September 22, 2014

People’s Climate March, Fossil Fuel Divestment, and Flood Wall Street

New York — Coming off of the historic People’s Climate March on Sunday, which brought over 400,000 people to the streets of New York City, the climate movement is surging with newfound energy and momentum.

The people who took to the streets on Sunday came from many different places: young people from the far Rockaways; organizers from Vermont, Minnesotta, and California; union workers from here in NYC and around the country; and climate justice advocates from Kentucky, the Navajo Nation, South Africa, and beyond. But they came together with the same message: no more words, it’s time for action.

That action began before the march was even over. Demonstrators were still thronging many of the streets in midtown Manhattan on Sunday evening when a major new divestment announcement came in: the Rockefeller Brothers Fund would be divesting from fossil fuels.

“This is a threshold moment,” Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund, told the New York Times. “This movement has gone from a small activist band quickly into the mainstream.”

That small-activist band has grown rather larger of late. Over 500 colleges across the United States, and hundreds of universities, cities, and religious institutions around the world have joined in the divestment movement. The effort has been fueled by a bottom-up campaign led by local organizers and students, who have formed their own Divestment Student Network to help support the campaign.

According to a new report from Arabella Advisors, over the last two years, 181 institutions and local governments and 656 individuals representing over $50 billion dollars have pledge to divest to-date. That number includes the $860 million Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which was built on the Standard Oil fortune.

On Monday, thousands of protesters joined #FloodWallStreet, an independently organized direct action to challenge Wall Street banks and firms funding of fossil fuels. The participants included many divestment activists from across New York City and around the country.

Divestment is just one of the many fronts in the climate fight that’s feeling a new surge of energy after Sunday’s demonstration. From the fight against fracking, to the ongoing campaign against the Keystone XL pipeline, to the push for clean energy solutions, advocates are getting back to work this week building a People’s Climate Movement that can deliver the change that science and justice demand.