fossil fuel companies and push the city’s $2 billion pension fund to pursue divestment.
Then, last week, Ithaca, NY became the first East Coast city to commit to divestment. Ithaca’s Mayor, 26-year old Mayor Svante Myrick, is one of the youngest mayors and youngest African-Americans elected in US history. He agreed to pursue divestment after meeting with a group of local high school students who urged him to act in order to protect their future.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco followed suit, voting unanimously to urge the city’s $16 billion retirement fund to divest over $583 million from 91 different fossil fuel companies. The San Francisco fund is the largest that our campaign has targeted so far. We’re still going to need to put some serious pressure on the Retirement Board to follow through with divestment, but as a long-time board member told a local paper, “We’d give it consideration if one supervisor asked us to look at it — and in this case, it was the full board.”
Today’s announcement sends a powerful message to the fossil fuel industry: if you’re going to try and take away our planet, we’re going to try and take away your money. We’re no longer just playing defense against dirty projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, we’re going on offense, too.
It also sends an equally important message to other cities and institutions: if it’s wrong to wreck the planet, then it’s also wrong to profit from that wreckage. And with some of the most innovative cities in the country now firmly on board with this campaign, there should be no excuse for college trustees or other cities to keep dragging their feet on divestment.
Together, we kicked off this divestment campaign last fall and have spread it across the nation to over 300 colleges and universities. Now, the effort is moving off campus: there are over 100 petitions up on the GoFossilFree.org website targeting cities, states, and religious institutions. If you haven’t already started or signed a petition, now is the time. Here’s the link:
When we started this effort, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in helping end apartheid in South Africa, told us, “The divestment movement played a key role in helping liberate South Africa. The corporations understood the logics of money even when they weren’t swayed by the dictates of morality. Climate change is a deeply moral issue too, of course...Once again, we can join together as a world and put pressure where it counts.”
With today’s announcement, that pressure is coming to bear in powerful ways. It’s still too early to tell if this new divestment movement will have the political impact necessary to weaken the stranglehold the fossil fuel industry has over our government, but thanks to your hard work, we’re off to an incredible start.