February 21, 2022

350.org: Committed to responsible growth towards securing climate justice globally.

On February 19th, Politico published an article that references 350’s past financial issues and shifts in staff composition. 350 was contacted by Politico as part of their preparation for the article, and as an organization committed to transparency, we provided detailed responses to all of their questions and offered them access to many of our staff, including Executive Director May Boeve.

350, founded on the principles of climate justice, is invested in the complex work of building a just, diverse, and equitable organization internally, so that we can continue the external work needed to progress towards our goals. We recognize the need for an intersectional approach towards securing climate justice, and are actively learning, improving, and sharing our journey as we navigate these nuanced challenges.

350 was started by seven white American college graduates and their professor, who recognized that the climate crisis posed the biggest existential threat of our time and wanted to take action. This hopeful group and thousands of others organized a global day of action ahead of the UN climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009.

In the 12 years since that big moment in Copenhagen, 350 has played a vital role in inspiring and mobilizing climate action, helped build a vibrant global climate movement, and is active in 60 countries across the globe. In that time, we’ve achieved some incredible victories, like stopping the Keystone XL pipeline as mentioned in the article, amongst others, working with partners and organizations in the Global South and North, and learning many important lessons along the way. As part of our own evolution, we recognize the problems presented by a historically white-led environmental and climate advocacy space; this is an issue we are committed to correct through our own planned growth, as well as by supporting the growth of a more representative global movement.

In the early days, 350’s growth was organic, with little documentation, processes or policies. The urgency and intensity of the threat of climate change meant that all of our efforts went into outwards-facing work – movement building, organizing and campaigning to end the era of fossil fuels; we weren’t paying enough attention to building the internal systems that would ensure our own sustainability as a global organization.

The Politico article focuses on a sequence of events In 2019, when a funding shortfall left us with no choice but to reduce personnel costs, resulting in a hiring freeze as well as a number of layoffs. In particular, the article focuses on the impact of 350’s financial crisis on the U.S. team. While 350’s U.S. team is smaller than it was in 2019, a committed core staff, working closely with dozens of 350 local groups around the country, continue to move forward our campaigns to stop fossil fuel finance, halt fossil fuel infrastructure, and draw attention to climate as an intersectional issue requiring equitable solutions. Under the guidance of our Executive Team, and with a U.S. Leadership Collective in place, 350 U.S. is in the process of intentional rebuilding, reestablishing internal systems and culture to strengthen its foundation and impact.

This period in our history presented a steep learning curve for our organization, and as a result far more robust systems have been put into place across the global organization, to create a resilient organization ready to keep up the pressure on the fossil fuel industry, and help build a more just future. 

With the benefit of hindsight, we are now able to see that we needed to do more to prevent the difficult period 350 experienced in 2019 and 2020. The leadership team acknowledges that this was a very difficult period for our staff, and we are deeply sorry for that. We recognize that the road to re-establishing trust and rebuilding our internal culture can be a years-long process, and we are making important strides to doing so. We have made several important changes: not least, we have made improvements to our financial reporting and governance systems in order to sustain our work, and to ensure that staff have stability in the workplace. 

Addressing racial equality and equity in the workplace is an ongoing process for our organization and we are committed to this ongoing work. We recognize that all organizations must tackle established cultures and how it shows up in workplaces. In particular, a global organization like 350 has to think about racial equality in a broad and nuanced way, that is inclusive of our staff and communities in different countries, including communities of color living in and from the Global South. 

In our efforts to build a workplace that centers racial equity we have provided training to staff on Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; built a toolkit that helps staff center Equity in the hiring process; set up a more diverse Executive team (with four of six members identifying as female, and three identifying as Indigenous or Person of Color); and implemented strong HR policies and procedures to support staff based in over 20 countries around the world, including staff who identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Color. In addition, we are expanding our language diversity; internally, in how we connect our teams within 350 and externally, with our work supporting the climate movement in a variety of languages. 

We use our power as a global organization to work across regions and expose neo-colonial practices like those of financial institutions in Europe and the US that continue to fund fossil fuel projects throughout Africa and Latin America, despite the devastating impacts of these projects, and the associated injustices to local communities.

The work of our global team continues to inspire hope, deliver impact, and build communities of care: From Africa to Brazil, North America to Asia, Europe to the Pacific Island’s, 350 teams are running crucial campaigns to stop the financing of fossil fuels, in order to finance real solutions to the climate crisis. In recent weeks, even as we continue to call out the financial institutions funding fossil fuels, we have celebrated:

  • In Brazil, a Federal Court revoked the Environmental License of Guaíba Coal Mine. The Poty Guarani Indigenous Association, with legal and technical support provided by 350 and other organizations, overturned the project of the largest Brazilian open-pit coal mine to be built in the Porto Alegre Region. 
  • In France, thousands of people joined our online campaign to call out Total on the indecency of profiting from skyrocketing energy prices while vulnerable countries and communities bear the impacts of an ever-worsening climate crisis.
  • In Argentina, the Argentine Justice ordered the immediate suspension of the offshore oil exploitation in Mar del Plata. The decision was issued by Court number 2 of Mar del Plata after the claim of different environmental groups, who organized demonstrations, provided technical arguments, and filed different legal injunctions.
  • In the Pacific Islands, following the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano and the tsunami that followed it, 350 Pacific and the Pacific Climate Warriors have been hard at work ensuring the safety of their homes and communities, helping with the clean up and recovery effort and as COVID has set in, in Tonga, providing some much needed relief via our teams. Even though we are not a relief or aid organization, our close relationships with the communities mean that we are called on for supporting people through these times.

This wave of people power continues on Monday February 28th, 2022, as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is set to release their latest report, which will outline the severity of the climate crisis. 350 will support a month of global climate justice protests under the motto: “Fossil Fuels Did This”. Once again, these actions will turn the spotlight back on to the main contributors to climate chaos: fossil fuel companies and the financial institutions that back them.

The fight against climate change is a fight for justice. People all over the world are feeling the impacts, but the people suffering most are the ones who have done the least to cause the problem. The work we do — and the ways we do it — have to address those injustices, both within our organization and in our campaigning work. We remain committed to learning from our mistakes in order to equitably resource our work across the world. That means listening to the communities who are getting hit hardest, amplifying the voices that are being silenced, and following the leadership of the people on the frontlines of the crisis, learning and evolving together to fight for a fossil fuel free, just and equitable future for all of us.

The journey towards this future is long and challenging, but we continue to draw strength and sustenance from the incredible people we get to work with, and the tremendous victories we achieve together.

Media Contacts:

Thanu Yakupitiyage, Associate Director of US Communications, [email protected]

Jason Kirkpatrick, Global Communications Specialist, [email protected]