December 1, 2014

Bill McKibben and receive Alternative Nobel

Stockholm, Sweden — founder Bill McKibben will receive the Right Livelihood Award also known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ at a ceremony at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm today. The Jury honours the author, educator and environmentalist ‘for mobilising growing popular support in the USA and around the world for strong action to counter the threat of global climate change’.

“This prize really goes to the vast number of people who have joined the most widespread movement in the planet’s history. On every continent, in every faith, from every background, people are now fighting together to beat the first truly planet-scale challenge we’ve ever faced,” said McKibben.

McKibben used his stay in Sweden to join an artistic action with a young indigenous Sami singer calling on the City of Stockholm to divest from fossil fuels. He commented, “The Sami people – able to count on winter for as far back as we can peer into history – now find treacherous weather that makes their traditional lives ever harder. In this they provide a warning to the rest of the planet.”

The Fossil Free campaign demands public institutions stop funding the fossil fuel industry, which has five times more oil, coal and gas in its reserves than can be burnt without triggering catastrophic climate change. The campaign aims to weaken the industry’s political power, and thereby break the climate deadlock and build the solutions the world needs. The divestment movement has spread rapidly around the world and is gearing up to take collective action in a global mobilisation.

McKibben is one of five recipients of this year’s awards. His co-laureates are whistleblower Edward Snowden (USA) and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger (UK) who share a joint Honorary Award, human rights activists Asma Jahangir (Pakistan) and Basil Fernando/ Asian Human Rights Commission (Hong Kong, China).

The prize money of about 660,000 SEK will fund the work of and its partner organisations. McKibben said, “This money will be used to support’s various fights against the fossil fuel industry, from Australia to Alberta. It still leaves us a tiny bit short of Exxon’s wealth, but since most of us – me included – are volunteers, the money goes a long way!”



Photos and video footage from the creative action Bill McKibben participated in urging Stockholm to divest from fossil fuels are available:


More photos of McKibben are available at


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Notes for editors

The award ceremony will start at 4 pm CET. Laureates’ speeches are estimated to start at 5 pm CET. It will be held in English. A live-stream will be available via

Bill McKibben is one of the world’s leading environmentalists. In 1988 he wrote The End of Nature, the first book for a common audience about global warming. Over the last ten years he initiated and built the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement. With the organisation at its core, this movement has spread awareness and mobilised political support for urgent action to mitigate the climate crisis., – 350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet liveable for all who come after us.

The Right Livelihood Award — The Right Livelihood Award honours and supports those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today. The Awards were founded in 1980. They are often referred to as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prizes’. With the 2014 Laureates there are now 158 Laureates from 65 countries. Presented annually in Stockholm at a ceremony in the Swedish Parliament, the Right Livelihood Award is usually shared by four Recipients, but not all Laureates receive a cash award. Often an Honorary Award is given to a person or group whose work the Jury wishes to recognise but who is not primarily in need of monetary support. For the others, the prize money is about 660,000 SEK. The prize money is for ongoing successful work, never for personal use. This year, two Laureates receive an honorary award, and three receive a cash prize, so the total prize sum is 2 mio SEK.