Setting up a Fight with the Fossil Fuel Industry, Activists Prepare for Paris Climate Talks

Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, and other movement leaders laid out campaign to ‘turn off’ the fossil fuel industry and ‘turn on’ 100% renewable energy

 

NEW YORK — Nearly 2,000 people packed into a concert hall in Brooklyn, New York last Thursday evening to listen to Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, and other movement leaders launch a new campaign to challenge the fossil fuel industry ahead of a major UN Climate Summit in Paris this December.[1]

“Our job, as a movement, is to turn off the world’s supply of fossil fuel, and to turn on the infinite power of renewable energy,” said Bill McKibben, the writer and co-founder of the international climate campaign 350.org. “Paris can send a signal that the world is moving away from fossil fuels, but it will still be up to us to get the job done.”

Back in 2012, McKibben and Klein hosted a 21 city US-tour called “Do the Math” to launch the fossil fuel divestment campaign. A European tour followed in the fall of 2013. These helped popularize the idea of the carbon bubble, the realization that the fossil fuel companies are overvalued because the world cannot burn all of the reserves on their balance sheets and keep global warming below 2°C.

Thursday’s show, Off & On, picked up where “Do the Math” left off, telling the story of how the world can move beyond fossil fuels. The title refers to 350.org’s mission to “turn off” the fossil fuel industry and “turn on” an 100% renewable energy economy. Over the course of two hours, climate leaders from around the world told the story of a growing global resistance against the fossil fuel industry, and how communities are leading the transition towards clean energy.

“The world is waking up to climate change. There are no single-issue movements any more: the fight for climate justice is a fight for social justice. If we’re going to change everything, we need everyone,” said Cynthia Ong, the Founder & Executive Director of LEAP (Land Empowerment Animals People) in Borneo, who co-hosted the event. Ong helped lead a coalition of environmentalists and locals in a successful battle against a massive coal plant in the Malaysian state of Sabah.

The speakers reminded the audience, however, that the climate crisis is a race against the clock. They said that a top priority for the climate movement must be to “defuse” the world’s largest “carbon bombs,” major fossil fuel reserves that must stay in the ground in order to keep global warming from spiraling out of control. Top targets include the tar sands in Canada and coal mines in Germany and Australia.

“We can do this. This is not a technological problem. Its a problem of too much corporate power,” said Naomi Klein. “As we move to a new energy paradigm we need to move to a new world too: one that takes justice seriously.”

Other speakers at the Thursday event included Rev. Lennox Yearwood, president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus; Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance; Tomás Insuia, co-founder of the Global Catholic Climate Movement; Thilmeeza Hussain, founder of Voice of Women in the Maldives and others. The speakers represented the growing breadth and depth of the climate justice movement.

Over the last few years, 350.org has emerged as a leading force in the growing climate movement, helping grow the fossil fuel divestment effort from a few college campuses in the US to a worldwide campaign[2], and organizing major mobilizations like last year’s People’s Climate March and global mobilisation that brought 400,000 people to the streets of New York with hundreds of thousands joining worldwide.

Now, 350.org and its allies are looking to dramatically expand the divestment campaign, put hundreds of thousands of people in the streets during the Paris climate summit, and pull off a series of major actions targeting fossil fuel projects next Spring.

“We’re laying out a strategy that we think can have a profound impact on our politicians, while keeping power in the hands of the people, so we can create the change we need to see,” said 350.org Executive Director, May Boeve. “This show marks the start of a campaign to supercharge our movement and take the fight right to the source of the problem.”

###

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

[1] Video from the evening available here: 350.org/off-on-live

[2] Additional information on worldwide divestment commitments can be found here: gofossilfree.org/commitments

 

 

Freeze New Fossil Fuel Development

Governments meeting at the next climate conference must put their Paris pledges into action -- and action means no more room for new fossil fuel projects.
Add your name →