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There are days when I get utterly preoccupied playing defense against the fossil fuel industry, trying to stop pipeline after frack well after coal port. It’s necessary work — but there are also days when I remind myself we’ve got to go on offense too.
Today’s one of those days. We’re launching the next phase of our fossil fuel divestment campaign, bringing it off campus to include city, state, and town governments; religious denominations, museums, foundations — anyone with an investment portfolio. If someone’s investing in the destruction of the future, we’re going to ask them to sell those shares.
Here’s how to get started. Our web-team has set up a new online petition tool that makes it easy for you to join up with a local campaign or start your own. These petitions will help you build up some local pressure, as well as start a local email list you can use for organizing (they’re so easy to use, even I can figure it out).
Once you’ve got a petition going, it’s time to start organizing. Host a local meeting to get your group together, set up meetings with your key decision makers, make the case for divestment, and then figure out the type of pressure you’re going to need to get a victory. You’ll find some useful resources up on the GoFossilFree.org website – and don’t hestitate to get in touch if you need help.
Click “Read More” to check out the full letter.
The first phase of this campaign, on American colleges and campuses, has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Inside Climate said it was “spreading like wildfire,” and writing in the Nation, Harvard student leader Chloe Maxmin said it was “engaging more students than any similar campaign in the past twenty years.” The fourth college to commit to make their portfolio fossil free — College of the Atlantic in Maine — divested last week, which is way ahead of our wildest hopes.
And truthfully, Phase 2 has been up and running quietly for a while: the City of Seattle has already announced plans to divest, and 6 conferences of the United Church of Christ have joined to urge the national denomination to do the right thing.
But now it’s going to get big fast, in no small part because a we’ve got a very talented new staff member, Jay Carmona, who will be running the battle. She’s worked in City Government, organized with our friends at Media Matters and Get Equal, and she plays to win. “Divestment is targeting the one thing that those companies can’t buy, which is their reputation,” she told Yale e360 earlier this week.
I’m pretty fired up too. The best arguments for divesting if you’re a city: “why would we spend millions putting up seawalls and so on, and at the same time invest in the companies making it necessary?” If you’re a church: “why are we doing business with an industry that’s running Genesis backwards?” If you’re — well, if you’re a human being: “if it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage?”
I think those arguments will prevail. Not easily — but no one ever said it was going to be easy. Just exciting! You can get started right here: www.GoFossilFree.org/start
P.S. An update on the Keystone fight in the Senate from our political director Jason: “The vote on the pipeline could come today, tomorrow, or Saturday. Our work together is making an impact: offices report being flooded with calls telling them to vote no on KXL. A few Senators who were on the fence are now leaning our way — and we have everyone who called to thank for that.” We can’t let our guard down, but I’d say that’s good news. Our team will send another update in the near future!
MORE LINKS AND INFO
- The Nation – “Why Divestment is Changing the Climate Movement” – go.350.org/14d1jQ1
- Inside Climate – “Spreading Like Wildfire, Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign Striking a Moral Chord” - go.350.org/11hk7Jl
- The New York Times – “To Stop Climate Change, Students Aim at College Portfolios” - nyti.ms/RAqc34