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Kreativa aktiviteter i Almedalen

Mon, 2014-07-21 17:18

Efter att ha samlats ett stort gäng kampanjare i Norrköping för Klimatriksdagen, var nästa anhalt Almedalsveckan i Visby! Här följer en sammanfattning av vad vi gjorde. – Jakob Sahlin

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Fossilbubblevolleyboll

En favorit i repris! På tisdagsförmiddagen i ett soligt Almedalen var det återigen dags för det framtidsavgörande spelet fossilbubblevolleyboll. Med ett volleybollsnät, orange fossilbubbla  och ett gäng taggade ungdomar kunde matchen börja. Med både knytnävslag och vindputsar blev det en spännande match. Vi ställde oss alla frågan, såväl spelare som förbipasserande: När kommer bubblan spricka? Vilka kommer förlora? Lag 1, lag 2, publiken eller allihopa? För även om vi hade det supertrevligt när vi träffade folk som ville spela med, allt från vuxna till barn, och fick några fina skratt när spelare efter spelare desperat kastade sig efter bubblan och hålla den vid liv så hade vår aktion ett viktigt budskap:

“AP-fonderna, sluta spela med vår framtid! # Divestera ur kol, olja och gas”

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Kypare som serverade oväntade tilltugg

“Får jag lov?” Det var frågan som våra kyparklädda aktivister ställde i folkvimlet längs Visbys gator. Nej, det handlade inte om att få en dans till den stora miljökvällen på onsdagskvällen – utan om att servera ett glas olja och en bit svartkol. Mums fillibabba! Nja, det var inte riktigt det som blev responsen utan snarare: “Va, nja, men, aha, varför, så att…”. Vid lunchtid, när gemene Almedalsbesökare var ute efter en gratis bit mat så kom hur många som helst fram till oss och fick veta att deras pensionspengar investeras i fossilindustrin och därmed riskerar att bli helt värdelösa om fossilbubblan spricker.

Aktionen blev lyckad både under onsdagen och torsdagen, och budskapet var: “Får det lov att vara lite fossila bränslen?” Inte undra på att jag inte fick någon kavaljer med den frågan….

Närvaro vid viktiga seminarier

Under veckan fanns det gott om seminarier som berörde investeringar i kol, olja och gas. Vi såg till att vara på plats och ställa de frågor som behövde ställas: “Är det inte dags att ta moralisk ställning för klimatet, och sluta investera helt i fossila bränslen? Och om ni inte tycker att moralen ska få styra, vad anser ni då om fossilbubblan, och hotet att kol-, olje- och gastillgångarna blir så kallade stranded assets?”

Ett av dem var Global Utmanings seminarium “Är det dags att avveckla investeringar i kol, olja och gas?“. Där såg panelisterna våra tröjor med ordet “divest”, vilket sporrade diskussion om divestering som strategi. Kampanjsamordnare Olivia fick chans att lägga en kommentar på panelisternas approach, fick mothugg av de flesta panelisterna, men gav svar på tal – vilket utlöste en rejäl applåd, den enda under seminariet (utom den avslutande artiga förstås).

Vad hon sa? Jo, att divestering är ett sätt för institutioner att ta ställning för klimatet, inte ett sätt att försöka göra oljebolagen bankrutt. Att AP-fondernas VD Mats Andersson bör sluta invänta politiska beslut om koldioxidskatt, och istället uppmana politikerna att fatta de besluten genom att själv visa på klimatledarskap. Hon sa att det enda sättet att ta ansvar för framtiden, är att ta ansvar för nuet.

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 15.40.01

Ärkebiskopen uttalade stöd för divestering

Det är inte bara Fossil Free som uttalar sitt stöd för divestering ur fossilindusttin! Alltfler talar om frågan, och vår nya ärkesbiskop, Antje Jackelén, uttryckte intresse för frågan i en intervju med amerikanska nyhetskanalen Democracy Now. Svenska Kyrkan ser det som sitt ansvar och att adressera klimatförändringarna. Antje Jackelén ser klimatfrågan som en fråga om rättfärdighet medmänniskor emellan och en fråga om att våga hoppas på en bättre värld.

Avslutningsvis, på frågan vilka klimatåtgärder som Sverige kan vara förebild för, svarade Antje Jackelén så här: “Skäran ner på utsläppen, divestera från fossilindustrin och investera i hållbara energilösningar”. Även om det är lite si och så med hur Sveriges klimatutsläpp minskar globalt, hur våra statliga energibolag satsar på hållbara energliösningar och hur våra AP fonder investerar, så är det ändå befriande att den svenska kyrkans ledare strävar efter att detta ska bli verklighet.

Länk för hela intervjun>>

Första partiledaren att uttala krav om fossilfria AP-fonder

Under en ibland blå, ibland grå himmel varje kväll under Almedalsveckan var det dags för partiledartal från ett av partierna i riksdagen. Fossil Free var förstås på plats för att lyssna efter nya förslag och initiativ på klimatområdet. På fredagen fick vi höra den förste partiledaren att adressera AP fondernas ägandekapital i fossilindustrin. Han sa pricksäkert så här: “Inte en krona av våra pensionspengar ska satsas i de oljebolag som håller på att förstöra vårt klimat.”

Efter att motionen om att divestera våra pensionspengar ur olja-, kol- och gasbolag gick igenom under Klimatriksdagen i Norrköping vet vi nu också att den frågan också har stöd i Riksdagshuset i Stockholm. Vem det var som uttaldade sig? Vänsterpartiets partiledare Jonas Sjöstedt.

Jonas sjöstedt

Tack för allt stöd

Till er som inte var på plats, tack för alla uppmuntrande ord och tips genom Facebook och Twitter!

Till er som var där - Ni. Är. Guld.

Med vänliga hälsningar,

Jakob Sahlin, Fossil Free KTH

En liten hälsning från Olivia: Vill du engagera dig mer aktivt i Fossil Free-kampanjen, och fira ut våren och sommaren med oss? Häng med på vår nationella sammankomst den 29-31 augusti – maila olivia@350.org för mer info.

The post Kreativa aktiviteter i Almedalen appeared first on Fossil Free.

350 Vanuatu – Meet the team, and the big plans!

Mon, 2014-07-21 05:51

Over the last five years, we’ve been working with 350 groups across more than 15 Pacific Islands.What started out as a network that organised for the 350.org global days of action, has now evolved into a grassroots network of Pacific Islanders building movement locally, and translating that into campaigns to stand up and protect the Pacific Islands from climate change. Last week, the team in Vanuatu passed a landmark step in registering the organisation “350 Vanuatu”, with a board and team of executive officers. Isso Nihmei, the 350 Vanuatu coordinator explains how they came to be, and where they are headed. At the bottom of the post, you can see the who’s who of 350 Vanuatu.

350 Vanuatu logoThe motivation to launch 350 Vanuatu emerged during Powershift NZ-Pacific in Auckland, New Zealand (2012) and Global Power Shift in Istanbul, Turkey (2013). Since the summit in Turkey, the Vanuatu Power Shift team and our allies here have organised a series of summits, events, and mobilizations linked with 350 Pacific and wider global networks.

In the coming years, 350 Vanuatu is seeking to implement the 350 Pacific strategy with a mission to empower and educate action-focused Pacific Island young people to lead creative actions to:

  • Make our villages and towns more resilient to a changing climate.
  • Join the global movement that is pressuring big polluters and the fossil fuel industry and get the world back on track to 350ppm
  • Build stronger, more connected fossil free communities across the Pacific; not just within the Pacific Islands, but across the world.

Our National Key Priorities over the coming three years will use the Warrior theme across our initiatives.  350 Vanuatu’s top priorities are:

  1. Embolden Pacific Island leaders and government leadership and interventions on the international stage on climate change
  2. Take action to challenge the Fossil Fuel Industry
  3. Build and display cultural strength of the Pacific Islands
  4. Empower young people to build local resilience to climate change impacts
  5. Tell and share stories from both the frontlines of climate change impacts and the movement response

350 Vanuatu is working closely with the government through the Ministry of Climate Change, Energy, Environment, meteorology and geo-hazards and several other civil Society, Non-governmental organization and other local government on implementing climate change activities on community to international campaign.

You can contact 350 Vanuatu by emailing them on 350.vanuatu@gmail.com

Isso Nihmei: Coordinator
Isso Nihmei Emil Samuel: Assistant Coordinator

Winy Marango: Treasurer

Jill Wai: Secretary

Board Members:

 Efraim

 Metz Brian

 Talia  Magrina  Nikita Thomas

Copenhagen’s investments undermine green ambitions

Fri, 2014-07-18 17:53
 Mstyslav Chernov

Image: Mstyslav Chernov

The investments of Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen, clash with its efforts to become a leader in sustainability, a recent article in Danish newspaper Politiken points out.

Copenhagen aims to become the world’s first CO2-neutral capital by 2025. If the city is serious about its goal, it’s high time for the European Green Capital 2014 to end its DKK 53 million investment in fossil fuels.

According to research organisation DanWatch, Copenhagen supports fossil fuel companies like Shell, Statoil, ExxonMobil, Gazprom, Glencore and RWE.

While the DKK 53 million invested in fossil fuels represent just 1% of the municipal budget of DKK 6 billion, continued investments in fossil fuels make Copenhagen complicit in wrecking our climate.

To stand a chance of staying below 2°C global warming, 80% of the fossil fuel industry’s known carbon reserves need to remain unburnt. Continuing to pump money into oil, coal and gas fuels runaway climate change.

It’s time for Copenhagen to follow the example of cities like San Francisco (USA), Dunedin (NZ) or even the small town of Boxtel in the Netherlands, and pull taxpayers’ money out of an industry that is destroying our climate.

Rather than funding climate wreckage, Copenhagen should show real leadership and invest in energy efficiency and community-owned, low-carbon solutions.

Meanwhile, a campaign is underway to get the Danish pension funds to divest from fossil fuels. Initial votes on divestment at the pension funds general assemblies were fairly close. The votes in favour of divestment ranged from 38% (JØP, lawyers and economists) to 46% (DIP, engineers) and 49% (MP Pension, academics).

You can add your voice calling on the Danish pension funds to divest here.

The post Copenhagen’s investments undermine green ambitions appeared first on Fossil Free.

The 5th and Final Tar Sands Healing Walk.

Thu, 2014-07-17 21:59

Healing Walk 2014 from Zack Embree on Vimeo.

Over the last 5 years, thousands of people have gathered with First Nations leadership to walk, pray and heal in the heart of the tar sands. This June the fifth and final Healing Walk brought hundreds of people to march along the side of Highway 63 in Northern Alberta, looping through the destruction wrought by tar sands development.

We marched along the shore of tailings ponds, past miles of industrial development and alongside boreal forest turned to desert. The air was thick with the acrid smell and taste tar sands extraction as trucks rolled past to developments further north, but in the midst of it was a resilient spirit. Drums throughout the march rung like a heartbeat of what has become one of the biggest fights to stop environmental injustice on our planet.

In the midst of the destruction was a gathering of people, each one with connections back to hundreds more joining in spirit, all committed to not just stopping tar sands expansion, but healing relationships, the land and starting to heal our planet.

This may have been the last Healing Walk, but it is just the beginning of a new phase in our movement.

A Dark Day for Australia is Our Rallying Call

Thu, 2014-07-17 10:02

It’s a dark day here in Australia with the repeal of the carbon price, but as dark as it is, it’s also a rallying call for our movement – the following is from 350.org Australia’s Blair Palese.

After a torturous few weeks of furious debate in the senate (including a rather bizarre Al Gore cameo), Australia’s coalition government has finally been successful in having the carbon price repealed, signalling Australia’s determination to bury its head in the sand and turn its back on the rest of the world’s efforts to reduce climate change. The 17th of March will go down in Australian history as the day when 39 of our Senators turned their back on future generations.

Australia's Coalition Members of Parliament celebrating the carbon repeal bills passing the House of Representatives.

Australia’s Coalition Members of Parliament celebrating the carbon repeal bills passing the House of Representatives.

In the short period it was in operation Australia’s carbon pricing system reduced emissions from the energy sector by more than 8 percent and put Australia at the forefront in terms of action on climate change. However the successful vilification of the carbon price as a ‘tax’ by Prime Minister Tony Abbott signalled the death knell for Australia’s most effective measure to price carbon pollution.

The repeal of the carbon price, whilst a sad day for Australia’s history books, provides an opportunity for the people of Australia to stand up and take back the power to determine the future of our country. Because today it’s been made clear that we can no longer rely on our politicians to act in the best interests of the planet.  If our political leaders are determined to ignore the greatest threat to humanity, it means that Australia’s citizens must take our own action to combat runaway climate change.

As Donald Trump once said, sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win a war. 

Things that we can do to ensure we can still sleep at night:

1. Use our money to demand change

The global divestment movement is clearly gaining traction and we’ve seen many examples of financial leaders stepping in to fill the gap left by politicians.

Some of the world’s biggest international banks including Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays have all ruled out providing financial support for the expansion of the Abbot Point coal port, a project which will turn our Great Barrier Reef into a coal shipping highway and open up the Pandora’s box that is the Galilee Basin coal reserves. Spiritual organisations are doing the same — just last week the World Council of Churches announced they were removing all their investments in the fossil fuel industry.

As consumers we have the opportunity (and our future generations may imply, the moral obligation) to demand that our money is used responsibly and not invested in industries that could exacerbate climate change.

2. Stop new fossil fuel projects

This year we’ve seen some wonderful examples of how ordinary people can work together to stop or slow Australia’s biggest coal and gas projects. From Bentley to Maules Creek we’ve sent a message to the big fossil fuel companies that their social license to dig and drill at will has expired and that they’d better be prepared for costly fights and PR disasters if they want to start new projects.

However our biggest battle hasn’t even begun – plans are underway to construct nine new mines in the Galilee Basin, which will double Australia’s export of coal and push us to the point of no return.  We must work together to stop these mines from going ahead.

3. Start demanding climate leadership at all levels

If our politicians won’t willingly offer any leadership on climate change we must stand up and demand it.

The People’s Climate March in September will see thousands of people taking to the streets to demand less talk and more action on climate change. It represents the perfect opportunity for Australians to show that they despite what our politicians may think, we are not happy to be the climate pariah of the planet.

We may have lost this battle, but there’s no way we’re going to lose this war.

If you’re in Australia, get involved and help us turn this around. Sign up here: http://350.org.au/join-us/

Divestment campaigns take hold in Norway

Wed, 2014-07-16 19:27

Hanne Gustavsen

Last week we updated you about the successes of other European Fossil Free campaigns. Today we’ve got a special dispatch from our Norwegian divestment campaign partners, Framtiden.    Here’s the lowdown on the Fossil Fri Penger campaign from Hanne Gustavsen:

Pensions progress

Earlier this year the Norwegian parliament appointed an expert committee whose mandate is to assess whether divestment is a more effective strategy than “active ownership” for Norway’s State Pension Fund (SPU) to address climate issues. Now, in cooperation with other environmental NGOs like Future in our hands (FIOH), we’re in the process of establishing a “shadow/parallel” expert committee made up of several well-respected academics.  They will undertake their own independent assessment alongside the official  expert committee, with both panels expected to publish their conclusions by the end of November 2014. We are following their progress closely and expect there will probably be a controversial discrepancy between the conclusions of the two different panels!

Linking divestment to local municipal elections

We are making divestment of local municipal pension funds a key demand ahead of the local elections next year. In cooperation with Klimavalg — an alliance of more than 80 NGOs across Norway — we’ll be working hard to convince the local candidates to prioritize this issue, and make it an important and visible claim in the elections.  Future in Our Hands has  revealed that Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP), which manages the pensions on behalf of many municipalities and public enterprises, is investing in fossil fuels.  KLP are now reviewing their investments and have admitted that they may have to reconsider these investments if they receive enough demands for fossil fuel divestment from their clients. Our job is to make sure that happens.

Building strong local campaigns Framtiden activists gather for summer training event to build local power and organisation

Framtiden activists gather for summer training event to build local power and organisation

We also arranged a national workshop with our local activists from 13-15th of June, focusing on capacity building, sharing skills and making connections between different local campaigns.

The activists have been focusing a lot on building strong organization locally, and spreading information about Fossil Free. There has been several information stands in Trondheim, Bergen and Oslo, as well as workshops and public demonstrations.  We’re building a Norwegian divestment movement.

University of Bergen’s unethical links bergen_350demo

Bergen students “350″ protest to demand an end to their university’s fossil fuel research and partnership with Statoil

The public debate about the controversial contract between Statoil and The University of Bergen is still going strong (Akademia-avtalen), even in national newspapers. On 7 May, Future in our Hands’ local activist group arranged a huge protest  against the contract outside the university, spelling out 350 with their bodies. Shortly afterwards, our National committee on ethical issues (NENT) reached the conclusion that:  “petroleum research is ethically irresponsible if it serves to prevent the necessary transition necessary to reach the UNs climate goals.” 

The committee urged Norwegian universities to take responsibility for making such a transition possible. Bergen’s Rector, Dag Rune Olsen, promised that green energy will be a stronger priority for the university in coming years, but still claims that NENTs conclusion do not affect the Statoil contract in question.  Obviously, the students’ struggle for a university free of fossil fuel research is not over yet.

Trondheim Student and Citizen Alliance Trondheim students and residents have formed an alliance to demand fossil fuel divestment

Trondheim students and residence have formed an alliance to demand fossil fuel divestment

In Trondheim, a Fossil Free alliance has been working together to secure fossil fuel divestment from both  the University of Trondheim (whose investments are managed through the UNIFOR foundation) and the City Council.  As a result of their joint engagement, Trondheim City Council has started an investigation about this issue, and is expecting to make a decision based on their findings. The activists will keep up the pressure.

The university, on the other hand, is giving credit to Fossil Free campaigners for raising the issue, but claims that it is difficult to divest because the money invested through UNIFOR is from private donors and foundations, and not the university’s “own money”. The alliance just received a letter from the University rector, and this opens the way for an interesting debate and likely escalation of the campaign after the summer break.

And finally…

Activists in 4 additional cities have been in touch with their city administration, trying to find out how their local pension funds are invested. This information isn’t always easy accessible, but we now know that most of them are invested in fossil fuels, so there will definitely be more debate and Fossil Free actions after summer.  Watch this space…

The post Divestment campaigns take hold in Norway appeared first on Fossil Free.

Fossil Free Europe – Country Updates

Fri, 2014-07-11 19:36

European Divestment Training, May 2014Well folks, it’s been 4 months since we highlighted 9 European divestment campaigns to look out for.  So much has happened since then that we thought it was time for an update on the status of the Fossil Free campaign across Europe.

Perhaps most important is the work that’s been going on behind the scenes to build the power and campaigning skills of the people who make up Europe’s rapidly-growing divestment movement.  In May, we brought together 30 key organisers from Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Poland, Netherlands, Germany and the UK in rural Germany for a week-long training and strategy session.  It’s these people who have made the successes below a reality.

Here’s a rundown of just a few highlights from each country:

SWEDEN

hemskt mkt moaThe campaign has really taken off at Swedish universities including Lund, Stockholm, Uppsala, Jönköping and Gothenburg, with creative actions,  petition gathering and public debates. After the financial officer of Gothenburg University threw down a challenge to students, saying “There’s a difference between if 10 or a 1000 people think [divestment] is an important issue”, the students set out to show just how much support they had.  Within a fortnight they quickly delivered his demand for a 1000 supporters.

Meanwhile, Swedish citizens have also been demanding that the cities of Malmö, Lund and Stockholm divest from fossil fuels, whilst a high profile campaign to divest Sweden’s national insurance pension fund is gathering momentum.   To highlight their demands at a recent drinks reception held at the annual Almedalen political festival, guests were treated to a series of oily cocktails and coal nibbles by divestment activists.  They certainly put divestment on the agenda for whole Almedalen festival,  using panel debates, media coverage and a fantastic endorsement of divestment from Sweden’s first female Archbishop, Antje Jackelén.

What’s coming up next?  Expect a national gathering in August to get training in divestment campaigning, lots of summer activity around the AP pension funds (including some more carbon bubble volleyball), and some workshops in Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm to help strengthen the city divestment campaigns there.   Contact Olivia for more details.

 

UNITED KINGDOM

Students blockage office of Universities UK demanding end to £5.2bn investments in fossil fuels

Students blockade office of Universities UK demanding divestment, July 2014

Danni, our new UK Divestment Organiser, joined the team and quickly got to work supporting our partners running the university, faith and health strands of the Fossil Free UK campaign.

There have been big successes in each strand, starting when Brighthelm became the UK’s first church to divest in May.  Then the faith campaign scored perhaps the biggest global win to date when the World Council of Churches announced it would divest.  It represents over half a billion Christians in 345 church denominations worldwide.   Faith partners Operation Noah are hopeful that the Church of England and Methodists won’t be far behind.

Student network People & Planet continues to ramp up the pressure on UK universities to divest, with campaigns now active on over 50 campuses. The battle is on to see who will be the first to clear bureaucratic hurdles and divest, with Glasgow University looking the mostly likely.  People & Planet recently held a summer training camp to prepare student activists for escalating their campaigns in the Autumn.  Meanwhile, Oxford students and over 100 senior academics made huge progress in forcing the university – which has the largest endowment in the country – to officially consult all staff and students on whether it should divest.

Last but not least, new health strand partners Medact and Healthy Planet came on board and quickly racked up a massive win for the global divestment movement when the British Medical Association voted to shift its investments from fossil fuels into renewable alternatives.

What’s coming up? There’s a busy summer and autumn ahead with a new campaign targeting the Greater London Authority gearing up to launch.  Reclaim the Power – an anti-fracking climate action camp in August – looks set to hit the headlines and lead to some creative action, whilst all strands of the campaign gear up for a UK-wide joint weekend of action on 19-21st September.

GERMANY

German Munster University coal waiter actionThere are now 7 divestment campaigns in Germany with 5 directed at universities and 2 targeting the pension funds of Munster and Konstanz.  Fossil fuel divestment has quickly gained profile within the German climate movement, with more and more people from the grassroots and NGO approaching Tine from Fossil Free Deutschland to work together on divestment campaigns.

In recent months, the focus has been placed heavily on building up the capacity of local Fossil Free groups and connecting them together through a series of trainings and workshops. Results are already starting to show with the group at Munster University recently staging a creative intervention to escalate their demands after they received a no from the management.  Not only did they make a great impact during an official university event, but they also learned media skills as they were interviewed for a feature in a national publication.

What’s coming up? Municipal campaigns offer great potential for challenging the coal, oil and gas investments of the German Savings Bank and its climate-funding investment arm, Dekabank. We’re also considering teaming up with new partners to launch a faith-focussed campaign so watch this space and contact Tine to get involved.

 

NETHERLANDS

Fossil Free activists play carbon volleybubble outside coal power plant

Fossil Free activists play carbon volleybubble outside coal power plant

Last but definitely not least, the Dutch team have been busy relaunching their campaign as FossielvrijNL to great success – complete with new Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Thanks to student pressure and growing support from faculty, the Erasmus University Rotterdam became the first to formally respond to divestment demands in the Netherlands by commissioning research into their ties with the fossil fuel industry.

As well as pushing divestment up the agenda of its universities, there is a strong national Dutch team working together to get the country’s largest pension fund, ABP, to divest. Already, campaigners have persuaded a third of the funds’ accountability body members to call on the board to divest its large fossil fuel holdings.

In such a small country, campaigners have been able to meet up regularly for trainings and workshops to network and build their skills.  And there’s been lots of fun and games too.  FossilvrijNL organised a giant game of carbon bubble volleyball outside a coal power plant for the Great Climate Games 2014. They also teamed up with UK activists to hold a joint carbon bubble stunt during the Royal Dutch Shell AGM.

What’s coming up?  Expect a national training event  in early September from country coordinator Liset and her team.  Progress towards a Fossil Free ABP is also anticipated with an upcoming meeting with the Board and an open letter launching soon to collect widespread national support.

It’s been a fantastic few months for the Fossil Free movement in Europe.  Not only are we better connected to each other, better resourced and more powerful as we go into the Autumn, but we’re already winning some of the highest profile victories of the global divestment movement.    Awareness of the carbon bubble has never been higher, thanks to some beautiful, creative actions and a steady flow of media coverage.  This is key to our strategy of stigmatising the fossil fuel industry in Europe.

As the Ban Ki-Moon climate change summit approaches this September in New York, look out for some even bigger victories and mobilisations across Europe and please… Get involved.

The post Fossil Free Europe – Country Updates appeared first on Fossil Free.

Introducing Our New U.S. Digital Campaigner: How Divesting from Fossil Fuels Started with a Field of Bees

Fri, 2014-07-11 19:00

Since starting at 350.org as the new US Digital Divestment Campaigner, I keep thinking of one summer afternoon storm two years ago in Eastern Turkey.

The sky was a sick orange as ominous dust clouds marched across the Anatolian plateaus. Old nomadic beekeepers, with their faces wrinkled from years of squinting at the horizon sighed as they ducked into their white canvass tents, muttering in Turkish “well, there goes our season.”

Within minutes, the clouds were upon us, and brown hail the size of golf balls pummeled the tent. Accompanying the ice orbs, thick dark sludge slid from the sky and landed in deafening plops.

Mud rain fell for the next few hours, covering all of the plants in thick film, wiping out all of the blossoms, and stunting an otherwise promising 2012 honey season. This June mud rain was devastating, but it wasn’t the only inclement weather we would see that summer high on the fragile grasslands of Northeastern Turkey, bordering Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia. There would be blizzards in the middle of July and August too that would wipe out whatever flowers remained.

 Cat Jaffee)

Storm clouds loom over nomadic beekeeper hives in Eastern Turkey (Photo: Cat Jaffee).

And that was it. Thousands of beekeepers that had traveled hundreds of miles to be here on the plateaus would pack up hives of hungry bees early and turn around to venture into the lowlands, pumping their bees with sugar and medication to keep them alive for yet another season somewhere else.

Cellphone waves! Pesticides! Monocrops! Varroa Mites! There are countless war cries around what’s wiping out the bees. But out in Eastern Turkey there are few telephone lines and limited organized agriculture. Here, many people keep bees the same way since the beginning of recorded time; yet only recently are bees visibly struggling. And the main culprit that few even consider is climate change.

Since I was 22, I had been traveling to this part of the world to start a community led honey tasting trekking company called Balyolu: The Honey Road. Eventually, I picked up everything and made Eastern Turkey my home, running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the idea, winning business competitions, rallying grant funding, and even convincing National Geographic to support me as a Young Explorer, only to find myself in the middle of some of the worst honey seasons in world history. Many factors contributed to why no one could produce honey, but variable weather unlike anything anyone has ever seen was reason number one.

 Cat Jaffee).

A beekeeper in Eastern Turkey opens his hive to reveal a tomb of dead bees (Photo: Cat Jaffee).

During the five years that I spent building and eventually running my company, the weather became more and more unpredictable, the honey less and less mellifluous, and the beekeepers increasingly disheartened. As my company struggled, and environmental and political protests rippled across the country in 2013, it became time to leave Turkey and return to Colorado where fires, floods, and fracking circled my home.

Looking down at my resume, trying to figure out what to do next, I saw in all of my experiences something that each of us have: a climate context, a climate CV. These are the ways in which climate change has followed all of us, forcing us in and out of jobs and homes, influencing the way we live, what we eat, and why we believe what we believe. Avalanches, draughts, typhoons, blizzards, floods, and mud rain were the main headings of mine, and it felt like time to start doing something about it.

So I linked up with 350.org to help run some of our story-telling platforms, focusing on fossil free and divestment. My hope is to impact the way we US citizens view our own global presence and start applying pressure to our political and economic systems to take a good long look at our collective climate CV. I know there is no possible scenario in which we can use fossil fuels forever, let alone beyond the next 50 years, so why wait and watch as mud rain suffocates flowers and stifles bees; or as floods drown our homes and then fires light their wreckage ablaze? Divestment has legs, because it initiates the social stigmatization that we need to move forward. Divestment is not asking people to stop driving cars or flying planes, nor does it ignore that all of us still do still rely on fossil fuels in many ways. What divestment does is it asks us to take the first step in recognizing our own climate context. Divestment helps our communities become aware, respond, and transition to new ways of living by applying the age-old tactic of simple social pressure.

As part of my role now, I wake up and read hundreds of articles about climate change in the US, a job that sounds like it should be depressing; except that it’s not. I see sparks of hope across all of our news feed, people of all faiths joining together to divest, universities taking a stand, communities and governments rallying together to build a world that we can all continue to live in.

I think enough of us have looked up and seen a mud-filled dark orange sky, a sign from weather and nature that something isn’t right. And enough of us have looked down at our climate CVs and decided that it’s time that we do something about it all.

Join me on our Fossil Free social media channels FBTwitterInstagram, and let’s build our movement together.

 Rebecca Shannon Spitzer).

Cat Jaffee and local women beekeepers work with Caucasian honey bees (Photo: Rebecca Shannon Spicer).

 

How Campaigning to Divest From Fossil Fuels Started with a Field of Hungry Bees

Fri, 2014-07-11 18:35

Since starting at 350.org as the new US Digital Divestment Campaigner, I keep thinking of one summer afternoon storm two years ago in Eastern Turkey.

The sky was a sick orange as ominous dust clouds marched across the Anatolian plateaus. Old nomadic beekeepers, with their faces wrinkled from years of squinting at the horizon sighed as they ducked into their white canvass tents, muttering in Turkish “well, there goes our season.”

Within minutes, the clouds were upon us, and brown hail the size of golf balls pummeled the tent. Accompanying the ice orbs, thick dark sludge slid from the sky and landed in deafening plops.

Mud rain fell for the next few hours, covering all of the plants in thick film, wiping out all of the blossoms, and stunting an otherwise promising 2012 honey season. This June mud rain was devastating, but it wasn’t the only inclement weather we would see that summer high on the fragile grasslands of Northeastern Turkey, bordering Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia. There would be blizzards in the middle of July and August too that would wipe out whatever flowers remained.

 Cat Jaffee)

Storm clouds loom over nomadic beekeeper hives in Eastern Turkey (Photo: Cat Jaffee).

And that was it. Thousands of beekeepers that had traveled hundreds of miles to be here on the plateaus would pack up hives of hungry bees early and turn around to venture into the lowlands, pumping their bees with sugar and medication to keep them alive for yet another season somewhere else.

Cellphone waves! Pesticides! Monocrops! Varroa Mites! There are countless war cries around what’s wiping out the bees. But out in Eastern Turkey there are few telephone lines and limited organized agriculture. Here, many people keep bees the same way since the beginning of recorded time; yet only recently are bees visibly struggling. And the main culprit that few even consider is climate change.

Since I was 22, I had been traveling to this part of the world to start a community led honey tasting trekking company called Balyolu: The Honey Road. Eventually, I picked up everything and made Eastern Turkey my home, running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the idea, winning business competitions, rallying grant funding, and even convincing National Geographic to support me as a Young Explorer, only to find myself in the middle of some of the worst honey seasons in world history. Many factors contributed to why no one could produce honey, but variable weather unlike anything anyone has ever seen was reason number one.

 Cat Jaffee).

A beekeeper in Eastern Turkey opens his hive to reveal a tomb of dead bees (Photo: Cat Jaffee).

During the five years that I spent building and eventually running my company, the weather became more and more unpredictable, the honey less and less mellifluous, and the beekeepers increasingly disheartened. As my company struggled, and environmental and political protests rippled across the country in 2013, it became time to leave Turkey and return to Colorado where fires, floods, and fracking circled my home.

Looking down at my resume, trying to figure out what to do next, I saw in all of my experiences something that each of us have: a climate context, a climate CV. These are the ways in which climate change has followed all of us, forcing us in and out of jobs and homes, influencing the way we live, what we eat, and why we believe what we believe. Avalanches, draughts, typhoons, blizzards, floods, and mud rain were the main headings of mine, and it felt like time to start doing something about it.

So I linked up with 350.org to help run some of our story-telling platforms, focusing on fossil free and divestment. My hope is to impact the way we US citizens view our own global presence and start applying pressure to our political and economic systems to take a good long look at our collective climate CV. I know there is no possible scenario in which we can use fossil fuels forever, let alone beyond the next 50 years, so why wait and watch as mud rain suffocates flowers and stifles bees; or as floods drown our homes and then fires light their wreckage ablaze? Divestment has legs, because it initiates the social stigmatization that we need to move forward. Divestment is not asking people to stop driving cars or flying planes, nor does it ignore that all of us still rely on fossil fuels in many ways. What divestment does is it asks us to take the first step in recognizing our own climate context. Divestment helps our communities become aware, respond, and transition to new ways of living by applying the age-old tactic of simple social pressure.

As part of my role now, I wake up and read hundreds of articles about climate change in the US, a job that sounds like it should be depressing; except that it’s not. I see sparks of hope across all of our news feeds, people of all faiths joining together to divest, universities taking a stand, and communities and governments rallying together to build a world that we can all continue to live in.

I think enough of us have looked up and seen a mud-filled dark orange sky, a sign from weather and nature that something isn’t right. And enough of us have looked down at our climate CVs and decided that it’s time that we do something about it all.

Join me on our Fossil Free social media channels FB, Twitter, Instagram, and let’s build our movement together.

 Rebecca Shannon Spitzer).

Cat Jaffee and local women beekeepers work with Caucasian honey bees (Photo: Rebecca Shannon Spicer).

The post How Campaigning to Divest From Fossil Fuels Started with a Field of Hungry Bees appeared first on Fossil Free.

World Council of Churches divests from fossil fuels and encourages its members to do the same

Fri, 2014-07-11 13:16
World Council of Churches Central Committee

Image: www.oikoumene.org

The Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC), a fellowship of over 300 churches, which represent some 590 million people in 150 countries, endorsed fossil fuel divestment this week.

The WCC agreed to phase out its own fossil fuel holdings and encourage its members to do the same. The WCC Central Committee is made up of dozens of influential religious leaders from around the world, meaning the decision could resonate far and wide.

350.org founder Bill McKibben said:

“The World Council of Churches reminds us that morality demands thinking as much about the future as about ourselves–and that there’s no threat to the future greater than the unchecked burning of fossil fuels.

This is a remarkable moment for the 590 million Christians in its member denominations: a huge percentage of humanity says today ‘this far and no further.’

Guillermo Kerber, who coordinates the WCC’s work on care for creation and climate justice explained:

“There was an explicit wish at the Finance Committee to include fossil fuels as one of the sectors where the WCC will not invest in, based on decisions to divest from fossil fuels taken by member churches in different parts of the world.

The general ethical guidelines for investment already included the concern for a sustainable environment, for future generations and CO2 footprint. Adding fossil fuels to the list of sectors where the WCC does not invest in serves to strengthen the governing body’s commitment on climate change as expressed in various sessions of the Central Committee.”

The endorsement is a major victory for the fossil fuel divestment movement, which has seen a surge of momentum amongst religious institutions over the last few months.

350.org’s European Divestment Coordinator Tim Ratcliffe said:

The World Council of Churches may be the most important commitment we’ve received yet. It opens the doors for churchgoers around the world to encourage their institutions to live up to their values and divest from companies that are destroying the planet and our future.”

In recent weeks, the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in the United States committed to divest,  the University of Dayton in Ohio became the first Catholic institution to join the campaign, and the Church of Sweden have come out in favour of divestment.

At the national level, the United Church of Christ in the US and the Quakers in the UK have also endorsed divestment. Regionally, Lutheran, Quaker, and Episcopal denominations have also joined the effort in the US.

One of the most powerful advocates for fossil fuel divestment has been Nobel Peace-Prize winner and former South African Anglican Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, who called for an “anti-apartheid style boycott of the fossil fuel industry”.

Tutu’s call to action has been echoed by top UN climate chief Christiana Figueres, who recently urged religious leaders to pull their investments out of fossil fuel companies, as well.

The post World Council of Churches divests from fossil fuels and encourages its members to do the same appeared first on Fossil Free.

The Divestment Movement Takes on the NYC $1.6 Billion Retirement Fund

Thu, 2014-07-10 13:00

At $160 billion, the NYC Common Retirement Fund is the third largest pension plan in the country, and it’s heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry.

The following video illustrates efforts by Fossil Free NYS and local activists to redirect these investments to be more in line with the morals and beliefs of the fire-fighters, teachers, and government employees it represents.

Over 12,000 New Yorkers have already signed the petition calling on Comptroller DiNapoli to divest the NYS Common Retirement Fund. Many statewide organizations have submitted formal divestment resolutions and requests. The Comptroller’s current response is to participate in a yearlong climate risk study — while the CRF continues to invest in a climate crisis that deepens every day.

Climate change is real, it’s here, and it’s hurting New Yorkers. Join the efforts by signing the petition today.

The Divestment Movement Takes on the NYC $160 Billion Retirement Fund

Thu, 2014-07-10 13:00

At $160 billion, the NYC Common Retirement Fund is the third largest pension plan in the country, and it’s heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry.

This video illustrates efforts by Fossil Free NYS and local activists to redirect these investments to be more in line with the morals and beliefs of the fire-fighters, teachers, and government employees it represents.

Over 12,000 New Yorkers have already signed the petition calling on Comptroller DiNapoli to divest the NYS Common Retirement Fund. Many statewide organizations have submitted formal divestment resolutions and requests. The Comptroller’s current response is to participate in a yearlong climate risk study — while the CRF continues to invest in a climate crisis that deepens every day.

Climate change is real, it’s here, and it’s hurting New Yorkers. Join the efforts by signing the petition today.

The post The Divestment Movement Takes on the NYC $160 Billion Retirement Fund appeared first on Fossil Free.

If you love LEGOs, this new video might change your mind

Wed, 2014-07-09 22:51

Greenpeace just released a fake LEGO ad that exposes their dirty partnership with Shell. If you ever loved LEGOs, watch this now:

Courtesy of Greenpeace

This is climate change photojournalism at its best

Wed, 2014-07-09 07:16

These are some of the most beautiful photos I’ve seen that document the human consequences of climate change. Step onto the Tibetan Plateau with photojournalist Sean Gallagher, and watch the video below:

Meltdown: Photographing Climate Change on the Tibetan Plateau from Sean Gallagher on Vimeo.

Kiribati and Climate Change: The Fight You Don’t Read About

Wed, 2014-07-09 00:41
We are not drowning. We are fighting

We are not drowning. We are fighting

If someone was to google “Kiribati,” search results will speak of the sad realities of this Pacific Island nation.

“Plagued by sea-level rise,” “Besieged by the rising tide of climate change,” and “Climate change destroys Pacific Island Nation” are the headlines you are most likely to stumble across.

Sadly, this island nation, rose to fame as steadily as the level of seawater has been rising to consume their islands.

Recent news articles about the people of Kiribati speak of them becoming climate refugees, having to relocate to another Pacific Island nation close by, Fiji, because of the continuous threat of climate change to its people.

But these headlines miss the fact that there’s still several decades before such a move caused by climate change might be necessary.

Constantly, the reality of the people of Kiribati have been brought to life with a common narrative — that they are mere victims of climate change. This is not a narrative only unique to Kiribati, but one that is slowly blanketing the rest of the region — from Tuvalu to the Marshall Islands.

Yes, they are a vulnerable group of islands at the forefront of climate change, akin to the canary in the coal mine, but the way Kiribati is talked about by global media is like climate change porn. Its superficial and there’s no character development — Kiribati has become defined as the nation that is drowning.

Yet when I travelled there earlier this year, I saw a dramatically different side of Kiribati. My experience was defined by the people I met, the strength of their unique culture, and their warrior-like commitment to fight for their islands in the face of climate change. Armed with nothing more than a smile, a spring in their step, and the conviction of their forefathers — they are the caretakers of these lands and the vast ocean that surrounds them.

This video is another side of Kiribati that isn’t being told enough.

The place is beautiful, the people are joyful and their positivity is infectious. It was shot on the fly, during our 350 Kiribati Climate Warrior training. It shows just a snapshot of what it is about Kiribati that makes it worth fighting for.

The people I met in Kiribati refuse to remain silent as they continue to be talked of as climate change porn. Sure, the fossil fuel industry and the burning of coal may result in the map having less green dots and more blue in their region one day, but they are convinced that they must continue speaking their truth, and showing the humanity of what is at stake.

While they are aware of the realities of climate change, they are not defined by it.

They choose to be defined by the commitment to a better future, they choose to be defined by hope, they choose to be defined by resilience, they choose to change the narrative of the Pacific, shouting, we are not drowning, we are fighting!

The enemy of Kiribati is not just climate change, but it is the disempowering notion that its time to give up on the people, and the nation.

Right at this time, Kiribati needs all the allies we can muster around the world to fight its enemies. These allies are the people who will no longer just read the headlines, get depressed, and do nothing. Instead, they’re the people who realize that wherever they are in the world, there is something they can do to be part of the solution.

Are you one of them?

The work that we do at 350.org is to act as a focal point for those people all over the world to take action – before it really is too late.

You can read more about the Pacific Climate Warrior campaign, at 350pacific.org

 

Germany debates new fracking ban

Tue, 2014-07-08 12:11

fracking-450x283

On Friday, German Ministers laid out plans to ban hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) for shale gas, although anti-fracking campaigners believe plans for the new law should go much further.

In a press briefing, the Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks  announced that the government will begin drawing up legislation on the issue and have it approved in the final half of this year, with a review taking place in 2021:

“There won’t be fracking of shale-gas and coal gas for economic reasons in the foreseeable future”

However, the proposed new law doesn’t go far enough for many opponents, due to a number of exceptions which allow fracking under specific circumstances. For example, the proposed ban  applies to “unconventional” fracking taking place more than 3000m below the surface but will still allow “conventional” fracking below 3000m to take place.

German brewers concerned over water contamination have rallied behind calls for fracking ban

German brewers concerned over water contamination have rallied behind calls for fracking ban

A not-so-unlikely coalition of beer brewers and greens have been piling pressure on the German government to ban fracking.  Whilst Germany’s beer-makers are worried about the potential for water contamination, there has been growing mainstream concern over the health, climate and environmental implications of using fracking to unlock the estimated shale gas  reserves of between 1.7 and 2.7 trillion cubic tonnes.

“Fracking must be banned in Germany without any exceptions” Hubertus Zdebel, a Left party member of the German parliament’s committee for environment, conservation, construction and reactor safety.

According to estimates from the Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources, the planned restrictions would still allow the exploitation of half of all unconventional gas deposits in Germany, the Left party politician Zdebel said.

So whilst a 7-year fracking ban sounds positive in principle, it seems there is still much room for improvement and developments will need to be monitored closely.

Want to tell the Economy and Environment Ministers to strengthen their proposed law to ban all fracking?  Start a campaign online today.

The future is already here. Watch Jason Silva riff on the possibilities before us.

Sat, 2014-07-05 21:46

The technology for a clean, renewable energy future exists today. Here’s your 3-minute reminder, brought to you by Jason Silva and The Solutions Project:

Quakers Move Their Money to Protect the Planet

Fri, 2014-07-04 20:03

This guest post is by Paula Kline of Fossil Free Friends.

The Eco-Justice Working Group of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting announced today that more than $2 million of assets have been divested from fossil fuels and reinvested in a new Quaker Green Fund offered by Friends Fiduciary Corporation. By doing so, Philadelphia area Friends join a growing number of religious communities, colleges, towns and states across the country, which are bringing pressure to bear on government and industry to act now to slow climate change. Meetings that have already shifted funds include Central Philadelphia, Lansdowne, Westtown, Lehigh Valley, Old Haverford, and Newtown Monthly Meetings. The question of investing with integrity is actively underway at many others. These Quaker Meetings are urging Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, the largest body of Friends in the United States, to divest as well.

“We understand that addressing the climate crisis is a moral imperative,” said Bruce Harrison of Westtown Monthly Meeting. “The divestment movement draws attention to the seriousness of climate disruption and the need to combat the powerful coal, oil, and gas companies, which persist in resisting efforts to curb polluting carbon and methane emissions,” he continued. The movement is based on recent climate and financial analyses by the Carbon Tracker Initiative which makes it clear that 80% of the world’s fossil fuel reserves must not be burned if we are to maintain a hospitable climate.

“By divesting and reinvesting, we communicate the urgency of our concern for protecting a stable climate future for the commonwealth of life. We want to invite meaningful conversation about the transition to clean energy,” said Paula Kline, member of the Eco-Justice Working Group. The decision is consistent with Friends’ values. Friends have a long history of concern for ethical investing and exclude other industries such as tobacco, gambling and arms manufacture because of the harm they do. Quakers understand that money is always an instrument of moral choice. Such difficult times for the future of the Earth, and more particularly its poorest citizens, merit dramatic, but responsible, actions like this.

Friends Fiduciary Corporation excluded coal and coal based utilities from their portfolio in 2013. Stanford University has just followed suit. “We have a carbon budget, with very real limits which must be respected, if we want to survive. We also know about financial bubbles, and the carbon bubble is a concern to any financial manager,” Kline commented.

The Eco-Justice Working Group acts on the Quaker commitment to stewardship including the Friendly Households program, which supports reducing our carbon footprint and promoting renewable energy options. The consequences of unchecked climate change can be described as a theft from our children, be we are all at risk. Climate instability threatens every society on earth and the natural systems on which they depend.

The post Quakers Move Their Money to Protect the Planet appeared first on Fossil Free.

Methodists fail to respond to grassroots call for fossil fuel divestment

Fri, 2014-07-04 09:27

Desmond Tutu quoteDespite unprecedented pressure from local churches, the Methodist Conference failed to commit to end its investments in fossil fuels. It announced that it will review its policy, with no decision for at least 12 months. The Methodist Church has investments in fossil fuel companies worth £58 million (2012 figures).

Mark Letcher, Vice-Chair of Christian climate change charity Operation Noah:

“Whilst I welcome the decision to review fossil fuel investments, I am disappointed that the Methodist Church has not decided to grasp the nettle and begin disinvesting from this sector, particularly coal, right away, despite strong calls from its own members.”

“Multimillion pound investments in companies determined to develop new reserves of coal, oil and gas are incompatible with policies to prevent uncontrolled global warming – facts that are recognised by a growing number of Churches in the UK and abroad.”

Just like grassroots Methodists, Operation Noah calls on the Conference to move rapidly to divest from fossil fuels. This year’s Methodist Conference received six resolutions (“memorials”) about investments in fossil fuels from local Circuits or Districts, four of which called for divestment.

Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org and a Methodist:

“I’m confident it’s only a matter of time before the Methodists are in the forefront of this campaign. But since Creation already groans under the weight of our carbon emissions, I hope this time is short indeed.”

Call on the Methodists to ditch their investments in fossil fuels!

While the Methodists fail to respond to the call for fossil fuel divestment, other religious institutions are active leaders tackling the climate crisis and protecting creation. Dozens of churches around the world, from Anglicans in New Zealand to Quakers in the United Kingdom, have divested their holdings. In the United States, the United Church of Christ and Unitarian Universalists have supported divestment at the national level.

Christian leaders around the world are calling for churches to divest from fossil fuels. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has recently called for an “apartheid style boycott” of the fossil fuel industry. Top UN climate chief Christiana Figueres urged religious leaders to pull their investments out of fossil fuel companies, as well.

Operation Noah launched its campaign for church divestment Bright Now in September 2013.

The Methodists’ decision was announced at the Methodist Conference 2014 that took place in Birmingham from June 26 to July 3.

The post Methodists fail to respond to grassroots call for fossil fuel divestment appeared first on Fossil Free.

These people strapped a GoPro to a polar bear, and the results are breathtaking

Fri, 2014-07-04 00:47

This footage is as amazing as it is heartbreaking. Follow this polar bear family as they traverse the Arctic Ocean in search of dwindling sea ice:

Courtesy of GoPro

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