Despite all the evidence about the reality of climate change — despite the very real and very destructive impacts we’re already seeing — Congress has so far failed to do anything about it. They’ve been lulled to sleep through this crisis by polluting special interests and dirty money.
But not all politicians are rotten. A few of them are wide awake, and they’re banding together to make some noise in the Senate chamber. Tonight, March 10th, a small group of Senators — we’ll call them the “climate caucus” — is staying up all night to discuss climate action.
While they’re staying #Up4Climate, we can help send a message: it’s time for Congress to wake up to the reality of climate change, and it’s past time to take action. We’ll bring your mesages to Capitol Hill this evening, so that the climate caucus knows we have their back… and their colleagues know we’re watching.
No more hitting that snooze button, Congress! The American people want action now. Just this afternoon, more than 8,000 people have called on Congress to take action on climate change.
Here are the Senators participating in #Up4Climate at last count:
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. (@SenateDems & @SenatorReid)
Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill. (@SenatorDurbin)
Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. (@SenSchumer)
Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash. (@PattyMurray)
Senator Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii (@BrianSchatz)
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. (@SenWhitehouse)
Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. (@EPWChairBoxer)
Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. (@SenFeinstein)
Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore. (@RonWyden)
Senator Jack Reed, D-R.I. (@SenJackReed)
Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla. (@SenBillNelson)
Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. (@CantwellPress)
Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md. (@SenatorCardin)
Senator Bernard Sanders, I-Vt. (@SenSanders)
Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. (@AmyKlobuchar)
Senator Mark Udall, D-Colo. (@MarkUdall)
Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M. (@SenatorTomUdall)
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. (@SenatorShaheen)
Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. (@SenJeffMerkley)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. (@SenGillibrand)
Senator Al Franken, D-Minn. (@FrankenCommTeam)
Senator Chris Coons, D-Del. (@SenCoonsOffice)
Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. (@SenBlumenthal)
Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn. (@ChrisMurphyCT)
Senator Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. (@MartinHeinrich)
Senator Angus King, I-Maine (@SenAngusKing)
Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va. (@SenKaineOffice)
Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (@SenWarren)
Senator Edward J. Markey, D-Mass. (@MarkeyMemo)
Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J. (@CoryBooker & @SenBookerOfc)
On Wednesday March 5th, just three days after the historic youth-led action at the White House where 372 were arrested, Boston area climate justice activists met President Obama outside a $5,000 and up (way up) fundraising dinner.
We gathered with XLDissent students, 350MA, Better Future Project, Mothers Out Front, Students for a Just and Stable Future, and a few other campus climate justice groups.
Our message to the President was clear as we chanted: “One, we are the people. Two, we are united. Three, we will not you build this pipeline.”Another telling cry: “Hey, Barack, you’ve talked the talk now walk the walk.”
The President’s rhetoric on climate–like his rhetoric on jobs, health care, war and peace, and civil liberties–has been inconsistent with his administration’s policies. On the climate front, his “all-of-the-above” energy (non-)strategy continues to dampen my generation’s future prospects; for front-line communities and the poorest around the globe, Obama’s cowardliness in the face of the fossil fuel juggernaut represents a morally bankrupt and outright hostile position.
Rejecting Keystone, itself only one arrow in the juggernaut’s deadly quiver, would signal the President is ready to match his rhetoric with action. For real leadership, the President should also ensure the EPA’s forthcoming proposed regulations of existing power plants (“New Source Performance Standards”) are stringent enough to pave the way for an end to deadly coal in this country; of course, former coal workers will need a just transition, and the President needs to make sure that happens.
Such is the leadership we need ahead of the 2015 Conference of Parties climate meeting in Paris where a binding and equitable global deal is an absolute must. Climate justice activists will continue to follow the President everywhere we can as lives are literally on the line, and the hour is late.
Will you lead, Mr. President?
Bobby Wengronowitz, @bobbywego
XL Dissent arrestee 186
Co-founder Boston College Fossil Free
Ph.D. student in sociology at Boston College
Three women are missing after being detained in the Crimean border city of Armiansk, Ukraine
Ukraine — A 350.org volunteer organizer, Kateryna Butko, is missing along with two other women after the three were detained by men in unmarked military uniforms in the the city of Armiansk, Ukraine yesterday.
“We are very concerned about Kateryna’s safety and doing our best to get more information about the situation,” said Hoda Baraka, 350.org Global Communications Manager.
Ms. Butko is a member of the Ukrainian Youth Climate Association and has played a leading role in many local climate projects, including taking part in the recent Global Power Shift campaign, an effort initiated by 350.org that trains and supports young climate activists around the world.
Kateryna Butko at Power Shift Central and Eastern Europe in Warsaw, Poland, Nov 2013.
Ms. Butko was detained and taken to an unknown location on Sunday, March 9 with another young activist from the social organization Automaidan, Olexandra Ryazantseva, and a journalist with the weekly magazine “Ukrayinsky Tyzhden” (“Ukrainian Week”).
350.org will continue to stay in contact with our Ukrainian staff member, Yuliya Makliuk, and other activists on the ground in Ukraine to try and get more information about the young women’s whereabouts and situation.
Our friends at Oil Change International have put together this great interactive graphic showing that if you’re in a “climate hole”, you should stop digging. Check it out:
CSSC, As You Sow, REC and 350.org have been working on a new project that we hope will help you with your campaigns. It’s called Talk Divest. We know that lots of campaigns around the country have been getting no’s or struggling to answer questions that your colleges and boards pose.
Talk Divest will set you up with mentors who can meet with your group a few times and help walk you through questions like: how do we deal with commingled funds? Will the endowment really lose money? and are their managers that can do divestment for us?
On the webpage you can find a map of participating mentors (which will grow overtime), a sample introductory email to mentors, and a few tips on how to best engage with mentors. Talk Divest is a communication tool that we hope will provide a valuable resource to your campaign.
If you’re working with a staff organizer you can talk to them about the program or visit http://gofossilfree.org/talkdivest/ for more info.
Well, we haven’t forgotten about them. Need a refresher?
Watch this video from Friends of the Earth Europe:
CONTACT: Hoda Baraka – Global Communications Manager 350.org – email@example.com +201001-840990
May Ng – Communications Coordinator - 350.org Australia firstname.lastname@example.org +61420-733-429
Reports conclude over €1 trillion in European financial institutions at risk from growing carbon bubble, while divestment from fossil fuels will not harm returns
Two new reports released today in Brussels and Sydney will help strengthen the case for fossil fuel divestment, with one report emphasizing the growing risk of a carbon bubble  resulting from overexposure to high carbon assets, and the other concluding that responsibly divesting from fossil fuels will not hurt a portfolio’s financial performance.
The first report, a Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA) Group of the European commissioned study, investigates the carbon exposure of Europe’s top 43 banks and pension funds and assess the risk a carbon shock posed to them. The results of the study, entitled The Price of Doing Too Little Too Late: The impact of the carbon bubble on the EU financial system,  presented at a conference taking place in Brussels today , conclude that the most cost-effective pathway to limit the risk of the carbon bubble would be a quick and decisive transition to a low-carbon economy with ambitious energy and climate targets.
The study highlights a number of individual institutions which are at risk, and with them their associated countries. This is particularly the case for France where two of the largest European banks (Société Général and BNP Paribas) have a “relatively high” exposure, and the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, where national pension funds have a “high” exposure. According to the report, the exposure to the carbon bubble has been markedly higher for the pension fund sector than it has been for the banking sector.
Out of the 23 large EU pension funds researched in this study, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) — the principal pension scheme provided by Universities, Higher Education and other associated institutions for their employees in the UK — has an overwhelmingly large amount of carbon risk in their portfolio.
The overall exposure of the European financial institutions into high carbon assets has been calculated to be over €1 trillion, though it is important to note that this is still a conservative estimate.
Reinhard Bűtikofer, industrial policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament said: “A new study we commissioned clearly shows the potential losses of a carbon shock to Europe’s top 20 banks and top 23 pension funds. The result is sobering. With over €1 trillion in high-carbon assets, we have identified that the carbon bubble is a significant risk particularly for a number of EU Member States and EU financial institutions. Investments in fossil fuel companies could therefore quickly turn into fool’s gold. The EU’s business-as-usual strategy entails greater risks and costs to our financial system. This should be a wake-up call.”
The study makes a number of additional recommendations which include greater transparency obligations regarding high-carbon assets, undertaking carbon stress tests, investigating the fiduciary duty of pension funds and how that could limit investments into high carbon assets, setting ambitious climate and energy targets, and many others.
Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, speaking via video-link at today’s conference in Brussels, highlighted the importance of these findings. “I hope the release of this study is an occasion for everyone to come as quickly as possible to the conclusion that we have got to change the business-as-usual scenario.”
“Business-as-usual is not just a threat to the planet around us but to the economy at large. These fossil fuel corporations are rogue corporations, operating not just against the laws of nations or the EU, but also against the laws of physics — an even more severe offence. They are not only setting us up to an ecological cataclysm, which, sadly, in parts of the world is already coming true, but they are also setting us up for what is probably the greatest financial bubble of all time,” he added.
The second report released today in Sydney, Australia concludes that shares in coal, oil and gas companies increase financial risk without any additional benefit to returns.
Published by The Australia Institute and released today in partnership with 350.org Australia and Market Forces, Climate proofing your investments: Moving funds out of fossil fuels , claims that portfolios containing coal, oil and gas companies risk lower returns in the long run while portfolios avoiding these companies can provide competitive returns.
The report concludes that investors who divest from companies such as Whitehaven Coal, Woodside Petroleum and Origin Energy need not sacrifice their investment returns.
The report also looks at the financial risk of “unburnable carbon” to shareholders of coal, oil and gas companies. According to the report, balance sheet valuations of reserves held by coal, oil and gas companies are based on the assumption they can extract over three times more carbon than is compatible with the internationally agreed two degree global warming limit.
These new reports serve to add impetus to an already growing divestment movement. Since 350.org launched the divestment campaign in the autumn of 2012 the movement has spread across the United States, Australia and Europe, with dozens of cities and institutions already committing to divest.
A recent study by the University of Oxford concluded that the fossil fuel divestment movement is growing faster than any previous divestment campaign and that, “The outcome of the stigmatisation process, which the fossil fuel divestment campaign has now triggered, poses the most far-reaching threat to fossil fuel companies and the vast energy value chain.”
The campaign is beginning to make an impact in the financial community, as well. Most recently 70 global investors, managing over $3 trillion of assets, have demanded the oil, gas and coal companies asses the risks that climate change poses to their business plans. Earlier this month during a summit of financial leaders held at the United Nations, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), joined the voices calling on investors to get out of high carbon assets.
As heads of state are set to meet later this year in New York for the Ban Ki Moon Climate Summit, 350.org will continue to build the divestment movement catalyzing necessary global climate action.
NOTES TO EDITORS
 The ‘carbon bubble’ – which refers to the overvaluation of oil, gas and coal mining companies because of the need to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources – poses a growing risk to our economies. If we want to have a chance to limit global warming below 2°C and therefore avoid harmful climate change the amount of fossil fuels that can actually be burnt is limited, and the majority of fossil fuel reserves would become stranded assets. Today private companies own about a 1/4 of fossil fuel reserves. If a large part of these reserves cannot be extracted, that reduces the valuation of these companies and their ability to repay their debt. The carbon bubble therefore poses serious risks to the financial sector given the financial institutions´ large exposures to oil, gas and coal mining companies through equity, bond, and loan portfolios.
 Report The Price of Doing Too Little Too Late: The impact of the carbon bubble on the EU financial system available here
 Conference entitled ‘Deflating the Financial Carbon Bubble’ taking place at the European Parliament. More information here
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If you know anyone who thinks young people today are complacent, superficial, or tuned-out, make them watch this video from #XLDissentWestCoast:
Video via Peter Menchini.
The 398 students arrested at the White House on Sunday protesting the Keystone XL pipeline are inspiring more protests across the nation, as opponents of the controversial project ramp up their activism in anticipation of a final decision from President Obama later this spring.
On Monday morning, nine more students were arrested for a sit-in at a State Department office in San Francisco, California. The activists called their protest “XL Dissent West,” to echo the larger XL Dissent action that happened in DC over the weekend.
This Wednesday, pipeline opponents in Boston are expecting upwards of 100 students and community members to protest outside of a fundraiser President Obama is hosting in the city.
“The 398 students arrested at the White House were just the beginning,” said Ophir Bruck, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, who was arrested on Monday in San Francisco. “We’re prepared to do whatever it takes to stop this pipeline and we know that tens of thousands more people are right behind us.”
More than 86,000 people have signed the Keystone XL pledge of resistance, organized by CREDO Action, Rainforest Action Network and The Other 98%, committing to take part in civil disobedience if the State Department determines the pipeline in the country’s national interest and recommends President Obama approve the project.
The XL Dissent protest in Washington, DC, which turned out over 1,200 students from more than 100 schools the country, was particularly inspiring for other young people, thousands of whom tuned in to watch a live-stream of the event online and have been sharing photos of their friends who were arrested across Facebook and Twitter.
“I’ve been so inspired by my friends’ reaction to the picture I posted of my hand zip tied to the White House fence. I’ve never gotten that many ‘likes’ for anything on Facebook before,” said Aly Johnson-Kurts, a student at Smith College who is taking a year off from school to be a full time climate activist. “I’m confident nearly all of those friends are wishing they came down to DC last weekend. They’ll be there next time.”
Young people are a key demographic Democrats are hoping to mobilize in the upcoming 2014 and 2016 elections. In a recent poll, 70% of young voters said that support for action on climate change will affect who they vote for, and 73% said they’d vote against a politician who wasn’t addressing the problem. An overwhelming 80% of young people support the President taking action to address climate change, suggesting that a pipeline rejection based on climate impacts would be widely applauded.
Opposition to Keystone XL runs deep in more than just young people, however. Over the last month, indigenous communities across North America have also doubled down on their pledge to block construction of Keystone XL and other tar sands pipelines across their lands. A number of proposed pipelines and other tar sands related projects are in direct violation of tribal treaty rights. A recent tour by musician Neil Young across Canada raised over a million dollars to help tribes bring their cases against the tar sands industry to court.
“It was indigenous leadership that started this fight, and it’s indigenous leadership that is going to help win it,” said Rae Breaux, a 350.org tar sands campaigner who recently attended a meeting of indigenous groups and allies where tribal leaders committed to new plans to oppose Keystone XL. “We’re gearing up for a busy spring together.”
If President Obama moves towards approving the Keystone XL pipeline, he can expect even more mass arrests and demonstrations in Washington, DC and across the country, says 350.org Policy Director Jason Kowalski.
“There were just nearly 400 people arrested at the White House last Sunday, and that was just students on a weekend in March,” said Kowalski. “When it comes to this May, if it looks like President Obama is going to make the wrong call, it’s going to be 4,000, then 10,000, then many more. There are over 80,000 people on that pledge. We’re not going away.”
Hundreds of young people are marching towards the White House right now for XL Dissent, a massive protest to push President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. You can watch the livestream here.
Follow #XLDissent on Twitter for more updates.
The first buses of students are beginning to arrive in DC for this weekend’s XL Dissent protest at the White House. I’m in a cafe just around the corner from the Thurgood Marshall Center, where students will be gathering this afternoon for a meetup on fossil fuel divestment. Later tonight, they’ll take part in a mass training in civil disobedience in preparation for the sit-in this Sunday.
There’s a palpable beat of excitement as tomorrow gets closer. Walking around U St. here in DC, you can see students with backpacks and sleeping bags finding their way to the convergence center. Hundreds of them will be sleeping just up the road from here tonight in a local church. One of our support team just grabbed my credit card to order another 50 pizzas (with vegan and gluten free options, of course) since our numbers continue to expand.
In a blog post I recently wrote up for Common Dreams, I pasted in a quote from Howard Zinn that goes, “Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.” I’ve been thinking a lot about those words this weekend as I’ve been helping pitch out the story of XL Dissent.
These days, protest is one of the least understood parts of our democracy. We obsesses ourselves with the minutia of elections, the cyclical back-and-forth of Congress, and the utterings and mis-utterings of White House officials, while often ignoring the messier work of social movements.
The students taking part here in XL Dissent see their democratic responsibilities as extending beyond the voting booth. Through President Bush, and now Obama, they’ve learned that the promises politicians make to woo the youth vote are often little more than pandering. If anything, the Obama administration seems to have solidified the impression that even the most youth-friendly candidates need to be pushed, protested, and forced into living up to their rhetoric.
We all remember the heady days of 2008, when President Obama spoke in front of tens of thousands of people in Grant Park and promised that “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
Those words proved misleading, at best. Over the last six years, the seas have continued to rise and the fossil fuel industry has continued to pillage the planet, often aided and abetted by the Obama administration. Just this week, the US moved a step closer towards opening up the Atlantic seaboard for offshore drilling, something President Obama personally advocated for back in 2010 before BP dumped 5 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico and such brazen handouts to Big Oil became politically unpalatable.
If the historic election of a President isn’t the moment when we begin to turn the tide on climate change, what could be? We’ll only know in retrospect, of course, but I think that moment will feel something like the pulse here at XL Dissent. The moment won’t come in the halls of Congress, but in the streets outside the Capitol. It will be a moment of protest, of civil disobedience, of organizing. A moment when we begin to reclaim a more expansive understanding of what democracy really means. This Sunday could be the beginning.
Largest protest yet in an escalating campaign on Wesleyan’s campus
Over 100 Wesleyan students surrounded the pathway outside the Board of Trustees meeting this afternoon to demand that the University develop a plan to divest its endowment from the fossil fuel industry. The event was the largest rally yet in the ongoing divestment campaign.
“We don’t want our education being funded by climate destruction,” said Maya McDonnell ‘16. “Wesleyan should invest in our future–not in companies that are poisoning communities and destabilizing our climate.”
At 12:00PM this afternoon, Wesleyan students lined the path from Albritton to North College holding signs that said “This is Why” with their personal reasons for supporting divestment. A number of student leaders spoke, calling on the administration to live up to its values of social responsibility and sustainability. As the chapel bells tolled, students dropped a banner from the student center balcony.
Abby Cunniff ‘17 asserted that “divesting from coal, oil, and gas companies is a powerful political tactic to combat the fossil fuel industry’s influence on our government and exploitation of communities.”
Students launched Wes Divest in spring 2013, joining over 300 campuses from across the country that are calling for fossil fuel divestment. On Oct. 27th 2013, Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) passed an official resolution supporting divestment. Students have also met with representatives from the Committee for Investor Responsibility to request divestment, but the administration has yet to develop an actionable plan pertaining to fossil fuel divestment.
Wesleyan President Michael Roth stated in his inaugural address that the Wesleyan community is characterized by a “respect for difference, a concern for the disadvantaged, an activism that searches for justice, an experimental culture that produces aesthetic and scientific innovation.”
“As a self-proclaimed progressive university, it is our duty to set an environmentally conscientious example for our fellow institutions, following the footsteps of peer liberal arts schools. Investing in any market is inherently political, and we’d like our endowment’s investments to reflect the values of our student body, as well as the Wesleyan mission statement,” said Heather Whitmore ‘17.
In the most recent findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s top climate scientists warn about the dangers of surpassing a 2 degrees Celsius rise in global warming. The fossil fuel industry has five times the amount of carbon in its reserves needed to push the globe past this 2 degrees of warming.
However, Claire Marshall ‘17 made it clear that “Wes, Divest is as concerned with the social implications as it is with the environmental consequences. We want the community to know that we are absolutely concerned with the health of our endowment and the school’s ability to provide strong financial aid. The two issues are not mutually exclusive. Investing in fossil fuels is equivalent to valuing money over human lives.”
In addition, investors are increasingly aware of the growing risk of a “carbon bubble” for financial markets. A number of studies show the potential decline of companies with carbon intensive operations in coming years.
“We know we don’t have to choose between investing ethically, increasing financial aid, adopting a non-discriminatory admission policy, treating faculty and staff with respect, and transitioning to a more ecologically responsible campus,” said Josh Krugman ‘14.
The fossil fuel divestment movement has had several victories in 2014 already, including a group of foundations representing nearly $2 billion in assets committing to fossil fuel divestment, recent endorsements from World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and UN Climate Secretary Christiana Figueres. In total, nine colleges and universities have committed to pursue fossil fuel divestment, along with dozens of cities, states, religious institutions, foundations, and other institutions.
For more information on Wesleyan’s divestment campaign, visit: http://wesdivest.weebly.com/
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Energy is high in Minnesota despite the bitter cold temperatures as we feel the climate movement swell with folks taking local action to stand up for a livable future. Wednesday we were reminded of the power of showing up to visually represent the kind of world we are working for — A world free of extreme fossil fuel extraction, transportation and consumption through projects like Keystone XL and the Alberta Clipper. A world investing and putting into practice behaviors and technologies reliant on clean energy and conservation. A world where we are celebrating and prioritizing our collective values of respect, creativity and love.
And there’s a lot going on! President Obama’s visit to St. Paul this week came with the customary lack of advance notice, setting off an organized but fast-paced scramble to meet him at Union Depot with our message. The security plans for the day kept us from staging a demonstration indoors so we bundled up and captured the energy of the moment with chants, songs, colorful props and pure determination to reach out and invite the attendees and the media to wake up to the realities of tar sands oil and to join us in opposing its expansion in the name of climate change.
Although the Keystone XL fight has grabbed most of the national spotlight, Minnesota is facing tar sands issues in a big way — in fact, we have a virtual superhighway of tar sands oil that stretches across the northern part of the state. Enbridge, the giant Canadian pipeline company, brings 1.8 million barrels per day of tar sands into Minnesota, more than almost any other state. Enbridge wants to expand a pipeline called the Alberta Clipper to carry almost as much tar sands oil as Keystone XL would carry. MN350 has contested this expansion at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, and we’re currently engaged in a massive grassroots and legal effort to build a movement capable of ensuring this increase doesn’t happen and the oil is kept in the ground.
Pipeline companies like to say that if the oil doesn’t move by pipeline, it will move by rail. That’s why we’re so excited about one of our newest initiatives, a state-level legislative campaign driven by MN350 citizen volunteers in partnership with legislative leaders. Our bill is called the Oil Spill Defense Act and it will bring transparency and higher standards to disaster response plans while holding crude oil carriers financially accountable to the cost and risk of all oil flowing through the state by pipeline, rail, truck, or tanker. Our new sign for the demonstration said “Passenger Trains, Not Oil Trains,” reflecting our vision of a world that gives folks affordable, efficient transportation options that reduce our reliance on extreme fossil fuels; a world that draws the line on projects that increase these 100-car tanker trains and higher pressured pipelines bringing local danger and global climate catastrophe.
Obama hasn’t heard the last from us, either: over 65 college students from across the state will join hundreds of other students at the XL DISSENT action in Washington, DC this weekend to show the world the severity of the Keystone XL decision and their deep commitment to holding our political leaders accountable to addressing climate change. Simultaneously, MN350 youth leaders will embark on a tar sands speaking tour to connect with youth in communities along the Alberta Clipper tar sands pipeline route in the northern part of the state. Minnesotans are standing up with the collective energy of the global movement in powerful and creative ways to protect our people, our place and our climate this week, and every moment to come.
February 22, 2014. Prescott, Arizona
The Prescott College Board of Trustees has approved a landmark Fossil Fuel Divestment Resolution, making a commitment to shift endowment investments from the 200 largest fossil fuel coporations to clean, green energy companies and other socially responsible investments aligned with institutional values. The college is proud to stand behind this resolution as a part of a long-standing commitment to environmental responsibility and social justice.
The Divestment initiative at Prescott College was first developed by recent graduate Kara Kukovich, who prepared a report on the ethical, financial and environmental reasons for fossil fuel divestment at Prescott College. The proposed action gained widespread support from students, faculty, staff and Executives at the college, and was approved by all major internal governance committees within a few short months.
“We are excited about the Divestment Resolution, it reaffirms our commitment to environmental responsibility and social justice,” said Interim President John Van Domelen, “these have been our core values from since inception nearly a half century ago, long before the emergence of the sustainability movement.”
The resolution establishes an investment filter to remove the largest 200 fossil fuel corporations listed by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, over the next 3 years, as a means to apply core values with a goal of reducing risk while increasing financial and social return on investment. The college also included a clause to engage in advocacy encouraging current investment managers to develop fossil free investment fund products that would also serve their other clients.
Divestment of fossil fuel investments builds on previous climate action, as the college was one of the first signatories to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, the higher education protocol for reducing institutional and global greenhouse gas emissions. A long-term Climate Action Plan is also in final stages of development, with a comprehensive series of projects to minimize greenhouse gas emissions through investments in energy conservation, renewable energy, and carbon offset origination.
Earlier this year, the college was awarded LEED™ Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council for a new, high efficiency student housing facility, the Village, that has recently been confirmed as “net zero” for electricity: generating more solar power than it consumes for heating, cooling, plug loads and lights, while powering other campus buildings and reducing the overall campus carbon footprint.
“Divestment is a next step that makes sense for our Prescott College’s ethos,” said James Pittman, Prescott College alum and Director of Sustainability, “we are fulfilling our mission and changing history, encouraging students to think critically and act ethically with sensitivity to both the human community and the biosphere.”
Prescott College was one institution among hundreds in public and private sectors considering divestment for climate action, and now proudly joins a pioneering group of a dozen other colleges and universities, 7 major metropolitan cities and 15 other municipalities, 2 counties and over 20 religious institutions that have committed to a Divestment Resolution.
Global climate change from human-caused greenhouse gas emissions is a tremendous risk source for humanity, with potential to significantly disrupt economic, social and environmental stability on the planet. Divestment campaigns are a central strategy for social change in response to climate change, and are being promoted by 350.org and other organizations. These strategies are based on success of similar approaches used in the 1970s and 1980s to encourage the South African government to shift from Apartheid to policies based on racial equality and fair governance.
A full text version of the Prescott College Fossil Fuel Divestment Resolution will be publicly available for use by other institutions taking action in response to climate change.
General Prescott College Information: Dr. Brian Sajko, Integrated Marketing and Communications (928) 350-2109 email@example.com
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Last February 18-21, 2014 in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, JATAM and WALHI, together with the international coal network, have orgaized the first SE Asia Regional Coal Meeting in Samarinda, East Kalimantan. The main purposes of the meeting are to develop the network of groups working on coal in the region, to build the capacity of those groups and individuals to fight proposed coal plants and mines, and to share experiences and strategies.
Part of the meeting is to visit coal mining communities and engaged with the locals. It is devastating to see how arable land for food are turned into a wasteland.
Our friends from LEAP (Land, Empowerment, Animals, People), Jaswinder Kaur Kler, from Malaysia translated the conversation she had with one of the participants during the meetings, Ibu Mariana, 55 years old. Below are some of the powerful pieces she shared:
“My community’s struggles are falling on deaf ears. We are being poisoned slowly by coal mines and pollution of our rivers. It is a difficult battle, but I am determined to fight on,” Ibu Mardiana said.
“Hutan adalah nafas kami, air adalah darah kami;
Hutan dibabat (ditebang), bumi dikeruh, mata air kering;
Rakyat melarat, adat lenyap, masa depan gelap.”
(The forest is our breath, water is our blood;
The forest is cleared, land is destroyed, our watersheds are dry;
The people are suffering, our heritage is gone, our future is bleak.)
Reading through Jas’ translations from Ibu Mardiana’s words brings me to tears. May we continue to build the kind of power that will trample the dirty industry down!
Please read the whole write up from Jaswinder’s blog.
Just days before students are set to meet with the University of Maine System Investment Committee, University of Southern Maine President Theo Kalikow released a statement to the student newspaper supporting Divest UMaine.
Divest UMaine is a cross-campus student coalition, working to divest the pooled endowment of Maine’s seven public universities. On February 27, the students will meet with the Investment Committee, and ask them to send a resolution on fossil fuel divestment to the Board of Trustees.
Kalikow called on other University of Maine System presidents to also support the student initiative. Read the full statement below.
Statement from University of Southern Maine President Theo Kalikow:
The student group, Divest UMaine, will make a presentation to the University System’s Investment Committee on February 27, supporting divestiture of fossil fuel investments.
As president of the University of Maine Farmington and now at USM, I have not made a habit of attending Investment Committee meetings. However, last year I was there when they first discussed the possibility of fossil fuel divestment with their investment consultants. Clean energy and environmental responsibility have always been important to me. After all, how can we teach sound environmental practices in the classroom if we don’t follow through as an educational institution?
I encourage the Investment Committee to consider this issue seriously—because climate change is a risk that we must respond to, and because when students get this organised, it is our job to listen to them.
The Divest UMaine students make strong arguments in support of divestment. There are more fossil fuel free investment options available to use and new reports have emerged that demonstrate divestment from fossil fuel companies is a low-risk move.
I urge my fellow University of Maine System presidents to support this initiative. The Divest UMaine students are organised, and they have the best interest of the University System and the planet at heart. Their campaign for fossil fuel divestment deserves a good hearing and it is our responsibility to see that it has one.
—Theo Kalikow, President of the University of Southern Maine
California’s drought spells disaster for your favorite foods. Lettuce and tomatoes and broccoli – Oh my!
California’s drought won’t only affect Californians. “The Golden State” actually supplies nearly half of all U.S. fruits, veggies, and nuts, and in the midst of its driest year of the past half millenium, these eight foods might become really hard to get.
Courtesy of Mother Jones:
“That kind of fuel just ain’t for us, we crave a different kind of buzz.”
NOLA’s Captain P. rocks the spandex, does a mean Lorde cover. Watch:
Last week, Divest Tulane and Fossil Free teamed up to host an empowering and energizing event entitled “Building a Bold Student Resistance: Taking Meaningful Action on Fossil Fuel Divestment.” This panel of inspiring speakers offered a diversity of perspectives on the growing divestment movement at a critical time for campaigns across the entire country. At this point, many campaigns have made incredible strides in pushing our universities to remove their money from fossil fuel companies. We have gained overwhelming support from our student bodies, passed faculty senate resolutions, met with administrators, and much more. A growing number of campaigns have evoked responses from their administrations and have met dead end promises, such as exploratory committees intended to stall them and dissolve the power they have built. While it is easy to give in to complacency and work with the administration as they attempt to appease us, this is exactly the moment that we must build an even stronger resistance. We must think creatively and act boldly to push our universities to be leaders in the struggle against climate change.
This message was beautifully and powerfully delivered to students across the country last Thursday by speakers Naomi Klein, Prexy Nesbitt, Cherri Foytlin, Allie Welton, Zeph Repollo, and Bob Massie. As I listened to their passionate words, I was reminded not only of the urgency of climate change and the need to take fearless action, but also of the thousands of students across the country working towards the same goal as my friends and me at Divest Tulane. I think that there is real power in our movement of young people, as it is our future that is at stake, and I believe that if we continue to push our institutions to align their values with their practices, we will win.
I was very pleased that this panel was hosted in a city that is on the frontlines of climate change and environmental injustice. While much of the news we hear regarding divestment campaign successes has thus far come from the northeast, we are excited to be making waves in a place that has such high stakes in the climate crisis. Tulane University is located in the amazing city of New Orleans, Louisiana, a place brimming with unique and irreplaceable cultures. Unfortunately, we have the worst sea-level rise projections in this hemisphere – New Orleans is predicted to be completely under water by 2100 – and communities across the region suffer from the deadly pollution of fossil fuel companies. Grassroots climate organizing in oil country warrants bold action, as the political and corporate forces working against meaningful climate progress are so great. Having this speaker panel at Tulane highlighted the injustices of frontline communities in the south, while also energizing students on the Tulane campus. After attending the panel, one of our friends who had previously been uninvolved in climate activism told us that he now plans to risk arrest at the XL Dissent action on March 2nd, feeling impassioned by the panel and ready to take action. Later today, I will walk confidently into our second meeting with Tulane’s president, knowing that climate change is too urgent of an issue to get caught up in meaningless administrative processes. We need to boldly take this issue into our own hands and not let President Cowen stall us yet again, because like Cherri Foytlin so passionately said, we are fighting for our lives, so we can’t take no for an answer.
Co-President, Divest Tulane
P.S. Let’s continue to use the #BoldAction to share our thoughts as well as pictures and videos of how we’re building a bold student resistance on our campus.